June 28, 2009

Keeping it Real

i was reading through the post below recapping my participation in the Volvo Ocean Race Game and I a recognized an overwhelming and glaring oversight.


I want to offer my congratulations to the crews of Ericsson 4, Puma and Telefonica Blue who finished the actual Volvo Ocean race First, second and third.

I also want to offer a deep bow of respect to all of the crews. What entertained and occasionally challenged me in the safety of my dining room, these men did for real. Putting their lives on the line and pushing themselves and their boats.

An example of tremendous skill, determination, commitment and bravery. Well done, gentlemen. Well done.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:46 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 27, 2009

Contempt Of Congress

I hold The House of Representatives and in truth the entire United States Congress in the highest contempt. This is really not anything new, I have not had much respect for the members of that body for some time.


The latest affront the House passing the Cap and Trade energy tax calling for sweeping changes to the American economy. Changes they cannot begin to understand because almost none of them have read the legislation.

This follows in a long line of unread legislation passed by Congress. It seems the more important the bill, the more sweeping the changes to fabric of the nation, the more likely it will be passed unread. The Patriot Act, Tarp, the Stimulus, the supplemental budget, all passed through congress unread by those voting.

No doubt when the times comes for Congress to vote to nationalize health care they will pass that through without reading it either.

They should all be thrown out on their fat pampered overly self-important asses. It is time to remind the "ruling class" what is meant by the expression "consent of the governed."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:27 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


Around The World

I long ago stopped writing regular updates of my progress in the Volvo Ocean Race Virtual Race Game. The race itself demanded a considerable amount of attention and writing updates on top of it was too much. I did post regular position reports on my Twitter Feed.


Today the virtual yacht Hold the Mayo crossed the leg 10 finish line in St. Petersburg ending it's virtual voyage around the world. It had been a long journey since the start of Leg one on the 11th of October, 2008.

The game allowed registration throughout the event and when I finished there were 220,173 virtual boats racing. Here are my results:

Leg One - Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa 2,910

Leg Two - Cape Town to Cochin, India 1801

Leg Three - Cochin to Singapore 3,726

Leg Four - Singapore to Qingdao, China 15,235

Leg Five - Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro 8,154

Leg Six - Rio de Janeiro to Boston 19,650

Leg Seven - Boston to Gallway, Ireland 9,133

Leg Eight - Gallway to Marstrand, Sweeden 2,742

Leg Nine - Marstrand to Stolkholm 6,538

Leg 10 - Stolkholm to St. Petersburg, Russia 20,225

In the scoring you throw out the worst three scores - except for legs five and seven that you must count. So I can eliminate legs four, six and the disastrous leg ten. (I ran aground 6 times. The course was very narrow!)

My overall result for the whole race 1,475.

My congratulations to Powerof7 who won the event and a new Volvo SUV.

And my thanks to the people at Volvo Ocean Race for a great online experience.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:48 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 25, 2009

Brand Loyalty

I have always had a general rule that I don't blog about work. I have written about what I do from time to time but never about my specific employment, and certainly not about my employer. But they fired me today - along with a bunch of other people so I guess I can ignore that rule.


For the last ten years I have been employed as a graphic designer by the BIC Corporation. I was responsible for promotional material, trade and consumer advertising, sales collateral and "other." You can see some of my work for BIC on this site that has my resume and portfolio. Just read through the resume part and click where it says Portfolio.

Did I mention that I have been there for ten years? I did? Did I mention that I put in an average of 50 hours a week?

They decided to restructure and it seems a good deal of that restructuring came in my department. 5 of 13 full time staff were let go along with four full-time freelance and contract employees. The restructuring really can't be about saving money because it will cost them more to send out my work than it did to pay me and insure my family.

Did I mention the 50 hour weeks? I did? Did I mentioned that when I started ten years ago the position handled about 100 design and print projects per year and that I have grown it to over 300 projects that include print, web and video? Seriously go check out the portfolio.

They have given me a very decent severance package. I can't tell you any of the details because if I violate the confidentiality requirements of the separation agreement I have to give it all back.

The separation agreement also states that I agree not to defame disparage or demean BIC in any way. So I'm not going to do that.

So if you feel there is some value in my ten years of corporate experience, the dedication to work 50 hours a week, and the talent to grow a position and you are looking to hire a designer, or know someone who is, check out the portfolio. Graphic design is a digital process so location doesn't matter. I can work for anyone anywhere.

I just don't work for BIC any more.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:35 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


June 21, 2009

My Father's Day Gift

My daughter will likely either kill or disown me for putting this on the web, but what's a father to do.

The gift I got was to hear her perform at her voice recital on Saturday. I always knew she could sing. But this just blew me away.

The first piece is called Mai. It is a French art song compsed by Gabriel Fauré to words written by Victor Hugo.



The second is the song Defying Gravity from the Broadway musical Wicked. The audio from my video camera does not do it justice.



Someday she will forgive me for this - or not!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:32 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment


June 16, 2009

The Iran Tragedy

I fear that the unrest in Iran is not going to end well for the people protesting in the streets of Tehran. And with the Iranian government shutting down the foreign media and working to shut down all coverage it is likely we will never know the full scope of the bloodshed.

The point has been raised in a number of places that it doesn't matter if the ruling mullahs decide to toss out Ahmadinejad and install the "moderate reformer" in his place. All of the candidates running for President were pre-approved by the ruling council. From that perspective it would amount to "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

But from the perspective of the ruling clique seeking to maintain it's power and control, the protests and demonstrations must fail. Because even if it's just making the choice of which dictator to live under, once you have given the people that voice they will continue to use it to demand ever more freedom. And they will expect the mullahs to listen.

Which is why I believe the ruling clerics will put down this rebellion and do so with whatever level of brutality it takes. The reset of the world will never know  the true vote count  in the recent election and we will never know the true body count.

While America becomes Progressively less free, Iranians will die for the crime seeking greater freedom. Our president will sit on the sidelines and wait until the dust has settled and start talks with whomever the mullahs put in charge.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:00 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


June 15, 2009

Why So Serious?

One of the things I am tasked with at work is the creation of sell sheets to be used as part of presentations of new products. If you are familiar with the term "sell sheet" you probably wouldn't recognize what we call a sell sheet. What we, and by we I mean me, produce is essentially a full page ad to be inserted in a PowerPoint presentation.

This year - for the 2010 new products - there were a total of 21 sell sheets. A few of them were updates of earlier sheets for minor product refreshes, leaving me with 17 to create form scratch. I sent five of them out to outside resources who do amazing work, cutting my load down to 12. It is expected that I show my internal customers 3 concepts for each.

Did I mention I had less than two weeks to get this done?

I dove in and set an aggressive schedule of completing round 1 for 3 products - 9 concepts - a day.

At one point on the third day, when I was presenting concepts and receiving feedback on the previous days' work someone from marketing asked a very astute question.

"Why are all of these in the same typeface?"

I had indeed set the type in all 27 concepts produced at that point in Helvetica. I had done so for three reasons.

One, I had to generate and layout a lot of concepts in a very short period of time. I really wasn't going to spend hours I didn't having exploring the thousands of fonts available to me to find just the right one.

Two, more often than not after spending the time searching for just the right font to enhance the layout and the copy someone from marketing will comment "I like concept A but I like the font on B better. Can we see one with that using the headline from C?" At which point the designer dies a little inside from the effort at self restraint required to not leap across the table and take the fool by the throat and thrown them to the floor.

The third is a bit more esoteric and less violent.

There is considerable debate among designers and typographers about how type should be used. Should type be used expressively to enhance the copy or should the type be neutral and let the copy stand on its own.

I tend to go both ways on the issue. For first round concepts I always use neutral type. If the concept can't stand on its own in Helvetica or Garamond then more expressive type isn't going to make it more effective.  If a concept is successful without undue typographic embellishment, then it's worth enhancing.

All the sell sheets were done - on time.The selected concepts were finalized with appropriate typography. No one suffered any bodily harm.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:45 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment


June 11, 2009

The New Economic Lexicon

Another day another industry the control of The One. This time its the tobacco industry and since they don't need a bailout, their being taken over via regulation.

I think we are going to need a new lexicon of economics in order to be understand what is happening.

I'll get it started, but feel free to add your own in the comments:

GNP: OLD= Gross National Product. NEW= Government Nationalized Production.

GDP: OLD= Gross Domestic Product. NEW= Government Dominated Production

B2B: OLD= Business to Business. NEW= Barack to Barack

B2C: OLD= Business to Consumer. NEW= Barack to control.

Prime Rate: OLD= The interest rate charged by banks to their most creditworthy customers. NEW= The percentage of stimulus returned to Democrats as campaign contributions.

Discount Rate: OLD= The rate at which member banks may borrow short term funds directly from a Federal Reserve Bank. NEW= The dollar value of pork barrel spending required to insure reelection.

Antitrust: OLD= Government policy for dealing with monopoly. NEW= Public reaction to the government running everything.

Bankruptcy: OLD= When a court judges that a debtor is unable to make the payments owed to a creditor. NEW= When The One gives control of a company to its labor unions.

Capital: OLD= Money or Assets put to economic use, the life-blood of capitalism. NEW= Also known as Washington DC where all business decisions are made.

Sovereign Risk: OLD= The risk that a government will default on its debt or on a loan guaranteed by it. NEW= The possibility that The One will cross the street without looking both ways.

Labor Theory of Value: OLD= The notion that the value of any good or service depends on how much labor it uses up. NEW= The notion that the value of any good or service depends on how much common stock labor unions own.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:14 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


He Said What?

Warning - this is a little unhinged (even for me!)

I had to run a couple of errands tonight and I had NPR on the radio. I do that whenever I feel that my blood pressure is too low.

As I was leaving the grocery store they were interviewing the newly appointed Special Master of Compensation Kenneth Feinberg. I really only heard two brief parts of the session. All of the screaming and profanity drowned out the rest.

In one part, Feinberg was hitting the talking point the he is NOT a Compensation Czar. He made that point very clear because the American people would not accept a Compensation Czar.

He just has all the power and authority of a Compensation Czar - but they needed a more marketable title. Somewhere in the shouting and ranting about this I think I heard his title transformed into Special Masterbater - but I can't be sure it was a little incoherent.

In the other section I could make out, Feinberg and the interviewer were discussing his authority to recover money what he deems to be past excessive compensation. The NPR person asked how far he could go in recovering these monies. To the corporation, the stock holders or the individuals. Fienberg's response was that he could go as far he thought he should go.

There was a moment of stunned silence before a very loud scream of "WTF." What follwed made reference to the F'ing idiots who set this up and had they ever heard of Ex Post Facto?

The Special Masterbater apparently has the authority to do whatever the hell he wants. WTF.

The truly horrible thing to contemplate is - there really is nowhere else to go.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:45 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


June 10, 2009

No Thank You

Socialized medicine is on the way. With dueling national health care bills working there way through the Congress.

From Politico:

Don’t be fooled by the presidential burger runs. Obama and Congress are moving across several fronts to give government a central role in making America healthier — raising expectations among public health experts of a new era of activism unlike any before.

Any health care reform plan that Obama signs is almost certain to call for nutrition counseling, obesity screenings and wellness programs at workplaces and community centers. He wants more time in the school day for physical fitness, more nutritious school lunches and more bike paths, walking paths and grocery stores in underserved areas.

The president is filling top posts at Health and Human Services with officials who, in their previous jobs, outlawed trans fats, banned public smoking or required restaurants to provide a calorie count with that slice of banana cream pie.

Even Congress is getting into the act, giving serious consideration to taxing sugary drinks and alcohol to help pay for the overhaul.

Let me take a stab at explaining how much this sucks.

We already have a wellness program and a wellness committee at work. A group of busy-bodies who want to modify the way I live. What irks me the most is that I know the company doesn't really care at all about my wellness. The company is self-insured and wants to reduce its insurance costs.

They make a big event out of take a walk at lunch day. The CEO gave a speech and everything.

When we moved into our new building they built a walking path around the grounds. That would have been nice if they had just left it at that. They gave everyone free sneakers to use on the path, and told us they had to be kept at the office. Mine are nicely displayed, unworn, on the top of my file cabinet.

We have tenants in the building who get good laugh at all of the people walking around the path in their identical shoes. It's particularly comical when they stage one of their mass walks and there's a couple of hundred people walking together with identical shoes.

I have never worn the shoes. I have never set foot on the path. I believe it was Mark Twain who said "Golf is a good walk spoiled." He never met the Wellness Committee.

They mail home health and wellness fliers. I throw them away unopened because marking them return to sender and putting them back in the mail would cause problems disproportionate to the brief moment of satisfaction.

For a brief period cookies and Dunkin Munchkins were banned as meeting snacks.

They send out lots of emails. Or so I'm told. I set up an email rule that automatically moves them to the deleted items folder.

The reason is simple: It's none of their damned business. I will make the decisions regarding my health and wellness.

And when it comes to National Wellness Program run by The One, it's none of his damned business either. Whatever fliers they mail - will be returned. Their emails will be marked junk.

I will not participate.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:15 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


June 09, 2009

Fascism Is Constitutional

The Supreme Court has rejected efforts to block The One's forced sail of Chrysler to Fiat and the fleecing of secured debt holders.

Given that this is the same august body that issued the Kelo Decision, their coming down on the side of fascism in this case too is no great surprise.

None of the news outlets are reporting how the decision was reached or the reasoning behind it. Look for further updates later.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:44 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment


Fixing a Hole

In the course of growing up there are things that must happen, experiences that must be had. Apparently no life can be completely of fully lived without them.

I recently became aware of a rather large hole in my life experience and decided it was time to fix it.

In various news accounts and blog commentaries I have been reading about the lawsuit filed by author J.D. Salinger against an author with nom de plume of J.D. California. Mr. California apparently wrote a book called 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye. Amazon describes the book:

Did I ever tell you about the catcher in the rye? I'm in a field. It s a gray day and only the very tips of the grasses move from side to side with the wind. It s like the ground is breathing. Nothing else is here but me and the field and I'm standing right in the beginning of it. Only when I begin to run do I know that s what I m supposed to do. The rye is shoulder high and it parts to let me through. Loose pods fall off their stems and stick to my pants and arms, but I don t stop running. There s only the sky and the rye. Up there the sky, and to either side the golden brown rye. On a seemingly normal day Mr. C wakes up in a nursing home with an unnerving compulsion to flee his present situation. He boards a bus and embarks on a curious journey through the streets of New York. Sixty years after his debut as the great American antihero, Mr.C is yanked back onto the page without a goddamn clue why. 60 Years Later is an astonishing debut and a marvelous sequel to one of our most beloved classics.

Mr. Salinger is not amused. I don't know if he ever planned to write a sequel and if he did what his vision for an elder Holden Caulfield would be.

Unlike apparently everyone else, I have never read Catcher in the Rye.

There was a time in the years just after college when I set out to plug the gaps in my literary experience. I read Dickens, Hugo, Huxley, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Hardy, Joyce, Shelly, Hesse, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway and many others. All important books by important authors that somehow had not been a part of my education. And somehow Salinger never made it onto any reading list I was ever handed by any teacher.

I acquired a PDF and loaded it onto my PDA. I've been a bit busy so I have only manages a few pages in stolen moments. When I have more of an impression I'll let you know if it was a hole worth filling.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:57 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 05, 2009

The Sky Still Isn't Falling

If you have made it all the way through the 255 page U. S. Senate Minority Report: More Than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims Scientists Continue to Debunk “Consensus” in 2008 & 2009 (linked here) and still think Al Gore deserved an academy award and a Nobel Prize then you should move on to the 866 pages of the 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) titled Climate Change Reconsidered.

The NIPCC site is here where you can go through the report chapter by chapter online, order a printed copy for $154, or download the PDF for free.

To get you started, here are the opening paragraphs of the Preface: (all emphasis reproduced from the original)

Before facing major surgery, wouldn’t you want a
second opinion?

When a nation faces an important decision that
risks its economic future, or perhaps the fate of the
ecology, it should do the same. It is a time-honored
tradition in science to set up a “Team B,” which
examines the same original evidence but may reach a
different conclusion. The Nongovernmental
International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was
set up to examine the same climate data used by the
United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC).

In 2007, the IPCC released to the public its three volume Fourth Assessment Report titled Climate
Change 2007 (IPCC-AR4, 2007). Its constituent
documents were said by the IPCC to comprise “the
most comprehensive and up-to-date reports available
on the subject,” and to constitute “the standard
reference for all concerned with climate change in
academia, government and industry worldwide.” But
are these characterizations correct?

On the most important issue, the IPCC’s claim
that “most of the observed increase in global average
temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very
likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic
greenhouse gas concentrations [emphasis in the
original],” NIPCC reaches the opposite conclusion—
namely, that natural causes are very likely to be the
dominant cause. Note: We do not say anthropogenic
greenhouse gases (GHG) cannot produce some
warming or has not in the past. Our conclusion is that
the evidence shows they are not playing a substantial
role.

The primary authors of the report are:

Dr. S. Fred Singer is one of the most distinguished scientists in the U.S. In the 1960s, he established and served as the first director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, now part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and earned a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award for his technical leadership. In the 1980s, Singer served for five years as vice chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Oceans and Atmosphere (NACOA) and became more directly involved in global environmental issues. Since retiring from the University of Virginia and from his last federal position as chief scientist of the Department of Transportation, Singer founded and now directs the nonprofit Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Dr. Craig D. Idso is founder and chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. He received his Ph.D. in geography from Arizona State University, where he studied as one of a small group of University Graduate Scholars. He was a faculty researcher in the Office of Climatology at Arizona State University and has lectured in Meteorology at Arizona State University. Dr. Idso has published scientific articles on issues related to data quality, the growing season, the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2, world food supplies, coral reefs, and urban CO2 concentrations.

In addition:

Climate Change Reconsidered lists 35 contributors and reviewers from 14 countries and presents in an appendix the names of 31,478 American scientists who have signed a petition saying “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

This report will not make for light bedtime reading, I intend to start making my way through it immediately. It should, along with the Senate Minority Report be a must read for anyone interested in blunting the use of the climate change myth as a weapon to advance socialism.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:48 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


June 03, 2009

The Sky Isn't Falling

A tip of the hat to Randy from the next cubicle over for sending me the link to The Minority Report of the U.S. Committee on Environment and Public Works. The text at the link can be a little difficult to read. At times it takes on the almost breathless excitement of TV pitchman selling Ginsu knives. They stop just short of "But wait, there's more."

I have not even begun to follow the multitude of links they provide. There are after all a limited number of hours in a day. But it is well worth reading and following the links you find of interest.

Here's a sample to whet your appetite:

POZNAN, Poland - The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.  Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

The U.S. Senate report is the latest evidence of the growing groundswell of scientific opposition rising to challenge the UN and Gore. Scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of skeptical scientists. The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices and views of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. [See Full report Here: & See: Skeptical scientists overwhelm conference: '2/3 of presenters and question-askers were hostile to, even dismissive of, the UN IPCC' ]

Full Senate Report Set To Be Released in the Next 24 Hours – Stay Tuned…

And in fact there is a "Link to Full Printable 255-Page PDF Report."

The committee also highlights numerous quotes from scientists who don't believe the hype of global warming. My favorites:

“Creating an ideology pegged to carbon dioxide is a dangerous nonsense…The present alarm on climate change is an instrument of social control, a pretext for major businesses and political battle. It became an ideology, which is concerning.” - Environmental Scientist Professor Delgado Domingos of Portugal, the founder of the Numerical Weather Forecast group, has more than 150 published articles.

“CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so…Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.” - Dr. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan.

“The [global warming] scaremongering has its justification in the fact that it is something that generates funds.” - Award-winning Paleontologist Dr. Eduardo Tonni, of the Committee for Scientific Research in Buenos Aires and head of the Paleontology Department at the University of La Plata. 

The introduction to the report concludes:

While the scientists contained in this report hold a diverse range of views, they generally rally around several key points. 1) The Earth is currently well within natural climate variability. 2) Almost all climate fear is generated by unproven computer model predictions. 3) An abundance of peer-reviewed studies continue to debunk rising CO2 fears and, 4) "Consensus" has been manufactured for political, not scientific purposes.

I think it was only a matter of time before actual science caught up with and surpassed the hype and pseudo-religion of global warming. I wish it could have happened sooner, but better late than never.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 08:55 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


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