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Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Three Cheers for Apple, IBM, and Motorola. May they never work together again!
I read today that the AIM Alliance is showing more signs of dying off. They have been drifting apart noticeably in recent years, but now IBM has formed another alliance with Sony and Toshiba, effectively announcing the end of the decade old attempt to work together.

I'm no expert on these matters, and I don't know all the history of AIM, but essentially it was an alliance of Apple, IBM, and Motorola to develop a microprocessor superior to the Motorola 68K series, and compete with the Intel/Microsoft team. The alliance developed the PowerPC, which has been used in every Apple Macintosh since the mid nineties. It's a great processor and the technology has usually been faster than the Intel processors introduced at the same times.

But the alliance, in my opinion, has been overall a failure. How many people know about the PowerPC? Few. How many people know about "Intel Inside" and the dancing clean room guys? Everyone. When I worked at Apple I saw some proposed commercials made by Motorola touting the PowerPC, but I never saw them aired. It was as if the alliance made the three parties think that they didn't need to market their product. Why should Motorola pay for an ad that will also benefit IBM?

So I'm glad this alliance is losing its luster. Maybe now Motorola will realize that the consumer market requires marketing. Maybe now they will work to improve their product on their own, using their own initiative and creativity, and eliminate some of the inter-corporation politics involved with changes and upgrades to the product. Maybe this will help the expected resurgence of the Macintosh as computer operating systems become less and less relevent to compatibility and user interface becomes more important.
That's all.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Why You Shouldn't be a Catholic. (or any kind of Christian)
The recent spate of priests being accused of being perverts and pedophiles is hardly surprising to anyone who has spent time among men pursuing the priesthood. (I matriculated at a Catholic university, and my brother is a priest.) There are without doubt some very nice guys who desire to be priests, but the requirement of celibacy discourages most men with healthy urges (and even minds) from living such an unnatural life. The priesthood was more popular in poorer nations like in Ireland during the Potato Famine, or in Spain before their Civil War, and in most of Europe when poverty was common. In most of these countries the priesthood was a good way to get an education and to make sure you had food to eat. Celibacy was often winked at or ignored as a requirement. In the fifteenth century one of the best selling books was written by a Spanish priest entitled "The Book of Good Love," filled with lurid details how to seduce every type of woman. It was obviously written from personal experience. That priest was eventually jailed, but the propensity for priests to have "maids" or "cousins" living with them was still very common. Shortly before the Spanish Inquisition there was an attempt to enforce the celibacy requirement, but this was scoffed at by most. Even Popes have been known to have children and mistresses. It appears to me that this past century has been one of the rarer times where priests are expected to observe this vow.
Today in the United States, celibacy is expected to be observed with the result that normal men, and I use the term "normal" very purposefully, generally will not consider being a priest. There are exceptions: Some men really are quite devout and such staunch believers that they consider it a worthwhile sacrifce, but for the most part men with unhealthy or unnatural minds become priests. Celibacy doesn't make them perverts, they were the type to be perverts before they became priests. The church tries to weed these out, but their desparate shortage of priests (US churches now recruit heavily from third world countries where men join the clergy to escape poverty) clearly has made them reduce standards.

Of course the real tragedy (beyond the plight of the victims) isn't that the church is suffering from a bad reputation, the real tragedy is that the church heirarchy protected these perverts from receiving the punishments they richly deserve. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, any priest has the ability to forgive any sin, but it appears that they have forgotten the other side of that doctrine: They have the authority to hold the sinners bound to their guilt. They can also make forgiveness dependent on submitting to "worldly" justice.

In fact, the concept of separation of church and state is much older than our nation, it is strongly implied in the New Testament itself when Jesus advised his followers to give to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to give to god that which belongs to god. According to Jesus, the "soul" (whatever that is) belongs to god, while the body belongs to this world, symbolized by Caesar.

In our nation of laws, we tolerate (and often encourage) people to believe in magic and we respect peoples' rights to believe in every kind of faeries or demons or gods that they desire. This freedom of minds is extremely important. Freedom is only possible when it includes the freedom to be wrong. Thus we should embrace our freedom of religion, no matter how nonsensical religion is, but we should also be sure to keep this freedom of thought and expression within the bounds of otherwise moral behavior. For example, we can allow people to believe that pedophilia is a good thing and express that idea, but the line is drawn when people use religion to commit pedophilia, or protect those who do so even while objecting to the practice.

In short, the Catholic church may have forgiven these perverts, but we as a society haven't. They may forgive them all they like, and even call them saints and claim they will go to some idyllic paradise after they are dead, but we as a society have a responsibility to make sure that pedophiles are indeed dead. Whatever they want to believe about what happens after their peers are dead is their concern, and irrelevent to justice in the world that really exists.

Conceptually, there is little difference between a religion that is used to protect men that like to play with little boys' private parts, and a religion that encourages men to fly airplanes into skyscrapers. Both are examples of people using their belief in magic to permit crimes against their fellow man. The Catholic church officially doesn't approve of the men who have committed these crimes, but they appear to have condoned it for decades that we know of. We should not forget how the Catholic church encourages people to murder political opponents, even as recently as the 1930's in Spain. We should never allow them to protect perverts either. Both perverts and their protectors should be prosecuted vigorously and unmercifully within the fullest allowable penalties of the law.

All Americans should examine this event and reconsider how they can obey such a cabal of men, for the Catholic church demands not only belief, but obedience. Those who wish to live a life of morality would do better to depend on their own minds to discern right from wrong rather than depend on the likes of these to interpret it for them.

Monday, April 15, 2002

George Bush and Back Bone
I spent many years in the United States Marine Corps as an officer of Marines. I claim no special gift of leadership ability, but I learned a lot in those years. The Marines, like all things they do, are very good at leadership. In fact I would say that teaching leadership is their greatest strength, they nourish a cult of leadership. Leadership is cultivated with all the fervor of a religion, and the result is that Marine Corps units have been known to sustain 70% casualties (Iwo Jima) and still remain effective as one man after another steps up to take charge. (We hope that those casualty rates aren't necessary to prove the benfits of this cult!)
Whenever you pick up a Marine Corps Gazette or peruse any other forum where Marines communicate, you will quickly notice that Marines are obsessed with what makes a man a leader. We have lists of leadership traits, leadership fundamentals, and leadership concepts that sometimes are memorized, and always debated. No two Marines agree on which are the most important leadership traits. Some will claim honesty, some will claim integrity, some will claim technical proficiency, and some will claim knowing your men in a fatherly, or some will say brotherly, way is the most important. Like all Marines, I have my own idea of what is most important. I say none of these are the most critical. Leaders can be dishonest, ignorant, or even brutal and still get people to follow them. The most important leadership trait is consistency.

A leader must be many things, and consistency obviously isn't important to an impromptu leader who takes charge in a pinch. But once you become a leader the most important thing you can do is be consistent. If the leader could do everything himself, he would have no need of followers. The whole point of being a leader is to get people working together on a common goal. They must be able to know what the goal is, and they must know what happens if they don't understand the goal, or if they incorrectly anticipate how to react to changes in the situation that require adjustments.

Let's give an example. A captain must know the rules about what the colonel wants. The sergeant must know what the colonel wants. Knowing the rules isn't enough, they must know the colonel's reaction to a situation. Knowing what is important to the colonel instills confidence in these men that they are doing the right thing. If the colonel doesn't care about something sometimes and then reacts strongly at other times, then his followers will be confused, and unsure of their actions. People will be unable to anticipate his desires and if this inconsistency is bad enough, a climate of fear and even backstabbing will result.

It matters little how good or bad the leader's ideas are, if he is consistent, then people will be able to anticipate his reaction to new situations. To take an abhorrent example, Adolf Hitler was a strong leader. His people knew what he wanted and they gave it to him. The individuals in his country were able to harness their own minds in a united effort to implement his will. It could be said that Hitler's decline coincided with his becoming arbitrary and with wildly diverging moods and reactions. I don't mean that Hitler should be emulated in any way, but it is instructive to learn from all strong leaders and understand how they were able to lead. There is much more, obviously to his initial success and his ultimate and well deserved destruction, but we can say that he was very consistent in all of his policies during his rise to power and for much of the war.

Let's look at a more successful, and less evil, leader. Ronald Reagan, no matter whether you liked him or not, was almost unparalleled in his consistency. He hated communism, and he hated big government. You always knew this. He didn't always succeed in his goals, but you knew where he stood on issues and people knew how he would react. Because of this, his followers stayed with him no matter what happened.

Even Bill Clinton can be said to be an effective leader for the same reason. We knew what he stood for, himself and his popularity. Anything that was not glorifying him was attacked and lied about on a very consistent basis. His followers always knew what his reaction would be: he was not always partisan, he would attack democrats as viciously as he attacked republicans, he just always did anything necessary to glorify himself in the short term. His followers are still extremely loyal to him.

The whole point of this rant is to point out why George W. Bush will be a failed president just like his father was, and for exactly the same reasons. He has no consistency. It doesn't matter how right or wrong his individual policies are so long as they remain consistent. After the melting of New York's skyscrapers he became a very popular leader because he issued a call for moral clarity regarding terrorism. He pounded at this theme over and over and all of the people of this nation eagerly fell into step. He has a historic opportunity to free the Muslim world from the dark ages, yet he is abandoning his successful approach for the sake of the myth that we "need" moderate Arab states' support.

This is nonsense! The Arabic world will follow us if we remain consistent. These primitive tribes masquerading as nations haven't the courage to stand up to us, and only when we question ourselves do they openly speak against us. We need to face them with resolve and consistency. We must say very clearly that we will not support a Palestinian dictator because he is a brutal thug and murderer of his own people.

The same goes for the new regimes controlling the vacant minds in the European nations, under color of a European Union. Our occupation of Europe should end if we no longer enjoy their support. This will free up vast military resources to fight our real threats, China and the Arabic and Muslim tribes.

Bush has a very enthusiastic following for his policy of moral clarity. If he abandons it, he will lose his following. If he sticks with it, even if he is unable to implement it, then his followers will stick with him. Let's hope he gets the backbone that he seems to be genetically deprived of.