mm261: 21-January-2008: Blue Monday

January 21, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

louisxvi

Louis XVI of France was executed 21-January-1793.

lenin Wikipedia

Vladimir Ilych Lenin, first leader and principal architect of the Soviet Union, died 21-January-1924.

hiss Wikipedia

History.com tells us that Alger Hiss was convicted as a spy of the Soviet Union on 21-January-1950. For you kids, check out the Wikipedia article — this case was controversial my entire life.

Further depressing anniversary from History.com. On 21-January-1916:

The National Board of Review, founded in 1909 as the National Board of Censorship, agrees it will not accept nudity in films. The board, a volunteer group of film fans representing movie studios, served as an industry watchdog to help studios avoid government censorship….

jimmiecarterWikipedia

Okay, let’s cheer up. Let’s remember Viet Nam and Jimmy Carter. The day after his inauguration, History.com tells us:

On this day in 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter grants an unconditional pardon to hundreds of thousands of men who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.

In total, some 100,000 young Americans went abroad in the late 1960s and early 70s to avoid serving in the war. Ninety percent went to Canada, where after some initial controversy they were eventually welcomed as immigrants.

Never had heard this before today, but the third Monday of January is reckoned to be the most depressing day of the year.

Okay, we need to balance this out. How about this? Who was born on 21-January?

Found a couple of websites that feature this type of information. The most comprehensive is a site called Gregsite, from Greg Duncan. Most of the following information comes from the 21-January page.

Happy Birthday! to…

1338 Charles V (the Wise), king of France (1364-80)

A little obscure, that. Can you give us something more relevant?

How about an inventor, a pioneer, and a couple of Confederate generals, including THE Confederate general?

1743 John Fitch, inventor (had a working steamboat years before Fulton)

1813 John C Fremont, [Pathfinder], map maker/explorer (western US)/Gov (AZ)

1821 John Cabell Breckinridge, (D) 14th US VP (1857-61)/mjr-gen (Confed)

1824 Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, Lt Gen 2nd Corps (ANV, Confed)

stonewalljackson Wikipedia

A composer I’ve heard of, and a weapons designer:

1855 Ernest Chausson, Paris, composer (Poeme for Violin & Orchestra)

1855 John M Browning, US, weapons manufacturer

An actor from the old days, probably more disappointed than we are about that 1916 ruling:

jcarrollnaish Wikipedia

1897 J Carrol Naish, NYC, actor (Charlie Chan-Adv of Charlie Chan)

Assorted people you may have heard of:

1905 Christian Dior, Normandy France, fashion designer (long-skirted look)

1922 Paul Scofield, British actor (Man for All Seasons, Train)

1924 Benny Hill, Southampton England, comedian (Benny Hill Show)

bennyhillWikipedia

Benny Hill. [“I was named after good Queen Victoria!” “Not too long afterward, either.”] Who knew?

1924 Telly Savalas, Garden City NJ, actor (Acapulco, Kojak)

1926 Steve Reeves, Montana, actor (Hercules, Hercules Unchained)

1939 Wolfman Jack, [Bob Smith], Bkln NY, DJ (Midnight Special)

1940 Jack Nicklaus, Columbus Ohio, golfer (Player of Yr 1967,72,73,75,76)

1941 Edwin Starr, rocker

1941 Placido Domingo, Madrid Spain, opera tenor (Pinkerton-Mme Butterfly)

placidodomingoWikipedia

Quiet Sunday, one of the Three Tenors (with José Carreras and the late Luciano Pavoratti), but so much more.

1941 Richie Havens, Bkln, folk singer (Here Comes the Sun)

1942 Mac Davis, Lubbock Tx, singer/actor (Mac Davis Show, North Dallas 40)

1947 Jill Eikenberry, New Haven Ct, (Ann Kelsey-LA Law, Manhattan Project)

1948 Yr (justifiably) humble svt, aka “MUDGE” Chicago, IL, Blogger (Left-Handed Complement)

1950 Billy Ocean, Trinidad, singer (Suddenly, Caribbean Queen)

1957 Geena [Virginia] Davis, Wareham Mass, actress (Beetlejuice, Fly)

geenadavisWikipedia

Geena Davis. Sigh.

1961 Gabrielle Carteris, Phoenix Az, actress (Andrea-Beverly Hills 90210)

Hell of a day. This year, more than most.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm260: The other oil shock

January 20, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

We’ve had several occasions in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©

Fuel from Food: Just a bad idea all around

mm233: Corn in the news – and not just in Iowa!
mm194: Friedman: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
mm193: Fuel without oil, or corn
mm084: Food versus fools – Salon.com
mm053: The case for turning crops into fuel – Saletan
mm015: Welcomed back to the guild

…to consider the growth of the use of traditional food crops to create alternative fuel stocks – ethanol from corn is the U.S. wrongheaded approach.

Such is the triumph of our interconnected world that bad ideas from the U.S. are reproduced just as predictably as are many of our other famous cultural artifacts: rock and roll, blue jeans, cellular telephones.

January 19th’s NYTimes brings to our attention the food crisis in Asia caused by conversion of food crops to petroleum substitutes.

nytimes

A New, Global Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories

By KEITH BRADSHER | Published: January 19, 2008

KUANTAN, Malaysia — Rising prices for cooking oil are forcing residents of Asia’s largest slum, in Mumbai, India, to ration every drop. Bakeries in the United States are fretting over higher shortening costs. And here in Malaysia, brand-new factories built to convert vegetable oil into diesel sit idle, their owners unable to afford the raw material.

Cooking oil? A cheap commodity in the west. What’s the big deal?

Cooking oil may seem a trifling expense in the West. But in the developing world, cooking oil is an important source of calories and represents one of the biggest cash outlays for poor families, which grow much of their own food but have to buy oil in which to cook it.

The focus of this story is on palm oil, until recently rather disreputable nutritionally here, but back in favor as an option to trans fats, increasingly seen as unhealthy, and even legislated against in trendy places like New York City.

Now, everyone everywhere wants palm oil. But as petroleum prices rise, and vegetable based oils are viewed as attractive components of biodiesel, palm oil is suddenly in short supply, and skyrocketing in price.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

An Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories – New York Times

The interconnectedness of the world never fails to astonish. In this instance, the result isn’t merely inconveniently high prices for traditionally low-cost commodities, it’s starvation in Asian slums.

Stranger yet the instructive example of the palm oil refinery in Malaysia, built alongside sizable palm forests, prepared to convert palm oil to biodiesel. Now frantically attempting to come up with a new plan, as its machinery was idled because the demand for palm oil as food has ratcheted up its price beyond economical use as a feedstock for mere fuel.

In the rush to pander to Midwest growers of corn and soybeans by subsidizing the use of ethanol for fuel; in the rush to protect U.S. citizens from the unhealthy effects of oil their potatoes are fried in; we initiate chains of events that results in a crisis of shortages and starvation on the other side of the globe.

Farmers, always the hardest working and often the least compensated link of the food chain, naturally seek to get the highest price possible for their output, and biofuel has supercharged demand, thus prices are higher.

Seems clear that in the rush to embrace biofuels the law of unintended consequences has landed square into the battered cooking pots of Mumbai.

Can’t cook the week’s scrap of mutton with unintended consequences.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm259: Nomination

January 19, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s in the air, right?

Just finished nominating our favorite blogging host, WordPress.com to the Webware 100 2008 awards.

webware100 Nominated WordPress.com in two categories, the obvious, Publishing and photography, and also the less obvious category, Social.

Nominations continue until January 25.

This was a no-brainer (just as well, I know); WordPress.com is a wonderful service that … okay, here’s what my two-sentence (that’s the rules, folks — if I want to say more, that’s what WordPress.com is for!) nomination stated:

WordPress.com hosts free of charge (for most) over 2,100,000 blogs, smoothly providing state of the art technology, awesome (it’s free, right?) reliability and brilliant, cheerful customer service. The very model of a modern web “better mousetrap” that also has grown into a unique global community of writers.

Yeah, when MUDGE gushes, the tub overflows. They’ll toss me out of the Curmudgeon’s Guild for sure. But, this is sincere.

I embraced this Web 2.0 adventure the world calls blogging seriously only last May. 275 or so posts later, Left-Handed Complement remains a force for good in a life that turns out was waiting forever for the opportunity and venue to write.

Thanks, faithful reader, for faithfully reading.

It’s satisfying also to have made the jump from voracious web content consumer (for 15 or more years!) to provider of content, even if confined to this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

And, entry into the social world of blogging that has become a fascinating destination in and of itself, threatening at times to swamp the time destined for writing.

wordpress1 As I’ve written consistently through the months (some of the more recent: here, here, here and speaking especially about the social networking element here), WordPress.com has provided the means to effortlessly exercise insufficiently used writing muscles, with little technical muss or fuss.

And, as a professional IT person, I know full well that only ferociously creative effort behind the scenes keeps it so simple and reliable where our rubber meets the road.

When the Webware 100 voting begins in February, and WordPress.com is indeed on the list of nominees, yr (justifiably) humble svt will operate in typical Chicago election fashion: voting early and often.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm258: It’s the economy, stupid!

January 18, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Can’t escape it.

Oil at $100 per barrel. And planted well over $3 per gallon at the pump.

Stock market with more bad news than good.

Another bank lost $billions last quarter, due to the mortgage fiasco that is shortening breath and whose ripples are washing ashore around the world. A bank in England with the oh so modern name of Northern Rock caused the first run on a British bank in 200 years last fall and had to be bailed out by Her Majesty’s government; U.S. subprime mortgages the cause. How unseemly!

How do you feel about your job? More and more entry level positions in MUDGE’s IT field have “right sourced” (love those euphemisms) themselves to Bengaluru and environs; where do they (the suited euphemizers in the corner offices) think that their own successors will come from? What, me worry?

A presidential election that for more than a year seemed so much a referendum on the Republican party’s mishandling of Iraq has, as elections often do, and as this preposterously lengthy election season guaranteed, morphed into another arena altogether.

It’s the economy, stupid!

Fred Siegel points this out in the latest City Journal.

cityjournal-new

Fred Siegel

The Globalization Election

Voters are showing their anxiety about the economy and immigration.

10 January 2008

The common thread that ties Mike Huckabee’s come-from-almost-nowhere victory in Iowa to Hillary Clinton’s unexpected resurgence in New Hampshire is a shared ability to speak to widespread middle- and lower-middle-class economic anxiety. In Iowa, Huckabee effectively disparaged Mitt Romney—who made a fortune at Bain Capital and outspent him 20 to 1—as someone who couldn’t possibly understand “people at the lower ends of the economic scale,” who fear that they’re losing ground in the increasingly globalized economy. And in New Hampshire, while Barack Obama’s rhetorical flourishes spoke most effectively to the young and to the “creative class” that has flourished in the global economy, Clinton—like her husband before her—felt the middle class’s pain, devoting most of her campaign events to highlighting economic issues and offering narrowly tailored programs to address everything from the rising cost of tuition to mortgage defaults. And it paid off: she defeated Obama by ten points among those who felt they were falling behind financially.

Clinton’s comeback aside, the most surprising fact to emerge from New Hampshire was that voters in both parties named the economy as the Number One issue. New Hampshire, where more than 81 percent of the voters have at least some college education, is prosperous by any standard. It enjoys the lowest poverty rate in the country, one of the lowest unemployment and taxation rates, and is in the top echelon of income. Yet only 14 percent of its Democrats and half of its Republicans believe that the economy is doing well, while a stunning 98 percent of voters in the Democratic primary and 80 percent in the Republican primary were “worried” or “very worried” about the economy.

Siegel has very perceptively connected our economic (skyrocketing oil, plummeting home values) shpilkes with the issue of illegal immigration, tosses in terrorism, and calls it the globalization election.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Globalization Election by Fred Siegel, City Journal 10 January 2008

In the end (290 days and a couple of hours from now) it will come down to which of the smooth (or not) talkers convince the voters that s/he understands the gravity of the issue Siegel calls “globalization” and has a plan to make all of our troubles vanish.

For all the talking we’ve heard, I don’t think any one of the candidates has convinced enough of us.

It will be an interesting 290 days…

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Faithful reader might be interested in how MUDGE came up with that 290 day number.

Got to the second page of Google results before the answer popped up – a site I’ve depended on for years.

Global as yr (justifiably) humble svt is, accurately knowing what time it will be in Sydney when it’s 7:00pmCST next week is part of the job. Long years ago, I came to depend on a terrific website, timeanddate.com to accurately deliver that information. On its Personalized World Clock page, one can specify up to 25 cities around the world, and you get a page that displays them. As I write this, it’s 5:58pm Friday in Honolulu, 1:58am Saturday in Sao Paulo, 11:58am Saturday in Beijing, and 2:58pm Saturday in aforementioned Sydney. Very cool.

Well, the site also has many other useful calculators. And, doh!, a days between two dates calculator. Also very cool.

And, a theme we’ve used here before, it’s only 31,795,200 seconds, give or take a few thousand, until a new president is inaugurated.

Can’t come soon enough.

Really, now, it’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm257: The R-Word – Not that racy television show…

January 17, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

On more and more minds, and lips, lately is that dreaded R-Word, recession.

First some news that we won’t have to work too awfully hard to relate to the topic at hand.

1. A critical gear in the export engine gets stripped

The aerospace competition between Europe’s Airbus and the U.S.’s Boeing has been hard-fought (think: Saturday-night saloon, brass-knuckles style) commercial dueling of a classic nature.

Boeing, complacent after lucrative decades owning global airline sales was embarrassed when upstart Airbus, an amalgam of several European aerospace firms unable individually to compete with the Boeing colossus began to outsell the arrogant giant.

Thus it was with no small satisfaction that Boeing watched Airbus announce delay after delay delivering its latest product, the immense 600-passenger A380, finally released to its first customers late in 2007.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot, as Boeing yesterday was forced to admit that its latest product, the new-age, environmentally sensitive 787 Dreamliner, has encountered delivery glitches of its own, the impact of which will push deliveries back to 2009.

Here’s the word from Boeing’s home-town paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (sorry, Chicago Tribune, but Boeing’s head may have relocated, but its heart remains in Washington State).

seattlepi

Boeing explains new 787 delay

Company ‘underestimated’ time to finish partners’ work

By JAMES WALLACE
P-I AEROSPACE REPORTER

It was 90 days ago Wednesday that Boeing troubleshooter Pat Shanahan took over the 787 program after then-Dreamliner boss Mike Bair was sacked.

A week earlier, The Boeing Co. had announced an embarrassing six-month delay, with the first Dreamliner deliveries to airlines slipping from May until the end of 2008.

Boeing believed at the time that it would be able to complete work on the first plane in its Everett factory and have it flying by the end of March. It is the first of six that will be needed for the flight test program before the 787 can be certified by regulators to carry passengers.

The story rings true enough; the 787 is a new aircraft, being assembled a new way.

The 787 represents a new way of building airplanes for Boeing, which turned over most of the manufacturing and assembly work to key partners in Italy, Japan and elsewhere in the United States.

But those partners were unable to complete a significant amount of work before the unfinished sections of the first of six test-flight planes arrived in Everett for final assembly. Boeing has struggled to catch up on all this “travel” work.

Typical complexity issues, perfectly understandable, if disappointing.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Boeing explains new 787 delay

It will take a more adept macroeconomist than yr (justifiably) humble svt (not a very high bar to scale either) to tell us the effect of this delivery delay on the economy. Exports are an important piece of the economic pie, and Boeing a critical element of that slice.

Boeing sneezes, and we all should start looking around for our Nyquil.

2. Okay, it’s a recession. Which candidate makes the most sense?

There’s a presidential election campaign going on, you may have noticed.

NYTimes’ Paul Krugman, one of our favorite economic analysts, takes a look at their positions. Voters are getting nervous; tell us you know how to make us feel better:

nytimes

Responding to Recession

By Paul Krugman | Published: January 14, 2008

Suddenly, the economic consensus seems to be that the implosion of the housing market will indeed push the U.S. economy into a recession, and that it’s quite possible that we’re already in one. As a result, over the next few weeks we’ll be hearing a lot about plans for economic stimulus.

Since this is an election year, the debate over how to stimulate the economy is inevitably tied up with politics. And here’s a modest suggestion for political reporters. Instead of trying to divine the candidates’ characters by scrutinizing their tone of voice and facial expressions, why not pay attention to what they say about economic policy?

In fact, recent statements by the candidates and their surrogates about the economy are quite revealing.

And he proceeds to get to the heart of each candidate’s economic sound bites.

  • McCain: ruefully admits he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know about the economy
  • Giuliani: his cure, a huge tax cut, isn’t
  • Huckabee: just wrong
  • Romney: who just might know something, won’t say anything, fearing to offend
  • Edwards: driving the agenda with a clearly designed policy
  • Clinton: following suit
  • Obama: after an awkward false start, now has a plan, although less progressive than the other leading Dems

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Responding to Recession – New York Times

Can’t help but wonder what Michael Bloomberg thinks… Mike, Mr. self-made billionaire, what get’s us out of our funk, fast?

3. Recession: Bitter but necessary medicine?

Another of MUDGE’s favorite economists, Daniel Gross of Slate, weighs in on our looming distress, and how it could provide a wake-up call to U.S. business:

slate

The Good News About the Recession

Maybe it will finally teach Americans how to compete globally.
By Daniel Gross | Posted Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008, at 11:53 AM ET

House for saleA sign of the housing slump

A recession may be upon us, which would mean fewer jobs, declining tax revenues, and sinking consumer confidence.

But for some (congenital Bush-bashers, the Irvine Housing Blog, critics of rampant consumerism), the parade of bad news is an occasion for schadenfreude….

(By the way, schadenfreude is defined thusly. Admit it, you always wanted to know but never bothered to look it up. Sequitur Service© at your service!)

… They enjoy seeing inhabitants of the formerly high-flying sectors that got us into the mess—real estate and Wall Street—being laid low. Others hold out hope that a recession will iron out distortions in the housing market, thus allowing them to move into previously unaffordable neighborhoods. Some econo-fretters hold out hope that reduced imports and the weaker dollar—both likely byproducts of a recession—will help close the trade deficit. And a few killjoys believe recessions can be morally uplifting. “High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life,” as Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon put it in the disastrous aftermath of the 1929 crash and ensuing Depression. Not for him stimulus packages and enhanced unemployment benefits. “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” (Thanks in part to such comments, voters liquidated Republicans for a generation.)

With the exception of a few gleaming stars, like our friends Boeing, U.S. companies have been woefully ineffective at selling to global markets.

The world is running away from us. The volume of global trade in merchandise has been increasing rapidly. And it’s not just the United States importing goods from China. It’s China importing natural resources from everywhere and building infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa, sub-Saharan Africa buying oil from the Persian Gulf, Dubai investors purchasing Indian real estate, Indian builders buying German engineering products and services, and German engineers buying toys made in China. With each passing day, an increasing number of transactions in the global marketplace do not involve the United States. We’re still a powerful engine. But the world’s economy now has a set of auxiliary motors.

We know we’ve been floundering; the way out may well be to find business leaders with global skillsets.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The good news about the recession. – By Daniel Gross – Slate Magazine

It’s going to be an uphill fight. We’ve earned our way into this economic distress: outsourcing our jobs instead of figuring out how to become competitive; living high on borrowed money that is now coming due big time; wasting geopolitical and real capital, and thousands of young American lives, on a poorly designed, inadequately executed, military misadventure in Iraq.

The R-Word

We hope you enjoyed this week’s three-part episode, and hope to heaven that we don’t have to do run too many more of them!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm256: I don’t hate big corporations, either

January 16, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

I’ve had this one sitting in my idea folder for a week and a half. Stanley Bing, who writes for Fortune magazine, and whose The Bing Blog blogroll2 has been a fixture on the Left-Handed Complement blogroll for as long as there’s been one, always has useful things to say about corporate life.

His observations are always bracing.

So it was with interest that I encountered his ode to big business:

bing

Why I love big bad corporations

The Bing Blog | Friday, January 4, 2008 at 11:27 am

I watched all the victory speeches last night after the Iowa caucuses were done. Everybody had their own spin on why it was a good night for them, of course, and I’m not going to say much about that. We all know who did well and who didn’t. But one thing stood clear in all the speeches offered to the people of America as a branding statement for this new generation of political products: Everybody hates big bad corporations.

It was weird for me. It wasn’t that long ago that I would listen to people lathering up about big bad corporations and how they needed to be taken down a peg and go Huzzah like the rest of the gang. After 25 years in business, however, I find a different reaction bubbling up in my gut when I hear the rhetoric.

I feel bad for the big bad corporations.

Stanley, I work for a big bad corporation also, as do a few of my friends. Of course, in MUDGE’s particular circle, many of my oldest friends are attorneys, partners by now, actually, working in small to medium size firms; a lot of attorneys! One is even a federal judge! How is one of those a friend to one of me?

Many of my friends are consultants, or owners of small businesses, or psychologists or occupational therapists, or owners of small businesses employing psychologists or occupational therapists.

Actually, I am an oddity among my old friends. I actually work for a big bad corporation, NYSE listing, S&P 100 status and all. Stanley says,

I work for a big bad corporation. Most of my friends do too. We’re writers and lawyers and accountants and research people and editors and graphic artists and programmers and marketing and advertising folks and a lot of other things that are neither big nor bad. We do what we do. And if anything happened to our big bad corporations, we’d be SOL.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Bing Blog Why I love big bad corporations «

I believe I have shared here a while ago that I didn’t start out loving big corporations. (Although, I searched the site but couldn’t find such a thought, so consider that you’re hearing it from MUDGE for the first time.) In fact, I would tell people that I was a small business guy.

In retrospect, this was defensive. As a credential-free individual, MUDGE did not believe himself to be conventional big corporation material. Probably wanted to be, which is where the defensive part comes in.

Worked for too many inadvertent non-profits, if you catch my drift: undercapitalized, too many competitors chasing the same customers’ manhole cover nickels, never enough in the bank to promptly pay the vendors, or much of a payroll.

As a kid, fresh(ly dropped) out of college, I spent a couple of years as a “senior” clerk in one of those very large companies, a manufacturing icon that long ago departed Chicago for cheaper (i.e., non-union) locales. I didn’t play well in that sandbox, but, after all, I was a kid.

After a few months at a computer trade school, I worked first for what was then called a service bureau, and now probably would be termed a computer consultant.

Wrote accounting, inventory and financial statement programs and the bureau ran them for medium sized companies who didn’t believe they could afford the mainframe computers then prevalent, nor their keepers. My employer was a small company that wanted to be a big one, but I was insulated from most of the bureaucratic (as it were) guff by a boss who was far more iconoclastic than I ever achieved, anywhere.

Moved from there after a couple of years (after all, that’s what we hotshot programmers did!) to work directly for another Chicago iconic company, embarked on a project decades ahead of its time.

Some day I’ll cite chapter and verse, but the short strokes are they canceled the expensive ($2Million in 1970 dollars) project that I’d hired onto (along with more than 40 others) and then they tried to channel this free spirit back into accounting programming.

Thus expelled from the mainstream, yr (justifiably) humble svt spent better than 25 years kicking around aforementioned inadvertent non-profits, mostly, until really bad times but a really really good attitude landed me in the lap of major corporate America once again.

12 years and another job change later (well, I really didn’t want to relocate to exurban New Jersey), I like it here. Mr. Bing has got it right. Big corporations employee lots of people; they support their communities; their research achieves the critical mass necessary to assure that they will be around for the long haul.

Yeah, the bureaucratic guff is there. Most of it I take; some I push back, carefully. But let’s face it: many of my rough edges, by no means all, have been worn smooth by the years, so I have figured out how to handle guff, and guffers.

And for now, I am tolerated. There’s always next week’s crisis, but, in a recession, I think I like being under a big umbrella.

Stanley Bing, as usual, got it right.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm255: 7,000!

January 15, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

5000-alt

1000-alt

1000-alt2

Yeah, the currency blog is back…

Those wonderful, wondrous folks at WordPress.com report over 7,000 visits to this micro-nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© since its inception, as of 14-January-2008. I remain totally aware that, 7,000 hits is an off day for many in the ‘Sphere (7,000 is an off minute for some!), but I’m impressed and grateful.

Thanks, especially, to faithful reader, to those of you who stop here regularly, whether or not you are regular or not (we’ll try to add more fiber!).

Thanks to those of you who subscribe to our feed.

BTW, wonderful, wondrous WordPress.com folks: can’t can’t can’t wait for those expanded feed stats you’ve teased us about!

Regardless, WordPress, thanks, thanks, thanks for everything: The free hosting that is so dependable; the fun you let us have with themes (changed for only the second time ever this past weekend – anybody notice?); it’s all terrific.

Thanks to aforementioned WordPress.com, and the other members of our Blogging Process Hall of Fame© (hmmm… we haven’t presented that lately)…

blogginghallv2 ©

Lately, BlogExplosion.com seems to be in a funk, but WordPress.com indicates that the site remains an origin for many of our daily readers. We like you a lot, BlogExplosion, get well soon!

And our latest find, FuelMyBlog.com, which had the astute good taste to award this site its coveted(?) “Blog of the Day” award yesterday, has both provided some traffic, as well as exposed yr (justifiably) humble svt to some superb blogging. Very humbling. Check them out at the top of our sidebar, and be sure to “Fuel” the ones you like (and us, too!).

Couldn’t do this without you, all.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm254: Bloomberg – just won’t go away…

January 14, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

The current issue of Business Week contains an interesting interview by Maria Bartiromo of Charlie Cook, a Washington DC based political analyst. You may have seen his talking head during an election night or two on NBC.

Political Guru Charlie Cook on the Primaries

FACE TIME By Maria Bartiromo | January 21, 2008

magazine cover

https://i0.wp.com/images.businessweek.com/story/08/370/0110_mz_facetime.jpg

Charlie Cook, political analyst photographed on 8 January 2008 in Washington DC Chris Usher

MARIA BARTIROMO

What will be the biggest issues in the election?

CHARLES COOK

I think it’s going to be the economy and America’s place in the world. And one of the things that’s sparking Obama’s rise is the idea of restoring respect for America.

Who displays the best grasp of economic issues?
Mike Bloomberg. What’s interesting is that if you look at polls of Democratic voters, they are very concerned about the economy. Republican voters just don’t seem to be showing that much concern about where the economy is going. But once the GOP nominee emerges, the economy is going to assert itself as a very, very big issue in the general election.

Guess it’s not just New York types who like Mike. Second question – out flops Bloomberg.

Could he win?
[Third-party candidate] Ross Perot was at 30% percent and in first place at one point in June, 1992, and an independent candidate would need to be able to get 37% to 39% of the popular vote to start winning a bunch of states by small margins and assemble the 270 electoral votes necessary. It’s plausible. A very bright, very impressive person spending $1 billion, with no fund-raising expenses and no nomination fights, could win if the stars line up right in the sense of both parties’ nominees emerging badly damaged.

We just posted this grid a few days ago, but here’s what we’ve been talking about since last June:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC for U.S. President 2008

mm024: Bloomberg?
mm038.1: Jews Sorta Like Bloomberg Even Though…
mm051: Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg’s Money, Visibility…
mm054: Chicago Tribune news: An Idea for Bloomberg
mm057: Bloomberg for President?
mm058: What Kind of President would Michael Bloomberg?
mm064: How to take down plutocrat Michael Bloomberg…
mm066: Michael Bloomberg’s Knightly Ambitions
mm069: The Votes Are In for New York’s Mayor Mike
mm086: Bloomberg Takes School Plan… to Midwest
mm110: Grading Mayoral Control
mm117: The cure for the Electoral College is worse…
mm208: Overdue a Bloomberg post
mm238: Bloomberg’s candidacy — closer to real?
mm248: Political Potpourri

Bartiromo’s interview of Cook covers all of the major candidates of both parties, but Bloomberg was discussed first.

Definitely attention grabbing.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Political Guru Charlie Cook on the Primaries

MUDGE thinks that third party candidates stir the pot; sell advertising and commercials; buy advertising and commercials; and generally pique the interest of the commentariat. Oh, boy, a three-way!

But could there be more going on? With the economy seemingly headed for recession (ugh, the dreaded “R”-word!), perhaps having a leader who is recognized as very smart where economic issues are concerned might be seen by more than just political types as salutary for the U.S.

Last time we facetiously (that’s our story now) proposed an Obama-Bloomberg ticket, but I’ll bet Business Week would love a Michael Bloomberg-Warren Buffett ticket!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm253: Water – casus belli for a new war between the states?

January 13, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

The extended drought in the southern reaches of the U.S. have public officials there casting covetous eyes on the Great Lakes.

Not so fast!

salon

How to solve America’s water problems

Hey, Sun Belters, move to the Great Lake states. You can have all the water you want and stop worrying about droughts. Besides, we’re not piping our water south.
By Edward McClelland

Jan. 7, 2008 | As his state endures its worst drought in a century, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is praying for rain. Lake Lanier, the reservoir that waters the endlessly growing colossus of metro Atlanta, is receding from its banks, shriveling to a shiny puddle. Georgia has restricted car washing and lawn watering. It has shut off its outdoor fountains.

In San Diego, which just experienced its driest summer in recorded history, the hills are charred from October’s wildfires. The state of California is so tapped out that the pumps that carry water from the Sacramento River to San Diego were tightened in December. Water authorities are urging San Diegans to tear up their grass and replace it with cactus and succulent.

Bill Richardson, governor of arid New Mexico, had his region’s plight in mind when he told the Las Vegas Sun that Northern states need to start sharing their water: “I want a national water policy. We need a dialogue between states to deal with issues like water conservation, water reuse technology, water delivery and water production. States like Wisconsin are awash in water.”

Yr (justifiably) humble svt has long been aware that his lifetime residence within a couple of miles of Lake Michigan has meant trouble-free access to water for drinking, cleanliness and even lawn hydration.

While the sunny South always tempted, especially during our region’s extended DecemberApril winter season; especially as deserted factories were converted to trendy loft condominia; especially as tent pole corporate headquarters disappeared with numbing regularity as national and international new owners gutted them; proximate family and, let’s face it, inertia have combined to keep us in the same neighborhood, actually, as our family moved to 50 years ago. Two miles from a Great Lake.

In spite of those especiallies,” in the light of the current water shortages crippling the good life all over the seductive Sunbelt, standing pat in the Midwest looks like a good call.

Salon’s extended story is worth your time:

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

How to solve America’s water problems | Salon News

All you refugees from winter: maybe it’s time to rethink your great escape.

Why are you surprised that when you move to a desert (you sun-baked denizens of Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Scottsdale, San Diego and Los Angeles, I’m talking to you) water is a bit scarce?

Be proud, Atlantans, of your fast-growing status (a couple of years ago your Hartsfield airport passed Chicago-O’Hare as the nation’s busiest an honor we have cheerfully ceded), but guess what? You’ve outgrown your region’s fresh water supply, and you, and Florida and Alabama are suffering.

Sorry, no way are we going to share. In fact, we’ve a bone to pick with our Michigan neighbors who’ve let Nestlé start sucking up industrial quantities of bottled water for sale outside our region.

And Salon quotes an expert who asserts that Bill Richardson’s presidential ambitions were drought-stricken after those covetous remarks:

“Water diversion is the third rail of Great Lakes politics,” says Peter Annin, author of “The Great Lakes Water Wars.” “It’s the one issue that unites Democrats and Republicans. Bill Richardson’s candidacy is over because of his comments. You throw Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York out of the mix, it’s really hard to win an election.”

Salon author Edward McClelland even goes so far as to invite you thirsty refugees back home to the Great Lakes.

Come on in, the water’s fine!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm252: A short word about the process of blogging

January 13, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

blogoftheday8113

The fuelmyblog.com website is home away from home for a growing community of bloggers. You’ll see near the top of our Left-Handed Complement sidebar the means to “fuel,” i.e., cast a (positive) vote for yr (justifiably) humble svt on their site, as well as the icons of some fellow members of the community whom I have found to be interesting reads (click to check them out — if you do, be sure to vote your opinion of them).

As a curmudgeon in good standing, don’t exactly know what to make of this:

dayaward

The screen shot above shows, indeed, that this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has been selected as Blog of the Day, 13-January-2008, at FuelMyBlog.com, and is showing as one of the top blogs in their News/Politics section.

Guess I’ll just say, “thanks, sincerely, for the recognition, FuelMyBlog!”

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE