Monday, December 31, 2007

perspective: “When everybody knows that something is so, it means that nobody knows nothin’.”

Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike - New York Times -- I've spent a good amount of my time over the years noodling over the concept of perspective, trying to see things differently in order to break out of the lockstep that stifles creativity, and progress. Here's a good article on zero-gravity thinking, asking basic questions, and intentionally leaving comfort zones in order to grow. Looking back on it, I got a lot of these analytical techniques from dead Jesuits, but many also from a still-living professor, Maurice Geracht, who specialized in the novel; there's more to Henry James than most people suspect.

Here's the lead-in and the link to a good, quick read:

IT’S a pickle of a paradox: As our knowledge and expertise increase, our creativity and ability to innovate tend to taper off. Why? Because the walls of the proverbial box in which we think are thickening along with our experience.

Andrew S. Grove, the co-founder of Intel, put it well in 2005 when he told an interviewer from Fortune, “When everybody knows that something is so, it means that nobody knows nothin’.” In other words, it becomes nearly impossible to look beyond what you know and think outside the box you’ve built around yourself.
This so-called curse of knowledge, a phrase used in a 1989 paper in The Journal of Political Economy, means that once you’ve become an expert in a particular subject, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what you do. Your conversations with others in the field are peppered with catch phrases and jargon that are foreign to the uninitiated. When it’s time to accomplish a task — open a store, build a house, buy new cash registers, sell insurance — those in the know get it done the way it has always been done, stifling innovation as they barrel along the well-worn path. (more...)

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Our kids took a picture of this book I've been reading by Jagdish Sheth, lately of Emory University outside Atlanta. I guess they thought the name was unique and needed to be made part of this year's Christmas chronicle.
I bought this book in Atlanta at our annual convention and started reading it 12/09/2004. I am now on page 245 of 272 and have not made it all the way through once yet, and I plan to read it again, and again.
There's a lot of thought-provoking content here for all of us who serve others on a professional basis. The focus is on advisors and consultants, but the precepts or concepts apply to all who have professional engagements.
I recommend this book highly; it is loaded. Especially a propos to our regional dialogue are the discussions of scarcity and abundance, of engineering and economics juxtaposed with the liberal arts, and of trust and integrity.

Monday, December 24, 2007

do they have to give it back, or just pay a fine and do the time?

WebCPA - IRS Manager and Wife Arrested in Tax Scandal -- Another amazing thing about this article, besides the absolute perfidy of the government servants, is that I do not see any mention of the concept of "restitution" or "forfeiture" --forfeiture of retirement benefits, for instance. Unless these are part of the total equation, these characters are ahead of the game, even given some loss of their freedom for a few years.

The big question ought to be, How is the public to be made whole?

On a separate note, I wonder how the FBI inquiry is proceeding on the events surrounding the Breuer Tower hustle?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

heads up from Valdis--links you won't see around here

BBC NEWS Business The US sub-prime crisis in graphics--We just got this link referral from our friend Valdis from Orgnet, pointing to the BBC's excellent late-November coverage of the lending mess and the featured interactive graphic keying in on the Cleveland area. Did we have anything like this in the PLAIN DEALER? If we did, I missed it. I guess they don't like to embarrass their advertisers, and among their advertisers are the same ones who have earned their advertising and other dollars by keeping our community in debt at the company store of credit cards, college loans, second mortgages, equity loans, and churned and recycled first mortgages.

Just offhand, did you ever think there might be some bad karma attached to a town, and to sports teams, with long-standing affiliations to hungry entities like MBNA and QuickenLoans?

The lending-process work-flow chart is something like the one Jim Rokakis has used a few times in his presentations. Keep this link. Study the graphics. Start thinking how we can take our community back.

Friday, December 21, 2007

attorneys to forego professional courtesy, attack fellow attorneys?

Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer asks lawyers to aid in Ohio foreclosure cases - -- Here's an interesting concept being floated by Moyer and Dann--attorneys going after other attorneys, pro bono barristers attacking the house dogs of the banks and the hedge funds. I wonder how much vigorous pursuit we'll see here? These guys have as a group fallen back on the concept of professional courtesy, for the most part, to the point of abdicating their professionalism.

This is, as I said, an interesting idea--let's see who actually implements it, and how vigorously. Actually, attorneys need to clean house--the bottom-feeder subset into which foreclosure attorneys fall have made a mockery of the law, using it for cover while expoliting its loopholes to cheat and steal.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Foley gets HB 138 to the floor, and it passes, 90 to 2

Callahan’s Cleveland Diary » Blog Archive » Ohio House passes Foley bill to require prompt filing of sheriff’s deeds -- Here's some good news from Callahan's blog, hot off the wires just now. And now, we need to see how they--our elected representatives who serve the foreclosure industry interests--try to bog this one down in the senate. They--our elected representatives who are trying to serve the public interest--almost didn't get it to the floor in the house.

Be mindful that any senator who delays this bill is derelict in his duty to protect the public interest. Here we go, needing to pass another law to enforce compliance with existing laws. Nobody ever realized that attorneys bound to uphold the law would subvert it by foot-dragging, quibbling and niggling, sort of like teenagers who aspire to being tagged Philadelphia lawyers.

What's been going on is unconscionable. Go see more at Callahan's blog. Pay attention to Mike Foley, who visited with us on MeetTheBloggers a year ago this past June.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

end of an era: the UCV goes to Brookside

Welcome to Brookside Auto Parts -- I have to blog this--this is just too big for Twitter.

Today marks the end of an era: the UCV (urban combat vehicle) is on its way to Brookside. Around these parts, in Brooklyn Centre, when people die they go to Riverside, and when vehicles pass on, they go to Brookside. One's on a hill overlooking the rivers and streams; the other's under a bridge, next to them.

The 1991 Chevy conversion van, a.k.a. "Tiara," was a gift to us two years ago from our Archwood neighbors Lynn and Scott Lemley when we were just setting out on our community advocacy adventure. It was a bold statement, and it was a lesson in humility. When Tiara came onto the lot, heads turned.

Tiara carried us where the bus could not: To many, many MeetTheBloggers sessions, to Akron, even to Columbus once, to Midtown Mornings, to Midtown Brews, to all the petition-gathering sites of the PutItOnTheBallot campaign, to Norm Roulet's RealNEO gatherings in East Cleveland and downtown. It (she?) hauled gear for the Riverside Cemetery Garden Party "Magic, Mystery, and Millionaires," got tricked out like a firetruck for the Ladder 42 demonstrations, operated as the tool and garbage hauler for neighborhood street cleanups, and graced the Rocky River and Brecksville Heinen's lots often.

This year, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles decided it would overstep its authorities--for our own good, of course--and add functionality testing to the emissions testing. Even though the Chevy 350 engine and the exhaust system were a marvel to behold, with no oil leaks to boot, the BMV decided that Tiara needed power windows that worked in order to get a pass to continue on the road for another year. Heck, the windows worked fine, when you pulled them up and down and stuck a screwdriver in to hold them in place. However, the bureaucratic grease-monkeys of the BMV were not appreciative of such field-expedient displays of American ingenuity, and Tiara was confined to the garage at the end of August.

Today, with all the sleet and slush and wet, another, far littler car needed Tiara's dry berth, so the guys down at Brookside got the call. Since Tiara had the engine, transmission, and catalytic converter intact and functioning, they came for her and left checks totaling $175. I got a few Judas twinges, but then decided to write this post to assuage my guilt and pave the way to having a sumptuous lunch, on Tiara.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Freakonomics to the rescue

How Should We Be Thinking About Urbanization? A Freakonomics Quorum - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog -- Here's a welcome counterpoint to the persiflage of the PD and their star urban-views opinionator, Peter Rubin. Steven Dubner trots out five urbanization opinionators of renown: Kunstler, Glaeser, Bruegmann, Berube, and Hayden. Please enjoy and welcome the contrast, coming to you from what Gloria refers to as the realm of the "public intellectual."

Monday, December 10, 2007

key concept in the foreclosure follies

Former candidates for Cleveland mayor hit with foreclosures - -- When I was reading this Mark Naymik piece on local-political-celebrity-foreclosure-follies, it occurred to me that perhaps we should all--reporters included--pay more attention to the other players in the equation, the banks who lent the money in the first place and who now rush in to cover their assets. Let's put the focus where it needs to be; let's make sure Mark and the other reporters keep the banks front and center, even though theses same banks might be big PD advertising accounts. It's us versus them. Our interests are aligned with Ray Pierce's, with David Lynch's, and with our UT friend Ricky Pittman's.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Claudia pens a beautiful devotional piece - CityScape - Reflections on the Award-Winning RTA --Here's a nice PR piece for the GCRTA, and it's erudite, and historical, and makes everything seem so peachy-keen. We need a little more of a dose of reality, though, in that the free trolley car service disappears on the weekends and at night (where it goes and what it does with its weekends, we just don't know), and the in-town buses run so infrequently after normal business hours as to be practically unuseable.

Gloria and I have given an honest try to bus- and rapid-riding these past two years, and it's well nigh impossible to use the system efficiently unless you have a set routine during the normal business day. It's not geared to 24-hour usage, it's not geared to using for going clubbing at night or exploring on the weekends, it's not constructed so anybody can use it intuitively or on the fly, hopping from one route to another with the expectation of not being stranded for an hour or two.

As long as there's this uncertainty that flows from service where the time intervals are just way too huge, ridership demographics will not improve, ridership numbers will not increase.

I'd be interested to find out who on the RTA board or among the executives actually uses the system successfully at night and on the weekends.

good news for the holiday season: Ruthie & Moe's has just reopened, under new management

Well, we've been waiting and waiting, and I just got a call this morning from our friend Judy that what we all knew as Ruthie and Moe's diner at 40th and Prospect is now reopened as Somers, serving breakfast and lunch from 0600-1500, five days a week, Monday through Friday.

Here's a link to an older web presence to refresh your memory about what the diner thing is all about. We used the place a lot as an early morning meeting place, and look forward to doing so again, soon.

Gloria will let you know more, later. The new owners are the same ones who run Somers Place out on West 150th. Judy is the same lady who was the main waitress at Ruthie and Moe's, and she's been working for the Somers people since the diner closed in early 2006. It's been nearly two years, so get on over there!

heads up, a month later, for Live Writer 2008

Writer Zone: Windows Live Writer: Out of Beta -- Sometimes I think I'm way behind the power curve when it comes to tech, but then I have to remind myself that geekdom is not my primary calling. At the link, you can download the final version of a program that makes offline blog composition easy, and I believe it works with just about any blogging platform. We've used it with WordPress and with Blogger.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Where's all the white women?"

Cleveland - News - Pragmatic Racism -- I really got a kick out of Pete Kotz' line "the pursuit of white women." It reminded me of an old friend of mine, Felton Page, and I know if he's still out there (odds were back then he'd be shot by somebody's husband), he'd give me permission to put down this anecdote.

Back in 1973, I rotated back to the states from Korea and was sent to Fort Riley, Kansas, where all the officers with attitudes were sent on a semi-punitive basis. One of my friends from Korea, Felton Page, was there, and Felton introduced me to some subversive new humor albums coming from an outrageous new young comic called Richard Pryor. Richard spoke to all of us who were tired of the same old stuffy stuff, especially at command performances at the officers' club and at the lieutenant colonel's house. Felton channeled for Richard, bringing the taboo lines up close and personal, exposing Kansas to the talk and free-wheeling ways of the ghetto.

In an heroic effort to save all of us younger officers with attitudes from being invited to the "command performances" too often, Felton, to announce our presence, would stand at the door, rub his hands together, give a big belly laugh, and boom out, with a big smile and flashing eyes, "Hey, where's all the white women?!?!" Oops, I almost forgot to tell you, Felton was quite black; the Fort Riley establishment wasn't.

We did have some fun. This was better back then than a weekend in Topeka.

Friday, November 30, 2007

from CNN, not the PD

Foreclosure impact: Next stop, tax drop - Nov. 29, 2007 -- It's amazing how the other media continue to write the story about Cleveland, and the PLAIN DEALER still refuses to deal timely. Are they still afraid of offending advertising clients, as showcased in the recent Latourette dustup with the bloggers?

The one thing we all need to remember as we get down to true valuations in the NEO region is that all these properties just sitting and being ruined by the lenders' inattention sit adjacent to much of the world's fresh water supply. We need to take them back so that still more of our heritage assets are not wasted by those who just finished their unregulated feeding frenzy. Maybe it's even time to turn the tables.

Crain's gives heads up on local foreclosure mills

Crain's Cleveland Business: Run of the mill--Crain's Scott Suttell gives a heads up on local foreclosure mills in the national limelight as a result of clumsy--you might even be tempted to say "clunky"--overachievement in foreclosure speedup. This is one of the first ones where the nellies out on Chagrin haven't had their name mentioned. I wonder if they got a PR firm to do damage control?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

WORTH Magazine: getting more useful each month

First Person Worth--WORTH Magazine grows more meaningful, for me, by the month; the editors are beginning to broaden the focus to include all of society and the impact proper deployment of wealth can have on the common good. Christy Mack's profile in an issue earlier this fall gives some insights into what giving really means, a lot along the lines of what we are hearing from Steven Post and Jack Ricchiuto. Her particular focus is integrative medicine. Read the whole thing, she has some good insights, one of which is--

For me, philanthropy is not about giving back. It is about sharing a part of who you are, whether it is your wealth or your wisdom, experience, knowledge, talent, skill or something as simple as a smile.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Callahan’s Cleveland Diary: Judge O' Malley in the mix, too

Callahan’s Cleveland Diary » Blog Archive » Federal judges toss foreclosures, say “Prove you own the mortgage” -- Bill Callahan gives us the story of Judge Kathleen O'Malley, who, along with Judge Christopher Boyko, is making history here in NEO.

Further down in the post, note Callahan's mention of the Mortgage Servicing Fraud blog. Things are coming around fast. Be ready to react sensibly to save your community. Look to yourselves for the solutions, first of all. You don't have to look to others for help.

NEO steps up, stands up, on foreclosure abuses

Foreclosures Hit a Snag for Lenders - New York Times -- Peter N. DeWolfe (of Grimm FT, LLC--sure beats the old "anonymous" tags) over at RealNEO got this into my consciousness early this morning.

This is huge news, now that Boyko has entered the fray. We stand to make history here in Northeast Ohio, first with Jim Rokakis standing up, now with Chris Boyko jamming the cogs of the machine. The tide is turning. We can all benefit. Stay closely attuned, pay attention. Reporters from NYC, Washington, Great Britain, and France have been covering this way better than our local PD.

The eye of the foreclosure maelstrom may in fact be right here--we host many of the causes, and many of the solutions. Because we host so many of the causative factors--the perps--we may get no press coverage that is critical of them. Think about it. Connect the dots. Use the Cleveland+ technique, as in things like Latourette+DC lobbyist wife+GCP+Clinic+PD advertising = Blogging Jeff and Blogging Jill on the street, or Bruce Akers+Keybank+GCP+local Republican party = the current sad state of affairs.

Having fun yet? I am. It's not so much a blame game as it is a realistic assessment of linkages, and cause and effect, the stuff Valdis Krebs charts. You can use big charts, or, for mini-drills, just use the Cleveland+ technique, a sort of shorthand to insight and understanding. I like the campaign more and more. It was inspired, perhaps even more than the perps realized.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

and I never got to argue with him sober. . .

Norman Mailer, Outspoken Novelist, Dies at 84 - New York Times -- One of my best imaginary friends died over the weekend. Mailer and I hadn't actually spoken since the fall of 1968. I was just out of college and dangling between going to Canada, wearing a dress, commissioning obscene tattoos, and succumbing to the draft. Just to set the record straight, I got tired of the suspense and enlisted just before Woodstock, and I gave my concert tickets to a friend from Cornell.

Anyway, back to Mailer. My friend Dan Cody from Wrentham, Massachusetts, had been hanging around Provincetown for a while, being introduced around to the arts colony there initially when he was hooked up with Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and the Merry Pranksters with the Magic Bus, so he knew Mailer well enough to get drunk with him, which everybody did back then. We were there to gawk at a new phenomenon of the late '60s, the Drag Queen's Ball (and Parade), and we spent the late morning and all afternoon getting fortified. This was not the sort of thing we felt we could view straight or sober. Somehow, as the day wore on, Mailer and I engaged and squared off across a small table. We proceeded to argue, speaking in tongues, it seems, like weird twins inventing their own language. Nobody else knew what we were talking about, but it was heated, from what I was told. I suppose it was about American literature, and the novel; I was still passionate about those things back then.

Over the years, I've followed his career; I first felt a kinship with him when I devoured The Naked and the Dead early in my college readings. I really liked his subsequent alpha-male idea about being in training to become "a sexual athlete." His later feuds-in-full with Tom Wolfe were hilarious, as in this piece from a Guardian article stemming from Wolfe's essay about The Three Stooges:

The Wolfe-Mailer feud is by far the oldest and cattiest of the three. As far back as 1989, Mailer remarked: "In my mind, there is something silly about a man who wears a white suit all the time, especially in New York."

Wolfe brushed off the sartorial attack, simply pointing out that "the lead dog is the one they always try to bite in the ass". To which Mailer quickly responded: "It doesn't mean you're the top dog just because your ass is bleeding."

Deep below the multiple layers of bitchiness, it is possible to pick out a substantive battle over the future of American novel.

Also over the years, it's been comforting to know he was around, still pugnacious, fighting the good fight, keeping things stirred up to the best of his ability, making his transitions just ahead of me, hanging out around Provincetown. Looking back on it all, he was one of his own better creations.

ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam

Latin Mass Draws Interest After Easing of Restrictions - New York Times -- My dad was a convert to Catholicism during Word War II. We kids always assumed he converted in deference to and to please my mother, his sweetheart and schoolmate at Cleveland Heights High who lived in a house with big sycamores on Grandview, right behind his house on Bellfield. Talking to him towards the end of his life, a few years ago, we were surprised to find out that he became a Roman Catholic not because of mom but because of the ritual and the pageantry of the Mass per se, the old ceremony that reached out and grabbed him one Sunday in the Pacific, when a friend invited him to Mass.

Now here comes that same old ritual and pageantry back at us with the pope's giving blanket permission to revive the Latin Mass locally, on an ad hoc basis. I wonder if we sixty-somethings will be pressed into service as altar boys again until the younger generations get up to speed? Et introibo ad altare Dei. Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.

As I skimmed over the NYT article, a name from the past popped up, and I had to go to my alumni directory to validate the fact that Father Baldovin and I were contemporaries at the College of the Holy Cross in the '60s, and we were. The fact that we had to attend mandatory daily Mass with sign-in cards for our first few years there may account for the fact that he seems less than enthusiastic about the promise of this Latin-Mass revival. Personally, I'm really looking forward to it, but I wasn't permanently emotionally scarred by the daily sign-in experience; I never took it too seriously and got a lot of napping and/or homework done.

If you need to brush up, or check it out for the first time, you can do so here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

again, they're getting set to talk the talk, to sing the sad foreclosure song; they know some of the words, but not the tune

I got this notice from CoolCleveland's weekly newsletter. I hope they, the "experts," will begin to address the real causes, instead of focusing merely on the subprime and the substandard markets. This is about more than just ministering to the poor and the downtrodden, and being paid to spout platitudes about something you know little about, something that happens to "those people"; it's about neglecting to challenge those who are hiding behind the law to plunder the American neighborhood, because they're your funders and financial contributors:

Foreclosure Crisis: Shaping the Consumer Response

Learn more about one of this region's hottest topics at this informative conference, held Fri 11/9 starting at 8:30AM at Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave. The conference will feature national and regional experts, presenting strategies to combat predatory lending and payday lending. Among the speakers will include Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann. An overview of Governor Strickland’s Foreclosure Task Force will be also presented. Free parking is available off the E. 22nd St and Prospect Ave. entrance to the church. The conference agenda and registration form can be found at For more information call 431-6070.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Callahan's heads up on BBC story about Cleveland

BBC NEWS Business Foreclosure wave sweeps America --Bill Callahan linked to this fairly comprehensive story by the BBC about Cleveland's preeminence in the foreclosure arena. There's a good quote from Jim Rokakis and a really neat map with four different data perspectives.

The one thing I haven't seen yet is talk of why lenders are negotiating more with foreclosed borrowers on either coast than they are the people of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. One of our friends on the West Coast tells us that the people who oversee the foreclosed-mortgage portfolios, the blocks of foreclosed housing, want to hang onto the properties of the Midwest, because they have fallen--relatively--less than the properties on the coasts and have therefore retained a greater percentage of their original, or book, value. Our properties in Cleveland bolster the sick portfolios of the lenders, who want our properties for themselves, to make their handiwork look not as serious as it really is, outside the Midwest.

These are not nice people. They deserve few breaks and little compassion.

Gretchen Morgensen calls the beast by its name: predatory loan servicing

Borrowers Face Dubious Charges in Foreclosures - New York Times --This is what I've been waiting for. Justice is now about to be served. The plundering of the equity of the American neighborhood can now wind down.

Finally, here is the description of the crux of the foreclosure problem: predatory loan servicing. Gretchen Morgensen delivers just in time. The pacing and timing on this couldn't be better. Everything is coming into alignment. The problem is near solution. The true causes are beginning to be revealed.

The question is now, who will be the one who begins, and presides over, the Spitzerization of the lending/foreclosing industries, and the attorneys who serve them?

I have lots of other questions:
  1. Could this be the reason why the majority of foreclosures happened?
  2. Could it be the reason that so many could not escape the endless loop, even though they tried?
  3. Are these fees able to take the same position as the primary mortgage, and do they take priority over other, junior liens that were already in place at the time the servicer, the lender, and the attorneys who run the mills initiated foreclosure proceedings?
  4. What are the rules for handling the money?
  5. What are the fiduciary responsibilities?
  6. How can we get our money back?
  7. How can we begin to quantify the damages, as well?
  8. How can we recover damages?
  9. Who gets paid back first?
  10. How can we prevent this happening again, and who was asleep at the switch?

If you thought asbestos was big for the plaintiffs' bar, just stay tuned on this one.

Here are a few excerpts from Gretchen's article, but read the whole thing. This is huge. Seminal. Long overdue. Invigorating.

. . . Because there is little oversight of foreclosure practices and the fees that are charged, bankruptcy specialists fear that some consumers may be losing their homes unnecessarily or that mortgage servicers, who collect loan payments, are profiting from foreclosures. . . .

. . . On Oct. 9, the Chapter 13 trustee in Pittsburgh asked the court to sanction Countrywide, the nation’s largest loan servicer, saying that the company had lost or destroyed more than $500,000 in checks paid by homeowners in foreclosure from December 2005 to April 2007. The trustee, Ronda J. Winnecour, said in court filings that she was concerned that even as Countrywide misplaced or destroyed the checks, it levied charges on the borrowers, including late fees and legal costs. . . .

it feels so good to be validated by Brookings

Brookings Institution report shows Cleveland still a big economic force - OPENERS - Ohio Politics Blog by The Plain Dealer -- Liz Auster has study material here that backs up what we've been saying all along: we're intrinsically rich here and have many God-given advantages, and responsibilities. She uses the term "big picture." Take note.

Add to the Brookings material the facts that we are close to large amounts of water, have a temperate climate, are a great place to raise a family, and happen to be very affordable, and you can see why people commute to work in NYC from here.

I'm going to copy her article in it's entirety, since the PD content disappears after a while. It says there's a Permalink, but I still don't know what their definition of "perma" is:

Brookings Institution report shows Cleveland still a big economic force

Posted by
Elizabeth Auster November 06, 2007 00:01AM


Click to download a Plain Dealer graphic about the study. (PDF)•
Find out more on the Brookings Web site.

Cleveland might rank as one of the nation's poorest big cities. It might be bleeding people as well as jobs. But don't despair. The big picture isn't quite so dreary.
Greater Cleveland still plays an outsized role in the economy of Ohio, the nation and the world, says a report being released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

The Cleveland metropolitan area, which stretches from Elyria to Mentor, ranked 23rd nationally in employment in 2005, with 1.1 million jobs - more than any other metro area in Ohio. And Cleveland was the only metropolitan area in Ohio to make it onto a 2006 list of the world's 25 most competitive cities compiled by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Development.

In Ohio, the Cleveland metro area accounts for a disproportionate share of economic activity, generating 22.5 percent of the state's gross domestic product even though it has only 18.5 percent of the state's population, the study says.

The numbers reflect the continuing potency not only of Cleveland, but also of large metropolitan areas nationwide, says Bruce Katz, director of Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program. The nation's 100 largest metro areas claim only 12 percent of the land mass in the United States, but account for 65 percent of its population, 68 percent of its jobs, and 75 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

Metropolitan areas are showing surprising economic resilience, Katz says, despite predictions in recent decades that Americans increasingly would move from urban centers to "the hinterlands" as manufacturing declined, technology exploded and telecommuting became more of an option.

"The opposite has really occurred," says Katz. "The most sophisticated and wealth-generating firms in our country, as in Europe, as in Asia, crave proximity."

Metropolitan areas, which can include suburban and rural areas that surround cities, continue to be powerful forces, he says, because the knowledge-based economy thrives on access to large pools of educated workers, specialized legal and financial firms and institutions of higher learning. Innovative companies prefer being near clusters of similar firms, he says, because the closeness allows ideas to be shared rapidly.

The Brookings report is part of a multi-year project that aims to assess the strengths and weaknesses of metropolitan areas and recommend steps government can take to help them compete more effectively in the global economy.

The report contends that the federal government too often overlooks the changing needs of U.S. metropolitan areas and spends money in a scattershot way that undermines their growth.

Despite the strength of Cleveland and other U.S. metropolitan areas, the report says, there are signs of slippage. Between 1975 and 2005, for example, other nations increased their patenting activity faster than the United States. As a result, the share of U.S. patents that originated in the United States fell from 65 to 52 percent, the report says.

During the same 30-year period, Cleveland's share of Ohio's patents fell from 27 to 22 percent, says Alan Berube, research director of Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Gloria Ferris: Will Voting “NO” on Issue 14 Get Anyone’s Attention?

Gloria Ferris » Blog Archive » Will Voting “NO” on Issue 14 Get Anyone’s Attention? -- Gloria weighs in, wants them spanked, or perhaps beaten and cast out into the darkness. We have to stop shoveling money at people who then turn around and use it against us.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

the lowdown: vote down issue 14, and reduce taxes

MORE GLIB LIES FROM PORT AUTHORITY - SO VOTE NO ON ISSUE 14 REALNEO for all -- Our friend Jeff Buster doesn't mince words. The Port Authority does. See what I mean at

Personally, I'm not comfortable with what I see as conflicts of interest, with John Carney, a real-estate developer, being on a public board that decides land use and has dealings in the capital markets. There is the perception that the Port Authority is out of control and overstepping its bounds, and I can't see why we should assist them in their self-dealing efforts any further. The public-private money distinction is just getting too blurry, and it's time to begin to cut off their funds. A vote against this renewal is just a start.

Also, I think the Port Authority needs to come up with a Conflict of Interest Policy and lay it all out on the table, so far as what is ethical conduct, and what isn't.

Disney plans Ratatouille's next iteration, Ratvioli, to be filmed in Cleveland

YouTube - Ratatouille trailer 2

The latest Disney opus, Ratatouille, about a young rat-chef living within the walls of a famous Paris bistro, is rumored to have a successor film already in the can: Ratvioli!

This next production is also about a rat-chef, Ratatouille's maternal great-great-great grandfather, and he is a Cleveland rat from Murray Hill who tells Ettore Boiardi the secret to killer rat-violi meat filling, back during the Depression, and saves the East Side from vegetarianism.

Rumor also has it that Cleveland writer John Ettorre, although mum at this point, has an obscure family connection and is working with words to craft the original screenplay, perhaps even before filming begins in a deserted warehouse off Cleveland's Train Avenue next spring.

heads up on Breuer/Bauhaus eruptions

I'm hoping everybody is following the fantastic dialoghue about Marcel Breuer erupting over at RealNEO as a result of Susan Miller's organizational and educational efforts for explicating and enriching our local artistic, design, and architectural legacies. Go there. Poke around. There's a ton of Breuer content extant this past 7 or 8 months, and Susan seems to be the nexus. Make sure you catch the links, too, to Marc Lefkowitz at Green City Blue Lake.

All in all, I'm very proud of our arts and professional communities for the effort they are putting behind appreciation of our intrinsic wealth, our legacy in architecture, at this point focusing on Breuer and sustainability. Waste not, want not.

Here's a small sample of the massive synergy Susan is bringing together.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 6:00pm -- Green building and modernism; are they antithetical?

· Guest lecturer, Carl Stein, FAIA, Principal of elemental architecture, llc, of New York City and his late father, Richard Stein, FAIA, have completed numerous historic rehabilitation projects based on their innovative and pioneering research in the analysis of energy use and conservation in buildings and design. He served his architectural internship with Marcel Breuer from 1968-1971.

At Judson at University Circle (free parking available)

Brought to you by Doty & Miller Architects, D.H. Ellison Co., Peter Lawson Jones, Recent Past Preservation Network, Richard Fleischman Architects, Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Robert Maschke Architects, Inc., Process Creative Studios Inc., Jim Rokakis, Schmidt Copeland Parker Stevens with assistance from Cleveland Cinematheque, Cleveland Institute of Art, Judson Manor, The Sculpture Center, Intermuseum Conservation Association, AIA Cleveland, Kent State University Art History, Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, Cleveland Artists Foundation, GreenCityBlueLake, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Studio Techne Architects

eaters speak: commodity farmers are welfare queens

Weed It and Reap - New York Times -- The politics of food are becoming more apparent, thank goodness, as we begin to question how subsidies affect the public health and ask why we pay so much to enable being porky and diabetic. This op-ed piece provides a very useful perspective on what we subsidize, and how it costs us in so many other ways as well. Our MTB talk with Phil Nabors of The Mustard Seed Market touched on this last fall, and we've talked with Maurice Small and Niki Gilotta since, about what it takes to be healthy and sensible about food.

The op-ed contributor, Michael Pollan, is a very good writer who skewers with wit and garnishes with wisdom. As the NYT briefly points out, Michael Pollan, a contributing writer at The Times Magazine and a professor of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, is the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and the forthcoming “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” Here are some samples, but read the whole piece:

Americans have begun to ask why the farm bill is subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils at a time when rates of diabetes and obesity among children are soaring, or why the farm bill is underwriting factory farming (with subsidized grain) when feedlot wastes are polluting the countryside and, all too often, the meat supply. For the first time, the public health community has raised its voice in support of overturning farm policies that subsidize precisely the wrong kind of calories (added fat and added sugar), helping to make Twinkies cheaper than carrots and Coca-Cola competitive with water. Also for the first time, the international development community has weighed in on the debate, arguing that subsidized American exports are hobbling cotton farmers in Nigeria and corn farmers in Mexico. . . .

. . . . But as important as these programs are, they are just programs — mere fleas on the elephant in the room. The name of that elephant is the commodity title, the all-important subsidy section of the bill. It dictates the rules of the entire food system. As long as the commodity title remains untouched, the way we eat will remain unchanged.

The explanation for this is straightforward. We would not need all these nutrition programs if the commodity title didn’t do such a good job making junk food and fast food so ubiquitous and cheap. Food stamps are crucial, surely, but they will be spent on processed rather than real food as long as the commodity title makes calories of fat and sugar the best deal in the supermarket. We would not need all these conservation programs if the commodity title, by paying farmers by the bushel, didn’t encourage them to maximize production with agrochemicals and plant their farms with just one crop fence row to fence row.

And the government would not need to pay feedlots to clean up the water or upgrade their manure pits if subsidized grain didn’t make rearing animals on feedlots more economical than keeping them on farms. Why does the farm bill pay feedlots to install waste treatment systems rather than simply pay ranchers to keep their animals on grass, where the soil would be only too happy to treat their waste at no cost?

However many worthwhile programs get tacked onto the farm bill to buy off its critics, they won’t bring meaningful reform to the American food system until the subsidies are addressed — until the underlying rules of the food game are rewritten. This is a conversation that the Old Guard on the agriculture committees simply does not want to have, at least not with us.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

art at the cathedral

This past November 1st, I found myself at the end of the day needing to find a Mass, so I bused on over to the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, where I found this printed program awaiting me. These past few years, it seems that the rich pageantry and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church are undergoing a revival in Cleveland; the music programs have been excellent, and the supporting graphics enhance the effort. I'm beginning to understand what my dad said attracted him to become a convert in the first place: the elegance and the ceremony. If you want to see art at work in the world, look no further than 1007 Superior Avenue East.

Friday, November 02, 2007

seizing the daylight, cussing the Congress

Daylight saving time ends Sunday, even if your clock sprung ahead - MarketWatch -- Here's the story I could have used last week, when for a brief moment I became unstuck in time, and confusion reigned in the electronic cottage, thanks to two old Dells and two newer IBMs. Since the days when I delivered the PD (back then, it was a classy, conservative, less proletarian alternative to the Cleveland PRESS and the Cleveland NEWS, and I was its proud and relatively wealthy carrier who earned twice what my PRESS peers did), I've always thought it would be better for people to adjust themselves to the sunlight than it is for the country to adjust its clocks backward and forward, springing forward and falling back. Here's the official lowdown:

Daylight saving time is set to end Sunday at 2 a.m., a week later than usual, as new federal rules that shorten the period for standard time take full effect.

For most folks, that means setting the clocks back an hour. But there are those who may already have sprung ahead of the official time change, as some alarm clocks across the country jumped the gun last weekend, automatically setting back to standard time a week ahead of schedule. Computer operating systems that hadn't been updated did the same.

The problem: Their internal calendars weren't adjusted for the new rules.

Congress changed the daylight savings law in 2005, but didn't put it into effect immediately so potential software problems could be worked out, said David Prerau, author of "Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time." Prerau also was a consultant to Congress on the law extending daylight saving time.

After the law passed, manufacturers began programming the new dates into electronics.

But for those who own electronics with internal clocks that predate 2005 -- and have no way to change the daylight saving time settings -- the changing of the clocks could be a biannual annoyance, Prerau said. Those people might have to disable the feature altogether.

"It is annoying for people who have equipment that can't be changed," he said. "I'm hoping that anything new has new dates but (also) a relatively easy way to change the dates," just in case the daylight saving time rules change again in the future, he said.

Affected electronics

That said, most products will likely be unaffected by the schedule change, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. That's because most time-dependent products such as cell phones and computers get their time and date from a network.

It's devices that aren't connected to a wired or wireless network -- including many wrist watches, alarm clocks and VCRs -- that need extra attention. These often are the devices that need to be reset after a power outage, said Jenny Pareti, spokeswoman for the group.

"Anything that isn't connected to a network or a broadcast source will need to be manually reset," she said. If the product was made before August 2005 and it uses an internal calendar, owners should disable the daylight saving time feature and/or change the time manually, according to the group.

Older computer operating systems may also be affected, but there are often easy fixes that can be made to update them, she said. Microsoft, for example, has a page devoted to helping consumers get the correct updates.

doing the math for halloween

We had a fairly light turnout of kids here in Cleveland, near the zoo, this past Wednesday evening. We bought $38 worth of candy for the trick-or-treaters this year and gave it out at 3 pieces per kid; we still wound up with about 1/3rd of it left over. Doing the math, at 12 bags times 18 pieces per bag divided by 3 pieces per kid, times 66%, it seems we served about 46 kids and had enough candy left over for at least two days of gut-wrenching dietary supplement, including Reese's peanut butter cups, Kit-Kat, Baby Ruth, Milky Way, Butterfinger, and Snickers

Our daughter in Knoxville reports a scant 4 trick-or-treaters; the Savannah contingent, that gave out ramen last year, about 30; our UPS lady Joanne from Berea reports 17, and further notes that they were too meek, or not as raucous as they ought to be. Our kids were more polite than ever. Some asked if it was OK to pick what they really wanted, even if it was three of one kind. Others picked three and made a point of showing us they had adhered to the limit.

If we get $25 worth next year, that should do it. Then, as a contingency plan on the back end, if we run out, we can give away dollars, and shut down by 8:00 PM, before the word spreads.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

five easy choices

Five Easy Ways to Go Organic - Well - Tara Parker-Pope - Health - New York Times Blog -- Here are five ways to quickly begin to experience the benefits of a cleaner diet. I really appreciate the one doctor's comments about our "buying into a whole chemical system of agriculture" if we're indiscriminate in our food-buying choices. I also remember how with the kids, ketchup was it's own food group, and the article acknowledges that, "For some families, ketchup accounts for a large part of the household vegetable intake." Absent from the discussion here is mention of fillers and stretchers, like high fructose corn syrup.

This is a good read; click through. They also link to another interesting organic-food-info source: "For a complete list of Dr. Greene’s strategic organic choices, visit Organic Rx on his website."

George. See George. See George play. Today.

George Foley at Cleveland Public Library Special Collections & Fine Arts Blog -- I've known George Foley for a good many years, but never knew about the albums. When he's not performing, he's quiet and unassuming, at least when I've been around him. His dad, Joe, talked with the MeetTheBloggers crew in May of 2006. We'll be be making a special point of going to see George this afternoon at 2. Here's the info from the site.

George Foley at Cleveland Public Library

Cleveland Public Library Fine Arts & Special Collections Department presents George Foley, pianist and singer, performing ragtime and popular songs by Charles L. Johnson, Scott Joplin, Zez Confrey, Fats Waller, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Frank Loesser, and others on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 2 p.m. Foley is a dexterous pianist and entertaining singer. His singing might remind you of Fats Waller, Jack Teagarden or Mildred Bailey.

Foley has recorded four albums including Cleveland Rag (1977), I Love It (1984), Smiles and Kisses (1989), and ‘S Wonderful (2003). He has played on the Mississippi Queen steamboat and at many ragtime festivals. He performs regularly at many clubs around Cleveland including NightTown, The Barking Spider, and The Tavern Co. He also works with the Mercuries and the Night Owls.

This musical program will be on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 2 p.m. in the 3rd floor lobby of the Fine Arts & Special Collections Department at the Main Library, 325 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114. For information call (216) 623-2848.

This program is presented in conjunction with Sentimental Journey: Selections from the Cleveland Public Library Sheet Music Collection, a display located on the third floor of the Main Library. The display features highlights from the library's sheet music collection of over 20,000 titles.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

promoting financial literacy

Callahan’s Cleveland Diary » Blog Archive » New “Foreclosing Cleveland” blog -- Bill's finally acknowledged that the topic was taking over his Cleveland Diary, and now it has a life of its own. This is important work he's doing, and the Foreclosing Cleveland blog goes into my sidebar soon. Bill is compassionate, articulate, literate, and "numerate," which I guess is the obverse of "innumerate," the sibling of "illiterate."

for the record: Holy Cross president clarifies stance, squelches rumors of decertification as a Catholic college

TO: Alumni and friends of Holy Cross
FR: Michael C. McFarland, S.J., President
RE: Upcoming conference

A great deal of misinformation and misrepresentation is circulating about the upcoming meeting of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy in rented facilities in the Hogan Campus Center at the College of the Holy Cross.

Many alumni have received e-mail or other correspondence from Raymond B. Ruddy '65, which is an unauthorized use of the College's alumni online community. It is disheartening that the College is being portrayed in this way; we are doing our best to make it clear what our position is and where we stand.

I'm writing to provide you with assurances and facts.

Holy Cross regrets any confusion that in renting space, the College is supporting Planned Parenthood, NARAL or other agencies that promote practices contrary to Church teaching. Our rental contract is with the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, an umbrella organization of about 50 groups, some of them Catholic. Our contract and dealings are do not involve Planned Parenthood or NARAL.

Holy Cross fully affirms and promotes Catholic teaching on abortion and the sanctity of all human life. The College is adamantly and clearly opposed to abortion, and has not wavered in this regard since issuing a statement in 1991 when students petitioned the College to organize a pro-choice student organization. See

Last week, Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester, asked the College to disassociate itself from the conference and the groups involved; and to revoke our contract with the Alliance. To cancel at this point would break a legal contract and would make it impossible for the Alliance to hold a conference that we believe deals with a worthwhile subject. Teenage parents and teenagers at risk of becoming pregnant are among the most vulnerable people in our country today.

As president of a Catholic college in the Diocese of Worcester, I wholly respect the duty of Bishop McManus to uphold the teachings of the Church—most especially the sanctity of life and opposition to abortion. However, it is the College's position that providing rented meeting space to a conference of professionals from a variety of Massachusetts organizations discussing the safety and care of at-risk teenagers does not represent a disregard of Catholic teaching.

Please also be aware that no Holy Cross administrators, faculty members or students are involved in developing conference content, nor will they attend the conference. This is a meeting of adult professionals who work for the health and well-being of Massachusetts teenagers and children.

I invite you to visit the section of our Web site where there is more detailed information, including the statement I issued last week.

With gratitude for your prayers and support,

Michael C. McFarland, S.J.
College of the Holy Cross
October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

U2's Bono tells bankers they can make a difference -- but they already have...

U2's Bono tells bankers they can make a difference - The Boston Globe -- Somehow, this article strikes me as bizarre, or surreal. It goes beyond ironic. Here we have Bono, the self-anointed advocate of the besieged masses, private-jetting in to Boston to be talking to a convention of mortgage bankers bemoaning their own cursed fate, not that of the economy they've undermined or the people whose equity they've systematically stolen, under the cover of the law. U2? Me, too, as well.

With panels such as Subprime Market Portfolio Solutions for the Practitioners on the agenda yesterday, Bono's appearance created the buzz among attendees. So much so that those who didn't hear him regretted it right away.

"We were bummed we missed it," said Mary Pirello, who heard a rumor that Bono - said to be just 5 feet 6 inches tall - wore platform shoes on the podium. His outsized image was projected on two giant video screens flanking the stage in the hall.

With thousands of subprime loans falling into foreclosure across the country, the mortgage industry is struggling because investors are refusing to put more capital into a troubled sector. And with thousands of borrowers losing their homes to foreclosure, some in the industry are engaged in some serious soul-searching.

But for an hour or so yesterday, Bono, the bankers said, transported them out of their day-to-day worries. Though he has urged wealthy nations to forgive the debts of poor countries in Africa, forgiveness of domestic mortgages was not on Bono's agenda yesterday.

He instead charmed the bankers and lenders with stories about his "bad boy" days as a rocker. He also appealed to the audience's collective conscience when he urged them to do humanitarian work or give to charities, even during tough times.

"It's star power," said Brian Thomas, a Wells Fargo amp; Co. employee attending the conference from Minneapolis.

And all this talk about Bono's "really important" humanitarian work is great, said Ken Kummerer, who works for Southwest Securities in Chicago. But most who were there "love him because he's Bono," he said.

Said Valerie Harden, who works for JPMorgan Chase in Florida, "The reason people liked him was we're so wrapped up in ourselves - what's the interest rate and are we going to hit our quotas. He found the really important thing in life is to help people."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

still time to drive on over...

New RTA rapid station opens this morning - Cleveland Metro News – The Latest Breaking News, Photos and Stories from The Plain Dealer. This is good news, to have the public-transportation infrastructure upgraded and improved. At the dedication, I just wonder how many will arrive by train, how many by car, how many on foot, how many by bike, and so forth.

If anybody makes it on over there, let us know the breakout. I didn't put it into the schedule, and, besides, the Urban Combat Vehicle (UCV) is parked in the garage with expired tags. It did not make it through the last battery of license-renewal tests. They've now added the requirement for operational windows, and the UCV is either all or nothing, with no in between.

Like any other government program, the emissions testing has proved to be the camel's nose.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

deeply unstructured, and everybody's everything

LibraryThing: Common Knowledge: Social cataloging arrives -- Click the link to the left here to see the evolving philosophy behind this fascinating LibraryThing, and its "nearly infinite cross-linking of data". My own modest compilation is in the sidebar, to the right.

We're back from our annual Southern Tour and will be working back into the Cleveland community soon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Newt, Freddie, and the kid with the boots in that big tent in the middle

Gloria and I have been on the road for a while, which is why we haven't posted much. Yesterday found us in Atlanta at a conference at which we had privilege and the pleasure of hearing Fred Barnes, whom most of you probably know from the McLaughlin Report on PBS, moderate a talk with Newt Gingrich the Republican and Harold Ford, Jr., the Democrat. Without the screening, slanting, and censorship you normally get from the mainstream media (MSM), we realized that these guys have a lot in common, working for the common good, and probably should all squeeze into that big tent in the middle.

These days, if you are working in the best interest of the people of The United States and of the world, can you afford to be strongly partisan? The dialogue yesterday suggested that you couldn't, and that we all needed to set certain things aside if we are to prosper. Leaders don't niggle, quibble, and bicker.

Newt brought up the interesting point that, if people figured out that Ms. Clinton intends to dump their healthcare into a system that is already busted and bankrupt, it would foreclose her from the presidency. However, he also said that none of her challengers had as yet figured out how to articulate this, and unless one of them did, we were sliding towards another iteration of the Clintonesque.

telling the story as it should be told, about foreclosures

I wanted to make sure we got the link up to last Sunday's piece by Jim Rokakis in The Washington Post. What's happening right now in Cleveland and in Cuyahoga County is an exceptional and aggravated example of a national plague of parasitism, as lenders, servicers, attorneys, brokers, and investment bankers descend on cities to capture decades of equity to which they are not entitled. Our friend Jim is a strong, clear voice, and he's also a good storyteller. We're going to have lots of similar stories to tell as this foreclosure farce unwinds. Stay tuned.

Jim was talking about this problem a good few months ago when we talked to him in a MeetTheBloggers session. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

confronting our monsters, quieting our demons

Psychiatrist receiving MacArthur fellowship drew from Homer to treat war veterans - The Boston Globe -- This repatriation following a stint in the service has proven a problem for many of us, our friends, and our families. Here from the Boston GLOBE is a story of a psychiatrist who has made a connection I never thought of; PTSD and allied problems seem to be perennial, but treatable. We are not alone.

In "Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming," published in 2002, Shay draws parallels between the perilous, 10-year journey home of Odysseus from the Trojan War and the psychological odyssey of veterans returning to civilian life.

Like the hero of the "Odyssey," whom Shay depicts as conniving and explosively violent as he travels the world battling monsters, veterans of contemporary wars are often danger-seekers.

In his book, Shay cites the example of a Navy veteran from South Boston who was the only member of his boat crew to survive an explosion in the Mekong Delta on March 17, 1968, during the Tet Offensive. For years on the anniversary of
the explosion, this veteran, whom Shay calls Wiry, "would go into a really rough
fighting bar in Southie and just attack the meanest, toughest-looking guy in the
bar and get himself beat up," Shay told the Globe.

Today, troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan tell similar stories about their mental struggles. Shay believes that the analogies he draws in his books can be useful to help reduce and treat psychological trauma among those veterans.
"As long as human beings go to war and try to come home from war, these [epics] will speak to us," he said of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey." "They truly hold up all that is generic about going to war and coming home from war."

Shay's books are "a wonderful resource for both clinicians and vets and their loved ones," said Keith Armstrong, a San Francisco psychiatrist and one of the authors of "Courage After Fire," a guide book on coping with trauma for troops who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and for their families.

editing the editors, adjusting the attitude

Burke Lakefront Airport isn't going anywhere, so city must make the best of it - an editorial- -- I thought it was an incredibly good piece of news that Frank Jackson was acknowledging the permanent status of Burke Lakefront Airport, acknowledging that the dialogue swirling around it was something that never should have been started. As a development asset, it was never something that could ever be put on the table. I would really like to know who started beating the drum about it in the first place.

Anyway, we have below a PD editorial, which I have included in its entirety, that points up the attitudinal shortcomings of our newspaper's vision of who we are and what capital we have as a city and as a region. This editorial is about as shabby as the PR flak job they tried to pass of as reporting of the abrogation of our voting rights with last sales-tax-hike, the one that starts October 1st.

A far more positive take would be that the builders of Burke created usable land where there had been none prior. They created an asset of value using garbage. They were early-adapter recyclers. They were The Forest City, and they were green, too.

Another positive point is that dealmakers can fly into Burke discreetly, be whisked up to corporate or professional offices where big deals are made, and be taken out to wine and dine in celebration of the closed deal at classy hotels and restaurants before being whisked back down to the field to depart for home. WORTH Magazine has been attentive all this year to how people are using small planes--leased, shared, bought, and so forth.

Yet another positive point is that very few other cities have an asset like this, collocated with the fanciest hotels and the main business district with all the corporate headquarters and big law firms.

Another interesting fact is that this little airport takes the shipping burden off Hopkins and can handle a heck of a lot of courier business from the downtown business district.

Another neat thing is that our airport is nestled right between Edgewater Park and Whiskey Island to the west and Gordon Park and Bratenahl to the east. Really, how much "access" does the PD editorializer want? What about that Stadium thing? We had the chance to redesign the lakefront during the final days of the White administration, and where was the PD when that was all kicking off?

Since the PD's content usually disappears after a while, here is the editorial in all its cheesy, yet resplendent, negativity. See how you would make it more positive, try shucking the Ambrose Bierce pose without becoming Holly Golightly or Mary Poppins. The bold parts are things I think could stand an attitude adjustment, or some backup with facts.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mayor Frank Jackson's announcement that Burke would remain open indefinitely was probably the right decision.

Seventy years ago, when Cleveland's city fathers were looking around for land on which to build a new airport, they made a horrible decision.

Booming business at Cleveland Municipal Airport (now Cleveland Hopkins International Airport) was creating a desperate need for a reliever airport to handle smaller aircraft. So, city officials looked around and settled on the worst possible site - the city's lakefront.

World War II delayed construction, but by 1947, enough waste, garbage and other fill had been piled on the Lake Erie shoreline to open Burke Lakefront Airport, a 480-acre land-grabber that has blocked access to Cleveland's most precious asset ever since.

Almost from the day it opened, Burke has been cited as an example of atrocious land-use policy. But calls for closing Burke have often conveniently ignored the enormous difficulties that would be involved.

Replacing Burke with an airport located more sensibly would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions.

Redirecting light aircraft to Hopkins would risk intolerable delays to the major air carriers so important to the region's economy.

Any move to close Burke would probably meet fierce resistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

For all of those reasons, Wednesday's announcement by Mayor Frank Jackson that Burke would remain open indefinitely was probably the right decision. Wisely, the mayor also wants to increase development around Burke, an idea that could be facilitated by moving the port and Coast Guard headquarters. Smart development near Burke would not only represent a first, but would be consistent with the long-term lakefront plan advocated by
Jackson's predecessor, Jane Campbell.

But if Burke is to remain, it is essential that it be turned into an honest-to-goodness airport that serves the city's needs - not just a little-used landing strip serving a few dozen corporate jets and student pilots.

Until that changes, Burke will continue to be a complete waste of priceless lakefront land. The burden now falls to Jackson and airport director Ricky Smith to make the best of Burke's bad location by implementing their good ideas.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ken Burns: The War

I don't usually watch much television. For some reason, last night we locked onto our local PBS station, Channel 25, and stayed locked on through the second showing. Ken Burns' THE WAR is history dished up as never before as well as a think-tool for dealing with today's state of affairs, in which much of the money and the power seem to have gotten into the wrong hands.

There are two recurrent, simple, powerful themes that reached from then to now and grabbed me:

  1. Bad things happen when one group of people thinks it's better than or superior to another group.
  2. Worse things, evil things, ugly things, happen when the group that thinks it's superior begins to covet and then confiscate the stuff of the supposedly inferior group.

Here's a synopsis of the episodes and a schedule. Back then, the people had information withheld from them, but they seemed to be trying to come awake. Now, we have imperfect information fed in from all sides, despite our mainstream media's vastly improved capabilities, but people seem not to want to come to grips.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Task Lamps in the Spotlight - New York Times -- I'm fascinated with lamps and light. Without good lighting, you have trouble living in the world of books, art, and ideas. With good lighting, the world opens up.

I also think that paying attention to having good lighting is important for maintaining our full functionality for as long as possible.

I think I really want #4, Richard Sapper’s Halley Compact lamp.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Roldo reports on Gloria's reporting the truth, out-reporting the PD/Lesic PR staff - Roldo Link Reporters Snooze To Avoid Displeasure Of Bosses --George over at BFD gives us the heads up on Roldo's commentary this week in which he takes note of Gloria's depiction of the county hearings on the sales tax, and contrasts it to the work done by the PD reporters and editors. It makes me wonder why the PD couldn't afford to be more forthcoming, more "journalistic." In the case of the sales-tax hike for the general fund, they functioned as a public-relations agency for the commissioners and the Greater Cleveland Partnership, not as a newspaper. If ever they felt they were charged with reporting the truth in a balanced manner, they seem to have forgotten.

open source, open economy

I.B.M. to Offer Office Software Free in Challenge to Microsoft’s Line - New York Times -- Good news here, as IBM announces that Lotus line will go open source in direct competition with Microsoft Office. I ran IBM's OS/2 for years because it was a solid system that attempted to allow compatibilities across platforms. The whole idea was that we be functional, secure, and able to communicate. Microsoft won out in the operating-system wars by being exclusive, proprietary, and marketing-savvy. They also sabotaged everybody else's standards in order to achieve dominance. Since then, having become the only game in town for business applications, they have proceeded to extort us.

IBM has been offering Lotus on its machines for a good while. We're looking to buy a refurbished IBM-certified machine, and they still come with Lotus SmartSuite on board.

Another bright spot in the open source arena is Ubuntu, which people are comparing to a lean, stripped-down Windows XP. LAPTOP Magazine's Jeffrey Wilson ran a good bit on it in the September 2007 issue; the print edition has less than the online link I've furnished, and they're different.

The point is that we will now be able to whack about $200-300 off the cost of every machine. We will be able to get high-quality refurbished equipment into the hands of just about everybody in our communities. With tactical deployment of wifi, we will all be able to build our own community networks. We will be able to do an end-around and to go faster than those who now are blocking progress, to hold onto their vested interests. Soon, everybody will have "access." It sounds really American.

I shrugged and said what the heck

Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism - New York Times -- I confess that I haven't read any Ayn Rand straight through. I tried years ago, and it didn't speak to me, so whichever work it was never got finished. Reading this reprise by the NYT, I think her writing might be a propos to the times we're in now, so I'll be picking up a copy of Atlas Shrugged soon. One of our very good friends down in Worthington tells us it was a seminal influence on his life and his career, and we think he's done a good job of balancing spirituality and money.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

please note that Michael has moved

Meet the Bloggers » Midtown Brews: Tech Czar Michael DeAloia -- Here's an exciting exit interview with our Tech Czar, Michael DeAloia, leaving the city government for SchoolOne. I think that, after you listen, you will agree with me that the title of Tech Czar necessarily moves with him. (I have always wanted it to be Tech Tsar, because there may be such a thing as visual alliteration.)

People go where they're appreciated.

there are givers, and takers

This morning, I am reading Stephen Post's new book and have come across the concept of "generativity" and how it promotes health and prosperity. Here's a section about David Sloan Wilson that I find especially a propos with regard to our local economy and the dialogue we've been having these past few years about casinos, the medical mart, and development in general. The following comes from pages 59 and 60:

...In particular, I've turned to the evolutionist (and my friend) David Sloan Wilson, author of Darwin's Cathedral. David is the brilliant thinker who resurrected Charles Darwin's idea of group selection to explain why we give and why we enjoy giving. He has pointed out that groups whose members are giving actually survive and flourish. Imagine a world, says David, that ranges from the most pristine giving to the most wanton selfishness. Winners survive and reproduce and truly "inherit" the earth, while losers pass out of existence. So who are the winners and losers? You'd think givers would lose in such a world, because they would constantly be taken advantage of. But givers thrive--as long as they interact with other givers. The band together in generous, caring groups and thrive. Over time, David suggests, evolution has slowly selected giving as a profoundly healthy trait in our very social species.

Friday, September 14, 2007

consolidations to Cleveland?

KeyBank eliminates call center, 200 jobs -- Just keeping you posted, from our neighbors in Dayton:

KeyBank is the second Cleveland-based bank to cut jobs and slash operations in the Dayton area recently.

National City Corp. announced last week that it is cutting nearly 1,300 jobs to shrink the bank's faltering mortgage business. More than 100 employees at National City Mortgage in Miami Twp. were laid off as a result.

put it on the ballot

Police union proposes income tax hike to pay for more cops - Cleveland Metro News – The Latest Breaking News, Photos and Stories from The Plain Dealer -- Kevin Conwell says he wants to gauge Mayor Jackson's and Marty Sweeney's support for this idea. Kevin, you need to represent the constituency first and foremost. Please don't forget, you, and Sweeney and Jackson, should be serving us first. We really don't see what gauging their support has to do with anything--you all work for us, and you shouldn't be deciding or second-guessing what it is you think we want. Put it on the ballot, and we'll vote, and that's how we'll let you know what you're supposed to do. You guys don't seem to be able to get it right on your own.

I wonder if we should just continue using the PutItOnTheBallot machinery? A mere 9,600 should be a piece of cake.

"the neighborhood's the victim"

Mason prosecutes mortgage-fraud schemes in Solon worth $2.6 million - -- Bill Mason strikes a chord that should resonate with all of us, and this idea may form the basis for communities to recover from the lenders, the investment bankers, the brokers, the servicers, the hedge funds, and all others who have made transactional, short-term profits churning our capital and using our legal system against us, as it suits them.

Mason praised Solon police for paying special attention to mortgage fraud, a crime that many police departments are just beginning to understand.

Countywide, the prosecutor's office has so far this year filed 12 cases involving 60 properties, $8.4 million in loans and more than 130 defendants. Mason, who has an assistant prosecutor and three investigators focusing on mortgage fraud and related offenses, promised to aid any cities that bring cases to his attention.

"We want to get the corporations and people who are doing these practices," Mason said. "The neighborhood's the victim."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

24 years at 1.87%

As of October 5th, we will have owned this property of ours in Cleveland's Archwood-Denison/Brooklyn Centre neighborhood for 24 years. I track investments for time-weighted and dollar-weighted rates of return. Using data from the county auditor's site, and considering the original purchase price ($32,000) and the cost of our improvements to the property (which have been minimal), and the current market valuation on the website ($59,800), I see that the time-weighted rate of return here has been 1.78% and the dollar-weighted rate of return here has been 1.87% over these past 24 years, since 1983.

Is it any wonder that the latest county commissioners' report, as The Cleveland Equanimous Philosopher (It's The Details That Can't Be Strung Behind An Airplane That You Should Be Worried About) has pointed out, shows a deficit projected for the end of this year? (see pages I-3 and I-10 for starters.)

Apparently, the numbers tell us, this county has been run in such a fashion that our personal investment in the county (our little $32,000 house) has not kept pace with the outside world, and yet we as a county are paying outside-world prices for goods, services, and salaries. This is not sustainable. We need to cut back on what we are spending around here for that nebulous layer of county services. Can you tick off right quickly what things the county does are mission-critical? The roads, and then what?

What we pay to keep a bloated county trundling along seems to be like throwing good money after bad. We've supported them lavishly in the past, and all we have is a growth in our investment here of under 2%. It's time to pull the plug on them. We should not continue to pay top dollar for mediocre results.

If you can't trust them, do you really need them?

Cleveland Equanimous Philosopher: A Perfect Example of How the PD Slants the "News" I left this as a comment over on Roger's blog and liked it so well that I think I'll take ownership of it over here as well. It's about the PLAIN DEALER:

Roger, keep pointing out the discrepancies between what is written in the PD and what the facts are. They play too fast and loose with the truth.

Theirs is more an artistically licensed impressionism than it is journalism.

It really reduces their value when we out here realize we have to have fact-checkers and content-analyzers, interpreters like you, to read something as simple as our daily newspaper. If you can't trust them, do you really need them?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

aging punk commentary

Political Science 216: But what if he is, Johnny? What if he IS? -- In this account, one aging punk has something to say about another, and I wanted to make sure you didn't miss it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Greenspan speaks of FUD and his new book

The Maestro Speaks - -- Last year, just around now, Gloria and I had the pleasure of hearing Alan Greenspan, now dubbed "The Maestro," speak at our annual conference in Atlanta. He was gracious, urbane, entertaining, and had a huge hole in the sole of his shoe, best we could figure. We inferred that he was tight with a dollar, and felt good about his stewardship.

At the link is a recent account of another talk of his, speaking to markets, patterns, and FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). It's more sensational and alarmist than what we heard last year, and--and I'm not attempting to detract from his message--he's also coming out with a book next week.

Next week, the former Fed chairman will publish his first book since he handed the reins to Ben Bernanke in 2006. Called The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, it will chronicle his 19-year tenure as the nation's top economic policymaker.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

newer data from Federal Reserve System shows same pattern

Top 50 bank holding companies Summary Page -- Here's some 06/30/2007 data from our Federal Reserve System showing the top 50 BHCs (bank holding companies), their domicile, and their total assets. Again, the trend is similar to what we found in the previous comment: New York, 7; Ohio and North Carolina, 5 each.

1 CITIGROUP INC. (1951350) NEW YORK, NY $2,220,866,000
3 JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. (1039502) NEW YORK, NY $1,458,042,000
5 TAUNUS CORPORATION (2816906) NEW YORK, NY $579,062,000
6 WELLS FARGO & COMPANY (1120754) SAN FRANCISCO, CA $539,865,000
8 U.S. BANCORP (1119794) MINNEAPOLIS, MN $222,530,000
9 SUNTRUST BANKS, INC. (1131787) ATLANTA, GA $180,314,372
15 BB&T CORPORATION (1074156) WINSTON-SALEM, NC $127,577,050
16 BANK OF NEW YORK COMPANY, INC., THE (1033470) NEW YORK, NY $126,457,000
18 STATE STREET CORPORATION (1111435) BOSTON, MA $112,345,777
19 FIFTH THIRD BANCORP (1070345) CINCINNATI, OH $101,389,721
20 KEYCORP (1068025) CLEVELAND, OH $93,490,903
21 BANCWEST CORPORATION (1025608) HONOLULU, HI $70,661,335
22 HARRIS FINANCIAL CORP. (1245415) WILMINGTON, DE $64,475,903
24 COMERICA INCORPORATED (1199844) DETROIT, MI $58,945,727
26 M&T BANK CORPORATION (1037003) BUFFALO, NY $57,869,069
30 COMMERCE BANCORP, INC. (1117679) CHERRY HILL, NJ $48,231,325
31 POPULAR, INC. (1129382) SAN JUAN, PR $46,985,000
33 TD BANKNORTH INC. (1249196) PORTLAND, ME $42,981,084
36 COMPASS BANCSHARES, INC. (1078529) BIRMINGHAM, AL $34,938,942
37 SYNOVUS FINANCIAL CORP. (1078846) COLUMBUS, GA $33,295,823
39 RBC CENTURA BANKS, INC. (1826056) RALEIGH, NC $25,374,678
41 ASSOCIATED BANC-CORP (1199563) GREEN BAY, WI $20,849,531
42 BOK FINANCIAL CORPORATION (1883693) TULSA, OK $19,363,601
43 W HOLDING COMPANY, INC. (2801546) MAYAGUEZ, PR $17,894,049
44 FIRST BANCORP (2744894) SAN JUAN, PR $17,596,317
46 SKY FINANCIAL GROUP, INC. (1071203) BOWLING GREEN, OH $16,807,287
48 COMMERCE BANCSHARES, INC. (1049341) KANSAS CITY, MO $15,531,107

Tom brings up an interesting point

Thomas Suddes: Ohio secretary of state is already looking for something to do - Gloria mentioned to me just now that Tom has brought up an interesting point:

"And State Treasurer Richard Cordray, a Democrat, is offering himself as a
provider of financial advice to Ohioans. It's a mystery how that could be virgin
territory: Ohio is the legal headquarters of five of America's 25 largest banks;
no state boasts more such headquarters. "

Further research from Infoplease fleshes this out, with a quick top 30 using December, 2005 data from the Federal Reserve. The numbers need another six zeroes, so I provided them, but I don't really know if that helps us get our collective head around the magnitude of the situation any better (quadrillion comes after trillion):
1. Bank of America Corp. (Charlotte, N.C.) $1,082,243,000,000
2. J. P. Morgan Chase & Company (Columbus, Ohio) 1,013,985,000,000
3. Citigroup (New York, N.Y.) 706,497,000,000
4. Wachovia Corp. (Charlotte, N.C.) 472,143,000,000
5. Wells Fargo & Company (Sioux Falls, S.D.) 403,258,000,000
6. U.S. BC (Cincinnati, Ohio) 208,867,000,000
7. Suntrust Banks, Inc. (Atlanta, Ga.) 177,231,000,000
8. HSBC North America Inc. (Wilmington, Del.) 150,679,000,000
9. Keybank (Cleveland, Ohio) 88,961,000,000
10. State Street Corp. (Boston, Mass.) 87,888,000,000
11. Bank of New York Company, Inc. (New York, N.Y.) 85,868,000,000
12. PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 82,877,000,000
13. Regions Bank (Birmingham, Ala.) 81,074,000,000
14. Branch BKG&TC Corp. (Winston-Salem, N.C.) 80,227,000,000
15. Chase Bank USA (Newark, Del.) 75,052,000,000
16. Countrywide Bank (Alexandria, Va.) 73,116,000,000
17. LaSalle Bank (Chicago, Ill.) $71,061,000,000
18. National City Bank (Cleveland, Ohio) 69,482,000,000
19. Bank of America USA (Phoenix, Ariz.) 62,983,000,000
20. MBNA Corp. (Wilmington, Del.) 58,517,000,000
21. Fifth Third Bancorp (Cincinnati, Ohio) 57,613,000,000
22. North Fork Bank (Mattituck, N.Y.) 57,045,000,000
23. Bank of the West (San Francisco, Calif.) 55,158,000,000
24. Manufacturers and Traders TC (Buffalo, N.Y.) 54,391,000,000
25. Comerica (Detroit, Mich.) 53,577,000,000
26. Amsouth Bancorporation (Birmingham, Ala.) 52,570,000,000
27. Union Bank of Calif. (San Francisco, Calif.) 48,679,000,000
28. Fifth Third Bank (Grand Rapids, Mich.) 47,605,000,000
29. Northern Trust Corp. (Chicago, Ill.) 44,865,000,000
30. Citibank SD (Sioux Falls, S.D.) 44,011,000,000

The final tally: Ohio, 5; New York, 4; North Carolina and Delaware, 3 each. With all we have going on around here, what do you think of that? Are we bank-friendly? Have they helped make us everything we are today? What are your thoughts, or feelings?

shazam--Google's at it again

Google Finance -- Somehow, this morning, this Google page popped up for me as I was going to check things out at the new American Skandia site. It's actually a very nice, clean, clear presentation, very much like things we now pay for as services. Google's at it again, delivering value at no monetary charge. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

a fungible feast

fungible - Definitions from -- In my email this morning, I got notice that the word for the day is "fungible," which word I heard bandied about by the upper-echelon staff of Cuyahoga County and the county commissioners with regard to the Breuer Tower demolition financing, the MedicalMartConventionCenter, and the 1/4% tax increase for what merely goes without restriction or earmarking to the general fund. Here's the whole entry so you, too, can begin to speak in the hip financial parlance of the people you elected or hired to know what's best for you.

Word of the Day for Saturday, September 8, 2007

fungible \FUHN-juh-buhl\, adjective:

1. (Law) Freely exchangeable
for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind in the satisfaction of an obligation.

2. Interchangeable.

3. Something that is exchangeable or substitutable. Usually used in the plural.

People think this tax is for Social Security. But tax monies are really fungible. They get raided all the time.-- Eugene Ludwig, "Motivated to Work," interview by Kerry A. Dolan", Forbes, March 20, 2000

The setting is Ireland in the 1950's, but, a cynical reader might reflect, this sort of fiction is so common that the characters will be completely fungible.-- Susan Isaacs, "Three Little Girls From School", New York Times, December 30, 1990

Genuine eros makes us desire a particular person; crude desire is satisfiable by fungible bodies.-- Edward Craig (general editor), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Fungible comes from Medieval Latin fungibilis, from Latin fungi (vice),
"to perform (in place of)." Entry and
Pronunciation for fungible

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