AJ Ericksen's Blog World

Friday, November 21

Observation About the Press and the Economy

This entry from the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web Today" encapsulates much about what is wrong with the media:

"The CEOs of the big three automakers flew to the nation's capital [Tuesday] in private luxurious jets to make their case to Washington that the auto industry is running out of cash and needs $25 billion in taxpayer money to avoid bankruptcy," ABC News reports:

The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.All three CEOs--Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler--exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC.

Reader Todd Green makes a good point in the CEOs' defense:

The real story is how journalism in this country is so incompetent when it comes to any stories that deal with economics, that the best they can come up with is a "gotcha" story about CEOs and corporate jets.

What is wrong with a company like GM having a private jet for executive business? If anything, this meeting in Washington is the most important one in the company's history. Its entire business future depends on it. If you are a GM employee, would you really want the CEO stuck in Cleveland and missing the hearing that might decide the fate of the company because he missed his connection on Continental?

This story goes beyond lunacy, because it is a glaring example of how journalism has failed to accurately report the things that were happening that caused the financial meltdown. The majority of the major stories seem to follow the same themes: exuberant corporate bonuses, corporate excess and the wacky things that corporate America does (AIG going to a spa). If the media did their job, we would be a lot more informed as to why we are in the situation we are in right now. I'm still waiting.

Tuesday, September 2

Don LaFontaine - R.I.P.

Don LaFontaine, the man who did the voice over for just about every major movie trailer you have ever seen, has passed away. Going to movies will never be the same.

Thursday, February 28

Fear Obama

Like most associates in a large law firm, I like to see what is going on in the marketplace for lawyers. News of pay raises at other firms travels fast and immediately begs the question "When are we going to match?" -- after all, we are greedy.

Above the Law is a favorite site for news of this type. Well, there was a sobering post this week about the impact on the wallets of young professionals of Mr. Obama getting his way regarding Social Security taxes and the Bush tax cuts. It is pretty staggering. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Wednesday, February 13

Biofuels

New studies published in Science explain how ethanol and other biofuels actually produce dramatically higher carbon emissions than traditional fuels. As The Wall Street Journal notes:
The ink is still moist on Capitol Hill's latest energy bill and, as if on cue, a scientific avalanche is demolishing its assumptions. To wit, trendy climate-change policies like ethanol and other biofuels are actually worse for the environment than fossil fuels. Then again, Washington's energy neuroses are more political than practical, so it's easy for the Solons and greens to ignore what would usually be called evidence.

The rebukes arrive via two new studies in Science, a peer-reviewed journal not known for right-wing proclivities. The first, by ecologists at Princeton and the Woods Hole Research Center, reviews the environmental consequences of increased biofuel consumption, which had never been examined comprehensively. Of course, that didn't stop Congress and the Bush Administration from jacking up the U.S. mandate to 36 billion gallons by 2022, a fivefold increase from a mere two years ago. Such policies are supposedly justified because corn-based ethanol and other "alternatives" result in (very modest) reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions when mixed with gasoline

It kind of reminds me of a classic New York Times Magazine piece "Recycling is Garbage":
Believing that there was no more room in landfills, Americans concluded that recycling was their only option. Their intentions were good and their conclusions seemed plausible. Recycling does sometimes makes sense -- for some materials in some places at some times. But the simplest and cheapest option is usually to bury garbage in an environmentally safe landfill. And since there's no shortage of landfill space (the crisis of 1987 was a false alarm), there's no reason to make recycling a legal or moral imperative. Mandatory recycling programs aren't good for posterity. They offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups -- politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations, waste-handling corporations -- while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.

Saturday, January 26

The Footpull

Allow me to share with you, dear reader, an exciting invention I encountered at a Rudy's BBQ in Spring, Texas. When I saw it, it reminded me of a conversation Paul and I had in the men's room at Burgers Supreme in Provo, Utah:

Me: Damn, no more paper towels.
Paul: How will we ever [open the door and] get out?

Well a new device takes care of that -- the footpull:



It's so sweet and at a mere $50 (plus shipping), well, I'm tempted to get one for the house.

Thursday, January 3

Peru

Nobody likely reads this blog anymore, but for grins I am throwing up a new post.

In the week between Christmas and New Year, I went with a group of friends to hike in the Andes in Peru and visit Machu Picchu. We hiked for three days, reaching an altitude of 14,560 feet, and then went up to the ruins on the fourth morning. I'm not in good shape, so the hiking was good for me -- lost eight pounds.

Here are a couple of photos:


Our group at the ruins


Me and some locals


Staring down a llama

On a totally unrelated note, I'm listening to John Edwards deride corporate America for making money. What a douche bag!

Sunday, January 14

iHandcuffs



Randall Stross writes an interesting article in today's New York Times discussing why Apple adds its digital rights management software to iTunes downloads, even when the record label doesn't request it. In fact, most labels allow their songs to be downloaded from other pay sites in MP3 format without any DRM. Why does Apple do this?
[W]hen the same tracks are sold by the iTunes Music Store, Apple insists on attaching FairPlay copy protection that limits their use to only one portable player, the iPod. Terry McBride, Nettwerk’s chief executive, said that the artists initially required Apple to use copy protection, but that this was no longer the case. At this point, he said, copy protection serves only Apple’s interests .

Josh Bernoff, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, agreed, saying copy protection "just locks people into Apple." He said he had recently asked Apple when the company would remove copy protection and was told, "We see no need to do so."

Apple’s statement is a detailed treatise on the subject, compared with what I received when I asked the company last week whether it would offer tracks without copy protection if the publisher did not insist on it: the Apple spokesman took my query and never got back to me.