United States has World’s Fastest Computer

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s high-performance Jaguar XT5 computer, built by Seattle-based Cray Inc., was named Monday as the fastest on the planet in the latest semiannual TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

After a $19.9 million upgrade funded with federal economic stimulus money, Jaguar posted a performance speed of 1.759 petaflops or quadrillions of calculations per second.

It is often said that the government can do nothing right. As thinking human being we must recognize that broad generalizations may be true at one time or another but examining case by case is the best way to ascertain the truth. A government financed project in concert with a private company created the fastest computer in the world. Its purpose is research, one funded by the government.

There is a great deal of hostility to science in this country, hostility not based on fact but on rumor, lies and religious dogmatism. An ethical human being questions beliefs and decides to support or not support them based on his own decision making. Accepting a religious denomination’s directives on any belief without examination is an abdication of a human being’s responsibility to use the ability to reason.

Hostility to science can have long term effects on education and development in this nation. But far more dangerous is the implication that faith is utterly superior to reason. If thinking is not respected, there will be a temptation to choose leaders “just like us.” Instead of seeking capability, we seek comfort, because after all if reason, knowledge and education are not important why consider them a factor in decision making?

Suffer the Little Children to Starve

Business Ethics is a subject deeply concerned with a variety of moral approaches to problems. Often dogmatic simple solutions are not effective all the time. The United States is said to be one of the countries in which the free market is enshrined as a “successful” doctrine. Successful it may well be in some contexts but one size does not fit all and there are problems resistant to the free market.

Last year, nearly 50 million American had trouble getting enough to eat. The Washington Post then says that one in four children in America is part of this group. That’s right, the richest nation on earth, richer beyond the ambition of countless empires of history can’t feed its population. This nation has 269 billionaires. Yet, 1/6 of the population has problems getting enough to eat. More than 35 million Americans get food stamps. More than thirty million children get government subsidized school lunches.

We can do better than this. We have a responsibility to make sure every American gets enough to eat. Yes, that includes the homeless and the “unworthy.” It might be said that if we encourage people to succeed in the free market they will solve their hunger problems through hard work and ambition. It has long been an ambition of mine to see new born babes fight their way into important corporate positions. I want to see eight and nine year olds compete with adults in a difficult job market. That will make them tough.

Well, don’t worry about them, the free market cures all. We just have to give it time.

The record is unmistakable: If you seek economic growth, social justice and human dignity, the free-market system is the way to go. It would be a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success. The Wall Street Journal

If human dignity is not to have enough to eat.

So how should one respond to issues such as severe poverty, hunger, and healthcare? I would suggest that it comes down to education, education, and more education. An individual must educate him or herself first and then educate others. Ayn Rand’s philosophy holds that historical trends are the inescapable product of philosophy. Fighting for the victory of ideas can defeat widely held ideologies that threaten liberty, private property rights, economic and individual freedom. From the BLOG, Free Market Physician
If we educate people, they won’t be hungry. (Damn those children. They just won’t get a college education until they get older. Apparently they lack ambition.)

All of us are the inheritors of this freeing of the market and the resulting technological revolution. The automobiles people drive, the televisions they watch, the movies they see, the cell phones they answer, the planes they fly, and — exemplified by Microsoft — the computers they use, all owe their development and availability to the free market. At a more basic level, we can best see the operation of the free market in the availability of an amazing variety of cheap foods for the poor and lower middle class. An American supermarket is a cornucopia of agricultural wealth, with choices of fruits, vegetables, meats, cereals, breads, wines, and so on from many areas of the United States and countries of the world. Similarly, department and hardware stores shelve, hang, and display a wide variety of goods. To see the results of freedom, you need only shop in any of democracy’s storesOn The Incredible Utopia That is the Free Market, R.J. Rummel

There isn’t any hunger. We live in Utopia. Isn’t it wonderful?

Letter to Boozman: In Defense of E-mail Privacy

Sent November 3rd, 2009.

Judge Michael Mosman wrote in a decision for the United States District Court (District of Oregon) that e-mails do not deserve 4th Amendments protections.


I don’t like this. My e-mails are in my mind just like letters in the mail or private conversations on the phone. Can’t we have legislation to overrule this ridiculous court decision?
Do you feel that the fourth amendment doesn’t apply in these cases? Does my privacy and the privacy of millions of Americans stop once we type on a keyboard but not on paper?

James Alan Pilant, J.D.

eBanks Seek to Derail Bills to Curb Overdraft Fees

This article is good reading. The banks are working to stop the reform of this notorious practice. I commented on the article:

There is little doubt that Ms. Feddis and most other banking officials went to the best business schools and all of them had Business Ethics as a required course. What effect did it have when they can set a money trap like this? There is no doubt that banks deserve a fee for an overdraft but this is not a fee, it is a harvest of money from the unwary. When did ethics become optional? And more importantly, how can anyone say this is a legitimate means of business profit with a straight face. jp

This is the article’s address, below.


I received a comment from the author of the article. This is it:

Alain Sherter

11/03/09 |

RE: Banks Seek to Derail Bills to Curb Overdraft Fees

Southwerk–I’ve posed that very question to lots of
people who know more about the banking industry
than I’ll ever know. The answer about precisely
when ethics flew out the window may differ, but
one thing is consistent–it wasn’t always thus.

But somewhere along the line (the ’70s, by my
rough estimation) banks started to change. Certain
ideas started to sprout that changed the business.
The prime directive became profit, not prudence.
And enormous forces were brought to bear on bank
executives to pursue profit no matter the cost–to
consumers, communities and even the banks

To be clear, this isn’t to denigrate the profit motive.
It’s only to recognize that certain core values and
ideals shape how businesses operate. And when
those change, mountains move.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s the fact that things were
different once. That suggests the financial industry
can change once more.

Can Corporate Mistakes Kill You?

ABC is covering the story of Fairbanks Farms meat recall. It appears two people may have died from eating meat contaminated with e-coli. Whether or not there was misconduct and none has been claimed at that time, this is a clear example of company whose products could kill or injure thousands of people.

Another important lesson here (particularly for my Business Law students) is that one company can produce products under many labels. Fairbanks sold it meat products under the following labels:

B.J.’s Wholesale Club/Burris, Trader Joe’s, ACME, Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc., Price Chopper, Giant Food Stores and Ford Brothers.

E-coli contamination chiefly kills the elderly and the very young. Its symptoms mimic the flu. It is very likely that many more Americans have been killed by e-coli than official numbers indicate.