Casting ethics to the wind

GOP congressman calls for hearings into allegations Halliburton overcharged for fuel

Just in case you missed it: Dick Cheney, the Vice President of the United States of America, was the CEO of Halliburton up until it was announced that he would be Bush’s running-mate. Halliburton has been awarded exclusive, no-bid, billion-dollar contracts by the USA for work in Iraq. See any connection? Does this bother you at all? Can we please have a White House administration that is not corrupt?

The user oriented, process oriented information designer

SmartMonkey Media: Return on Design

Finished reading Ani Phyo’s book “Return on Design.” I had been down this path so many times. Coming up on several projects for 2004, I had glanced at some of the excerpts for this book and decided it was high time to refine and solidify my design methodology, and this book looked like it would fit the bill nicely.

I see two ways of building a website. (Well, there’s that third way of designing, by sticking yourself in a closet and dreaming up whatever you think might work, and throwing it out there without a care, but we won’t go there…) One is to start building, gathering feedback along the way while the site is live, and constantly fine-tuning. This can work for smaller sites and certain specialty topics that can afford to have little gremlins and oddities appear now and then to the audience. The other way is to use this process, which really works for the larger and more formal site needs where you can’t afford to screw up.

The best takeaway for me on this book was the high-level outline that she defines for the whole process. Nice to see it in print, after doing something along these lines for so long. But I always felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants and never had the time to nail down the process step by step. Ani does it for me in this book, and I’m glad to have read this one cover to cover. I feel like I can glance at the table of contents and the flowcharts to keep me on track, and go back and drill down back into each chapter for details when I get back there. Great book for the most part, although sometimes the details were not quite the way I’d do things. And that’s a good thing – no two designers should have the exact same methodologies, or there would be little variety out there and less differentiation of style. Highly recommended for anyone that is involved in the design of a site of any size, and especially for the larger ones.

Department of Homeland Insecurity

Most Federal Agencies Flunk Internet Security (washingtonpost.com)

The Department of Homeland Security — the government’s lead agency on matters of Internet security — was one of seven agencies that earned an F grade on their network security efforts in 2003.

Your tax dollars at work.

From an administrative point of view, it boggles the mind to wonder how something like this can be allowed to pass year after year. Makes you wonder how many dudes are sitting there walking out of the building with plans on everything from personal income reports to plutonium refinement. And if they fare this bad , what else do you think is getting bolloxed-up over there, huh? Yeah, rest easy Citizen. You’re in good hands…

Moron diplomacy

Diplomacy: Bush Seeks Help of Allies Barred From Iraq Deals

White House officials said Mr. Bush and his aides had been surprised by both the timing and the blunt wording of the Pentagon’s declaration. But they said the White House had signed off on the policy, after a committee of deputies from a number of departments and the National Security Council agreed that the most lucrative contracts must be reserved for political or military supporters.

Those officials apparently did not realize that the memorandum, signed by Paul D. Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, would appear on a Defense Department Web site hours before Mr. Bush was scheduled to ask world leaders to receive James A. Baker III, the former treasury secretary and secretary of state, who is heading up the effort to wipe out Iraq’s debt. Mr. Baker met with the president on Wednesday.

Yes you read that right. The White House signed off on the plan excluding these countries from reconstruction contracts, and then asked them to fund their reconstruction by forgiving Iraq’s debt. Diplomacy and administration at it’s absolute worst. Now of course the Bush team is playing dumb, saying that they didn’t know this Pentagon announcement would come out right before their asking for debt relief, but this is not some poorly-run non-profit organization here. This is the freakin’ White House. They signed off on it. They should know what their government is doing. and worst of all, they shouldn’t be making stupid diplomatic decisions that slap our allies with one hand while holding our hands out for spare change with the other.

We need a president that has some grasp of reality, some ability to control his administration, and some ability to not continually alienate our closest allies.