November 30, 2008

The World Is Too Much

Blogging here has been very light of late. Both in volume and in content. The repeated updates of my progress in the Volvo Virtual Ocean Race are meaningless to just about anyone but myself. Though in truth the same can probably be said with equal accuracy about any more serious posts as well.

I have not turned away from the world, from politics, from ideas. I just have not been able to get a firm grip on everything that is happening. The Terrorist barbarism in India certainly has not made it any easier.

My problem is that at heart I am an optimist. I have a bad habit of hiding that optimism under a veneer of cynicism and sarcasm, but it is there. Pointing out the things that I see are wrong doesn't mean I don't believe they can and will be better.

It is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to be an optimist at heart and not let the veneers overwhelm the core.

A majority of the voting public are thrilled with the outcome of the Presidential election. Their guy won. I am not particularly enthused about the prospect of an Obama Presidency. I do not think the man has any principles to speak of and his impulse to pragmatic answers is always going to be come from the far left. I don't think surrounding himself with recycled Clinton and Bush people is going make the situation any better.

The positive side is that a far left President and and Democrat controlled Congress with a possibly filibuster-proof Senate will provide an excellent foil. The contrast for liberty based on rational ideas will certainly be strong over the next few years. That contrast can be used to good advantage.

The economy sucks. What the federal government is doing about it sucks. Both are inevitably going to get worse.

The idiots in the Executive Branch managed to panic the idiots in the Legislative Branch into giving them carte blanche to spend $700 Billion Dollars. The Executive sold the Legislature on the idea that buying up all the toxic assets, that their regulation lead to, would open up the credit markets once again and everything would be rosy. Then they decided to just buy equity in financial institutions. Classic bait and switch. So now we have government owning Captial. Some of which they coerced the banks into selling even if they didn't want to.

So naturally any company that's in trouble - which is probably a lot of them right now - is thinking bail out. Lead by the Big Three Autofailures who came to Washington with their hand out begging for alms. The upside of this is that Congress may have learned a lesson after being duped by the Executive. They asked the beggars what they planned to do with the money and how they were going to use it to save themselves. They wanted details and the poor downtrodden CEO's had none. So they sent them packing.

No one in charge seems to have the slightest idea what they are doing.

On the bright side, when duct tape and bandaids will no longer support the house of cards created by federal manipulation of the financial system, the chance will be there to put it right while we pick up the pieces. And it may take a collapse of the current system to get there, but if the defenders of freedom and capitalism keep fighting, progress can be made out of the rubble.

The War against Islamic Terrorism is going well. Iraq is a clear victory. Afghanisgtan is improving. Predator drones are having a significant impact on al Qaeda hiding on the Packistan Afghan border. The leaders of Islamic Terror supporting regimes - namely Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan - can't be too happy looking at the map these days. Their vision of a Global or even regional Caliphate is being thwarted.

The recent Islamic Barbarism in India reminds us that while we have acheived some success, the enemy is still out there. The enemy is still willing to commit acts of barbarism to advance their politacal/religious objectives. But it is clear that if the world has the will to fight back, the Islamic Terrorists cannot win. It remains to be seen if the new President has the will to continue to lead that fight.

I read a column or blog post somewhere - and I have read so many I don't remember where or who or I would link it - suggesting that the attacks in India may have originaly been planned for before the US election in an effort to influence their outcome. I don't think that is the case. I think the attack was probably planned to happen between the election and the inauguration of the next president. It was planed for a time when Presiential authority was in limbo. The terrorists knew that there was little Bush could do in response because he lacks the political power to make anything happen. The president elect is powerless.

Strike while the enemy is weak.

The bright side is that with every act of Islamic Barbarism more of the world see them for what they are and sees the conflict for what it is. I don't know what sort of leadership Obama will offer in the war against Islamic Terrorism, if any. I do not know if there is a leader on the world stage who can rally the world to stand against the barbarians the way George Bush has done. But I do know that there are people in the world who will not give up on their freedom and who will continue the fight.

Out of the Dark Ages came the Renaisance. Out of the Carter Years came the Reagan years. Out of the Clinton years came the Bush years.

I am optomistic about what we can do as a response to the Obama years. Never forget that the best weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. In the end, no matter the difficulty along the way, better ideas will win out.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:00 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

November 28, 2008

Hold the Mayo Racing Leg 2: Update 3

Race: Finished

Goal: Accomplished (and then some).

I was less than 100 miles from the finish when I went to bed last night. I was in 2,007th place and had more than achieved the goal of beating my leg one finish (2,910). I fell asleep knowing that I had a really good chance of finishing better that 2,000th.

I awoke this morning to discover that In the last few miles I passed 206 boats to finish at 1,801.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the total fleet size is now 83,573.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:57 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

November 26, 2008

Change I Can Believe In

Over at The One's quasi governmental web site, they have launched a radical new feature - comments. They're calling it "Discussion." (I guess that's the change part.)

The first topic of "Discussion" is health care.

What worries you most about the healthcare system in our country?

I'm glad they have this feature. It gives me an opportunity be a thorn - albeit a small one. I will go there and state my case in the Hope of annoying a few people and maybe even Changing a mind or two.

My comment on health care:

"What worries you most about the healthcare system in our country?"

Simply put - that the government will take over what little bit of it that is does not already control.

Personally I like that my doctor is motivated by making money. It gives him a reason to want to keep me alive. Live people need his services. The dead, not so much.

He also has an interest in keeping me healthy. That's the service I pay for and if he's not getting it done - I will go to someone who will.

I likewise am motivated by a desire to remain alive, healthy, and in possession of my money. Thus I seek the most effective and cost effective health care.

I'll be sure to update you if there is any response.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:47 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Hold the Mayo Racing Leg 2: Update 2

Greetings. Contrary to what you may have believed (wished?) the yacht Hold the Mayo has not sailed off the edge of the world. The earth is indeed round.

I did suffer a bit of a setback though. Not another broken sail but a confused game. For one evening, and overnight, the game was producing expected results. For example at one point one of the boats I have bookmarked as a "friend" was tied with Hold the Mayo. Not only were we the same distance from the finish, but close enough that if they had been real boats, one of us would have asked the other for some dijon mustard.

We were sailing in the exact same wind, with the exact same sail, at the exact same heading, in the exact same spot and I was going three knots slower. This should not have been possible. I changed course sailing closer to the wind, I sailed more down wind. Nothing worked. I could not make the boat go the speed I knew it should be going for the conditions in which I was sailing.

I eventually pointed the boat in the best direction I could guess and went to bed. I had gone from 2500th (or so) place to over 6,000. By the time I woke up in the morning I was 14,853rd, and still not sailing at speed.

It occurred to me that the game seemed to think I was sailing with the wrong sail. So I changed to what would normally be the wrong sail for the wind I was sailing and suddenly I was moving at the speed I expected. At the end of one 10 minute cycle of the game, the speed dropped to what I would expect with the wrong sail, so I switched back to the correct one and was sailing at the expected speed.

If only I had figured that out 12,000 boats earlier! I briefly considered applying for some sort of redress from the game managers, but decided to just keep sailing and do my best.

Did I ever mention that the overall winner of this gets a new Volvo C30?

I have been working hard at getting back into this leg with a revised goal of besting my leg one finish of 2,910. I'm happy to say I managed to make just about every call right since the disaster. My current position with 585 miles left to sail is 3,009. Leaving me with 101 boats to pass to reach my goal. I am confident of getting there, but I have to keep in mind that the closer you get to the front of the fleet the harder the boats are to pass, and the closer you get to the finish and boats that were spread across the ocean begin to converge the harder it is to pass.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:09 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

November 16, 2008

Hold the Mayo Racing Leg 2: Update 1

Leg two of the virtual Volvo Ocean Race got under way a 1:00 pm local time in Cape Town, South Africa. A fleet of over 65,000 boats set out to race to Cochin, India.

I didn't post any early results as they didn't seem to make any sense until we started clearing Good Hope.

The broken spinnaker was repaired in port without my having to pay for a Sail Repair Kit. So I continue the adventure without spending a dime. I took a southern strategy - known in sailing lingo as "The Great Circle Route. You sail further, but you get their faster.

I've hooked into a strong front moving across the southern ocean and the time spent in 17,500th (and worse) place has payed off handsomely.

I am currently 2,154 and and only 66 miles from the current race leader. The group of lead boats opted not to sail the Great Circle and instead sailed close to the African coast. It worked well for them early on as they were, and are closer to the finish. However they will be facing some lighter and less favorable winds as they work east and they will come to regret that choice.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 10:15 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

Reaganesque? I Don't Think So.

It really bothers me to read and hear various pundits from all over the political spectrum claiming to see Reaganesque qualities in President Elect The One.

The only similarity between the two is that they will have both held the same job for a time. In any way that matters - in the realm of ideas - they are night and day.

This is Reaganesque

Expect nothing like that from President Elect The One. Don't be lulled by the delusions of others. The One IS NOT Reagan.

Hat Tip - TF Stern

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:38 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

November 11, 2008

The Youth Vote

My day job involves the designing of communications for marketing and advertising. From time to time I am called on to do something for a specific market I might not be directly familiar with, such as when I had to create advertising targeted at teen girls. I knew nothing about teen girls when I was a teen boy and it seems I know less about them now that I am the parent of one!

Today I needed to do a little research into college age girls relative to beauty and fashion. Even though more than a few of the Google results could be classified as NSFW, I found a enough interesting sites relevant sites to be able to understand a visual and graphic trend.

I also found some political thought that I really hope is not indicative of today's youth vote. I'm quoting the entire post from

Like every other popular news source, the editors of College Being endorse Barack Obama. We are doing it just because everybody else is doing it, but if you are more concerned with the issues, here you go:

He’s Black

Well if you aren’t a racist this is a good thing (if you are racist, you are probably a Republican anyway). Why? Black people are cool dude. (Yeah we are totally white here… dog…) Well it is either a cool Black guy or some grumpy old man. Plus, who cares about the decisions they make when they are president? In reality we should be voting for who we can stand to watch and listen to for at least four years.

Two paragraphs that will probably give me nightmares for a month. If this were from any source other than a college student, I would automatically assume it is a parody. But given the source, I just can't decide.

What do you think?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:40 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

November 09, 2008

Priced Out Of A Job

So how's that minimum wage increase working out for you?

From the fall of 2007 to this October, the share of 16- to 19-year-olds working fell by 8 percent, the largest decline of any age group, and the outlook for youths and low-skilled workers in coming months is bleak, economists say, with the industries most apt to employ them, like home-building and retail sales, taking steep dives.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 240,000 jobs disappeared in October alone, bringing the unemployment rate to 6.5 percent. But construction, for example, had the highest unemployment rate of any industry: 10.8 percent, compared with 6.1 percent a year ago, leaving entry-level applicants in the cold.

“Low-income people are the big losers when the economy turns down,” said Andrew M. Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

Declining economy meets increasing minimum labor costs.

In other news the sun rose in the east again today and is expected to set in the west this evening.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:28 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

November 08, 2008

An Industry In Crisis

Congressional leaders in a letter to Treasury Secretary Paulson made it clear that struggling industries outside of the the credit market should share in the the $700 billion bailout. They want to bail out the auto industry.

Well, car makers are not the only people suffering. Freelance Graphic Designers need bail out help too.

When the economy gets tough, companies start cutting their advertising and marketing budgets meaning less work for Freelance Graphic Designers.

When credit is tight and entrepreneurs can't get money to start up new businesses the demand for new logos drops and there is less work for Freelance Graphic Designers.

When there is less work for Freelance Graphic Designers they earn a good deal less money. Before you know it Freelance Graphic Designers are having trouble making ends meet and buying the latest version of the Adobe Creative Suite. Soon growing numbers of Freelance Graphic Designers will be behind on their mortgages or rents. As large numbers of Freelance Graphic Designers are foreclosed or evicted society will be forced to deal with an epidemic of homeless Freelance Graphic Designers.

Congress is seeking $50 billion to bail out the auto makers. This bail out would cost much much less. $500,000 should fix me up quite nicely.

Thank you.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:12 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

November 07, 2008

You Shall Serve The One

I have been sick as as dog (no offense to dogs) since I decided to grab a quick snack from a street vendor on my way back to Grand Central.

The post below about riding the train I wrote the other day and forgot to post it. I put up a simple screen shot to mark the the yacht Hold The Mayo crossing the finish line at Cape Town.

I had no intention of doing any blogging as all of my energy seems to be devoted to barfing. But I had to say something about the beginning of the Obama nightmare.

On his new official government campaign website Obama announces the following:

The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.

I don't know how The One intends to enforce his required service. My guess is that compliance will be tied to federal education funding. School boards that don't adhere to the wished of The One will lose federal dollars.

Unfortunately the number of school systems that would be willing, on principle, to tell The One to piss off is probably pretty small. But homeschooling would become an increasingly attractive option - even after they make it illegal.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:10 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

November 06, 2008

Hold the Mayo Racing Update FINISHED!

11:20 pm EST.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:25 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

November 05, 2008

Hold the Mayo Racing Update 1:10

The race has now been going on for 25 days - which is why I stopped doing an update every day a while ago. Here's what happened since I last updated you on the progress of the yacht Hold The Mayo.

I was making good progress recovering from my disastrous turn south and even though the first place boat arrived in Cape Town while I was over a thousand miles away I was making steady and consistent progress back up the standings. I was very close to being better than 2000th place.

Then something bad happened.

I broke my light spinnaker. I had been using this sail a lot since I left Spain 25 days ago and I guess it just wore out. The game did not give any clue that the sail was in danger. I just woke up one morning and found that it had broken during the night. Sailing for however many hours with a broken sail is what in sailing parlance we call "slow."

There is a feature in the game that will let you use points to repair a sail. To get the points, you have to buy them and I made the decision from the beginning that I was going to do this without spending a dime.

I still have the heavy spinnaker and have been using that extensively. You just don't go as fast with the heavy spinnaker. This disaster set me back to 3624th place. I have been battling my way back slowly and am as of this moment at 3154.

I have 417 miles to the finish. I am in good position with a good wind forecast for a straight shot into Cape Town. If I keep passing boats I have a decent chance of finishing better than 3000th. Out of a fleet of now over 50,000 boats I guess I can live with that. Of course as the boats converge on the finish there is a chance that I could pass huge numbers of boats or be passed by huge numbers of boats.

We shall see.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:18 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Kissing Ass

I can't stomach most conservative blogs today. They are almost more disgusting than the liberal blogs.

After months of highlighting the voter registration and outright voter fraud and weeks of writing about the campaign finance fraud and the credit card fraud associated with it, they are tripping over themselves to be the most noble in congratulating The One and trumpeting his victory as the proper result of the system.

As I told a friend I happened to see on the train platform today "If I had $600 million and a very cooperative media I could probably win the White House."

This "historic" moment represents nothing more than the triumph of a corrupt politician.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:34 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

More From ad tech

For a conference on digital advertising, ad tech seems to be rather heavy on the politics.

I got in early before the key note and they have a video loop homage to The One playing.

I have already had one person ask me what I thought of the "historic" election of The One. The conversation went like this:

Her: "Don't you think it's great that Obama won the election?"

Me: "That depends on how you want me to answer."

Her: "What do you mean?"

Me: "Do you want me to judge him by the content of his character or the color of his skin?"

Her: "I don't get it."

Me: "I personally don't care what color skin the president has. I think it sucks that we'll have a president with his ideas for the next four years."

Her: "You're and asshole."

Me: "Have a nice day."

I think asshole must be the new code word for racist.

First speech first moment the guy running the show held up the front page of the NY Times to much applause.

Thankfully they then moved on to discuss the actual content. However I think EVERY speaker will start by praising THE ONE.

The current speaker, Shelly Lazarus Chairman & CEO
Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, is proclaiming that The One was victorious because he was more digital. She says The One ran a ground breaking campaign - no mention about the law breaking part. The credit card fraud never seems to come up.

She says to imagine if The One governs the same way he campaigns. Ruthlessly suppressing critics?

She actually said The One had a web site with "all the bells and whistles." Except of course for basic credit card address verification.

Her take on The One's marketing "The used every trick in the book."

Finally she's off The One and on to something else. A really good presentation of digital marketing.

I almost dread the end of this presentation not so much for its content but because inevitably the next speaker will pay their own homage to The One.

The next session is about to begin so here comes another tribute to The One. And it's a panel discussion so there's going to be a bunch of them doing it. The panel is about digital creative so once we get past what a fabulous historic day it is it should at least be interesting. This is actually one of the primary pieces I came here to see. This guy says The One's campaign was about "a way of being."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:25 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


I have had the opportunity over the last few days to dip my toe into a different culture. I have been attending the ad tech conference in New York and have been riding the commuter train to the city.

At first I thought looked at the career commuters as having a studied self conscious indifference to the people around them. But with each train ride I realized that it was an evolved culture of isolation.

For the most part "personal space" is separated from physical space. Which is good since you are afforded damned little physical space. And yet in a sense personal space is greatly expanded beyond the physical to encompass the entire space of the car.

Save for the sounds of the train on the tracks the ride is made in an absolute silence that would be the envy of librarians everywhere. Any who dare to break that silence are given the stare of death or directly admonished to stop.

I sat by the window today and watched the dismal world along the tracks zip buy. Something that I am sure confirmed my status as a non-commuter. At one point our train caught another and began to over take it. I saw in the window of that train to young boys probably about ten years old, dressed in white shirts and ties with a look of excitement that told me they were strangers in this strange land as well. At the two trains raced for a while they eventually came buy my window as their train was pulling ahead. A moment later as my train began to move faster our windows aligned and we shared a wave and a laugh.

I think the guy in the seat next to me was pissed. He grumbled and rattled his paper. In the end I think he decided to let it go as a newbie mistake.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:12 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

November 04, 2008

From ad tech

I'm at the Ad Tech conference in New York. It's nominally about digital advertising. Of course politics has been all over the presentations. It was really fun watching the guy on one panel talk about what a good job the McCain campaign has done using digital marketing. That got a rather cool reception from the other panelists and most of the audience.

Betsy Morgan, CEO, The Huffington Post is on a panel speaking now - droning on and on about HuffPo's obsession with Sarah Palin.

She is certain that today is Sarah's last day, except maybe coming back on a talk show or two some day.

Her entire presentation under the heading "Content is King" is all about their intense focus on Sarah Palin. She even went so far to claim that withing the Sarah Palin Community on HuffPo there are actually some Palin supporters and some who are "not quite as suportive."

It's really kind of sad.

UPDATE: On a somewhat related note, this morning's key note was from Jonathan Klein President CNN/USA who let the audience know that his network is not as left wing as MSNBC. I guess that could be described as accurate until he used it as a springboard to to describe CNN as the neutral middle between MSNBC on the left and Fox on the right.

Afternoon session has begun the topic today is TV. Since everything has a number it's about TV 3.0. So far the only observation I have is that the mic is too damn loud.

TV 3.0 in case you're wondering is TV 1.0 + Web 2.0.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:21 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

November 02, 2008

Hold the Mayo Racing Update 1:9

Ahoy! It's been a while since I last updated you on the progress of the yacht Hold The Mayo. I am happy to report the boat is doing fine.

There have been some issues with some of the crew that should be noted. Of particular note are spectacular failures by the Naviguesser and the Idiot Driving The Boat.

After the mark at Fernando de Honohra I went south for while before making the turn east. The goal was to catch a front coming off Brazil and ride that all the way across the Atlantic. When it became clear that I was going to miss that bus I headed southeast.

Southeast worked well for a while. I continued to move up through the through the fleet and at my best I was 1476th (the total number of registered entries is well over 40,000 by now.)

Then something bad happened.

I got caught in the wake of the storm I had missed. The wind on the course is indicated by a grid of arrows. The stronger the arrow the srtronger the wind. I was reaching along going about 18 knots when the wind updated and the four arrows surrounding my position were all pointing in different directions and the strongest wind indicated was 8 knots. I might as well have run aground.

I checked a few weather sites that I still have bookmarked from hurricane season and there was another storm moving off Paraguay and heading east. So I headed south. Straight south on a course of 180°.

That was the move the Naviguesser said would pay off. Sure I'd lose a lot of boats in the process, but once I hooked into that front I'd get them all back and then some.

The Naviguesser said it would happen so the Idiot Driving The Boat pointed the bow South.

Then something bad happened.

The second storm was moving a bit faster than the first one that I had missed. On its own this was not a bad thing. I would still be in position when the storm arrived. Then circumstances kept me way from the computer for longer than I anticipated and I went a little further south that I wanted. I didn't see this as a disaster, it just meant I would have to work a little more north when I could as I sailed past the fleet.

The disaster was that the faster moving front caught up with the slower moving front and needing somewhere to go, it moved to the north. So now instead of a fast reach in the middle of the front or run in the top third, I was in the bottom third beating into a strong wind for two and half days.

By the time the storm blew far enough past me that the wind was no longer blowing in my face I dropped to just over 2,500th place.

I'm sailing along on a nice reach now making some progress back through the fleet a few boats at a time. It remains to be seen if approaching Cape Town from the south or the north will have the advantage.

I'm not sure what to do with the Naviguesser and The Idiot Driving The Boat. Certainly I shall withhold their ration of Rum. Hmmm, Maybe not.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:55 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

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