Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Has Capitalism failed in Africa?

That’s what someone asserted to me the other night over drinks and dinner. As the sole conservative at a table of 5, I had listened quietly for about half an hour to a lot of bluster while trying to steer the conversation back to something a bit less controversial. Then I lost it.

Really! I shouted (note: I’m not really a shouting kind of guy) across the table. Where?!

The silence was deafening.

Now, I have to admit I’m no Africa expert, but I was fairly sure that most African nations were not especially capitalist. Sure enough, the countries of Africa don’t exactly head up the list of Economic freedom . In fact I asserted, the only countries I knew of that respected property rights and didn’t have massive government interference in their economies seemed to be doing better than the rest (South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria). In fact, my guess is that the lower on the index you find them the worse their economy (generally true as it turns out). That is hardly some scathing rebuke of capitalism; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. If anything is failing over there, it’s kleptocracies and central planning.

My real question is where do these people get ideas like this? They seem harmless enough on the surface, but I’m concerned that ignorance and assumptions on this subject (ooh, capitalism is bad in Africa) lead to more distrust of capitalism in general, but without any basis in fact. So here was a table where 4 of 5 reasonably well paid people working for an entrepreneurial company really thought that capitalism was failing. As a business owner – and their employer – I’m more than a bit concerned about this. I’m not really sure what to do about it, but you can rest assured I’ll start by defending my viewpoint vigorously in the future.

Monday, November 25, 2002

They are everywhere...

Who, you might ask? Well stars of course, this is LA after all. I've met Dennis Hopper (looks like my grandfather) and stood in line for a buffet next to Ahnold. Waited at the bar next to Anthony Edwards, and seen Dick Van Dyke at Best Buy (carrying a man purse no less!). Although I may blog about some of these events later, what really prompted this post was discovering that my next door neighbor's father is an actor. No, he's not incredibly well known, but you might recognize him - at least in a movie. I've seen this guy probably 20 times walking around in their yard playing with his granddaughter and never thought anything of it. Tonight though, he needed a jump, and his daughter in law's spiffy Volvo seemed to have moved its battery to a secure undisclosed location. While we were setting up, we had a fairly normal "get to know you" conversation. He mentioned he was an actor, I told him I was a programmer/business owner. Pleasantries were exchanged, the car was started and he was on his way.

Then of course, I raced inside to my computer, and then - to Google. No, I'm not going to mention who he is, but wow; he's even been nominated for an Oscar.

Update: As it turns out, I'd just as soon not have known him.
Sorry, work and socializing have interfered with blogging. I realize that's no excuse, but it's the truth.

Monday, November 18, 2002


If you just got here from Tony Pierce welcome.

he may run the most amazing site on the 'net. i love his ee cummings punctuation. his creativity, passion and all the rest.

i better start cranking out some quality posts asap.

but he really should try the fried eel at the Jackie Chan Chinese place.

thanks tony's blog

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Update to the story below.

Apparently the Wall Street Journal is calling this a Kid Pro Quo.


Friday, November 15, 2002

Analyst screws public for personal gain

I find this story so incredible, I don’t want to believe it. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, and it's just dog bites man rather than the other way round.

If true, one of the most powerful stock analysts in the country changed his evaluation of a stock (probably affecting 100’s of millions of dollars of OTHER people’s money), as a quid pro quo. Why? It was part of a deal to get his children into the right preschool! I’m so angry, I can’t see straight. He should be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail.

I’m basically a conservative, and a business owner, but that doesn’t mean I’m likely to excuse this kind of behavior. My partners and I try to run our business ethically, and we hope that others do the same. Unfortunately, there are plenty of dirtbags in the private sector, just like anywhere else. Apparently, Grubman is one of them.

More on related topics later, when I’ve calmed down a bit.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

I've definitely had a few bills I'd like to pay this way.

The most recent one involved Earthlink. I had some of the least pleasant customer service experiences ever with those bozos. In one case, they didn’t pay about $50 dollars they owed us “because a supervisor didn’t approve it.” Uh, right, and by the way thanks for calling to let me know. Oh wait, I forgot – we had to call you! If not for The Fabulous Wife’s attention to detail, we never would have been paid. Somehow I doubt I’m the only Earthlink customer who got this particular run around.

Oddly enough, their tech support is pretty decent.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Why "On a Clear Day"?

Well, you might be asking one of two things.

The first is about the name, and also pretty easy to answer. I live on the west side of Los Angeles, and my commute takes me over a short series of hills on a daily basis. On a clear day, which is fairly common in the wintertime, I get beautiful views of the mountains surrounding L.A., sunsets over the water, and a brief glimpse of the Hollywood sign. Less literally, sometimes I have a “clear” day (or moment); times when ideas come easily, problems are solved more quickly, and thinking in general just seems more fluid. If I’m lucky, those are the times I’ll be posting; if not, this could be a lonely blog.

But really, why have a blog at all? Do I think I can do it better than Instapundit, Den Beste, t. pierce, or Armed Liberal? No, not really, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have something to say. In part, this blog is here for me to work out some of the ideas bouncing around my noggin, and to comment on the ideas of others. It’s also a place to chronicle the odd and delightful things I see in this incredible city.
Hello Blog.

This is a small and somewhat pathetic computer joke. When coding, the "Hello World" program is one the first things an aspiring developer writes. In BASIC the code might be something like:

Print "Hello World"

The syntax varies from language to language, but it is a early, simple step to becoming a programmer.