20 December 2021


Facebook, excuse me, "Meta" is the worst company in the world. I was putting this together when I found that I was hardly alone in this opinion as Facebook came out on top as the worst entity in a Yahoo Finance survey as well, so this judgement is widespread. How then has it managed to so dominate social media?

 A lot was simply luck, but even more, the missteps of potential competitors. Let’s start with MySpace, which should have been in this position, given its early start, and the fact that it had far more customers initially than Facebook. It had the field to itself initially but blew it by having slow loading pages, blasting music on each one, along with much too heavy individual graphics and multimedia. Still people might have stuck with it except for the painfully slow loading. Fox blew $250 million purchasing  it without realizing what the problem was, so there was plenty of room for Facebook to grow, given its very plain, simple, and consistent interface that loaded right away and focused more on personal connection. But that was really all. 

The real, puzzling might-have-been is AOL, which had a better setup over twenty years ago than Facebook does today. They could and should have dominated this field but failed to adjust. Emerging from the earliest days of the Internet most users went by handles, rather than their real names, and their personal information remained as private as they wanted it to, which in retrospect may have been a plus given the state of privacy these days. But their search mechanism was far better in terms of finding people, they didn’t control who and what you could see, and they didn’t bombard you with ads, but also failed to monetize the service properly. Others, notably Google and Yahoo also tried, but it was too late and they simply abandoned their half-hearted efforts.

So that left Facebook by default, which now owns the field simply because it has the critical mass, which is to say you can assume everyone is here so you basically have to be here to reach them, notwithstanding the fact that you have very little control of who you can actually reach. You can have thousands of friends but only few of them see your posts and vice versa, and you don’t even have any control over what you do see; instead they do based on what their algorithms tell them you want to see. Still the result has been that people have drifted away from sites like Classmates to their equivalent on Facebook because everything now winds up here.

But these algorithms are inexact to say the least. They basically have virtually had a license to print money to the extent that they can micro-target ads to you by tracking your web surfing. But again it is far from perfect and sometimes laughable insofar as you often see ads for something you already just purchased which makes them obviously useless and a complete waste for the advertisers. Only recently have people begun to resist being tracked, and at least one major company, Apple, now makes privacy a priority, making it more difficult for Facebook to follow you without your permission. 

Worse they don’t even screen their advertisers so that people are getting burned by bogus vendors, with, i.e. storage devices with impossibly large memory that simply don’t work. So greedy and warped are they that they ignore crooked vendors but regulate users with a heavy hand. But they have also failed even functionally and aesthetically. Given all that power and control they could have done so much better than they have, but somehow it still feels like black and white in a world of color, there being remarkably few features available. 

But worst of all is the arrogant, almost complete indifference to users. It is just outrageous that a company of this size has no real customer support. If you need help with something you are out of luck. There is simply no one there. There is no number you can call nor even an email address you can write to. You are left with very limited and often useless help pages, or forums of other Users that costs them nothing. I, personally have been struggling for months to fix the link to my personal Home page that neither I, nor anyone else can now see or get to since they zapped the link to it when I set up a public page to post some writings, and switched it to the new page. So far my efforts have been in vain. 

So there’s no staff available to do anything useful so you have to wonder just what all the people working there do. Basically a lot of them just monitor and spy on you, and will interfere with your communications if they don’t like what you’re saying. So we have a situation where some kid is sitting there deciding what you can and cannot say. As if that weren’t bad enough, they are doubling down on it by adding yet more staff to do this sort of thing while still neglecting the basics of customer service that every other company provides. As a result you see more and more “corrections,” advisories, and labels covering your posts that you, of course have no ability to rebut. 

The icing on the cake is the blatant political bias and the concerted attempt to suppress not kooks, but ordinary conservatives from expressing themselves freely. They have censored people, they have blocked people, or arbitrarily completely shut down people, most notably a President of the United States in a breathtaking abuse of power. Even if you loathe the man, the very fact that they have the power to censor even a sitting President ought to be troubling to everyone. The end result is that in this private, not-so-little world, there is effectively no free speech and an inordinate amount of control over what you can do. 

As a private company they have the right to do so, but the result is that people are increasingly chafing under their yoke, and vast numbers of people have become disenchanted, to say the least, with their skulduggery. So although now nobody likes them, users are basically trapped to the extent that if they leave the service they are cut off from all the connections they have accrued and interacted with. No surprise then that they have turned themselves into the most hated company in the world, and I mean that literally because they have also alienated countries everywhere.

But worse for them, soon there are going to be consequences. You don’t screw around with people like this and get away without paying a price. I predict that price will be heavy as sentiment and power increasingly shift in this country. As that power begins to manifest itself they may pay dearly for their transgressions, and it is quite possible that the company will collapse over the next few years. As much as he may try, this time Zuckerberg is not going to be able to buy his way out of the situation he has created. Not only is the public disenchanted, for those likely to assume power are genuinely infuriated with these shenanigans. But if they fail to do anything in spite of all of this abuse, they too will be culpable and the time for revolution then may really have arrived. 


16 December 2021


Anyone who was around in the 1970s will recall how awful inflation was at the time, with high double-digit interest rates, constantly rising prices, and a stagnant economy, or what was then called “stagflation.” Unfortunately we may be on the cusp of a recurrence of these conditions as the Producer Price Index is now approaching a 10% rate of increase. We are now being told that it will probably taper down to 2% by the end of next year, but I don’t believe it for a second. Unless the principles of economics have somehow been miraculously transformed we may be headed towards really troubled waters, with very little maneuvering room left thanks to irresponsible government profligacy.

Even if it eventually passes some of the damage remains. Prior to that period interest rates on things like credit cards were nowhere near their current high double-digit rates, so even though inflation eventually dissipated the rates never went down. The Federal Reserve has incessantly been printing money, while keeping interest rates artificially low, thereby hurting savers and forcing more money into speculative markets, while the congress continues to spend money we don’t have. “Trillions” has now become part of the lexicon, replacing billions, about which Sen. Dirksen of Illinois once said “a billion here, a billion there, and sooner or later you’re talking about real money.” 

When the pandemic first emerged the government response was to flood the economy with money it didn’t have, sending funds to everyone who didn’t need it, and encouraging people not to work instead of targeting those who were most directly hurt by restrictive government policies, i.e. the restaurant industry. A well-thought out carefully implemented, targeted plan would have cost a fraction of what we have spent, but there is no evidence of any capacity for considered, forward thinking policies in this country, so we have now been adding trillions to the deficit, yet this administration and congress now want to run up trillions more in spending that there is no pressing need for, which is just totally insane. If they get away with this the situation may soon transition from perilous to hopeless. 

Someone is going to have to pay for this and that burden is now going to be born by younger people and future generations. Those who support the people responsible for this are simply cutting their own throats. Even if the government continues to print and spend money we don’t have, the only possible result is a lower standard of living and a debased currency that is worth less and less while goods and services cost more and more. Anyone should be able to understand this. If you borrow money today to indulge yourself, going forward when you have to pay it back, you will have that much less to get by on. But individually we can’t do what the government does, i.e. print money and raise taxes, so inflation is the only possible outcome. 

Meanwhile the administration has immeasurably contributed to further inflation for a range of policies, the most egregious of which is a war on the petroleum industry. Stopping pipelines that are nearly done, discouraging domestic production, and ruining the energy independence we had achieved as the largest producer in the world. Then when people chafe under rising gas and heating prices and finding themselves that much poorer  they try desperately to get middle-eastern countries to increase the kind of production they have sabotaged. 

This is all based upon a fantasy, that somehow we are going to precipitously get off of fossil fuels with nothing but fuzzy alternatives in place. The reality is that oil production continues to be the lifeblood of the world economy. It powers everything- vehicles that transport all the goods we consume, shipping, not to mention heating our homes, powering our automobiles, and dozens of other basic necessities. Nothing contributes more to higher prices overall than rising fuel costs. But they remain oblivious, or worse indifferent to the damage they are causing in the service of a murky progressive “green” ideology while those who can least afford it are bearing the burden of these rising costs. 

I truly hope that I am wrong, and that somehow inflation is miraculously going to disappear without having to make serious changes, but if I am right we are all screwed.


15 December 2021


My greatest fear about this weak, incompetent, and feckless administration is increasingly  that is there is a good chance that they may stumble into a major war that we are not prepared for as a result of these attributes. Adversaries are clearly signaling their contempt for this regime and events are unfolding that never would have happened under Trump. For all his supposed aggressiveness and unpredictability there was not a single serious foreign policy crisis under his presidency, and even some significant achievements like the Abraham Accords. 

Who wants to go to war under this Commander-in-Chief? This administration has managed to purloin the one institution left in this society that still was held in near-universal high regard by politicizing it, imposing crazy race theories on the troops, hunting down Trump supporters and non-existent white nationalists while leaving it underfunded. As the disaster they created in Afghanistan showed, we are saddled with a bunch of incompetent military top brass, and if events continue to spin out of control, it is our troops on the ground that are going to suffer. The reality is that we are no longer prepared for war, we have been immeasurably weakened and compromised by these fools, and our adversaries know this. As a result they find themselves with conditions too favorable to their goals to be ignored.

The “stern warnings” of this administration are laughable. No one takes them seriously. It is one thing to ruin the country domestically and something else to greatly increase the chances of a cataclysm abroad. Sadly, too often we have failed to consider all the consequences that might unfold as a result of our policy. It is critical to think things all the way through and consider possible worst-case outcomes. The media and the left-wing government are focused on nonexistent racism above everything else while the Russians are moving on the Ukraine, and most people remain blissfully ignorant of the danger we now face along with the even worse situation with the Chinese Communists in the east. But at this time we simply are not in a position to play with brinksmanship or take chances on the consequences of an escalating situation. 

The unnecessary and continued phony Russia-Russia-Russia obsession of the left has poisoned the well on what otherwise might have potentially  been good relations. You don’t have to approve of the Russian government or be a fan of Vladimir Putin to know that we need to deal with the realities in the world, not ideology. Whatever shortcomings there are, the fact is that the Russians are no longer Communists and that makes a world of difference. Russia’s natural home is in the West. Indeed they have nowhere else to go, because in the long run the threats to that country all lie along its southern and eastern borders, not from the West. But rather than drawing them in we have pushed them away. The argument that they are chronic authoritarians just doesn’t hold up alongside of global strategic considerations. If they solidify an alternative alliance with China, even though it is not in the long-term interests we will be facing a formidable foe. The real long-term threat now is China, and there can be no more important objective in our foreign policy now than discouraging a Russian alliance with China while hopefully enticing them back to the West.

The reality is that between a government run by a group of incompetents, and European allies given to burying their heads in the sand, we are in no position to warn, threaten, and certainly not go to war with anyone right now. Even in the absence of those weaknesses we face a real dilemma. Just how far are we willing to go vis a vis other countries who perceive their core, vital interests at stake when ours are not? As much as we may sympathize with the plight of the Ukraine and their democratic aspirations our vital interests are simply not involved there, where the Russians unavoidably are. Under those circumstances, were things to continuously escalate there is little doubt as to who would have the final word. We have no border anywhere nearby, we are oblivious to the historical interaction and dynamic and play here, and it is utter madness to suggest bringing Ukraine into NATO. There could be no greater signal that NATO is clearly a hostile, anti-Russian alliance to anyone sitting in the Kremlin. A more enlightened policy would be to try in the long run to cement both countries with the West. 

Unfortunately we are in a no-win situation now that has been exasperated by the incompetence of the Biden administration. Who would not take advantage of such obvious weakness? It is a miracle it hasn’t happened yet. So again we need to ask ourselves just how far are we prepared to go against the Russians or Chinese with regard to matters that are close to their home but not ours, at a time when our military has been thrown into disarray. Assuming we manage to get through the next few years without another foreign policy disaster there is only one thing to do, and that is to rebuild our forces, amplify our deterrents, strengthen our alliances, update our weapons technology and hopefully have a leadership in power strong enough to manage any contingency. 

08 December 2021


 I am absolutely furious with the people running the Republican campaign organizations and the annoying WinRed that does the charges.  My mailbox is perpetually flooded with email several times a day. There are literally a dozen or more from Donald Trump alone. Then there is everyone else running for office because the congressional campaign committees gave out my email.  

I of course I  finally took steps to stop this by telling them remove me from their lists but then they simply shifted over to another mailing list and were back again. This goes on continuously even though the next election is still almost a year away, due to the permanent campaign we have to endure. Worse, some of the wording is downright offensive for failing to respond. They have also cried wolf too many times, always falsely claiming they are behind in fundraising. 

As a result I sometimes miss important mail like notices and bills, etc. because of the nonstop flood. What I am going to have to do is make a new mailbox just for bills and other important things. Mind you it’s no secret I have been a lifelong conservative, but I have had it with this. I just don’t know what they think they are accomplishing by annoying people this way. 

I’m even getting mail from the Democrats now due to a publication giving out my address! A good part of the reason for all of this is tunnel vision, that is more and more ubiquitous across the board in today’s society. By that I mean the organizations are now so laser-focused on particular objectives that the staff pull out all the stops to try and achieve them without any consideration of collateral consequences. The campaign people want to raise as much money as they can and nothing else much matters. 

The larger problem, of course, is money and the endless quest for it. Politicians spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising, and most of them hate it. Yet even those who most fervently claim to want campaign finance reform alway make sure to leave loopholes for themselves in any legislation that passes. The reality is it is almost impossible to get money out of the process as everyone is in on it, i.e. the pious media certainly does not want to lose all the money they collect in advertising. 

But what we can do, and what we desperately need to bring about is election reform. A good part of the problem would be mitigated if we limited the amount of time that campaigns can occur in, which would certainly spare us a lot of the cacophony of the endless campaign. Furthermore we need to get rid of primaries, which simply inordinately increase the resources needed to run for office. The idea that they are somehow more “democratic” is a delusion, given that few people vote in them, and those who do tend to be activists which simply pulls the parties to the extremes. The truth is the “party” is really comprised of the elected officials identifying with it, and they are the ones who should be nominating candidates. (I’ve written on this before with regard to the presidency but the idea hasn’t gotten any traction yet).

It does not, however, completely resolve the problem of money. It is not so much that it gives advantage to “the rich” since they are as varied in outlook as the rest of the population and the notion that they form a cohesive “class” is simply not reflected in reality. But there are wealthy individuals who, on a personal level, do get more access than they deserve because politicians are generally easily impressed by big money. So they get to hang around and mostly feed each others’ egos, go to Epstein’s island, etc. Then when it sometimes blows up they have to scramble to disassociate themselves from people they were intimately associated with. 

I will never forget how, years ago, I did a lot of work for a candidate for a top executive position because I took him seriously in his commitment to principle.  At the same time, from the opposite side, a billionaire I had some acquaintance with was doing everything possible to defeat this candidate, organizing and pouring funds into the incumbent’s campaign. My candidate won. But I cannot overstate the shock I felt when barely a few weeks into his term he had dinner with the same billionaire who had just worked against him so strongly. I have never trusted any of them since then and it wasn’t long before I completely walked away from all of that. Money trumps principle, and just about everything else, and these people are never going to change. Thus the only thing to do is to eliminate as much of the need for funds as possible starting with what I have outlined above.