Sunday, December 31, 2006

I hate the Blogger "beta"

This Blogger beta is no longer beta, I guess, but you could have fooled me. It's clumsy, time-consuming, and primitive. I've been using it for weeks now and still cannot, from IE7, use the "send to blogger" feature. I've written the self-help forum, and nothing has happened. They're ignoring the fact they have a substandard implementation going on.

Bottom line: If you haven't converted yet, don't until they drag you kicking and screaming.

Here's some self-serving, gratuitous crap they dished up 12/19--

The New Version of Blogger

The new version of Blogger in beta is dead!
Long live the new version of Blogger!
(P.S. The old version of Blogger is not dead, but it would like to retire for a little while... maybe go to Hawaii or play World of Warcraft all day? It begs you to let it play World of Warcraft all day.)

I am overjoyed to announce that today we have o’ficially graduated the new version of Blogger from “in beta” to “.” Why is this significant? Allow me to explain via analogy:

Battlestar Galactica with Lorne Greene : Battlestar Galactica with Edward James Olmos :: Old Blogger : New Blogger

The new version of Blogger is metaphorically bursting with features, from the big guns like drag-and-drop template editing and post labels (which are perfect, by the way, for indexing the 131 historical figures you may have written about), to little polishes like a better-designed Dashboard or that you no longer need to solve a word verification CAPTCHA to post a comment on your own blog.

We’re excited about the new version of Blogger, both for what it can do now (which also includes access control for blogs and better input fields for post dates) and what we’ll add to it in the future, now that we have a new, stable, powerful infrastructure to work with. We’re done with “beta,” but we’re far from done with the new Blogger.

It’ll still take a bit more transition time to move everyone from the old version to the new, so for now we ask on our homepage which version of Blogger you use. If you’ve been using the beta, either because you switched or because you created your account after 10 November 2006, click “New Blogger” and sign in with your Google Account.

If you haven’t yet switched, click “Old Blogger” and use the same Blogger account you’ve always used, or — and this is the better choice — click “Switch Now” button. After you sign in with or sign up for a Google Account (free!), you’ll be switched over to the new Blogger, which is both reassuringly the same (your blogs will keep the same URLs, and your templates and profile will be the same too) and significantly better (see above sampling of new features and comparisons to a masterful science fiction television program).

Finally, shouts out to all of the people and teams who have made this possible; the new Blogger is the combined effort of engineering, QA, support, management, product, marketing, PR, infrastructure, [music swells] design, partners, clients, users, hackers, Blog*Stars, cats, dogs, ferrets, and everyone and everything else that helped, assisted, or enabled. Thank you!
— Pete [12/19/06 5:30 PM]

Mitt Romney meets Tennessee bloggers

Interesting piece from the Boston GLOBE. Read the whole thing.

This article points up the importance of the blogosphere as a huge, "self-directed focus group", and obviates the need to have a more balanced venue for important community conversations, like Meet.The.Bloggers, and not a gaggle of partisan blog-hacks, all currying favor "Over cold cuts, cookies, and soft drinks," ostensibly blogging for baloney. The Republicans need to reexamine what happened here in Ohio last time around, where Democrats who were open to participating in the community dialogue carried the day, while Republicans shied away from anything spontaneous they could not control themselves, and got whacked. MTB is a good way for all of them to reconnect. Here's more of the article:

Members of the mainstream press weren't invited.

But influential Nashville-area bloggers Bill Hobbs and Nathan Moore were, and both penned accounts Romney must have liked. Hobbs likened the governor to Ronald Reagan. Moore called Romney impressive and declared him "a formidable candidate for the 2008 nomination."

That Hobbs and Moore were asked to the private gathering illustrates a growing effort by Romney and his political team to cultivate a relationship with the conservative blogosphere as he prepares to enter the Republican primary, which is already being shaped as never before by countless bloggers, pundits, and other online opinion-makers.

"Particularly in a primary kind of setting," Romney explained in an interview last week with the conservative magazine Human Events, "you want to be very closely connected to the online world, to the blog world, and make sure your perspectives are being understood, and that the misperceptions, which inevitably creep up, are being nipped in the bud."

Though pro-Romney bloggers around the country have been dutifully defending him for months, the governor is increasingly taking steps to manage his own message. The importance Romney is placing on developing a rapport with bloggers reflects not only the pivotal role the Internet now plays in American politics, observers say, but also a recognition by Republicans that they have not been as aggressive as Democrats in using the web to gather support and money.

Perhaps the clearest indication of Romney's belief in the influence of online information is his hiring of Stephen Smith, 24, formerly the web guru for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, to run his online communications operation. Before Frist abandoned his presidential plans last month, Smith helped him record podcasts and keep in touch with bloggers.

"Steve is going to serve as the conduit both from the bloggers and online community to the campaign, as well as from the campaign to the bloggers and online community," a Romney communications adviser said last week. "He's building bandwidth between the two."

Smith's hiring is an acknowledgment of the viral power of web media: how they can instantly drive news stories and sustain them for days on end, said the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Romney has not officially announced that he will seek the presidency.

"It's a very unique audience, and that uniqueness requires a unique understanding of the audience and the mediums involved," the adviser said.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

internet retail sets new mark

I wanted to share this article from Crain's Investment News; things are shifting fast.

'Confident clickers' make for record sales
By Aaron Siegel
December 29, 2006

Online retail spending topped the $100 billion mark for the first time ever this year, according to a report released by digital research firm comScore Networks Inc.

"Online sales continued to show strong growth during the last week before Christmas when procrastinators were clicking with confidence," said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore Networks, in a statement.

- Advertisement -Consumers spent $23.11 billion, or 26% more online during the 56 days leading up to Dec. 26 this year, compared to $18.28 billion during the year-ago period, the Reston, Va.-based firm said.

In the week leading up to the Christmas holiday, shoppers spent $2.25 billion, or 38%, compared to $1.64 billion last year.

The survey also noted that traditional "brick and mortar" stores posted the biggest percentage gains in capturing online sales.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pittsburgh a player, via Marketwatch

CBS Marketwatch posts an interesting retirement article here. In bold are the places I know something about from personal observation, where either we have friends or family or where I've lived around or visited a lot. A good number of these places are also homes of academia and research.

Yet the reality, Bland said, is that the quality of life that can be found in Pittsburgh has improved tremendously over the years as it has switched to more of a service-based economy. Air quality is better, he said, and replacing some of the steel mills have been entertainment complexes, restaurants and stores. The town also gets high marks for its health care, culture and recreation.
Below is Bland's list of top value towns, from the least to most expensive:

1. Hot Springs, Ark.
2. Winston-Salem, N. C.
3. Fayetteville, Ark.
4. Bowling Green, Ky.
5. Lawrence, Kan.
6. Columbia, Mo.
7. Pittsburgh, Pa.
8. Gainesville, Fla.
9. San Antonio, Texas
10. Colorado Springs, Colo.

breaking wind power reports

Article on wind power from the New York TIMES. In my post title, where do I put the punctuation, the commas and hyphens? Oh, well.

Friday, December 22, 2006

like the old McDonald's signs, in the 60s

MeetTheBloggers: Over 60K served

George brings us a screenshot of some good news about the MTB download stats.

COSE NEOSA promo tool

I saw this item in the latest COOL CLEVELAND newsletter:

NEOSA and COSE: "To Blog or Not To Blog" on Thu 1/18. We know bloggers are implied as Time "Persons of the Year" but is blogging sensible/viable for sm bus and corps as promo tool? Info

The Info link was broken. Anybody know anything about this? Anybody going? Four of us from MeetTheBloggers ran a session on business blogging for the Akron/Canton chapter of the AMA (American Marketing Association) a good while ago, this past September, but we know nothing of this COSE NEOSA offering.

"COSE NEOSA." It has a certain ring to it...sort of an Italian flavor. Maybe it's a good thing NOT to be on their radar.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Jim Janos helps us find inner peace

Earlier today, I got this email from our old friend and neighbor from the Archwood-Denison neighborhood, James Owen Janos. It's one of the best I've received this year; it struck a chord somewhere, somehow. It read--

For this time of year:

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives.

By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a bottle of Kahula, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel. Please pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace.

Happy Holidays!


Jamie Janos Photography
2400 Superior Ave. E. Suite 206
Cleveland, OH 44114-4258

216.965-7678 BEST#

154 W. 27th St. 4 West
New York City, NY 10001-6223


Here's an article from INFORMATION WEEK that talks about a freeware suite that mimics Microsoft Office and may be on Google's acquisition radar screen.

While ThinkFree is a free suite, there's also an enterprise Server Edition that includes administrative features for $30 annually. In addition, ThinkFree has instituted a system where you earn "points" (I earned 100 by signing up) which you can exchange for storage space, clip art, and other features "to be added in future releases."

Assuming that the rumors are correct, where will ThinkFree fit into Google's product lineup? Google already has a popular word processor and spreadsheet application, but not a presentation application. It's possible that Google might pick up only ThinkFree's Show -- or it might meld ThinkFree's efficient interface and social networking components with Google's other offerings.

In any case, along with other free office suites such as, ThinkFree's online suite may give users who are nervous about Office 2007 something to think about.

ThinkFree Online Beta
ThinkFree Corp.
Price: Free
Summary: ThinkFree is an online office suite that goes the extra mile to look and work like Microsoft Office -- but what would Google do with it?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

the most severely urbanized watershed

After I posted the end-of-year fundraising email from The Friends of Big Creek over at SOL, this paragraph kept bothering me, so I wanted to share it with you. We need to reclaim and capitalize on the resources we have as part of our birthright here in this region. We need to become good stewards once again.

Big Creek, in northeast Ohio, is the third largest tributary (of 12) of the Lower Cuyahoga River draining 39 square miles. Traverses 12-miles through 7 municipalities (Cleveland, Brooklyn, Linndale, Parma, Parma Heights, Brook Park, and North Royalton). It is the most severely urbanized watershed (52% impervious). Big Creek enters the Cuyahoga River at a point 7.4 miles above the mouth of the Cuyahoga in Cleveland at Lake Erie.

Monday, December 18, 2006

is this a proper business model?

From The New York TIMES, just yesterday. I wonder whether this a model that can survive much scrutiny. Read the entire article; it's amazing:

And Goldman Sachs has taken great pains to tell investors that as a percentage of revenue, the compensation costs for its 26,467 full-time employees are actually lower than those of many of its counterparts. This year, the firm spent 43.7 percent of its revenue on compensation and benefits, compared with 46.6 percent last year. That’s lower than Lehman Brothers, for example, which spent 50.1 percent of its revenue this year on compensation. Last year, Merrill Lynch spent about 49 percent of its revenue on compensation; Morgan Stanley, on the other hand, devoted 41.8 percent of its revenue to paying employees.

Using a different yardstick, however, Goldman’s pay seems completely out of whack with its peers’.

Goldman’s compensation per employee, as mentioned earlier, is about $623,418. That’s nearly double what the average employee at rival firms earns. Lehman spent the equivalent of about $314,000 for every employee, and Bear Stearns spent about $320,000.

You could argue that Goldman Sachs makes its money more efficiently, and it does. You could argue that Goldman Sachs is in a different business than its rivals, and in some sense, it is: its biggest profits come from trading, not from investment banking.

But are its employees so much more talented than the rest of Wall Street that they deserve a “Goldman premium” of such huge proportions? That’s a tough case to make.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

MTB: en francais, s'il vous plait?

Sacre bleu! Tout alors! What ees thees sheet? MTB en francais?

wi-fi: how do we stack up in this region?

Good overview here of the municipal wi-fi & wi-max initiatives across the country, from INFORMATION WEEK.

Many cities are getting municipal Wi-Fi plans rolling. In the United States, 154 cities, from Philadelphia to Chaska, Minn., have Wi-Fi networks across some span of the metro area, says Roberta Wiggins of the Yankee Group. Another 132 have networks under construction or proposed. Abroad, Taipei, Taiwan, has the most ambitious project, trying to cover 105 square miles in a wireless mesh. London, Paris, and Moscow have smaller-scale projects under way, and New York City is deploying Wi-Fi across its largest parks. If people in hundreds of cities really do get free, widespread Wi-Fi service, it has the potential to change how and where we use the Internet....

...Municipal Wi-Fi networks still look like a gamble. But when the risk is getting left behind--whether in selling online ads or building a 21st century city--it's a gamble the biggest names in technology and some of the largest cities are willing to take.

microtargeting: making our universe larger?

Interesting article from INFORMATION WEEK about relational-database parity becoming a deciding factor--in this case, in politics. This is a huge shift.

The Democratic National Committee spent $8 million this time around on a multiterabyte relational database from Netezza. Instead of assembling an Oracle database, EMC storage, and IBM servers, Netezza's Performance Server stores, filters, and processes terabytes of data within a single Linux-based appliance, installed in hours rather than weeks and at lower cost, says Gus Bickford, a consultant who helped implement the DNC database.

Between 60% and 70% of the system's data came from InfoUSA, which sells data on voters' income, age, address, home value, telephone numbers, vehicles, bankruptcy filings, mail order purchases, marital status, and more--including such "lifestyle" information as whether they like auto racing or motivational speakers. The rest came from commercial and public databases.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dovilla to deploy, Kucinich to dissemble

Once again, Mike Dovilla does something Dennis hasn't, and doesn't--puts himself at risk and on the line as he goes overseas to serve his country. Part of the rite of passage for all of us ought to be to place ourselves in the position where we can be called to submit to the process that makes this country function. Now, as during the Viet Nam conflict, what's scary from the serviceman's point of view is to have grandstanders like Kucinich raising a ruckus far, far, in the rear, keeping a proper military engagement from proceeding. From The PLAIN DEALER:

An unsuccessful congressional candidate has been called up to active duty in Iraq. Mike Dovilla, 31, of Middleburg Heights, will depart for Iraq in January as a naval officer. Dovilla, a Republican, unsuccessfully challenged Dennis Kucinich for the Ohio 10th Congressional District, which encompasses western Cuyahoga county. Dovilla is a former executive director of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, a government panel of senior executives who advise federal agencies on human resources and coordinate their management. The job was an appointed political position. He also was a staff member for U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, a Republican from Cleveland.

Friday, December 15, 2006

McCain: Probably not my candidate

There are indications in the ThinkProgress blog comment, here, that John McCain isn't as appealing a candidate as I thought he was a few weeks ago. I guess it's time to get him to Meet.The.Bloggers* to get this part of his platform laid out early. If he's going to automatically alienate one-third of the country right off the bat, he ought to save us all time and money and bow out while the bowing out's good.

cultural clash, as Jim and Craig meet the capitalists

Here's the whole article from the New York TIMES--Jim Buckmaster, the chief executive of Craigslist, caused lots of head-scratching Thursday as he tried to explain to a bunch of Wall Street types why his company is not interested in “monetizing” his ridiculously popular Web operation. Appearing at the UBS global media conference in New York, Mr. Buckmaster took questions from the bemused audience, which apparently could not get its collective mind around the notion that Craigslist exists to help Web users find jobs, cars, apartments and dates — and not so much to make money.
Wendy Davis of MediaPost describes the presentation as a “a culture clash of near-epic proportions.” She recounts how UBS analyst Ben Schachter wanted to know how Craigslist plans to maximize revenue. It doesn’t, Mr. Buckmaster replied (perhaps wondering how Mr. Schachter could possibly not already know this). “That definitely is not part of the equation,” he said, according to MediaPost. “It’s not part of the goal.”
“I think a lot of people are catching their breath right now,” Mr. Schachter said in response.
The Tech Trader Daily blog ponders this question: “If YouTube was worth $1.65 billion, who knows what Craigslist would be worth if Jim and [site founder] Craig Newmark ever considred becoming — what’s the word? — capitalists.”
Craigslist charges money for job listings, but only in seven of the cities it serves ($75 in San Francisco; $25 in the others). And it charges for apartment listings in New York ($10 a pop). But that is just to pay expenses.
Mr. Schachter still did not seem to understand. How about running AdSense ads from Google? Craigslist has considered that, Mr. Buckmaster said. They even crunched the numbers, which were “quite staggering.” But users haven’t expressed an interest in seeing ads, so it is not going to happen.
Following the meeting, Mr. Schachter wrote a research note, flagged by Tech Trader Daily, which suggests that he still doesn’t quite get the concept of serving customers first, and worrying about revenues later, if at all (and nevermind profits). Craigslist, the analyst wrote, “does not fully monetize its traffic or services.”
Mr. Buckmaster said the company is doubling in size every year, as measured by page views and listings.
Larry Dignan, writing on Between the Lines blog at ZDNet, called Mr. Buckmaster “delightfully communist,” and described the audience as “confused capitalists wondering how a company can exist without the urge to maximize profits.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

new "undiscovered" event category on

The banner for Undiscovered Events near Cleveland reads "Be the first to attend these events we've found elsewhere, and you'll expose it to the rest of the community! "

I thought it gave a new perspective and usefulness to the site . Check it out.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

my sidebar is gone

this post is composed in the new, beta version of Blogger, from Google, and my sidebar has up and departed--I hope to have it back soon

Monday, December 11, 2006

Midtown Brews

Meet the Bloggers » Midtown Brews: Dr. Lawrence Krauss--Lawrence M. Krauss is the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Director Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics, at CWRU, and here is his detailed bio, or profile. Better known for "The Physics of Star Trek", he also organized the no-confidence vote against CWRU's president Ed Hundert. Here, at the link, is the MTB conversation with him last Thursday, December 7th, at the Midtown Brews event. Dr Krauss left after an hour or so, and the conversation continued to roll. For me, the one interesting point raised was the co-dependence of crucial scientific research programs with the politics of the government budget, and how we need to rethink our means of getting the research done and paid for. We can't afford to have our scientific progress, the key to our collective future, held hostage by other, lower priority constituencies clamoring for the same dollars.

I believe that the next Midtown Brews event is Thursday, January 11, 2007, and at it, our Brews host, Jeff Friedman of Webtego, will unveil his experience of being fresh back from Nashville as the local proponent for the public-speaking & advocacy program initiated by Al Gore and the movie An Inconvenient Truth. Perhaps we will all learn how to become more "carbon neutral."

and we thought we had it bad with the cigarette and smoking legislation

In City’s Trans Fat Ban, a Challenge Fit for a Chef - New York Times: Here's something more oppressive than our recent smoking legislation. It's a small wonder they didn't try taxing transfats, too. Everywhere, it seems, government is extending its reach too far using the mantra of "the public good." Transfats and smoke might be bad, but a government drunk with power and running amok is worse. Read the whole article to find where you stand on the issue. Ponder what's next to be banned, restricted, or taxed.

"The rules adopted by the city’s Board of Health are to be phased in. Restaurants will have to eliminate margarines and shortenings that contain more than a trace of trans fats by July 1, and to remove all items from their menus that exceed a limit of a half-gram of trans fat per serving by July 1, 2008. Violators will face fines of at least $200.
The measure has widely been applauded by health advocates, who point to an established link between artificial trans fats and heart disease. But many in the restaurant industry say they fear that they will not be able to replicate dishes that now exceed the limit on trans fats.
Trans fats, derived from partially hydrogenated oils, have been used since Crisco was introduced in 1911. By the 1950s, trans fats were used as an alternative to the saturated fats in butter and in some processed foods, but they became a staple of the American diet with the rise of fast food in the ’70s.
They allow fast-food and other restaurants to use frying oil for longer periods. Some bakeries and restaurants that serve pastries, doughnuts or pies face particular challenges because trans fat shortenings have long been used to maintain a certain texture and appearance. They make pie crusts flaky, cookies crunchy and frosting creamy.
In many cases, trans fats also give baked goods a longer shelf life than those prepared with butter or trans fat-free cooking oils.
There are plenty of alternatives, including margarines, shortenings and even a variety of Crisco made without them. The challenge is finding the right one, say those in the restaurant industry.
“The problem with this law, we’re not scientists,” said Joe Bianchi, the owner of Pozzo Pastry Shop..."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Valdis defrags and defines defrag

Network Weaving: defrag? Valdis of Orgnet fame and renown explicates the meaning of the conference many of us attended yesterday. It was a "good thing", even though it seems to have brought out the Martha in me. Ed Morrison also helped all of us understand better our positioning on "the second curve" and the advantage we have in breaking out of the thinking of "the first curve." He says he will post his slides soon, somewhere, and George will be posting Ed's intro to defrag as well at Meet.The.Bloggers*

reaching out, while living in the middle of it all

A Family of Fighters - The Boston Globe: Here's a long read about a couple whose strategy and tactics seem to be working, as they draw nearer to the spiritual through immersion in the community.

"'They are what I call 'quiet storms.' They don't beat their chests or seek attention,' says Colette Phillips, a longtime Boston publicist who works with communities of color. 'You almost don't know what they are doing until they are already fully engaged in it.' Certainly, as power families in Boston go, this one is unique. For starters, they are African-American transplants in a city that has few visible leaders of color. But it's more than that. They have earned their positions not through wealth or political connections but through an ability to bring people together across barriers of class and race. 'They have the ultimate transit visa,' says Boston Foundation president Paul Grogan. 'They can cross any frontier in this city, from the boardrooms of the wealthiest individuals to the kids on the meanest streets in Boston.' With the state's first black governor poised to take office, there is renewed hope that Greater Boston may finally be able to shed its stubborn label of being a hard place to live for minorities, especially blacks, and that the region will instead eventually be seen as an increasingly multicultural haven. If that shift does materialize, there may no family – black, white, Asian, or other – in a better position to affect the future of the city on all levels, from grass roots to boardroom, than the Hammonds. In fact, in many ways, the Hammonds already seem like the first family of that 'new Boston,' a feat they've achieved not in spite of, but because of, the raw challenges and sometimes painful burdens they faced along the way.

'I'm glad you are going to tell the real story, and not just turn us into saints," Gloria White-Hammond says when we meet at a screening at the Museum of Fine Arts. "

Video link: A Glory from the God: The story of Gloria White-Hammond

Saturday, December 09, 2006

tax credits and open houses

Steven McQuillin & Associates--Check out the site of our friend Steve; we just got back from the Christmas Open House at his home, and office, and latest historic preservation/development project, Dover Farm. Dover Farm, built originally in 1838, is just down the road apiece from the Bob Stark's ersatz replication of our heritage, known as Crocker Park. Steve's been helping preservation in this area since the early 1980s, to my recollection, and we first met him as our neighbor in Archwood-Denison.

Friday, December 08, 2006

...and not to be outdone...

Bank of America may buy Barclays to create world's top bank - MarketWatch: Following close on the Mellon/Bank of New York story, could it be BOA's moving in to trump BONY? This stuff is really heating up.

"Bank of America could be about to make a bid for U.K. retail and investment-banking group Barclays in a deal that would create the world's biggest bank, according to analysts at Merrill Lynch.
'Bank of America has previously indicated that the next phase of its expansion is to become a leading global commercial and investment bank. In order to achieve that goal, we believe Bank of America is very interested in acquiring Barclays,' the broker said in a note to clients. "

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

BONY Mellon revisited

We were just discussing the Bank of New York/Mellon merger here in the office, and we had another of those epiphanies or revelations: BONY Mellon is doing now what we've been advocating doing for years--getting away from the banking business.

See the snippet on the Monday post, two down.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

BONY Mellon?

Bank of New York and Mellon Will Merge - New York Times: Today, the New York TIMES fleshes out yesterday morning's news alert. So, the question remains, what will this thing be called on the street?

"The combined company will be called the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation — a mouthful that links a New York bank founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1784 with a family that helped finance Pittsburgh’s transformation into a steel-making center. The bank will be based in New York."

Monday, December 04, 2006

..meanwhile, in Pittsburgh...

Bank of New York to buy Mellon, create $43 bln custody giant - MarketWatch: This is huge.

"The Bank of New York said Monday it agreed to buy Mellon Financial Corp. in a deal that will create a $43 billion giant ranked as the world's largest custodian of financial assets and a top ten asset management firm....The combined company will be the world's biggest asset custodian and corporate trustee with $16.6 trillion in assets under custody and $8 billion in assets under trusteeship. It will also be a top ten global asset manager with $1.1 trillion of assets under management. It will also rank as the 11th largest financial institution in the U.S."

the haunting remains of a Jesuit social experiment

In South America, Missions of a Lost Utopia - New York Times--There's an interesting recounting here of a Jesuit-created society in South America in the 1700s that is precursor to the communities of our fin de siecle Arts and Crafts movement, which inform a lot of the models for our networked, intentional communities coming into being today.

"Thanks in part to Roland Joffe’s 1986 movie “The Mission,” there was a renewed surge of interest in the movement in the 1980s. Still, it was only in recent years that Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil began to restore and promote the missions — which, at their peak, had more than 100,000 residents and produced not just music and books, but also metal utensils and food for export — as tourist destinations.
Even now, the 30 existing missions are in widely varying states of repair, as I found during a weeklong journey through what was once known as the Jesuit Province of Paraquaria, and the infrastructure is hardly luxurious."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

the "" phenomenon

New on the Web: Politics as Usual - New York Times: A piece on bloggers coming in from the cold.

"You might think that with the kind of rhetoric bloggers regularly muster against politicians, they would never work for them. But you would be wrong.
Over the past few years, bloggers have won millions of fans by speaking truth to power — even the powers in their own parties — and presenting a fresh, outsider perspective. They are the pamphleteers of the 21st century, revolutionary “citizen journalists” motivated by personal idealism and an unwavering confidence that they can reform American politics.
But this year, candidates across the country found plenty of outsiders ready and willing to move inside their campaigns. Candidates hired some bloggers to blog and paid others consulting fees for Internet strategy advice or more traditional campaign tasks like opposition research."

first the PD, then the CIA--what next?

Open-Source Spying - New York Times: Interesting and long piece on synergies we're discovering day by day, as a community. Read it all when you have the time. We earlier adapters are getting validated, quickly, on the fly, and the networks are surpassing the hierarchical structures. Bold touches on keywords are mine.

" 'You could just sit there and hit refresh, refresh, refresh, and get a sort of ticker-tape experience,” Andrus told me. What most impressed Andrus was Wikipedia’s self-governing nature. No central editor decreed what subjects would be covered. Individuals simply wrote pages on subjects that interested them — and then like-minded readers would add new facts or fix errors. Blogs, Andrus noted, had the same effect: they leveraged the wisdom of the crowd. When a blogger finds an interesting tidbit of news, he posts a link to it, along with a bit of commentary. Then other bloggers find that link and, if they agree it’s an interesting news item, post their own links pointing to it. This produces a cascade effect. Whatever the first blogger pointed toward can quickly amass so many links pointing in its direction that it rockets to worldwide notoriety in a matter of hours.
Spies, Andrus theorized, could take advantage of these rapid, self-organizing effects. If analysts and agents were encouraged to post personal blogs and wikis on Intelink — linking to their favorite analyst reports or the news bulletins they considered important — then mob intelligence would take over. In the traditional cold-war spy bureaucracy, an analyst’s report lived or died by the whims of the hierarchy. If he was in the right place on the totem pole, his report on Soviet missiles could be pushed up higher; if a supervisor chose to ignore it, the report essentially vanished. Blogs and wikis, in contrast, work democratically. Pieces of intel would receive attention merely because other analysts found them interesting. This grass-roots process, Andrus argued, suited the modern intelligence challenge of sifting through thousands of disparate clues: if a fact or observation struck a chord with enough analysts, it would snowball into popularity, no matter what their supervisors thought."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mountain: Leslie West, Corky, Richie-Nantucket Sleighride

Gloria's getting into Christmas mode already, so we'll go along with the program, kicking it all off with Nantucket Sleighride.

reviving Dorothy Fuldheim

We were at an event Friday, and in the smalltalk afterwards, some began to express unabashed love of and admiration for the Dorothy Fuldheim blog. They're also waiting for the old girl to revive herself; they feel it's time. Speculation ran rampant as to who channels for Dorothy on occasion, so rampant that one idea pegged the intrepid Jerry/Gerry Austin, of Austin-Scheisskopf fame, as the perp. I wonder, should we stay tuned?

and now, a retrospective: "he's a rebel, you know..."

THE CRYSTALS, He's A Rebel Lyrics: In line with the previous post, I drug this up from the past. Click through; it's all good stuff. Time-tested.

He's a rebel and he'll never ever be any good
He's a rebel and he'll never ever be understood
And just because he doesn't do what everybody else does
That's no reason why I can't give him all my love
He is always good to me, always treats me tenderly
'Cause he's not a rebel, no no no
He's not a rebel, no no no, to me"

"he's a blogger, you know..."

I just got some feedback from a friend about some attitudinal things making the rounds lately. My friend, in a discussion with a mutual acquaintance about me, had the other fellow wrap up his commentary on me with the tagline, "he's a blogger, you know." I think I know how to interpret this, and it's probably something cautionary and perhaps even marginally pejorative.

But, let's just for the heck of it try out a few other things as conversational taglines, and see how they play:

"he's a father of two, you know"...
"he's a husband of one, a real saint of a woman, you know"...
"he's an Army veteran, used to be an officer, you know"...
"he's a Roman Catholic, you know"...
"he's an advisor, a financial guy, you know"...
"he's a preservationist, you know"...
"he's a college graduate, from someplace up in Massachusetts, you know"...
"he's raised by Jesuits, you know"...
"he's a boomer, you know"...
"he's a Republican, you know"...
"he's a Tourette's survivor, you know, you %!!!^^#ing%%%hole"...
"he's a closet prince, just waiting for that kiss, you know"...
and, finally, with out the comma, "he's a blogger you know"... [and love, I hope]

Has anybody else out there run into a similar phenomenon, and, if so, what do you think about it, and how did it make you feel?

perhaps he'd still be free, if gaming/gambling were legal

Alleged underboss of New England Mafia is arrested - The Boston Globe: Ya gotta love dem nicknames. Click through, read all about it. Do you think that the "Elizabeth Ratto" at the end of the article is a pen name, contrived to conceal and protect?

"Reputed Mafia underboss Carmen 'The Big Cheese' DiNunzio was arrested on extortion and illegal gambling charges as he emerged from a North End social club yesterday, potentially ending the reign of an underworld leader credited with uniting the fractured Boston mob into a low-key, profit-focused machine."

where's the Eliot Spitzer approach when, and where, we really need it?

Prime Suspect--from Mother Jones. John Ettorre alerted me to this recounting of local foreclosure and abuse, done up ably by Alyssa Katz.

Why can the investment houses be so readily, and thoroughly, and repeatedly Spitzerized, yet lenders and banks can't?

"I have unwittingly ruined my country."

Federal Reserve - Wikipedia: I found this quote by Google search first in a German section of Wikipedia. It speaks to the creation of the Federal Reserve system, and fractional banking.

"I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

--Woodrow Wilson

everybody is right

Integral Institute--Here's a way of approaching life and perception that I have been trying to incorporate into my own thinking and my business practices for a few years now, since mid-2003. Click through to see the entire *.PDF in which Jack Crittenden addressed the question "What is the Meaning of Integral?" Here's a portion--

The general idea is straightforward. It is not which theorist is right and which is wrong. Wilber's basic idea is that "Everybody is right"—that is, everybody has an important, if partial, truth—and Wilber wants to figure out how that can be so. "I don't believe," he says, "that any human mind is capable of 100 percent error." Or, as he often jokes, "Nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time." So, Wilber concludes, "instead of asking which approach is right and which is wrong, we assume each approach is true but partial, and then try to figure out how to fit these partial truths together, how to integrate them—and not how to pick one and get rid of the others."

Friday, December 01, 2006

inflation at Key: $29 million becomes $40.6 million in a few weeks Newslogs#210070--Great story of intrepid bookkeeping as $29 million magically grows to $40.6 million in the space of a few weeks. What's this action with "criminal information" as opposed to "indictment," anyway? Why? What's the effect on the ultimate outcome?

Feds charge bank exec
A former top executive at KeyCorp accused of embezzling millions of dollars was formally charged this morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. Federal prosecutors charged David Verhotz, 56, of Hudson, with bank fraud. Prosecutors filed a criminal information, rather than an indictment, against Verhotz, which is generally done when the accused is cooperating with investigators. Prosecutors say they have uncovered new information about Verhotz since his arrest at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Nov. 11. Verhotz stole $40.6 million from KeyCorp between 1997 and 2003, prosecutors said. Previously, prosecutors believed Verhotz stole about $29 million between 1999 and 2003. Verhotz was arrested by FBI agents after returning from a trip. Verhotz was a senior vice president who ran the global trade services unit. He was responsible for KeyCorp's worldwide foreign correspondent banking relations, dealing with overseas banks whose customers do business in the United States. Court testimony during Verhotz's court hearing last month revealed that Verhotz lived a double life, with a wife and four children in Ohio and a Canadian fiancée in New York. Investigators say Verhotz lived a life of luxury beyond what his $110,000-a-year salary could buy him. He bought his fiancée, Kim Chen, a $1.1 million engagement ring and $400,000 diamond earrings.

heads up! see what Sammy says on the Ohio2006 Blog

Ohio2006 Blog--This is a compelling call to action--

Bottom line, this law gives six Republican legislators unbridled power to stall administrative rule-making by the Democrat-controlled executive branch of government. It's a direct strike at Ted Strickland's ability to govern the state effectively.It's time to sound the alarm, before this drastic change is whisked through the General Assembly during the lame duck session. Write to your local newspaper, post a comment on a blog or forum, talk to your friends and neighbors. Public outcry is the only thing that can stop it.

go read the whole thing, and decide for yourself.

when's it time to be burying the wires?

FirstEnergy Corp. Community Involvement : Community Involvement--Driving around today, watching the power go down and the lights go out all over the metropolitan region, I began to wonder how we can even begin to think about having a complement of forward-thinking, productive, cutting-edge, tech companies coming in here, when all our wires are still above ground?

Can we ask artistic types, design professionals, to live here and prosper, when the streetscape and the landscape are criss-crossed by visual clutter and dissonance, and thereby rendered abhorrent to finely attuned, yet delicate, artistic sensibilities?

Do we actually deserve what we think we should have, as we speculate about how we'd like to rebuild our ideal new community? Have we required our utility companies to be the most excellent community partners they can possibly be?

If they were truly "honored to be a part of this vital partnership" and secured the wires underground, it might save us a lot of trees' being trimmed unnecessarily, and deformed, as well.

PD restitution update

Embezzler Noe ordered to repay $13.7 million: From the PD on the 28th of last month, more on the Noe-money recapture process. Note the absence of any specific mention of the money in Florida in Noe's wife's name.

"Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro is seeking to restart a civil lawsuit against Noe to recover money that he says Noe took from the workers' comp agency and could exceed $13.7 million, spokesman Mark Anthony said.
'Far and away, the lion share of the money is owed to BWC,' Anthony said.
The civil lawsuit most likely will attempt to recover potential profits the agency lost out on, Anthony said. 'That's another figure that hasn't been determined,' he said.
The lawsuit also will help determine where any of the money will go, Assistant Lucas County Prosecutor John Weglian said.
Prosecutors said they don't know whether Noe has any other personal assets that can be seized and turned over to the state.
The company selling off the coin funds could bring in about $56 million -more than the state's original $50 million investment - once all sales are finished next year, said Bill Brandt, president of Chicago-based Development Specialists Inc.
So far, about $42 million of the investment has been recovered. Any surplus beyond the original investment would count toward the amount the judge ordered Noe to pay the state.

more on restitution

Coin Dealer Noe's Legal Troubles Continue: From the 14th of last month, from Toledo, on efforts to recover money from Tom Noe. Florida's deadbeat-state statutes are getting in the way for a portion of the recovery:

"As part of the jury's verdict Monday, jurors ordered Noe to turn over to the state his shares of a Florida coin business, which has a value of at least $1 million and may be worth up to $5 million.
But prosecutors didn't go after Noe's $5 million waterfront home in the Florida Keys because it's in his wife's name.
Investigators said during the trial that he spent the state's money renovating the house, including the addition of a $50,000 swimming pool."