Saturday, July 10, 2004

If it wasn't for lawyers

Daniel Gross argues that lawyers—derided by the business-friendly and secrecy-obsessed White House “as enemies of free enterprise and the state”—are emerging as the true heroes of the Enron debacle. “Bush's MBA administration proved itself singularly unequipped to deal with the cascade of bankruptcies, accounting scandals, and Wall Street conflicts that exploded in 2001,” Gross writes. In this responsibility vacuum, lawyers “have proved to be the most effective tools—perhaps the only effective tool—for making the Bush government work.”
Bush, and many of his surrogates, can't make political hay out of this great coup. Every development in the Enron saga becomes an occasion to rehash the many links between Bush, the Bush administration, and Enron—and inconveniently close to the elections. (Salon conveniently dusts them off here.) And it's difficult to criticize trial lawyers for destroying Americans' businesses when Enron stands as an example of how a bunch of greedy MBAs from Texas sunk a giant American corporation all by themselves—or to bash lawyers when, as the Enron Task Force shows, they're the only potent weapon the government has against corporate corruption.
Also, an excellent piece at BillMon (solid piece of writing, as usual) laying out the history between Enron, Lay, the GOP, and the Bushes (I & II). The Whitewater "scandal" is quaint by comparison.

Nice, quiet evening

Started off Friday night working out for an hour at the gym down the street from the office. Soon after, I picked up Chani from her work, where we had a nice Thai dinner nearby, and managed to catch a showing of Spiderman 2.

Spidey the hype does indeed match the performance. I thought the acting was superb, with a very well-written script, nicely assembled scenes (threaded with romance) and story line. And did I mention the killer (very realistic) special effects?

Afterwards, we got home and even caught up on a couple shows we Tivo'd.

SG-1: New season arrives

I'm a big fan of a Sci-Fi channel cable show, SG-1, because: 1) it's not a Star Trek rehash, 2) has quite a few great and original story lines, 3) with rich subplots and more (e.g. Richard Dean Anderson of MacGyver fame does a great job as one of the main characters). It has garnered a loyal fan base, and is now on its 8th, and last, season.

My fiance and I saw the 1st episode of the new season last night - it totally rocked, that is, if you're a fan of [good] sci-fi. :)

The price of empire

A friend sent me this interesting piece found in May's Atlantic Monthly on the price of America's empire building; a lot of informative comparisons are made to the British experience. Seems the Brits master the craft a little better than we do.

Putting money in perspective

Think you have money problems?

Look at the celebrities -- child stars to Donald Trump -- who've burned through hundreds of millions of dollars and then filed bankruptcy.

Friday, July 09, 2004

To comment or not to comment

Laura's Apt 11D makes an interesting case for both turning on and off blog commenting. To keep the Commentary somewhat rational if not a controlled chaos, mine's off for now.

Microsoft's upcoming goodies for Web services

Microsoftie's Yasser, Elliot, and Matt have posted New Features for Web Service Developers in Beta 1 of the .NET Framework 2.0. Interesting read if you're interested in where Microsoft is going next with Web services.

Starr defends, Moore begins, and then some

Kenneth Starr offers his rebuttal to Clinton's memoirs, Michael Moore starts blogging on Independence Day, as well as Bloggers Suffer Burnout (no surprise there) and the open question, Where Are the Real Republicans?.


String theory. You may have heard of it - many a times on Star Trek no doubt. In physics, quite a few consider it The Theory of Everything. String theory has been hot for a while, almost a decade now. PBS has a popular multi-episode special on it, quite a few best sellers are shilling it.

Yet, what if it turns out to be unprovable New Age-tinged psuedo science, which has no predictative value and fails to explain new phenomenon any better than existing theories?

That's the critical view proffered by anti-string theorists.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Report Shows Big Drop in Reading in U.S.

Astounding - seems like some things we just can't take for granted anymore.

Only 47 percent of American adults read "literature" (poems, plays, narrative fiction) in 2002, a drop of 7 points from a decade earlier. Those reading any book at all in 2002 fell to 57 percent, down from 61 percent.

NEA chairman Dana Gioia, himself a poet, called the findings shocking and a reason for grave concern.

"We have a lot of functionally literate people who are no longer engaged readers," Gioia said in an interview with The Associated Press. "This isn't a case of `Johnny Can't Read,' but `Johnny Won't Read.'"

The likely culprits, according to the report: television, movies and the Internet.

Success and Motivation P4

More insights by Mark Cuban. He has it nailed down, nothing fancy or MBA-esque. Focus on the basics: knowledge is power (e.g. spending 3 hours a day reading), learn from the best, understand how your biggest competitors might respond before they do. Good stuff.

The great Chinese century - are they ready?...Part 2

Does freedom and liberal democracy really have nothing to do with the Chinese phenom? I take another stab at it here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Man-made yellow diamonds - absolutely fascinating

My fiance clued me to this intriguing tale that leads down some dark corridors shedding light on a battle between old diamond interests (De Beers) and a few gutsy, bleeding-edge scientists and entrepeneurs. May very well change the face of technology as we know it today.

And De Beers Agrees to Guilty Plea to Re-enter the U.S. Market.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The great Chinese century - are they ready?

New York Times Magazine has a thought-provoking piece on China.

When we're not the biggest dog on the block anymore, it has to be innovate or die (like Great Britain of last century).

Regardless of the current hype, China will lack freedom and a liberal democracy that we take for granted for a long time to come, which is fundamental to forming a marketplace of ideas and innovation that lead to sustained, non-export led growth. Plus, even bigger question for them will be the 1 billion inland population that don't and won't benefit from this economic growth spurt for the forseeable future.

Sarah McLachlan

My fiance and I blazed our way over Vancouver July 4th, managed to grab some delicious - and just as important authentic - Chinese eatings complete with a boatload of take-outs, and also did some shopping on Robson. Then last night, we went to Vancouver-native Sarah McLachlan's first North American concert at the Key Arena in Seattle, and it was aweseome. Her voice was amazing to behold live (almost goes w/o saying), the instrumentals, stage work, and the rest topped off an already nice holiday weekend. Though she's been out of the scene for 6 years, her performance Monday night shows that she indeed remains an extremely talented artist.