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What’s Wrong With Facebook (and TimeLine Ain’t It)

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Once upon a time there was a website called MySpace. Myspace was popular, and got invited to all the parties. You never knew what MySpace would show up wearing, but it was usually something crazy and flash, designed to make it stand out. MySpace also had a habit of getting drunk and taking over the music, randomly switching from genre to genre, and from today’s hits to that one song that sounds like someone took a chainsaw to a sick horse. Sure, MySpace was fun to have around, but after the party the whole place seemed to have been redecorated. Why is the paint on the back wall flashing again?

The bottom line is, MySpace became so annoying that its users started to hate it, and Facebook came along to save the day.  MySpace is still out there, and nobody cares.

Facebook learned a lot from the MySpace failure. They locked down the design to keep the feel of the site uniform from space to space. They offered more features, while paying close attention to MySpace’s annoyances for what to avoid.  It was easy.  MySpace was on top, and Facebook positioned itself as the “better” version.  It was true.  Facebook was the best full-featured social media service. This is no longer true.

Sure, Facebook is the biggest. When you’re the biggest, you can do what you want. This, at its root, is what’s wrong with Facebook. With the largest user-base, no real competition, and plenty of money to invest, Facebook can move quickly to implement new features and strategies. Ideas can be designs, which can become tests, which can then become finished code in a short timeframe, and with that ability the features backlog starts to grow.

This is how TimeLine comes into being. Someone decided that the individual users’ pages on Facebook needed improvement. Ideas were tossed around.  How do you put more content on the visible page, yet keep a good flow? Someone had the idea of drawing a timeline, and then pointing each post at its spot on the timeline.  Users will still have a visual cue, but they can go left and right to read all the content.  It’s BRILLIANT!

The problem is, it is not brilliant. Timeline forces a bad workflow on the reader. It clutters the design of the page.  It makes it harder to find information you need, when you’re visiting someone else’s page.  What’s worse, it makes it MUCH harder to follow the flow of a person’s output through time, which is exactly the problem Timeline is supposed to solve.

It’s not just Timeline, though. The main page sort defaults to an “important people first” methodology, which always puts my Mother-In-Law in my first-read position. There’s a little “sort” link attached to the “write something” box, which apparently doesn’t affect the “write something” box at all but sorts the content below it either in “important people first” or “in order by time) which is the proper way.  Of course, it defaults to the wrong way.

It’s easy enough to change the sort, once you’ve discovered it Be careful, though.  There’s a little “down arrow” beside the sort that looks like a sort button. It’s lined up just right at the top of the  column.  That’s actually a post-specific options menu. Most designers put something like this along with the other actions for that object, but Facebook’s UI people decided that intuitive just wasn’t good enough this time.

Aside from changing it every time you visit the site (it is at least sticky within that session, or until I close my browser) there are two options you have.  One is to train it, and the other is to go into your settings and change the default sort.  Try as I might, I couldn’t find an option to set the default sort. It’s a stupid feature to force on your users, but if that’s the game they want to play I’ll just start training the algorithm.

I spent weeks telling Facebook that my Mother-In-Law wasn’t important enough to be at the top of my feed.  Nothing personal against my Mother-In-Law, but there are really only three people I care to see at the top.  My wife, my son, and my Mother are the only three people I care to see out of series.

That sweet lady who worked a few seats from me at an old job?  Not that important. The high-school friends that I haven’t seen in years?  They don’t go to the top. My best friends don’t go to the top. Every time I saw the wrong person sorted to the top, I’d use the little menu to try to tell Facebook that they aren’t THAT important.  Facebook isn’t a very good learner, though.  It never worked.

Let me repeat that one more time.

FACEBOOK IS NOT A VERY GOOD LEARNER.

Facebook keeps making features that de-hance the user experience of the site.  The site has grown more cluttered, more ugly, and more confusing as time has passed.  Controversial features are revealed, reviled, avoided, accidentally turned on, complained about, and finally forced on the users that have worked so hard to keep it at bay. They take weeks, or months to go through the process of taking a feature from “announced” to “forced on the users.” Don’t you worry, though, Facebook friends, that feature will be forced on you one day.

How could this be fixed?

Facebook needs some “No Men.”  Something tells me that “No” isn’t something that goes over well at Facebook.  This could have something to do with the recent exodus of major developers from the site. Either the UI Design Team(s) do as they are told and make the best of bad ideas, or they’re hiring some bad talent.  Something tells me that feature requests come from the executive level, and the UI teams do what they can to fit the ideas into the site.

Did someone sit in a meeting and say, “Timeline is a bad idea that will make navigation harder, comprehension harder still, destroys workflow, breaks the design of the overall site, and totally piss off a major percentage of our user-base?” Did anyone care if they did?

What’s wrong with Facebook isn’t Timeline, or sorting, or lack of configurability, security concerns, the hiding of the personal options menu, or any of the other niggling little things that drive its users crazy.  The problem with Facebook is that it doesn’t care what the users think or want. It’s a common thing in software development.  It usually comes from the top, and it is usually up to the ones with the skills to make up for the bad executive decisions such as Timeline.

I like Facebook well enough. I like being able to stay in touch with family and friends, especially now that I’m living in New York City. Facebook gives me a way to share my life in my new city with my family back home. Because Facebook has had so many bad features forced on me, it takes longer for me to get started and handle my social business. In order to use Facebook the way I want, I have to spend more time on the site doing non-useful things.  Instead, I spend MUCH less time on the site.

Let me make that much clearer, just-in-case Mark Zuckerberg reads this. I spend FAR less time on Facebook these days.  The primary reason for this is that new features are making it harder for me to “facebook.” Between bad sorting (first fix each session), slow scripts, auto-refreshing while I’m reading down-page, the inability to block content re-shared from groups, the silly right-side trying to get me to use yet another stupid feature (best friends now?  Really?  Don’t we have friend grouping for that?), and the inability to change much of anything to improve personal workflow, I’ve started actively disliking the site. It’s not Facebook I despise.  It’s the Facebook website I despise.

So, Facebook, want to learn how to fix all this?  Want to know what you can do to make your users like you again?

How about, for once, giving a damn what they think?

Edit: Here is a great article about someone that’s decided to quit Facebook, and why. It’s a familiar pattern.

You Probably Should Avoid the Thong

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I know you say they’re comfortable, though I can’t understand how that can be true. I just can’t support your choice to wear a thong. It’s not that you don’t have a nice butt. It’s just that thongs only really work on about 5% of butts out there, and yours isn’t one of them. Yes, I know you think you look great in a thong. You don’t. That girl in the magazine looks GREAT in a thong, but not you. That girl in the magazine is one of a tiny minority whose butt looks so great in a thong that she makes a living looking good in a thong. You aren’t.

I realize that these may seem like harsh words. Lots of people could have told you this, but it was left to me. I hope, now that I’ve broken the ice, that more of your friends will tell you how your thong-wearing has negatively affected their lives. Perhaps now, they will be able to face their own great white whail-tail.

Oh, that reminds me. The whale-tail issue only really comes up because you’re wearing hip-hugger jeans and a shirt that shows your belly. You really should avoid both of those. They work together with the thong to create an illusion of a car’s dipstick, and nobody wants to check those levels.

Okay, that may have been too harsh. Maybe someone WOULD want to… I mean… it’s not that you…wait. Let’s arbitrarily assign a value to your appearance. Let’s say you’re a 5. The top shows what should hide. The bottom shows enough that I can determine sanitation habits with a flashlight. The thong doesn’t so much cover at all as much as it makes one wonder if there’s a flashlight on the end of that string. You’re losing points left and right. If you aren’t at least a 9 already, you end up a two so fast your head will spin.

Then there’s the belly piercing. Really? You thought that would look good? Again, this look works for some people. Most of them spend their days on “movie sets” and to be honest, any little piece of jewelry they can use… anyway, they’re not you. You’re not them. You don’t need the pornstar belly-ring, or for that matter the tongue-ring.

There’s pretty much only reason to get a tongue-piercing. It’s for the sexual gratification of someone else. If that’s what you want, that’s your choice. I’m not going to judge your lifestyle choice. They don’t look good, they make you talk funny, they can cause tooth damage, and… ick. I don’t mind judging whether I have negative physical reactions to the clickety-clack sounds when you speak. I still don’t really know who Ktkeetm Tktartdashtshtiant is.

Ick on that nose-piercing, by the way. It’s small, and tasteful, and rather well done considering some of your other choices. I’ve seen worse. Still, though, every time you’re near and I need to sneeze, my brain starts conjuring elaborate fountain effects in a most interesting shade of green.

The tattoo is tasteful as well. This one, not the one we saw when my friend had a flashlight in his pocket. I hope you’ll make the right decision about the stripper-tat you are considering.

In fact, I think you can save money on the stripper-tat if you’ll just make the right decision. The one decision that can truly improve your life. You’ll have better friends. You’ll have an improved love life. Opportunities previously closed to you will open. You will be better. Just make that one, key decision.

Lose the thong.

What’s So Bad About Google+ Integration with Google Search?

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There has been a lot of complaining lately about Google’s integration of Google+ results into its search. There have been a lot of accusations. Many say we can no longer trust Google’s search results. Some have gone so far as to say that Google is going back on its pledge to “Do no evil.”

I see things a bit differently. Google offers a variety of services, many of which can be called apps in their own right. Google wants to integrate these services into a single app, each piece of which integrates into each other. The black toolbar added recently took a major step in this direction. The inclusion of social results from Google+ is yet another step.

My primary problem with social results isn’t that it only offers search results from Google+. My primary problem is that it only offers results from Google+. Google isn’t evil because they are only investing their own social service, but they are choosing to offer me special results from a service that is not high on my list of social tools. My primary social tools are Twitter and Facebook. I would find inclusion of those services to be quite useful, but they fall into the normal search results with no integration to show more focus on those I follow or friend on those services. Google is missing out on opportunity by not integrating more social services within its search.

The goal of the Google+ integration isn’t to improve search results directly. The purpose is to increase the value of the Google+ social network. I personally think that Google+ could use a bit of a value-increase. The proper tools are there to run a social network.  The value, though, is in the people.  Like it or not, the value in social networking is in Twitter and Facebook, and Google+ is still an also-ran.

What is bad about a company integrating various services into a single system? There may be a higher cost incurred by the user if they are required to pay for previously unneeded services.  There could be features that are forced upon the user that they are not comfortable with.  The company may use a dominant market position to force users to “lock-in” to their services, or to drive competitors from the market. I am sure that the list is longer.

Looking at these in turn, the first two do not seem to be at issue. Google is not charging users for access to its search engine, or many of its other services.  Those services that cost a fee still exist, unchanged.  I am not aware of any plans for this to change.  What if Google decided to move to a subscription service, charging $1 per month for access to their now unified application? Many would think of it as a good price for a valuable service, and would pay.  Many would make the opposite decision.  As the price for the service increases the percentage of users who will say and pay the price will drop. At the low price of $1 per month the percentage of takers will be quite high.  Raise the price high enough, though, and users will go elsewhere.

What about unwanted features? Users are used to these. Microsoft’s Ribbon interface replacing normal menus?  Horrible idea.  I don’t want it.  Ubuntu’s Unity interface? Why, oh WHY did someone think that was a good idea? Yahoo? Google putting results from a service you are using in a small area on the search page?  Honestly, I’ve had worse.  If it was a hill I was willing to die on, I’d stop using Google and go elsewhere for the same services they offer.

Google does have some significant dominance in certain areas. In the last half of 2011 Google accounted for just over 80% of all search traffic. Bing and Yahoo shared almost all of the rest. Microsoft has built a good search engine in Bing. The biggest reason it isn’t gaining better market share is inertia.  Similar inertia accounts for why such a large majority of us use Microsoft’s operating systems, Office software, and at one time web browser. Microsoft learned with Internet Explorer that a bad product, or even one perceived as bad, would continue to lose market share until it and its image have improved. With Bing they have a worthy competitor for Google, not only because it’s well-made, but also because it isn’t Yahoo.

What about email?  Google’s Gmail product is huge, right?  Not really.  Google accounts for 4% of email opens in a survey done by Litmus.  Microsoft’s Outlook product in various versions accounts for 37%. Gmail lags behind Hotmail, the iPhone, Apple Mail, Yahoo Mail (a strong point for them), and even the web-based version of Microsoft Outlook.

What other market besides search does Google truly have a dominant market share?  Office software?  No.  Instant Messanging?  No. Social Networking? Most definitely not. Chances are we’re using something other than Google for most everything we do except search. The one major exception is in Adwords Advertising, but this does not cost the user.  In fact, it is what allows the other services to stay free.

This begs the most important question in the argument.  Can Google leverage its dominance in search to gain dominance in other markets in which it chooses to compete? So far the answer to that has been no, except for Adwords. Even the Android operating system for mobile phones hasn’t succeeded in breaking the market dominance of Apple in smartphones. It may yet succeed, or a third party may become competitive in the race.

There’s always someone else in the race.  This isn’t like cable companies, utilities, and Standard Oil.  There’s no law saying we can’t use another service.  If Google upsets enough users, they’ll go to the competitors.  This is how markets correct. The fact that we can go to someone else denies a monopoly.  Google does not have a monopoly on search.  Microsoft has never had a monopoly on operating systems or web browsers, though it has defended itself against accusation on both cases.

In the end, to me, it’s just a little search feature.  I’d like to be able to disable it if I want.  I’d prefer to be able to select and link with services I use along with Google+.  It is not, however, the end of the world.

Cursive – Who Thought This was a Good Idea?

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I have a vivid memory from a very young age of scribbling a bunch of loops on a piece of paper with a blue ballpoint pen. My young mind was intrigued with how long swirls and peaks could form words. Of course, since I was still too young to read I was writing gibberish.

As I grew older writing became a constant part of my life. Much of my early education involved drawing block letters in large spaces on lined paper. Every year the spaces grew smaller in order to refine my handiwork. I always knew that my artistic skills were not great when it came to drawing lines, and my simple block letters were no exception.

In third grade I finally reached what I thought was the holy grail of writing. In Mrs. Powers’ class I learned to write in cursive. I learned the letters, and how to string them together easily. Of course, my cursive writing was only legible if I wrote slowly and carefully. In addition I had adopted special forms of certain letters such as the capitalized T and F from Mrs. Powers’ own style, rather than her lessons. She taught the “proper” way, but I preferred the letters as she wrote them. To me it was as much a preference in style as it was in legibility.

The next few years I dutifully wrote cursive in class. I pitied my poor teachers who had to read my writing, and I still do. My cursive legibility relied as much on the readers’ expectations as my own skills. This, I learned later, was a common thread between most writers of the cursive script. Honestly, can you say that you’ve never found a beautifully written page that had words that could only be discerned based on the words around them?

After Mrs. Powers, the most important person in my life of the handwritten word was my 8th grade history teacher, Mr. Keith. One day Mr. Keith pulled me out of class and had a very frank discussion with me.

“David,” he said, “your handwriting is terrible. Some letters angle to the left. Some angle to the right. They should all angle to the right because the eye flows better that way.”

His next words changed my life.

“Honestly, if you can’t write any better than that, then print.”

It really was that simple. The rigid requirements of school said that I should use cursive script, because it was a skill I should practice. Another requirement was that my writing be legible enough to read. The two requirements, in my case, were contrary. I had, though, been trying to meet both requirements. Mr. Keith helped me understand that there could be a choice.

From that day forward I turned in my classwork in printed form. I would have turned in my homework the same way, except that I rarely saw homework as a requirement.

Every year most teachers would approach me and inform me that I should be turning in my assignments in cursive. Printing my assignments was not acceptable, because I was expected to use cursive script. Since I had learned a bit about making decisions on my own in the face of conflicting instructions, I knew what to do. I would smile, nod, and agree to use cursive script.

I would then turn in my next assignment in cursive, without the care required to make my assignment reasonably legible. After that one assignment I would return to my printed words without a word, or a complaint from the teacher.

Cursive, I learned, was pretty but useless. As a system of communication, cursive was imprecise. With practice my writing never improved beyond what I learned in third grade. I had gained in speed, but not legibility. Cursive writing was not for me, and I began to think it wasn’t so great for everyone else either.

Several years ago the news came out that schools were no longer pushing cursive writing skills as a necessity. I was thrilled with the news. Not only would the new kids no longer be forced to learn a form of communication that was barely effective across the general population, but also there was hope that one day I could read a prescription form.

Now when I write by hand I prefer an all-caps block lettering. Occasionally I throw in a lower-case vowel such as when I write the word “email.”

I think the biggest lesson I learned through all of this wasn’t really about cursive script at all. It was about rules. To my teachers writing cursive was the rule. I was expected to follow the rule. The rule, as it turns out, wasn’t 100% right. Learning the difference between rule and right is important to us all, and cursive script was a tool that helped me understand.

Jared Loughner – Prophet?

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Although there are very few statements to build on so far, we should be on the lookout for the next phase of the Jared Loughner lunacy. Jared’s worries about mind control and some variant of illiteracy that made sense to him contain just enough of a link to reality that they will spark interest in a few people in the “real world.”

When Loughner asked, “What is government when words have no meaning,” he wasn’t simply exposing his own lack of grasp on reality. He was crafting a question that was just meaningless enough to fix itself into the subconscious of a segment of the rest of us.

Several years ago I had a conversation with a new convert to Islam. While I had theological differences of opinion with this person, it wasn’t the actual theology I found so disturbing. What I found disturbing were meaningless phrases that were being used to support the conversion. One in particular stuck in my mind, that Islam “can’t be approached from the back.”

That an idea or belief cannot be approached from the back is an absurdity, yet this guy was completely fixated on this phrase. To him it had a meaning. To me it was meaningless near-gibberish in the context of the discussion.

Loughner’s words seem to be much the same type of meaningless, yet meaningful-sounding gibberish. Much as a lack of solid, easy answers leads some to believe the government knocked down the twin towers, there will be those who will see Loughner’s wacky words as prophetic.

We have a 24/7/365 news cycle now, folks. It is only a matter of time before we have people on TV taking this nutcase seriously for his beliefs. After all, even Manson has a fan club.

Barack Obama’s Promises – Advice Taken

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Back in November, I wrote a post advising then President-Elect Barack Obama how to make lots of promises, but not necessarily keep them. Whether he was aware of it or not, he has been following my advice perfectly. The man has made plenty of promises, but failed to follow through on very much at all.

Polifact analyzed Obama’s first 100 days in broken promises. Ideapalooza has a downloadable spreadsheet of Obama’s 895 campaign promises. Recently, he called for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, considered a paragon of Democrat wishy-washiness. Of course, this has been on the White House website for a while, and nothing has been done.

Way to go Mr. President. You’ve learned well. Your supporters really don’t pay close enough attention to what you do to realize the truth. Keep making promises. Don’t worry about keeping them. It’s the liberal way. After all, you can earn the Nobel Prize for just saying you’ll do something now. I’d say this plan has already been a success.

Barack Obama – Miserable Failure

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President Barack Obama is on track to be one of the worst presidents in history.  Having been in office less than a year, he has built a track record in failure like no other president before him. As his stated goals have been to change the very ideals of America, Obama’s failures may be a great success for our country. Likewise, should Obama actually find some sort of success in the future, it is likely to be the cause of great trouble for the United States.

Straightaway as he took office, President Obama promoted the so-called “economic stimulus bill.” This three-quarter of a trillion dollar corporate-welfare swindle was pushed on America as the only way to stop the economic slowdown.  By not addressing the true causes of the bad economy, congressional interference in the mortgage, automotive, and energy sectors, it was easier to blame President Bush, and bankers for situations both were forced to endure.  The result? Massive erosion of freedom, as Congress used the stimulus as an excuse to control individual wages, a contiunuation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to exist in economically harmful ways, and an unemployment rate far above what Obama promised should the stimulus not be passed.

With the stimulus, Obama succeeded in legislation, but failed massively in result.  America is in worse shape because of its passing.

Onward to the next major emergency legislation that must be passed RIGHT NOW. Obama supported the “cap and trade” legislation to “fight global warming” long before he took office.  He actually said, “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”  Obama’s goal wasn’t just to promote so-called “green technologies,” but to force the forms of energy we rely on every day out of the market.  His stated intention was to run out of business an industry that many thousands of working men and women across many states relied on for a living.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives complied, passing one of the most egregious infringements on freedom known to America.

Luckily, word got out about what damage the bill would cause.  The bill would cause increases in energy costs, resulting in increases in costs on everything else.  After all, it takes energy to manufacture, warehouse, transport, display, and retail pretty much everything you buy. Since the end consumer pays all those costs in the final price, the end consumer would pay the bill.  That would damage the economy further, likely resulting in an economic spiral when we need it least.

As it looks now, the Senate is unlikely to continue work on this piece of “emergency” legislation until at least next year. So much for the “if we don’t pass this now” horse manure Obama tried to foist on us so many weeks ago.

With one emergency bill not yet completed, another was brought up.  Now it’s time, apparently, to completely upturn everything concerning the healthcare industry.  Painting the insurance industry’s  profit margin of 3.3% as exhorbitant, Obama and the Democrats maneuvered (manured?) to wrest control of healthcare from their hands.  With deficits, and debt piling on daily, the trillion dollar “healthcare reform” bill had to be passed RIGHT NOW.

Then, people started actually reading the bill.  By people, I mean actual citizens.  I do not mean Obama or Congress.  Obama, asked about a detail of the bill, replied, “You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about.” John Conyers said, “I love these members that get up and say, ‘Read the bill. What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”

You know what? I haven’t read the whole bill.  I have read quite a bit of it, though.  It is convoluted, and boring, but I took some time to actually research the issue.  I don’t even have a vote in the matter.  You might think, though, that Obama and Congress would bother reading a bill before insulting MY intelligence for opposing it on the issues.

Let me give you a hint, Mr President.  You don’t gain the support of America by insulting your opponents, especially when dealing with an issue in which over half of America is in the opposition.

Obama even went on TV multiple times to push the health care bill.  He continually referred to his plan, even though he has yet to actually propose a plan.  He claimed he would veto a bill presented to him if it contained unpopular provisions, but many of those provisions are in the house bill. Unlike Congress, many citizens could find the time to research this information, which is why Obama’s televised appeals each resulted in a DROP in popularity for the bill.

Oh yeah, the Senate probably won’t get to this piece of emergency legislation until next year.  They’re debating over which provisions Obama said he would veto they want to include (really!) and to what extent.

Obama says the economy is turning around, and jobless claims are levelling off.  Almost immediately, new jobless reports show the opposite.  Obama promotes the Olympics to Chicagoans, and Chicagoans demonstrate opposition.

The latest?  Obama goes to the International Olympic Committee to promote Chicago for the Olympics, and the IOC completely snubs him, knocking Chicago out in the first round of voting.

He’s not the savior.  He’s not bringing prosperity.  He’s not bringing America together.  He’s not leading an ethical government.  He’s not, apparently, capable of speaking coherently without a teleprompter.  Heck, he has yet to demonstrate he’s all that smart.

President Barack Hussein Obama has proven that he is really only good at one thing.  He’s a miserable failure, on his way toward having arguably the worst presidency in the history of the United States.

Warcraft Economics – Auctions, Profiteering, and Helping Others

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I love to play World of Warcraft.  Questing, killing beasties, gaining achievements, and Player vs Player are just entertaining things to do on a nice relaxing evening. One of the great things about WoW, as it is known, is that there are so many different ways to play the game.  One of my most enjoyable things to do, though, is profiteering.  I farm expensive materials, gather sellable quest items, and pick up items from vendors in my travels for resale.

My favorite way to find things to sell, though, is to scan the auction house for items that are, frankly, being sold too cheaply.  I buy them at the seller’s asking price, and immediately place them back up for sale at a higher price.  The price I sell for more closely matches the price that the market will bear.  Sometimes, I can multiply my investment several times on one item.

More: Read the rest of this entry…

Stimulate Me – How Obama Could Win the Economic War

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Now that we’re starting to get an idea of what President Obama’s economic knowledge is like, it’s starting to get a little worrisome. Taxpayer money is being thrown at hundreds of projects, like museums, sidewalks, libraries, and a trolley in Puerto Rico.  Pushes for more “green energy” projects will do more to raise energy costs, which tends to hurt the economy as that cost is reflected in the price of milk and bread.  Even Obama’s so-called tax cut is designed to cause hardship, as taxes aren’t being cut.  When your income tax withholding is reduced, but the actual tax rates are not adjusted, it isn’t a tax cut at all.  It’s a deferred payment, because you’ll either have to pay the money back in April 2010, or have your refund reduced.

So … is there a stimulus plan that could work?  Is there an idea that could put an immediate cash infusion into the American economy?  Could we, with one or two quick decisions, take action to put our economy on the fast-track again, while costing no more than the estimated one to three-and-a-half trillion dollars that Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress have allocated so far?

Yes.

More: Read the rest of this entry…

Anti-Israel Protesters – I Don’t Get It. Yes I Do.

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A violent street gang, over the course of months, randomly fires bullets at houses in a populated residential area.  For months, the city asks politely for them to stop.  Over time, the mayor begins to suggest that the gang has gone too far.  Eventually, the police move in and strike at the leaders, and begin to return fire on gang members who are seen firing weapons into neighborhoods.  Local college students protest against the city and the police.

On the southern border of the United States, a paramilitary organization based in Mexico begins firing explosive projectiles into the southern areas of New Mexico and Arizona.  Some shells land in highly populated areas of Tuscon, killing more than a few civilians.  This goes on for months. The governments of the affected states and the United States tell them to stop.  Eventually, after thousands of shells have been fired, the US Military moves across the border and takes action against the group, killing their leaders and anyone found operating the weapons in question.  Protesters across America come out to protest the US actions against the killers.
To think that someone would protest against the city or the US for striking back in the above situations seems stupid on its face.    Why would anyone protest against those who are trying to stop the attacks on innocent civilians?
Hamas fired over 2600 explosive missiles from the Gaza Strip into Israeli populated areas over the course of months.  Israel worked diplomatically to try to bring it to a halt, but with no effect.  Finally, they respond in kind, attacking the military leaders of Hamas responsible for the rocket fire.  If they find caches of rockets, smuggling routes for the rockets, or anyone firing a rocket, they move against them as well.  In response, protesters around the world are chanting anti-Israel slogans and calling for Israel to stop its actions.
If you try to think about the protests as being about what’s right and wrong, it will cause headaches.  Somehow, I think it’s more about the fact that it is Israel than about the actual situation.
This stuff has been going on for many years.  Israel has been asking its neighbors to be allowed to live in peace.  Hamas and its allies have been asking Israel to die.  I know which one I want to win.  If the protesters want peace, then they should be protesting Hamas, not Israel.
Do they really want peace?
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