Coronavirus and COVID-19 Resources


The world is reeling under the pressure of the Covid Pandemic and the subsequent economic turmoil.

Here I’ll post high quality information resources about the pandemic.  In a future post we’ll address the far reaching future economic issues.

The World Health Organization is the key global body addressing the Pandemic

Wikipedia has an excellent detailed treatment of Coronavirus with extensive links.

The top USA source for COVID and Coronavirus information is the CDC – Centers for Disease Control.

Be sure to AVOID the growing number of disinformation videos, sites, and social media items.   Snopes is an excellent website to check for the veracity of a claim about Coronavirus, COVID-19, or the Pandemic.

The Gates Foundation is currently the target of malicious and uninformed criticism.   It remains one of the world’s greatest charities and is addressing, inventing, and funding solutions to the Pandemic every day.

GamerGate – don’t hold your breath on changes to gaming, which is driven by Sex, Violence, and MONEY in reverse order …


RE: GamerGate

I’m always torn in these battles.  On the one hand I’m very sympathetic to the idea we need more women in computing. Also I have great contempt for the harassing / sexism / misogyny that is pervasive in video gaming  (also unfortunate is that the current trend in computer science degrees =FEWER women each year, so this probably will get worse before it gets better )

BUT …. like many gamers (and almost all conservatives) I’m sick to death of politically correct thought police, who generally claim they want free speech but really are out to stifle activities and speech that disagrees with their positions on abortion, guns, politics, race, etc.
Contrary to the 1960s indoctrinations of many of us who are in their 50s and 60s, women and men are profoundly different.  The American left still hasn’t really figured that out yet.   Gaming is overwhelmingly designed for young men and boys, who like sex and violence and react aggressively to critics.  It’s as simple as that.  We are, after all, primates behaving fairly predictably.
We should seek and harshly punish those who do the threats of violence against gaming critics, but I think it’ll be a LONG time before we see anything like the diversity and inclusion some (including ME!) would prefer to see in gaming.  The money and popularity aren’t in sync with that agenda.  Violence and sex themes are excellent behavior and interest drivers, and will continue to be used in the most popular games.

Domain Name Renewal Scams – BEWARE!


If you have a website BEWARE of scammy “renewals” that you’ll get in the mail and online. This is a VERY common scam where the perp sends a fake renewal note saying your domain will expire and you need to pay up. Typically, these are real companies that will transfer your domain to their higher priced services.

Yes, this should be illegal but I think the fine print protects these SOBs. How to check? Be sure you understand the difference between a “registrar”, a “hosting company”, and your “webmaster”. GoDaddy is the biggest “registrar” and also is a common “hosting company”. Your “Webmaster” is the person who updates your website. Many webmasters do NOT handle your “domain name registration”. If you don’t renew the domain name (e.g. www.yourname.com) you will usually lose it. A good trick is to pay your registration fee forward for 10 years – this reduces problems. Also note you should not be paying more than about $10 per year for registration fees. “Network Solutions” still manages to squeeze people for much more because they simply don’t realize they can move the domain to other registrars. Soon, Google will enter the registration business and is likely to provide excellent, cheap services.

Advice to Startup Entrepreneurs. Just say NO!


After some excellent insight in a recent email from Jason Calacanis (a VERY sharp and successful startup entrepreneur), I revisited my working hypothesis about folks doing startups.   It’s a bit ironic since I did NOT follow this advice myself, but now it’s too late for me, and I’m doing pretty well.    

I do think Jason and other entrepreneurial geniuses like Mark Zuckerberg  are among the VERY few exceptions to my rule, which is this:

Smart folks should NOT bother with startups.   My “research” is only anecdotal but it’s fairly extensive with respect to  my own online efforts and the many startups and websites I’ve watched over the years, but I think the typical pattern is for smart entrepreneurial folks to invest many years and get only modest returns.    Few – and by few I mean probably less than 10% – are better off with their startup effort than they would be simply working for a big player like Google or Yahoo at 120k per year and saving like crazy.  

For a 25 year old, retirement with a few million can be had in an almost guaranteed way by age 50.    [math is simple here.   A 120k employee can easily save 40k per year over 25 years = 1,000,000. With very modest compounding this will be well over 2 million at age 50.   If you are married you can spend more or save more.

I’m doing pretty well myself as a moderately successful entrepreneur with a few decent websites, but even I’d I’d be much better off had I joined up with Google 10 years back (their stock is up about 1000% as well as paying big salaries.   I’d be a bit better off if I’d joined up with MS or Yahoo 10 years ago [no stock gain, but I probably would have made more money in salary than I’ve made as an entrepreneur).    

The many brighter-than-me folks who have NOT had success with their own startups would be dramatically up after 10 years with a big player.

I think the analogy are the gold miners vs the shopkeepers of the CA Rush of 1849.   Most miners left with little to their name, where the bar, brothel, and shopkeepers did pretty well, building the great state of California in the process.

So to summarize my advice to bright young entrepreneurial folks is to … take a deep breath and fill out an application to work for a big player in Silicon Valley.
 
Joe

 

 

WordPress – Inspire Me ?! lololoooool?


WordPress has a new feature that’s supposed to inspire folks to write in their blogs.   I guess that’s cool, but it seems kind of funny to me.  If you are a big victim of writers block maybe you should consider… not blogging at all?   

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

 

Cochabamba Water Wars, James Bond’s Quantum of Solace, and SKYFALL


I’m watching the first two Daniel Craig Bond movies to refresh my memory before watching the new Bond film  “Skyfall” and naturally one’s mind turns to the Cochabamba Water Wars because Bond’s “Quantum of Solace”, the second film, is loosely and somewhat bizarrely inspired by that important Bolivian event.

A too simple summary of the Water Wars is this:   Bolivian water in Cochambamba was very poorly managed, leaving about half the folks without water.    Government signed an expensive, questionable monopoly contract with an international corporation to build a major dam, generate power, and stabilize and increase the water supply.  Large cost increases for this privitized water led the people to protest , which in turn created enough unrest that the company left the country and water production was turned back over to a public management.

Water has become a critical issue in many parts of the world, and privatization is a big part of that story.   Unfortunately it’s impossible to analyze the effects in a simple way.  There are many examples of successful and unsuccessful private efforts  as well as public ones, and it’s clear that one cannot simply dismiss either option without risking suboptimal water provision to those of us whose lives depend upon a stable supply of clean water.   And by “those of us” I mean of course every human on the planet.

Wikipedia has a nice summary but it appears to stop in 2006, so more research is needed to see how the people of Cochabamba fared after kicking out the corporations:

Cochabamba Water Wars Outcome from Wikipedia:
In the end water prices in Cochabamba returned to their pre-2000 levels with a group of community leaders running the restored state utility company SEMAPA. As late as 2005, half of the 600,000 people of Cochabamba remained without water and those with it only received intermittent service (some as little as three hours a day). Oscar Olivera the leading figure in the protests admitted, “I would have to say we were not ready to build new alternatives.”[19] SEMAPA managers say they are still forced to deal with graft and inefficiencies, but that its biggest problem is a lack of money (it can not raise rates and no international company will give them a loan).[19] Luis Camargo, SEMAPA’s operations manager in an interview with the New York Times said they were forced to continue using a water-filtration system that is split between “an obsolete series of 80-year-old tanks and a 29-year-old section that uses gravity to move mountain water from one tank to another.”[19] He stated that the system was built for a far smaller city and worried about shrinking aquifers. A system to bring water down from the mountains would cost $300 million and SEMAPA’s budget is only about $5 million a year.[19] The New Yorker reports “in Cochabamba, those who are not on the network and who have no well, pay ten times as much for their water as the relatively wealthy residents who are hooked up”, and with no new capital the situation can not be improved.[1] A local resident complained that water-truck operators “drill polluted water and sell it. They [also] waste a lot of water.”[1] According to author Frederik Segerfeldt, “the poor of Cochabamba are still paying 10 times as much for their water as the rich, connected households and continue to indirectly subsidize water consumption of more well-to-do sectors of the community. Water nowadays is available only four hours a day and no new households have been connected to the supply network.”[20] Franz Taquichiri, a veteran of the Water War and an SEMAPA director elected by the community, said “I don’t think you’ll find people in Cochabamba who will say they’re happy with service. No one will be happy unless they get service 24 hours a day.”[19] Another Cochabamba resident and activist during the unrest summed up her opinion of the situation by saying, “afterwards, what had we gained? We were still hungry and poor.”[21]