Thus far, the current economic cold war between the United States and China is like a children’s’ snowball fight. If it were adults fighting, one would think they would have learned from the previous cold war. At least the U.S., with a relatively recent history of gunfighting, should know how to avoid shooting itself in the foot, as it seems to be doing these days with President Trump’s threat of banning the WeChat app, which is likely to hurt sales in China by companies such as Apple, Ford, and Walt Disney. And Trump’s forcing Chinese companies listed on American stock exchanges to comply with American accounting rules could trigger hacking of the November 3 presidential election. And last, but not least, is the continuing hijinks of Huawei and corralling of it by the USA.
Different countries have different standards of honesty. This isn’t just idle chatter. A study found that the Chinese to be the most dishonest, and Japanese and British the least dishonest. Other Truths”(at high prices!) and “Get Rich Cheating: The Crooked Path to Easy Street (Chinese Edition)”. Interestingly, Twitter says China’s Coronavirus lies are OK. A Chinese woman paid $6.5M after her daughter got into Stanford. Steve Saleen lost his racecar design and intellectual property to China.
Apparently the US government is finally getting ready to sue Google for monopolizing online ads. Why is it taking so long? It’s because Google and other large high-technology companies deliver a lot of value-added in products and/or services. Google has been monopolizing the search business for years, and selling ads is how they monetize their search efforts.
When a stranger calls you it is good to be on one’s guard. Chances are that it is either someone who wants to sell you something you don’t want or need or — worse yet — wants to cheat you out of your money. If you are lucky the caller is only wasting your time with something totally uninteresting to you. Fortunately, in 2019 the Federal Communications Commission put into effect a new policy that gives the telephone companies the right to block the calls.
The founder, CEO, and president of online retail company Amazon, Jeff Bezos has been the world’s richest person since 2017 and was named the “richest man in modern history” after his net worth increased to $150 billion in July 2018. He may not be personally responsible for using data about third-party sellers on the Amazon platform to develop competing products. But people he has hired are responsible for such actions.
The need for sheltering at home has forced people to do their jobs as well as other activities (e.g., shopping) from home. And even the people living in sparsely-populated areas need the speed and volume of broadband. We were aghast not long ago when the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai initially voted against upgrading to broadband. He has now changed his mind, saying “Broadband is critical in modern American life. Especially when it comes to innovation, the Internet has leveled the playing field.” Not surprisingly, the bureaucracy of the federal government is the villain.
In our earlier days we wrote the software. We, or one or more colleagues, tested it in a variety of ways to make sure that it did what we thought it should do. As time passed the software became more complicated, and the penalties of mistakes increased, so the testing had to become more complicated. In addition, an increasing number of malevolent hackers emerged, necessitating increasingly draconian measures to key them at bay. Even then, the size and complexity of code these days make it very difficult to cover all the possibilities. Fortunately there is a government body, the US National Security Agency, that was doing its mission appropriately.
Less fun than baseball, but potentially a lot more dangerous to individuals, is the possibiity that the content of one’s cellphone or other device could be searched (either by law enforcement officers or by crooks). Fortunately, there is currently a lawsuit in process against the apparently unreasonable searches and seizures performed by customs and border agents.
Fortunately for those not interested in lawsuits, and want some things to do now to avoid the hassle of having officials search their devices at airports, there are some measures that may be helpful. For some months passengers from eight majority-Muslim countries had to put their laptop computers and tablets in their checked luggage, so presumably anyone could do this, and include their cellphones as well. (Yes, we realize that for many people, especially millenials, their cellphones are their Gods. But checked luggage rarely goes missing these days, so this may be the lesser of evils.)
The causes of hearing loss are pretty much well known. And presumably—because of the long history of Fidel Castro’s behavior and today’s less-than-relaxed relationship between the U.S. and Cuba—most of the tricks that could have been played have already been played. However, it is well known that Cuba has excellent health care. So presumably there is good medical knowledge in Cuba, which could well extend to knowledge of poisons and procedures that could have been used to cause hearing loss. What is scary, however, is that U.S. and Canadian medical experts have thus far been clueless as to the cause of the diplomats’ hearing loss that was announced on August 10. Shame on the US and Canada if they are bested by Cuba on ANY aspect of technology, though perhaps it was technology invented by the Fidel Castro regime to maintain his control of Cuba (“hear no evil see no evil speak no evil”). One thing that has not been mentioned in all of the press accounts is the possible effect of low-frequency (20-250 Hz (cycles per second)) sounds.
However, Cuba may have some motivation to punish the U.S. because Trump has (predictably) reversed some of the actions of Obama.
The current fracas about net neutrality is an example of the worst features of politics and the US’s two-party system. “European diplomats … believe Trump’s foreign policy is chiefly driven by an obsession with unravelling Barack Obama’s policies. “It’s his only real position,” one European diplomat said. “He will ask: ‘Did Obama approve this?’ And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: ‘We don’t.’ He won’t even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate.”
In the case of Net Neutrality it MIGHT be predictable that even Republicans other than Trump would side with the big companies like Amazon, Comcast, Facebook, and Google. But new FCC head appointed by Trump seems to be going to extremes to kill and bury net neutrality. This is ironical because killing net neutrality is likely to most hurt the voters of the species who put Trump into the White House. We even suspect that many of the “little guys” who are members of this species don’t even understand what net neutrality is and that those little guys are the ones who will suffer most because it is THEY will suffer as they become second-class citizens with regard to information and entertainment they receive via the Internet. Readers of this post who are uncertain as to what net neutrality is would do well to have a look at its definition on Wikipedia or another reliable source of information.
President Trump and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai appear to be ignoring the U.S. Declaration of Independence that states “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Given the importance of the Internet today, their attitudes and actions are clearly violating Americans’ pursuit of Happiness.