As reported by Jeff Bishop in his Desert Skies blog (link above) yesterday, both Humanware and Freedom Scientific have publicly acknowledged they have changed hands. The Humanware transaction, due to regulations in New Zealand, received coverage in the mainstream press as even privately held companies in that country must provide a certain level of public disclosure. Freedom Scientific’s CEO and President, Lee Hamilton, in a very interesting and informative interview on the company’s in-house monthly audio piece FSCast, confirmed that WAFRA had joined the FS team as its latest investor. Both Humanware and Freedom Scientific say that the companies will move forward under new ownership with no changes in management, mission, products, employees or locations.
I agree with the assessment that Jeff stated in Desert Skies yesterday that the community should accept the statements by Humanware and Freedom Scientific on face value and assume that the two most important players in the blindness business will either not change much or will improve as a result of new ownership. I personally found it refreshing to hear the generally publicity shy Dr. Hamilton discuss some of the more pressing issues facing the industry today.
I would also like to state that the fact that WAFRA, the new owners of Freedom Scientific, having Kuwaiti ownership should not change the opinion of the blind community toward Freedom Scientific or its new investors. Private investment firms, whether officially owned by domestic investors or by people abroad represent a global community where money, not borders, political or religious ideology reigns supreme. I think Americans today tend to have a bigoted, knee jerk reaction to anything involving the Arab world and Islamic people which, due to a small number of extremists, paints a huge portion of the world’s population with an unfortunate bias.
We should remember that patriotic Americans in the first Gulf War fought and died to help Kuwait maintain its independence for a reason – that Kuwait has, for a very long time, served as a voice of reason and a tremendous ally to the United States in a very difficult part of the world. If we look hard enough, I feel confident that, through the filter of American culture from the left, right and center of the political perspective that we can find fault with virtually every other nation, culture, belief system or whatever we choose to use as our scapegoat du jour.
Recently, the American media has chosen to show Islamic people and Mexicans in the most negative light. I can remember that it wasn’t that long ago when Americans screamed of how the Japanese had taken our jobs and were buying up American landmarks. Quite conveniently, the media has blamed Israel and Jewish people for all sorts of conspiracies with captains of industry, like Henry Ford writing anti-Semitic articles and funding Nazi like organizations in this country. Likewise, Italians, Irish, Catholics of all kinds who now are viewed as the backbone of American culture received terrible treatment and even highly respected towers of higher learning like Stanford University published eugenic articles that “scientifically” demonstrated the racial inferiority of Mediterranean people.
So, if you want to criticize Freedom Scientific, something I’ve been known to do from time to time, please do so based on grounds other than the ethnicity, religion or national origin of the people who own WAFRA. To do anything else comes from some of the ugliest parts of American culture – an aspect of our social system that breeds membership in the KKK, neo-Nazi groups and other organizations that, in my opinion, have nothing valid to add in a free society.
Of course, to demonstrate that I do not subscribe entirely to a politically correct liberal notion of the world I will ask, purely as a joke, will the Kuwaiti ownership of Freedom Scientific require that all guide dogs, because Islam claims that dogs are dirty, be removed from the building during visits to the FS headquarters in St. Petersburg? Ok, I suppose that Blogger will need to fire me from my multi-million dollar contract I have for writing BC as I have made a tasteless, ignorant and racially charged joke in a public forum.
Either today or tomorrow, I will install the Windows Mobile 6 upgrade I got from the T-Mobile web site on my Dash Smartphone. This apparently requires sighted assistance so my wife will have to help out. I will then install the new beta of Mobile Speak Smartphone and give the new system a run.
From reading the T-Mobile web site and a handful of other things about WM6, I have learned that the Smartphone edition now contains the Mobile versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel and may include Microsoft Voice Command as well (Voice Command is definitely in the PDA version but I’m not sure about the Smartphone edition of the OS upgrade). With all of this included, a very cool Smartphone which, for the Moto Cue, are running at under $100, along with MSS and, depending upon your usage needs, perhaps a Blue Tooth keyboard, Braille display or headset definitely provides the most portable and cost effective handheld solution for the blink on the go today.
Look forward to a review of the latest Mobile Speak Smartphone and Windows Mobile 6 in the coming days here in Blind Confidential.
I just started to spell check this article before posting it. This is the first time that I’ve written FSCast in a Blind Confidential so I hadn’t yet added it to my Word spelling dictionary. I must admit that I smiled when the name of Freedom Scientific’s corporate controlled bit of pseudo-journalism (propaganda), caused the MS Word spell checker to offer “fascist” as its replacement. I do think that FSCast provides a good service and a fair amount of useful information but I wish FS would let more objective journalists do more in depth interviews in a far less tightly controlled manner.