December 2002 Archives

The New Year's Moblog is going. Please take a look...

As I struggle to prepare my thoughts for the Davos Blueprint for Japan 2020 panel, I keep ending up at the conclusion that Japan is not a functioning democracy. Although it is a loop, the lack of transparency, the lack of an open function market, the lack of a free and independent media, the lack of a functioning judiciary... All of these things point to the fact that we don't have a democracy. I'm not blaming anyone for this and I think that many people are sincerely trying to reform Japan, but I do believe that it is much deeper than just some stimulation packages and lip service to transparency.

Larry talks about the "Framers" in "The Future of Ideas" and what he says about them sounds pretty good. It sounds like the "Framers" really tried very hard to structure a democracy that is robust against corruption and able to self-correct. So, I decided to ask Professor Lessig about democracy. (It sure is nice having a comparative constitutional law professor in the neighborhood. ;-) )

Professor Lessig gave me some great things to think about which I thought I would share. (This may not be very new to people who don't live in a totalitarian state... if there is such a think these days...)

The first thing he said that made a lot of sense is that a democracy requires multiple points of authority to criticize and check power. This may seem obvious and is the spirit behind the separation of the three branches of government, but it goes beyond that. It's giving power to the states. (In Japan's case, the governors.) It's a free media. It's a bunch of different points of authority which structurally allow a competition of ideas and well-regulated criticism. For this, authorities with a strong sense of the ethics of independence are necessary.

Professor Lessig defined democracy as a competition of ideas. I think he is right on.

So this is where blogging comes in. We both agreed that there is a sense of well-regulated critical discussion about politics and other important topics on blogs. Blogging has been around for awhile now, but is still in its infancy. If we can develop the Internet into a method that enables a competition of ideas and a well-regulated critical dialog, we may be able enable one of the key factors missing from many non-democracies. A public dialog which engages the people. (By the way, the "press" when the Framers were writing the Constitution were individuals with printing presses, not the massive media companies.)

Sorry about this sloppy entry. I just wanted to get this out before I forgot. I'll post more over the holidays as I prepare my presentation, but the key lesson of today's lunch was: Focus on the "competition of ideas" and MAYBE everything will follow. Maybe it's a blog-enabled public and a league of powerful governors that will lead Japan into the next stage...

I'm sure it's bad everywhere, but the struggle for privacy is very tough in Japan. The privacy bill as it is currently written has the risk of limiting the freedom of journalists in collecting information. For this reason, privacy advocates have been at odds with the mass media generally and journalists in general tend to be negative about privacy issues. (Although some journalists have been doing a great job covering stuff.) Privacy debates in Japan tend to be rather emotional without dealing with the technical issues very much. It's kind of like arguing in court without an understanding of the law. Since I began protesting the national ID in Japan I have found that I am now able to convince most technical people about the merits of having privacy built into the system and it is now mostly non-technical and "interested parties" arguing...

Having said that, there are people who ought to know better, who are probably our greatest enemies.

disclosure: this is tainted with a personal issue

Mr. Nobuo Ikeda who used to be a reporter at NHK (the biggest broadcast company) and is now at RETI (a government affiliated research organization) is an outspoken opponent of securing adequate privacy. (On the issue of spectrum, he is on the right side of the argument I believe.) Hiroo got into a scrape with him after publishing the following comment about him in the afterward of the translation of The Future of Ideas.

Hiroo Yamagata's Translator's Notes for The Future of Ideas
And then there's the reverse problem, although it's not Lessig's fault. There were people who read CODE as an endorsement of ALL regulations. We've already started to see the same thing happen with this book. It goes something like this; "As Lessig argues, too much claims of rights on the net hampers its development. In Japan, we have idiots who oppose the national id asking for too much privacy, or bureaucrats refusing to disclose information using privacy as an excuse. So privacy is questionable. And privacy may be an illusion in the first place, because all information runs freely on the Net anyway. So people arguing for too much privacy is doubly misguided." Ikeda Nobuo promotes this sort of argument. Amazing. What can I say? Lessig himself wouldn't have expected to have his argument used AGAINST privacy (he didn't, he told me). It's true that privacy gets to be used as a sorry excuse in many cases. But that's a far cry from denying privacy itself. The value of not being search has been argued in CODE, and the importance of privacy is well described there. Just because some regulations are good, not all regulations are good. Likewise, just because some free commons is desirable, it doesn't follow that everything should be in the commons. This book incessantly stresses "Balance", and that's what we need to look for.
I have to agree totally with Hiroo on this.

Ikeda also writes that Barlow says, "we don't need privacy." I talked to Barlow at the EFF party about this I think that Barlow's position is quite different from the way Ikeda portrays it. Barlow believes in an utopia of full transparency. In such a world, privacy doesn't exist. Barlow DOES NOT however believe we should not fight for privacy as long as there are institutions that are not transparent trying to control us. Why do you think he co-founded the EFF? Barlow was quite suprised to hear that his rather ideological argument had been simplified to, "Barlow says we don't need privacy." ;-)

The reason this is personal is that in a review of a book I helped write Ikeda says that I am a second generation Japanese who doesn't read Japanese and that I know nothing about Japan. He portrays me as someone who is trying to scare the Japanese with examples of risks from the US and trying to make money selling things to the frightened Japanese. He says that any country which allows people like me "whose only skill is the ability to speak a foreign language" to have influence is a third world country. Anyway, you get the idea. The interesting thing is that he tries to convince you not to read the book without refering to the content of the book.

Having said that, I'm in good company. He calls EPIC a fanatical organization.

I apologize for venting my personal frustration here. I should remember The Godfather's advice, "It's business. It's not personal." The reason I write about this is because Ikeda is an influential guy who often says smart things with regard to broadcast and spectrum. He has interviewed many people and I think people hold him in fairly high regard. That's why I am speaking up. At least on the issue of privacy, I think he is wrong. He may be trying to present a balanced view, but when he says that the extent of privacy risk in Japan is receiving junkmail and should not be compared to the US, I think he is being very naive.

We are starting to have more and more arguments about what Larry actually meant. (The difficulty of trying to present a balanced view.) So I think there might be a business in WWLS (What would Larry Say) blogstickers. ;-)

The Asahi reports (in Japanese) that Ministry of Finance has installed hidden cameras in Narita and Kansai international airports. They were installed for the World Cup but are now used to automatically match your face against a database consisting of their blacklist as well as blacklists from other ministries. It appears that the cameras are installed in the passageway after people get off of the plane and are on their way to baggage claim and customs. The Asahi points out that people are constitutionally protected in Japan from being photographed secretly by the government except in special circumstances and it is unlikely that this would qualify. The Japanese government is notorious for being sloppy with sensitive information often leaking secrets to foreign governments and personal information to criminals. Recently a tape containing records from the National ID system were stolen from a car. My question is, WHY WERE THEY IN THE CAR IN THE FIRST PLACE. The procedure for handling the destruction of the tapes in the airport is still a black box. I assume this is a security measure. bah!

Thanks for this link Tai

Hiroo's notes are worth reading. It's a good summary and frames the issues in Japan well. Activism in Japan died with the student activists of the 70's. It's quite "un-cool" to be an activist. If Larry can get people like Hiroo to become activists and support important issues, I think we still have a chance.

From Larry Lessig's blog.

Larry Lessig
The Future of Ideas has been translated into Japanese. As sometimes happens, the translation improves the book. Not only is the title better ("Commons", which the American publisher vetoed), but it also has a great and revealing introduction by the translator, Hiroo Yamagata. As always, the translator reveals as much about the work he translates as the world he translates into.


Today I had dinner with Daiji Hirata, Tai Watanabe and Kazuo Shimizu. Daiji, Kazuo and Neoteny are investors in Tai's company MediaProbe which is working on an auto community site. Shimizu-san is probably the most famous auto journalist in Japan. He is invited by all of the big auto companies to test drive cars and write about all the cool new stuff. He's a BIG fan of the hydrogen economy and is the leading journalist in Japan on fuel cells. We talked about ECD and their hydrogen technology. The US lead in a lot of the electric vehicle research as well as a lot of the early fuel cell work, but Japan is clearly putting a lot of effort behind the hydrogen economy and Toyota is probably leading the pack in hybrid cars. I hope that my next car will have a hydrogen component...

This is my pgp key transition announcement. If you don't know what this means, you should. You can go to the pgp web site and Rich and Bob explain the key transition process to my on my blog.

The key is here.

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

- -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

I have made a key transition. This is my new key. This
announcement is signed with both my new key and my old key.
The new key is signed with my old key. You can still send me
email with my old key, but it is safer to use my new key.

The id of my old key is 0x2D9461F1
The id of my new key is 0xC7FC583F

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I love that the "tone" of phrack articles is the same as Cook's Illustrated articles. ;-)

A more environmentally friendly way of traveling by car. As some of you might recall in almost all the hacking movies, books, TV shows, etc. there has been a case of someone fiddling with traffic lights. Well we all just giggled at the unrealistic aspect of it and didn't think twice. Well in my quest for a more appealing planet for our children I felt compelled to think of a way in order to reduce the amount of pollution emitted by vehicles of today.

Standing at a intersection, nobody else around, you're still stuck behind the red light, and this invisible barrier of governmental guilt has enough power to let you wait there and pollute the air more and more, just for a measly green light. Wouldn't it be leet having a laptop in the car where you could just select the intersection off a list, change the timing or current stream running, and ride off with fewer time wasted and fewer pollutants exhausted and a clear conscience.

Now, enough crap about the reasons, now for the technical shit.

Today's traffic controlling system is a well oiled redundant network that utilizes the same protocols that we are all aware of. Yes it is hackable and it is like in the movies. :) here we go!

We're going to have an open moblog for people to post pictures to on New Year's Eve to welcome 2003. It is "open" but please use common sense when sending stuff. The URL is http://www.bloggers.jp/. The email address to send stuff to is mailto:misoka@bloggers.jp. The site and the email address will be running between GMT 2002/12/31 0:00-23:59.

Send jpeg images as attachments with the title of the item as the subject. The template will resize the height to 120 pixels. 120x120 is probably the best size.

Pass it on. ;-)

"Misoka" comes from "Omisoka" which means New Year's Eve in Japanese

This may not help Sadaam, but just in case you're put under GPS surveillance house arrest by an oppressive government, you'll need to learn how to build your own GPS jammer.

  A low cost device to temporarily disable the reception of the civilian
course acquisition (C/A) code used for the standard positioning service
(SPS)[1] on the Global Positioning System (GPS/NAVSTAR) L1 frequency of
1575.42 MHz.

This is accomplished by transmitting a narrowband Gaussian noise signal,
with a deviation of +/- 1.023 MHz, on the L1 GPS frequency itself. This
technique is a little more complicated than a simple continuous wave (CW)
jammer, but tends to be more effective (i.e. harder to filter) against
spread spectrum based radio receivers.

hasegawa.jpg
Doc Searls writes about an article in the Santa Barbara News-Press about UCSB history professor Tsuyoshi Hasegawa and his theory. The newspaper says:
Santa Barbara News-Press
The historical record holds that Japan surrendered in response to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. Revisionists argue that the Japanese were already defeated at the time, and the atomic bombs were used simply to intimidate the Soviet Union.

Mr. Hasegawa dismisses both views as "very, very American-centric."
...
It was Josef Stalin's final-hour declaration of war on Japan that marked the end of the conflict in the Pacific, according to Mr. Hasegawa, whose specialties include Russian and Soviet history as well as Russo-Japanese relations.

Obviously, this is very relevant to the current "War-on-Terror" and is an important part of Japanese history. Japan is still struggling with Russia over the islands that the Russians claimed as theirs after the war...

Doc's entry has a bigger quote and some interesting thoughts. Go there for more info...

I'm starting to get bashed about not crediting for or getting too much credit for moblogging. A lot of stuff is out there and stuff is happening in parallel. I've tried to organize what I know about moblogging into an outline of stuff about moblogging and stuff about how to moblog. This is by no means complete. Can people please take a look and help me complete this resource list? I will keep it up to date.

moblog resources

Governor Domoto on the left and Merle Okawara on the right
Mizuka and I had dinner tonight with Domoto-san at her Chiba Governor's residence. Merle and Shin Okawara, Professor Hayashi and Mr. Satomi and his wife were there as well. Merle, I think, was the first women to take a company public in Japan. Shin brought Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken to Japan. He is actually famous for spinning friend chicken as a holiday treat with commercials of American's eating fried chicken for Christmas. That has turned into quite a tradition and now EVERYONE eats some kind of chicken on Christmas. John Nathan, who wrote the Sony book also did a movie about Shin and the whole Kentucky Fried Chicken thing...

Domoto-san talk about what a great time she was having. Being governor in Japan is much like being the president of a country. Chiba has 6 million people and she basically calls the shots. It's very different than when she was working in the central government. She also won as an independant so she has very little exposure to political pressure. I'm trying to work with her to get some sort of special project for Hydrogen in Chiba as well as trying to figure out how to work with the biomass energy folks.

We talked a alot about renewable energy, bio mass and food. The food was VERY good. It was all from Chiba. We agreed that we would all take a weekend trip into the countryside to see the rural area of Chiba and enjoy the flowers and the food sometime in Feb.

Merle, Domoto-san and Morita-san. Today's been quite a "strong-woman" day. ;-)

Shigeaki Saegusa and Yoshiko Morita
Saegusa-san invited me to join a lunch at Yoshiko Morita's today. Mrs. Morita is the widow of Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony. Saegusa-san is a family friend and was the composer of the requiem for Akio Morita memorial. She had seven of us over to her house for home-made sake kasu stew. sake kasu is a by-product of producing sake. Good kasu can only be obtained from a sake brewer. The Morita family business is brewing sake. Mrs. Morita explained that it was their main business and the whole electronics thing was a side business for them. ;-)

We talked a lot about cooking and I got a chance to brag about my Turkey recipe. She said that she always has Christmas Turkey made at the Maxim's in the Sony building based on her recipe. I told her I would send her my recipe.

Mrs. Morita is a very dynamic and interesting person. She is involved heavily in the arts, and loves great food and interesting company. She is also a great social dancer. When I first met her, she was doing a the jitterbug at Saegusa-san's birthday party.

It was also fun visiting the house that described in such detail in John Nathan's book about Sony. We talked about John Nathan who she liked. John is the father of an old friend of mine, Zack. John is also a well-known translator of Japanese works such as the works of Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe.

I've been getting a lot of attention for my moblog even though it's not such a big technical feat really. All you need is a script to convert email into MT entires. We're going to make the code available so that hopefully more people can experiment with moblogging. It's being made available under a standard GPL v.2 license. Please let me know what you think. We hope to continue to improve it. The file is available at: http://joi.ito.com/archives/src/mail2entry-2002-12-25.tgz

Here are some notes about installation.

Warning

This is a first attempt -- there are some things missing, but someone w/appropriate UNIX experience should be able to succeed in installation and configuration. I may update the instructions as I get feedback.

Prerequisites

The ability to read English and follow simple instructions.

A host connected to the Internet which can receive email [1] and:

Python >= 2.2.2
MT
enabled w/ the XML-RPC interface
a blog (determine your blog id)
a blog user, the associated password [2]

Please note that this code was designed to run on the host which the blog itself is running on. Other configurations may be possible, but I don't recommend them and don't plan on supporting them at the moment.

Thanks for all the work on this Sen

Please send feedback to me for the moment. We may designate someone to be in charge of the code later. Also, since it uses XML-RPC, it should be easy to get it to work with other blog platforms.

PS The GPL license on this code overrides the CC license on this site.

glog_blog.gif
image by Steve Mann
Steve Mann, who was the first person that I know to have a mobile device uploading images to the web writes about the difference between blogging and glogging.
Steve Mann
The main difference between weBLOGS and cyborGLOGS is that blogs often originate from a desktop computer, wheras glogs can originate while walking around, often without any conscious thought and effort, as stream-of-(de)consciousness glogging
This is a picture of Suguru Yamaguchi smiling when I told him I'd blog him.
Today was the 4th NPA Security Council meeting. This is a committee focused on studying computer network related risks and countermeasures. We talked about last year's report and what we will do moving forward. This is one of the more interesting groups I am in since most of the people involved are fairly down-to-earth. There are people from Microsoft, Rakuten, Yahoo, JPCERT, Police, Foreign Ministry, the Cabinet Office, etc. I particularly enjoy these meetings because Yamaguchi-san who runs JPCERT is a very outspoken and intelligent guy who doesn't pull any punches.

I said that the US is taking a very different stance towards security since 9/11 and that many of the new security measures that the US are taking may in the long run end up hurting national security since a great deal of privacy is being breached, agents are being allowed to work with shady characters for short term gains which may end up being long term losses and the whole TIA thing may not work. I suggested that we do an extensive analysis of the US anti-terror measures and identify whether each of the measures are 1) things we should copy, 2) things we should ignore, and 3) things that are bad for the Japanese people. I urged everyone not to allow Japan to get suckered into doing something stupid in response to US pressure. In particular, I pressured the person from the Foreign Ministry to be aware of these risks.

There is a chart that the NPA (Japanese pdf) produced showing which countries many of the portscans and pings were coming from. Yamaguchi-san pointed out that this didn't necessarily reflect the source and I concurred.

I talked a bit about the financial services sector problems with organized crime and hacking and that we should focus on and analysis of organized crime rather than do general surveys of smaller crimes and hacker rings.

saw this on David Winer's Scripting News

Dave Winer
Press release: Yahoo to acquire Inktomi. Clearly they're getting ready to kick Google off their portal.
Yahoo! to Acquire Inktomi
Monday December 23, 9:19 am ET
Creates the Most Comprehensive Search Offering on the Web with Largest Global Audience, Unmatched Breadth and Depth of Online Services and World Class Technology
I had heard rumors that Yahoo was trying to steal stuff from Google and was being generally un-supportive even though they were an investor. (Unconfirmed theory. Will edit this if someone tells me this is wrong...) But I think that Google News probably shocked everyone who though that search mean... search. To a blogger, everything looks like a blog. To a search company, everything is search. ;-) Well, it will be interesting to see what happens when Google vs. Yahoo becomes no-holds-barred.

saw this first on Dave Winer's weblog

The whistleblowers at WorldCom, Enron and the FBI, Cynthia Cooper, Sherron Watkins and Colleen Rowley won the honor from Time Magazine this year. This is great. They deserve it. They must be protected and honored.

You can't have whistleblowers without privacy and the whistleblower protection bill that I am working on is also an important component. I've missed the last few meetings and I feel guilty. I see the bill headed towards bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo that won't help anyone. Mental note to myself to make comments on the current draft which I don't agree with. I wonder if the day will come when Japan honors whistleblowers like this. Time says, " They took huge professional and personal risks to blow the whistle on what went wrong at WorldCom, Enron and the FBI—and in so doing helped remind us what American courage and American values are all about." I hope that some day I can say this about Japanese values. Today, I don't think I can.

The Guardian ran a piece on moblogs and I got a link. Cool.

Thanks for sending me this link Howard

We recently moblogged a wedding for Kana & Toshi. It's in Japanese, but you can get the idea. It was fun because a lot of people posted.

Planning to have a massive New Years Eve moblog. I will post the email address and instructions one we have the site ready...

My brother-in-law Scott Fisher is really into location based stuff and does a lot of stuff with augmented reality and virtual environments. He's at USC now, but is visiting for Christmas with my sister Mimi. Anyway, we were talking about blogs and location and he sent me the link for Blogmapper which lets you associate blog entries with locations on a map. Scott interested in doing something in the area and so am I. Does anyone know of any other work going on in the area of tagging blog entries with location data? Obviously, location based moblogging is something we MUST do.

Just finished brining the turkey, drying it, and stuffing it into my fridge. This year, as always, I am using Cook's Illustrated as my guide. Cook's Illustrated is THE BEST cooking guide. It is extremely scientific and even a bit geeky, but really wonderful. Since last year, I have started putting it in the fridge uncovered to dry the skin before cooking it. This, according to Cook's Illustrated helps give you crispy skin. I started brining a few years ago after reading an article on Cook's Illustrated about the effect of brinig.

Cook's Illustrated
Jane Bowers, head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Kansas State University, says salt is used in meat processing to extract proteins from muscle cells and make these proteins more viscous:

“Brining turkey causes a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle. They become sticky, which allows them to hold more water.” Citing a similar example, she says frankfurters without sodium are limp. “It is the salt that gives hot dogs their plumpness,” she says.

Tina Seelig, scientist and author of The Epicurean Laboratory (W. H. Freeman, 1991), says salt causes protein strands to become denatured, or unwound. This is the same process that occurs when proteins are exposed to heat, acid, or alcohol. “When protein strands unwind, they get tangled in one another and trap water in the matrix that forms,” says Seelig.

And Dr. Bill Schwartz, director of technical services at the Butterball Turkey Company, adds that when these unravelled proteins are exposed to heat they gel — much like a fried egg white — and form a barrier that prevents water from leaking out of the bird as it cooks. The capillary action that draws blood out of the meat and gives it a milky-white color also helps the brining solution penetrate deep into the meat, according to Schwartz. This accounts for the pleasant salty flavor even of the inner breast meat.


You need to pay to search their database, but it's worth it.


This is Mr. Watanabe (we call him "Wanchan") who is the head doorman at the Hotel Okura. He's always very friendly. I met him on his first day on the job as a bell boy when I as probably around 10 years old or so. My mother was doing a lot of work in Japan for ECD and we stayed at the Hotel Okura. I hung out at the game center and with the staff. I remember even eating in the staff restaurant "behind the scenes" at the hotel. Mr. Watanabe showed me the secret doors and stuff and even took me to watch the Hotel Okura baseball team when he was a pitcher there. We've both grown up since then. I helped him find a cheap computer for his son when he was going to college and he makes sure I get free parking in front of the hotel.

Anyway, if you see him, say "Hi Wanchan!" and tell him you saw him on my blog. ;-)

Very funny


The Science of Christmas

An analysis of Christmas has been wending it's way across the Internet for a few years now. This analysis purports to debunk Christmas by showing that Santa could not possibly visit each and every house to distribute presents on Christmas Eve. But the analysis is deeply flawed because it is written from a pure physics perspective
Full Story

seanpenn.jpg

Penn's trip into the heart of enemy territory disgusted many Americans and won him the nickname "Baghdad Sean," a takeoff on the "Hanoi Jane" moniker Jane Fonda earned by visiting North Vietnam in 1971.
Good for Sean. It tooks guts for him to go to Iraq and I commend him for it. Shame on Iraq for screwing it up.

I first met Sean in 1991 or so when I was associate to the executive producer for the movie, Indian Runner which Sean Penn directed. The movie did OK at Canne, but ended up not doing well in the box office. The movie was a lot of fun starring people like David Morse, Viggo Mortensen, Charles Bronson, Dennis Hopper, Patricia Arquette, and Valeria Golino. It was my first and last job on a movie set, but I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Later, when we were promoting the movie in Japan, I also took care of Sean in Tokyo and acted as his interpreter. I found Sean to be a really funny and very intelligent guy who I now greatly respect. He also introduced me to Heather, a good friend of Winona Ryder's, who was living in Tokyo at the time and who I still keep in touch with.

Anyway... I think this took a lot of guts and makes my previous entry about my fear of criticism seem quite trivial.

saw Xeni's post on Boing Boing

Reuters
Top Stories - Reuters
Hundreds of Muslim Immigrants Rounded Up in Calif.
Wed Dec 18, 8:47 PM ET
By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iranian and other Middle East citizens were in southern California jails on Wednesday after coming forward to comply with a new rule to register with immigration authorities only to wind up handcuffed and behind bars.

Shocked and frustrated Islamic and immigrant groups estimate that more than 500 people have been arrested in Los Angeles, neighboring Orange County and San Diego in the past three days under a new nationwide anti-terrorism program. Some unconfirmed reports put the figure as high as 1,000.

The arrests sparked a demonstration by hundreds of Iranians outside a Los Angeles immigration office. The protesters carried banners saying "What's next? Concentration camps?" and "What happened to liberty and justice?."

According to Xeni, "Representatives of some local Iranian-American groups were quoted yesterday as saying they understand that the detainees may be shipped off to Arizona." There is an LA Times article as well.

I remember after the arrests following 9/11, the Japanese-American community made a public comment condemning the unfair imprisonment of Arab-Americans. This is really the 1940's all over again. And I was just starting to think about moving back to the US again. When are the American people going to wake up, read history and realize that they're headed down a pretty well trodden and terrible path? I complain a lot about the Japanese people being apathetic and unaware, but I wonder if this might be better than thinking you're aware and wishing for war and treating immigrants as if they were "enemy combatants" with no rights. Amazing.


Karuna and her husband Horace visited my sister for dinner at our house and I got to say hi and chat a bit. Mimi and Justin did an interview of Karuna on Chanpon. Horace works for the US government and Karuna is now taking care of their new baby, Justin. Before that Karuna was an anchor for CNN on their prime-time news show and before that for other news agencies such as NHK. I remember when she was broadcasting Japanese news in English for NHK, all of the Japanese students in the US who watched her show became HUGE fans of hers. She's quite an amazing person. I first met Karuna at the American School in Japan when for some reason, my trig teacher decided that my algebra sucked and made me take an algebra class with the class below me. The only good thing was that I got to sit next to Karuna. Anyway, all of Karuna's fans can rest assured. Horace is a great guy and worthy of his new position as Karuna's husband. ;-)

Horace, can you do something about the treatment of Arabs immigrants in the US?

howard021219.jpgHoward and I have known each other for a long time. I visited Howard often when he was at the Whole Earth Review and I was hanging out in San Francisco with Timothy Leary and the gang. Howard turned me on to a lot of really interesting thoughts and was one of the first people who helped me started writing. Howard wrote THE book on Virtual Reality which influenced me and the rest of the world and I ended up working with (my now step-brother) Scott Fisher at Telepresence Research who Howard writes about in the book. After the Virtual Reality book, he wrote a book on Virtual Communities in which I appeared. (Maybe the first time I appeared in an English Book.) Howard has always been a great visionary for the future and I'm happy to be a part of it. When the www started to happen, my Eccosys team and I set up one of the first web sites in Japan. Howard writes about how this influenced his thinking. These days we talk about Smartmobs ubiquitous computing and the future of embedded systems. As always, community and empowerment are key.

Howard and I talked a lot about how to be an evangelist for the future. We talked about the issue of how to give credit where credit is due, but how it is often difficult to credit people who you do not know about or who haven't influenced your thinking directly. (As I've recently discovered once again, when Japanese diary community criticized my description of blogs.) Howard told me that there was a saying in the I Ching that says something like, "If you climb up on the wall, you can see farther, but you also become an easier target." This is extremely relevant. We talked about how some criticism is very important, no matter how hurting it is, to internalize, since it will help us grow. Some criticism is important in order to understand how people will view us, and some criticism should just be ignored. Sorting this out is quite a task, but necessary and important. We agreed that learning from your critics helps you fix sloppy thoughts as well as prevent mistakes in the future.

On the other hand, what's a pioneer without critics? One chairman of a large company I know said, "I don't trust ANYONE who doesn't have some enemies." I don't know who to credit this to, but "You can identify the pioneers because they are the ones with the arrows in their backs." Stan Ovshinsky says this often.

So, my conclusion? Give credit to those you influence you or are doing important work. Listen to the critics, be thick-skinned and keep on truckin'.

We also talked a lot about Justin. ;-)

found on megnut.com

megnut.com
There's an interview with Cameron Marlow, creator of Blogdex and researcher at MIT Media Lab over at kiruba.com. Good stuff. Also, that's where pb was interviewed last month.
Blogdex is one of my favorite tools which is now an essential part of my morning RSS fix. This meta-blog space is quite interesting. I have a feeling that blog space is screwing up Googles Page Rankings a bit because there are so many links inside and between blogs. On the other hand, if you think blogs are important, I guess the rankings aren't screwed up. I guess as blogs start creating more metadata, the method for ranking can be tuned more. It will be interesting to see what Google thinks of this space. At Supernova, Sergey Brin said he would consider taking input from weblogs.com to trigger updates. This would be a big first step...


a bio from the ASE web page that I edited a bit
Leonard Liu, Ph.D.

Leonard Y. Liu was President of ASE Inc. since November 1999 and announced his retirement December 6. He was also the Chief Executive Officer of ASE Test and Universal Scientific Industrial Co. Prior to joining ASE, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Walker Interactive System Inc. Dr Liu has held other top management positions at leading technology companies, including Chief Operating Officer of Cadence Design Systems, President of Acer Group worldwide and General Manager of IBM's application enabling software business unit.


Leonard visited today and we spent the day brainstorming. Leonard is on my advisory board and is one of my most helpful business advisors. I met him through his daughter Peggy Liu. Digital Garage invested in his daughter's company and he invested in Digital Garage and later Neoteny.

Leonard was the chief hardware and software architect at IBM at one point and architected SNA and SQL. He moved from research to management and left IBM to become a well-respected serial turn-around/take-to-the-next-level CEO. Leonard is tremendously energetic and is extremely execution oriented and visionary at the same time. I'm always impressed with Leonard's focus and his willingness to spend time to coach me when I have something specific to talk about. I always felt very guilty taking big chunks of Leonard's time when he had a $3bn company to run, but now that he is "retiring" I hope I will get to see him more often and feel less guilty. ;-)

For you serious bloggers...
Blogger announced their new API 2.0 to the developers mailing list. Dave Winer urges Blogger to support the MetaWeblog API. Ben Trott comments as well. Evan explains that it is a preliminary release and they are requesting feedback. On the other hand, Evan explains that the feedback is generally positive. Ben Trott says he have received feedback from Steve Jenson. Ben talks about security a bit. For those of you who don't know, Ben wrote some of the PGP stuff for PERL I think...

So, here is an amazing dance. One of the greatest things about blogs is that they are not being developed by huge evil companies, but by individuals who are members of a community. The blogs tools are amazingly compatible from a data format and API perspective. Hats off to Dave for getting a lot of this started. I think that the phenomenon of creating really useful tools that we all actually use without thinking about where we put the banner ads or creating "barriers to entry" has really pushed this medium forward and I thank the bursting of the bubble for some of this. As everyone begins to add feature sets, grow more quickly and become more commercial, the ability for everyone to maintain compatibility and still compete will be a difficult but important effort.

I just got this in the mail from Louis. Sorry if you've seen it, but I thought it was really funny. I don't know who wrote this, but would be happy to credit them if someone knows.

George Bush: "Condoleeza! Nice to see you. What's happening?"

Condoleeza Rice: "Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China."

George: "Great!! Lay it on me."

Condoleeza: "'Hu' is the new leader of China."

George: "That's what I want to know."

Condoleeza: "That's what I'm telling you."

George: "That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?"

Condoleeza: "Yes."

George: "I mean the fellow's name."

Condoleeza: "Hu."

George: "The guy in China."

Condoleeza: "Hu."

George: "The new leader of China."

Condoleeza: "Hu."

George: "The Chinaman!"

Condoleeza: "Hu is leading China."

George: "Now whaddya' asking me for?"

Condoleeza: "I'm telling you Hu is leading China."

George: "Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?"

Condoleeza: "That's the man's name."

George: "That's who's name?"

Condoleeza: "Yes."

George: "Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of China?"

Condoleeza: "Yes, sir."

George: "Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the Middle East."

Condoleeza: "That's correct."

George: "Then who is in China?"

Condoleeza: "Yes, sir."

George: "Yassir is in China?"

Condoleeza: "No, sir."

George: "Then who is?"

Condoleeza: "Yes, sir."

George: "Yassir?"

Condoleeza: "No, sir."

George: "Look, Condoleeza. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone."

Condoleeza: "Kofi?"

George: "No, thanks."

Condoleeza: "You want Kofi?"

George: "No."

Condoleeza: "You don't want Kofi?"

George: "No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N."

Condoleeza: "Yes, sir."

George: "Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N."

Condoleeza: "Kofi?"

George: "Milk! Will you please make the call?"

Condoleeza: "And call who?"

George: "Who is the guy at the U.N?"

Condoleeza: "Hu is the guy in China."

George: "Will you stay out of China?!"

Condoleeza: "Yes, sir."

George: "And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N."

Condoleeza: "Kofi."

George: "All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone."

From Gen Kanai weblog
Gen Kanai weblog

Joho the Blog: Quality of Service


First, QoS is impractical.
Second, QoS is the wrong solution.
Third. QoS violates the principle of the Internet's architecture.

David Weinberger ruminates effectively on why "Quality of Service" is essentially FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) that the phone companies use to confuse customers. It's important to understand that the phone companies want to confuse you and make you buy stuff you don't need. So ignore this QoS stuff whenever you hear it- or at least investigate it carefully.

Totally agree. I have many friends that use VoIP over regular Internet for everything and we use it quite a bit. I've never heard of any real problems. It just isn't as big of a problem as circuit-heads try to tell you. Also, IF people really care so much about QoS, why do we use crappy cell phones even in our office? QoS is GENERALLY not worth losing end-to-end control over.
I guess with video, there will be new issues, but I think that many of the end-to-end oriented solutions should be able handle the QoS issues without trying to create a smart or circuit oriented network.

After returning from a week in the US and realizing how important the trip was and how useful Supernova was, I started thinking about next year. I have enough conferences and meetings to fill the whole year with schmoozing. How do I cut this down to a few high quality meetings? If I am in conferences all year, I surely won't get any REAL work done. A healthy balance of networking and real work is essential.

When I was at Supernova, Dave and I talked about the World Economic Forum. He wrote a nice essay on an idea to create a bloggers conference. I think this is a great idea. The trick now is to get enough interesting people to agree to come, but to keep small enough to make it fun.

The best conferences I attended this year were the Fortune Brainstorm in Aspen, the Global Leaders for Tomorrow Annual Meeting in Geneva and Pop!Tech. They were all in the 100-200 people range. I think that 100-200 is the right size. The Trilateral Commission meeting was about 300 or so people and it was interesting too, but the group was less diverse... (Although I would go if they ever invited me again.) The World Economic Forum meeting in New York was a bit too big to be cozy, but Japan related sessions are essential for me... Supernova was great from a "meet everyone interested in this space" perspective, but I think it could use more diversity. The fact that everyone was blogging was cool. It pushed the envelop from the conference blogging perspective and it's great to see friends.

This year, I have committed to going to The WEF meeting in Davos to deliver our Blueprint for Japan 2020 and Mark Anderson's SNS conference.

So, do we start something new, or op-opt someone's conference? Who's going to get it going? It takes a lot of energy and networking juice to get one of these things to happen...

I just uploaded my PGP Key because Cyrus mentioned that I didn't have one my web page. It's quite an old key that I created in 1997. The good thing is that it's signed by many people. The bad thing is that since it has been sitting around for a long time, It's more likely to have been stolen. So I'm trying to figure out whether I should dump the key and start using a new one. I have made a new one, but no one has signed it and I never end up using it. It's also kind of a pain for people when you have multiple keys...

OPML - Outline Processor Markup Language Dave Winer's really into this. So am I. (after I figured out what it was...) I've always wanted to figure this out, but I could never get my head around Radio Userland enough to get it to do what I wanted with my outlines. Marc Canter has also been raving about Outlines. So today, I finally got around to R'ingTFM and found activeRenderer by Marc Barrot which renders your OPML files into cool collapsable outlines in Radio Userland. Actually, OmniOutline (Which Chris Adams turned me on to in my entry about my switch to Mac) allows me to save in OPML so I can render these as well. (Although I can't figure out how to add links in OmniOutline so they show up as links when rendered.)

So, I've got Radio Userland running now and here is my first outline, which will hopefully evolve to my "view" of the web.

I've very excited by everything except the fact that Radio 8.0.8 "quits unexpectedly" at random times on OS X 10.2.2. [The new 8.0.9b1 fixes this problem. Thanks Dave and Jake!]

I'm back in Tokyo after quite an interesting week in Silicon Valley. As I landed in the airport, I noticed that the "gee, I'm back in Japan" feeling that I usually have was much less. The airport smell was "normal" and I didn't feel I was really "back" but that it was just another normal day. I think it is because I have been traveling SO much these last few months. So here is my theory.

I think that when you SWITCH infrequently, there is a literal switch. I remember when I used to only travel once or twice a year, I could feel my brain switch from English to Japanese, driving on the right side of the road to driving on the left side of the road. When I started traveling a lot more, this switch didn't happen and it all became one experience.

I've noticed that people who I went to school with at the American School in Japan can generally mix English and Japanese, but many people who switch between English and Japanese can't mix. (We call this mixing chanpon)

Having just switched to the Mac, I'm finding a similar experience. I now have 4 different keyboards and 3 operating systems (Mac, OS X shell, Windows) each with their hotkeys. I find that as I switch back and forth between keyboards and OS's a lot, I am becoming more and more able to "speak" the different hotkey combinations without messing them up.

I've heard that people who learn a third language after learning a second language often use words from the second language by mistake. I'm sure this is because your brain is trying to "map" the new language on in the same space as the old one and you trigger the wrong thing sometimes. It's like trying to install a new OS over an old one and keep some of the stuff from the old one.

I once took a class on brain damage. There was a study that we read that talked about "brain crowding". Some girl was a great at drawing and got brain damage and she lost her ability to speak. As she learned to speak again, her drawing ability diminished. So the brain reallocated that part of the brain towards to more a important thing.

Assuming that you have a limited brain surface area, I guess the trick is storing things as efficiently as possible.

So my theory. When you are switching between modes and you hear a big CLICK in your head, you're probably using two different sections of your brain. When you can get it all to feel like one thing, you're probably learning to store it in one place and trigger just the differences and that method, I assume it's more efficient, but I wonder if it is worth trying to get better at this sort of multi-mode storage. I wonder if you can LEARN to learn more multi-modally... hmm....


Dan Gillmor introduced me to Clay Shirky tonight and Dan, Noriko, Barak and I had dinner with him at LuLu's. We got in without a reservation. What a change from the old days! Clay is very cool. According to his web page:

I have been a producer, programmer, professor, designer, author, consultant, sometimes working with people who wanted to create a purely intellectual or aesthetic experience online, sometimes working with people who wanted to use the internet to sell books or batteries or banking.
He was supposed to talk this morning at Supernova, but didn't make it so I asked him what he was going to talk about. He said he thought that politics of the semantics was a very political issue and more relevant than the technical discussion. He also talked about the economic significance of the difficulty of switching protocols vs. api's and how important and political protocols were. He had very broad interests like me (unfocused?) and we talked about lots of cools stuff. He knows Marko who I wrote about earlier. Thanks for the intro Dan!


Just had lunch with Dave Winer. We talked about a lot of things and I don't know what was "on the record", but I think I can say we talked a lot about outlines. (Dave said, "everything looks like an outline to me," on the panel so I assume it's no secret.) I actually love outlines generally. My web page before my blog was an outline. All of the papers I write, I write in MS Word Outline mode, convert to html, run a script to strip the junk out and pour in my custom style sheet. So now that my blog is bloating, I'm looking for an outline mode to create a structured view of my entries and links to other blogs. I'm going to try using Radio Userland for this...


The Nikkei has an article about cellphones with cameras being used in enterprise/business. Found this on Gen Kanai's weblog

Found Fotolog while surfing around during the session. I just set up my fotolog. Supernova has a fotolog as well. Fotolog is nice because it does the thumbnailing and lets you have friends like LiveJournal.


Panelists: Cory Doctorow, EFF; Sean Ryan, Listen.com; Morgan Guenther, Tivo; Media Venture Advisors

Cory is talking about the broadcast flag issue that he has been quite active in resisting. He blogged about it on Boing Boing, but it is basically a flag that can be set in broadcast video to prevent redistribution of it on the Net. The idea is to get commodity hardware and software companies to implement this. The broadcast flag is part I in a three part plan. Part II is to force all analog to digital converters to have technology to sense for watermarks and disable the conversion of anything that had a copywritten watermarks. Part III is to redesign the Internet so that every packet is examined for infringement and discard them.

Sean thinks that the media industry has been bashed so much recently that things are much better than the past. He thinks that there is a viable model that allows people to rip and discover music...

Morgan says that Tivo will be profitable next year... Customers are "happy as clams..." Morgan is talking to the advertising industry about how to use the "real estate" in the living room where families in the US spend 7 hours a day. Wrestling with lots of issues such as copying content between Tivo's. The idea of attacking this without support of the industry didn't make sense to Tivo.

Ben and Mena Trott
Had lunch with Ben and Mena Trott, the founders and developers of Movable Type who were here for the Supernova conference. I'm a great fan of theirs because Movable Type was my introduction to blogging and I am very happy that I chose Movable Type as my blog software. (Thanks to Justin for making this decision for me.) Hirata in my office worked on the Japanese language kit for MT and we talked about some of the issues involved in localization and about the blogging landscape in Japan...


Slipped out of the conference to see Jean-Louis Gassée. I met Jean-Louis when he was running Be Inc. I was the first and last advisory board member of Be. Jean-Louis is a legend in Silicon Valley from his days at Apple and all of the cool stuff he's done afterwards.

He is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at Allegis and is on the board of PalmSource and EFI. We talked a lot about personal networking technologies and shared our thoughts and vision in this area. He's such a cool and charming guy and I think Allegis is a PERFECT thing for him.

Barak and Minami joined me in the meeting and it was interesting because Barak had worked with him at Apple and Logitec so they had a lot of history... Frank got me back in touch with him. Frank used to work with Jean-Louis at Be and now works at and helps run one of our portfolio companies, AirEight.


Just sat down at Supernova. Supernova was organized by Kevin Werbach. This is the first one. The focus of the conference is decentralization. Topics include blogging, 802.11, network architectures, open source. It's a small conference with an amazing group of speakers and attendents.

The group blog is online and a great example of trackbacks. I think this conference probably has the highest density of bloggers of any conference I've ever been to.

Brewster showing us the Bookmobile
Brewster instructing us on how to print and bind the books
The Connection Machine at the Internet Archive data center
A rack of PC's running Linux at the Internet Archive data center
This morning I went to the see Brewster Kahle at his office in Presidio. Neal Stephenson had been trying to get us together and it finally happened. I was very excited to see/hear the whole thing. We started by seeing the Bookmobile which is this amazing thing that Brewster and his team did. They have 1,000,000 books from the public domain available in their database on the Internet. The Bookmobile cruises around and lets kids print the books and binds them. It costs a dollar to print one of these books so they can give them away. The Bookmobile has cruised around the US and was there during Larry Lessig's argument at the Supreme Court on Eldred v. Ashcroft. The Bookmobile is part of a much bigger project of Brewster's which involves creating a library that archives EVERYTHING. Music, the Web, video, everything. This is called the Internet Archive Project.

This amazing project involves archiving everything using low cost technology. The Connection Machine in the data center was originally running, but now it all runs on PC's with UNIX. There are over a 150 terabytes of data in the data center. There is room for a petabyte. Brewster is on the board of the Library of Congress and is also working with the Library of Alexandria in Egypt on this project. He is trying to recruit other libraries to swap content and mirror the archives. It is such a huge and important project that I couldn't HELP MYSELF... I'm involved. I'm going to try to figure out how to get Japan involved.

Brewster, for those of you who don't know him was one of the founders of WAIS (a great pre-web tool for indexing and publishing information that I used A LOT on my Mac) and Thinking Machines that created the Connection Machine, a massive parallel processing computer. He's quite a legend and it was a great honor and a lot of fun to meet him.

Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive showing us books printed in the Bookmobile
Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing and Howard Rheingold of Smartmob SmartMobs talking about the future of blogging...
I'm staying at Kara and Megan's house for three days (One more day left. Thanks Kara and Megan!) We had a few people over to the house the first night. Frank blogged about it much more promptly than I did. Met a bunch of new people. So many people, so little time. ;-) Thanks again to Kara for organizing and hosting.

Yesterday, I met Ryan Lackey who is the CTO of Havenco. I was one of the first investors in Havenco and had been working with Ryan for years and it was great to put a face behind the name. Also spent some quality time with Reid Hoffman, one of early PayPal execs who Frank introduced to me. We talked about PayPal, but also talked a little about his NEXT BIG THING which I am very excited about.

I also met Evan Williams and Jason Shellen of Blogger the day before yesterday. They were very cool. Unfortunately I took the restroom key with me by mistake. Sorry guys! (Not the best way to make friends...)

So I will be seeing David Winer and Mena and Ben Trott at Supernova tomorrow. I feel like a Japanese pilgrim visiting all of the Blog/Weblog shrines in SF. ;-)

Well, I got 10 hours of sleep last night. The most I've gotten in months I think. I'm charged and ready for today which should involve going to see Brewster's Archive.org setup and his Bookmobile. If I have time, I'm planning on going out to see RU Sirius who is buried somewhere in Mill Valley I hear.

Marc Canter in full-motion
John Markoff and Paul Mercer
Barak and Markoff gadgeting
Saw Marc Canter for coffee and got his pitch on the future of things. I had been staring at "still Marc" for so long on his blog, that when I saw "full-motion Marc" it was totally amazing! Marc was a bundle of energy and excitement and totally inspiring. I have to remember that all of these people that I blog with and chat with have bodies that move, talk and gesture. ;-)

Later, Barak, Jun, Minami and I had dinner with John Markoff from the NYT and Paul Mercer who founded Pixo. It was a great dinner, but we talked about and played with our gadgets WAY too much. ;-)


Met Steve Wozniak who is recently founded Wheels of Zeus. I can't tell you what we talked about. ;-)

I had done an interview of him for a Japanese magazine years ago at a Macworld Japan. He remembered...

ctptoothbrushsm.jpgSo I wrote earlier about the power company providing free telecom... Well, what about the telephone company providing free power? (Although probably not intentionally.) This site may be a joke, but it is VERY funny. It is a site/catalog of products that use power that the telephone company provides on their phone lines to power appliances. ;-) They are called Telco Powered Products(tm).

Telco Powered Products
Our Chief Scientist, Dr. Emil Drizzlenik PhD from the renowned Chernobyl Electrical Institute in Russia, developed this patented technology after an accident at the power plant left all of the homes and businesses in his area dark.

Dr. Drizzlenik found that the local telephone company was still up and running, and in fact telephone service never went down during the time the power was out.


Found this on Boing Boing


Shirai-san sent me a nice image of our panel discussion yesterday. Thanks!

Since I was the chair of the Forum planning committee this year, I had to give the opening speech. (not really a speech, but an announcement) I had been dreading this for a whole year, but it's finally over. I was visibly nervous, but I got through it OK.

The panel later with Oki Matsumoto, CEO of Monex, Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, and Professor Takeuchi from the Hitotsubashi Business School was a lot more relaxed and fun. There were about 1200 people in the audience... Takeuchi-san is like a talk show host and it was a lot of fun. He always hosts the Japan dinner at Davos and knows the three of us well...

Right now, I'm listening to Professor Kurokawa's panel on medical ventures. It's very interesting. Japan has quite a bit of technology in Universities, but does not have the infrastructure to convert this technology into products. I'm a big fan of Kurokawa-san and he is probably the most controversial and influential MD in Japan right now and he's really going for it right now pointing out many of the problems with Japanese system...

I switched. I promised myself I would do this before I left for the US on Tuesday. I spend the day today moving stuff and tweaking. The only thing I couldn't get right was the kanji (Japanese character) files in my contact list and my Japanese email moved over. It was much easier than I thought and having switched, I feel euphoric. I'm now listen to music on iTunes (which tell me that I have 3.5 days of music), am syncing my Treo with my contacts, creating a this blog entry with Kung-Log staring at my brand new Dell Latitude trying to figure out what I'm going to do with it. ;-) Windoze now feels so... crass. It reminds me of when I got my first Mac back in 1984 and switched away from my Apple II.

I was talking to Jun Murai the other day and he said that a lot of the IETF folks were switching as well. I think the Unix at the core really makes it easy to get the geeks over...

Anyway, as with blogging, I'm a bit late in figuring it out, but it doesn't look like I'm late for the party.

Now I have to seriously start bothering people to write stuff for and port stuff to the Mac.

Read a great blog entry by Jon Udell about "power law distributions". It is the notion that when you link everything up into a network, you don't get an egalitarian world... power accumulates just like in the real world. We thought a lot about this when we were building Infoseek Japan... I'm going to have to think about this more before I can contribute something intellectually to this, but you should read the entry. He also quotes the WSJ at the end of the entry. I add this to add some holiday cheer here...

John Udell
Jon Udell: Scale-free networks and mirror worlds

Well, not quite forever. Today's Wall Street Journal featured this grimly comic fantasy about the financial debacle we have lately endured: In a recent letter to shareholders, Ralph Wanger, the iconoclastic chief investment officer at Liberty Wanger Asset Management in Chicago, laments that his firm lost $956 million through the end of the third quarter. To put that figure in perspective, he tried to figure out how hard it would be to lose that much money on purpose. His explanation follows:

Wall Street Journal
One way to do it would have been to convert $956 million into $100 bills on Jan 1, 2002 and order our 20 investment professionals to spend all their time burning it. It sounds sort of festive really -- drink some beer, make S'mores and enjoy the glow, warmth and fellowship around the bonfire (singing Kumbaya optional). How hard would we have had to work to do this? Well, if one person diligently burned one $100 bill at the rate of one bill every 10 seconds and worked seven hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, that one person could burn up $63 million in a year. It would take all 20 of us working full time at this repetitive task to get rid of $956 million in just nine months.


A poster from Despair Inc.
There is a poster section called "demotivators". It is a parody of motivational posters. I think these posters are a very American phenomenon. I always thought it was strange that anyone would read "Great Place to Work" on the wall and really think it was a great a place to work... On the other hand, a lot of Japanese companies have the philosophy or the rules of the company on the wall. Also, common is the picture of the founder glaring down at you.

Saw this first on Doc Searls Weblog

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