18 March 2004

Many are arguing that Spain's rejection of its ruling party in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings is a sign that the "terrorists have won," and that plans by the new Spanish government to withdraw from Iraq are nothing less than "appeasement."

Well, no. Spanish voters were outraged that their government went into Iraq in the first place, in spite of overwhelming domestic opposition. Then, after the bombings, the government made matters worse by blaming Basque separatists in the face of mounting evidence that Al Qaeda was actually responsible. The whole point of democracy is that if you ignore and lie to the voters, they can throw you out.

In the US, politicians are likely to argue that events in Spain prove the US must be prepared to fight on alone. In fact, as the Christian Science Monitor observes, the lesson is that citizens of democracies insist on making their own decisions. As I've said before, agreements between democracies require the same consensus building and negotiation with voters that are an essential part of domestic lawmaking.

Posted 12:08 PM

It's really not that difficult to see how the US managed to dominate so many high technology fields. Create an environment that encourages innovation and risk taking. Pour public and private money into education and basic research. Make the results easily available because you never know where the next idea will come from. (This is also how Silicon Valley became a hotbed of innovation within the US.)

But once that works, you still have to keep doing it. If you don't, you'll fall behind as other countries imitate you.

Posted 11:35 AM

I think someone was misquoted:

Out of every four wafers produced in the world today, two are from China and Taiwan, Wang said. He predicted that within 10 years one out of every two wafers would be produced by chipmakers in China and Taiwan.

Last I checked, 2/4 and 1/2 were equal.

I extracted the above gem from an article in which SMIC's CEO argues that his company's expansion plans will not cause an IC glut, because the mainland Chinese chip market can absorb the extra capacity. In the time I've been watching the industry, though, rapid expansion always leads to overcapacity. It happened with Korean DRAM manufacturers, it happened with Taiwanese foundries, and it is likely to happen with mainland Chinese foundries as well. As I've discussed elsewhere, overcapacity is an inevitable consequence of the mismatch between fab construction times and demand forecasts. It's certainly possible for companies to survive and thrive in this environment, but not if they delude themselves about the challenges they face.

(First link from Silicon Strategies. Free registration required.)

Posted 11:17 AM

16 March 2004

I'm starting to write again. It's amazing how something as simple as a new notebook can help me break out of a rut. 1600 words since my last update, 24,385 since January 1.

Posted 10:48 AM

Like it or not, political campaigns run on money. Everything from fuel for the campaign plane to advertising has to be paid for somehow. The best-financed candidate doesn't always win, but always has a big advantage.

A candidate's fundraising time is limited. Before the Internet, most presidential candidates relied on big donors who could both contribute large amounts of money themselves and persuade their friends to do the same. That was the best way to raise as much money as possible as quickly as possible. But if most of your money comes from people who can contribute $2000 (the legal limit for individual contributors), then your policies are naturally going to favor those people.

If the Howard Dean campaign accomplished nothing else, it showed that it doesn't have to be that way. Dean's emphasis on Internet fundraising allowed him to shatter Democratic fundraising records while relying on average donations of less than $100. Whether you agree with his positions or not, it's pretty obvious that a Dean presidency would have been far less dependent on the whims of large donors.

Those who don't vote have no right to complain about the outcome of an election. Similarly, if you are concerned about the role of money in politics, you can be part of the solution by donating to the candidate of your choice and encouraging your friends to do the same. Even $10 and $20 contributions add up.

(If John Kerry is your choice, please use this link.)

Posted 10:44 AM


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