Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Burghosphere All-Stars Come to The Blog

Two of the all-stars of the Burghoshpere, Judge Rufus Peckham and Mark Rauterkus left comments on my blog last night. Which made me EXTREMELY excited when I checked my inbox. Unfortunately, they both were disagreeing with posts.
  • If you're a regular reader then you doubtlessly noticed that I called out Pekham's Carbolic Smoke Ball yesterday for what I felt was a larger then fair number of shots at Obama (link to both the post and the Judge's response). The Judge showed me more respect then I could have imagined he had for this blog by crafting an eloquent response. I just wanted to be clear, to my readers and the judge, I wouldn't stop reading the CSB if it were nothing but Obama Shots, they're THAT funny (after all I still read TWM because he's THAT good of a writer). I intended the post more as a public letter to the editor of a newspaper that I read frequently, asking for a slight change in coverage when it is convienient. I hope nobody at CSB or any of my readers over-reacted. I'd still vote for the Judge for President!!!
  • Mark Rauterkus, the well respected Liberterian and Blogger, tried to cheer me up after last week's "Bad Mood" post (link to post and comment). I just wanted to assure Mark and my readers, even in my bad moods I look for ways to correct the course and I whole heartedly agree with Mark's Rule #1 "Don't Burn Out! Hang in There!".

Thank you both for your comments and to the others that read this blog, I know you're out there I can see you on Google Analytics, leave a comment! Even the ones that disagree make my day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Worst Sports Center EVER

So I came back to the hotel after one of the more exhausting work days ever and flipped on the TV as I flipped open the laptop. What do I find out?
  • Mark May thinks PITT is the surprising team this year, stupid Mark May.
  • That Outside The Lines "Investigation" of the PSU football team is the worst piece of jornalism I have ever seen. Penn State barely has a behaviour problem, if they do.
  • Daniel Sepulvada is out for the season.


Sour Kraut

Several of these I had intended to do whole posts on... but as it turns out I have a (very) full-time job and it is not blogging.
  • Pittsburgh's Future and Pittsburgh Today are talking about the same thing, though the link hasn't been made. Pittsburgh is in a bit of danger of becoming a one-industry town for the first time since Steel and I'm not sure Healthcare is a better industry to be in. Anyway, I can't say it any better then Harold Miller. And the statistics that back up the what if we didn't have healthcare scenario are at Pittsburgh Today.
  • Barack Obama gave a speach before 200,000 in Germany. I don't care if you do say his trip to Europe was presumptious and a bit over politicized (I'd agree with you) but do you think McCain would draw 200,000?
  • Penn State did well in the rankings over at the Princeton Review again... 3 in "Party Schools", 4 in "Students Pack the Stadiums", 2 in "Lots of Beer", 5 in "Best Career/Job Placement Services", 9 in "Best College Newspaper" and 9 in "Best Athletic Facilities". Well Done, Dear Old State.
  • Mike Maddison (who it's nice to have back in his blogging chair) criticized a Post-Gazette article that I had intended to criticize but never got around to it.

Obama Bashing

I hate to call out one of my favorite blogs in the burgh, the Carbolic Smoke Ball. However, I believe they went a step too far with this posting where the CSB "quotes" a German as saying, "'I haven’t seen such charisma since . . . .' He cut himself off, fearful of uttering the name “Adolf Hitler” in public." I DO realize that there's some extreme irony in having the furthest thing from an Aryan male (a black male) compared to Hitler, but I'm still not sure it's appropriate.

On top of that particular article 15 of the last 20 articles in their political section (I counted yesterday) mock Obama in one way or another. The other 5 mock Senator Edwards (1), JFK (1), Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (1), John McCain (1) and Larry King (1). Does anyone else see that as slightly skewed? I'm not saying they can't mock Obama or that most of their satire isn't hilarious, just that they should either spread it out or state a preference. I have a feeling that many of these political entries are created by 1 of their writers whose bias is well established but not well publicized.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thank You Casey Hampton

Casey missed weight and couldn't run(PG).

I'm not happy with Hampton, he showed up unready to work on the first day of camp. To me it's the same as showing up at the office without sleeping and wearing yesterday's clothes. Sure, you're there, but you're not ready to go. However, Hampton is one of my favorite Steelers and I would sure rather have him over fighting weight then under. In the long run, he'll be fine. This is a man who has been balancing on the line between big and fat since he was in HS, and doing it magnificently.

What I want to thank Hampton for is bringing on the first REAL football story of the fall. Now I can stop worrying about the biggest embarrassment in Pittsburgh sports history that's unfolding over at PNC Park (the Pirates are about to tie the longest string of consecutive losing seasons in the HISTORY of major professional sports), and focus on what really makes a Pittsburgher a Pittsburgher, Steeler Football.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Bad Mood

I'm in a bad mood and I'll tell you why (because I'm a blogger and that's what I do):
  • City Council hasn't done anything productive in months and it's beginning to turn from aggrevating to sad.
  • Everybody is down on Patrick Dowd and I had big hopes for the man. As of right now it looks like no one is going to pose a credible challenge to the mayor. I don't hate the mayor as much as some of my fellow bloggers, but I think all politicians should have enough credible challengers to keep them on their toes.
  • Everyone's whining about how old Joe is and the season hasn't even started yet.
  • ESPN ranked Penn State the 185th best college basketball program in the country.
  • The closer you look at the city's pension debt the more you want to cry.
  • The Pirates suck. Can't we just waive a white flag and wait for next year. Is it really necessary to embarrass ourselves for 2 more months?

Ok, I'm done bitching. Time to kick a little ass at work, and wait for better news to come up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sour Kraut

Kraut two days in a row? Jon must be hard at work. Perhaps tomorrow I'll have enough time for a real post.
  • Who says Pensblog isn't worth reading in the off season? NOT ME. The pic above is from here and is credited to one of their readers (Michael W). If you don't understand then either go watch the new Batman or start following the Pens or both.
  • I actually found a place where the Starbucks opens LATER then Pittsburgh (5:30am). Columbia, South Carolina. I had to wait 10 minutes for them to open just after 6.
  • Solid links available for Steelers fans on One for the Other Thumb.
  • I hate to point to my own blog, but Bram commented. It's like having the best chef in the city visit your new restaurant.
  • The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat points out that City Council has put issues like Lamargate, the Merger, the Debt and the rest on hold to tackle the real problem... Windshield Flyers.
  • I realized this while reading this 2PJ post. At some point today, I'll be within a half mile of this guy. Another scary fact... the same is true of this guy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What You Missed - Sour Kraut

I didn't blog on Friday, but it's not going to be hard to bring you up to speed on the happenings of the last several days:
  • Joe Paterno didn't say anything new about quitting (instead using the same line Gene Collier remembers him using in 1978).
  • City Council decided not to have a meaningful discussion with the City Solicitor about Billboardgate.
  • The Pirates have not traded Nady or Wilson. They did manage to drop 4 straight games to a team that used to have a worse record though.
  • Training camp did not open, yet.
  • The Pensblog guys were so stimulated they decided to publish the yawnblog.

I know, I've never needed a cup of coffee more in my life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not so fast Pittsburgh

The state decided NOT to grant the city's (namely city council's) request to be removed from Act 47 protection. I could not agree more. Until people start acting like grown-ups around here and start addressing Pittsburgh's big issues, I'm inclined to think we could use a few more babysitters. Among the big unaddressed issues:

Sour Kraut

The burghosphere was especially delicious this morning:
  • 2 Political Junkies has passed 1 MILLION hits!!! How awesome is that? By comparison, this blog should pass 1000 this week (granted it's growing, but still...). Congratulations to Dayvoe and Maria.
  • The Buccos are shopping their guys aggressively. As a fully qualified General Manager, I say good. At this moment the Pirates are a mediocre team with a chance to be terrible in a couple years. If Huntington can pull off a few good deals and rake in 6 or 7 prospects we could be a horrible (but fun to watch because of all the youth) team with a chance to be a great team.
  • One for the Other Thumb has a very interesting report. There are two things of interest here. The first is the implication that Cowher may have passed on the Steelers' head coaching offers because he was afraid the team would change hands. The second is the new nickname for Stanley Drunkenmiller, "D-Money." I say it couldn't be better and he has now become Stanley D-Money Drunkenmiller on this blog.
  • MEN ONLY: We're discussing gender roles over at the Men's Blogging Society. Pretty interesting stuff.
  • Tim Murphy (local Republican Congressman) voted to impeach George Bush. Interesting... My knowledge of impeachment proceedings dates back to 1999, but I don't think that mistakes (and I'm sure deep down even George knows they were mistakes) are a good reason to impeach someone. Definitely a good reason to elect a Democrat though!
  • Nothing like showing that you're willing to bury the political hatchet and start acting like grown-ups by saying, "It's tough for me to take anything Council President Shields thinks seriously anymore." He said this because he thinks Shields may run for mayor. As of right now there's only one person who is DEFINITELY running for Mayor, Ravenstahl. Should we not take him seriously?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So What?

It's satire people. In fact the intended TARGET of the satire is the people who have painted (in this case figuratively, not literally) Obama as a Muslim extremist and his wife as unpatriotic. The editor of the New Yorker attempts to explain that here.
When I hear how unfair Obama supporters think the cartoon is, I marvel at how silly our country has become. The fact that at the end of the day only about 10 or 15 percent of the Americans that see this cartoon are going to "get it" is the disturbing part. Some smart people won't bother to think about it and plenty of stupid people will get all worked up over something they don't understand. The point is, it's a shame that the New Yorker (whose readership is made up of highly educated, politically literate people that will have understood the satire) has to worry about what people who catch a glimpse of the picture on CNN are going to think.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

THE Blog Roll

As I have mentioned before, I believe that one of the roles of this blog is to provide its readers with the "keys to the kingdom" in regards to finding and enjoying the GREAT Pittsburgh blogs. Towards that end, I am pleased to introduce the new blog roll on your right. It is made up of the great blogs of Pittsburgh (minus the few I've missed on first draft) and is intended to be a great starter set for setting up your reader. In fact with the new blogger features that allow me to dynamically report which blogs were most recently published, you could even use this site AS your reader.

If you think I've missed any of the essential Pittsburgh blogs, or that I've miscategorized any, please let me know.

Thank Goodness for CPR

The Carbolic Smoke Ball is back, in a new format.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Burghosphere Updates

I feel that one of the purposes of this blog is to keep an eye on the Burghosphere. It is with that goal in mind that I bring you this horrific news. The Carbolic Smoke Ball is gone after the passing of it pseudonymous author. This is a bigger blow then people think, the blog was not JUST funny. In a city known, like it or not, for its ignorance, the CSB showed how our citizens have a deep knowledge and understanding of local and national happenings, you have to understand something thoroughly to make light of it.

In happier Burghosphere, Bob Mayo has decided to continue on blogging, after apparently questioning whether it was a good idea. This doesn't cure all that ails me after the departure of one of my favorite blogs (CSB) but it at least makes it more tolerable.


I was on vacation and didn't post much last week. Mostly because of a week internet connection. Here are some of my less then post-worthy observations of a week gone by though:
  • The Steelers aren't going anywhere. I talked with a recruiter from Pittsburgh on Wednesday and he finished the conversation, "Thanks Jonathan and let's hope the Steelers stay in Pittsburgh." I hadn't read a newspaper in two days so I ran to my computer thinking, "Say WHAT!?!?!?" Only to read that Stan Drunkenmiller, avid Steeler fan with Pittsburgh ties, might buy a portion of the Steelers. Here's a newsflash folks, he's not moving the team. A friend of a friend works for Duquesne Capital (Drunkenmiller's Company / Hedge Fund) and tells me that he flies here for EVERY home game, even paints his face for the games. He lives in NYC because he's an investor, and you just can't do that as well from Pittsburgh (that's speculation on my part). So everybody around Pittsburgh needs to just chill out and go back to worrying about the weather.
  • I REALLY don't want to leave Pittsburgh tomorrow. I don't know what it is... maybe I've found a girl I would like to spend a little more time with, maybe I haven't been to a southside bar in 2 weeks, maybe I haven't had a Fat Head's sandwich in a month, maybe I hate flights that involve Atlanta, maybe it's the fact that my current employer's handling of my career is laughable but when my alarm goes off tomorrow at 4am I'm going to consider ignoring it.
  • After being swept by Milwaukee last weekend, I officially declare the Pirates' season over. Done. It's now early football season. I suggest: The Nittany Line, Black Shoe Diaries and One for the Other Thumb.
  • McCain's Steeler Defensive Line thing is good old-fashioned dishonest political pandering. It's nice to see someone lose a couple votes for it rather then pick up cheap votes with it. If McCain wants to be a Maverick he should of owned up to it rather then letting his camp try to guilt us in to letting him off the hook cause he was tortured.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sour Kraut

Each of these (well most of them anyway) deserve their own post. However, I'm on vacation, so consider yourself lucky that you're getting anything at all.
  • Chris Briem has the numbers that show how Pittsburgh may be emerging from the rust belt, leaving Cleveland in Detroit behind. It's a happy thought, we'll have to see if/when other numbers come in to support the conclusion.
  • Here's a fascinating post on what Google may mean to the world someday.
  • The Center Daily Times (that's Center County, PA the county in which State College exists) is running a feature on the 7 Wonders of Center County. Let's see they have the largest football (American) stadium in the world. Ya, that's pretty much it. They try to convince themselves that their arts festival and fireworks are a big deal too. I noticed this on the Nittany Line.
  • The Conversation is having a good chat about the return of the urban neighborhood. This blog is fond of heaping praise on how nice it is to live in the Southside, I would love to see more Pittsburgh Neighborhoods (re)emerge.
  • Pittsburgh's Future plays myth busters with the reasons for not lowering the corporate tax in the commonwealth. I'm inclined to agree, low corporate tax = jobs = sales, income and property tax.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Cost of Debating the Cost of a Lawyer

I'm a consultant, so, much like a lawyer, my time is billed hourly. I'm also responsible for planning, administering and pricing many of the projects I work on. So just for shits and giggles lets think about how much lawyergate is costing the tax payer. First the people involved:
  • Each city councilperson makes $55,029 per year, if we estimate that a full time equivalent (FTE) is 2080 hours (that is an accepted business metric) then they are worth approximately $26.46 per hour.
  • Each councilperson also has a staff that they can pay up to $82,000 per year, which for simplicities sake, we will treat as 2 FT Es at $19.71 per hour.
  • The city solicitor makes $92,285 (according to the 2004 budget, it's all I could find) or $44.37 per hour.
  • The associate solicitor (who did most of the work in developing the infamous opinion in this case) makes $74,160 or $35.65 per hour.

Now a swag at the effort to get us to this point:

  • This debate has been a constant part of the regular city council meeting. Let's say they have discussed, on average, for one hour of each meeting since the May 7th meeting where they initially voted. So there were 8 tuesdays since then, all 9 councilpersons involved comes to $1905.12
  • Figure that for each meeting the 4 effected councilpersons prepared with their staff members for an average of 4 hours. This would imply that they have only spent 32 hours each working this since it came up, likely a gross underestimate. That comes to $8428.80.
  • Then we'll say that the other councilpersons spent an average of 1 hour with staff preparing for each meeting, meaning they have spent 8 hours working on this while it has been an issue. That's about $2635.20
  • However, this isn't only the councilpersons' issue. What about the solicitor? He at least read and understood and in his own words took responsibility for the original opinion that was 13 pages long, attended a city council meeting, prepared for said meeting and today has published a revised report. Let's call that a total of maybe 15 hours? I think that's pretty conservative, but I don't want to sound unreasonable here. 15 hours of his time is worth 665.55.
  • In addition there was the person who crafted the original 13 page opinion Ms. Kate DeSimone (one of 2 associate city solicitors). It was crafted in just a few days, but lets assume those were long ones since there are quite a few words in that opinion. Let's say she spent 30 hours on the opinion and any follow-up. That would be about $1069.50.
  • Now with any project there is overhead. In this case we're talking about the time and efforts of the council clerk, the mayor, the other assistant solicitor, the legal department's Legal Secretary and Paralegal as well as the cost of supplying simple things like the paper to print the opinion on and the office space to have the meetings. This would also include the primary contributors time spent doing administrative tasks related to this project such as the solicitor driving over to the council meeting, talking to the council members on the phone, writing them letters, etc... Typically a projects overhead is 10% to 15%. Let's use 10%, that's $1,470.42.

Drum Role Please..... The total is $16,174.59! That's a conservative guess of the number of taxpayer dollars we have spent SO FAR to decide whether or not to spend $10,706.00 of taxpayer dollars. That doesn't even attempt to capture the opportunity cost of having a governing body that is supposed to pass bills to ADVANCE our region distracted for a couple months.

Webster defines bureaucracy as "a system of administration marked by officialism, red tape and proliferation."