Saturday, September 17, 2005
It's interesting to look at the issues in Germany's upcoming election. Incumbent Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is in grave danger of being ousted in spite of his popular anti-US views, largely because of large and growing economic problems.
It seems that Germany's generous social welfare programs are being burdened by an aging poplulation and high unemployment and have become unaffordable, dragging the country ever further into debt. Also, German industry has sky-high labor costs because of laws ensuring high salaries to workers and because of powerful labor unions. Autoworkers, for instance, make $41.37 per hour. Employers are downsizing and moving jobs to other countries, causing further unemployment problems.
Challenger Angela Merkel describes the problem this way: “What do I do in an economy where 1,000 skilled jobs disappear every day and where, at the same time, my entire social security system, pension, unemployment and health insurance are financed by this shrinking pool of full-time jobs?” So in the perverse irony of big government, all of the social programs and mandated employer benefits designed to take care of workers are strangling the economy and erasing their jobs, and the only solution--lowering those benefits--will harm the workers in their time of need.
Americans beware: This is how a welfare state bottoms out, and it isn't pretty.
FoxNews.com: German Election May Revive U.S. Relations
Posted by Huevo at 11:56 AM
Friday, September 16, 2005
Nintendo is giving a sneak peak at the controller that will ship with the new Revolution game system next year. It looks and feels a lot like a TV remote, which may come as a relief to those daunted by the multi-button, multi-joystick remotes on current systems--it seems that Nintendo is reaching out to those outside the traditional hardcore gaming demographic. But industrial-strength gamers can easily add a secondary pod with all the buttons and joysticks they need, in a configuration called the "nunchuck controller". Plus, the controller is motion sensitive, making possible games where you use the controller as a gun or a fishing rod and the action translates to the screen.
Nintendo seems to be leading the way in the gaming space with some prooty cool human interface products--their handheld gaming system Nintendo DS has two screens and a stylus, also not standard fare in the video gaming world. I guess we'll have to wait and see if they can get people to buy all of their creative ideas, but they look good to me. As someone who can't hit the broad side of a tank using an analog joystick I'd love to try that nunchuck setup. And release my inner ninja.
Wired News: Hands On With the Revolution
Posted by Huevo at 12:20 PM
Friday, September 02, 2005
I'm sorting through feelings today about the hurricane aftermath. I can't begin to comprehend the pain and suffering, the human toll being experienced not too far away from me. I feel guilty because the only suffering it has caused me is high gas prices. I am proud that Texas is able to help out, both officially and privately. And I feel like an idiot for talking about my own feelings as if they are at all relevant to the situation or worthy of notice in such a time.
I am disgusted by the political posturing that is going on while the bodies of dead Americans still float face-down through our own streets. There are political points to be made, but let's save the hyperbole until after we save the dying, shall we?
I am also trying to come to grips with what kind of people would shoot at rescue workers. I might expect this from some insane warlord trying to oppress his people, but here..? It seems that there are desperate people "taking pot shots at police and at helicopters, telling them, 'You better come get my family.'" Also shooting at authorities is apparently the same criminal element that the police in New Orleans fight every day. I heard a Louisiana resident on a call-in show today characterize the flood-ravaged 9th Ward as a dangerous neighborhood. This first-person blog entry describes the 9th Ward as "desperately poor", the "New Orleans no one wants to see", with burned out cars, wooden shacks and liquor stores scattered about. It stands to reason that this area is no less dangerous after the breakdown of law and order, and with everyone there experiencing the same desperation that all of the survivors must be feeling. Also, with looting and rape and other illegal activities there would surely be violence as well. Still, why would you shoot at rescue workers?
This CNN story/blog has lots of first-person accounts of various situations in Louisiana and Mississippi. The New Orleans Times-Picayune weblog (featuring tons of local content and commentary on the situation) mentions that many homeless are "drunk on looted liquor in a city without drinking water". Seems hard to blame them too much, I guess. It also notes that the situation today seemed to improve markedly.
If you have resources to give, think about the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected. May God be with you.
Posted by Huevo at 11:57 PM