Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Last Lecture of Randy Pausch

In computer science circles, Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch is known as a virtual-reality expert, co-founder of the university's Entertainment Technology Center and director of the Alice Software Project, which exposes students from middle school through college to programming.

Randy Pausch and children

Professor Randy Pausch and his three children in a recent shot.

(Credit: Randy Pausch )

But he is fast becoming familiar to a broader audience as a man with little time to live and much wisdom to impart. Pausch, a 46-year-old father of three, has pancreatic cancer and, most likely, just a few months left.


You can see the entire last lecture here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stop the mortgage bail out!

It's finally happening like I predicted years ago: now that reality has sunk in and the numerous people who shoe-horned themselves into houses they couldn't afford are about to pay the price, the federal government is talking about stepping in to save the day. For democrats, I suppose it makes some sense. Perpetually the champions of the downtrodden, the democrats can position themselves as standing up for the little guy while at the same time they are standing up for the big guys who bankroll them. After all, if our tax dollars go to pay the mortgage of the family down the straight who allowed themselves to be panicked into a home they couldn't afford, who really ends up with the money?

The Republicans, likewise can position themselves as champions of business, bailing out the poor, unsophisticated millionaires who bought products which, as it turns out, contained these mortgages. I mean, who could have predicted that what goes up must come down? Certainly not the NAR, who as it turns out are behind Bush's latest proposal.

That means that the only people left holding the bag are 1. the taxpayers and 2. people who have been waiting on the sidelines because they knew the market would come down. This means the market will remain artificially inflated, or subsidized, and the break that many of us anticipated may be further off, or may not even come.

For the Republicans, this is the biggest problem. After all, their values included taking responsibility for ones choices. How exactly does this bail-out fit in with that?

The last bail-out in American history was the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 80's. The government paid 145 billion dollars.

According to this article, the current crisis is nothing like that, and as of yet, we have only spent a measly 25 billion dollars on the subprime meltdown. Moreover "all experts" seem to think this is a short-term problem. '

However, reading this article from sfgate which states

"U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., suggested that just less than $200 billion could rescue these poor "homeowners." But a bail out will amount to at least five times that when the Alt A market fails."


"Christopher Cagan, director of research at First American CoreLogic, says rising mortgage payments on adjustable rate loans will force 1.1 million homeowners into foreclosure over the next 6 years. He estimates the cost of paying off the debt for those borrowers would be $120 billion.

Thus, it would appear many people are contemplating a bigger bail-out. I include myself in this fine company. To quote a source I don't recall "we don't even know where the bodies are buried."

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Jena six hypocrisy

I've never been a big fan of Al Sharpton who has a long history of being a windbag race-baiter looking to fan the flames of anger rather than the cool eye of a leader intent to help our nation heal the rift that exists between us. I'm also disgusted by the way in which the only real information I was able to find on this case came from, of all people, Michelle Malkin. But then again even a broken clock is right twice a day.

As it turns out, the kid in jail was on probation. Certainly you are all aware that what we have here is a crime of violence committed three months after the symbolic act of hanging a noose on the "white" tree. Six kids attacked one kid, and his face was apparently swollen. While this may not rise to the level of attempted murder, it is a crime of violence. The victims are thus six people who decided to attack one person.

Don't ask me how it is possible that such people could become victims, but America's dearth of black leadership has existed for quite a while, and the likes of Al Sharpton, who it seems should be at least as discredited as Don Imus, continues to get airplay.

Here are the relevant passages:


There are undeniable racial and economic inequities in our criminal justice system, and from afar the “Jena Six” rallies certainly looked and felt like the righteous protests of the 1960s. But the reality is Thursday’s protests are just another sign that we remain deeply locked in denial about the path we need to travel today for true American liberation, equality and power in the new millennium.

The fact that we waited to love Mychal Bell until after he’d thrown away a Division I football scholarship and nine months of his life is just as heinous as the grossly excessive attempted-murder charges that originally landed him in jail. Reed Walters, the Jena district attorney, is being accused of racism because he didn’t show Bell compassion when the teenager was brought before the court for the third time on assault charges in a two-year span.

Where was our compassion long before Bell got into this kind of trouble?

That’s the question that needed to be asked in Jena and across the country on Thursday. But it wasn’t asked because everyone has been lied to about what really transpired in the small southern town.

There was no “schoolyard fight” as a result of nooses being hung on a whites-only tree. Justin Barker, the white victim, was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes. Barker, luckily, sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack. A black U.S. attorney, Don Washington, investigated the “Jena Six” case and concluded that the attack on Barker had absolutely nothing to do with the noose-hanging incident three months before. The nooses and two off-campus incidents were tied to Barker’s assault by people wanting to gain sympathy for the “Jena Six” in reaction to Walters’ extreme charges of attempted murder.

Much has been written about Bell’s trial, the six-person all-white jury that convicted him of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery and the clueless public defender who called no witnesses and offered no defense. It is rarely mentioned that no black people responded to the jury summonses and that Bell’s public defender was black.

It’s almost never mentioned that Bell’s absentee father returned from Dallas and re-entered his son’s life only after Bell faced attempted-murder charges. At a bond hearing in August, Bell’s father and a parade of local ministers promised a judge that they would supervise Bell if he was released from prison. Where were the promises and supervision before any of this?

It’s rarely mentioned that Bell was already on probation for assault when he was accused of participating in Barker’s attack. And it’s never mentioned that white people in the “racist” town of Jena provided Bell support and protected his football career long before Jesse, Al, Bell’s father and all the others took a sincere interest in Mychal Bell.

-From the Kansas City Star

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

For the clients

The Lawyer's Client Manifesto

1. You have wants. You have needs. Focus on the needs first. Wants are bonus.

2. If you are seeing a lawyer because your dispute is "not about the money, but about the principle of the thing" don't be surprised if your lawyer runs away. You can never be satisfied. Also, it's really about the money.

3. Your case/matter is the most important thing happening to you right now. It is not the most important thing happening to your lawyer right now. It may not even be in his top ten.

4. If you think your lawyer is trying to kill your deal, remember this: though there may only be a "one percent" chance your deal will go bad, your lawyer sees that "one percent" over and over again. She's looking out for you. She cares about you and your business. She also doesn't want her malpractice premiums to go up.

5. You want to buy results, not time. Most lawyers sell time, not results. Make sure you both understand the difference before your first bill arrives. You will certainly understand the difference after.

6. If you want to find a lawyer who sells results, look hard. There are a few of them out there. They are the ones who can still smile because they get to see their children before 9:00 at night.

7. Big firm lawyers are not more efficient. Or smarter. Or cheaper. They are certainly not cheaper.

8. Make sure your lawyer understands your business. If your lawyer doesn't understand your business, find out if he's going to learn about it on his time, or yours.

9. You are your lawyer's boss. You are not her only boss. She has hundreds of other bosses too. Each one of them thinks their matter is more important than yours.

10. How messy is your lawyer's desk? When they bill you for thirty minutes of "file review," how much of that time was spent looking for your file?

11. When you call a lawyer for the first time, how long does it take for him to return your calls? After you hire that lawyer, expect it to take at least three times as long. Same goes for e-mails.

12. Does your lawyer have reputation for being a "bulldog?" That probably means they are an asshole. To everyone.

13. Look for a lawyer with a technology IQ no more than fifty points less than yours. If you live in e-mail and your lawyer doesn't, learn to like your mail carrier.

14. If you hate your lawyer, fire him. He probably deserves it, and you aren't getting his best work anyway.

15. You wouldn't automatically marry the first person you date, so don't automatically hire the first lawyer you see. A great lawyer-client relationship can last a lifetime. Your lawyer can be your advisor, counselor, confidant, and friend. Find one you like, stick with him or her, and spread the word. Oh, and stop telling lawyer jokes. They aren't really that funny. ;-)

Please check the above link for the original source: "gapingvoid"

[Manifesto submission guidelines are here.] [Manifesto archive is here.]