The Globalfoundries Chip Plant in Malta, New York

Globalfoundries Fab2 Construction site in Malta, New York

Globalfoundries Fab2 Construction site in Malta, New York

I went to the community open house at the Globalfoundries Fab2 construction site in Malta, New York this morning. Globalfoundries had a nice tent set up with hot coffee, cookies, donuts, etc. It was a good thing because it was raining pretty hard and the gravel parking lot had a lot of water on it. Globalfoundries and M + W Zander had people on-site to answer questions about the project. They had a few large pictures of the construction site inside the tent as well as artist conceptions of the completed building.

The actual construction site could be seen from outside the tent.  I took a few of my own pictures that you can see below. Double click on any of the pictures to enlarge them. It is a pretty impressive site. You can’t see the construction site from any of the main roads in the area because it is a few miles deep into The Luther Forest. It is on Stone Break Road off of Route 9 in Malta. I doubt that you can get into the actual construction site except for events like this. (Google Maps can’t locate “Stone Break Road, Malta NY”,  unless you include the zip code 12020, but can find it without the zip code.)

By the time I arrived they had run out of “fact sheets” but I was told to check their website and the information would be updated by Tuesday, October 27th. You can find their website at

Hector Ruiz, the chairman of GlobalFoundries said that the new chip plant is “by far the most significant high-tech investment made in this country in decades.” This plant will produce the most advanced computer chips in the world when it is completed.

I wrote a previous article about the chip plant in March. You can read it here: Globalfoundries Chip Plant in Saratoga County New York.

The refreshment tent at the Globalfoundries Community Open House

The refreshment tent at the Globalfoundries Community Open House

The Globalfoundries construction site

The Globalfoundries construction site

The Globalfoundries construction site

The Globalfoundries construction site

The Globalfoundries construction site

The Globalfoundries construction site

The Globalfoundries construction site

The Globalfoundries construction site

The construction and eventual operation of this plant will be an economic boost to Saratoga Springs and the surrounding area for years to come. What do you think about the plant? Leave a comment or send me an email. Thanks.

The Born Warning

I watched a very disturbing story called “The Warning” on Frontline last night. I urge you to take an hour and watch it yourself. You can watch it on Frontline’s website now.

It is the story of a courageous woman named Brooksley Born and how, way back in 1998, she warned Congress and the American people that the over the counter derivatives market needed to be regulated. Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers, Robert Rubin and Phil Gramm all fought hard against regulation. They won. The Amercian people lost. It is just shameful. I did not know who Brooksley Born was until I saw the story on Frontline.

Even after the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management collapsed in 1998, nothing was done. Greenspan still didn’t think regulation was needed. I didn’t know until I watched this that Greenspan was a huge follower of Ayn Rand. She didn’t believe in regulation of the markets either.

We still don’t have any regulation over the derivative market. It is a $595 trillion market that operates in the dark. Even now, after the economic collapse of last year and the government bailout of the banks, Wall Street is fighting against regulation.

What horrible thing is hiding under that rock?  Someone needs to shine a light on it. I have more questions.

Why isn’t there an investigation of exactly why the economy collapsed so the guilty parties can be punished?

Is Bernie Madoff the only person going to prison?

Why hasn’t anyone given Brooksley Born a medal for what she did? Alan Greenspan should take off his Presidential Medal of Freedom and give it to her.

Why hasn’t anyone turned this story into a movie?

At the end of the show, I sadly concluded that our government is either totally incompetent, horribly corrupt, or both. There is just no other conclusion to be reached. It’s disgusting.

As Paul Krugman says, “We need a better government than we’ve got.”

Watch “The Warning” on Frontline.

The Courageous Decision

President Obama must make a decision soon on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. The most courageous decision he can make is to just say NO.

The Republicans will scream bloody murder, but I would rather have them screaming in Washington than some young American kid dying in Afghanistan.  We can defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda without sending more troops.

We didn’t invade Afghanistan to rebuild their country. We invaded because the Taliban would not turn  Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda over to us. We wanted to deny Al Qaeda a training ground and a safe place to plot against us. What do you think they have been doing in Pakistan for the past eight years? Do you think they have been waiting to get back into Afghanistan to train and plot against us? Of course not. An imaginary line in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan did not stop Al Qaeda from doing anything.

Let’s fight the most primitive means of warfare, suicide bombers and roadside bombs, with the greatest technology that the world has ever seen. Let’s use our overwhelming, unopposed, superior, air power to defeat the Taliban.

In “To Beat the Taliban, Fight from Afar” in the October 14, 2009  New York Times, Robert A. Pape suggests that we rely on air and naval power from a distance and work with local security forces on the ground. That’s how we beat the Taliban in 2001. We had some troops on the
ground, but we mainly worked with local Afghan fighters by providing air strikes against the Taliban. The Taliban may be able to survive underground in caves in Pakistan, but large groups of them out in the open, whether at night or during the day, are toast.

We have Reapers and Predators, unmanned aircraft that are operated remotely from bases in the United States. The assembly lines should be running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week making these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). We certainly have enough laid off auto workers that they could be put to good use building UAVs to defend America, our ground forces and the ground forces of our Allies and friends. Let General McChrystal have all the UAVs he wants.

The November 2009 issue of Esquire magazine has an article by Brian Mockenhaupt called, “We’ve Seen The Future and It’s Unmanned.” Here is a quote from the article: “An F-16 burns a thousand gallons of fuel an hour and can stay over a target for about an hour before it must swap out with another plane or refuel midair. A Predator carries a hundred gallons of fuel with which it can stay over a target for twenty-four hours.”

Arizona Senator John McCain said that if President Obama didn’t send the 40,000 troops requested by General McChrystal it would be an “error of historic proportions.” He also said that more troops were “vitally needed” in Afghanistan and that any delay in ordering more combat forces to the fight would put American lives at risk. He will probably lead the criticism of the president if he says no.

Frank Rich wrote a column for the NY Times called, “Two Wrongs Make Another Fiasco.” It documents all the different ways that Senator McCain has been wrong since September 11, 2001. McCain has been wrong on just about everything.

Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t want the president to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan either. He supports using UAVs and Special Forces to target Al Qaeda in Pakistan and letting the Afghans take over their own security. I’m with Joe.

What happened to all of the Afghans who fought the Taliban in 2001? Where are they now? Let’s invite 40,000 of them to defend their own country again. If we fight with local Afghan forces on the ground, they should be covered by an umbrella of massive fire power from unmanned drones and whatever other air power our military thinks is necessary.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote a column on September 21, 2009 called, “The Hard and Bitter Truth.” He doesn’t want the president to send more troops either.

We should use all of the technology that we have to stop the Taliban and Al Qaeda from operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we shouldn’t send more troops. Why should our soldiers have to die because the Taliban and Al Qaeda want to live in the 12th Century?

As Robert A. Pope says, “To Beat the Taliban, Let’s Fight From Afar.” May I suggest, “Kill them from a distance?”

President Obama, be courageous and just say NO!

The Charlie Rose Show

Charlie Rose is one of my favorite television shows. Charlie interviews a lot of interesting people from all different walks of life. He interviews politicians, reporters, soldiers, writers, scientists, business people and artists. I “meet” a lot of new, interesting people on his show. It has been broadcast on PBS since 1991.

He is on your local Public Television station Monday through Friday. The show is broadcast out of New York City at 11:00 P.M. each weeknight but, the show actually airs at different times depending on your location. Check your local listings. I shouldn’t stay up to watch it because it is so late, but I often do.

Sometimes he will interview several people at once, but usually it is just him and the person being interviewed sitting around a big, round, oak table. The background is always black unless he is not in his studio in New York. The show is an hour long. The hour may be split into two or three segments. Sometimes the whole hour will be the same person or group of people. It is commercial free except for the normal public television promotion of the sponsors at the start of the show.

I know that I can watch each interview on the shows website anytime after the original show airs, so I don’t worry about missing anything. On the website, each interview is a separate video. If a topic or guest doesn’t interest you, you can just skip it and watch the video you want.

I often see people on the show that I don’t know.  If I find them interesting, and I usually do, I’ll look them up online later. There are a lot of interesting people out there doing some amazing things. The show can be very inspiring.

Charlie’s first guest on October 13, 2009 was Ezra Klein of the Washington Post. Klein was in Washington, D.C. for the interview. Charlie was asking him about the health care vote in the Senate. Klein is a very good speaker. He doesn’t fill in what he says with a lot of umms and aahhs. A few fillers slip in, but not many. Since I joined Toastmasters last year, I notice this type of thing.

Representative Ike Skelton, a Democrat from Missouri and the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee was the next guest. He was in Washington, D.C. too. Charlie asked him questions about the troop request from General McChrystal for 40,000 additional troops and the recent corrupt elections in Afghanistan. He thought we needed to stay in Afghanistan to deny a safe haven to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

David Finkel of the Washington Post was the third guest and was interviewed for the last half-hour. He recently completed a book called, “The Good Soldiers.” He spent eight months in Iraq with a U.S. Army infantry battalion of 800 men from Fort Riley Kansas. Their average age was 19 years old. They spent 14 months in Iraq and then came home. They are now back in Iraq.

Finkel carefully describes EFPs, an extremely violent and destructive type of roadside bomb that these soldiers had to deal with on a daily basis. He describes the horrible wounds of one soldier in particular and how he eventually died back in the United States. The battalion lost 14 men killed and 75 received Purple Hearts during their time in Iraq.  You can read a review of “The Good Soldiers” in the New York Times.

Charlie asks probing questions and then lets his guests talk as he listens intently.

David A. Kaplan, who called Charlie Rose “the hardest-working man in TV news”, wrote a great article about him for Fortune magazine. It is titled, “Why business loves Charlie Rose.” I think David should  have chosen a different title, because the article is much more interesting than that. It has a lot of background information about Charlie and how he got to be where he is. I even learned that Charlie found the oak table himself and it is 60 inches in diameter. I highly recommend the article.

While doing some research for this post, I found out that Bloomberg Television is now rebroadcasting the Charlie Rose show in prime time. The previous nights show is rebroadcast at 8:00 P.M. in my area. If you go to Bloomberg Television here and put in your zip code, the page will tell you if the Bloomberg Channel is available in your area and on what station.

I watched some of the show on Bloomberg Television for the first time this evening. It was a little annoying because of the changing news messages at the bottom of the screen and the “crawl” on top of that. It is distracting. I am used to the oak desk, black background and Charlie interviewing a guest. I’ll have to wait and see if watching it at an earlier time is worth the distractions. My first guess is that I don’t think it will be worth it.

You can read a New York Times story about Charlie Rose and Bloomberg Televison here.

So now you and I have three different options to watch Charlie Rose: PBS, Bloomberg Television or the Charlie Rose website. I can never again say, “there is nothing on TV” because I will always be able to find a Charlie Rose show I haven’t seen.

Charlie Rose is always an excellent, well done show. If you are not familiar with it, do yourself a favor and check it out. If you are familiar with it, leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the show. I appreciate it.

Paul Krugman and The Return of Depression Economics

I went to see Paul Krugman speak at the Riley Center for the Arts at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont Saturday night. He was there to promote the softcover release of his book, “The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008.” Paul is one of my favorite columnists at the New York Times and I read him religiously (don’t tell Bill Maher). He is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for 2008 and a Professor of Economics at Princeton University. He also has a blog called, “The Conscience of a Liberal.”

It was the first time I had been to the Riley Center for the Arts. I got there early and parked right out front. There were only a few people there when I arrived. I had purchased my tickets in advance and they were waiting for me when I arrived. The $10 price of admission was also good for $10 off the price of the book, which I thought was a pretty good deal. The cover price is $16.95. Mr. Krugman was going to sign the book after he spoke. I went into the theater to find a seat. It’s a very cozy, comfortable auditorium that holds about 250 people. They are all good seats. I sat four rows back on the center isle. I could see and hear perfectly.

Mr. Krugman was introduced by one of the owners of the Northshire Bookstore who sponsored the event. He gave an interesting talk for 45 minutes or so about the current economic crisis. At times he was funny and at times he was serous. He then invited the audience to ask questions.

One of the more interesting questions was, where are the jobs going to come from for our kids. Paul said that he wasn’t really sure but, green jobs were one possibility. Where are those green jobs anyway? I think the person who asked the question was retired. He may not realize how many people over 50 are looking for work after having been laid off from a job they held for years. In recessions that I remember, it was always assumed that even if you were laid off, you would probably get hired back by the same company when the recession was over. Nobody is assuming that now. A lot of manufacturing jobs are gone and they aren’t coming back, unless by some miracle something changes drastically.

I was listening to the different questions people were asking and trying to think of one of my own. I finally came up with a question about the Glass-Steagall Act but, by then it was too late to ask. I wanted to ask him if he thought the Glass-Steagall Act, that was enacted in 1933 during the Great Depression and repealed in 1999, should be brought back to prevent another financial crisis. It seemed to work pretty well for 70 years or so.

I’m not going to try and tell you everything he said. I don’t remember it all and I didn’t take notes. You can read his column, blog and book if you want to know what he thinks. Having said that, here is a quote from his October 2, 2009 column in the New York Times:

“But while not having another depression is a good thing, all indications are that unless the government does much more than is currently planned to help the economy recover, the job market — a market in which there are currently six times as many people seeking work as there are jobs on offer — will remain terrible for years to come.”

Wow. I don’t think a lot of politicians realize how bad the economy really is. There is far too little being done to create jobs in this country. The politicians  just don’t get it.

This March 28, 2009 Newsweek story about Paul is interesting. The title of the story is, “Obama’s Nobel Headache” and it refers to Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize not President Obama’s.  Apparently Paul and I have some things in common. We are both the same age (56) and we both came home from school once with a bloody nose. The article implies that it was from a punch in the nose. Mine was too and it was well worth it. Based on the picture that goes with the article, he needs a bigger umbrella too.

After he spoke Mr. Krugman signed copies of his book. I was lucky enough to be one of the first in line. When it was my turn, there was a young man standing next to him talking to him as he was signing. I always thought that when an author was signing his book for you, that you should be able to have a quick converstation. I leaned over the table a little bit and got his attention by saying that I enjoyed his column in the New York Times and that I enjoyed his speech tonight. He looked at me and said thank you.

It was nice to get to meet someone that I read all the time and see on television. It only lasted a few seconds, but by the time I left, the young man was gone too.

As I was leaving the building, I noticed a woman next to me wearing a very interesting “peace button.” I told her that I liked it and she offered to give me one. She ended up giving me three buttons. Twice I offered to pay her for them, but she would not take any money. She said she had been making them since 2001 and giving them away. She never accepted payment. She gave me a business card and said that I should email her and explain how we met and she would send me another button. I am going to contact her today and find out the “rest of the story.”

Mount Equinox in Vermont

The summit of Mount Equinox.

The summit of Mount Equinox.

My wife and I, along with my brother and a friend, visited Mount Equinox in Arlington, Vermont Sunday. It was a cloudy day in New York, but as soon as we crossed the Vermont border the weather started clearing up. Our friend lives on the side of a mountain that has some really nice views right from the front deck. You can’t see Mount Equinox because another beautiful mountain is in the way.

Mount Equinox is on Vermont route 7A, 10 miles south of Manchester. We stopped at the gift shop and got our tickets. It was $18 total for the four of us, $12 for the car and driver and $2 for each passenger. The gift shop gives you a little token that you use to open the gate to start  the 5.2 mile ride to the top of the mountain. The road is called the Skyline Drive. There are plenty of places on the way up to stop and look out. The top of the mountain is 3,858 feet high. From the summit, there are beautiful views in any direction that you look.

There were a lot of fluffy clouds floating by rapidly. It reminded me a little of the old 1958 science fiction movie, “The Crawling Eye.” No one was afraid though.

Some of the clouds floating by the summit of Mt. Equinox.

Some of the clouds floating by the summit of Mt. Equinox.

There is a building at the top of the mountain that used to be an inn where you could stay overnight. The inn has been closed for at least several years now. I have been on the mountain when it was open and it seemed like a very nice place. It had a bar and dining area. You could only have two drinks in the bar, unless you were a guest. Driving back down the mountain is difficult enough without being under the influence while you are doing it. I don’t know what the limit for a guest was. If you visit the Equinox Mountain website, there is more information about the inn. From what I read on the website, I think it might be for rent or lease. The restrooms in the building are open though. Whew!

Almost all the cars in the parking lot were from out of state. I think we saw one car from Vermont at the top. I decided to take a walk to Lookout Rock. I had been there 10 years or so before and I forgot how far it was. The brochure that you get when you buy your ticket says it is .2 miles to Lookout Rock. The website says it is .5 miles to Lookout Rock. On the way out it is mostly down hill. It is a rocky trail though and in spots it was quite muddy. The rocks were wet in some areas and I had to be careful.

When I finally made it to Lookout Rock, there was a very nice view overlooking Manchester, Vermont. Our friend could identify many of the structures that we could see below. I rested for 10 or 15 minutes before I started back. I thought that the walk back would be harder than the walk out, but I was wrong. Although I stopped to rest more times on the way back, it seemed like it was easier and took less time.

A trail sign on the way to Lookout Rock

A trail sign on the way to Lookout Rock

We had a nice picnic while we were at the top. There are several granite tables and benches about 100 yards from the parking lot. We had some wine and nuts and sat around and talked for a while. It is very quiet and peaceful on the mountain.

We stopped at several of the overlooks on the way down. Signs along the way recommend that you stop and give your brakes a rest. I used the brakes a lot. I have a Honda Pilot that handled the way up and down very nicely. We did see a driver stopped at one of the rest areas. He was using a water hose to cool off his smoking left front brake. My brother didn’t think that was a very good idea because he thought cooling them off like that might cause them to warp.

You can see the Monastery of the Carthusian Order from one of the lookouts. It is the home of the Carthusian Monks that now own the mountain. The Mount Equinox website has some very interesting stories and explains how the monks came to own the mountain.

The man who originally owned the mountain and built the Skyline Drive, was Joseph George Davidson, PhD. He was a chemist who headed the project that refined the uranium for the first atomic bomb.

On the way down, we also met a photography instructor who brought his class to the mountain to practice their picture taking. Although he had lived in the area for several years, this was his first trip up Mount Equinox. We met some bicyclists too. They asked me for some duct tape. They had their bikes on a rack on the back of their car and one of the tires had been burned by the exhaust system. I didn’t have duct tape, but I did have some tape in my first aid kit. He used it and it seemed to work. As I understood him, he was going to ride his bike down one of the mountain trails. That didn’t sound like a very good idea to me. Especially since the trail I was on was so full of slippery rocks.

We made it down successfully and drove south on 7A. We visited an antique store in Arlington. The store was located in an old movie theater. I have been there before and it is an interesting store.

After that, we went back to our friends house and had some more snacks. Before we left, we had a marvelous view of the full moon rising over the mountain in front of her house.

Everyone agreed it was a wonderful day.

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