Teaching the Clinton Presidency

I admit it–I’m a C-SPAN junkie. The purpose of the open phones topic this morning was to air people’s opinions on how the Clinton presidency should be taught in middle and high school history classes. As is usually the case with these shows, the callers didn’t so much answer the question posed as bash George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. The calls I found the strangest were the ones that blamed Clinton for the current Bush years and for how divided the country currently is. Those opinions aside, my own is this: teach Clinton’s successes and his failures–all of them.

I voted for Clinton both times. Despite that, I don’t consider him the best president ever, or even a great president–merely a good one. In the success column: NAFTA, welfare reform, the economy. Perot said plenty on the “giant sucking sound” of jobs leaving the U.S., and that’s true. But that has as much to do with companies not doing what was necessary to modernize as it does with lowering tariffs. I remember being disappointed that Clinton signed the welfare reform bill, but in retrospect, it did get a lot of people off the welfare rolls. Clinton should get credit for mostly staying out of the way as the economy recovered from downturn under the first Bush. He should also get credit for increasing taxes on the highest earners in this country. That contributed a lot to the government going from deficit to surplus. I would count Clinton’s actions on Bosnia as a success too, if only because he helped get NATO involved in stopping the slaughter of Muslims there.

In the failure column: healthcare reform, Rwanda, impeachment. The failure of healthcare reform is perhaps the one with the most consequences for the present day. The voices who said there was no healthcare crisis when Clinton was trying to get this passed are probably the same ones who passed the narrow, expensive and poorly-planned prescription drug benefit. While Clinton isn’t the only one to blame for the genocide in Rwanda (the whole world stood by on that one), as the leader of the greatest military power in the world, his government’s inaction was very disappointing. Impeachment ranks as the worst of his failures from an opportunity cost perspective, not just the moral one. A lot of time was wasted that could have been spent doing far more useful things (like chasing al-Qaeda for example). It allowed people to question his motives for trying to do what was ultimately the right thing.

Windows Live Beta vs Google Homepage

My office gives us the day off tomorrow, but it’s pretty much a ghost town already. I had a bit of time today to play with the Windows Live Beta. I was curious to see whether it was a step up compared to my.yahoo.com or google.com/ig.

At first glance, live.com looks like a clone of Google’s personalizable page (though live.com is even more streamlined). It’s easy to add content to the page, whether it’s “gadgets” (the Google homepage calls them sections) or individual RSS feeds.

One particularly nice touch live.com has that I haven’t found on Google yet is a way to import an OPML file. To test it, I exported an OPML file from my bloglines account and imported it into live.com. Very quickly it showed up under “My Stuff” as “Subscriptions”. From there, it was very simple to drag and drop individual RSS feeds onto my live.com home page. I didn’t realize right away that “>>” meant content would open in a new window, but once I did, I liked the functionality much better. I wouldn’t use this over bloglines right now, but I’d be very interested to see if someone could come up with a slick gadget for newsreading.

A second convenient feature live.com provides is the ability to add the results of search to your home page. It’s like the News Alerts feature at Google News, only instead of sending you an e-mail, you see the results right on your page.

live.com seems to work equally well in Firefox or IE. If I had to choose between google.com/ig and live.com right now, live.com has a slight edge in functionality.

If you’ve already got a Microsoft Passport (and/or a Hotmail account), live.com is worth trying out.

Busier Ads from Google :-(

This article from the NY Times (free subscription required) tells us that those of us who use Google will soon have to contend with graphical ads. I suppose it was only a matter of time, but I’m still disappointed by the news. There are areas when simpler is better, and search is definitely one of them. We can only hope they’ll be small and tasteful (or that CustomizeGoogle will still allow us to remove them).


Last Friday, just before the end of the day, I found out that my current employer had been acquired. The buyer: Lockheed-Martin, the multi-billion dollar defense contractor and member of the Fortune 50. It’s the second time I’ve been part of a company that was acquired.

When I first heard the news, I thought back to previous employers. At Ciena, we were the buyer. I was there when they bought Catena Networks, Internet Photonics, WaveSmith, ONI Systems, and Akara. I worried less when we were the buyer because it usually meant that any “redundancies” would favor Ciena employees over the acquired company. Our managers and execs would always have meet with us to put the most positive spin on these moves. The acquisitions were revenue plays of course. When I left marchFIRST to join Ciena, it turned out that I had merely traded the Internet bubble implosion for the telecom bubble implosion. We merely delayed the inevitable layoffs a bit longer.

MarchFIRST (the former USWeb/CKS) was a different story. We got to be on both sides of the equation. While I was there, we acquired a strategy firm, and sold out Whittman-Hart. While it was spun as a “merger of equals” by the old CEO and the new one, it was as much a merger of equals as the DaimlerChrysler hookup (and even more of a failure, since not a shred of the combined firm exists anymore).

Since Aspen is so small (1700 employees to Lockheed’s 130,000+), I feel plenty of uncertainty as to what will happen next. Do they value Aspen as a single entity or will we be broken up? Is this acquisition simply a purchase of people and contract vehicles or something more? In the e-mail we got from our CEO, he said everyone would keep their jobs. But I have my doubts that we’ll keep two HR and accounting departments for any length of time. What happens after those duplicated positions go away is what I wonder about. I think it’s likely that after 3-6 months, the best technology people will be cherry-picked for other spots in Lockheed-Martin IT. I’m not sure what that means for me, but I feel better about sticking around to find out than I might have otherwise.


Yesterday, I got on a pair of skis for the first time since 8th grade. A friend and I went to Wisp to enjoy their cheap rentals and lift tickets (part of their 50th anniversary of operating). It’s a little weird to be an age where I can say I haven’t done something in 15 years (it’s actually 17 years, but who’s counting).

Skiing is a bit more terrifying than I remember, but ultimately a fun experience. After some initial awkwardness (ok, falling), I was able to get down a green run and a fairly challenging blue run in one piece.

There was one spill though, that introduced me to a new term: yard sale. Apparently, if you crash on a ski slope in a way that separates you from both skis, both poles, and a hat, it’s called a yard sale. On a run named “Boulder” (which should have been renamed Steep Sheet of Ice), I missed a yard sale by hat. Thankfully, I didn’t have more than a headache after, and there were no cameras.

For a more in-depth definition of yard sale (of course one exists), check out this link.