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About KMorrill

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  • Birthday 05/09/1978

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  • Location Seattle, WA
  • Interests Photography,
  1. Microsoft

    As you allude to, this actually doesn't work at all. Microsoft's largest customers are multi-national corporations that do not just exist in Europe, but all over the world. They need a software platform that can run consistently across all their operating branches. If you're the CEO at Microsoft or sitting on the board of directors, it's not your job to fight social injustice. We should criticize them when they go out of their way to undermine their own values, such as the former CEO Bill Gates who regularly lauds egalitarian philosophy. That said, I can't really find fault with Steve Ballmer or the Microsoft board of directors for deciding to pay the fines and move on. To put this in perspective, we're getting upset here about the $2.5 billion EU fine, but I haven't heard mention of the $6 billion in corporate income tax that MSFT paid in 2007. Time to donate to ARI.
  2. Exxon

    Exxon reported it's earnings for the year: Some observations worth pointing out and concretizing: Exxon reported net income of $40.6 billion over the past year. In the past year alone, they have grown profits by $900 million. To put just the $900 million of income growth in perspective, that's the entire profit from a company like Safeway that operates more than 1,700 stores and works all year to make that much. It took Safeway almost a century to grow from $0 to $900 million--Exxon did it in one year. If you have a 401k, chances are you own shares of Exxon's stock and have benefited. The company's largest shareholders are companies like Barclays, Vanguard and Fidelity that manage mutual funds. Last year alone, Exxon returned $35.6 billion to investors. If you wrote that as a check to each of the 113 million household in the U.S. it would be $314--talk about a real economic stimulus package! Over the past 5 years, the company has more than doubled its overall value (i.e. market capitalization), creating over $200 billion in value to investors. Discounting PetroChina, which is a nationalized company, Exxon is the most valuable company in the world. The company produces on average 6.5 million barrels of oil daily. After refining, this is enough gas to fuel the average daily driving of some 63 million people. 5 years ago, the company was already one of the world's largest. In the past 5 years, they have managed to take an incredibly large company and double its revenue. During the same time, profits have quadrupled. Words alone could not convey how difficult it is to take a mega cap business like this and grow it. General Electric, another mega cap, has tried and grown revenues just 25% and income 56%--fantastic numbers, but pale in comparison. Exxon is also fantastically efficient, employing 106,100 people. This sounds like a lot, but let's put that in perspective. McDonalds employs more than 4 times as many people, yet has less than a 10th the profit to show for it. Comparing inside the petroleum refining industry, it operates at a higher profit margin than most of its competitors--including BP, Chevron, Conoco, and Shell. Average revenue per employee is a staggering $3.8 million. Again to put this in perspective, Google--now famous for hiring geniuses--harnesses just 25% as much revenue from each employee. I wrote this up as a letter to the editor for the Seattle Times, and it was published yesterday:
  3. Bill Gate's Harvard Commencement Speech

    The source is here. According to a report here, Slim is now the richtest man in the world!
  4. Bill Gate's Harvard Commencement Speech

    ugh... I give up on defending this guy in any way. I am glad he's resigning his post as CEO at Microsoft. It's too bad he also hasn't resigned as Chairman. He has no business in business. <frown>
  5. Sociology?

    I am doing some work exploring Web 2.0 and figuring out how people find expertise in organization and connected to people that can help them make progress on their work. I am interested in whether there is any work in the sociology field that's actually valid and doesn't get stuck in the morass of consciousness and knowledge as a collective entity. Has anyone found valuable resources/books in this field?
  6. Pipes On NYC's Public Arab-Language School

    I've asked Bill Gates before over e-mail whether he's read Atlas Shrugged. He said he had back when he was in school. He went on to say something to the effect of (let me emphasize I am paraphrasing here), 'I didn't know then how right the ideas were.' My mail was sent circa 1999 during the mounting antitrust case. At the time MSFT was the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, worth ~$500 billion. It is sad, because he obviously hasn't reconciled his ideas with the ideas in Atlas.
  7. Happy Birthday to KMorrill

    Thank you so much Betsy. The past year has been super exciting. Lots of accomplishments shipping my product at work and moving to a new team in Office. And then things going incredibly well in my romantic life with Elle--culminating in our engagement. Upward and onward to many more milestones. It's been a delicious ride so far.
  8. Microsoft put out a press release over the weekend on the recent DoubleClick acquisition. The text follows: This proposed acquisition raises serious competition and privacy concerns in that it gives the Google DoubleClick combination unprecedented control in the delivery of online advertising, and access to a huge amount of consumer information by tracking what customers do online. We think this merger deserves close scrutiny from regulatory authorities to ensure a competitive online advertising market. I am still digesting this and figuring out what to do. It really gives me pause as to whether I can morally work at a company that does this. It's a sad night :-(
  9. Thank you Betsy and everyone else for the warm messages!
  10. I thought this was an interesting read: Belief in reincarnation tied to memory errors
  11. In case you needed to read something encouraging about culture, check out this interesting article at It is however sad to see how confused people are between confidence (self-esteem justified by reality) and arrogance (esteem for self beyond what is justified by reality, for example I am a great singer when I am actually not). It is as if people see this as a sliding scale where you're only one step away from suddenly falling into the category of arrogance. In fact, the two are clearly separate. In any event, if someone insists on putting me in a group, I am proud to be part of the "Me Generation" ;-) -Kevin
  12. Seattle-Portland Objectivist Network

    Believe it or not there is actually someone who makes the best french press I've ever tasted and he and his wife have the Seattle chapter meetings at their home. This means I get spoiled with delicious coffe AND my cup never gets cold while tending to serving others.
  13. Ayn Rand on religion and America

    I think the Christian religion has benefitted the most from Plato and I also think this is why Christianity is so much more dangerous than other religions which are less consistent and systematic. I think Christianity is terribly consistent, if one can overlook the premise of Original Sin (and millions do). If one accepts the premises of Christianity I think it is a religion which has been tinkered with by religious racketeers for over 2000 years - starting with Paul in Rome suffering a seizure and "talking to God". Christianity is the religion of religious "intellectuals" who are encouraged to READ the Bible (this has not always been the case in this religion but is the case today) and then apply it to their lives. Many other religions, such as Islam, Hindi, etc. are much more focused on rituals and the spoken words of their gurus and don't expect their followers to really think about religious doctrine independently - they provide all the applications in proverbs and traditions. Christianity is also a religion that appeals to pragmatists because it is so malleable. They can modify it so that it is whatever "works" for them, for the moment. Just look at British clergy throughout history for an example of that (and I thinking of Henry VIII here...) I have a tangetial question - what is it that essentially differentiates a religion from a philosophy?
  14. I hope you will! I'm too young to be jaded, though if I am still unmarried in 10 years it might be intersting to wave this post in my face and ask "how do you like it now?" Good luck with your dating endeavours!
  15. Doing business in China

    There are two salient points I see since my last post inquiring about specific threats. Mercury pointed out China is actively trading weapons with Iran. Stephen added that China already has the capability to launch long range nuclear weapons at the U.S. Both are critically important, but are best dealt with through military action. Trying to engage in diplomacy through trade embargoes, whether broadly enacted by nation states or through individual companies, has no history of working in the 20th and 21st centuries. These countries do not collapse left all on their own in a time frame that makes them safely benign. Using either pre-existing weapons on the black market or knowledge that has been available for more than 50 years, they have the ability with a minimum of research to wage war on a cataclysmic scale regardless of whether we help them economically. The genie is out of the bottle. This is demonstrably true with China. Stephen argued, “China is our enemy, and every act that makes China more powerful to destroy us, is an act of treason.” But when you apply that to a reality where China already has long range nuclear weapons there is nothing relevant in the category of “act that makes China more powerful.” They already have the means to blow up the Western U.S. many times over. The imperative question becomes, “What can I do to forcibly undermine that threat ASAP?” There is a great discussion to be had about specific action one can take to motivate swift military action. However, curtailing business in China is a red herring and actually takes away one motivation for not attacking us: maintaining the standard of living that comes from trading with the U.S. If China’s military threat is not applicable to business, the question shifts to whether it is moral to do business in a statist regime. When you have no other option to seek values at the standard of life appropriate to man, the answer is an unequivocal yes. It is immoral to passively wait for a better situation to emerge when you can take action, attain the values you want, and ultimately contribute to making a world where there are no statist nations, starting with the United States. We are in this very situation. I already discussed earlier how the producers face the very same limiting factors that consumers do when choosing whether to do business with China. There was a suggestion that you should just operate at a smaller scale. This is not the life appropriate to man. To solve the tough problems in biology that can extend my life will take billions of dollars and radical breakthroughs. To solve the tough problems in software that Microsoft works at costs about $3 billion in R&D annually. That money will be gone if we announce to shareholders we are going to suddenly stop doing business in China. It is unacceptable to reset the U.S. economy back to 1950 when that action will do nothing to fundamentally bring an end to statist regimes. Critics in this thread argued this point by coming from a position that there is a principally different option in the U.S. Stephen said at the outset: that the United States is a fundamentally rights respecting country. It certainly was as founded, but this has been systematically destroyed and can no longer be claimed. This has been undermined in two important categories: private property and free elections, which explain below. I point this out not because I love tearing down the U.S., but because choosing the wrong ally can be just as bad as not identifying threats correctly. Furthermore, I say all of this knowing full well there are numerous differences between China and the U.S., but the current state demonstrates this is a difference in location on the slippery slope, not in principle. On the point of private property, here is my own personal balance sheet: 33% of paycheck to income tax 9% of paycheck to social security and medicare 9% of all spending to state sales tax 20% of income spent on property taxes (1.25% of my home’s value paid annually) Easily more than half of what I make is stolen by the state and federal government. The last item, property tax, is especially draconian. It implies that my property is constantly on rent from the State of Washington. The day I stop paying it is the day I am evicted from my own home. Private property is at best ephemeral in the U.S. Any country that steals half of its most productive citizens’ income cannot be called essentially free. Free elections, while more free than China, are on their way out the door in the U.S. at an alarming rate. If you give too much money to a candidate, you will be fined heavily and thrown in jail if you refuse to pay. Campaign-finance laws have seriously compromised free speech and make it dangerously hard to fight against incumbents. Furthermore, while they are downright wrong on politics, Libertarians will aptly tell you how the two-party system has made it difficult to elect 3rd party candidates. Finally, in Washington, when voters are used to sidestep the corrupt legislative and executive branches of government through voter initiatives and referendums, they are overruled by the court system without any legal merit. All of this ought to be ample evidence that the election process has been hijacked by those already in power and exists only in so far as they let it and their squabbling slows legislative consensus. This doesn't mean the situation is hopeless, but it does mean we have a big hole to dig out of. The best way out: Deal with military threats with swift military action, knowing trade limitations are a pipe dream. Recognize that every major country in the world is statist, but seize control of your life, create value on a scale that makes you happy and enable yourself to change culture--ultimately living in a world that is free.