January 26th, 2012


Clash of the Enterprise Titans


Oppression is something that one group of people commits against another group specifically because of a threatening characteristic shared by the latter group. - Robin Morgan

Ladieeeees and Gentlemen. Let’s get ready to rummmbbble. Tonight’s bout is between two leviathans. In one corner, weighing in with Social Media, Web 2.0, Google, Facebook, Twitter and other web applications we have the Mighty Internet. In the other corner, weighing in with the entertainment media industry, the literary industry, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the proprietary pharmaceutical industry, the software application industry and other privately owned products is Propertus Intellectus. Your referee tonight is from the U.S. Government, SOPA PIPA. You know the rules. Let’s have a fair fight.

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80 square miles surrounded by reality...

Madison, WI.

When Scott Walker put his plans into motion, we were personally affected. My husband's lab at the UW is totally funded by NIH grants, has NOTHING to do with the state budget, yet he was part of the cuts. Despite being in a university setting, he has to run that shop like a small business...generating revenue from "customers" (ie: grad students, gene therapy staff, professors) to cover overhead, salaries and benefits and he is not the only gig in town. He used to enjoy that sole proprietary status, but since gene therapy has become such a HOT money maker, especially here...at least 10 other digital microscopy labs have popped up.

So, his benefits were cut too. He is not even in a union. So, he hates Scott Walker and the whole thing pisses me off as well

I think its safe to use teachers not in higher education as an illustration here, since they are at the crux of this debate. K-12 teachers will thrive under Walker's proposals. Good teachers will continue to shine, while slackers and those who commit crimes and rightly expect (under our current system) to enjoy paid administrative leave will be screwed. I think those teachers who spend thousands of dollars every year to supply their classroom with needed-but-unfunded-by-our broke (sometimes corrupt) districts, will see a bump in income. Granted, these profiles typically fit the elementary school educators but still, I was always baffled when my post college roommate collected the same salary as say, another high school Calculus teacher I know who clearly was not meant to be in education. The Kindergarten teacher friend filled our apartment's storage closet with 1000s of dollars in supplies her classroom needed, but was unfunded by our mismanaged school district. The unions were not suffering at any point through all of this. The calculus teacher basically admitted to a group of us that she stumbled upon eductation as a major, and hated (mostly the girls) in her class, hated that she didn't drive a brand new car, and just, her job made her generally depressed. Many mental health days on the taxpayers dime but her melancholy self was covered under the unions.

My sister in law is the type of person you meet and can tell within 5 minutes that she has a way with kids (ask my kids, my nieces and nephews...she is their star) and is passionate about their development. She teaches second grade and is widely acclaimed by her peers I've met. My aunt, OTOH, is a high school PE teacher who, together with her PE teacher husband, use their coaching positions at the school to give their own offspring the starting QB positions, starting volleyball positions as sophomores, etc, and have even been called on these transparent behaviors in the press. Guess which one opted out of paying the 1K in union dues this year? My sister in law is confident in her abilities, strong in her convictions and doesn't need a union to "back her up" ie: take 1K annually out of her growing family's income for "union dues." My aunt brought the Recall Walker petition to our Thansgiving gathering and got completely shut down by everyone but my husband. He told her he'd already signed it in Madison, she encouraged him to sign the petition AGAIN (he refused) which is the kind of tactics Recall Walker folks have been using. The recall signatures have been collected and now our state has to spend more $$ (that we don't have) to verify each and every signature on the recall petition. Scott Walker hasn't done anything illegal...he has divided our state and created a lot of discord, yes, but he hasn't even committed an offense that justifies a recall. Yet, here we are.

Teachers will thrive under a non union arrangement. There simply is no need for an uninformed union rep to cut into the end product. Education is too far reaching to go on the way it has. Post Walker reform, there are many school districts here in Wisconsin that are not even interested in ratifying the union, despite the voices up at our Capitol (again, typically not teachers) loudly suggesting otherwise. Politics and emotion are closely linked, of course. I just hope that logic will prevail for the sake of education's future. There is a huge opportunity to set a precident here, and fact is being obscured by protest signs that compare Walker to Mussolini. It's not looking good...the few teachers I know who honored their contract last year during the walkouts and showed up for work ended up being shunned by their peers who spent DAYS up at the Capitol although their protests would have been heard after school too and would have given their displaced students a more positive adult role model message than skipping out. Our 14 Senators who skipped out on their duties and hung out in Rockford, IL (on the taxpayers' dime) for several weeks were given a stuning "war hero" welcome home when they actually returned to their office jobs. Yeah, pretty crazy.

Madison is defintely living up to its 80 square miles surrounded by reality reputation. We all could have gone on with the unions taking a cut, but we had someone come in who clearly wanted to do more than theorize for the next generation, he took action. It's change and it's hard to accept but if you break through the rhetoric, it is taking education in the right direction.

So, I've asked and havent gotten a good answer...what I am missing in this whole spectacle? I know it's not cool, not Hollywood, to support Walker but WTF?

Godzilla, default

And now for something completely different:

Namely the not-so-minor question of why the USA has such a reputation for military badassery. I realize the real answer is "Hollywood" but that's not entirely germane to this post as it is set up.
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The USA has never at any point fought a sustained war against any enemy its equal. It has never in fact had generals that have shown the least hint of ability or concept of facing such enemies. And again, to put it bluntly if defeating Saddam Hussein is all it takes to earn the record of invincible supermen, I'd rather have the Israeli Army fight for the West as they at least have shown abilities to fight enemies with quality to match and superior quantity in straightforward slugfests of the sort the USA has always avoided. So with all this, where the fuck does the US reputation for being military Wunderkinder come from? In my opinion the USA is a military version of Brian Griffin: it can talk the talk but if asked to walk the walk it would find all those million-dollar missiles would be shot off, the enemy's still there, the shit hits the fan thereafter.

Why do you think the USA is considered good at fighting wars?

The most alluring market


This research made by the Economist Intelligence Unit is just one of a stream of recent economic analyses that has come to the conclusion that Africa is looking like the most attractive investment destination for the next couple of years. More than half of the polled investors are seeing the African continent as the most promising place to make profit on a global scale, and nearly one in three portfolio managers is planning to allocate at least 5% of their portfolio to the African markets by 2016.

Currently most of those investors do not have any exposition to the African markets, or if they do have some, it does not exceed 1% of their portfolio. The experts believe that Africa is now experiencing the emergence of a viable middle class, demand is increasing at exponential rates, and though still in some separate regions, now some very attractive opportunities for investment are coming up. This research involved 158 institutions of various types, including pension funds, hedge funds and private banks. Most of those seem to point at Kenya and Nigeria as the primary destinations for high-return investment, closely followed by Zimbabwe, Egypt, Ghana and of course the economic juggernaut of the continent, South Africa.

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