Sunday, December 5, 2010

Captain Nemo sails again

My brother made an interesting observation yesterday --Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a modern / real life version of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo.

Little of Nemo's past is revealed in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, except his hatred the countries of the world. Assange seems to harbor ill-will towards the secretive nature of governments, a characteristic at opposition to freedom.

Like the fictional submarine captain, Assange cruise the wide open seas (of the internet) firing off technologically advanced torpedoes of truth ("what the hell is a wiki??") at governments of the world, sinking diplomatic ships left and right.

Of course, now that someone (or, perhaps, "no one") is making war against them, these governments take offense at being called out. So now they have it out for this annonymous character. Assange, like Nemo, hides on his secret island (admittedly, England is not so secret -- an imperfect metaphor).

Making enemies of the U.S. us bad enough, but Mother Russia has a reputation for serving up a plutonium cocktail to her detractors.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Are you free to practice capitalism?

As if we need any other reminders that free speech rights in the U.S. and the Republic of Ireland are the most important aspect of each country's constitutions, think about this...

Police in Johannesburg: "These women, who have been part of a larger group, are suspected to be involved in organized acts to conduct unlawful commercial activities during the Denmark-Netherlands match."

You are not free to engage in unregulated communication with your target audience. For beer.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's day - car perspective

My dad had a Merc 190 that he loved. It had a strange three-on-the-tree standard transmission, a barber-pole visual cue on the speedo to tell you to shift, light blue matching vinyl upholstery/paint, and a 1960s Blaunpunt that only received music transmitted from the Depression.

THis is a nice roundup of Fathers' cars. I hope my kids remember me and my german car fetish. We all need good memories of our fathers.

Happy birthday, Dominic. Miss you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

VTOL flight takes flight on this day...

On June 16, 1922, Henry Berliner demonstrated a working helicopter prototype to the United States Army, and is often given as the debut of the helicopter, at College Park Airport.

Wired: Officials of the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics watch Henry Berliner make the first controlled horizontal helicopter flight in the United States.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Upgrading to "green" doesn't work as well as "new"

Part of the trend in green home construction has focused on expensive upgrades. In fact, the "greenest" experience comes from new construction. No inefficient retrofitting, not "cobbling together" solutions. When a home is architected and built with "green standards" in mind, especially en mass, you get the most bang-for-the-buck.

Being socially conscious doesn't have to mean trading off economical purchasing. Read more about what it means to be 'green' in residential construction here...,,HPRO_26519_5585755,00.html

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why Can't My Kids Enjoy McD Junk?

I am not really a bad father. Really. Don't believe what the brood reports. After all, I am guilty of bribing them with McDonald's, once-in-a-while. But even I have to back off a bit when the crazy clown is pushing tchochkes with heavy metal content. And I don't mean Metallica (although that might be just as bad, considering my kids' taste in tunes).

Cadmium in in the painted design on "Shrek"-themed drinking glasses being sold at McDonald's. So the burger-miester is recalling something like 12 million of the cheap (U.S.-made. Huh, not China?) collectibles.

Atlantis final mission

End of an era - the space shuttle Atlantis is to be decommissioned after completing its latest mission STS-132. The shuttle launched on May 14, 2010, returning on May 26, 2010.

The shuttle was originally a pretty cool idea then co-opted by the military-industrial complex (i.e., the air force and intelligence community). As a 'limited reuse' vehicle, the program has been the U.S.'s sole foothold in space for quite some time. With no replacement even on the drawing board, i suspect my children won't be witnessing much more in the way of cool American ingenuity.

Heros - in short supply these days. Sigh.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Being a smart consumer is a prerequisite in this decade

This blog is about many things, but, foremost, it is about living a life of freedom. Intellectual capitalism means freedom of choice -- in the marketplace, in the home, in our thoughts. But being middle class isn’t what it used to be. Even though we have more technology and gadgets, are always looking for a nicer home, enjoy speedier cars, things couldn't be more different than in the past. The middle class of the 1950s and 1960s could afford to have stay-at-home wives, were content with smaller homes for more children. For mort households, it takes more hours of paid labor and more borrowing, to support a lifestyle we've grown accustomed to.

A suitable inaugural post references this Financial Times article [ ]. It would seem America’s economic fluctuations are part of a new business cycle that has emerged in the last 20 years. This new cycle is based on financial booms and cheap imports. Upswings provide collateral that supports debt-financed spending. Borrowing in the recent past was supported by an easing of credit standards. Interesting new financial products increase leverage and widen the range of assets that can be borrowed against -- think "jumbo loans" and mortgage-backed securities. The dollar promoted cheap imports, which offset the effects of wage stagnation.

Before 1980 the business cycle seemed to be based on wage growth tied to productivity and strong employment. Wage growth, rather than borrowing, provided the basis for inflation. This reasonable inflation might have been a foundation for the public's renewed interest in investment spending, which in turn drove productivity gains and output growth.

In the second decade of the new millennium, we as individuals face new choices -- in consumption, in how we live our lives, and more.