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- cleveland.com -- 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

CoolCleveland.com - 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 - cleveland.com -- 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 - Portfolio.com -- 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 - cleveland.com: 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 Dictionary.com -- 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)."

Dictionary.com Entry and
Pronunciation for fungible

Yesterday's Word - Previous Words - Help

the 3-ounce solution

TSA Rules, TSA Security, TSA Regulations, 311 Rules -- I had no idea we now had to limit our travel-bag toiletries to 3 ounces per container, in the interest of national security, compliments of yet another bureaucratic layer called the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I wonder how much we pay to have this extra layer of employees in place, to confound us and amaze us? I do know that I have the option of paying somewhere between $24.95 and $44.95 to mitigate the impact of this bureaucratic imposition on my mobility.

Take note that solid stick deodorant, that can have a consistency and composition similar to that of C-4 or plastique, can be packed anywhere in your luggage. Don't you just feel safer already, now that we have 311 in place?

I don't think I'll be traveling much by commercial air in the near future; there's too much of a chance I'll come unstuck prior to boarding and wind up in a holding cell, until I calm down and become a good, docile citizen again. Do they put you in the tank if you object to these insane processes, or do you just disappear?

bringing the band together for a global tour

Chrysler Lures Another Top Executive - washingtonpost.com -- There's a fascinating story playing out here of tactical team-building to push what looks like a global initiative. Isn't Cerberus the multi-headed, multitasking dog who guarded the gates of hell, and do you remember, was he keeping them in, or keeping them out? Did you catch the heads up in Portfolio this past month?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Alvin, Heidi, and Mitch help us "get it" about what we've got

Financial Advisor Magazine -- We are now beginning to see the dialogues of the Tofflers--last evidenced in book form in Revolutionary Wealth in 2006--echoed in the holistic planning or life planning field, this time by Mitch Anthony in Financial Advisor Magazine. Here he talks of the concepts of intrinsic value, money, and capital, parsing the differences among them. There's some heavy, pithy stuff here. I haven't seen anybody try to use the word "educed" for years. For instance:

“Money is the great wheel of circulation … the gold and silver which circulates in any country, may very properly be compared to a highway, which while it circulates and carries to market all the grass and corn of the country, produces itself not a single pile of either.” ––Adam Smith

“Capital is now confused with money, which is only one of the many forms [in] which it travels. It is always easier to remember a difficult concept in one of its tangible manifestations than in its essence.”
––Hernando de Soto

There is a transcendent value educed from the measurable resource (material in nature) by the application of the immeasurable resource (invisible to the eye) that is known as thought and vision. It is these immeasurable resources of thought and vision that are the true capital resources in our society and business. . . .

. . . Jean-Baptiste Say, the French economist, once said, “Capital is always immaterial by nature since it is not matter which makes capital but the value of that matter; value has nothing corporeal about it.” This insight tells us that we need to better understand the capital that funds our business, and that capital is immaterial in nature. The real value lies within the thoughts and visions and ideas that live within our clients. . . .

shot out: Rosemary's up and running on Meet the Bloggers

Meet the Bloggers » Rosemary Palmer, Candidate, US Congress, Ohio 10th -- I was afraid she might come off as "Dennis-lite" if she stuck to framing things the way he likes to, the snarky, wise-guy, "gotcha," way. She won't. She's for real. She's authentic. Talking to a normal, but talented, person like Rosemary makes me realize how dysfunctional, but talented, Dennis really is, and how underserved we are and have been for a good number of years, not just in Congress, but in all other government positions he has held, all the way back to embarrassments of the 1970s. If you want to acknowledge a big reason for the malaise around here, look no further than Dennis, and his rabid band of acolytes.

Rosemary needs to tune up her campaign patter a bit and become more pat and conversant on the "litmus test" issues, but there's a load of time for that. The fact of the matter is that she's running for all the right reasons, and that's because she's sick and tired of being sold out and lied to by elected politicians at the national level, who are conversant with the issues but manipulate them and do nothing. She's thrown herself into the breach on behalf of all of us. She wants representation and not buffoonery, and so do we.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

grand opening at Steelyard

Cleveland's Steelyard Commons -- Our friends over at CoolCleveland.com have noted the following festive event:

Steelyard Grand Opening Families are invited to enjoy activities, giveaways and parade marking long-anticipated grand opening of Cleveland's largest retail center, Steelyard Commons, on Thu 9/6 from 4 – 8:30PM. Live entertainment, games, raffles and more (a parade of performances featuring local community talent begins at 7PM). Steelyard Commons, 3584 Jennings Rd. (From downtown, take I-71 South to Jennings Freeway, exit at Steelyard Dr.

One thing I find extremely heartening is that the IHOP is open 24 hours. Also, the Chipotle serves fairly healthy food, and there's lots of open space for rallies and other massed-up community events. In retrospect, we should have thought to use it for the PutItOnTheBallot.com campaign, but the convoluted access from the freeways might have been a drawback. Getting into Steelyard Commons seems to be an acquired skill, for many. Perhaps for a few days this month we could call all seniors to register for the Homestead Exemption (a $400 value, give or take) before October 1st. This would give our little Mitchell the exposure he so badly needs for the Steelyard project, perform a needed public service, and test the accessibility quotient of the site, and its centrality in the context of the county.

One thing that makes no sense at all to me is that I hear there is a Starbucks coffee shop buried over there somewhere, but it has no street presence.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

eWeek: Financial Fact and Friction

Financial Fact and Friction -- In line with the recent furor over slipshod mortgage-lending practices and the careless administration of what is for most people their largest single financial asset, their personal residence, here is a reminder from Eric Lundquist over at eWeek that nobody is held to a fiduciary standard in the confiscatory lending business, and nobody really knows where the money goes. If you weren't aware already, this will be an eye-opener, and from a technical as opposed to a financial perspective. Here's a sampling from Opinion: Skip the frictionless-economy ideas and stick with the customer:

Financial organizations have always been big computer purchasers. They are usually among the first to install the latest supercomputers and big storage servers to process and track the millions and millions of shares traded each day. In the last couple of years, computing attention has turned to "quants": quantitative analysts who contend they can model the entire financial market and would love to talk to you for hours about stochastic calculus.

Yet, despite all those quants and all that computing horsepower on Wall Street and elsewhere in the financial world, it is increasingly evident that no one really knows where the money goes, how it moves and how much the leveraged buyout firms really have in their wallets at the end of the day. Why is that? Wasn't all this computing purchasing supposed to result in a frictionless economy where the movement of money and other financial instruments slides seamlessly through the world's economy and everyone can sleep well at night knowing how much money is in the bank?

When I add up all those CNN tidbits and wild swings on Wall Street as quant-driven computer trading tries to track the untrackable, I have to conclude that all the computing horsepower has been aimed at making money move faster with little regard for trying to settle accounts at day's end.

A computer is an obedient device that will do exactly what you program. If your goal is to track the flow of money after it gets splintered into the world's financial markets, then that is what the computer will do. If your goal is to accelerate that money movement and not really be concerned about where the funds go after they leave your company, then you will get what we have: a lot of panicked investors and corporate managers unable to say where the money has gone.

Forget about the frictionless economy and let's count on building some friction based on accountability and concern for customers who want to know where the money went.

things I just noticed: Google Web History

Google Web History -- Here's a fascinating Google offering that just drifted into my consciousness. I guess it's been available for about 5 months now.