Monday, December 31, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007


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

Monday, December 24, 2007

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 21, 2007

attorneys to forego professional courtesy, attack fellow attorneys?

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

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

Friday, December 14, 2007

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

end of an era: the UCV goes to Brookside

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Freakonomics to the rescue

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

key concept in the foreclosure follies

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

heads up, a month later, for Live Writer 2008

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

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Where's all the white women?"

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

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

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

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