Saturday, July 16, 2011

Is this a great country, or what....?



Thanks Tiger

Many Rivers to Cross............

Talking about "clean rooms".........

A plan for boosting high tech economic development for
Licking County takes shape.   Now, about those hats....

Linky goodness............

WRM on being "shovel ready."

"President Obama recently admitted he was surprised to
discover that shovel ready didn’t mean shovel ready
anymore."

"He shouldn’t have been: the essence of blue social policy is
to make everything complicated and hard."

"What we have now are “keyboard ready” projects: contracts that start armies of already-employed white collar bureaucrats pushing proposals and specifications around in dizzy little circles. Not much comes out in the way of jobs — but money is spent, briefs are filed, and emails fly."


Full post here.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Penelope dishes on Generation Y, and it is not pretty.

"But when Gen Y teens talk about why they give more blow
jobs, it’s different, but simple: they do it because while their
parents told them not to have sex until it really really
mattered to them, the boys are, of course, dying to have sex.
So one way to keep everyone happy is with blow jobs. It’s
 the ultimate expression of Gen Y practicality
masquerading as revolution."

Full post here.
--------------------------------------------------------------

Alan Webber on how education reform is like a fad diet.

But every year Americans spend millions of dollars on fad
diets, diet books, videos, and programs. We buy the fad diet
book, then buy the products pushed by the author of the fad
diet book, then buy the sequel written by the author of the
fad diet book.



The predictable result: obesity is spreading across America
like a plague.


Full post here.
----------------------------------------------------------------

Scott Adams on the importance of boredom.

I read someplace that the brain needs some boredom during the day to process thoughts and generate creativity. That sounds right. My best ideas always bubble up when I'm bored. And my period of greatest creative output was during my corporate years when every meeting felt like a play date for coma patients.

Full post here.

Tax the rich, feed the poor............ till there are no rich no more...........























Thanks Maggie's Farm

Majesty..............























thanks Mme. Scherzo

Alvin Lee goes home to Woodstock....

Friday, July 15, 2011

The King, on paranoia....

On circularity................

     It was autumn, and the Indians on the reservation asked their new chief if it was going to be a cold winter.  Raised in the ways of the modern world, the chief had never been taught the old secrets and had no way of knowing whether the winter would be cold or mild.  To be on the safe side, he advised the tribe to collect wood and be prepared for a cold winter.  A few days later, as a practical afterthought, he called the National Weather Service and asked whether they were forecasting a cold winter.  The meteorologist replied that, indeed, he thought the winter would be quite cold.  The chief advised the tribe to stock even more wood.
     A couple of weeks later, the chief checked in again with the Weather Service.  "Does it still look like a cold winter?" asked the chief.
     "It sure does," replied the meteorologist.  "It looks like a very cold winter."  The chief advised the tribe to gather up every scrap of wood they could find.
     A couple of weeks later, the chief called the Weather Service again and asked how the winter was looking at that point.  The meteorologist said, "We're now forecasting that it will be one of the coldest winters on record!"
     "Really?" said the chief.   "How can you be so sure?"
     The meteorologist replied, "The Indians are collecting wood like crazy!"

-borrowed from Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar....

Leaping......

"You can't solve many of today's problems by straight
linear thinking.  It takes leaps of faith to sense the
connections that are not necessarily obvious."
-Matina Horner

Michael Barone on Immigration........

Not going to pretend that I know much about immigration, other
than it certainly has been a "hot button" issue for a lot of folks.
Given our nation's history, culture, and politics, easy fixes seem
hard to come by.

Barone, in this essay, suggests that the problem is not what
it once was.  He is not sure that the politicians have noticed.

A few excerpts here:

"The United States is a country that has been peopled largely by vast surges of migration -- from the British Isles in the 18th century, from Ireland and Germany in the 19th century, from eastern and southern Europe in the early 20th century and from Latin America and Asia in the past three decades. Going back in history, almost no one predicted that these surges of migration would begin -- and almost no one predicted that they would stop when they did."

"Immigration policymakers have assumed that the flow of Mexican immigrants would continue indefinitely at this high level. But now evidence is accumulating that this vast surge of migration is ending."

"The flow has already stopped," Douglas Massey of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University recently told the New York Times. "The net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative."

"One reason is the deep recession and slow economic recovery here in the United States. Tens of thousands of construction jobs, once plentiful in high-immigration states, have disappeared."

"State laws, like Arizona's law requiring use of the federal e-Verify system to check on immigration status of new hires, have clearly had some impact. And the cost of crossing the border illegally has sharply increased."

"Even more important, things have changed in Mexico. Its birth rate has fallen from 7 children per woman in 1971 to 3.2 in 1990 and 2 in 2010, barely enough to prevent population loss."

"Mexico has finally become a majority middle-class country, former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda argues in his recent book "Manana Forever?" Mexico has more cars and television sets than households now, most Mexicans have credit cards and there are almost as many cell phones as people."

"There has been a boom in higher education, especially in technical schools. The increasing numbers of well-educated Mexicans have no need to go to the United States to live a comfortable and even affluent life. Mexico has grown its way out of poverty."

"The historical experience has been that countries cease generating large numbers of immigrants when they reach a certain economic level, as Germany did in the 1880s. Mass migration from Puerto Rico, whose residents are U.S. citizens, ended in the early 1960s when income levels reached one-third of those on the mainland."

Thanks WRM

Santana and those drums..............

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Excitation.........

fun and games with copyrights. Try this instead.

"Red Letter Day............."

The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority celebrated
a ribbon cutting yesterday, as the new 45,000+ square foot
Horton Building was opened for business at the Central Ohio
Aerospace and Technology Center (COATC) in Heath, Ohio.

As local success stories go, this is a pretty big one.  The Goodrich
Corporation signed an eight year lease for 17,000 square feet on
the first floor.  They are employing 65 local people who are
providing engineering and production services for inertial
guidance systems.

The building took a year to build and  has cost (so far) about
$3,700,000 .  Over 85% of the construction materials and
workers came from the Central Ohio area.  Our own little
stimulus package.

One of my favorite things about the project is the fact
that the building has been named after Wally Horton, a
visionary and determined man.  Our community owes him far
more than we can ever repay.  Parts of his story are told
here, here, and especially here.

My other favorite part of the story is the construction of
the speculative clean rooms.  COATC is already home to
an extensive  array of clean rooms, in use mostly by
Boeing.  Clean rooms are used generally in manufacturing
and research processes where it is critical that the air be
free of contamination and particulate matter.  Specialized
and high tech stuff.

The Port Authority Board took the steps to build these clean
rooms with the faith that "if you build it, they will come."    And
if they come, they will find a highly educated and talented work
force ready to help grow a business.  So, if you know of
anybody who could make good use of a 1,000 square foot clean
room, send them our way.

cutting the ribbon


The finished product.  We're pretty proud.  Second floor still available!

Talking with one of my favorite bankers, while secretly coveting his hat.



I had the honor of announcing the dedication of the building to
Wally Horton









Wally gets a well deserved standing "O"

A peek at the small, but mighty, clean room


Thanks to County Commissioner Tim Bubb for his fine
remarks, including naming this a RED LETTER DAY!

Does this mean I have to stop blogging.....

"In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain
as the way to market.  It depends chiefly on two words,
industry and frugality; that is, waste neither time nor
money, but make the best use of both."
-Benjamin Franklin

On adding value.............

Finding stuff to disagree about with Thomas Friedman's writing
is almost a sport.  Not much to disagree with in this New York
Times op-ed piece though.  Full essay here.  Telling excerpt here:

"Whatever you may be thinking when you apply for a job today, you can be sure the employer is asking this: Can this person add value every hour, every day - more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer? Can he or she help my company adapt by not only doing the job today but also reinventing the job for tomorrow? And can he or she adapt with all the change, so my company can adapt and export more into the fastest-growing global markets? In today’s hyperconnected world, more and more companies cannot and will not hire people who don’t fulfill those criteria."

Thanks Ben

We used to call those "illegal eyes".....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

JB, The Mighty E., Kurt and crew are hot on the trail.......

...searching for the Top 25 Lyrics.  So, here is my contribution to
the hit parade.  The beauty to the music of 1971 was that it could
paint a picture without really having to make a whole lot of sense. 

From Alvin Lee and Ten Years After:

Everywhere is freaks and hairys
Dykes and fairies
Tell me where is sanity?

Tax the rich, feed the poor
Till there are no rich no more

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you-ooo-ooo

Population, keeps on breedin'
Nation bleedin', still more feedin'
Economy

Life is funny, skies are sunny
Bees made honey, who needs money?
Mo-no-poly

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you-you-ooo

Oh, yeah!

More pollutions, there's no solutions
Restitution, mass confusions

Spread the word
Rich or poor
Save the earth
Stop the war

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you-ooo-ooo,

Otis......................

About that "moral hazard' thing......

"'Moral Hazard' - that wooly economic term that describes
what happens when risk takers are shielded from the
consequences of failure; they might take ever-greater risks."
-Andrew Ross Sorkin

"There are no atheists in foxholes and no ideologues in
financial crises."
-Ben Bernanke

In his comment about the recent post on Andrew Ross Sorkin's
Too Big To Fail, the Mighty E. laments the lack of accountability.
The recklessness of the "fancy pants" caused the problem and
yet we taxpayers get to bail them out.  What???   It is a feeling
I recognize.  There was a time when you could have quoted me
as saying, "somebody should be going to jail."

The players in Sorkin's tale were well aware of the moral hazard.
But.............Sorkin raises a few significant points.

-When the captain saves his ship from sinking, he saves the
"rats" along with the good guys.  The question of who is a saint
and who is a sinner are best sorted out in less desperate times.

-Paulson and company knew they would be saving some folks
who didn't deserve being saved.  But....the financial system of
the United States was collapsing and it was their job to not let
that happen.

-Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Merrill
Lynch, Goldman Sachs, et. al. were highly leveraged.  They
were placing outsized bets with other peoples money.  When
the crisis came, those other people wanted their money back.
It was an old-fashioned "bank run", only it was a run on the
big investment banks instead of the traditional local bank.
Part of the fun of the book for those who despise Wall Street
is in reading John Mack of Morgan Stanley say, "That can't be,"
when told by his CFO that Morgan Stanley would run out of
money - bankrupt - in 48 hours.  Smart people being clueless.

-The whining by the investment bank CEO's that the
government (SEC) should do something to protect them from
those dastardly "short sellers", who were spreading false rumors
about the health of their wonderful banks and driving their
stock prices down, is priceless.

-Our financial system is based to a significant degree upon
confidence.  We believe.  Once that confidence goes, once
that belief goes, once everybody wants their money back,
the financial system crashes.  Period.

-For better or worse, the investment banks on Wall Street play
a crucial role in our economic and financial systems.  If they fail,
the systems fail.

-TARP seemed, at the time, to be a rush job - ill conceived,
vague, and poorly planned.  It was a rush job.  The Wall
Street investment banks were days away from being drained
of all their cash, from being bankrupt.  Paulson and company
had tried everything they could think of to stem the tide, but
to no avail.  The only thing left to restore confidence was direct
federal financial intervention.

-The only was to get Congress to approve such a thing was to
scare them.  In very short order, Congress was sufficiently
scared by the prospect of total melt down to approve TARP
on their second bite at the apple.

-The $700,000,000 price tag on TARP?   They effectively
made it up.  The number had to be large enough to restore
confidence in the system, yet small enough to get approved
by Congress.  Viola!  $700,000,0000.

Right of wrong, this is my interpretation of Sorkin's
interpretation of what really happened.  The history books
may tell it differently.

A quick thanks to Dennis for suggesting Too Big To Fail. 
I too encourage its reading.

About Generation Y.........

Let me just say for starters that I have never liked this tendency
to lump broad swaths of the population together and then pretend
that there is some coherent whole.  Based on my experience of
dealing with them for 59 years, I'd say that the baby boomers are
a fairly diverse bunch.  Shared experiences are nothing more than
that - shared experiences.

So.....I read with interest this:

"I’m proud to be part of Gen Y which will change the face of
America. Born between 1979 and 2000, there are over 80
million members of Gen Y which represents nearly 25% of
the U.S. population. ULI recently published an article
discussing what developers are doing to cater to the
characteristics of my generation."

"Based on a survey of 1,241 18-34-year-olds, here’s a list of
Gen Y traits and how real estate developers are meeting this
changing demand.

-Tech savvy, yet financially challenged due to the economy
and heavy debt load from student loans

-We will change careers (not just jobs) multiple times
throughout our life – we need to go where the jobs are,
making renting more desirable

-We’re driven by proximity to work, walkability of a
neighborhood and price – developers need to find a way to
make housing interesting, yet affordable. Developers are
making units smaller, with flexible interior components and
open floor plans

-We’re comfortable with mass transit and want to live
amongst the action

-We prefer a studio apartment to a roommate situation
(I differ on this one)

-We have high expectations for interior finishes – hardwood,
stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops etc.

-We’re very social, so we demand housing in vibrant, active
urban neighborhoods with amenities that enhance the social
experience – developers are putting in active rooftops
where residents can congregate

-We’re animal lovers – developers are putting in pet
amenities like dog washes and parks

-We value non-profit organizations and causes. Marketing
companies are using causes to generate foot traffic at a
property

-We’ll likely buy homes when we enter our 30s -the need to
connect with others will influence our purchase decisions
and we’ll continue to demand urban, walkable communities
near transit.

There’s no question that Gen Y will have a huge impact on
how and where we develop in the future"

This was lifted from the Student of the Real Estate Game blog.
I like Joe's blog and check it out periodically.  

If I understand the survey results he is discussing, Generation Y,
which appears to be the baby boom echo, is signaling a decidedly
urban bias. 

Strikes me that, on the whole, Generation Y is still pretty young. 

(Was listening to the Who's 1965 classic My Generation on the
way home from work today.  There is this one line that goes,
"I hope I die before I get old."  We were pretty young in 1965.
Jerry Rubin was quoted after the Chicago riots in 1968 as
saying, "never trust anyone over 30."  We were still pretty
young in 1968.)

I'm wondering if that urban bias will survive the arrival of
Generation Y's echo.  Toddlers have a way of changing things. 
Priorities shift.  Pre-schools, playgrounds, backyard swing sets,
a safe place to ride a big-wheel (man, its been a while since I've
seen a big-wheel.  Do they still make them?), may yet demand
precedence over "active roof tops" and "dog washes and parks."

Though time will tell, I wouldn't rule the suburbs out quite yet.

Janis Trying at Woodstock

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'll be waiting at the station.....

Could I hear an "Amen"......?























Gary Johnson for President in 2012?   Up till about a few hours
ago I'm not sure I knew who Gary Johnson was.  Following this
post from the Coyote Blog to Johnson's The Truth for a
Change Blog, we find Johnson's refusal to sign the Family
Leader's "offensive and Un-Republican" Pledge.  An excerpt:

“Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.


“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.

For a different take on Johnson, check out this Rolling Stone
interview with him - here.   This could get interesting.

Thanks to a most generous man....




































Thanks Nicholas

Let me think it over.............















Thanks Jessica

Modern science and all that.................



Thanks Tiger

Sly......................

Some serious attitude from the Marginal Revolution blog.........

From the "it's not the government's money" school of thought
comes this dandy.  Full post here.  Excerpt here:

"People who use 529 programs and who think that they have not used a government social program are not willfully ignorant, they are demonstrating a healthy if fading appreciation of the distinction between civil society and government. What Rampell et al. implicitly imagine is that the natural state is slavery and any departure from that state a government benefit. Thus, if the government taxes your saving for a college education less than your other savings, you should be grateful for how government has benefited you and your children.

"And if the government doesn’t jail you today, you should be grateful for how government has granted you the benefit of liberty.

"This is the attitude of a serf not an American."

Monday, July 11, 2011

But I woke up this morning.............

Thanks for the memories.......................

Jeff reminisces here.   We're playing requests here:

A lowcountry mood.........

Visiting the South Carolina lowcountry reminded me of one of my
favorite books, Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides.  An excerpt:
















The child of a beautiful woman, I was also a shrimper's son in love with the shapes of boats.  I grew up a river boy with the smell of the great salt marsh predominant in sleep.  In the summers, my brother, my sister, and I worked as apprentice strikers on my father's shrimp boat.  Nothing pleased me more than the sight of the shrimping fleet moving out before sunrise to rendezvous with the teeming shoals of shrimp that made their swift dashes through the moon-sweetened tides at first light.  My father drank his coffee black as he stood at the wheel of the boat and listened to the heavily accented voices of the other shrimp boat captains keeping each other company.  His clothes smelled like shrimp and there was nothing that water or soap or my mother's hands could do to change that. When he worked hard, his smell would change, the sweat cutting into the odor of  fish and becoming something different, something wonderful.  Standing beside him as a small boy, I would press my nose against my father;s shirt and he would smell like some rich, warm acre.  If Henry Wingo has not been a violent man, I think he would have made a splendid father.
     One bright summer night, when we were very small and the humid air hung like moss over the lowcountry, my sister and brother and I could not sleep.  Our mother took us out of the house, Savannah and I with summer colds and Luke with a heat rash, and walked us down to the river and out onto the dock.
     "I have a surprise for my darlings," our mother said as we watched a porpoise move toward the Atlantic through the still, metallic waters.  We sat at the end of the floating dock and stretched our legs, trying to touch the water with our bare feet.
    "There's something I want you to see.  Something that will help you sleep.  Look over there, children," she said, pointing out toward the horizon to the east.
     It was growing dark on this long southern evening and suddenly, at the exact point her finger had
indicated, the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils.  Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold....The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, the depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks.  The moon then rose quickly, rose like a bird from the water, from the trees, from the islands, and climbed straight up - gold, then yellow, then pale yellow, pale silver, silver-bright, then something miraculous, immaculate, and beyond silver, a color native only to southern nights.
     We children sat transfixed before that moon our mother had called forth from the waters.  When the moon had reached its deepest silver, my sister, Savannah, though only three, cried aloud to our mother, to Luke and me, to the river and to the moon, "Oh, Mama, do it again!"  And I had my earliest memory.

A Poem for Monday........
























I blaze with a deep sullen magic,
smell lust like a heron on fire;
all the words I form into castles
then storm them with soldiers of air.

What I seek is not there for asking.
My armies are fit and well trained.
This poet will trust her battalions
to fashion her words into blades.

At dawn I shall ask them for beauty,
for proof that their training went well.
At night I shall beg for forgiveness
as I cut their throats by the hill.

My navies advance through the language,
destroyers ablaze in high seas.
I soften the island for landings.
With words, I enlist a dark army.
My poems are my war with the world.

I blaze with a deep southern magic.
The bombardiers taxi at noon.
There is screaming and grief in the mansions
and the moon is a heron on fire.

-Savannah Wingo, as channeled by Pat Conroy
in The Prince of Tides

Photo courtesy of Google Images here

The right stuff..............
















During the systematic financial meltdown of 2008, Henry M. Paulson, as Secretary of the Treasury, accepted the impossible task of being both field general and point man in the desperate attempt to stave off the collapse of our entire financial system.  I'm not sure that most of us clearly understood how close we came to the precipice.   Watching Hank Paulson do his job through the pages of Andrew Ross Sorkins' Too Big To Fail,  brings a passage from Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff to mind:

"....In those planes, which were like chimneys with little razor-blade wings on them, you had to be 'afraid to panic,' and that phrase was no joke.  In the skids, the tumbles, the spins, there was, truly, as Saint-Exupery has said, only one thing you could let yourself think about:  What do I do next?  Sometimes at Edwards they used to play the tapes of pilots going into the final dive, the one that killed them, and the man would be tumbling, going end over end in a fifteen-ton length of pipe, with all aerodynamics long gone, and not one prayer left, and he knew it, and he would be screaming into the microphone, but not for Mother or for God or the nameless spirit of Ahor, but for one last hopeless crumb of information about the loop:  'I've tried A!  I've tried B!  I''ve tried C!  I've tried D!  Tell me what else I can try!'  And then that truly spooky click on the machine.  What do I do next? (In this moment when the Halusian Gulp is opening?)  And everybody around the table would look at one another and nod ever so slightly, and the unspoken message was:  Too bad! There was a man with the right stuff."

As Too Big to Fail tells the tale, Hank Paulson and his cohorts were clearly in the "fog of war"; not enough accurate information, not enough time, not enough weapons, barely enough nerve.

The history major in me suggests that it is way to soon to tell if Paulson's tenure was a success.  Significant numbers of the chattering class espouse the belief that TARP and all the other governmental actions were just a scam to protect Goldman Sachs and other cronies.  If we are to believe Sorkin, and I do, for his tale has the ring of truth to it,  that is just not the way it happened.  Smart, knowledgeable, dedicated people worked tirelessly and continuously to find a way out of the collapse.  Let's try A.  Let's try B.  Let's try C. It was ad hocery at its finest.  Here's hoping that one day, history will look at Hank Paulson and say, "there was a man with the right stuff."

Born on the Bayou.................

One of these days..............

......I'm going to have my very own water color by Robert
French hanging in my study.























The sale is on:  here
The artist is here

Thanks for pointing the way Kurt

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Keith Moon and his mates............

A music programming update...............

Those who pay attention to such things may have noticed that
at 4:00 each afternoon for the past week Youtube has been
providing us some interesting tunes.

The playlist comes from Walker Lamond's guide to living,
Rules for My Unborn SonAt the very back of the book,
Walter has a list of 37 songs he calls Required Listening
for Boys.

For better or worse (unless boredom with the project sets
in), we will be playing the list, one per day, through to its
happy conclusion.   Enjoy.

A few scenes from Hilton Head...

A new day dawns

The Dunes:   The only defense against the mighty surf

View from the back deck of the condo.   Gators lurked

The sun calls it a day

To friends well met.................

What is a summer vacation without a side trip to Allendale, S.C?
Three guys who are easily amused.  Thanks again Ray and Doug!


A few pix from historic Savannah Georgia

My Sweetie, a Rotarian to the core, stands by a plaque of the
four way test located at the corner of Bull and Liberty
Streets in historic downtown Savannah




























A couple of midwestern kids enjoying the fountain in
Forsyth Park near the south edge of the historic district







 
 
British General James Oglethorp, founder of Savannah
  

Oglethorp's original 1733 plat for the City of Savannah.  It has grown a bit


......walking on the sidewalk........

A walk thru Savannah on a sultry summer day...