Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Company that can save Facebook from Google Buzz

With google's announcement today of Google Buzz, everyone's thinking the same thing - Will this kill Facebook? After all, there were plenty of other social networks that fell by the wayside before. Remember Friendster? Or consider the decline of MySpace.

And it is not even a new product to signup for - All gmail users will get buzz automatically and everyone using gmail will have their frequently emailed users available as friends automatically.

If you want to find more information about it, please see this video:

Ccan facebook compete with this? Maybe not on its own. It is not that Facebook is not trying. Recently, Facebook also rolled out a number of changes, including a Message Center that looks more and more like Web-based Email.

However, I believe Google can build a better social network using their existing users and their existing connections than Facebook can build a better email. All signs point to Google emerging the winner here.

Except for one thing: Zynga. In case, you have never heard of it, Zynga makes many of the popular games on the Facebook platform, including Mafia Wars and Farmville. The latter has more than 60 million users, many of whom are very attached to their virtual self in these games. Ever since Facebook opened up its platform for external developers, companies like Zynga and Playdom have developed some really addictive games on it.

Try and compare this, if you will, to the Operating Systems wars: As much as Desktop Linux might improve, people are going to buy Windows PCs mainly because the applications they want and need are available on Windows. Sometimes exclusively and almost always first. As long as Facebook treats its developers well and creates enough incentives for application development partners to stay on Facebook and be loyal, it has more than a fighting chance.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I know who next year's Nobel peace prize winner will be!

I woke up this morning and looked at the news headline. And there it said, clear as day, "Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize for 2009".

My first reaction was that I must have dozed off for an extended period of time and instead of early October, it must be April 1, 2010 already. I checked all the time pieces at home - that wasn't true.

My next theory was that, maybe, the Onion bought all the newspapers in the world and this headline was its way of announcing it to the world. I have no proof that is not true, but doesn't seem plausible.

So, it must be true then. Why? Maybe it is because, since becoming president, Obama has shut down Guantanamo Bay. Maybe it is because he stopped the illegal occupation of Iraq and withdrew all the troops from there. Or maybe it is because he realized the absurdity of U.S. foreign policy and withdrew troops from all the 100-odd countries that they are stationed in.

Oh wait, he didn't do any of that.

So, there must be other reasons. The main one being, of course, that he is a democratic party leader. That makes sense. And he defeated the evil republican warlord McCain and her comic sidekick Whatshername.

That got me thinking about who the winner will be for next year's Nobel peace prize. Obviously, there are plenty of worthy candidates - Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Al Franken (who is just as inexperienced as Obama!) and so on.

However, only one man epitomizes everything that the winners of 2008 and 2009 stood for. And that is... wait for it... Michael Moore! Think about it - he is a democrat, for one thing. If anything, he is even more left wing than your average democrat! And he has made documentaries! Many more than Gore!

I don't see how the Nobel committee can avoid giving Michael Moore the 2010 peace prize. Let me be the first to congratulate him on that achievement.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Over-regulation is more than just an annoyance

In a highly politically polarized country such as the US, there are two positions that people usually take when it comes to regulations:

The democrats/liberals tend to believe that regulations are panacea and the solution for all the "evils" or at least "shortcomings" of free market capitalism. To them, regulators are some kind of superhuman, flawless people who can centrally decide what is right for everyone and impose it on regular people. This is necessary because, as you well know, regular people are flawed and stupid and keep making bad decisions about their own lives. As opposed to the regulators who need to take away people's choices and coerce them. For their own good, of course.

Even the so-called conservatives who oppose regulations, however, do not realize how harmful regulations can really be. Oftentimes, it is assumed that regulations will be annoying inconveniences that will result in higher costs and inefficiency. Which is true but there is more to it than that. Regulations, combined with overzealous enforcement officers, can end up seriously hurting or even killing people.

Thanks to my favorite TV journalist, John Stossel, for this link from the Washington Times.

A telling statement from the link:

"This includes victims such as 12-year-old Ansche Hedgepeth, who was handcuffed, searched and thrown in a paddy wagon for eating a single french fry in a Metrorail station"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bad economy, bad ideas

In bad economic times, there is apparently no shortage of bad ideas. State and local governments from coast to coast are considering various price controls to help "alleviate the tough economic conditions"


This includes ideas like expanding rent control, capping the price of oil and even milk.

At first glance, this might seem like a good idea. After all, times are tough. What is wrong with the government making sure that the prices stay affordable?

The problem is prices vary based on supply and demand. And when the government forcibly sets the price to be lower than what the market would set it, it cannot magically increase the supply as well. This will ensure that those scarce resources are only available for the early birds. Also, whenever possible, such resources will be hoarded because the lucky buyers sense that they are getting something for much below its actual worth.

So, the poor still suffer from not being able to access and buy what they want - even if they are willing to pay it, because an artificial shortage has been created.

That is not the end of it - hoarding often leads to black markets and the associated inevitable crime.

This is just basic economics. But, no matter how obvious, bad ideas keep propping up, especially during bad economic times.

Famous Quotes about Fiat Money

“The problem with fiat money is that it rewards the minority that can handle money, but fools the generation that has worked and saved money.”

- Adam Smith

“At the end fiat money returns to its inner value—zero.”

- Voltaire

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

- Thomas Jefferson

“The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.”

- Abraham Lincoln

“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.”

- Amschel Rothschild

“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and vote of majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

- President Woodrow Wilson (regretting signing into law the Federal Reserve Act)

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before morning.”

- Henry Ford

“By this means (fractional reserve banking) government may secretly and unobserved, confiscate the wealth of the people, and not one man in a million will detect the theft.”

- John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920)

“The modern banking process manufactures currency out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of slight hand that was ever invented…If you want to be slaves of the bankers, and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let the banks create currency”.

- Lord Josiah Stemp, Former Director of the Bank of England (1937)

“If the governments devalue the currency in order to betray all creditors, you politely call this procedure “inflation.”

- George Bernard Shaw

“In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation […] Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the “hidden” confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights.”

- Alan Greenspan, Gold and Economic Freedom (1968)

CREDIT: One of my favorite blogs, the Big Picture.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Test first post