Sunday, June 7, 2009

Doing Business In California...

From serial entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell:

California's government is the problem. The state is business-hostile. It is merit-hostile. It has the highest tax rates and returns less in services to its average citizens. Massive pension abuses are not dealt with.

Worst of all, the state's crazy regulation structure creates uncertainty, cost, and risk in doing business here. The system is chilling to investment and innovation. This is true for businesses of all types, from technology companies to basic franchises.

Many businesses founded elsewhere now try to avoid for as long as possible doing business in California. Meanwhile, I have watched company after company leave the state. And, as you might imagine, it is much harder to get businesses back than to keep them from leaving.
This is so sad for those of us who love California...

I'm lucky enough to work for one of the very few entrepreneurial efforts that's doing so well it still works in California, despite the government's best efforts to prevent it. But there aren't many software startups like this one, and California is going to pay for this foray into brain-dead liberalism. It's not hard to see that the startups are going to go elsewhere – and with them will go the best engine for economic growth that the world has ever seen. A few years from now, the name “Silicon Valley” may refer instead to someplace in Montana, Nevada, or some other business-friendly state. Or worse, in some other country.

An Odd Experience...

I've posted several times before about the Descanso Junction Restaurant. It's one of our favorite places to eat, with terrific food at prices that make it an equally terrific value (kinda nice during this downturn). The decor, the people who work there, and everything else about it contributes to a homey, comfortable atmosphere.

Recently they completely redid their menu, with lots of new dishes we haven't had time to try yet. The first few things we've tried have been really good, and sometimes even surprising. For example, who would have expected top-notch crème brûlée way out in the sticks? Even better, they've been doing very well (despite the recession), and they've gone back to a 7-day-a-week schedule. Woo hoo!

Well, Friday night Debbie and I were up there for dinner. We sat at a booth, and the table (like all the others) was covered with a glass top that has lots of photos, clippings, cards, etc. underneath it. As is my habit, I started reading the pieces – some of them were new to me (the staff there changes them frequently). One review was upside-down from where I sat, so I struggled to read it, very slowly. The review seemed vaguely familiar – and that's when I noticed that it was from this very blog, almost three years ago. What a hoot! And what an odd feeling to see that clipping of my article there.

After thinking about it a bit, I decided not to let the crew know who I was. I really don't want any special treatment, so if I'm still unknown to them, I'd rather keep it that way...

More Dyson...

I just love the way Freeman Dyson thinks. And then when I reflect on his age (85), I'm always astonished. A sampler:
No doubt that warming is happening. I don’t think it is correct to say “global,” but certainly warming is happening. I have been to Greenland a year ago and saw it for myself. And that’s where the warming is most extreme. And it’s spectacular, no doubt about it. And glaciers are shrinking and so on.

But, there are all sorts of things that are not said, which decreases my feeling of alarm. First of all, the people in Greenland love it. They tell you it’s made their lives a lot easier. They hope it continues. I am not saying none of these consequences are happening. I am just questioning whether they are harmful.

There’s a lot made out of the people who died in heat waves. And there is no doubt that we have heat waves and people die. What they don’t say is actually five times as many people die of cold in winters as die of heat in summer. And it is also true that more of the warming happens in winter than in summer. So, if anything, it’s heavily favorable as far as that goes. It certainly saves more lives in winter than it costs in summer.

So that kind of argument is never made. And I see a systematic bias in the way things are reported. Anything that looks bad is reported, and anything that looks good is not reported.

A lot of these things are not anything to do with human activities. Take the shrinking of glaciers, which certainly has been going on for 300 years and has been well documented. So it certainly wasn’t due to human activities, most of the time. There’s been a very strong warming, in fact, ever since the Little Ice Age, which was most intense in the 17th century. That certainly was not due to human activity.

And the most serious of almost all the problems is the rising sea level. But there again, we have no evidence that this is due to climate change. A good deal of evidence says it’s not. I mean, we know that that’s been going on for 12,000 years, and there’s very doubtful arguments as to what’s been happening in the last 50 years and (whether) human activities have been important. It’s not clear whether it’s been accelerating or not. But certainly, most of it is not due to human activities. So it would be a shame if we’ve made huge efforts to stop global warming and the sea continued to rise. That would be a tragedy. Sea level is a real problem, but we should be attacking it directly and not attacking the wrong problem.
Read the whole thing.

My Kind of Brunch...

Debbie is “down the hill” in Bonita to watch her friends compete in a dog agility competition. Next week is her first competition since she broke her arm (it's out of the cast as of Friday, but she's still wearing a wrist brace). She took Race (our border collie) with her, so I'm home with the three field spaniels.

I got hungry around 10 am, so I went scrounging in the refrigerator to see what goodies we might have available. Found some leftover roast chicken: a leg and thigh. Skinned it, and fed the pieces of skin to three very appreciative dogs. De-boned it and diced the meat. Let the dogs clean my fingers and the chopping board (and yes, then I washed them!). In a bowl, combined the diced chicken, a half-cup or so of frozen corn kernels, a can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), a teaspoon or so of mayonnaise, about the same amount of “juice” from the beans, and a generous sprinkle of dried tarragon. Let the tarragon soak up the bean juice, then mixed up the bowls contents until everything was coated and the corn had thawed.

Then I ate it all, while the dogs watched forlornly. Yum.

I did let them clean the bowl and spoon, though, and I was quickly forgiven...