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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Good insight from Doc on TV

TV is dying

Doc Searls Weblog : Journalism and Net Nativity

My comments :
Good to see a “think piece” from you again.

Quick replies
I rather like the new Newsweek, waited until the weekend, read most of it, and on reflection, it’s a bit like my Sunday routine of : CBS Sunday Morning while cooking and/or eating breakfast.
Other Sunday (non shouting) shows like Face the Nation, Stephanopolus(sp?) and now GPS (Zakaria) … all DVR’d for interruption (commercails) zapping.

Noting that, in general, the ads are well downmarket, Billy Mayes type stuff.

The rest of network TV is back to the wasteland.
Sports will still be compelling to those who follow them, as they are (somewhat) unpredictable.

CNBC works with the DVR well, as well as the mute function.
Slashes reading of WSJournal, even when that is online.
NYTimes is still my go to paper (filters on) as the Economist for weekly.

So many sources are online, from Nouriel Roubini to Kudlow

I’m sure you’ve seen Clay’s Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

Olde TV is dead, the devices may yet be useful, even if the “networks” aren’t

Followed by longer, thoughtful piece from Doc, much from late 90's
Good forethought

Doc Searls Weblog : We’re gonna need a bigger boat

Read it

The New Normal - not the Old Normal

Bottom line - I think he nails it.
From far to free wheeling finance to pending far to political economic decision making.

Less growth, higher unemployment, more government decision making.

Mohamed A. El-Erian

Life After the Financial Crisis - BusinessWeek:

"Get used to it. The legacy of the financial crisis will be overregulation and slow growth"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More reading

Caught an interview with Bob last Saturday while doing some roadwork (tree clearing, pothole filling)
Left the radio on, doors to Jeep open
Interlochen Public Radio, "Michigan Writers"

Bob Butz - Writing The Wild

Guess I have to make some space on the bookshelves for a book or two
Bob certainly sounds like the gets the "up north" life and lifestyle, attitude etc.

Turns out he lives just a few miles south
Transplant from further east, understands the civility and neighborliness that I treasure up here.

Odd Behaviors ... explained ?

Why do some folks splurge on "image" products

Findings - Message in What We Buy, but Nobody’s Listening - NYTimes.com:

"“Evolution is good at getting us to avoid death, desperation and celibacy, but it’s not that good at getting us to feel happy,” he says, calling our desire to impress strangers a quirky evolutionary byproduct of a smaller social world.

“We evolved as social primates who hardly ever encountered strangers in prehistory,” Dr. Miller says. “So we instinctively treat all strangers as if they’re potential mates or friends or enemies. But your happiness and survival today don’t depend on your relationships with strangers. It doesn’t matter whether you get a nanosecond of deference from a shopkeeper or a stranger in an airport.”"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New actors, same old script

White House Memo - Some Obama Enemies Are Made Totally of Straw - NYTimes.com:

"There was much outrage in 2006, for example, when Mr. Bush said that when it came to battling terrorists, “I need members of Congress who understand that you can’t negotiate with these folks,” implying that Democrats backed talks with Al Qaeda. That assertion was promptly, and angrily, disputed by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Now that there is a new team at the White House, guess who is knocking down straw men left and right? To listen to President Obama, a veritable army of naysayers has invaded Washington, urging him to sit on his hands at the White House and do nothing to address any of the economic or national security problems facing the country."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Series of Links relating to "Detroit"

Here are several links from the previous week as now GM heads towards bankruptcy.

Not that I support the management decisions of the "Big Three" but are politicians more competent to decide what we will drive?
I would much prefer changes in taxes (gas tax) and let consumers decide.
Small, "green" cars are fine for urban areas, those that may have insufficient public transit, but up here I see most folks in trucks or SUV's.
In part it's called winter, in part it's distance.

One size does not fit all.
Note that I have also blogged about hybrid trucks and SUV's making more sense than small cars, they just don't have the same image.

Why Government Can't Run a Business - WSJ.com

"Capitalism isn't perfect. Indeed, to paraphrase Winston Churchill's famous description of democracy, it's the worst economic system except for all the others. But the inescapable fact is that only the profit motive and competition keep enterprises lean, efficient, innovative and customer-oriented."

Mr. Gordon is the author of "An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power" (HarperCollins, 2004).

Car Crazy - WSJ.com:

Bankrupt companies making 39 mpg autos. Are we nuts?

"We wish these folks luck 'working together' with the Obama auto-design team. One thing seems certain by 2016: Taxpayers will be paying Detroit to make the cars Americans don't want, and then they will pay again either through (trust us) a gas tax or with a purchase subsidy. Even the French must think we're nuts."

Obama at the Auto Buffet - WSJ.com:

"With his latest installment of ever-higher fuel mileage requirements for the auto industry, Barack Obama embraces a momentary, crisis-spawned expansion of the art of the possible, unleavened by any art of the rationally desirable."

In U.S., Steps Toward Industrial Policy in Autos - NYTimes.com:

"“By any coherent definition, this is industrial policy,” said Marcus Noland, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Industrial policy refers to government programs tailored for a specific industry instead of actions whose effects are felt across an economy, like monetary policy or tax rates."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

“Whaddya Give”

Last night : another excellent "play" from Anne Marie
I think it may be her first "musical"

IPR News: Writer Dramatizes History of Empire, MI | Interlochen Public Radio

I had attended the auction about the time we bought what became "home" on the lake.
My memory is that the auction went for two days with 3 simultaneous auctioneers and they indeed had a lot of "stuff"

The performance build wonderfully, with the tension between "need" for things and for relationships

The brothers died bachelors

"...loosely based on the Roen brother’s story. In 1985, two of the five sons of the founding father of the Village of Empire, Andrew Roen, were found dead in their home of natural causes. The home was also stuffed with antiques, cash and unsigned wills. A three-day auction followed netting more than $200,000.

Oomen created her main character by combining the mayor and the auctioneer into one person. As he drives the sales, the objects he sells trigger memories. And the stories portray the brothers at various stages of their lives."

More from Leelanau Enterprise

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Straw Man

Nouriel Roubini does a straw man argument
The sky is falling the sky is falling, the dollar is doomed

My question is why China puts their funds in the US Treasury market ... security, transparency, liquidity?

Op-Ed Contributor - The Almighty Renminbi? - NYTimes.com:

"But what could replace it? The British pound, the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc remain minor reserve currencies, as those countries are not major powers. Gold is still a barbaric relic whose value rises only when inflation is high. The euro is hobbled by concerns about the long-term viability of the European Monetary Union. That leaves the renminbi."

But then he goes on to say ...

"At the moment, though, the renminbi is far from ready to achieve reserve currency status. China would first have to ease restrictions on money entering and leaving the country, make its currency fully convertible for such transactions, continue its domestic financial reforms and make its bond markets more liquid. It would take a long time for the renminbi to become a reserve currency, but it could happen."

Campaings vs Governing

News Analysis - Obama After Bush - Leading by Second Thought - NYTimes.com:

"But the bottom line is that Mr. Obama’s course corrections have real-life consequences. Mr. Bush kept saying that he wanted to close Guantanamo Bay but could not find an effective replacement for it. So he never acted. Mr. Obama began with that action, and now discovers it is more difficult to accomplish than it seemed a few months ago.

“These issues are always more difficult in practice than they are in the environment of a campaign,” Samuel R. Berger, who served as President Bill Clinton’s national security adviser, said Friday. “In the end, what you have to remember is that President Obama is going to close Guantanamo and he is going to end torture. But I think everyone admits that doing so has proven to be more difficult than anyone anticipated.”"

Saturday, May 09, 2009


I don't totally agree
Good choice of equities can counter performance issues.

My option would be to buy stocks of companies that raise their dividends regularly, over time this can greatly enhance returns.

FT.com / Markets / The long view - Long View: Why baby boomers will put their faith in bonds:

"Confidence in stocks is likely to have been shaken, as the realisation takes hold that bonds have beaten stocks over four decades.

Add to this the weight of demographics. Those who started saving in 1969 were in the early years of the baby boom generation. They have only a few years left to retirement, and suddenly have far less wealth set aside for it than they had thought. That will mean saving more, and it is likely that a big chunk of that money will go to bonds rather than stocks."

FT.com / US / Economy & Fed - What a feeling: how emotions may yet save the economy

Happy Talk

First, talk the economy down, then get the bailout/legislation you want, then talk the economy up.

FT.com / US / Economy & Fed - What a feeling: how emotions may yet save the economy:

"...“we will never really understand important economic events unless we confront the fact that their causes are largely mental in nature”. Our “ideas and feelings” about the economy are not purely a rational reaction to data and experience; they themselves are an important driver of economic growth – and decline."

Free Speach?

Post an Opinion, Go To Jail : Watts Up With That?

"...proposed a bill that would make it a federal felony to use blogs, text messages, and Internet messaging (”electronic means”) to harass someone and cause them “emotional distress.”

What about the Congressional Record?


High taxes, which would piss off voters, but give them a choice in what to buy, or tell the manufacturers what to build, limiting choice.

I'd vote for the taxes ... and side benefit would be funds for road repairs

How Will Obama and Detroit Get Americans to Buy Hybrid Vehicles? - WSJ.com:

"U.S. car makers have lobbied for higher gas taxes as the simplest way to push consumers into high-mileage cars. The Obama administration is betting on a different approach: Leave gas taxes alone, and instead invest government money in advanced battery development, offer tax breaks of up to $7,500 on hybrids and mandate tougher mileage standards to force car makers to use new fuel-saving technology. Washington now has a big financial stake in getting this right, or billions in public money plowed into Chrysler and GM could be vulnerable to energy markets."

Healthy ?

What's Really in Many 'Healthy' Foods - WSJ.com

How misleading labeling may help sell ordinary products as "healthy"

Such as "wheat bread" ... like, most bread (other than spelt) is made of wheat.

Whole Wheat would be much much better as it should contain the bran and germ.

never heard of photoshop

Aide Quits Over New York Flyover - WSJ.com: "WASHINGTON -- The White House official responsible for the Air Force One flight over New York City that caused panic around the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks resigned Friday, as an internal review identified numerous miscues surrounding the incident.

In a resignation letter submitted to President Barack Obama on Friday, White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera said the controversy over the April 27 photo-op has made it impossible for him to lead effectively and 'has become a distraction to the important work you are doing as president.'"

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Tax "Havens"

There seems to be a need for deeper thinking
Corporations are non-national or global.

I dislike the wiff of protectionism

Ross: Obama's Tax Changes Are a 'Huge Mistake' - General * Asia * News * Story - CNBC.com:

"'The part that's more complicated is about the corporations. And it almost sounded as though he was intending to be punitive on corporations that had extensive overseas operations. To the degree that that's true I think it would be a huge mistake, because one of the reasons that many of the U.S. corporations are prospering is in fact their participation in the more rapidly growing markets overseas. And I think that's a very dangerous slope,' Ross said."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Beg to differ cont ...

Late last year, Toyota halts work for new 1.3 Billion Prius Plant for Mississippi

Prius or Pickups? | Car News Blog at Motor Trend:

"The Prius problem highlights the major challenge facing any bailout of the Detroit Three. If Toyota allegedly the smartest guys in the room when it comes to the auto biz can t figure out what American consumers want one month to the next as of a few months back the Tupelo plant was actually slated to build Highlander SUVs how on earth is Capitol Hill or any so-called 'car czar' for that matter going to be able to figure out which direction Detroit s salvation lies Building Prius clones Or pickups Which will give us the best chance of getting our loan money paid back"

Beg to differ

True statement " I'm not an auto engineer" ... and it shows

Obama 100 Days Press Conference: FULL TRANSCRIPT:

"OBAMA: I don't think that we should micromanage, but I think that, like any investor, the American taxpayer has the right to scrutinize what's being proposed and make sure that their money is not just being thrown down the drain.

And so, you know, we've got to strike a balance. I don't want to be -- I'm not an auto engineer. I don't know how to create an affordable, well-designed plug-in hybrid. But I know that, if the Japanese can design an affordable, well-designed hybrid, then, doggone it, the American people should be able to do the same.

So my job is to ask the auto industry: Why is it you guys can't do this? And, in some cases, they're starting to do it, but they've got these legacy costs. You know, there are some terrific U.S. cars being made, both by Chrysler and G.M.

The question is, you know, give me a plan so that you're building off your strengths and you're projecting out to where that market is going to be. I actually think, if you look at the trends, that those auto companies that emerge from this crisis, when you start seeing the pent-up demand for autos coming back, they're going to be in a position to really do well, globally, not just here in the United States."

I'm assuming that the President is referring to the Prius, a questionable data point.
Word is that Toyota looses money on the Prius, while it makes money on ... Pick Up Trucks.
I've posted this before:

18 Is Enough — Sightline Daily - Northwest News that Matters:

How SUVs Can Save the Climate — Sightline Daily - Northwest News that Matters

"You save more fuel switching from a 15 to 18 mpg car than switching from a 50 to 100 mpg car."

So skip any focus on "small cars"
Sure, they make a visual statement, but the numbers are not important with them.

Best would be to look at hybrid technology applied to larger platforms, matter of fact to platforms that Americans buy ... SUV's and the like.

Matter of fact, Detroit is addressing this market:
Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Named 2008 Green Car of the Year | GreenCar.com

More :
GM | Hybrid Cars, SUVs & Trucks - Hybrid Technology

But maybe this is all more about style than substance

Spring Breakfast

Post over on my "cookin" blog

Earthy Delights: Rampin up

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Good to have an "outside day"

Tromped the woods a bit
Hauled out the saws, felled a few dead pines
Ongoing process of thinning the stand of "standing dead" ... any without living tops. Often the skinniest in the stand.

First, the beetles that likely killed them don't like them on the ground, second, return their nutrients to the soil.

Later, gathered up some wild leeks for Sunday breakfast.
They seem to still be on the small side.

BS Rules (or sells papers)

Only a few days ago, there were calls to close the border, Biden "stuck his foot through the back of his head" in telling the Today Show, that he advises his family to stay off planes because of the risk ...


Outbreak in Mexico May Be Smaller Than Feared - NYTimes.com:

"The World Health Organization announced on Saturday an increase in the number of confirmed cases of swine flu, although tests now indicate that the outbreak in Mexico may turn out to be far smaller than originally feared."

Times picks up on it too ...
Blaming ‘Media Hype’ for Swine Flu Fears - The Lede Blog - NYTimes.com