Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Three global annoyances

1. Reuters stringers in Bangalore "reporting" on financial news in the United States.

2. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson whining to the Financial Times about what a hard job he has. According to Paulson, the United States government lacked the necessary tools to fix the current financial crisis. He also has found it burdensome to comprehend the horrifying magnitude of the problem more deeply than the public or Congress. Oh the pain of inside information and having a job to do.

3. Sudoku mania

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Insulting ad for desperate writers

This is the most insulting employment ad I have ever seen. You can find it on Craigslist Western Mass:

"Business Man Looking for All Writers"

"I need help with meeting the demand of technological and shopping reviews for a company that I work for. All of my works and "assisted" works all go under a ghost writer name. Therefore, your name will not be associated with the work.

For every 400 word article that you write for me, I will personally send to your check account $3. Yep, it is that easy. I also assist in giving you the topics that need to be "reviewed".

I am looking for about 20 people right now.
Please only serious replies."

Please, only serious ads. Be real.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sponsor an executive video -- humor we need

This is why I love Canada. Their number one export to the U.S. is fabulous comedy.
From "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," some of Canada's finest humor. Enjoy.

Illinois politics -- cesspool, not swamp

This week Illinois Gov. Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges. Yawn.

Chicago was a swamp before it was a city. Underneath its spectacular architecture it is still a swamp.

Slimy politics are an Illinois thing. Consider it a kind of identity politics in which some take pride.

Vote early and often. If you're dead, even better. Pay-to-play is nothing new. Machine politics require lubrication, so don't be surprised if the Illinois slime-o-meter needle has smacked the end of the dial at a time campaigns have become obscenely pricey. Governor Blago is worse than we ever imagined! Lincoln is rolling in his grave! Nah. Blago had something lots of people wanted: a fresh Senate seat open to the highest bidder. How different is that from multi-million dollar campaigns selling candidates on television? If anything it's a more thrifty method of getting the seat filled. Skip the voters; it costs less. Aren't we in an economic crisis?

And speaking of record breaking campaign finance, there's a reason Obama won. There's a reason Obama appears so cool in the face of global crises and the next Great Depression. He made it through the proving ground of Illinois muck. He has seen things that fine, idealistic, morally pure voters cannot stomach and he has risen to the top. He has waded through the cesspool of Illinois politics and can still utter words like 'hope' and 'fairness' with a straight face.

He can see the world as it is, not as he might like it to be, and still function, perhaps more effectively than someone with more delicate sensibilities.

Some have speculated that Illinois is the most corrupt state in the country. Not a chance. The dance partner of machine politics is a passionate political activism that seeks transparency and justice, which opened a way for the FBI to gather information and make a case.

Relax. This is politics.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Be well, Michigan

Dearest Michigan,
I love you deeply, but it didn’t begin that way. You were not my first choice. An accident of relationship and employment brought me to you and your wonders. I came slowly to adore your pride and shame. Your watery beauty, blue-collar grit, and political dysfunction pressed me close for a time. Troubles and strife twinkled like sunny glints on Great Lakes’ waters, too many to count – sharp lights – shards of lost hope slashing at a coherent future: death by thousands of cuts. So many stories to tell, all of them worthy, tragedies mostly. But stories of resilient hope, too. Your people wooed me and filled my heart with life. You had me at ‘swing state’ and I worked for your rebirth.

Yet you pushed me away with denial of my rights wedged into the Constitution by the will of a few. A rigid notion of marriage fell half-rotten from your tree. Self-righteous contempt said ‘no’ to another way of loving and bearing fruit.

I’ll keep watching you sputter forward, praying you catch a break and manage a happier future, as I seek my own. Don’t be afraid to open yourself to difference – new ways of thinking and being and creating. I will be watching from my new home and posting sometimes.

An accident of relationship has taken me to another place, my first choice this time. My new home is bluer than Michigan, begins with an ‘M’ and legally recognizes same-sex marriage. Finally I can exhale. After ten years of marriage, I am legally, publically and proudly married.

You’ll remain in my heart, Michigan. From the Porcupine Mountains to the Renaissance Center, from Sleeping Bear Dunes to Cobo Hall, from Flint to Grosse Point Farms, and from Saugatuck to Frankenmuth. Be well, Michigan. Be well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Recession nostalgia

This November the economy lost the most jobs since 1974. The Labor Department reports 533,000 jobs lost last month, but count on that number being revised upward later.

Back in 1974, bell bottoms were in and middle-class families were struggling. Watergate came to a head in August with Nixon's resignation. Ah, the bad and the good. The economy was horrible, but Nixon moved on.

Check out these video snippets from that fabulous year.

Mercury Comet and Capri boasting high mileage. This should embarrass the Big Three in 2008.

K-Mart advertisement

Tabby Treat Cat Food

Recession outrage

It's finally official: "we're in a recession." Whew, somebody said it.
And then...what the heck?
"And we've been in it for a year?"

That last part was not a surprise if you live in Michigan where the economy never left the 2001 recession. But if you live elsewhere and believe the TV news, you may have been blindsided to hear that the darned thing began in late 2007.

Anybody feeling some outrage? Even if you worked to keep your own house in order since 2001, some high rollers decided to put the entire system in jeopardy with an ethics holiday. These are the guys who hid toxic assets in seemingly good investments, like so many boogers in library books. Or was it more like burying leaky barrels of nuclear waste under a national park?

According to consumer confidence figures, the U.S. economy was in recession in March, although experts hadn't officially proclaimed it. Consumer confidence is a leading indicator, so if you had been paying attention, you probably had a hunch the darned thing started late in 2007.

Now prescient consumers (even those who still have jobs) are not spending on anything except essentials. In our consumer driven economy this perpetuates the constriction. But consumers are left little choice as credit remains frozen.

The most prudent among us will function on a cash basis like depression era fuddy duddies -- radically spending less than they earn. When things improve, these folks will still function on a cash a basis.

Don't blame them for a slow recovery next year. Thank them for having the sense to remain solvent. Hurl your outrage at legislators and regulators in Washington and in state governments who refused to regulate the criminal fraud that created the housing bubble and the derivatives bubble. Please, have some outrage. You'll find it much more satisfying than fear.