Sarbanes-Oxley Considered Dangerous

Michael Oxley is now saying that the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation was a mistake, and that Paul Sarbanes agrees. I could have told you this years ago. Oh wait, I did tell you this years ago.

The basic idea of the story is that Sarbanes-Oxley legislation imposes a crushing financial burden on all publicly-owned companies. Which is true. I was one of the thousands of people employed to deal with it. (Not that I’m complaining.)

SOX legislation, specifically section 404, says that corporate reporting needs to be validated by internal and external auditors. This is good in many ways, and I’ve personally seen a lot of good practices instituted, but you have to remember something. Auditing is just another business. The auditors are there to make money. They’re going to turn your company upside-down to find tiny problems that aren’t really against the spirit of honest capitalism. That’s why it’s a crushing financial burden.

I said it then, and I’ll say it again now – there’s no need to overhaul corporations on account of a few bad eggs. It’s really about common sense. You don’t make up financial numbers, and you don’t lie to the public. Is that really so hard?

I eat babies

And I kill people all day long because I play video games :(

Jack Thompson is my hero

Jack Thompson owns

News Sources: Cut the Chatter, Be More Like Bloggers

Blogging is on the rise and with big names the likes of Google and Yahoo supporting the growth, a backlash has begun. Professional news sources and politicians alike have been arguing that any individual who reports a news blog should follow the same laws and regulations that a “reputable” and “responsible” news source would. The question then becomes: What is “reporting” and what is “rehashing”? Most bloggers out in the intangible area that has been retardedly named the “blogsphere” aren’t really reporting any new news at all. Instead, they compile reports that they see from known, professional news sources and reinvent it on their own sites – pretty much like what we do here at Halffull. The argument against regulating this kind of news blog is that it is opinion and commentary based on other news sources, and not reporting. Regulating this kind of blog would then become a violation of first amendment rights.

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Sony Confirmed Pure Evil

That deserved a line of its own. Go read about how Sony hates you. Admittedly the story is a bit biased, but it has a right to be. Shame on you, Sony.

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Harriet Miers: Strange Things are Afoot in the U.S. of A.

It was a disaster from the beginning. When President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, a loud outcry went up from conservatives everywhere. The nomination came as a huge shock to, well, just about everyone. If you normally read this site, you’re probably fairly up to date on the situation. If not, then try this and that.

When we last left off, the Senate Judiciary Committee threw a big hissy fit at the questionnaire Miers returned, and asked for more information. The revised questionnaire was due yesterday. In the meantime, Miers was continuing to meet with various Senators, and the media was reporting on Senators who had begun to change their minds in support of the President’s candidate, as well as those who were still clearly unconvinced. Commercials were appearing from conservatives who support Bush but feel the nomination was a mistake, asking for conservatives who feel likewise to sign an online petition against Miers. And the Senate waited for the revised questionnaire. And waited some more. Speculation was pouring in that the President could not rescind the nomination himself, because it would make him look even worse in this scenario.

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Poverty and Helplessness

A recent article by hulk asserts that “The biggest problem in the black community today is that they are waiting for help. They expect it to come from outside.” I have a slightly different take on the issue — that poverty, which tends to afflict more racial and ethnic minorities, creates a cycle of learned helplessness.

Learned helplessness is a theory in psychology that states when an organism is exposed to repeated aversive conditions from which it cannot escape, the organism eventually stops trying to escape. To apply it to this problem, if a person learns though repeated experience that he cannot escape poverty, that whatever job he can get will pay minimum wage, and that he can’t survive on that, he may stop trying to escape poverty and begin living hand to hand, without saving money, because he has come to believe that his actions have no effect on his world and that everything around him is out of his control.

A friend of mine worked in a free reproductive health clinic that served mostly patients without insurance or other access to healthcare. One of her patients was a 13-year-old girl, already sexually active. My friend explained the need for the patient to protect herself against disease and unwanted pregnancy, explained the birth control options, and then asked which of the options the girl would like to choose. The girl said, whatever happens to me is going to happen — I have no control over it. At 13, she had already decided that she had no control over her life, even over what happened directly to her body.

So if learned helplessness is happening in poverty-stricken areas of the US, what can be done? Welfare won’t help, because it’s a benefit that happens to someone, not a benefit that someone causes to happen. Handouts, however well-intentioned, won’t help either. What needs to happen is a sense of ownership and a sense of control being given back to people, starting at an early age — people need to learn that what they do has an effect on their world and that they can make changes, for better or for worse, in their lives.

oooh SLICK

John Roberts has been in hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee for a week now, and we still know very little about the man. He did give us a clue in responding to a pointed question that he does believe the Constitution protects the right to privacy. What that right to privacy means, though, can be interpreted in many ways.

Roe v. Wade, for example, is based upon one’s right to privacy. A law was struck down in Texas that barred consensual sodomy on the basis of the right to privacy. The concept of privacy, if expanded, could include matters like the right to die, the right to participate in armed service, and other issues. So John Roberts believes the Constitution protects the right to privacy. What’s he going to do with that belief?

He also, in response to questioning this week, stated that he does believe in respecting judicial precedent — a concept known as stare decisis. Under stare decisis, law continues to be shaped by previous court cases. However, stare decisis does not mean a court case once decided will stand forever — Plessy v. Ferguson, which allowed for “separate but equal” public schools and other facilities, was later struck down by Brown v. Board of Education, which made segregation illegal. Prohibition was repealed in a consitutional amendment. So Roberts’ saying he does respect judicial precedent isn’t telling us terribly much.

So where does he stand, and where will he stand, on the issues that will shape the rest of our lives in this country? He ain’t telling. To which I say, damn, that’s slick. And a little scary.

This Week in the News: No One Gives a Crap

There has been a longtime trend in the U.S. of younger Americans not taking an interest in following the general news. My hunch is that this is most likely what keeps so many from voting at election time. According to the U.S. Census, in the 2004 elections, only 51.5% of U.S. residents between 18 – 24 years registered to vote, and of those, only 41.9% actually voted. Of course, during every election year, a hundred celebrities will stand up on MTV and work themselves into a media frenzy in order to promote themselves – I mean, trying to get young people to vote. Election after election, they’re out there trying to “rock the vote” and nothing is being rocked except for their wallets. The problem is the obvious: MTV isn’t out there educating anyone on what the issues are. Instead, everyone is out there for the publicity and to make a buck, and it is showing in the polls. My wish is that someone would get out there and arm the general public for the elections, so when the time comes and the onslaught of media erupts, people would be armed and ready.

Well, someone other than Jon Stewart. In the “Who Can Make More Fun of George Bush” contest, he definitely wins first prize. There isn’t anything wrong with this if you’re a huge liberal and you hate Republicans. But if you’re a conservative like me, the Republican jokes get a little old. According to a statistic I heard during the last election, a large percentage of the 18 – 24 voting demographic gets most of their newsworthy information from satirical sources, the largest one being Jon Stewart. This frightens me, as he generally adds his liberal slant on all things. But I’ve got to hand it to him, he’s giving our young people something that they want to watch – he’s keeping them up on the news (sort of), and he’s giving them a good time while watching. When I was in that demographic, I didn’t pay attention to what was happening, and I found the news rather dull, boring, and extremely repetitive. Actually I still do, but it’s important to me that I know generally what is happening in the world. I hate to say it, but Jon Stewart is sort of on the right track – we need people informing the general public in an entertaining way.

There is a general feeling of apathy that also irritates me. In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, people have said to me, “I really don’t care about the 9/11 thing. I mean, it doesn’t affect me. I live on the other side of the country so why should I care?” This may sound pretty extreme, but this is a general feeling held by a lot of people that when things do not directly affect them, they don’t care. And I don’t mind saying that if you’re one of these people, you’re an ignorant, selfish ass. Sorry. Wake up and take a little more notice of what’s happening in your world, even if it just means going to Google News and scanning down the headlines – that can tell you more than an entire day of watching CNN or Fox News.

It is my expectation that all Halffull readers vote at least in the Presidential Elections and have a general idea about what’s happening on planet Earth. If you don’t, I will help you. Here is the recap of what’s currently going on:

The MTV Video Awards was held last night in Miami, Florida. Once again, everyone who sucks won. Prior to the event, as the celebrities walked the red carpet, I happened to be flipping channels when they interviewed Jessica Alba briefly. The interviewer said, “We really lucked out with the weather here in Miami,” to which Jessica Alba replied, “Yeah, no rain. It allows us to wear less than normal clothing.” The interviewer blinked and said, “Uh, yeah…” Obviously no one clued Jessica in to the fact that a HUGE FOOKING HURRICANE is bearing down on the area. Hurricane Katrina has weakened to a category 3 (125-mph winds), but it’s still very dangerous and is moving inland. All of New Orleans has been evacuated at this point so Trent Reznor may show up on your doorstep with a satchel tied to a stick, looking for a place to stay. Anyway, I’m guessing Jessica Alba’s publicist decided not to inform her about the hurricane because she might have worn something a little more appropriate for the weather, such as a life preserver or perhaps even the state of Nebraska, as it is nowhere near the hurricane. CNN and Fox News feel that there is nothing else newsworthy happening, as they reported on this all day yesterday, non-stop. In other news, hundreds of reporters die in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina.

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More party! More fun!

In response to hulk’s recent rant about the Democrats, the obvious solution seems to be a multi-party system. That way everyone could match their personal criteria to one of several candidates, instead of picking one issue that ends up determining their status. Like going to Starbucks and saying “I’d like this drink, with this kind of milk, with this kind of flavor, in this size, and I want it hot/iced/with sprinkles/with whipped cream/with strippers.” Starbucks is a successful empire because their product is good and because they have a system that allows for customization, and America seems to love customization.

In a viable multi-party system, one could say, “well, I’m anti-abortion, so I’m not a Democrat, but I’m anti-gun, so I’m not a Republican either. I like to support environmental initiatives, but I also support smaller government, and this makes me a [insert fourth or fifth party’s name here]. I’m going to go vote now!” Northern Ireland, for example, has at least four major political parties. Most fall on one side or the other of the old British/Republic of Ireland line, but on each side of that line there are still multiple issues to have opinions on. A multi-party system allows people to match their candidate on more than just one or two issues.

But given the strength of third parties in this country (laughable at best), I doubt the dual-party system is gonna change soon. Nope, instead of having multiple choices, politically we’re still Coke or Pepsi, Democrat or Republican.

Abstain! Abstain!

This nation contains a multitude of religious and moral beliefs, and in order to serve the public without trampling on anyone’s beliefs or morals, it’s often best to take the most conservative route. I’m speaking specifically of sex ed in public schools. What I’m concerned about, though, is the abstinence-only propaganda that’s being passed off as sex ed in many high schools. According to a report I recently found (see link below), many of the curricula currently approved for federal funding as encouraging abstinence have numerous scientific errors. Some claim that condoms are not effective as a contraceptive (when used correctly, they are, and they also prevent the spread of most STDs when used correctly), and some include gender stereotypes presented as scientific facts.

I am not in favor of teens having sex. However, as a realist, I recognize that many will be sexually active despite the wishes of adults. To prevent unwanted pregnancies and to prevent the spread of STDs, isn’t it best to let students know that there are a few contraceptive methods available that are effective? I’m not saying each school district should hand out condoms to each student, or that students should prove they can use a condom before being allowed into high school — I’m just suggesting that federally funded sex ed programs should not lie to teenagers about life and death facts. Telling kids that condoms are useless can only increase the prevalence of unprotected sex among teenagers, which can only increase the spread of disease and the number of unwanted pregnancies. And if the federal government is so committed to supporting “a culture of life,” as the President said in his State of the Union address, why can’t they support telling students the truth about safe practices that could save their lives and prevent abortions?