Late last year I wrote on this blog about my frustration with the lack of Big Ideas driving […]
Many know the name Kaspersky well. Others may only dimly recognize the brand name. Its anti-virus and Internet security software has been around for years in computer stores and OEM’d with computer systems. More than a year ago, I became concerned about what I was learning about Kaspersky Lab and its headquarters in Moscow, I began asking myself hypothetical rhetorical questions. What if Kaspersky was quietly working with the Russian FSB? What if Kaspersky had installed a sleeping Trojan Horse in millions of copies of its consumer computer security software? I was a user of Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity software myself. I knew that it was rated very highly by the tech journals. I liked its elegance and simplicity compared with other competitor products from U.S. based companies like Symantec and McAffee. Nevertheless, as the Russian hacking of the 2016 election became an ever-larger issue, I decided to pull the plug on Kaspersky because of my fears, though there was no direct evidence of collusion between Kaspersky and the Kremlin at that time, wiped my system clean, and installed another competitor product.
For over a year now I have blogged here about the red flags flying about Travis Kalanick and Uber. Many investigative articles have been published over this time, in the New York Times and other publications, which have raised disturbing questions about Uber, Kalanick and some members of his team. The Board of Directors has finally taken action but it feels like its a day late and a dollar short. Why did it take so long? I have bluntly used the epithet that “Uber is Trump,” but now on reflection, it is more apt to describe Uber as Enron the sequel, and “deja vu all over again.” Remember the audio of two Enron electricity traders laughing about “screwing grandma?” That is Uber.
As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out this week in the Washington Post and on CNN GPS, we now have a Trump foreign policy doctrine, and it is not reassuring for the World. Obviously heavily influenced by Bannon, who many had thought had been relegated to backseat status by McMaster, we have been fooled again. As Trump demonstrates his RealPolitik admiration for authoritarians like Putin, Xi Jinping, Erdogan, and Duterte, more sinister scenarios begin to crystallize. Trump’s speech justifying the withdrawal of the United States from the COP21 Paris Climate Change Agreement is a frightening exposition of this new Trump Doctrine. It is Trump thumbing his nose at the World. It is the United States against the World, led by a coterie of plutocrats and their money. The reality is that the evidence points to an ongoing seizure of executive power by Trump that destroys our Constitution in the name of our national security. The question is what we can do about it.
Reading this article today, I am dumbfounded that Anbang managed to get this far in the purchase of B.C. commercial real-estate without red flags going up. This mysterious Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group has attracted the attention of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, and government authorities in the United States and other countries. A months-long investigation by the New York Times revealed an extremely opaque structure, empty offices, obscure shareholders, and extensive political connections to the Chinese elite. Anbang has all the earmarks of Chinese money laundering, corruption at the highest levels, and mysterious shell companies. It is a cautionary tale for Canadian authorities fretting over foreign real-estate buyers and skyrocketing real-estate prices.
My own odyssey in choosing a major and a career is probably not a great guide for today’s students. I had only a vague idea that I wanted a quality “liberal arts education,” to equip me with the thinking skills necessary to guide my career. I chose an undergraduate major in Speech-Communication with double minors in Philosophy and Photography. In retrospect, despite the disadvantages of my choice, it turned out well at that time, primarily because being able to communicate and present yourself is perhaps the most important skill in any career. Warren Buffett agrees with that. But in today’s much more competitive environment, I am sadly less confident that it would work. This is the dilemma for today’s students.
A mysterious Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group has attracted the attention of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, and government authorities in the United States and other countries. The cause of the scrutiny has been Anbang’s sudden involvement in a number of massive multi-billion dollar real estate investments around the World. Formed in 2004, Anbang apparently holds assets worth at least $295 Billion, but a months-long investigation by the New York Times has revealed an extremely opaque structure, empty offices, obscure shareholders, and extensive political connections to the Chinese elite. Analysis of Anbang and its operations holds a potential lesson for Canadian authorities fretting over foreign buyers and skyrocketing real-estate prices.
Hopefully this comes as no surprise to many, but for some, alas, I am afraid they have yet to get the email. It’s yet another case of the 1% versus the 99%. Only one percent of Web app developers have made any real money, the other ninety-nine percent are SOL. Forty-seven percent of those, make absolutely no money or less than $100 on their app. Not surprisingly there are now over a million apps on the Apple store, and when you add all of the other sources for apps, you can see that the problem is coming to a head. I saw this coming over two years ago and wrote about the problem on this blog, citing a New York Times story published about that time, describing the dark underbelly of the Web app development culture. In a satire of the problem, last year The Onion published a gag story about a new app called “Squander” that enabled users to “geolocate others nearby who had also wasted $2 on the same app.”
The U.S. government shutdown crisis is driven by an entirely new and dangerous dynamic in American politics. It is not easy to discern, but it is there. A number of different U.S. news media have begun reporting on this phenomenon and have editorialized on it. Last night before the shutdown actually occurred, one political commentator abandoned all of the tedious “talking points,” promoted by both sides, and spoke the truth. He said simply that the political paralysis problem in the United States was precipitated by the growing plutocracy (government by the extremely rich), and corporate political money empowered by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Its focus, goal and strategy is exclusively to discredit The President of the United States personally. It has little or nothing to do with opposing policy issues. It is personal and racist.
Tonight I was channel surfing and stumbled on the Task One iPhone Case in a TV News feature story from an outfit called Task Labs.. Their website is up but not complete. It still has the Latin text of an incomplete webpage template, but you can buy it online if you wish. I want to emphasize that I wish to be completely fair here. I am a dedicated Swiss Army Knife aficionado and a dedicated smart mobile user. I have a simple version of a Swiss Army Knife with a corkscrew in my pocket as I write this. A corkscrew is one of my mandatory survival tools (smile). I have followed the Wall Street Journal coverage of the merger of the two Swiss companies that produce the knives. It is a great story and a great product. I have the full Boy Scout version in my tool drawer. The Task Labs people should also remember the tried and true publicity adage, “Any PR is good PR.”