Schwarzenegger’s Health Care Plan Rejected

“I am someone who does not give up,” Schwarzenegger said. “Especially when there is a problem as big and as serious as health care that needs to be fixed. One setback is just that — a setback. I still believe comprehensive health care reform is needed in California. We will keep moving forward. I can promise you that.”

[From Schwarzenegger's Health Care Plan Rejected - News Story - KNTV | San Francisco]

What is so “comprehensive” about a plan that simply requires everyone to have health insurance? Comprehensive health care reform should include tort reform and reforms aimed at reducing the cost of health care, not just requiring everyone to be able to pay. Actually, the notion that the state wouldn’t end up forking over billions of taxpayer dollars to fund this program was also fantasy, and why Democrats and Republicans alike rejected it.

Is the Tipping Point Toast?

Short answer, no. But the tipping point was at best a collection of observations that are useful to explain a phenomena that cannot be manufactured or predicted.

“It just doesn’t work,” Watts says, when I meet him at his gray cubicle at Yahoo Research in midtown Manhattan, which is unadorned except for a whiteboard crammed with equations. “A rare bunch of cool people just don’t have that power. And when you test the way marketers say the world works, it falls apart. There’s no there there.”

[From Is the Tipping Point Toast? -- Duncan Watts -- Trendsetting]

Adventures at the Market

I love going to the market, it underscores my belief that all great food had to have started out as a dare. Take the entire shellfish category as an example, can you imagine anyone looking at an oyster for the first time and saying “gee I think I’ll eat that”?

What is the weirdest food you have prepared and/or eaten?

BTW, these buddha hand citron are amazing, they have no pulp just all rind.

IMG_0096.JPG

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New Windows vs. Old Windows

Two weeks ago, InfoWorld launched a petition campaign to save Windows XP. So far we???ve gotten more than 70,000 signatures, thanks to a passionate response from a wide range of XP users. We hope we can persuade Microsoft to keep selling XP licenses indefinitely, past the June 30 deadline, after which Microsoft has said no more shrink-wrapped or OEM licenses will be available for retailers, computer makers, and others to order. (Vendors can continue to sell by June 30 any XP licenses they ordered from Microsoft, but when they run out of those, they can’t get more to sell.)

[From How to get Windows XP after June 30 - Yahoo! News]

It is starting to sound like a new Coke vs. old Coke situation, although I doubt it will rise to the same emotional level. But this same lack of emotion about Windows may well be a bigger issue for Microsoft.

If you have studied Apple’s rise from the ashes you will find something consistent through every new product introduction, a well cultivated emotional connection to the Apple brand. You can see this play out in the way that companies who make accessories for Apple’s products design and package them; they are conscious of the fact that in order to appeal to Apple users you have to affiliate yourself with the brand as well as deliver a good product.

A lot of commentators refer to Apple products as fashion, which may well be the case but I think it’s deeper than that, it’s to the level of being aspirational like all of the great and durable brands over the years have been. What does Microsoft stand for? The stated mission is to “help people and businesses realize their full potential” and that’s not a bad mission but I still don’t get connected to it as a consumer. Apple’s mission statement isn’t that different but they open with a powerful statement, “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience…”.

Mission statements are drivel for the most part but it does offer a portal into the soul of a company. Apple has always been about me as a user, Microsoft lost that back around the time when Lotus and Wordperfect dominated their respective markets.

The lack of passion for Microsoft’s products is rising to a level of ambivalence that I would expect they would find concerning. Ask someone about XP vs. Vista and most people shrug their shoulders and say “whatever”, or if they do have an opinion it is likely to be in favor of XP or at best not negative about Vista. The amazing thing is that Vista is a good operating system as well, visually appealing and loads of features.

I just wish Microsoft would quit trying to be all things to all people and put users first.

You Can Copyright A Cease-And-Desist Letter

Seems like there is the potential for a litigious recursive loop scenario here in the event that posting a cease-and-desist letter results in a new cease-and-desist letter and that could well upset the delicate balance of life as we know it.

The group Public Citizen hit back against this law firm’s claims, but surprisingly, a judge has now agreed that you can copyright cease-and-desist letters (thanks to Eric Goldman for emailing over the link). The news was announced in a press release by the lawyer in question, who claims this means he can now sue anytime someone posts one of his cease-and-desist letters.

[From Techdirt: Court Says You Can Copyright A Cease-And-Desist Letter]

Sunday Night Links

This is long overdue, IMO. When I look at the ever expanding endowments at major higher education institutions combined with rising tuition and fees that should be rolled into tuition, it occurs to me that student interests are often put behind self-interests at these universities. Publicly funded universities are not exempt either, consider for example UC Davis paying Sen. John Edwards $55,000 to give a speech on, ironically, poverty while also giving regents and employees big raises, severance agreements, loans and other payouts, courtesy of rising student fees, tuitions, and of course, your California tax dollars. Even the most liberal of Democrats in the state are “horrified” by what is going on in the UC system when it comes to salaries in light of rising fees and the scandals involving compensation in recent years.

Expanding their scrutiny of spending and other financial practices in higher education, leaders of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Thursday asked the 136 colleges with the largest endowments for a wealth of data and analysis about how they set tuition prices, mete out financial aid, and manage their endowments.

[From Senators Scrutinize Well-Endowed Colleges :: Inside Higher Ed :: Jobs, News and Views for All of Higher Education] Link via Instapundit

How would you feel if you found someone advertising, on Craigslist no less, for someone to help them “fine tune” their business, which they describe as like your own? I guess it could be considered a compliment or a sign that you have really made it.

A group of web entrepreneurs and myself are looking to build a web company specializing in web-based contracts- similar to echosign.com and docusign.com.

We are looking to partner with a Transactional Attorney or a lawyer who handles many contracts daily, in order to fine-tune our business focus, marketing pitch, policies, and liabilities.

Would you pay $1 for each non-ad supported feed you subscribe to? Me neither.

Here’s a neat little example of how a content database with an API can deliver value in unexpected ways.

But this shouldn’t be hard to fix. Even if Google’s index no longer includes my old posts, I know that NewsGator archives the contents of millions of RSS feeds. So I contacted Greg Reinacker to see how to access that archive, and he pointed me to the NewsGator Archive Service which has most of the data I need and a simple HTTP POST interface I can use from the command line:

Also NewsGator related, this old post from 2005 popped up that pointed to two very interesting data points. The first observation is really a reflection on the fact that we have been building out the back end infrastructure for organizing and delivering the “web of feeds” for quite some time, and the second point is that the “taxonomies vs. folksonomies” is the perpetual “tastes great, less filling” argument of the blogosphere and web content in general. It’s neither binary nor zero sum, the best solution is often a compromise between the two. We’ve been interested in the intersection of behavior and content for a while.

To make sense of the archive, Newsgator has actually hired a taxonomist. What most business people do not realize is the extent to which the use of controlled vocabularies (i.e., taxonomies) on the web play a role in translating a company’s information assets into something customers can hopefully understand.