Barack Obama's Infrastructure Spending Plans

The latest news I've heard is that Barack Obama's administration is looking for between $850 billion and $1 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next few years to address aging transportation infrastructure and help jumpstart the economy.

While I tend to be fairly fiscally conservative, I'm not completely opposed to the idea of spending some money to bring our nation into the 21st century.  I do hope it is spent well, however.  Gas prices have come down a lot in recent months, but the ultimate trend over the next fifty years is clearly up and to the right.

Wikinomics Author on Web 2.0 Technologies in Government

I saw this article in CIO Insight and I thought it was worth reading.  The article is an interview with Anthony Williams, co-author of Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.  I enjoyed the book and I was interested in his thoughts on the subject.

A lot of "CIO type" interviews and articles are long on theory and short on practical reference.  This article does include some concrete references to real projects under way.  Notably the intelligence community's answer to Wikipedia, Intellipedia.  Also mentioned are Politicopia, a Utah project to create a wiki community where citizens can voice their opinions about pending legislature.

The article mainly discusses theory and a few wiki examples, so I'm not sure that it lives up to it's "Web 2.0" claim as many other "Web 2.0" technologies are ignored.  Still, it's worth skimming.  Not so much to learn anything groundbreaking but to get the cognitive juices flowing.

Richard Stallman on Pedophilia

I suppose I mention this only because I find it interesting when people of some notability make such controversial public statements. On his June 5th blog, Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU/free software movement shares some unorthodox philosophies on the dangers of pedophilia:

"05 June 2006 (Dutch paedophiles form political party)

Dutch pedophiles have formed a political party to campaign for legalization.

I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children. The arguments that it causes harm seem to be based on cases which aren't voluntary, which are then stretched by parents who are horrified by the idea that their little baby is maturing."

Seems odd to me to put something out there like that without any citations to peer reviewed studies supporting such a claim. But whatever.

DPW Nonsense

I feel compelled to comment about this tempest in a teacup. So much is being made of the fact that a Dubai-based company is attempting to purchase the UK-based company responsible for terminal operations at several United States ports. Yet all the security experts I've seen interviewed have said there is no additional risk from this transaction. And the Coast Guard and Customs are still actually responsible for security. And the real port security issues are at foreign ports, long before the cargo gets to the US.

Yet Congress seems all worked up about this. I saw a press conference the other day with Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton where they were lamenting how dangerous this is and pointing out that we don't let foriegn owned companies own US airports. I know it's great politics to call the White House out on this. But let's be realistic for a second. First of all, it would be entirely within Congress's power to change the law to prevent foreign ownership of ports. So instead of critisizing of the executive branch for not enforcing a law that doesn't exist, they should legislate if they so choose. Of course in the interest of a fair playing field that would mean that all foreign port operators would need to be kicked out and their interests nationalized. Oh...that's not politically palatable? about that.

Second of all, on the subject of Bush not being up to speed on the issue quickly enough. I'm not a big fan of George Bush. Having said that, there are many many international business deals going through every day. It is not part of the President's job description to monitor and individually approve or disapprove of each one. Nor should it be. Remember that whole capitalism/free market thing? And for business transactions that do raise special national security implications, such as the DPW deal, there is a process in place for experts to assess the risks and make a determination. That process most often does not involve the President. Is the President an expert on port security and operations and the implications of a UAE versus UK company as terminal operator? I would imagine not. How about we let the people who know what they're talking about work on that one.