Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Big Time


Big Money, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

I think I found the perfect job for me. Even if just for one year, check that one month, check that again, even one hour!!

Fortune's list of highest compensated CEO's was released. John Wilder, CEO of TXU topped the list at 55.2 million dollars in total compensation.
That roughlyt translates to an hourly rate of $26,000!!

Dang Man!!


One question: Why the hell would you still work after making so much money?

Posted by mightymerk, 11:22 AM | link | (2) comments |

Another milestone in flight


Flying Entertainment Center, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Something cool just took place in the timeline of man made flight.

The Airbus A380 completed its first flight today. I was able to watch it land live on TV this morning.

The double decker plane, weighing in at over 308 tons, will be able to seat 555 passengers and will also feature an onboard casino and a jail for lawbreakers. I also wonder if an IRS agent will be present for any big winners!! ;)

The plane is expected to initially challenge and then surpass rival Beoings 747 planes which have been a stable of 'super-sized' travel for decades. Boeing has focused its energies on developing the mid-sized, long range, aircraft the 787 Dreamliner.

An interesting tidbit I learned a few years back was that the 747 was originally designed for cargo transport, and not as a passenger plane. The thinking back in the 1970's was that with the advent of super sonic flight, no passengers would fly on a 747 when travel time could be cut into a third flying on an SST or Concorde. As we now know Supersonic flight was never made practical, and with an increase awareness of things like air and noise pollution flight at Mach 1 + was never realized.

Flight has always fascinated me. Stories about Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and the U.S. space program made up a large part of my early childhood fantasies.

While I have no firsthand accounts of most of those things it was quite neat to witness this gigantic aircraft land for the first time.


Posted by mightymerk, 8:38 AM | link | (1) comments |

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

China Inc.


Madein China? You bet, originally uploaded by mightymerk.



Just finished reading a book I found quite interesting.

China Inc. - How The Rise of The Next Superpower Challenges America and the World

Some bulletpoints from the back cover:

* Did you Know? *

Three hundred million rural Chinese will move to cities in the next fifteen years. China must build urban infrastructure equivalent to Houston's every month in order to absorb them.

220 billion text messages were sent over mobile phones in China last year.

General Motors expects the Chinese automobile market to be bigger than the U.S. market by 2025. Some 74 million Chinese families can now afford to buy a car.

China has more speakers of English as a second language than America has native English speakers.

China has more than 300 biotech firms that operate unhindered by animal rights lobbies, religious groups, or ethical standards boards.

On average, American companies make a 42 percent return on their China operations.

There are 220 million "surpluss workers" in China's central and western regions. The number of people working in the United States is about 140 million.

Apparel workers in the United States make $9.56 an hour. In El Salvador, apparel workers make $1.65. In China they make between 68 and 88 cents.

One in ten American jobs is at risk of being "offshored."

There are 186 MBA programs in China.

China's sex industry alone needs 1 billion condoms a year.

China has 320 million people under the age of fourteen, more than the entire population of the United States.

More people use the Internet in China than in the United States.



I found the book provided a fairly good treatment towards the topic. China is painted no more the reavenous producer of cheap/copied goods as Americans, Europeans and the like are painted as cost concious consumers ready to purchase pirated material at a fraction of the cost of the original source product. This applies to a range of products from low cost DVD players, Cisco and 3Com network cards to counterfeit Heineken and Budweiser beers.

As an American I do have concerns with regards to the amount of T-Bills secondary mortgages etc. that Chinese investors are purchasing to effectively finance the purchases that Americans are making of their low cost products.

I also found some of the statistics regarding the follwoing technology companies quite interesting:

Only 210 people work for Netgear (you know the guys who make the router sitting on your desktop) which translates to roughly $1.5 million in sales per employee. A staggering number achieved in large part by the companies decision to have a state of the art manufacturing facility in China. To give you some additional perspective, as of 2001 Sony had 180,000 employees worldwide, with sales of $58 billion, or around $322,000 per employee. Business heads can appreciate these numbers.

Overall the book was an excellent read in which the author approached the subject from a variety of different angles and provided many supporting arguments and data. I suggest it to anyone interested in business, economics as well as geo political studies.
Posted by mightymerk, 6:11 PM | link | (1) comments |

Friday, April 22, 2005

Today is Earth Day!!


Earth_Day, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Did you remember?

Neither did I.

With that said:
Today is the 35th anniversary of Earth Day. The theme to this years Earth Day is " Protect our Children and Our Future".

I am not trying to make light of this. I can honestly say I am 100% more the environmentally concious citizen/consumer then I was 10 years ago. There are still better ways I can go about things in life, but I believe in baby steps and measured progress.

Some useful links:

The official site for Earth Day can be found here.

Books for environmentally friendly living.

Greenlife.org

Keep in mind I by no means claim to adhere to half of the stuff on Greenlife.org But like my catholic upbringing it does provide guidance in improving the way I live my life.

Posted by mightymerk, 12:57 PM | link | (0) comments |

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

With this new Pope...I see some hope


Raise the Catholic Church's Roof!!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.



Congratulations Roman Catholics, Congratulations Bavarians, Congratulations Germans, and dare I also congratulate everyone else as well.

We have a new Pope...and with that some hope!

Joseph Alois Ratzinger, born April 16, 1927, in Marktl Am Inn, a town in Bavaria, Germany, is now Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.


Ratzingers election came on the second ballot of the College of Cardinals, who began meeting in secret (though widely reported on by the media) on Monday. It was one of the fastest elections in the past century. The innauguration Mass will be held on Sunday Morning.

What people think about Pope Benedict XVI:


There are those (some cathollics included) that are somewhat aprehensive towards Pope Benedict XVI. His views against birth control, the ordination of women into priesthood and homosexuality are his most controversial views. (but are they really 'his' views, rather then the Catholic Church's views?)

There are far less reasonable concerns such as his Pope Benedict's compulsory service in the Hitler Youth, in what was then Nazi Germany. In truth Pope Benedict left the Hitler Youth, precisely for his religious studies and even abandoned the German army in 1945 and was held as a prisoner of war.

It must also be noted that the new Pope is an anti-Marxist, considers cloning more dangerous than weapons of mass destruction, and believes that radical secularism will destroy humanism.
The proponents of the new Pope see the importance of Pope Benedict's teachings remaining consistent with Pope John Paul II as a transitional Pople, while the long term future of the Chruch's direction is discussed in the background. The Pope has also had very aggressive views concerning the "filth" that make up some components of Church.


So what do I think?

Honestly I think that this is either the last great 'hurah' for more conservative people (in a religious/spiritual sense) like myself, or the start of a new beginning (could things have really come full circle already?).

I very happy that the Church will not (yet) fall victim to progressive causes. I am damn glad that one of the last beacons of conservatism is left on this planet. At the same time I believe we are headed down a dark path, in which humankind is placing more and more faith in 'human things' on a daily basis. We are our own gods, even if it is just within the confines of our own homes. We have become increasingly selfish people.

Pope Benedict is sure to protect the Church Doctrine.

I am a Roman Catholic, but sure enough as with most I have sinned. I am glad the Church is there to remind me from time to time about the better ways to navigate through life. From time to time I do think about the things I had been taught both in Catholic school and in Church. I also think my faith has gotten me through some tough times as an extra shoulder to lean on and reflect upon.

NO
, I do not think Abortion as birth control is good. NO, I do not think that drug or alcohol addiction is good for anyone and NO I do not think it just effects the user. NO, I do not feel that having an SUV and buying my children all the toys they could possibly imagine matters most in life.

Perhaps this is just the small event needed for many of us part-time Catholics and part-time religious folk (of every denomination) need to take a closer look at ourselves and our society and decide if we are really headed in the right direction. Are all the teachings of the church really that horrible? Should we really all just be on our own in this world? Without spiritual direction?

I am prepared for the worst though. The rise of 'progressive' causes, both deliberately by destructive elements in our society and innocently by people who just rely far too heavily on man-made solutions, forces me to be a skeptic.

There was a time when kids said the Pledge of Allegiance and their prayers in school (while others respectfully declined rather then purposely agitating their teachers and fellow peers) and metal detectors were not need in school. There was a time when rapist were not let out on $100 bail. This was also the same time kids could ride their bikes in their nieghborhoods, go out and play baseball games blocks away, only to come home to dinner when Mom gave her yell out the windows (that you could hear from blocks away). This is a time when people did all kinds of fun things in the privacy of their own home without the need to video tape it and distribute it on the internet (let alone tape your unsuspecting girlfriend or neighbor and distribute it). But we don't much care for controling ourselves nowadays.

Conservative thinking is not what is allowing all of this to happen (though conservatives are certainly guilty of some of the offenses above). Progressive rule is.

Can we get back to this place? At least in some form? I am all up for some heavy doses of Conservative thinking. Unless more and more people model themselves in this way though, not much will come of it. I do see hope. That hope does start with Pope Benedict XVI.

Oh, and Britney Spears is having a baby. Double Bonus Points for mankind

Posted by mightymerk, 5:42 PM | link | (6) comments |

Monday, April 18, 2005

The American Way ... of Changing


The American Way ... of Change, originally uploaded by mightymerk.


Was checking out this story today.

For quite some time when speaking about a great many issues I have always maintained that consumer habits would be the main driver in dictating to corporate America. This applies to healthier lunch menus at McDonalds, increasing manufacturing in the U.S as well as having car manufacturers produce more efficient and cleaner fuel using vehicles.

It's kind of nice to see how the habits of American consumerism are forcing the auto makers hand. It is my belief that within the next 5-10 years if an auto manufacturerer fails to have an 'eco-friendly' line of product they will suffer greatly. This serves as yet another example that a ' armed revolution' does not have to take place in order to change the habits of Corporate America.

Toyota is celebrating its best ever first quarter profit in 48 years while many American manufacturers now need to play catch-up. This response though is typical in American culture. Big Business can only dictate to the market for so long, before the consumers start to take control again. An interesting review of the Prius can be found here.

The bottom line is that SUV will continue to be part of the landscape. SUV drivers are not evil people either. Truth be told I drove an SUV for 4 years and it really was my all time favorite vehicle. I made a personal decision (one that didn't need government prodding) to switch to a more fuel efficient vehicle for two reasons. It probably would be better for the environment and I save a whole lot of money on gas. I most likely would not buy another SUV until their efficiency ratings improved.

As the SUV market continues to take its lumps, I remain hopeful that a hybrid SUV a little bit roomier than the Ford Escape
that is currently available is put to market so I can once again enjoy driving my living room (essentially) around America's highways.

Posted by mightymerk, 9:16 AM | link | (0) comments |

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Does everyone want their 15 minutes of shame?

Matthew Good's mBlog had a really interesting post today. Someone had sent him a link to this video of a young girl being savagely beaten by two other girls as part of a growing trend of teens video taping destruction and then quickly posting it on internet message boards etc.

I was particularly moved by a statement that Matt had, but has since removed, in which he openly questioned how if these same teens (and those like them) were transplanted to places like Darfur, Afghanistan, Iraq etc. that perhaps their perspectives might change. He also quite correctly questioned as to where the parents were.

It is hard to imagine that teens of modern, democratic western nations would need to resort to such violence. Kids will be kids (as the saying goes), but when will Parents start becoming Parents again? These actions are criminal, not far from becoming a felony.

Are our kids growing up too spoiled, too inconsiderate and too quickly? Are we (not just parents but in effect the tribal elders) having too many kids with too little consideration too carelessly?

This is not some distant problem that most of us do not have to worry about unfortunately. I reminded of a recent post that I made about a group of teens committing destructive acts of their own variety.

This is not going to be a long post, and mBlog has been recently updated in which Mr. Good reflects further on the subject here.

Update:
HS Kid busted in Vid Rape

It seems like the problems just continue. In some ways these stories are making me wonder, much like in the case of guns, if the video cameras themselves are the main cause of this. This took place in New York.

Further Update:


Now in Ohio, according to a witness a disabled student videotaped being punched in the face and forced to perform sex acts.

An epidemic?
Posted by mightymerk, 5:19 PM | link | (0) comments |

Sunday, April 10, 2005

20 years and counting...

Hillary Clinton right now remains one of the favorites for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 election.

So I started thinking that if either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush (as unlikely as it is) are elected President of the United States, that will mean 24+ years of straight Presidential rule between 2 families, the Bushes and the Clinton's. That would be over 2/3's of my life.
Hello New World Oligarch!

Not sure how I feel about this. Actually I am quite sure how I feel.

I go on record now as saying that I will neither vote for a Clinton or a Bush in the next election.

If only my 'liberal' friends would have voted for the candidate of their beliefs (Nader) rather then for Bush lite (Kerry) perhaps a viable 3rd party candidate/party could have been emerged. Unfortunately the total selfish behavior of my true liberal friends all dictated that they vote against Bush, rather then for the candidate that best represented their own feelings. Easily, I would say that Nader should have gotten 20%-25% of John Kerry's votes if people voted their concious. This type of selfishness set back the 3rd party system at least 16-20 years in my estimation. Oh well.

For the record I am a registered Republican. I consider myelf to be more conservative then Republican (and yes there is a difference). I have also voted out of party in both local and national elections. I am also someone who has supported 3rd party candidates/parties in his lifetime when they best represent the ideals that I hold.

I am not sure if this Oligarchy is being formed by pure coincidence, human nature, intellectual laziness, or by fixed political hand. Perhaps various levels of all four elements are involved?

Thoughts?
Posted by mightymerk, 5:28 AM | link | (2) comments |

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sandy Burgler, I mean Berger...actually I mean both


I'm not loving it!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

I'm not sure what just happened here. Actually we all can be sure of what happened.
Sandy Berger, former White House Security adviser to Bill Clinton, plans to plead guilty to a misdemeanor acknowledging that he intentionally removed classified documents and knowingly destroyed a portion of these documents. The documents all centered around the Clinton administrations record on terrorism.

Read about it here.

In what Berger described as an "honest mistake" last summer to the American press, he is now admitting was "wrong...and not inadvertant". Berger will be fined $10,000 and accept a three-year suspension of his national security clearance.

I am not sure what is going on here. Besides the obvious questions of:

What information did those documents contain?
Who was Sandy Berger trying to protect?
Was Sandy Berger acting alone, and if not who instructed him to do such a thing?

mightymerk wants to know these things:

How is stealing from the National Archives a misdemeanor?
Why is Sandy Berger not in jail?
What is $10,000 to Sandy Berger?
Why after three years will Sandy Berger regain his Security clearance?


Mr. Berger admitted to being a thief. Mr. Berger admitted he exercised poor judgement. Mr. Berger acknowledged that he cut classifed documents to bits and pieces.

Who cares, right?




Posted by mightymerk, 4:34 AM | link | (2) comments |

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Pope and Mighty Merk (some recollections)


The Pope and Mighty Merk's recollections of him., originally uploaded by mightymerk.


More a post for myself then any of the readers I shall share a few personal recollections I have concerning the Pope.

Memory 1: Karol Wajtyla becomes the Pope - I first remember hearing about the Pope sometime after he was just elected as such while attending St. John's school in Orange New jersey. At the time I thought it was quite neat that my first name was John, I was going to St. John's school (to which I was named after) and the Pope, the Big Guy, was John Paul II. At the time, really not even knowing that religion could be somehow outside of my life, I thought the name John was quite special. Of course this is a 6 year olds thinking. Incidentally this coincides with the time I learned my first political jingle, the Oscar Meyer parody on Jimmy Carter..."and Jimmy Carter has a way of screwing up the USA"

Memory 2: An attempt on the Pope's Life - May 13th, 1981 - The pope was shot in the abdomen by Turkish gunmen Mehmet Ali Agca Recently. I remember thinking to myself, "who would want to kill the Pope", thinking it was a certain deathwish, and that surely God wold have no mercy on such a soul (now the thinkings of a 9 year old).
At the time it was reported that the Pope clearly knew he would not die and upon entry to the hospital told his secretary "I forgive the assassin. He also publicly stated that there were others behind the assassination attempt and even wrote as much in his book 'Memory and Identity'. The Pope's suspicion and that of many other have recently been confirmed. The KGB, through the East German Stasi and through the Bulgarian Secret Service carried out this assassination attempt.

Memory 3: Sinead O'connor Rips It Up - October 3rd, 1992 - While performing an a capella version Bob Marley's song WAR, she ended the song with a cry to "Fight the Real Enemy" and began to rip up a photo of the Pope into pieces. At the time I remember saying to myself "How Stupid". It also serves for me as a reference in my belief that those of the 'liberal mind' always tend to pick soft targets. Targets that really do not fight back (not matter how much they claim they would). Attacking the Pope, the U.S. president is easy. I also remember thinking that there was little doubt she did this precisly because he was an easy target, provided a lot of controversey and would be generally accepted amongst the growing anti-religious cult. No matter what message she was trying to convey, everyone would miss the point, and people from all sides would take her actions to extremes. (and they did). The thoughts of the growing socio/political mind of a 19 year old.
On a side note, Sinead has since made peace with the Pope, claiming her actions were a "ridiculous act" and further stated that she did what she did "because I was in rebellion against faith, but I was still within the faith".

Memory 4: A plane ride from France to America, Heavy Turbulence, and a Group of Spanish Students going to see the Pope - July 2002 - I was flying home from a business trip. I clearly remember sitting next to an Italian gentlemen and a woman from the Ukraine. The plane as leaving Paris, to JFK. On this plane there also happened to be a great number of Spanish students, I am guessing high school age, who were flying into JFK, to connect into Canada for World Youth Day, in which the Pope was going to make a visit. I don't speak Spanish, but based on body language and such, these were typical kids. I did get a sense that they were taking great pleasure in making such a trip, and specifically a chance to see the Pope. During this flight we hit a bad patch of turbulence. The kind of turbulence that makes you think about not flying ever again. I remember beginning to white knuckle it, as the kids actually had to be ordered to sit down and buckle-up, rather then sitting/standing in every direction chatting with one another. There was not one student (that I could see) with the least bit of worry on their face. Were they extremely experienced travellers? Unaware of the potential danger? Or did their strong faith give them such comfort? Again, I don't speak Spanish so I never could find out.

Final Memory : The Pope's Final Days - late March/early April 2005 - The Pope goes out fairly stoic. I mean don't get me wrong, everything that could be done was done to keep him alive and comfortable for as long as possible from a medical perspective but I believe the Pope was looking forward to his trip to the Kingdom of God. Durin his demise, some cried, some joked, and there were numerous tie-ins to the Terri Schiavo case, but ultimately not much of that really matters.

With the passing of the Pope, some are deeply moved, while other are not moved at all. That is ok. That is the way life works.


A man, unlike many of us, true to his heart, true to his words and true to his concious has passed. I remember him not for all the many virtues he made me think about, or the things he made me do. I simply remember him for all the great things that he himself had done and for a few special memories that I myself will take to my grave.

Thanks for the Memories John Paul II and God Bless You

Some helpful links:
A biography on Pope John Paul II
How is the Pope elected
What goes into a Pope's name?
The ritual that takes place when the Pope dies

Posted by mightymerk, 6:27 AM | link | (0) comments |