Made in China

June 30, 2007

The recent attention given to adulterated toothpaste, poisoned pet food, plywood and defective tires manufactured in China has led to some media hysteria about poorly-regulated Chinese quality controls but little concern in terms of the general population.  People are still shopping at Wal-Mart.

Not that the U.S. hasn’t been the bastion of quality perfection, either, but in our xenophobia we will naturally magnify the problems that other countries have out of proportion to our own.  This hasn’t yet driven us back to purchasing domestic-only products.  When was the last time, in fact, that “Made in the USA” carried any real weight?

It is noteworthy that U.S. interdiction (in the form of placing blame) ends with the importer, and that Chinese companies are under no obligation to pay for any recalls of any kind.  I doubt, for instance, that the importer of all those defective Chinese tires will survive any lawsuits; the company is just too small to handle either the recall or the inevitable legal actions.

This will be an interesting subject to follow.  Over time, Chinese quality control measures will likely improve because the Chinese have too much to lose should they be regarded as poorly-regulated with respect to Western standards.  I highly expect China to follow in the footsteps of Japan, a country whose attention to manufacturing quality is well-established.  In the interim, however, this may be an incentive for a few entrepreneurial types to move some types of manufacturing back onto U.S. soil.

Password Protection

June 30, 2007

What’s got at least one capital letter, one lower-case letter and one number in it?

My password.  In fact, all of them of late.  As password protection becomes an absolute necessity, most of the computer accounts that I access require what are called strong passwords:  No formal names, no dictionary words, no common expressions.  My login at my own company is this 13-letter mix of upper and lower case, numbers and a punctuation mark thrown in for good measure.

Hindsight being 20-20, it would have served Microsoft and every financial institution well to have demanded strong passwords from the beginning of the computer revolution, as by now we would be all accustomed to it.  As it is, however, the biggest flaw in all of this is our inability to remember more than perhaps two or three strong passwords. 

I have many passwords on various accounts, so hence, I have to write them down someplace.

Last week my company moved to a new building.  I can’t for the life of me find that sheet of paper.

Another Good Root Beer

June 25, 2007

Virgil’s Root BeerVirgil’s Micro Brewed.

Decent flavor, only lightly carbonated, doesn’t burn when it goes down.  I had to drink two bottles because the first one wasn’t enough.

Another Cloudless Day

June 25, 2007

Blue SkyAnother cloudless day.

Are we in Western New York?  If this is what global warming is going to do to the area, then bring it on!

I cannot recall a more cloudless spring and summer like the one we are having this year.  I want to quit my job, take the summer off and start in again maybe in the Fall.  This weather is just too good to pass up.

Tomorrow it will be 90.  I will not last past lunch in my office.

The Hollywood Sex Machine

June 24, 2007

Hollywood sex and glamour drives an industry that not only knows media penetration, it defines media penetration.  The glamour of sex is apparent not only in a relatively liberal country like the U.S. but even in extremely conservative countries like Afghanistan, where child prostitution and pornography can be found with relative ease, and where Chinese restaurants are utilized as fronts for Chinese prostitutes.  Much of the time the West is blamed for bringing its decadence to other parts of the world.  But really, as long as there is testosterone there will be sexual desire.  The availability of film just helps it along.

Back to Hollywood.  Without Hollywood, as a society we would still be curious about sex, curious about drugs, and curious about violence.  Hollywood’s exposition of our seamy underside, however, has really pushed the envelope to the point where the line between acceptable and aberrant behavior has become terribly blurred.  How many killings and implied sex scenes per night do we average today on television?  I love to laugh over a sexual reference, but when Scrubs is on Comedy Central at 7:00 I have to wonder how many kids who aren’t old enough to grasp the concept get the wrong impression about relationships.

And in the end it’s relationships that I’m worried about.  Long-term ones seem to be going to hell in a hand basket. 

So what came first:  Our sexual freedom or Hollywood’s image of it?


Naming Rights

June 24, 2007

Why do people get so crazy with baby names?  Why are they getting crazier?  This recent article in the Wall Street Journal makes me think that some prospective parents are on the road to neurosis. 

It seems a bit over the top to pay “specialists” by the hour to come up with an appropriate pick list of names to choose from. 

I can’t wait to find out what these same parents will do for their kid’s Kindergarten graduation or 18th birthday.  Some people have way too much disposable income.

Have You Seen This Plant?

June 24, 2007

Giant Hogweed

If you have, call the nearest highway or parks department and have them poison it. It’s Giant Hogweed. It’ll grow over 8 feet tall, and the sap in its stalk reacts with sunlight on your skin to cause bad cases of photo-dermatitis. It’s a really bad plant; the skin disfiguration from it lasts years. The clusters of white flowers are each about a foot across. It’s a big plant.

It’s also one more example of an invasive species. This particular plant was imported from Asia as an ornamental, and like many foreign invaders, spread way beyond what was anticipated. It is a public health hazard.

There’s some growing just off the road within a few hundred yards of my house. I called the town to hopefully get rid of it by tomorrow, before any kids get into it.