Tuesday, August 26, 2008

High taxes or appropriate taxes?

Republicans make a big thing of charging Democrats with creating high taxes, and to many Republicans, this also means no taxes are preferred.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to run a successful business in a society without taxes. A taxless society has too many uncertainties. Uncertainties can be reduced with a civil society that sets and enforces rules. The price of a civil society is taxes. How much tax are we prepared to pay for what kind of civil society.

The question really should be do we have appropriate taxes for the society we want. If businesses needs skilled workers they will pay for them either with their own training programs, which cost money or with taxes for publicly supported schools. Otherwise, they will hope enough potential workers will pay for their own education.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Internet overload?

It seems to us that since the Olympics started, access to the Internet has become an iffy proposition.

We will have all the lights green on our DSL modem one minute, and then the Internet light goes off or even turns red. When this happens, the DSL blinks green.

This can happen every few minutes and be OK for a few minutes. It can be OK for hours and be off for many minutes or even hours.

Saturday night we had iffy access; two minutes on, one minute off. Sunday night we had almost continuous access. This morning we had access, then didn't, then did, and now we haven't had access for over an hour.

I wondered about our having an Apple Time Capsule added to our home network. I also wondered if our modem was going bad. Pushing reset or pulling the plug seems to make no difference: if it was working, it still works; if it wasn't working, it still won't work.

I also wondered about our phone company having problems. I talked to a friend who lives about a mile away about this. He has cable and has also been having spotty access.

It would be interesting to see if there is any correlation to these problems with access peaks to either NBCOlympics.com or YouTube.

A final irony. I went to Qwest's home page and eventually to a discussion group. Just as I was registering to join the group, access disappeared!

No, one more irony. The phone rang downstairs and I tried to answer upstairs on the headset. Nothing! I tried the wall phone. Nothing. When I tried downstairs, I got a dial tone (the caller never left a message). I checked the wall jack upstairs. It was out for enough that a light kick would pull it out. Have I been kicking the jack all along or pushing a wastebasket against it? However, why did the red internet light come on and go off? We shall see this evening when local web traffic goes up.

Lawyers and objectivity

Every so often a lawyer will use the term "facts of the case" as if he or she has an objective view of a situation. But is the "objectivity" based on a subjective selection of the facts?

I think of this because of different interpretation of online security and of how things should be named.

My current irritation is with my bank requiring me to reset my PIN every so often. It is the only financial institution that I deal with that requires this. I know it's bad practice to keep passwords for a long time, but I'll change them on my own schedule, thank you.

I used to change my bank password when required, and then change it back again. Now it won't let me use any of the last four passwords. Worse yet, if I make any mistake in the entry, the site makes me change other information. Most sites leave all the correct information in the form and only want the missing information entered or the correct information entered. I gave up trying to figure out what the "correct" information I should enter.

A long standing irritation is with a mutual fund company that wants me to agree to the terms and conditions every time I sign on. This is the only company that I know that requires this.

My only explanation is that the companies' lawyers required these steps even though few other companies see these steps as important.

An example of a lawyer not going far enough. I applied and received a trademark for "Helper" with respect to software. The application was for "cassette tape and magnetic media". Then came electronic distribution and CDs. Of course, any challenges my lawyer made were stonewalled by other lawyers, regardless of how the other "Helper" software was distributed.

The most ridiculous case was the advice that a computer club received. It had had a DOM, disk-of-the-month, for many years. When it hired an attorney to register its name and to ensure its tax-exempt status, he suggested that it change DOM to eDOM, educational disk-of-the-month. Of course, how educational are a bunch of games and utilities?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Subtle racism in the presidential campaign

Mark Penn, an aide to the Clintons, wrote a memo about Obama's "lack of American roots." According to E. J. Dionne, Washington Post, 2008-08-14, "Clinton thankfully declined to take up this idea, but John McCain's ads are now subtly toying with it."

Let's see, John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, which some maintain disqualifies him from the presidency. And has he forgotten the "No Irish need apply" signs of the past?