Sunday, March 28, 2004
Coulter writes an interesting article about Dick Clarke (courtesy Powerlineblog):
when he told President Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about al-Qaida, her "facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before."
We've all (unfortunately) heard about that...
That look of perplexity Clarke saw was Condi thinking to herself: "Hmmm, did I demote this guy far enough?"
Ha ha! Good times.

Listening to liberals in influential positions (editors, senators) defend Clarke and Kerry is informative. The interviews I've seen (mainly on 1280AM and watching Hannity & Colmes) start with the host stating two or three quotes by one of the above, and asking, "aren't they contradicting themselves? Which is the truth, and when should we believe these people?" etc. The response is unfailingly characterized by a) very fast talking, b) usually in unusually high-pitched tones, c) accusatory (i.e. "you're just repeating Republican talking points"), and d) diversive ("I didn't come here to listent to you make character assassinations"). Most of that crap is to be expected (what? an intelligent debate? for shame), but the very fast talking in high-pitched tones (some might say "screaming") is most revealing. I want to be on the side that doesn't scream. (Now that I think of it, this is the same sequence of events that happens when supporters of gay marriage are interviewed, again editors and such. They have about 5 phrases memorized--I hate to think how long it took them to memorize them--and they keep repeating them, getting faster and higher-pitched as the interview goes on.)
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Go read Lileks today, its darn good.

Speaking of whom, I caught some of the Hugh Hewit (sp?) show yesterday. He played clips from a Cheney speech. Good stuff -- the Republicans are using facts, logic, and reason to battle a most unreasonable and illogical Dem candidate. I'm not sure if it'll work, cuz the logical people already all agree with Bush, and the illogical people won't be swayed by facts or logic; only emotion. Emotion doesn't work well with reason. Anyway, money quote:

Senator Kerry's voting record on national security raises some important questions all by itself. Let's begin with the matter of how Iraq and Saddam Hussein should have been dealt with. Senator Kerry was in the minority of senators who voted against the Persian Gulf War in 1991. At the time, he expressed the view that our international coalition consisted of " shadow battlefield allies who barely carry a burden." Last year, as we prepared to liberate Iraq, he recalled the Persian Gulf coalition a little differently. He said it was a "strong coalition," and a model to be followed.

One of about 3 zingers at the end of the speech. For those with the ability to reason, Kerry doesn't stand a chance.
Saturday, February 21, 2004
Question: Do you suppose Iraq will join OPEC? I've been thinking, and it seems that a whole lot of terrorism funding comes from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Suppose, now that Iraq starts pumping oil, and without setting their prices according to OPEC (which of course is controling the market price to line the sultan's pockets -- that sort of thing is illegal in this country, you know). Then suppose we buy from them, and not the inflated OPEC oil. Two major consequences, that could very well lead to some of the best dominoe effect ever:
1. Price of oil drops for Americans. Now, to appreciate this, think of what oil does. We'll start simple: gas and heating oil. Gas is cheaper, the average family's overhead drops considerably. Couriers, taxis, and truckers increase profits and expand their business or upgrade equipment, making such professions safer and more prosperous, as well as adding employees. Heating oil lowers the cost of electricity, lowers the cost to government of subsidizing poor people's heating needs in winter. Airlines can get back on their feet, perhaps lowering ticket costs or upgrading their planes or services. None of this is trivial, and its really the trivial end!
Now think about what all oil makes. Surfactants, solvents, plastics (not rubbers), composites, etc. The real money in oil is not gas (waste by-product) or heating oil, but in the chemical industry (esp. plastics). What around you isn't made with plastic? Surfactants are heavy in the food and medical industry. Cheaper food? Cheaper medicine?
2. The USA, the largest consumer of oil, quits buying from OPEC nations. Uh-oh for them. How stable would Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. be if there was no steady billion dollar income to line the dictator's pockets?
The ability to purchase oil from a liberty-loving country could be one of the most remarkable developments of the 21st century.
Remember that post a while back, where I linked to a lady who was writing summaries on many former Evil Empire countries? (A link would be rather pointless, as blogger tends to lose information on archived stuff - just go through the archives, it won't take that long, really!) Well, the summary included the strong hatred felt between Azerbaijan and Armenia, mostly fueled purposefully by the Soviets, who relocated people and drove them from their homes and encouraged instability as a means of keeping control of the region. Well, the fruits of their labor:
An Armenian military officer attending a NATO Partnership for Peace program was hacked to death on Thursday morning with an ax and a knife by an Azerbaijani participant, police officials said.
There's nothing really to say here, except in all seriousness, may God have mercy on them, and help them identify their hatred as the construct of a series of evil men.
The owner and starter of a small publishing firm met with the President of the USA along with some single mothers who work and attend grad school online. Sounds very Reagen-esk, ya? Even though I wasn't very aware of politics during that era, this group smacks of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps." The link is here, courtesy Jeff Jarvis. The description of the encounter, and the bits of the speech Bush gave afterward are a perfect representation of how I feel every time I see the man give an interview. I get the impression he honestly feels strongly about the same things I do: encouraging small business and startups, low taxes, turning Medicair and SS into help-yourself schemes with tax shelters, and bullying evil dictatorships into providing their people with liberties, ensuring their own downfall. Awesome stuff.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Why outsourcing of unskilled customer service is NOT an election year issue, courtesy of the Mayor of Garage Logic, USA. Actually, our good Mayor ends his column expressing his hope that government intervention will eliminate outsourced customer service. But he's wrong, and the very existance of his article whining about the poor quality of outsourced customer service is the reason he's wrong.

He starts out by defining the problem, as good writers do:
Two identical packages arrived one day, each containing the same keyboard, mouse and docking station. I didn't order a docking station. Not only were they the wrong components for the laptop I had ordered, I had been sent two, just to rub it in. I did manage to call the company and get my instructions for returning the stuff. I did.

Next step: call customer service.

The line was clear enough, but the person I was talking to get my order straightened out seemed to be struggling to speak clear English.

"Where are you?'' I finally asked.

"I am in India,'' she said.


"Yes, I am in India.''


"Yes, how we can help you to do?"

"Uh, but you're in India.''

I once had a foreign person try to give me a telephone survey. I had to have them repeat the question every time, and often gave up and said "yes" regardless of the question (which I had no clue what it was). At the time I said to myself, "Self, this survey is going to give worthless results and be a waste of money for someone. Too bad for them." Here's what the Mayor says to himself:

And I don't know how many thousands and thousands of jobs we have shipped to India but the presidential candidate who says that he will return business to America and that I can deal with American workers gets my vote.

WRONG. Foghorn yourself, Mayor.
Here's what I think will happen.
1. The computer company (TCC) outsources customer service, hoping to save money and compete in a very tight market.
2. TCC's competitors are at a disadvantage; they pay more for customer service, and may have to charge more for their products.
3. The Mayor tells the world (at least 100,000 of us) how crappy TCC's customer service is, and he (and many others) will no longer deal with TCC.
4. TCC's orders from MN drop significantly
5. TCC's competitors notice the poor quality of TCC's customer service. They still need to match TCC's low, low prices, so they get their super-smart people together and brainstorm new customer service ideas that are better and cheaper than TCC's.
6. TCC reconsiders their outsourced customer service due to lagging demand for their product.
7. TCC's competitors come up with clever new software that enables them to answer customer service requests in half the time with half the staff. Coup de etat! (or whatever)
8. TCC attempts to copy their competitors as quickly as humanly possible.
9. The mayor and everyone else has better, cheaper computer and computer accessories with good customer service.
The miracle of the market!! Note that The Mayor's experiences will expedite this inevitable process.

Here's what happens if the government steps in (heaven forbid!):
1. The computer company (TCC) outsources customer service, hoping to save money and compete in a very tight market.
2. TCC's competitors are at a disadvantage; they pay more for customer service, and may have to charge more for their products.
3. Government Intervention.
4. TCC pulls their customer service people back, increases prices.
5. TCC's competitors are no longer at a disadvange and halt any further research on improved customer service.
6. Customer service stagnates, prices do not drop.
7. The mayor and everyone else pay 0.1% more income tax to fund government subsidized for domestic customer service in, not just the computer industry, but also the critically (un)important jelly canning industries, 3-ring binder manufacturing customer service, and anyone else who can afford a lobby. Also note that this highly visible, election year issue will likely draw amendments from nutcases requiring things like the Navy respect the humpback whale by not testing new radar systems in the west indies.
8. The mayor and everyone else pays higher prices for computers and computer accessories.

So which is the preferred solution?
Saturday, February 07, 2004
You can see the legislation introduced to the senate committee on foreign relations here. While I don't know what most of the "status" comments mean, it is very enlightening to see who introduces what bill and who co-sponsors it. For instance, I was pleasently surprised to see Senator Tom Daschle co-sponsor a bill expressing that Yassir Arafat is a hindrance to peace in the middle east and has ties to terrorism! Kudos to the sodak senator.

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