May 23, 2013
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Interesting article from Tom Foremski over at ZDNET late last week...
Hundreds of thousands of small businesses use Google affiliate marketing as a way of increasing their revenue (and finding ways to generate traffic to their own websites). After all, in this day and age, it's tough enough to be a small business owner, given the impacts of a massive government (at all levels) sitting on your chest.
So these businesses enter into an agreement with Google - help us get traffic, and we'll help your customers do business. In an honest and transparent world, this is a win-win.
But according to Foremski, something isn't entirely kosher here. Foremski proffers the theory that Google is cutting its affiliates out of the loop, making itself the primary affiliate to drive traffic to its largest partners. Thus, they don't have to pay any shared revenue to the small businesses who have entered into these agreements. These websites don't get the traffic, and they don't get their expected share of the pie.
It's bad enough when the big boys team up with big government (and big labor, I might add) to set things up so that they're tilted to protect the territory of those "who got". But to do this and renege on a promise made, and to do it in what appears to be an underhanded way? It's just god awful.
It's rough out there for small businesses already, Google. They don't need your chicanery to add to it!
Last May, I wrote about the need to combat rogue websites—websites that offer counterfeit and pirated products – and commended Senators Leahy, Grassley, and Hatch as well as the entire Senate Judiciary Committee for their unanimous support of the PROTECT IP Act.This bipartisan legislation now enjoys the support of 43 state Attorneys General, the Conference of Mayors, a coalition of over 360 companies, trade associations, and labor groups. These groups all recognize that enhanced enforcement tools would help protect American consumers and workers from these blatant thieves hiding behind rogue websites.
However, the legislation has also faced numerous blatantly unfounded allegations. The fact is that according to our Constitution, we all are entitled to our property, including our intellectual property. And the government has a fundamental responsibility to protect its citizens from theft and harm beyond our borders. That is why rogue sites legislation like PROTECT IP Act is needed. Every marketplace needs rules to protect people from fraud and theft, but no one wants those rules to be overbearing. And PROTECT IP Act strikes the right balance.
Here’s how you can help get this bill to the finish line:
The online thieves are stealing our products, our ideas, our property. Why should we tolerate their criminal activity? Support rogue sites legislation today!
Yesterday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) spent a considerable amount of time delving deeply into Google’s operations. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the company has “learned the Microsoft lesson,” but one wonders which lesson Schmidt was referring to?
You see, this isn’t the first time that Google and Microsoft have butted heads—in fact, what Sen. Lee is unraveling is that Google is learning from its years of experience trying to topple Microsoft from its hard-earned place as “king of the mountain”.
It would be one thing if Schmidt were one of Google’s founders—one of the entrepreneurs who had turned a simple dream into a marketplace juggernaut (like so many other tech companies, Microsoft and Apple included). While Schmidt has a long history in the world of corporate high-tech, he also has a history of using government power to the advantage of his employers, and to the detriment of his competitors—he was one of the men feeding information to the Clinton-era Justice Department that eventually led to the Federal Government filing suit against Microsoft!
You read that correctly—while Schmidt was working for Sun Microsystems and Novell, two of Microsoft’s most-earnest competitors, he was trying to convince the Feds that they ought to investigate Microsoft, actions which would cost that company billions and could serve to immeasurably benefit Sun and Novell.
So while Schmidt claims that Google has learned the “antitrust lessons” of Microsoft’s well-earned rise to prominence, it begs the question: is he talking about side-stepping the landmines of what some might consider to be monopolistic behavior? Or is he talking about learning from his own tactical errors during his decade of leadership at Google?
Make no mistake about it—Schmidt’s envy of Microsoft is well-placed. He wants to build a venture that ultimately supplants it. He has wanted to do so since before his days at Google. But by steering Google today, he has built a tool powerful enough to do so. Google can undercut Microsoft by offering freebies that go after their business model: from office software to information access.
Sure, Schmidt learned the lessons from Microsoft’s antitrust battle. Because he was one of the forces behind it.
One of the best things about the new climate in Washington is that people really understand the importance of transparency. When it comes to Google's work at trying to topple Microsoft, such sunshine is sorely needed, and we ought to be applauding folks like Sen. Lee for taking on this unenviable task!
On September 29, 2001, I wrote the following essay. It was entitled, "Why We Fight" and was, essentially, a declaration as to why we were going to war in Afghanistan following the September 11th Attacks. It was a response to a growing anti-war sentiment from the extreme American left, and written to be spoken at a counter-protest in DC. I was reminded of it when someone tweeted, "I guess war WAS the answer..."
Why We Fight
By Andrew Langer
America is starting to heal. There can be no doubt about that fact—Americans are healing. But America is not healed, and cannot be completely healed until those who have perpetrated the heinous acts of violence are brought to justice, and the threat of additional acts of terror has been alleviated.
But there are those who are seizing upon this time of healing and are attempting to hijack the potential for justice, and the alleviation of that threat. While some of these are well-intentioned, the calls ignore the basic reality that we are in a state of war. Whether we like it or not, we have enemies who have sworn to destroy the very fabric of American life.
These people believe that violence is “not the answer”, but these individuals ignore that for some people, rationality simply does not work—which is why those people commit violent acts. Just as sometimes one needs to physically restrain a crazed person, so must we physically restrain those who would commit these acts, so that they cannot do them in the future.
We cannot let these individuals destroy the greatest nation on Earth. America is not a perfect place. It has not acted perfectly either here or abroad. But it has done far better than any nation on Earth in promoting prosperity, individual rights, and freedom. Among the freedoms that are championed in the United States is the right of an individual to be secure in his person and possessions.
On September 11th that right was violated. The heightened sense of terror and lack of general safety is a constant reminder that right continues to be violated by those who committed this act.
For this reason we fight.
There are those who believe that there are legal remedies at hand, that if we simply bring Osama Bin Laden to trial, all will be over.
But after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, when we were able to catch and prosecute the perpetrators of THAT heinous act, Bin Laden continued to commit acts of terrorism worldwide. In other words, the diplomatic and legal solution did not work. These individuals laughed at our response, and became ever-more audacious in their planning.
We must strike the fear of Allah into individuals that commit these acts, and let them know that their deeds will not go unpunished, either on Earth or in the hereafter. We must make the consequences of these actions so dire that the very thought of their commission will be repugnant to those who might be considering them.
America has been a friend to many nations, and among these nations are Tanzania and Kenya. In 1998, Osama Bin Laden committed an act of war, not only against the United States, but against these nations as well, when he bombed the United States Embassies in Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi. Certainly, such a violation of diplomatic relations is an egregious act of war against America, but the death of Tanzanians and Kenyans also represents an act of war against those nations as well.
The rights of Americans, Tanzanians, and Kenyans were violated. International laws were broken, and no contrition was made for those violations.
For those reasons we fight.
Nobody disputes that when military targets are attacked, an act of war is committed. Last year, a ship of the United States Navy, the U.S.S. Cole, was attacked in the port of Aden, Yemen. American sailors were killed in this attack, and scores were wounded.
We did not succeed in putting a stop to the war with that response.
For this reason, we fight.
The United States has long been recognized as the protector of the innocent, the weak, and others who simply cannot defend themselves. No where is this true than with the innocents in Afghanistan, who find themselves under the crushing thumb of the Taliban regime. Freedom is denied, non-islamic religions are not tolerated, and the basic wants and needs of the populace are in no way met.
That the Taliban supports someone like Osama Bin Laden is no surprise. Nor is it a surprise that Bin Laden considers the Taliban’s regime to be a place that he can call home.
When one offers aid to criminals, then they, too, are criminals. The Taliban are more than complicit in Bin Laden’s campaign of terror.
We must make it clear that abetting such evil, providing a sanctuary and homeland for it, will not be tolerated by the civilized world. We must make it clear that the denial of individual rights by those who so abet such criminal acts will not be tolerated by the civilized world. We must make it clear that people will not be oppressed, worldwide.
There are those who believe that a diplomatic solution can be had to this problem. But consider just how little regard these people held for international law:
They didn't work through international channels to seek change. They aren't lobbying the United Nations. They aren't lobbying the United States Congress. They aren't trying to meet with representative of the United States Department of State (either here or abroad). They aren't working through international agencies. They aren't working with non-governmental organizations.
No. They put together cells of individuals. Cells of individuals who visited American pilot training schools to learn, not take-offs or landings, but how to maneuver a plane once in flight. They continued to plan (for years, apparently), and one day they walked onto airplanes, armed and ready. Calculatedly they waited for the planes to take off. They then took over the planes, presumably by disposing of the crew.
And then they flew those planes into pre-determined targets - including a calculated maneuver in which they would guarantee that the media (and thus the world) would be watching as they crashed into WTC Tower #2.
They took advantage of America's open arms, America's hospitality, America's freedoms.
We live in a society which, at its core, believes in the mutual respect of other human beings. All of our laws stem from that precept. But when someone invades our nation, violates those precepts, and stands mocking us afterwards, action must be taken.
We have no choice. We didn’t seek out this war, it came to us. It came to us in the most cruel and horrifying manner.
And to put a stop to it, we must neutralize the threat.
For this reason, and all of the reasons above it, we fight.
Palm Oil "Nuts" in a cart in a plantation near Quepos, Costa Rica
We went to Costa Rica for a variety of reasons. Visiting an Oil Palm plantation wasn't one of them. But on a trip through the village of Quepos, we were brought to such a plantation--and my eyes were opened.
Palm oil, both the product and its production, have gotten a bad rap in some circles. Health advocates question its use in food-products, and environmentalists show disdain (as they do for most things) with any sort of large-scale agricultural environment, which, in the case of oil palms, they term as "monoculture".
Our guide, Antony, was proud of this plantation--which had taken over what had formerly been a banana farm until Costa Rica's domestic banana industry collapsed late in the last century. That collapse, obviously, had decimated local economies all over Costa Rica, and locals not involved in the tourist trade were deeply interested in having something come in and take its place. Enter the oil palm, a crop perfect for this region. Oil palms grow quickly, and offer their fruit after only 3 years, and continue to produce over the course of 3 decades! Their fruits are used not only for human and animal foodstuffs and cosmetic products, but also in renewable energies like biodiesel.
These plantations also provide habitat for local species. Far from keeping them out of the "monoculture", we saw birds and other animals thriving in this plantation. For people interested in ensuring that there is a healthy, cooperative relationship between global trade, local prosperity, "green energy" demands, and species conservation, oil palm farming seems to fit perfectly.
Oh, and they're spectacularly beautiful as well!
A shot of an oil palm from our vehicle.
On a bluff overlooking the cooperative plantation.
A sea of green products, habitat, and energy!