Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Anti-depressants Are Not the Death of the Soul

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Time to Switch to a Mac

Ever since 1990, I have been using PCs. I am all too familiar with Microsoft. Late last year, it was time for a new computer, and I decided to take the plunge into the realm of Macs.

I haven't been disappointed at all. I have an Unix background from work and college, and the ability to have an Unix-based machine with a great GUI very much appealed to me. You have the stability of Unix.

More than that, unlike Microsoft, Apple has far fewer legacy applications to maintain. Since Apple controls makes (or assembles) all of their hardware, they run into less issues than Microsoft does.

But the biggest surprise, which shouldn't have been a surprise, is all of the great multimedia software that comes standard in the Mac. The iLife software package has a very decent photo tool, iTunes, and a music tool. But I have to say that iMovie is fantastic. It gives you a decent video editing tool. Combined with Apple's DVD tool, you have a very good resource for home movies, school projects, etc.

While some things act differently and take some minimal research and getting used to, I would recommend the switch to a Mac.

Now, some people will object and say they can get a PC for around $600. To that I would say spend the extra $500. Besides all the good software that comes standard, you won't have to be constantly fighting viruses or slowdowns or cleaning up the registry. In three years, your Mac will most likely still be useable. I doubt your $600 PC will be.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

So What Will the Excuse be Now?

Iraq is making political headway towards reconciliation.

The Surge is working. Al Qaeda in Iraq is in collapse.

So what will the excuse be now for abandoning Iraq? Maybe they figure Iraq will be stable, they'll pull out, and can claim credit to the anti-war people while not causing a humanitarian disaster.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Conflating Illegal Immigration with Immigration

Two things popped up in the news recently.

First, Mexican President Calderon said:
"The worst thing that happened in this country is this anti-Mexican or anti-immigrant perception of people. We need to contain this," Calderon said after a speech at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Then there was this article which quoted an illegal immigrant leaving Arizona:
"Here, they let you work. Over there, they won't. There is a lot of racism, but here there isn't -- it's better," Ortiz said of Houston.

Now, I can't speak to his experiences. But being against illegal immigration doesn't make you racist nor does it mean you don't support immigration.

I would like immigration and a guest worker program. I would like the maximum amount of immigrants and guest workers which is deemed feasible.

But I'm against illegal immigration. It is illegal and erodes respect for the law.

I could care less what their nationality is. I'm more concerned about their political beliefs from their home country than anything else.


Chavez on the Wane

Looks like Hugo Chavez is being shown for the poor economist that he is.

From the New York Times:
These should be the best of times for Venezuela, blessed with the largest conventional oil reserves outside the Middle East and oil prices near record highs. But this country’s economic and social problems have become so acute lately that President Hugo Chávez is facing an unusual onslaught of criticism, even from his own supporters, about his management of the country.

It doesn't take much to figure out why Venezuela is doing poorly even with high oil prices. Socialism doesn't work.

Here is a snipit from a Jackson Diehl column:
Venezuelans not worrying about war are increasingly obsessed with the remarkable result of Chávez's disastrous economic policies: worsening shortages of consumer goods and soaring prices, a combination previously seen only in such benighted places as Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Almost every day, newspapers report another addition to the items missing from store shelves: from milk, bread, sugar, chicken, eggs, rice and cheese to auto parts and over-the-counter drugs. A black market thrives; food is smuggled across the border to Colombia, while cocaine in increasing quantities is trafficked back to Venezuela. Chávez recently raised the price of milk 37 percent, contributing to an inflation rate that hit 22 percent in 2007 and 3.4 percent in just the month of January. But he also threatened to seize private banks, farms, supermarkets and food distributors, thereby ensuring that the investments needed to end the shortages will not take place.

That pretty much sums it up in a paragraph. When you impose price controls, you will get shortages.

Not being able to handle, conceptually, the dynamic nature of real-world economic behavior is a pattern of the global Left. Probably not exclusive of the Left, but I usually notice it there.

Here is an example of leftist thinking which I predict will backfire:
Venezuela's seizure last year of several heavy oil projects, including Exxon's, is the latest example of emerging oil producers placing greater demands on global oil giants. The heavy oil projects are based in Venezuela's Orinoco Belt, a basin near the Orinoco River, which is believed to hold up to 235 billion barrels of recoverable crude. Global oil companies were awarded contracts in the 1990s to take the extra-heavy crude, which has the consistency of tar, and refine it to higher, more profitable blends for export. Venezuela began changing its royalty agreements with the oil companies in October, 2004. At that time, companies were paying 1% of the value of oil extracted from the ground. That was unilaterally raised to 16.67%, and then to 30%. Last July, Venezuela forced six oil giants to hand over equity stakes of 60% or more in four important ventures to PDVSA. Four of the companies agreed to the handover, but Exxon balked—and went to court to seek what it considered just compensation.

And another, again, from the New York Times:
Pedro E. Piñate, an agricultural consultant in the city of Maracay, said: “We live in two countries, one inhabited by officials who think they can alter reality by sending soldiers to intimidate citizens. The other country is where the rest of us live in fear of being killed or kidnapped or of our businesses being seized.”

Capitalism requires risk. People invest money. They may lose it. But for that risk, they get rewards. If you threaten the return on investment, you have a lose-no-win proposition. People will stop investing money.

And that means that Venezuela will have problems.

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