"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Friday, November 30, 2007

Does "The Donald" know this?

Donald Trump has been out touting Manhattan as "different" and unaffected by the housing slump.

Well, maybe not...
Esp. when Wall Street was behind the feeding of much of the sub-prime, structured "stuff" mess and there will be further losses and layoffs.

Chickens come home to roost.

They'll Take Manhattan -- For Less - WSJ.com:

"No Longer Immune, Sales and Prices Slip; Waiting for Bonus Time

November 30, 2007; Page W1 Even as the national housing market has been hit by slow sales and falling prices, Manhattan has continued to shine. But now its light may be dimming."


"Manhattan makes up a tiny fraction of U.S. home sales. Its housing market is closely watched, however, because of the city's position at the center of the financial and media worlds. In recent months, the continuing strength of its real-estate market has drawn even more attention, and led many local real-estate professionals to contend that Manhattan is immune to the forces that have battered much of the rest of the country.

But few independent experts buy that argument. Christopher Mayer, a Columbia University professor and director of the school's Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate, says the idea that Manhattan will continue to boom amid a nationwide housing bust is "wishful thinking."

"To be sure, almost no one is steeling for a crash in Manhattan. Prof. Roubini believes prices will fall 10% over the next two years, substantially less than the 30% or more he predicts will occur in many markets. Nationwide, existing-home prices were down 5.1% in October, and sales were down a seasonally adjusted 20.7%, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Asset bubbles

When we have something like the "dot-com" bubble, whe had unreasonable inflation of intangible assets, stock prices.
While many were able to either cash in their gains (selling to the greater fools) or borrow against therse assets, when the bubble burst, it was, in large just "paper" that disappeared. Not even real paper, just electronic accounting.

Sure, those left standing when the music stopped in this game of musical chairs had to sell their homes, cars, jsts etc. but the absolute number were small.

The Fed lowered rates and "everyman" was able to move to something else ... Real Estate.

The difference is now that this bubble has burst, there are tangible assets that remain.
Land, homes and buildings that don't just disappear.
They may over time, but most likely they will remain on the market, often for a long time.

The market clearing in intangibables can happen (often does) quickly, in tangables it may take a long time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Behind the Headlines

Posted some thoughts Monday
Looney Dunes: Middle East

I'd pointed out issue of Arabs vs Persians
Times agrees: Iran Casts Shadow on Mideast Talks - New York Times

Then Tuesday we had:
1) signs of progress in Annapolis
2) Dubai funds to support Citicorp
3) Saudi moves to cut oil prices via increased production

Result : stronger dollar and stock market


1) Further progress between Israel and PNA (Abbas/West Bank)
Maybe even Hamas/Gaza if Saudi's want it

2) Dollar turns - Dubai picking a good time to invest, and America is the most liquid market, with some assets marked way down (financials)

The members of OPEC talking aobut shift to euro are Iran and Chavez

Saudi's and Gulf Arabs want long term investments, safe investments and have a lot of capital to put to work.

3) Stock Market turns, there are a lot of shorts, and those with deep pockets can run them.

Bottom line : time to buy

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Talk about timing

Hosted a meeting yesterday about a potential timber project, most likely involving David Milarch, Champion Trees Project.

"Opened" the Times this AM (Online) and there was David, front page...

Reaching for the Sky: A California Project to Clone Redwoods - New York Times:

"The word “cloning,” in this context, may be misleading, in that it is nothing as arcane or difficult as cloning mammals. It simply means growing a genetically identical plant. With redwoods, this is accomplished by dipping a cutting four to six inches long into a growth-hormone cocktail and then planting it in a temperature- and moisture-controlled fog chamber. Nine hundred cuttings have already been made, 300 of each of three trees sampled. It takes 20 cuttings that have grown into seedling to reforest one acre."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Middle East

Wild Ass-ed Prediction(s)

Meetings in Annapolis tomorrow
Low expectations – more may happen ?
Rice’s Turnabout on Mideast Peace Talks - New York Times

US winning in Iraq, and may block nuke Persians, would this bring Arabs to the table?
Boston Globe: Good News in Iraq

Bush low enough in polls, lame duck, and can go for broke

Is the key Iraq?

Lower oil in ’08?

Key is recognition of Israel
WSJournal (copyrighted material):

On the Jewish Question
November 26, 2007; Page A21
Herewith some thoughts about tomorrow's Annapolis peace conference, and the larger problem of how to approach the Israel-Palestine conflict. The first question (one might think it is obvious but apparently not) is, "What is the conflict about?" There are basically two possibilities: that it is about the size of Israel, or about its existence.

If the issue is about the size of Israel, then we have a straightforward border problem, like Alsace-Lorraine or Texas. That is to say, not easy, but possible to solve in the long run, and to live with in the meantime.

If, on the other hand, the issue is the existence of Israel, then clearly it is insoluble by negotiation. There is no compromise position between existing and not existing, and no conceivable government of Israel is going to negotiate on whether that country should or should not exist.

PLO and other Palestinian spokesmen have, from time to time, given formal indications of recognition of Israel in their diplomatic discourse in foreign languages. But that's not the message delivered at home in Arabic, in everything from primary school textbooks to political speeches and religious sermons. Here the terms used in Arabic denote, not the end of hostilities, but an armistice or truce, until such time that the war against Israel can be resumed with better prospects for success. Without genuine acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, as the more than 20 members of the Arab League exist as Arab States, or the much larger number of members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference exist as Islamic states, peace cannot be negotiated.

A good example of how this problem affects negotiation is the much-discussed refugee question. During the fighting in 1947-1948, about three-fourths of a million Arabs fled or were driven (both are true in different places) from Israel and found refuge in the neighboring Arab countries. In the same period and after, a slightly greater number of Jews fled or were driven from Arab countries, first from the Arab-controlled part of mandatory Palestine (where not a single Jew was permitted to remain), then from the Arab countries where they and their ancestors had lived for centuries, or in some places for millennia. Most Jewish refugees found their way to Israel.

What happened was thus, in effect, an exchange of populations not unlike that which took place in the Indian subcontinent in the previous year, when British India was split into India and Pakistan. Millions of refugees fled or were driven both ways -- Hindus and others from Pakistan to India, Muslims from India to Pakistan. Another example was Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, when the Soviets annexed a large piece of eastern Poland and compensated the Poles with a slice of eastern Germany. This too led to a massive refugee movement -- Poles fled or were driven from the Soviet Union into Poland, Germans fled or were driven from Poland into Germany.

The Poles and the Germans, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Jewish refugees from Arab lands, all were resettled in their new homes and accorded the normal rights of citizenship. More remarkably, this was done without international aid. The one exception was the Palestinian Arabs in neighboring Arab countries.

The government of Jordan granted Palestinian Arabs a form of citizenship, but kept them in refugee camps. In the other Arab countries, they were and remained stateless aliens without rights or opportunities, maintained by U.N. funding. Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation.

The reason for this has been stated by various Arab spokesmen. It is the need to preserve the Palestinians as a separate entity until the time when they will return and reclaim the whole of Palestine; that is to say, all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. The demand for the "return" of the refugees, in other words, means the destruction of Israel. This is highly unlikely to be approved by any Israeli government.

There are signs of change in some Arab circles, of a willingness to accept Israel and even to see the possibility of a positive Israeli contribution to the public life of the region. But such opinions are only furtively expressed. Sometimes, those who dare to express them are jailed or worse. These opinions have as yet little or no impact on the leadership.

Which brings us back to the Annapolis summit. If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed. And in light of the past record, it is clear that is and will remain the issue, until the Arab leadership either achieves or renounces its purpose -- to destroy Israel. Both seem equally unlikely for the time being.

Mr. Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Science & Faith

Compared to Creationist Geology, the following can make some sense

Taking Science on Faith - New York Times:

"Science, we are repeatedly told, is the most reliable form of knowledge about the world because it is based on testable hypotheses. Religion, by contrast, is based on faith. The term “doubting Thomas” well illustrates the difference. In science, a healthy skepticism is a professional necessity, whereas in religion, having belief without evidence is regarded as a virtue.

The problem with this neat separation into “non-overlapping magisteria,” as Stephen Jay Gould described science and religion, is that science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. "

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Creationist Geology
sounds like an oxymoron to me...

Creationism / Rocks and Minerals ...New York Times:

"...45 percent of Americans who, for 25 years, have consistently agreed with the statement in a Gallup poll that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”"

a streach

Dreams of Mega projects
But where's the money?

Al Gore joins Kleiner Perkins to save the planet - Nov. 12, 2007

"They argue that to halt global warming, nothing less will be required than a makeover of the $6 trillion global energy business. Coal plants, gas stations, the internal-combustion engine, petrochemicals, plastic bags, even bottled water will have to give way to clean, green, sustainable technologies. "What we are going to have to put in place is a combination of the Manhattan Project, the Apollo project, and the Marshall Plan, and scale it globally," Gore continues. "It'd be promising too much to say we can do it on our own, but we intend to do our part.""

Is Gore's role to shake the Government Money Tree?

From further to the right:
Global Warming, Inc. - WSJ.com:
"There's no shortage of new capital pouring into alternative energy projects these days. According to the National Venture Capital Association, 'clean tech' start-ups attracted more than $800 million in venture capital last quarter, a new record. What's not clear is whether these are fundamentally energy ventures or political ventures. The Manhattan Institute's Peter Huber, a former engineering professor at MIT, exaggerates only slightly when he says that 'Basically, 'alternative' means stuff that nobody actually uses.' If that turns out to be true, then alternative energy companies could struggle for market share without government assistance."

A few hundred million, or even a billion or two doesn't do all that much against a multi-Trillion dollar industry


Media manipulation to "Da Vinci Code"
Brief interview

Umberto Eco - Authors - Books - Literature - The Name of the Rose - New York Times

Go West(ern)

Piece on the oft written off movie genre

Hollywood - Westerns - Movies - Motion Pictures - New York Times


Daniel Day-Lewis’s All-Time Top Westerns

Published: November 10, 2007
I don't particularly like westerns as a genre, but I do love certain westerns. ''High Noon'' means a lot to me - I love the purity and the honesty, I love Gary Cooper in that film, the idea of the last man standing. I do not like John Wayne: I find it hard to watch him. I just never took to him. And I don't like Jimmy Stewart as a cowboy. I love him, but just not as a cowboy; ''Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'' is one of my favorite films. I love Capra. I love Preston Sturges. But we're talking about westerns. ... I have always admired Clint Eastwood's westerns. The spaghetti westerns were a great discovery. And ''Pale Rider.'' As a child, the John Ford film ''Cheyenne Autumn'' made a big impression on me. And ''Five Easy Pieces.'' It's not really a western, but it is about the possibilities that can be found in the West. Jack Nicholson is sublime in that film, just sublime. It's the most stultifying portrait of middle-class life. You want to flee from that world and head anywhere less civilized. Which is, of course, the appeal of the West: It's not tamed yet.

More here
New York Times Magazine

Including cover piece on Day-Lewis's new "Western"

Seeking truth in advertising/packaging

Check it out

TerraChoice - Six Sins of Greenwashing

"Reality TV?"

'Bachelor' meets Jerry Springer?

Former 'Bachelor' Contestant Arrested - New York Times:

"Filed at 7:54 a.m. ET
SEMINOLE, Fla. (AP) -- A former cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who was proposed to on the reality TV show ''The Bachelor'' was accused of punching a man she lives with in the mouth, authorities said.

Mary Delgado was taken into custody just after midnight Wednesday on a battery charge and was under the influence of alcohol when she was arrested, according to a police affidavit.

Delgado received a proposal on the show in 2004 from professional bass fisherman Byron Velvick. The two appeared together Tuesday in a special episode of ''The Bachelor'' called ''After the Final Rose.''

The police affidavit does not name Delgado's fiance, but says the pair have lived together ''as a family'' for the last three years. According to sheriff officials, Delgado was released Wednesday afternoon."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Where are the best chefs...

Right here in the good ol USA

Fine Dining In Sin City | Newsweek Periscope | Newsweek.com:

"How do the chefs in your American restaurants compare to those overseas?

You might be surprised, but the American line chefs are the best—better than many of them in Japan and France. Once you show them how to do something, they copy it perfectly. They're very serious, dedicated and passionate. Truly professional."

What a difference a day makes ...

24 little hours

Woke up with about 6inches of snow today

looks like home to me

Doc has a photostream of "downstate" Michigan from Saginaw Bay to Lake Michigan
Missed Lansing, he was on north side of the plane, but lots of good stuff

Doc Searls Weblog: Flying from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan

The set is here
2007_11_13 From Lake Huron to Lake Michigan - a photoset on Flickr

Higher point of view (Shuttle) from Keith
Modeshift Blog Archive You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Signs of ... what?

OK, so there's a writer's strike, many TV shows will be off the air or into reruns soon, but we have "reality" TV ...

VH1 checks into 'Celebrity Rehab' - Entertainment News, Reality TV, Media - Variety:
"Show, titled 'Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew,' will debut on Jan. 10. Net has ordered eight hourlong episodes."

Thumbs up Larry ... sparklers!

Local vintner supreme makes WSJournal

Excerpt :
from "Tastings"

A Sampling of Small-Production American Sparklers

We collected a large sample of handcrafted, small-production American sparkling wines and tasted them over two weeks. These were our favorites. Although we bought these from retail stores, all are made in very small quantities and are hard to find outside of the winery or the immediate area where they are made. We list them simply to give an idea of the very special small-production wines made across the U.S. If you live near a winery, and chances are that you do, we'd guess it makes a sparkling wine that might be for sale only at the winery. Pick one up. We did not taste these blind because they are so varied. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Kosher.L. Mawby 'Talismon' Brut non-vintage (Leelanau Peninsula, Mich.)

Nutty and rich, with some real taste and body. Fruity, with orange blossoms, honey, toast and peaches. Charming. Mawby makes only sparklers.

Bye Bye Bling-Bling

In short, the party is over.
Free money (Capital One, Countrywide, home equity loans, sub-prime's) from suburbia to the inner city is gone.

Free money feeds bling.

No free money, bye bye bling.
Back to basics, bye bye Gucci, Prada, whatever, hellow Wrangler.

Fine with me, I don't need to impress the neighbors, or myself.

The Consumer Crunch:

"The Consumer Crunch Recession or not, American families will be forced to tighten their belts "

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pure Brilliant Talent

Shirley and I were talking about Picasso
Reminded me of this show (I'm sure it was David Douglas Duncan - found on the web)

Single line, the only medium being air and light, pure brilliant talent
No corrections, no references other than in the mind
A signature piece, minotaur of light

Duck Hunting

No photo, but we just had a young Bald Eagle hunting over the cove

Shirley spotted it first
I thought it may be going after fish
Shirley had the field glasses .. it was a Bufflehead, a diving duck
The duck would dive, but the eagle "knew" it would have to surface.
After about a dozen attempts, it got it's prey


Sign of a bottom?

This is the sort of story that may indicate at least a short term buy on the dollar.

Yahoo! Finance: "OPEC Interested in Non-Dollar Currency- AP Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that OPEC's members have expressed interest in converting their cash reserves into a currency other than the depreciating U.S. dollar, which he called a 'worthless piece of paper.'"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

DVR's up and down

Besides the obvious time shift advantage, not really different from VCR's other than ease, and "instant replay" the ablity to zap commercials is great, esp. with football. Esp. with slow games.
I'd recorded, fast forwarded much of the UofM/Ohio State game.
Michigan State/Penn State game was more interesting:
Fake punt fuels Spartans' victory - Michigan State Spartans Sports: News, Blogs, Photos, Audio, Schedule & Stats - MLive.com

Downside: having started the recording, they picking up after dinner (game was still on, but I was catching up) the unit went by the scheduled timing.
Came down to last min. and controversy over time-out's and game clock... looked like Penn State would have one more shot, less than 30 seconds.
And the DVR stopped!


MSU won

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Oh Deer

Metro kids may head to the zoo to see the deer
Here, the kids hunt them
Click for some shots of good shots

Leelanau Enterprise � Success on youth two-day special deer hunt: "Success on youth two-day special deer hunt"

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Not much bloggin
Week in NYC, home for a couple days, then off to Sanibel, mostly business
Did buckle down for some beach walks, 2 miles minimum, 6 max (handy mile markers on the beach)

Tried to do most early or late

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On the lighter side

Should you really trust a Realtor?

Look Who Still Can't Sell His Home! (Hint, He's In The Industry) - Realty Check with Diana Olick - CNBC.com

Maybe not...

Dialog ... ?

We had some high winds, power fluctuations
(Winds ... gusts to 50 MPH, standard November fare here ... see Edmund Fitzgerald)

Anyway, we had a service outage, basic cable worked, but no high end digital or internet

My message to Charter:

suggestion: establish a call to report outage number

This morning, my service went out about 7:30
By 8:30, after several reboots, I called your "help" line
Well, 10-15 min with your robot service, then at least 10 with your call center, we got a service call scheduled.

I was 99% certain that you had a system outage
Sure enough, around 3PM I checked again, and have service.

Now, if you had a line to call to report an outage, it would help both of us.

I'm no dummy, and your call center was not aware of the outage. I could have helped.

This is a question of customer satisfaction.
When I know that you have a problem, I don't like to waste time with robot voice or overseas call centers.

I would believe that it is much cheaper for Charter to receive reports of problems, than to send a truck on a wild goose chase.

Figure where it’s best to spend your corporate funds.
My time is worth money, you took at least ½ hour which I would bill at $100. What does a truck roll cost? What does a “call to report outage” number cost?

More importantly, what does a satisfied customer cost?


Reply tonight from Charter
Does it look canned?
Note the sales pitch
Hey ... if I had the connection, why would I need the "self help"

Dear JT Hoagland,

Thank you so much for contacting Charter Communications, my name is Ronand. I understand that you are having issues with your service. I am sorry that you had to go through this inconvenience. I understand your frustration; rest assured I will do my best to address this concern. If you have additional questions, please let me know.

I would like to encourage you to please visit our website, www.charter.com for further information and assistance regarding any of your services. There are self-help options available for you there.

Great News! Charter telephone is now available in your area! You can save money with charter's 5-feature pack that gibes you the popular calling feature you want for one low price. Call our toll free number 1-800-545-0994 to learn more and sign up for Charter's Telephone Service!

Thank you for your e-mail submission to our website! Have a wonderful day!


Email Support Team
High Speed Internet Department
Charter Communications

Monday, November 05, 2007

Travel tips

Check this out, but also check the comments for follow up's
Found via Doc (Doc Searls Weblog : Same old blog, brand new place)

Travelhacker :

10 Useful Secrets the Major Airlines Don’t Want You to Know
Monday, October 22, 2007 at 2:25pm
byBy Laura Milligan

"Ironically, traveling by air is getting more and more inconvenient as overbooked flights, lost luggage, and pricey ticket sales become more common. Unfortunately, booking a flight is sometimes just plain necessary, a fact that airlines know all too well, allowing them to continue maximizing profits while we passengers often get stuck on the ground."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Tick Tock

Daylight "Savings"

Seems we swapped 6AM to 7AM darkness for 7PM to 6PM darkness
Just a bit of a shift in behavior
Easier to get up early enough
Tend to fix dinner earlier ...

Not that the sun, moon and stars really care

Only our associates/friends/partners