2.17.2005

What the Hell is Wrong with Michael Crichton?

'Fear'-mongering Crichton wrong on science
SFGate.com (02.16)
It's a real shame. We used to really love Micheal Crichton, but clearly he has gone completely around the bend. I mean we understand when most folks get basic science wrong (especially in today's day and age when they're being willfully mislead about evolution, stem cell research and other topics) but Crichton is smarter than the average bear, so how does this occur?

Novelist Michael Crichton has been getting attention lately for his new novel, "State of Fear" -- No. 5 last week on the New York Times best- seller list -- which suggests there's no basis for concern over global climate change. In public speeches, he has compared the existing scientific consensus to the early 20th-century consensus on eugenics -- implying that because scientists were wrong then about eugenics, they must be wrong now about climate change.

Crichton has got his science, his history and his politics wrong. Climate scientists have been in agreement for some time that global climate change is real and happening now. We know that humans have changed the chemistry of Earth's atmosphere, most measurably through the addition of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossils fuels. We also know that these changes are having a detectable effect on Earth's climate. These are not speculations, guesses or predictions, but observations over which there is no significant scientific argument.
We hear that the story is about ruthless environmental activists that destroy the environment to get their way saving it and it is up to courageous businessmen (and we guess women) to stop them.

...?

You are now officially on Bizarro World. Please watch your step...
Moreover, given that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and the theory of greenhouse gases is well established, it is nearly certain that a continued rise in carbon dioxide will lead to more changes: increased average temperatures, melting of polar ice (and a subsequent rise in sea levels), and, perhaps, an increase in floods, droughts and hurricanes. Finally, we know that the predicted changes could occur rapidly, giving both humans and nonhumans little time to adapt. Anyone who denies this has simply got the science wrong.

As a firm scientific consensus has emerged, climate-change deniers have changed their tactics. Having previously challenged the existence of a scientific consensus, they now admit that there is a consensus, but suggest that it is wrong. Crichton's claims are a good example. He argues that scientists who supported the eugenics movement in the early 20th century were politically motivated, and, because there are political issues at stake in climate change, climate science must be mistaken, too.
Totally bums us out.

No, it isn't outsourcing but we just thought we would put this out there...

Down & Out in Colorado

Workers Fight Offshoring Of State Jobs

News4Colorado.com (02.15)
Hmmm, local CBS affiliate... we live in LA and would never, under any circumstances, trust the reporting of our local news 'cuz it is the worst. No joke. Total fear–mongering and completely ridiculous stories about stuff that just doesn't matter. In any other city you know exactly who the mayor & the chief of police are within 5 minutes... it might take you 2 weeks to figure out who the mayor is here.

Anyways...

John Coffey knows what happens when companies send jobs overseas.

Coffey said he was forced to train his replacement in Canada, then lost his $72,000–a–year job at IBM in Boulder. He applied for another opening in IBM, only to be told it was a Canadian job and he could not have it.

Now he's looking for a job overseas, while his wife works at Starbucks to provide benefits to his family of six.
OUCH. That has just gotta hurt. No offense dude, but 6 kids? Was that really necessary?
"It's just not right," he told a gathering organized by the AFL-CIO at the state Capitol to support a measure (Senate Bill 23) that would bar state contractors from sending taxpayer-funded jobs overseas. The bill has been introduced and is awaiting scheduling for a hearing.
While we feel for the guy, he still just isn't getting it: this isn't about 'right' & 'wrong'... this is about the bottom line and profit and until you start to hurt those things you are just tilting at windmills. Profit makes them do it.
Union president Steve Adams said taxpayers should not be paying to send jobs overseas.

"We've lost thousands of jobs in this state to offshoring and now have 130,000 Coloradans who are unemployed. The state cannot solve the problem of offshoring, but they can make sure our tax dollars don't pay for it," he said.

The new measure would bar companies that receive state service contracts from shipping jobs overseas and require companies to certify they will not have work performed overseas.
Well, its a start...

2.16.2005

One More Field Outsourced...

OUTSOURCING TORTURE
The New Yorker (02.07)
Dude! Can't we keep any jobs in this country??? Now torture is going overseas too? >sigh<

On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture." Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bush’s statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. When Arar described his experience in a phone interview recently, he invoked an Arabic expression. The pain was so unbearable, he said, that "you forget the milk that you have been fed from the breast of your mother."
Uh, not to be politically incorrect but... uh, who actually remembers the taste of mother's milk? Come on dude, that's not kinda weird: it is weird.

Arar, a thirty–four–year–old graduate of McGill University whose family emigrated to Canada when he was a teen-ager, was arrested on September 26, 2002, at John F. Kennedy Airport. He was changing planes; he had been on vacation with his family in Tunisia, and was returning to Canada. Arar was detained because his name had been placed on the United States Watch List of terrorist suspects. He was held for the next thirteen days, as American officials questioned him about possible links to another suspected terrorist. Arar said that he barely knew the suspect, although he had worked with the man’s brother. Arar, who was not formally charged, was placed in handcuffs and leg irons by plainclothes officials and transferred to an executive jet. The plane flew to Washington, continued to Portland, Maine, stopped in Rome, Italy, then landed in Amman, Jordan.

During the flight, Arar said, he heard the pilots and crew identify themselves in radio communications as members of "the Special Removal Unit." The Americans, he learned, planned to take him next to Syria. Having been told by his parents about the barbaric practices of the police in Syria, Arar begged crew members not to send him there, arguing that he would surely be tortured. His captors did not respond to his request; instead, they invited him to watch a spy thriller that was aired on board.
HEY! They invited him to watch a spy thriller! Wonder which one it was? Bourne Identity probably. Good film. 2nd one was a bit better... the movies we always seem to get when we fly suck. Cheaper By The Dozen and Mona Lisa Smiles. Crap like that. It seems like the better movies are always going the other direction and they just happen to change the day before we return. Someone at the airlines hates us.
Ten hours after landing in Jordan, Arar said, he was driven to Syria, where interrogators, after a day of threats, "just began beating on me." They whipped his hands repeatedly with two–inch–thick electrical cables, and kept him in a windowless underground cell that he likened to a grave. "Not even animals could withstand it," he said. Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say. "You just give up," he said. "You become like an animal."
Yes, but an animal that can't remember the taste of his mother's milk?

Alright, all kidding aside, here's the deal: we're outsourcing torture. We're not doing anymore, but we're "disappearing" folks to the not so nice places in this world that are willing to do it and want to curry favor with us.

Torture. Can you believe it? We're actually torturing folks (or having others do it for us so we can say that technically we aren't... but we are).

Torture makes the baby Jesus cry.

The Question We've Been Asking Ourselves...

Economy's Growing, but Where Are the New Jobs?
Los Angeles Times (02.15)
"Firms are expanding without hiring. Some analysts wonder if this change is permanent."

Oh lots of he said/she said here... but don't lose sight of the fact that good jobs are just not being created, folks are sorta taking a pay cut since wages haven't kept pace with inflation and healthcare is a big factor here (actually it's the elephant in the room but we're not there yet)

Let's begin shall we?

Carlton Guthrie sees bright times ahead. After weathering the 2001 recession, his manufacturing company has made enough money to pay off some debt and position itself to expand.

But he's not planning to add jobs.
So much for that "trickle down" crap they've been trying to sell us. Bastards.
Guthrie's ability to expand his business without enlarging the payroll — a feat achieved by many executives across the nation — helps explain why job creation continues to be sluggish even while the economy appears to be booming.

The U.S. economy grew at a brisk 4.4% clip last year, but it was not until last month that the number of jobs recovered to the levels of early 2001. The Labor Department pegs the unemployment rate at 5.2%, the lowest in four years, but the share of people who have stopped hunting for work is the largest it has been since 1988. Today's job growth is more than twice as slow as it was after the 1990-91 recession, and slower than during any recovery since World War II, analysts say.
That means that "The Economy" is growing for some but not for others.
The discrepancy is fueling a growing debate about whether such low employment growth is a harbinger of a world in which businesses can rake in increasing profits without much of it trickling down to workers.

"Until now, this recovery has been all about businesses," said economist Mark Zandi of Economy.com, an economic research firm in West Chester, Pa. "Businesses are in about as good a financial shape as I've seen them."

Instead of aggressively adding workers, corporations have been buying labor-saving equipment, banking cash, distributing record dividends, buying back stock or undertaking ambitious mergers that often lead to job losses.
But what about "a rising tide lifts all boats" and all that trickle down notion they've been selling us since Reagan? Are you saying that doesn't need to be true anymore?

Here's our favorite part...
There is a wide range of reasons for these choices. Manufacturers such as Guthrie are pinched by price competition and required to continually cut costs. Other executives are wary about expanding payrolls in a time of ballooning healthcare premiums. Companies are cautious about bloating their staffs, remembering the excesses of the late 1990s. And shipping jobs out of the country still seems cheaper than paying American salaries.
Again it comes down to Healthcare (or the lack of it) and you're "bloating" your company. You give them gas. You're the problem.

Actually we love how it's "American salaries"... because that's the ticket: if you're not management then you're part of the problem because you're cutting into their bottom line. YOU cost them money that could be going into their beach houses, SUVs and other crap.
Another factor that could soon lead to more job growth: slowing gains in productivity. Companies have squeezed just about all they can out of existing workers through labor-saving technology and efficient management practices, analysts say.

Skeptics point to the fact that wages remain relatively flat, growing slower last year than the rate of inflation — translating into a cut in take–home pay for many workers. That stagnation indicates to skeptics that the traditional business cycle — in which growth leads to a tight labor market that bids up wages — may be a thing of the past.
Oh we don't like the sound of that...
"The big question is: Has there been some structural change, in that what we're seeing in the rearview mirror doesn't apply to what's in front of us?" asked Jared Bernstein of the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
That's what we're afraid of: the game has changed and we're in uncharted territory. Damn those liberals for pointing out the unpleasant truths we might have to recognize!

Lots of other goodies here. Check it out.

The Question We've Been Asking Ourselves...

Economy's Growing, but Where Are the New Jobs?
Los Angeles Times (02.15)
"Firms are expanding without hiring. Some analysts wonder if this change is permanent."

Oh lots of he said/she said here... but don't lose sight of the fact that good jobs are just not being created, folks are sorta taking a pay cut since wages haven't kept pace with inflation and healthcare is a big factor here (actually it's the elephant in the room but we're not there yet)

Let's begin shall we?

Carlton Guthrie sees bright times ahead. After weathering the 2001 recession, his manufacturing company has made enough money to pay off some debt and position itself to expand.

But he's not planning to add jobs.
So much for that "trickle down" crap they've been trying to sell us. Bastards.
Guthrie's ability to expand his business without enlarging the payroll — a feat achieved by many executives across the nation — helps explain why job creation continues to be sluggish even while the economy appears to be booming.

The U.S. economy grew at a brisk 4.4% clip last year, but it was not until last month that the number of jobs recovered to the levels of early 2001. The Labor Department pegs the unemployment rate at 5.2%, the lowest in four years, but the share of people who have stopped hunting for work is the largest it has been since 1988. Today's job growth is more than twice as slow as it was after the 1990-91 recession, and slower than during any recovery since World War II, analysts say.
That means that "The Economy" is growing for some but not for others.
The discrepancy is fueling a growing debate about whether such low employment growth is a harbinger of a world in which businesses can rake in increasing profits without much of it trickling down to workers.

"Until now, this recovery has been all about businesses," said economist Mark Zandi of Economy.com, an economic research firm in West Chester, Pa. "Businesses are in about as good a financial shape as I've seen them."

Instead of aggressively adding workers, corporations have been buying labor-saving equipment, banking cash, distributing record dividends, buying back stock or undertaking ambitious mergers that often lead to job losses.
But what about "a rising tide lifts all boats" and all that trickle down notion they've been selling us since Reagan? Are you saying that doesn't need to be true anymore?

Here's our favorite part...
There is a wide range of reasons for these choices. Manufacturers such as Guthrie are pinched by price competition and required to continually cut costs. Other executives are wary about expanding payrolls in a time of ballooning healthcare premiums. Companies are cautious about bloating their staffs, remembering the excesses of the late 1990s. And shipping jobs out of the country still seems cheaper than paying American salaries.
Again it comes down to Healthcare (or the lack of it) and you're "bloating" your company. You give them gas. You're the problem.

Actually we love how it's "American salaries"... because that's the ticket: if you're not management then you're part of the problem because you're cutting into their bottom line. YOU cost them money that could be going into their beach houses, SUVs and other crap.
Another factor that could soon lead to more job growth: slowing gains in productivity. Companies have squeezed just about all they can out of existing workers through labor-saving technology and efficient management practices, analysts say.

Skeptics point to the fact that wages remain relatively flat, growing slower last year than the rate of inflation — translating into a cut in take–home pay for many workers. That stagnation indicates to skeptics that the traditional business cycle — in which growth leads to a tight labor market that bids up wages — may be a thing of the past.
Oh we don't like the sound of that...
"The big question is: Has there been some structural change, in that what we're seeing in the rearview mirror doesn't apply to what's in front of us?" asked Jared Bernstein of the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
That's what we're afraid of: the game has changed and we're in uncharted territory. Damn those liberals for pointing out the unpleasant truths we might have to recognize!

Lots of other goodies here. Check it out.

2.14.2005

Working For You.

Brandoland. Worth your time.

A REAL Love Story for Valentine's Day

Outsourcing transforms India – and US business
The Business Times Asia (02.14)

The caller, in a slow, southern drawl, describes a problem he is having with his video game. A Dayton, Ohio, area code flashes on the computer screen and, 19,300 km away in India, Abhinav Majumdar puts on his fake American accent.
This always gets us: why the fake accent? If there's nothing wrong with this, and no one should feel guilty, then why go to such lengths to cover up what you're doing?

Our favorite part?
India has fast become the global centre for outsourced industries, with companies throughout America turning to India's burgeoning population of highly-educated, English speaking urban youth to perform work at a fraction of what it would cost in the US. Along the way, the companies that do the work here have learned a few tricks, like using names more familiar to Americans.

No one seems to know exactly how many jobs for US companies are being done by Indians – the most frequent estimates are anywhere from 2 to 4 per cent of computer jobs and 5 per cent of call centre jobs – but few doubt Corporate America's love affair with low–cost Indian labour will end anytime soon.
Gee, what does your hometown look like? Ours looks a little roughed up and we could probably use jobs like these... like the ones we used to have... oh.

They're FORCED to outsource us?

Banks forced down outsourcing and offshoring route
Silicon.com (02.04)
Oh NOW we get it: they outsource because they have to...

Pressure to drive down cost base will continue despite rising profits...

Outsourcing and offshoring are set to increase in the banking industry despite rising profits in the sector, because of the pressures of market consolidation, fierce competition and the need to cut costs, according to a new IDC report.
Ok, so it isn't the U.S., but you can be sure these pressures are the same here.

Remember: profit made them do it.