Posts from September 2004

It’s Hard Work

That was Bush’s tagline for most of the debate. The other one was “I am steady and don’t waver”. So Bush’s foriegn policy comes down to that. Don’t worry, its just hard work, but I am steady and I don’t waver and all will be fine.

I thought Kerry made a more persuasive argument. It’s one I made earlier in the day with my foriegn policy post. He said that we need friends to win the war on terror and Bush has made a lot of enemies. He also said that staying the course and ignoring the realities on the ground isn’t a winning proposition.

I don’t think there was a winner or a loser in this debate. The winning/losing part will happen on Nov 2nd.

Tonight, Bush was Bush. You either love him or hate him. I haven’t met too many people who don’t have a strong feeling about him. He probably made the people who love him love him even more tonight with his steadfast approach to foriegn policy.

Kerry was pretty good. I would have liked him to hit Bush harder on the flip flop issue on the vote to support the war. He gave Bush what he asked him for. And then Bush abused it by rushing to war without building a real coalition and wihtout giving diplomacy the chance to work. And Bush is now using it against him politically. But other than that, I thought Kerry made his point of view pretty well and since I agree with it, I was pleased to see that.

The two parts I liked best about Kerry were his strong stand that Bush did not go to war in Iraq as a “last resort”. He made that point twice and he made it well. The other one was when he reminded Bush that the “enemy” who attacked us was Osama Bin Laden, not Sadaam Hussein. In fact, I believe that was the best moment of the night for either guy.

The media probably wants to see a horse race and so will be tempted to say that Kerry did great and he’s back in it. If that’s not the spin, I’ll be surprised.

The Seven Digital Disruptions

OM Malik has a great post up, with the help of Bob Baily, CEO of PMC Sierra.

He lists Bob’s five digital disruptions and adds two more.

Here they are:

MPEG/MP3 – Disrupts the music and movie business
PVRs – Disrupts the TV ad business
Broadband Entertainment – Disrupts the TV business
Digital Cameras and JPEGS – Disrupts the film business
Linux – Disrupts the operating system business
Network Computers – disrupts the PC hardware/software business
Wireless Networks – disrupts the wire line phone business
VOIP – disrupts the entire phone business

The truth is there are probably many more examples of this stuff. It’s the defining characteristic of the economy in the first decade of the new millenium.

Encore

Eminem has a new album coming out called Encore, produced again by Dr Dre. It’s not even up on Amazon yet. I have to get my hands on it. This guy is brilliant. And he’s writing about some interesting stuff.

Debate Night

It’s finally here. An opportunity to see if Bush can really make the case for his preemptive offensive foriegn policy to the american public in a forum where debate is tolerated.

And an opportunity for those who disagree with Bush (in the form of John Kerry) to make the case that Bush’s foriegn policy is dangerous and wrong.

I think (and most everyone else does too) that it’s John Kerry’s big moment. He needs to stand toe to toe with Bush and make him answer the hard questions, like why we stopped fighting terror in the form of Al Qaeda and started creating terror where none existed (Iraq). And Kerry needs to put an end to the questions of whether he’d be a strong enough leader in the war on terror.

I’ve been reading that the debate is meaningless. What matters is the spin, the post-debate debate. And I’ve been reading that the spin is where the Bush team will ultimately win.

Well that’s terrible if its true. Because I could care less what the pundits say. I care what the two guys have to say. So, I’ll wach the debate at home with The Gotham Gal and my kids and we’ll have our own post-debate debate. We won’t watch the spin.

Apparently the NY Times’ political reporter Adam Nagourney won’t be participating in the post-debate debate. Maybe everyone is beginning to realize that they can think for themselves instead of being told what to think and write. That’s the blog mantra taking hold.

I’ll wrap up this rambling post with a request. I’d like every blogger out there to blog the debate. Watch it and tell us what each of you think, without listening to the spin. Don’t just publish the Bush Debate Feed. Tell us what you really think.

I promise you I’ll do that. And it won’t be pro-Kerry spin unless I really feel he deserves it.

UPDATE: The Gotham Gal tells us what she really thinks about Bush and her advice for Kerry tonight.

The Board Coup D’Etat

So if you’ve already picked your VC (and your Board) and even though you did everything that Jeff Nolan suggests, you still have a problem Board, you should know that you can do something about that.

Jerry Colonna has followed up his “How to Fire Someone” with How to Fire Your Board. He’s been reading Machiavelli, it turns out.

Issues 2004 – Foriegn Policy

Jeff is killing me with the frequency of his Issues 2004 posts. I told him I’d try to keep up with him. But I’ve got a day job and the no child left behind due to blogging act is still in force in my family.

But I also can’t let myself get more than a couple posts behind Jeff or I am toast.

So with that said, here goes my take on foriegn policy, in response to Jeff’s excellent post on the same topic.

The US is the sole superpower in the world today. I do not believe we will hold that position for very long, though. I think China will catch us and probably surpass us in either my lifetime or my kid’s lifetime.

So acting like the king of the world isn’t too smart. It pisses people off.

We need to be willing to live with reality that the rest of the world won’t always see things the way we do. In that case, we have two choices; do what we want and not worry about the impact or work with the rest of the world to get them to see things our way. I prefer the latter. I do not agree with Jeff when he says, “we cannot set that as the standard or else we find ourselves hostage to the French et al.”

I think the Bush’s doctrine of preemption is extremely dangerous and it is the primary reason that I feel very vulnerable with him as the leader of our country. This doctrine is based on unilateralism and U.S. international military dominance. I already stated that the former isn’t my prefered way to operate and the latter isn’t something that will always be the case. We may have the technological and economic advantage for now, but just go visit China and you’ll realize that these advantages are not going to last forever.

For these reasons, I want the US to be a consultative leader. It’s true that terrorism is a scourge in our world and we need to fight it. It’s true that weapons of mass destruction are more available than ever and are in the hands of bad people (unfortunately its Kim Chong-il, not Sadaam that has them). It’s true that there are lots of tyrants opressing their people. It’s true that there’s genocide going on in the world today. And it’s true that the middle east remains a very volatile place.

Our role needs to be the leader in a world wide effort to deal with these problems.

Our role should not be to solve them all unilaterally.

The former approach (consultative leader) is frustrating in the short term but endears us to the rest of the world. It’s democracy on a world scale.

The latter (preemptive unilateralist) is satisfying in the short run but ultimately ineffective (look at what’s really going on in Iraq) and also extremely dangerous.

So that’s my world view. Now on to Jeff’s three ending statments and my responses, marked with >>

1. We must support the growth and strength of democracy.
>> Yes. But only with the aid of our democratic partners. We can’t be the democracy police. It gives democracy a bad name in the world when its forced unilaterally on people.

2. We must protect our citizens.
>> Absolutely. A strong defense of our country is the primary reason that the american public support the enormous amount of money we invest in “defense” spending. When we use these resources offensively, it puts us at more risk, not less. The “best defense is a strong offense” approach may work in football, but not in foriegn policy. It didn’t work for Hitler, Napoleon, The Romans, The Greeks, and it won’t work for us either.

3. We must respond to human suffering under tyrannical regimes.
>> Maybe. But as Jeff correctly points out, “Who plays God? Who’s the devil? Which tyrants do you choose to take out? Shouldn’t we liberate North Korea? Shouldn’t we be shuttling to Africa when wars and tragedy break out? Is Saudi Arabia oppressive enough to liberate? And isn’t there a danger — a history — of using this doctrine not to liberate but to overturn for political convenience?”

I realize that I am going to get slammed by Hector, Hey, and a host others for my “weak, soft, pathetic, stupid, idiotic” views on foriegn policy. I don’t really care. Because I know I am right on this one.

How To Pick A VC

I am not the first to link to this post and I won’t be the last. Jeff Nolan has done an excellent job putting together a set of issues every entrepreneur will want to think through before settling on a VC or group of VCs that will invest in his company.

Go read it.

But I won’t stop there. There are two things in Jeff’s post that I really liked.

The first is his segmentation of VC firms. He puts them into four buckets:

Brand Name Firms
Specialists
Financial Investors
Corporate Investors

That’s as good a segmentation as I’ve seen. I once thought I wanted to build a brand name firm. Now I realize I want to build a specialist firm. I think that’s where the best work in the venture business happens. I don’t like to work with purely financial investors. You get their money and not much else. And I do like to work with corporate investors, particularly the ones that are structured like Jeff’s firm. They can add a lot of value. They are in fact another kind of specialist firm if they are structured correctly (ie the people who do the work are compensated appropriately).

The second thing I really liked about Jeff’s post was his discussion of the dynamics inside venture partnerships. I won’t repeat all that Jeff said, but suffice it to say that it matters a lot who in the firm you get on your board. Do your best to find out if there are politics at work in the firm and what those politics are. There are some firms that don’t have politics. If you can find one like that which is interested in your business and they are a specialist, then you’ve found the best kind of firm to partner with in my opinion.

Zagat vs. Menupages

There a right way to do things online and a wrong way.

Menupages.com does things the right way.

Zagat.com does things the wrong way.

I could go on all day on this riff, but I’ll just give you a few of my reasons for this assertion.

When you search Zagat.com, you aren’t searching all of Zagat.com, you are just searching those listings that they’ve actually got full data on. The new restaurants? They aren’t in the search results. You have to go drill down a directory of 10-20 pages to find the new place. That’s nuts. I know a lot about the old restaurants. It’s the new ones I am usually going to find information on in the first place!

You can’t add a comment directly on the Zagat site. You have to participate in a survey. That means that sometime way out in the future your comments might get onto the site, but they may not.

Zagat.com is a subscription service. So they get hardly any traffic. The amount of money they could potentially make with paid search, contextual, behavioral and other ad targeting systems is way more money than they’ll ever make with the subscription model.

The Gotham Gal and I have used Zagat for so long I can’t remember when we started. She switched 6 months ago. It took me longer to make the move. But I’m done with Zagat and I am not going back.

What Kind of Crap Is This? (continued)

I have used that headline in the past to talk about nasty stuff that the Bush team has been doing.

But I like it so much that I am going to use it to talk about all kinds of nasty stuff I see. Yes Hector (aka Heckler) I’ll even try to find some nasty stuff that Kerry is doing and call that out too.

This post is about phishing. It’s worse than spam, viruses, or spyware. I am adding it to my Internet Axis of Evil list which currently includes

Spam & Viruses
Comment Spam
Spyware

If you want to learn more about this crap, visit the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

I got this email today:

Dear SunTrust Bank customer,

Recently there have been a large number of identity theft attempts targeting SunTrust Bank customers.In order to safeguard your account, we require that you confirm your banking details.
This process is mandatory, and if not completed within the nearest time your account may be subject to temporary suspension.

To securely confirm your SunTrust Bank account details please click on the link below:

https://www4.SunTrust.com/internetBanking/RequestRouterrequestCmdId=DisplayLoginPage

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and thank you for using SunTrust Bank.

Sincerely,
SunTrust Bank Internet Banking & Support department.

First, I am not a SunTrust Bank Customer

Second, even if I was I would never react to an email like this.

But so many unsuspecting people will fall for this, today, tomorrow, and for a long time to come.

This crap has to be stopped. The people doing this should be put in jail. For a long long time.