Wednesday, February 28, 2007

what an incredibly flawed study...

Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Weblog: February 2007--I just got done reading through this post and the concomitant links--

28 February 2007
Cleveland tax abatement study A new report (PDF) from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State concluded that the City of Cleveland's residential tax abatement program is increasing Cleveland's population and tax base. Dean Mark Rosentraub says that the program is working and should be retained. This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN discussed the subject with Rosentraub, Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, Nate Coffman of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis.

I'm nearly speechless. This was not a holistic appraisal of a program and its overall effects on a city, all of its citizens, and the economy overall. Just a few of the flaws:

1. They talked only to the people who benefit from tax abatement. They didn't talk to the people who still pay the property taxes, and whose property value appraisals have risen along with the recording of the new home sales. The increase in revenue, where $1.00 in tax abatement generates $1.50 in new taxes, is made on the backs of those who pay, not those who are abated. (a big "duh" here to Olivera Perkins of the PD, who blithely reports that "For every $1 in abated taxes, a total of $1.50 in new property taxes is generated for the city, the Cleveland public schools, and Cuyahoga County.")

2. They didn't address the fact that subsidizing new-home construction leaves old homes vacant, and everybody is complaining about the vacancies, the imbalance. If we didn't put incentives on the new, easy, and cheap, the old and valuable wouldn't be vacant. It has something to do with supply and demand.

3. Nowhere is there mention of the number of new homes that have never been sold, as up above 55th Street. They are embarrassing vacancies and failed development, but most people don't drive over there, let alone live there.

4. There's no talk of the foreclosures on the new tax-abated properties, where people have been sold way more than they can handle, and where they lose the house, and their credit standing, in short order, and then the house sits vacant, perhaps even along with the older house it replaced. We saw this happen first hand up around Milford School. Take a drive over that way sometime.

I expect a way better community dialogue and a way better study than we got here. We're not done yet. This study is not final, by a long shot.

Key in distress, and here comes Cleveland to the rescue

For banks, it pays off to reinvest in the city--As you saw a few days ago, Richard Cordray began taking KeyBank to task for putting its interests ahead of those of the rest of us. Well, lo and behold, here comes Key's champion to the rescue, taking money out of the other banks and shifting it over to KeyBank.

Cleveland stripped millions of dollars in deposits from National City and Charter One banks on Tuesday, citing the lenders for not doing enough to help city residents and businesses.

I wonder how those "city-assigned" rankings were determined. From the article, it appears that a few other people are wondering that, too. I wish Sharon Dumas, the finance director for the city, were more forthcoming with details. For instance, I think bank ratings and overall financials would play a huge part in the selection of a place for our community deposits, but I don't see that mentioned anywhere. One of the criteria, having a lot of branches in the city, might be a sign of bad management and too much overhead, for instance, and I haven't noticed the rates at KeyBank on consumer loans being any more competitive than those anywhere else. Did they identify and then count in the check-cashing storefronts with relationships to KeyCorp, and assess a penalty for parasitic activity?

Also, where is the mention of foreclosure rates and amounts here? I know Key has moved aggressively to cover its own assets in our neighborhood. Is there a foreclosure offset or penalty calculated in?

Is there any talk of what interest rate the banks will pay the city? Are our government employees here, Sharon Dumas and Ken Silliman, acting in the best interest of their fellow citizens if they don't try to maximize earnings? I know of common opportunities where plain old deposit money earns between 4.5% and 5%, yet all I see here is the use of some vague "profit" estimate, where each bank makes 3.5 cents profit per hundred dollars of deposits. First of all, what does this mean? Why are we talking about what the bank makes? Shouldn't we be talking about what the city makes? Quickly, $111,000,000 times the average of say, 4.75% is $5,272,500.

The biggest banks, like those who hold Cleveland's money, made about 3.5 cents profit on every $100 of deposits in 2006, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which regulates them.

Is there talk anywhere else of the deposit insurance, the FDIC coverage, available per account? Again, I know of a common opportunity where the FDIC coverage is $1,200,000 per registration, but has anybody looked into that, in these times when banks earnings are down and they're straining under a heavy load? Is this a time when we should be consolidating our city money in one place, or is it a time when we should be spreading it out more?

Are we doing the right things with our city money, for the right reasons, for the right people?

Oops--almost forgot. Do you think one of the litmus tests could be how many bank executives you find in the city after the sun goes down?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

they take care of the money, all right

The Columbus Dispatch - Local/State, KeyBank failed to pay state $170,000: Panel wants interest paid back, questions data-entry contract -- Our friend Anthony Fossaceca over at Blue Ohioan brought this to my attention. It's all coming around fairly quickly. Excerpts:

A Cleveland-based bank shortchanged Ohio taxpayers at least $170,000 last year. The same bank is getting $626,000 a year for work the state can do itself. By fixing both problems, Treasurer Richard Cordray says the state could save more than $1 million. ...Cordray said that when he took a closer look at the state’s "checkbook" — the main depository handled under contract by Cleveland-based Key-Bank — he found at least $170,000 in interest credit that the state should have received last year but didn’t. ...In many cases, the amount to be credited was more than the charges, but the state rarely, if ever, got the full credit, Cordray said. ... The treasurer’s office will look at previous years because KeyBank has had the contract for 14 years. Cordray also said he expects to cancel another Key-Bank deal, a data-entry reporting contract that costs $626,000 annually. ... Cordray said his staff can do the work in-house. The state already has negotiated with KeyBank to avoid $113,000 of that cost this year, he added.

When we go over to and look up KeyBank's financial statement, we notice that the non-interest-bearing deposits are around 21-22% of all deposits in 2005 and 2006. I wonder how they accounted for this state money? The big question, after Cordray gets done: Will the Key financial statement change drastically this year? What was the gist of that book by that treasury guy about Truth?

how did we ever miss this one?

Questions for Suze Orman - She's So Money - Deborah Solomon - New York Times -- So who needs the the Harvard Lampoon or the National Lampoon or the Enquirer any more, with this sort of material in the straight-up news? This Deborah Solomon is one skilled interviewer, and this is a marvelous exchange. Even though it speaks for itself, have some fun and read it aloud. The bold type is Deborah, all the rest is the tough but virginal Suze.

Q: As one of the most widely read financial gurus of our time, why would you write a book like “Women and Money,” which is based on the regressive premise that women are birdbrains when it comes to managing money? I would think women are better at saving than men. No, they save and then they give it to their best friends, who need it. They give it to their children, who need it. They give it all away once they’ve saved it.

Isn’t that admirable? That depends on what it leaves them with. It’s not admirable when it leaves them with nothing. I want to change women from savers to investors. I do think eventually they should all have Roth I.R.A.’s. You don’t want an I.R.A. You want a Roth I.R.A., if you qualify.

I know. I read the book. Did you like it?

I found it a little basic. I can’t believe you thought it was simplistic. You are in denial. For instance, do you have a will and a living revocable trust in place?

No. Oh, my God! Actuarially speaking, your husband will die before you. That’s actuarially speaking. Your husband, let’s say, has just died. You now are by yourself. You have a stroke. You’re totally incapacitated. It’s reality. It happens. Who is going to be able to write your bills for you and take care of the money you have?

Do we have to decide this right now? Girlfriend, you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself or your money. You put yourself on sale. You have shame, and you have blame. You view money differently because you are a woman.

Is this what feminism has bestowed upon women? The right to berate other women? Women don’t understand money. They will go into debt to pay for this and that.

Are you married? I’m in a relationship with life. My life is just out there. I’m on the road every day. I love my life.

Meaning what? Do you live with anyone? K.T. is my life partner. K.T. stands for Kathy Travis. We’re going on seven years. I have never been with a man in my whole life. I’m still a 55-year-old virgin.

Would you like to get married to K.T.? Yes. Absolutely. Both of us have millions of dollars in our name. It’s killing me that upon my death, K.T. is going to lose 50 percent of everything I have to estate taxes. Or vice versa.

How much are you worth these days? One journalist estimated my liquid net worth at $25 million. That’s pretty close. My houses are worth another $7 million.

What are your qualifications for giving financial advice, which you do in your books, your column in
Oprah’s magazine and your CNBC television show? For seven years after college, I was a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery in Berkeley, and from there I got a job at Merrill Lynch as an account executive, from where I went to vice president of investments for Prudential-Bache Securities. I started my own firm in 1987.

Do you enjoy spending money? Oh, yes. My greatest pleasure is still flying private. I spend between $300,000 to $500,000, depending on my year, on flying private.

What do you do with the rest of your money? Save it and build it in municipal bonds. I buy zero-coupon municipal bonds, and all the bonds I buy are triple-A-rated and insured so that even if the city goes under, I get my money. I take a little lower interest rate to make sure my bonds are 100 percent safe and sound.

Do you play the stock market at all? I have a million dollars in the stock market, because if I lose a million dollars, I don’t personally care.

invitation to an exorcism

For a good many years here, we NEO natives have lived in the shadow of fear cast by that cheap shot known as the "Cleveland Joke." So that I don't have to give it further power by speaking its name, henceforth I will refer to this phenomenon merely as the "CJ." I've tried tracing back its origins on Google and failed. My feeling is that there must be some sort of long karmic tail attached to birthing and nurturing a form of humor that gets its sad, sneering little life from making fun of somebody else's origins or affiliations. There must be a name for this sort of lame humor in the comedy world, something like "the takeaway."

So, to exorcise the CJ, the pathetic little insecurity that seems to plague our community, I guess we have to call it out, and to call it out, we have to know its origins and all its sources. These are the things of which I am unsure.

Did it start with Bing Crosby's razzing Bob Hope about his Cleveland origins?

Was it perpetuated by Maynard G. Krebs character (Valdis, did your family have any part in this?) on the Dobie Gillis show, when they trotted out "The Monster That Devoured Cleveland" routines, and did "Cleveland" become a one-word punchline, much as the word "work" did?

Did Lenny Bruce add to the mix? What about the radio jocks of the '60s & 70s, things like Mad Daddy and Wild Child? MAD Magazine? Cracked?

How about Ghoulardi, Ernie Anderson--did he get the laugh-o-meter mileage out of "Cleveland" as he did out of "Dorothy [Fuldheim]" and "Parma" and "Oxnard"? What about Tim Conway? David Letterman? Johnny Carson?

What screenwriters from Cleveland used the CJ when they couldn't think of what else to do?

Who continues to use the CJ today? Do any of our elected officials still toss out an offhand CJ apologetically, to make up for a deficit of friends and well-wishers? Is there anybody at all out there who actually thinks the CJ is funny or even remotely useful?

Finally, are any of us responsible for letting this play on and on? Aren't we all getting sort of tired of hearing about it?

I think what perturbs me most about the CJ is that, from my perspective, it just isn't so, it's never been so, and it's never been fair or honest. I've tolerated it thinking it would go away, and for me, it has. The requisites for the CJ to be real humor were never there in the first place. I'm going to consign the CJ to that quite place, where lie other nerdily clever phrases like "yo' momma" and it's sibling "your mother wears combat boots," "I know you are but what am I," and "so funny I forgot to laugh."

So far as I'm concerned, it's exorcised. I'm done.

an explanation of tax cuts

Here's something I got from cousin Tom down in Zanesville--

Sometimes politicians, journalists and others exclaim; "It's just a tax cut for the rich!" and it is just accepted to be fact, without questioning it. But what does that really mean? Just in case you are not completely clear on this issue, the following might help.

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day,ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1. The sixth would pay $3. The seventh would pay $7. The eighth would pay $12. The ninth would pay $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the
arrangement, until on day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."Drinks for the ten now cost just $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men en; the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:

The first four men (the poorest) would still pay nothing. The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings). The seventh now pays $5 instead of $7 (28% savings). The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings). The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings "I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too.
It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!" "That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!" "Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get
anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, PhD*
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

*Complete vitae available online. Contrary to Internet folklore, Dr. Kamerschen is NOT the author of "Tax Cuts: A Simple Lesson in Economics." Additionally, he does NOT know who wrote it.

Drew Gilpin Faust: wisdom comes early

In Faust, early bold streak - The Boston Globe -- here's a good personal-interest article giving a good recounting of the background of a remarkable lady who's recently assumed leadership at Harvard. There are lots of life lessons here, and a glimpse into the study of character.

People who knew Faust as a down-to-earth young woman were amazed to hear that she would become the first female president of Harvard. Yet they are not surprised to see her embrace the challenge.

"She was always looking ahead and reaching as high as she could. She was an amazingly strong kid," said Mendenhall . "She was smart enough to see opportunities and brave enough to seize those opportunities in a quiet sort of way."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

not easily intimidated

The Courier News :: News :: Elderly tourist slays mugger with bare hands--Here's a heartening tale of stand-up conduct.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- An American senior citizen killed an alleged mugger with his bare hands, and his traveling companions aboard a tour bus fended off two other assailants in the Atlantic coast city of Limon, police said.
The American, who is about 70 years old and retired from the military, put the 20-year-old in a head lock and broke his clavicle after the suspect and two other men armed with a knife and gun held up their tour bus, said Luis Hernandez, the police chief of Limon, 80 miles east of San Jose. The suspect, Warner Segura, later was declared dead, apparently from asphyxiation.
The two other men fled when the 12 senior citizens started defending themselves during the Wednesday attack.
Afterward, the tourists drove Segura to the Red Cross, where he was declared dead. The Red Cross also treated one of the tourists for an anxiety attack, Hernandez said Thursday.
The tourists left on their Carnival cruise ship after the incident, and Hernandez said authorities do not plan to press charges against them.
"They were in their right to defend themselves after being held up," he said.

identity theft

Think Your Social Security Number Is Secure? Think Again - New York Times--Identity theft is still a big topic these days, and this NYT piece gives a good history of the evolution of the Social Security number's use as the "personal identification document" it was never intended to be. Also in the article is a link to a new on-line tool:

TrustedID, a company that sells services to consumers to give them more control over who sees their credit reports, has compiled a database of compromised numbers that could already be traded or sold on the Internet.
It has created an online search tool,, where people can check at no cost to see if their number is one that is in a too-public domain.
TrustedID said that about 220,000 people had tested their numbers in the three weeks the site has been open to the public.

It seems from the article that breaches of personal security are happening at some level of government most often. Is it time to assess some penalties for our government employees and elected officials being irresponsible custodians of our privacy? It's ironic that our government mandates all these privacy notices and security practices on the part of everyone else, and then itself repeatedly fails to protect our interests. We need to get this set straight: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander", as the old folks used to say.

Friday, February 23, 2007

a solid trend in Midtown

Crain's Cleveland Business--IT firm Calyx set to move--this is a solid trend we've seen a bit of lately, and it shows signs of ramping up. Midtown has the capacity and a good base of businesses already. See the Calyx blog at

Calyx LLC, a provider of information technology services, plans to move its office from Lakewood to a larger space in Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood this weekend.Calyx’s new office in the Mid-City Building, 3635 Perkins Ave., measures 4,000 square feet. The firm’s old location on Cliffdale Avenue in Lakewood was only about 1,000 square feet, said managing partner Jason Fordu.The three-person company needed space for computer equipment and new hires. Calyx plans to hire about five people in 2007, Mr. Fordu said. The group also wanted the office to be in the city.Calyx is leasing space at the building, which is owned by Rose Management Co.Mr. Fordu declined to release revenues of the 2-year-old company, but said Calyx already in 2007 has generated about half of last year’s revenue figure.“We see that trend continuing,” Mr. Fordu said.

breaking news: Judge Peter Corrigan rules on residency for City of Cleveland workforce

News just in from Cleveland Equanimous Philosopher (CEP) at the courthouse: Judge Peter Corrigan has just issued his opinion that the employees of the City of Cleveland need not live within the city limits. Watch Channel 3 news because CEP was interviewed by Tom Beres; CEP says he fumbled a bit on camera, but we are confident he was lawyerly, as is his wont.

working the bugs out

Search Engine Unmasks Fuzzy Zoeller's "John Doe" Lawsuit For Wikipedia Defamation - News by InformationWeek--Fuzzy Logic. Fuzzy Search. Fuzzy Math. Everything comes up fuzzy, until you work the bugs out. The internet continues to refine itself, as it self-organizes. This is an interesting story, with good links. Go there.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Verizon implies, Vonage denies

Vonage VoIP Forum Digest, February 22, 2007--we use Vonage and Skype for all business and personal calls and subscribe to an internet fax service; all of things are made possible by Time-Warner service on a cable modem. Our average monthly bill went in mid-2005 from around $350 a month to about $130 a month, and the base rates haven't risen since. Our totals including the fax service (Send2fax) still hover around $150. Here's the dispute as framed by both sides, succinctly:

Vonage Denies Verizon's Charges

Vonage and Verizon started courtroom proceedings in Verizon's patent suit against Vonage.

Verizon, which is asking for $197 million, says Vonage is infringing on a total of five Verizon patents for billing and fraud detection in services such as call forwarding and voicemail, as well as for the use of Wi-Fi handsets in a VoIP network.. Vonage denies all these claims.

"Vonage, using our patented technology, is able to lure customers away from our landline service," Verizon lawyer Daniel Webb told the jury in opening arguments of a two-week trial in Alexandria, Virginia. "That's what this case is all about."

Not only does Vonage deny infringing on these patents, but they also deny the "luring" charge.

"Verizon has lost millions of customers, and they've lost them for a variety of reasons, not because of Vonage," Vonage attorney Roger E. Warin, said to the jury. "This case is about choice and competition, which should be decided in the marketplace not the courtroom," he said.

new blog by Don Iannone

Conscious Communities: Welcome to Conscious Communities©--be sure to click through to a very promising, thoughtful new blog from Don Iannone. Here's the kickoff--

This new blog explores the complex and essential nature of community in our lives. We live and we die in communities; from the tiniest crossroad towns to the largest megapolitan areas. Conscious Communities looks at community from various vantage points, and it offers a new way to conceive of communities, as we move forward into the future.
This new view encourages us to see communities as having the potential to rise and grow as places or centers of heightened awareness and expression. By heightened awareness and expression, there is an intention to point to the effect of community, in its many dimensions, on our consciousness, or our deepest sense of ourselves. It is in this vein that this blog is given its name: Conscious Communities. Communities should inspire and exhort their citizens' consciousness, and citizens should in return use that inspiration and exhortation to lift up and sustain their communities.
On one level, each of us is conscious, that is perceptually aware, of the communities we know and have experience with. There is more. Have we considered the possibility that communities are powerful agents co-creating our most basic consciousness? Have we considered the possibility that our most intimate and personal interiority is in part supported and shaped by what we take to be community?
Have we considered the possibility that we owe, in part, our capacity for heightened awareness and expression to those communities in which we live, work and play? So too, our communities, when beset by social, economic, political and ecological problems, diminish our capacity for heightened awareness and expression. For our communities to support and sustain us, we must support and sustain them.

nouveau pentamillionaire classification

Nouveau riche can say ‘thank you’ to their advisers - InvestmentNews-- Here's a little bit different perspective on things happening out in the economy at large. Investment News come to us from the same people who bring us Crain's.

The number of millionaire households in the U.S. is soaring, and many have their financial advisers to thank for their newfound wealth.
There were 5.4 million millionaire households in 2006, compared to 3.5 million in 2003 — an increase of 56% — according to a study of U.S. Census Bureau and other data released this month by Phoenix Marketing International in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
“About 70% of affluent households use financial advisers,” said David Thompson, vice president and managing director of Phoenix. Advisers who diversify client assets cause “a multiplier effect” on the growth of household investment portfolios, he added.
In fact, there are now so many millionaires — defined as households with at least $1 million in investible assets — that it’s not very unusual to be one. So Phoenix also tracks pentamillionaire households — those with at least $5 million in investible assets. There were about 755,000 of those last year, up 47% from 514,000 in 2003.
Advisers getting their clients into investments that can “maximize market gains” — including hedge funds, private equity and venture capital — also helped expand the millionaire demographic, said Mr. Thompson.
Portfolio growth cannot be attributed solely to the rising stock market, as the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index gained only about 30% during the period studied, he noted.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

finally, we're talking about getting our money back

The Daily Bellwether: Ohio's New Bills in the Hopper--It's so great to hear somebody talking about stripping away the protections that allow government and nonprofit swashbucklers to operate like little gangsters, and with impunity. Bob Ney's malfeasance and mendacity are beginning to turn up some positives.

But the reform proposed in SB3 -- a reform long overdue -- could go a long way toward cleaning up government. If the measure passes, a public official would forfeit a state pension upon conviction of a felony if serving in office.Call it the Bob Ney Law. The Republican Congressman from Ohio kept his retirement pay even as he went to prison after being snared in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Ney's misconduct ended with a monthly check from the taxpayers for the rest of his life. SB3 would not impact federal pensions, obviously, but it would pinch the pockets of Ohio's boodlers.

fasting & abstinence

I talked to my friend Jay up in Boston this morning, and happened to ring him up as he was getting ashed at church before work. He reminded me that this was one of the two remaining fast&abstinence days we still have to contend with, and then told me a story about his father, and the old rule about not eating meat on Friday.

In the '60s sometime, the Friday abstinence-from-meat rule was suspended, which gave relief to many of us tired of PBJ and baked fishsticks, and prompted Mr. R. to say, "There, I knew it, I was right all along."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

another HeyYa from cousin Dan on the other coast - Navy does Hey Ya--Good to see our boys and girls in uniform aren't much more normal than we were--rejoice, the country is safe. Watch through to the very end; some of the dance routines are worth it.


Ice dams can wreak roof havoc-- here's a good article from Dayton on a problem that hasn't plagued us here in the electronic cottage since the mid-80s. I spent a few hours this morning and yesterday evening bailing out and mopping up our back porch and knocking down huge icicles all around the house. I'm going to look into those things they call ice and water shields, the rubber-mat sort of underlayment. We have balloon construction here.

alternative investments and a moral imperative

For Yale’s Money Man, a Higher Calling - New York Times -- Here's a good read about a guy who revolutionized portfolio management in general by looking beyond the traditional mix of stocks and bonds, making Yale's endowment the standard against which all others are measured. The article also gives you a glimpse of the philosophy behind Yale, and an idea of why so many Yale graduates focus on quality of life issues and wind up in positions of public service. Around here, a cataloguing of Yalies who serve includes the Morrison brothers, Ed and Hunter; David Pogue; Sherrod Brown; and Oliver "Pudge" Henkel. On a national level, we have Garry Trudeau and Sir John Templeton, William F. Buckley and Bill Clinton, George Pataki, and the current president and his most recent competitor. It seems to be an interesting school, and Mr. Swenson has made it possible for everybody who qualifies to receive an education there. It's a long article, but take time to read the whole thing. Here's the section on the move to alternative investments:

Yale has every reason to want him to stay. After joining the university’s investment office when he was just 31, Mr. Swensen moved Yale’s portfolio away from a strict menu of stocks and bonds, favoring instead more diverse instruments like hedge funds, commodities like oil and timber, and private company investments.

That strategy revolutionized endowment investing, and other schools have followed suit. Mr. Swensen’s track record and his growing cachet have helped Yale attract donors who believe that their gifts to the university will be well deployed. Although his two books, “Pioneering Portfolio Management” and the more recent “Unconventional Success,” have helped raise his profile as an investment guru, he remains ambivalent about promoting himself. He notes that there are thousands of university professors who have also forgone more lucrative careers to put their skills to work in the academic world.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hunter Morrison unchained

Meet the Bloggers » Midtown Brews: Hunter Morrison--I first became acquainted with Hunter back in the late 1970s; I was recently arrived back in town from Atlanta, a newly minted Realtor with a focus on older properties, hanging out with all the young visionaries promoting Ohio City, downtown living at The Park & The Chesterfield, the reintegration of Hough, Clevelanders for 1,000 Families (Garrett Brodhead), adaptive reuse, and all the other cool things that were happening in Boston and Baltimore. Then, Hunter fell silent for a while, but now he's back, and he's speaking the truth, embellished only by a happy turn of phrase every now and then. This podcast of our February 1st sit over at Webtego's conference room is something we all must listen to, and then listen to again. There's history, hubris, and a glimpse of the future of the region.

Mentioned are his directorship at the Center for Regional Studies, David Sweet, Youngstown State, George McKelvey, the Hough Development Corporation and Kucinich, the planning award garnered by Youngstown 2010, "co-convening," the condition of Youngstown prior (peeling paint, bad attitude, and no place to go but up), Urban Strategies out of Toronto, and the vision statement of Youngstown, which entails the extraordinarily liberating effect of accepting that they're a shrunken, small city. There's also the I Will Shout Youngstown blog, the European experiences from Newcastle and from Dresden, and the idea of dying and reviving cities aligned with the idea of dying and reviving gods in our culture, along the lines of Sir James George Frazier's Golden Bough. I think that somewhere around here comes mention of the old Cleveland networks and David Hoag, Alton Whitehouse, and Joseph Gorman, and a distinction made between the old hierarchical and the new networked structures. Then come Jay Williams, Tim Ryan, Alvin Toffler, and phrases like "a buzz going on," "anomaly of the comeback city," "take the dreams and boil them down to the deals," "you've got to celebrate your successes," "megapolitan areas," "the commutership," and what happens when "the 'me' gets replaced by the 'we.'" He also talks of Jim Rouse and Faneuil Hall, Hope 6, the exploitative history of milltowns and the steel industry, black boxes, identity, Volney Rogers and the first metroparks, intrinsic value, the concept that "retail follows rooftops," values, authenticity, being very siloed and very parochial, and Tim Ryan's basic question of "Who are we collectively?"

There's incredible value in this podcast. There's also passion, concern, and a bit of outrage. This is one of the more significant offerings of the MTB "portfolio"--make sure you listen to it soon.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

like a tumor

Clinic, city consider new Euclid Ave. traffic plan--Like a tumor, the Cleveland Clinic just continues to spread and to grow, now wanting to take out a chunk of Euclid Avenue itself. It's already been the urban renewal shill to take down a whole neighborhood, and now it wants to become a "campus" and sprawl across and overlay the existing grid of streets. ("A Clinic spokeswoman would not comment on specifics, but said the hospital wants to calm not only traffic but also the patients, employees and other pedestrians who now face an unfriendly swath of cars and concrete. "--how ghastly!)

I view this as the height of arrogance and a clear signal that they just have too much money. It's time for a redistribution. We want our money back.

The Clinic already has its own bus system (RTA's not good enough for its employees) to shuttle Clinic commuters who opt to drive to work from remote parking to their jobsite.

It already has constructed enclosed walkways from building to building (like those things we had for the kids' hamster habitat) so that Clinic commuters need never set foot on a Cleveland city street, yet alone be breathed upon by a native Clevelander, one of those quaint figures down on the sidewalk.

It's figurehead has the hyper-preppie name of Toby.

It just has too much money, and not enough sense not to press it's luck. It's grown fat on us, and now it wants to take yet more. Let's start saying "no" to any more incursions from the Clinic into our public spaces and our public purse, and let's start taking back our money, and our heritage. We've had our pockets picked long enough.

nifty poster, reminiscent of Bill Graham's 1960s San Francisco productions

Here's a really neat poster I found in a sidebar over at leading to the Rock Hall and their Black History Month calendar

if I ran the city, the series, #8: plowing priorities

Downtown workers, visitors plow on--If I ran the city, I'd do just what Frank Jackson did the other day: make the main streets passable, and then make the neighborhood streets that feed into them passable. I, too, would serve the businesses, and then the residents.

The PD story's angle is interesting, because its primary perspective comes from a woman in sales for a bank (Why do we need to sell a bank's services? Banks should attract, I would think.) who drives (alone, we presume) in an SUV (conspicuous consumption of resources) all the way in from Strongsville (sprawl near the Medina county line) to find her reserved space in the company lot (the lot of that parasitic banking concern from Scotland, probably on the site of torn-down legacy office space) usurped by others of her ilk, her inconsiderate, disrestpectful fellow employees.

Is the PD holding this woman up to make her the object of sympathy, or ridicule?

Anyway, thanks for the service, Frank, and I just wish more people would get their cars off the street earlier in snowstorms to make the plowing on the neighborhood streets that much more effective.

Tim Ryan and some "loud umbrage"

OPENERS: Ryan creates stir on House floor--from the PD political blog, here's some more good stuff from Tim Ryan (MTB 08/19/2006), who has a take on things that aligns fairly closely with what I consider proper and in the best interests of all of us.

Insomniacs seeking some ZZZs watching last night's House debate over
Iraq were in for a jolt when Niles Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan got hold of the mike
at around 11:40 PM.

A Republican, identified by Ryan staffers as Indiana's Steve Buyer, took loud umbrage at several points when Ryan attacked Republicans for calling his party's distaste for the war "unpatriotic." Buyer was gavelled down several times as he attempted to object to Ryan statements such as these:

"We never called the other side unpatriotic ... We've called you incompetent. We said you're incapable. And we've said you're derelict of your oversight responsiblity. But never, Mr. Speaker, have we called anyone in this House unpatriotic." When Ryan was asked whether he'd yield the floor to a parliamentary inquiry from Buyer, he snapped "I don't yield" with belligerence reminiscent of his congressional predecessor and former mentor, Jim

"We've heard a lot over the last couple of days about the American
Revolution, and the Civil War and World War II," Ryan concluded. "Well, Mr. Speaker, our president today is not Washington, he is not Lincoln, and he is not Roosevelt. And so I think our Republican colleagues should take the advice of the Secretary of Defense. And that's: You go to war with the president you have, you don't go to war with the president you wish you had."

To view video of his speech, click here.

Rep. Tim Ryan - Support Our Troops, No Escalation

See the PD blog entry about "loud umbrage"--this Tim Ryan is my guy when it comes to speaking out my in my best interests--note how he also pays attention to the numbers, the money.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fat Tuesday revival

The Reverend Dr. David Bahr is reviving (his actual term was "resurrecting") an old Archwood-Denison neighborhood tradition, Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day, over at Archwood UCC, and I told him I would let all the rest of you know, too.
Click on the image to the right to make it bigger. Print it out, share it with your friends.
The Archwood United Church of Christ has a long tradition (I can think back to attending meetings there as early as 1979) of supporting our community gatherings, and we should all reciprocate to assist a good neighbor. David Bahr is a community builder.

Fat Tuesday
Tuesday, Feb. 20th, 5-7 pm

Mardi Gras beads free to the first 100 patrons!
Celebrate the night before Ash Wednesday with traditional fare:
Pancakes, Sausage, Syrup, Applesauce
Milk/Juice, Coffee/Tea
Adults $5, Children (6-12) $3, Children under 5, Free
Eat In or Take Out ~ For info call: 351-1060
Archwood UCC — The Steeple Vigil Church
2800 Archwood Ave (Pearl Rd & Archwood) — Cleveland

MTB's discounted tickets for tomorrow's Zappa thing - Party--I just bought a couple of tickets discounted through my affiliation with MeetTheBloggers as a newsletter subscriber. Each ticket was $2 below the already discounted $21 offered by CoolCleveland itself. If you want to go to both the party and the event for $19, try this link, where it says "here":

Discount tix for MTB newsletter subscribers here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

REALNEO moving forward

Welcome to the real neo organization! REALNEO for all--Norm was off the air for a few days recently, and now we know the reason why. He and Jeff are transitioning the site to the next level. Have a look. Join up. I've always thought this Drupal site is so beautiful, and the registration requirement, although irksome to me, is well worth the effort.

MTB needs transcriptions of all the podcasts, too

e24 Transcription - » 5 Reasons to Transcribe Your Podcast--I left another reason with the e24 people as well, and it was--

Here's another reason: people can scan ahead (go fast-forward) on text-based content to see what's interesting to them, and what might be boring or nonproductive. With a podcast, that's not really possible. It is possible to read faster, but it is not possible to listen faster, unless you ratchet it up to something like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

I got this particular listener/reader/consumer preference this past Monday, in detail, from one of our old friends, Dr. Joe Foley, age 90, who has also appeared on MeetTheBloggers this past May. (

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Seattle Times: selling good karma

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: A Kirkland cafe with no prices Interesting concept from that other coast.

The name Terra Bite ( is a play on the tech term "terabyte," a trillion bytes, as well as a reference to earth and food.

More than coffee, sandwiches or even convenience, Peretz is selling good karma.

"People want something different. They want simplicity" of payment, he said. "They want to be taken to a new place, and they want to contribute to something."

Just how much they want to contribute is another matter.

While charities like the Boomtown Cafe in downtown Seattle charge $2 for Saturday brunch or let people exchange work for meals, Terra Bite is a for-profit business, and Peretz refuses to suggest prices. Each day he records how much was sold and how much was paid.

So far, Terra Bite has served up to 80 customers per day, averaging about $3 per transaction, he said. When the shop brings in a steady flow of 100 customers a day, Peretz figures, he will more than break even.

But will new customers pay, let alone pay it forward?

Even without posted prices, "social monitoring" — the feeling that others are watching what you do — can enforce payment, said Erica Okada, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Washington Business School.

With its anonymous drop box, Terra Bite has minimized, if not eliminated, that effect. Under these circumstances, Okada said, the economic model predicts that Terra Bite customers won't pay anything.

But they do.

how to be the safest city in the U.S.

Freakonomics Blog--Hey, I had no idea there was a Freakonomics blog out there, but there is, and there's great material in it! Steven and Stephen, co-authors, share the duties, and the result is reassuring. Anyway...

...I was reading Freakonomics last night and came across the section in which they relate that Switzerland is one of the safest places in the world, and on a per capita basis has more firearms than just about any other country. As a matter of fact, each adult male has an assault rifle for militia duty and is allowed to keep it at home. How do you suppose that would play around here?

Bear in mind also that the country of Switzerland acts as custodian to wealth that comes to it from all other nations. If we're the safest city in the United States, might we not also safeguard the money?

It might be good for economic development if we got our safety issues, our fiduciary issues, and our taxation issues all aligned to be extremely friendly to outside assets, and to keep those we have from fleeing to more favorable climes. Delaware, New Mexico, and Alaska do it--they've rolled out the welcome mat. Why can't we? Certainly we can't be in such dire straits that we have to tax everything still around us on our way to the bottom. Let's see if we can reverse the trend we started when we drove John D. Rockefeller out of town.

here's some good news for the neighborhood Newslogs
Cleveland police are outfitting their second helicopter today with the tools of the law enforcement trade. These include a FLIR, short for Forward Looking Infrared, which allows police to see in the dark.

The helicopter is scheduled to return to service Friday after about three years in mothballs. The department's other helicopter was brought back last fall.

Former Mayor Jane Campbell grounded the police Aviation Unit in 2004 while coping with a budget deficit.

The helicopters, which originally cost about $1.3 million each, are being used about 20 hours a week, primarily during the night hours that have the highest number of emergency calls. Operating the helicopter costs as much as $150 an hour.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jack Lail in Knoxville: citizen journalism, good stuff

Random Mumblings: After the fire, everything's changed--Great recounting here of the big fire in Knoxville a few days ago and how citizen journalism worked into the mix. Here's an excerpt, and it turns out that the input/output came together as "good stuff"--

People living in the nearby downtown condos on North Gay captured the late-night-into-day fire with digital still cameras and video cameras. The results are just a search away on Flickr and YouTube and personal Web sites. Bloggers here and yonder logged in with personal tales, links and tidbits.

The city's
Web site posted a slide show. The sheriff's department shot aerial video.

All the traditional media used their Web sites for as-it-happens news. At the News Sentinel, where I hang out, we had quite a bit of video, audio, tons of photos, stories that seemed living they changed so much. You can see a lot of the multimedia and sidebars attached to this

Email news alerts flew out. Cell phone alerts buzzed in. Page views and visits ratcheted up.The adrenaline high was palpable even in the print version, but definitely in the Web version.Journalism professor Bob Stepno
rounds up some of the varied coverage. He notes:

"By afternoon, people were online writing about the fire from West Virginia to New York to the other side of the Atlantic. "

Jump the Shark, a blog about Knoxville media mostly, put it this way:

"Technology has reached the point that just about anyone, anywhere, can capture a news event as it's happening, snap a few photos or shoot home video, and have it on the local or national news within minutes."

I've believed that in the abstract as a concept, but now I've seen it in action in my town. And it's good stuff.

Celtic rock: ignition, illumination Whiskey Island Ramblers at Sullivan's Irish Pub (Saturday, February 10, 2007)--I got this from Jeff Schuler over on Looks interesting. Might be something to do in conjunction with Jim Morana's opening tonight just down the street.

The Whiskey Island Ramblers have been on a tear since '04 from Cleveland to Europe and back again playing original Celtic Rock and "Ramblerized" traditional songs. Fueled by drink and Celtic Rock their audiences tend to ignite at some point during the performance. Joe and Ed Feighan have been performing Traditional Irish songs since they were kids. The Feighan Brothers formed the Whiskey Island Ramblers as a Celtic Rock band for their favorite traditional songs and their original material. Most of their own songs are about real people and real events. Occasionally they venture into the Irish "other world" where ghosts, sprites, wraiths and the like dwell. Whiskey Island, at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, is where the Irish ancestors of the Feighans settled as immigrants from the famine and just in time for the industrial revolution. Cops, bus drivers, chimney sweeps, bartenders, gabbers, hot dog vendors, sailors, judges, mayors, parents, drinking buddies, girlfriends, lawyers, bumbling bureaucrats and musicians who drive around in junked up cars make their apearance on Whiskey Island and the surrounding industrial landscape. The Whiskey Island Ramblers illuminate these characters in song keeping in stride with the legacy of their storytelling ancestors who arrived on Whiskey Island nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. Check out the band at and


Friday, February 09, 2007

regulatory price creeps piling onto the new technologies

I spent some time today on my Vonage account, waiting online for my SoftPhone to be removed from our business account--no complaints, but we just didn't use it much once Skype caught our attention.

What really caught my eye as I clicked through the invoices of the past year and a half was the steady creep of charges ancillary to the basic bill of $49.99; I assume most of them are caused by government, regulation, and lobbyists. Enlighten me, any of you, if I'm being unfair. But even more to the point, lighten my load. Here are the details of the 482% creep:

Sep 18, 2005:
  • FET Tax $1.50
  • Regulatory Recovery Fee $1.50
  • Total added charges: $3.00

Jan 18, 2007:
  • Regulatory Recovery Fee $2.97
  • Emergency 911 Cost Recovery $2.97
  • Sales Tax $4.95
  • Federal Universal Service Fee $3.56
  • Total added charges: $14.45

"the fish rots from the head down"

I was just thinking, given the messes we have in governments, in corporations, their boardrooms, and hierarchical systems in general, might it be possible to name a blog "the fish rots from the head down" and keep it full of content effortlessly?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Increasingly, if you're not LinkedIn, you're left out." --Business 2.0

I got this off the bottom of an email somebody sent to me. I thought it was an interesting marketing ploy from an interesting phenomenon.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

hot tips sink ships

Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Deutsche Bank are among the major Wall Street banks that were sent letters last month by the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of a broad examination into whether bank employees are leaking information about big trades to favored clients, The New York Times reported.Trading ahead of client orders, or front-running, has long been an issue on Wall Street. But the latest S.E.C. investigation appears to have a new twist: Rather than examine whether a bank is trading ahead of its own client by using knowledge of the customer's trade, the scope of the investigation will allow regulators to see if banks tip their valued customers who then go trade at another bank, making the paper trail harder to detect. Go to Article from The New York Times>>

Linked In: from the NYT Dealbook

LinkedIn: Press Releases: LinkedIn Names New CEO--LinkedIn, a Web site that allows users to create online networks of business contacts, said Monday that it hired a new chief executive to replace Reid Hoffman, one of Silicon Valley's most active angel investors.
Go to Press Release from LinkedIn>>
Go to Article from CNet>>
Go to Item from GigaOm>>
Go to Previous Item from DealBook>>

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hey Ya Outkast

here's another incredibly happy dance flick, with a few additions

Democreeps already in a feeding frenzy

Democrats Seek Unpaid Taxes, Setting Up Clash - New York Times--Here's an article about the new creeps on the block already looking for more money--from waitresses, hairdressers, babysitters, handymen, web-page designers, and bloggers with ads in sidebars. Don't let them fool you that they're going after "small businesses"--their easiest marks are the sole proprietors, those who can least afford to defend themselves, who can least afford the time off to go through abusive audits. They are shameless parasites feeding on their fellow man. They are trained to harass you until it makes no sense for you to fight any more, to disallow deductions and to quibble to make their quotas, and to blindly promote the best interests of the IRS, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve Bank as they mindlessly ruin businesses, credit, and lives, not to mention the very communities they themselves try to live in. Do you think our local COSE will take a stand for us small fry against the IRS? Here's an excerpt from the TIMES:

Congressional Democrats, hoping to finance an ambitious agenda without raising taxes, are on a collision course with the Bush administration about pursuing the potentially vast amount of money that people hide from the Internal Revenue Service. House and Senate Democrats say the government could collect as much as $100 billion more a year by whittling the tax gap — the unpaid taxes, mostly on unreported earnings, that the I.R.S. estimated was about $300 billion a year....
Based on an analysis of audited tax returns from 2001, the I.R.S. recently estimated that the government lost $290 billion that year as a result of underreporting and underpayment of taxes. More than 80 percent of that loss stemmed from underreporting by individuals, not corporations. And the biggest problems were with people in business for themselves, who earned income that was not reported to the I.R.S. on W-2 forms or on the Form 1099 that businesses file when they pay independent contractors. The I.R.S. estimated that it lost $109 billion on unreported business income, almost all of that from sole proprietors, like painters, plumbers, dry cleaners, florists, limousine drivers and restaurant owners. Small-business lobbying groups have begun to mobilize against proposals intended to reduce the tax gap. Two of the biggest trade associations in Washington, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, organized the Coalition for Fairness in Tax Compliance in December to address lawmakers about proposals that might burden law-abiding business owners. “I’m focused on avoiding the wrong solutions,” said Macey Davis, tax counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents more than 600,000 small companies, half of which have fewer than five employees. “We’re not out to protect noncompliance. We’re out to protect those who are compliant and whose businesses could be hurt.”

note the 300-mile radius, and then the 600

Knoxville - Oak Ridge Innovation Valley - East Tennessee Economic Development Agency--This regional promotion piece comes from an ad in the sidebar of Small Times, which I discovered because of Chris Varley's comment today on an Ohio ranking, and how Beautiful Ohio is being supplanted by Innovative Ohio. Note what the folks around Knoxville are thinking. We do some business down there, and we enjoy working with them a lot; they're upbeat and going places; they're very proud of their area. Maybe it's time to start building some bridges. Virtually. Actually. Physically, even though you can't fly there direct from CAK, yet.

The Krum Kult [sic] of Personality

Last Thursday I mentioned we had a great day with Meet.The.Bloggers, and it started in the middle of the afternoon down at the Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) where we talked to two other bloggers, Fred Krum (View from 1228' at and Kristie Van Auken (It's a Trip at We met Kristie in September at the Akron Marketing Association presentation we gave on business blogging, and she said we just had to meet Fred, because he was a genius, and an early adapter, and could therefore understand implicitly what we were trying to do with MTB. She was right.

The podcast of the interview will be posted soon, but I wanted to alert you to it, and how Fred began years ago to combat the rap that CAK was a place to find "small planes, high fares, going nowheres." We sat in a newly revamped terminal that just felt good, and found out about the values available from carriers such as AirTran and Frontier, and the great fares to great places like New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Myers. Fred focuses his staff on providing a "great experience" replicating best practices, and partnering with the best that there is. He is clever and raised by Jesuits and uses phrases such as "a charisma bypass" alongside sayings such as "the only thing that brings freedom is discipline." He points to the fact that CAK may be a market-maker for low-priced fares in this region, and that it has "made commuting possible" between this area and Florida, and perhaps even NYC. One CAK early innovation is something sensible they call "the cell phone lot." Gloria uses the phrase/slogan "a better way to be best," and we go on to the fact that CAK is an extension of the Akron/Canton Chamber of Commerce and does some heavy local advertising promotion, unlike Hopkins where we get all the national ad things we see everywhere else we go. The CAK brand is also its philosophy ("A Better Way To Go"), and they acknowledge that the first rule of leadership is "You gotta get excited." There's no doubt that free wifi is one of the first things to implement in a place that wants to attract and serve the public, and the session wraps with reiteration of the first rule of life: "You gotta know what you want and then go after it."

This session is a short course in leadership, service, public relations, and promotions, all integrated and timely and on time, too.

Our next stop that evening was at Midtown Brews, hosted by Jeff Fridman and Webtego, to talk to Hunter Morrison. And speaking of brews, CAK has Great Lakes Brewing Company as a showcased, featured business partner & vendor.

the day the music died

My friend Jay up in Boston just informed me that I missed a lick this past Saturday in not observing a moment of silence for an event that occurred on February 3rd back in 1959, The Day the Music Died. Join with me now as we remember, or at least commemmorate, three wild guys with a vision and a purpose.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

revisiting Flannery O'Connor country

In Search of Flannery O’Connor - New York Times--One of my favorite writers gets play in the TIMES today. I found Mary Flannery O'Connor fascinating in the middle '60s, first reading her right after she died and before I ever lived in Georgia, and then even more trenchant after my "tours of duty" in Columbus/Phenix City and Atlanta. This is a long article, but worth it. Here's a sample:

Somewhere outside Toomsboro is where, in O’Connor’s best-known short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” a family has a car accident and a tiresome old grandmother has an epiphany. The fog of petty selfishness that has shrouded her life clears when she feels a sudden spasm of kindness for a stranger, a brooding prison escapee who calls himself the Misfit.

Of course, that’s also the moment that he shoots her in the chest, but in O’Connor’s world, where good and evil are as real as a spreading puddle of blood, it amounts to a happy ending. The grandmother is touched by grace at the last possible moment, and she dies smiling.

“She would of been a good woman,” the Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

Saturday, February 03, 2007

baby, it's cold outside, so...

...why don't you "throw another fagot on the fire"?

My friend Dennis reminded me of this one-liner gag earlier today, and I figured I'd share with all of you it's video repository, a send-up movie that nobody owns up to, but everybody secretly loves: Rustlers Rhapsody. Rustlers Rhapsody: DVD: Hugh Wilson,G.W. Bailey,Tom Berenger,Margarita Calahorra,Jim Carter,Andy Griffith,Marilu Henner,Emilio Linder,Christopher Malcolm,Gates McFadden,Billy Mitchell,John Orchard,Manuel Pereiro,

I don't quite get it

The Chris Matthews Show--I got up early this Saturday morning, 0630, zero dark thirty, to watch the Chris Matthews show; I've been watching Chris perform since I arrived at Holy Cross in the fall of 1964, finding him a year ahead of me and holding forth daily in raucous and impassioned discussions in what we called "the caf." The 1967 Purple Patcher tells me that--

"Caf" is an abbreviation for

a) a place to sit and watch other people sitting and watching,

b) a room where you can hear lunch-room theologians, boasting casanovas, budding leftists, and "Caf rats" discuss the importance of Polynesian Frog Worship,

c) an enameled chamber designed by the architect of Madison Square Garden's washrooms,

d) all or none or some or any of these

Most don't know that Chris owes much of his style to dead Jesuits. But, I've digressed. But, what the heck, it's Saturday. Anyway, what struck me as I listened to this week's gathered pundits extrapolate political data in order to game the primaries in February of 2008, a full year away, was that we were focusing on something that's a mere whistle stop on the way to the main event in November of 2008, and that's a very long time to be talking about these same aspirants, and a long time for them to be playing to the audience of potential voters. Can't we talk about something else for a while, like what is do-able and achievable here and now, and not after somebody gets elected in 2008 and into office in 2009?

The other, more pernicious aspect of these campaign-horse-race shows is that the candidates, whom we've not yet elected and may never elect, have more ability to form the public dialogue and to sway public opinion than the people we've elected already. Are we being fair to ourselves to take ourselves out of the present and focus on a hypothetical future? Let's get some work done for a change, and stop talking about what might happen, if only somebody gets a chance to implement their ideas, and if only they work out as advertised. Let the aspirants be known by their deeds, not by their promises. Let them be known by their works.

Which begs the question: Does any real work ever get done by people in the political arenas, or do we all just talk about it, as we slide into an abyss we refuse to talk about?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

heavy day with Meet.The.Bloggers

Heavy, in the '60s sense. Meaningful. Rich. Rewarding. Valuable. Talked to Fred Krum at CAK mid-afternoon and Hunter Morrison at Midtown Brews early evening. More tomorrow. Tired. Sleepy.