Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Man In The Right Place

A new company bgC3 LLC (www.bgc3.com/) was formed last year by billionaire Bill Gates. The firm's placard, bgC3, is thought to probably stand for Bill Gates Company 3--and the new firm has been touted by some writers as another possible Microsoft. Please get a grasp on reality. That Gates is some kind of genius who propelled the globe and all of its lemmings to the information age is incredibly naïve. Most any 1977-era technologist engaged in developing small computing devices centered around the 8-bit microprocessors was conversant with and actively using Digital Research's CP/M operating system (see www.digitalresearch.biz/CPM.HTM).

Simply put, what Gates did was to engage capable technologists and slick negotiators, some of these holding unscrupulous business skills, to eventually acquire unconditional rights to the unauthorized cloned upgrade of CP/M operating system produced by Seattle Computer Products (SCP). SCP's operating system, named SCP-DOS as later upgraded to 86-DOS, sports a virtual copy of CP/M user commands and a strikingly similar applications programming interface. To the user, that makes 86-DOS, PC-DOS and MS-DOS "look and feel" essentially identical to CP/M (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Kildall).

The CP/M & clone 86-DOS operating system combination were the essential products developed completely outside Microsoft that became the baseline for Microsoft DOS (see www.digitalresearch.biz/GATES41.HTM). Without the acquisition of this fiddled clone of the CP/M operating system, the Gates led Microsoft would likely be just another capable group of software development tool providers. Gates is an aggressive and sometimes predatory procurement artist, whose leadership style smacks of strong antitrust tendencies. He fortuitously surrounded himself with superior technical, business, and legal personnel in a collection of talent that cultivated a successful Microsoft. It was this team of working engineers, technologists and technical management business people who made Microsoft successful. But there is a point where predatory behavior becomes dangerous even to the predator.

To deny that Bill Gates is just another smart and very lucky man, a forceful marauder in the right place at the right time, is simply amazing. Gates is a man with important connections, who sometimes used marginal or downright unethical and illegal business practices to acquire technology and smother competition. Presiding Judge Jackson in the 1998-2000 antitrust case United States v. Microsoft states that Microsoft executives had "...proved, time and time again, to be inaccurate, misleading, evasive, and transparently false. ...Microsoft is a company with an institutional disdain for both the truth and for rules of law that lesser entities must respect. It is also a company whose senior management is not averse to offering specious testimony to support spurious defenses to claims of its wrongdoing." Solid business ethics are important in a company's formative years...and executive leadership in a younger Microsoft firm apparently had no firm foundation in business ethics. Bill Gates' technical business history for distorting the truth, even while under oath, is a matter of official judicial system record...

"bgC3"--another Microsoft for the “genius” Bill Gates? Right! There is a bridge for sale in Brooklyn for anyone who might actually believe that story.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Remembering American Civil War Soldier
1st Lieutenant William Kirkland Bacon

My annual Memorial Day visit to pay respects to American war veterans found those hero's gravestones bathed in the warm afternoon sun. The unadorned, seemingly forgotten gravesite of twenty-year-old 1st Lieutenant William Kirkland Bacon was discovered during that visit in late May to Forest Hill Cemetery, Utica, NY. Barely visible, the monument inscription reads: “William Kirkland Bacon: Late Adjutant of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment of New York State Volunteers, slain at Fredericksburg, December 16, 1862.”

Adjutant William Kirkland Bacon was affectionately known as “Willie” to his family and friends. Willie’s military life can be summarized by stating that in late April 1861, as he finished his sophomore year at Hamilton College--and following the attack on Fort Sumter--he answered his country’s call by enlisting as a private with Company A of the notable Fourteenth Regiment of New York State Volunteers (NYSV). Company A was the first contingent of Central New York Oneida County residents to volunteer for Union Civil War military service. The Fourteenth New York was first posted to protect and defend Washington D.C., where the regimental officer community recognized Willie’s quick intelligence, attainments, and talents. Later in 1861, Willie accepted a transfer to the Twenty-Sixth Regiment NYSV as Military Clerk. A vacancy occurred several weeks later and Willie was offered an officer’s promotion and assignment as the Twenty-Sixth New York Regimental Adjutant. Now a commissioned officer, Willie engaged in several skirmishes and a couple of major battles leading up to December 1862 at Battle of Fredericksburg. In combat during the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas), August 30, 1862, Willie suffered his first wound, wounded-in-action to the left leg. Confederate fire hit him just above the heal while leading a party of Company F fighting men. The shot's impact knocked him from his wounded horse, and Willie struggled to painfully walk from the battlefield with aid provided by a few of his “Boys”. Unable to walk without assistance, he eventually made his way to an Alexandria, VA Union Army hospital. Willie’s father, William Johnson Bacon of Utica, found him in Alexandria about a week later and accompanied him to his boyhood home in Utica for convalescent leave. In October 1862, after six weeks rest and medical recuperation, Willie returned to his regiment with his painful Manassas combat wound still not fully mended.

Then, at mid-afternoon, Saturday, December 13, 1862, during savage combat at the Battle of Fredericksburg--and while leading front-line Union fighting men from General John F. Reynolds' Corps--Willie was mortally-wounded-in-action by Confederate fire to his upper left leg. With his leg shattered, and under heavy fire, two of his boys removed Willie from the battlefield. There a wagon ambulance delivered him and other wounded soldiers to a rear medical facility. His left leg was amputated later that evening (very high on the leg near the pelvis). Willie was drugged with available painkillers, and without much doubt he never regained a fully conscious state. He died early Tuesday morning on December 16, 1862, just two months short of his twenty-first birthday.

Adjutant William “Willie” Kirkland Bacon was born to a prominent Utica, New York Family, where his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were lawyers and all served in elected state office in Massachusetts and New York and as U.S. Representatives. Willie’s father, The Honorable William Johnson Bacon, served nearly two decades as an elected New York State Supreme Court Judge. Willie was the only son of Judge William and Mrs. Eliza Kirkland Bacon. Adjutant Bacon’s middle name--Kirkland--honors his beloved mother’s maiden name. Mrs. Bacon’s father was the Honorable General Joseph Kirkland, a well-known Utica-area lawyer, the first mayor of the new city Utica, and a New York State and federal elected politician. The Bacon family was emotionally crushed by Willie’s Civil War combat death at Fredericksburg, and never fully recovered from their deeply shared grief on his passing. No military medals were evidently ever awarded to recognize Adjutant Bacon’s heroism. Medals of Honor were awarded to enlisted personnel only at the time of Willie’s 1862 Civil War combat death. Furthermore, it was rare that medals for heroism were awarded to officers posthumously. In fact, many senior Union generals--including then Commanding General Burnside--felt that medal awards emulated too strongly the practices of European Aristocrats. A 1932 congressional award re-authorization, The Purple Heart, recognizes combat-related wounds or death for military service on or after April 5, 1917--and just in this new millennium finally recognizes those who perished as POWs. Published words in letters and books seems to be the preferred method to recognize officers killed-in-action during the American Civil War. One such letter, as sent to Willie’s father from Brigade Commander, General Zealous B. Tower states “…My short acquaintance with Adjutant Bacon prepossessed me greatly in his favor. It is a pleasing duty to inform you that in this battle your son was distinguished for gallant services at the head of his regiment. At Fredericksburgh he was conspicuous for manly bravery and cool determination, till he fell mortally wounded on that never to be forgotten battle-field.”

Bacon Post No. 53 of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was chartered in Utica, NY, October 24, 1867. G.A.R. Post 53 was named to honor the memory and Union Civil War service of 1st Lieutenant William Kirkland Bacon. Medal of Honor (MOH) recipient Joseph Keene—who won the MOH for valor at the Battle of Fredericksburg––annually joined former comrades from the 26th Infantry Regiment NYSV for many years on "Decoration Day", holding memorial exercises at the grave of William Kirkland Bacon. They each held a warm affection for Willie Bacon…"their Little Adjutant."


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A memorial book authored by Willie’s father Judge Bacon, "Adjutant Bacon: Memorial of William Kirkland Bacon, late Adjutant of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment of New York State Volunteers" served as a major reference for this log-of-remembrance. Judge Bacon’s work is preserved by Goggle digitizing and is available by Internet search.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Greed and Dishonesty by
Stock Market Manipulators

For goodness sake! A blind man can see that unprincipled and rampant naked-short-sellers, masquerading as good-for-the-market hedge fund management, are manipulating current stock markets. Out of control market speculation is a significant cause in the present inability of the stock markets to operate correctly. Investment seems to be the forgotten market purpose--while driving stock price down in a loose confederation of short selling more the rule. Money is selfishly extracted--not by investment--but rather by sucking the life blood from business. Immediate controls are necessary on these money-hungry stock short-sellers and hedge-fund operators. Several corrective steps have been mentioned over the past few months to corral these callous and deceitful market thieves. Here are just a couple of rational changes that will immediately yield a more honest and effective stock market:

1. Immediately place the up-tick rule in effect. Short sellers can not sell stock they don't own when that stock is losing value. Short sells are allowed only when the stock price is gaining.

2. Eliminate “naked short selling”. Short selling should be backed by legitimate “borrowed” stock…where trading rights to that short stock is paid for by a non-returnable and significant lending fee. Audit and investigate more aggressively...and institute very significant penalties for proven naked short selling.

These and other appropriate oversight should be directly implemented by swift action of the Securities and Exchange Commission--or by Executive Order of President Obama should that be required. More market regulation is urgently needed! So far the new president's administration has paid little more than a healthy quanity of lip service to a stock market out of control. Immeditate executive action is both required and necessary. Investors should personally look at the hedge fund cabal. Clearly, too much money concentrated in too few hands. Absolute unchained collaboration with strong anti-trust implications is apparent. No wonder hedge management spends big dollars on federal lobbyist to help preserve their unregulated status. If they had to deal with full transparency in the light of day they would move like cockroaches for shadowy protection under rocks.

Scum will always float to the surface...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Satire on Digital TV Transition

To delay the Federal Communication Commission’s Digital TV transition mandate is very plausible--considering the financial mess that congress and the administration has generated. And yet such delay is just another example of an unbelievable lapse in government wisdom. Most of the “Great Unwashed” will simply put off those personal steps necessary to make an in-house DTV transition--for a period equal to any proposed delay. And to heck with those dumb little government converter coupons. Just send everyone another government check--call it a “converter stimulus check”. Funding might well be cut from the just authorized--$350 Billion Bush Administration’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. Or perhaps some of the forthcoming $825 Billion Obama 2009 Stimulus Package could be used to buy free converters for everyone. A billion here--or a billion there--that is just chicken feed. And DTV converters should be purchased only from American firms--that is if any could be found. And when an American converter firm is not found, use some more of those federal funds to build a factory. Think of it! An instant domestic high tech job creation program building DTV converters, a mandated emphasis to “Buy American” might be placed on components for DTV converter manufacturing, and all while rejuvenating a domestic electronics industry we let slip through our hands decades ago. Then the responsible people who have properly prepared for DTV transition could join hands...while singing “Kumbayah”. Together, we shall hold high hopes that recipients of converter stimulus checks spend the free cash on Digital TV Converters--rather than Coors. That free federal money worked so well for our economy last time. Now this is a government take over of personal responsibility at its finest!

Friday, January 16, 2009

New York State’s Troubling Budget Shortfall

Simply put, immediate state legislative steps must be taken to reduce New York State spending. Increasing taxes and fees on already overtaxed state residents will directly result in a significant population and business migration to locations without the ridiculous financial burden imposed by New York State’s sales tax, property tax, school tax, and extravagant state fee structures. Marginal business will simply cease to be going concerns…and fold up shop. There will be no billion-dollar bailout for small business. An elementary principle in basic economics is the “Law of Diminishing Returns”. Typically applied to manufacturing & agricultural production--the law can logically extend to government taxes and fees. Beyond some point--further increases in taxes and fees--will rationally result in a smaller tax base and smaller treasury revenues--particularly when many residents and businesses have alternatives to live and do business elsewhere outside of New York State. Here are seven commonsense state legislative initiatives that should be immediately implemented:
  • There should be no new NYS taxes and no new fees.
  • Current NYS tax rates should not in any way be raised.
  • Current NYS fees should be frozen at January 1, 2009 levels.
  • No new or expanded NYS spending programs should be approved.
  • No increase in current state agency budgets, not even as adjusted for the present very low inflation rate.
  • Cut unclassified NYS employees, contract employees, and consultant services by 25% on or before September 30, 2009. Any state programs impacted by fewer consultants--and/or less employment other than by civil service classified employees--should be delayed, extended, or terminated.
  • Effective October 1, 2009, offer current classified NYS employees over age 50 a rational early retirement incentive program; where employee physical age plus years of state service = 76 or higher, employees may retire--at their descretion--from state service within their current tier without early retirement penalty. The agency shall hold the item vacant for a period of not less than twelve months.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Hawk's Front Yard Visit

Saw a feathered blob sitting in the front yard yesterday, just looking around on top of the snow about 200 feet from the front of our house. Watched it for a while through field glasses--and finally identified it as a probable Cooper’s Hawk--or possibly a young Red-Tailed Hawk. The hawk just sat there in the snow for perhaps 10 minutes or more--then I realized it was in process of killing something. I think the hawk must have knocked a Mourning Dove out of the air--then pounced on it for the kill--with those powerful talons. Signs of the struggle were very localized to the spot where the hawk was first seen. Our urge to run outside and drive the hawk away was suppressed. It is not our intention to provide a buffet for hawks…but they struggle for survival in winter too. We watched as most of the dove's feathers were plucked out--and then as the predator ate practically the whole thing. Very interesting...never have seen anything like it before. After the hawk finished dining, went down to checkout the spot--just a bunch of feathers and some spots of blood--not much evidence of the dove remained. We feed birds in the back yard area, where all the local feathered residents enjoy the seed, suet, and table scraps. Three American Crows (Moe, Larry & Curly) join us for daily breakfast, complemented by many Gold Finches, Chickadees, Dark-Eyed Juncos, many Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Cardinals, White-breasted Nuthatch, Mourning Doves, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, etc.--all the standard feathered species found here in the Upper Mohawk River Valley.