Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sour Kraut

A few tidbits for your weekend:
  • Congratulations to Brunner Digital for earning "Approved iPhone Application Developer" status, a Pittsburgh company making a splash.
  • Schultz is one of the first Pittsburgh bloggers to comment on the budget. Not surprisingly, he thinks its more then a little inadequate. His comments are worth reading.
  • I'm keeping an eye on the Progress Pittsburgh PAC at I think it's the kind of thing that could help those of us who are just little bloggers make a real difference. I gave my $10.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Economy Update

A blogger/author I follow has an article in the WSJ this morning. He has a VERY interesting take on just what this so called "bail out" might mean for the federal government:
My analysis suggests that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (a former investment banker, no less, not a trader) may pull off the mother of all trades, which could net a trillion dollars and maybe as much as $2.2 trillion -- yes, with a "t" -- for the United States Treasury.

Taxpayers will get their money back on AIG. My models suggest that Fannie and Freddie, on the other hand, are a gold mine. For $2 billion in cash up front and some $200 billion in loan guarantees so far, the U.S. government now controls $5.4 trillion in mortgages and mortgage guarantees.
You can slice the numbers a lot of different ways. My calculations, which assume 50% impairment on subprime loans, suggest it is possible, all in, for this portfolio to generate between $1 trillion and $2.2 trillion -- the greatest trade ever. Every hedge-fund manager will be jealous.

Over 10 years this could change the budget scenario in D.C., which can also strengthen the dollar. The next president gets a heck of a windfall. In the spirit of Secretary of State William Seward's purchase of Alaska for $7 million in 1867, this week may be remembered as Paulson's Folly.

Interesting. The article explains much more about the "model" he is using to make this projection including the national and international factors he expects will make his prediction true. It should be taken with a grain of salt, but it's a good read.

Gadgets Sour Kraut

So along with my interest in Venture Capital and Start-Ups I get to notice some pretty cool new things, if only their was time for all of them. Here are some of the things noticed today:
  • LifeSnapz: This website is a photo store/share website, like flickr. With one additional cool twist, you can create events (rather then just albums) and upload pictures of that event. LifeSnapz will then plot those events along a timeline and give you a photographic history of your life.
  • Yotify: You know the little messages you get on facebook "so and so is now single" etc... Now you can get them for everything on Yotify. You can notification of things like "There's a new Spiderman Trailer on YouTube", "Jim updated his LinkedIn profile" and more.
  • Google Vote: In something I actually pushed Chris Briem to kind of do a LONG time ago, Google will soon be able to give you your voting information and your local polling place.
  • RunKeeper: I have a $200 watch and GPS system that allows me to know how far I run when I'm out for a jog. Something I'm SOOOO glad I bought now that RunKeeper will use GPS in your iPhone to track it. Since the iPhone can play music too, I wonder if this is enough to talk me in to the iPhone.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Confirming what is pretty easy to tell from a walk down the streets of Pittsburgh, Forbes ran an article showing that Pittsburgh has the smallest percentage of Foreign Nationals of any city nationwide. By comparison, San Jose is 37.2% immigrants, Philadelphia is 28.3% and the national average is 12%. Forbes sites two reasons for a lack of immigration in cities like Pittsburgh. First, a lack of economic opportunities (read employment opportunities). Second, a lack of immigrant communities for the new immigrants to settle in.

The top 10 imigrantless cities are:
  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Cincinnati
  3. St. Louis
  4. Indianapolis
  5. Cleveland
  6. Virginia Beach
  7. Kansas City
  8. Columbus
  9. Nashville
  10. Milwaukee
I want to take a closer look at the first issue, jobs. It's frequently sited that jobs are hard to find in Pittsburgh, but just how hard relative to the other "imagrantless" cities? If you take a look at the top 10 "imigrantless" cities only 3 are on Forbes "100 Best Cities for Jobs" (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Columbus) and of those only Columbus ranks ahead of us. As far as unemployment goes, of the 10 cities we were 3rd with an unemployment rate of 5.3%, 0.7% (or almost an entire standard deviation) lower then the average of 6.0%. It's pretty easy to conclude that of these 10 cities we have one of, if not the, best job situation.

Then why are we dead last on the list of most "imigrantless"? Is it possible that while Pittsburgh once considered itself a melting pot of foreigners we are now not exactly welcoming or perhaps even hostile to newcomers? It's worth considering, along with its companion question, how could we make the city more hospitable to foreign born talent?

  • Chris Briem is quoted in the article and also has a tidbit about it on his blog.
  • Jim Russell also has a post on the article.


Surprisingly little burghosphere response to the budget out there, so I'll take a closer look. After reviewing the news on Forbes, The PG, this trib article and that trib article here are my reflections:
  • Always good to have a projected surplus in a city in as much financial trouble as ours is. Doing what is necessary to achieve that is something Ravenstahl deserves credit for.
  • Council and the Mayor agreed as part of their valentine's day agreement to fund the pension fund 15% more next year then this year. It appears that the $50.8 million in Ravenstahl's budget that is for that purpose exceeds that. By my math a 15% increase would have bee about $48 million. While this blog and others have documented the inadequacy of even that amount, at least it is a move in the right direction.
  • The city had originally planned over $5 million in gambling revenue and Ravenstahl lowered that amount to reflect the delay in licensing. That is a shame, the approximately $3 million that it was lowered is lost to poor planning.
  • The budget (as projected by the mayor) will start running a defecit in 2011. I find it hard to believe that that isn't a little bit optimistic. With only a projected $3 million surplus in 2009, I'm not even sure we'll make it through next year at a surplus.
  • On a somewhat related topic, there has been very little progress (and this is reflected in the budget) on the merger. It is almost certain now that there will not be a referendum in 2009 (as Ravenstahl and Onorato promised) and even the simple consolidation of services seems to be drying up.
  • Many of the cost savings in this budget come from debt refinancing. While debt refinancing is a powerful tool in a down market and saves real money, it can sometimes cure a symptom and leave the disease... i.e. the debt isn't reduced, only the payments are.
  • 65 Vacant positions will be unfilled by the city next year, cutting costs. Is it really that easy to trim costs? Why has it taken us this long?
  • The parking tax will be cut, something I have long been against. If the garages sell out in downtown and oakland, then why cut the tax? Raise it and help out our public transit system AND revenues. That would actually be some revenue from commuters rather then city residents.
  • The next steps are for the Act 47 team to review the budget and then hand it to city council 11/10. We'll all be watching for developments.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blogroll Updates

I updated the best blogroll in the Burghosphere thusly:
  • Took out Pittsblog, TWM and The Conversation. I must say, this stung to do. Those were three of the best blogs in Pittsburgh but all have been discontinued for one reason or another. If you are new to blogging or new to the burghosphere I highly recommend you do a google search for the three of them, there is still plenty to be learned from their archives. Particularly in the Pittsburgh Manifesto on Pittsblog.
  • Added Early Returns. After several fits and starts the Post-Gazette appears to finally be running a decent political blog.
  • Added a new category for Pittsburgh Business. Business in Pittsburgh, particularly IT and Venture related business is becoming increasingly important to me. As some of you know, I am headed to Charlotte to begin working for a start-up and I am hoping over the next couple of years to learn a lot about the ways of the venture world. With that in mind and knowing I'll be back to the Burgh it is important to me to follow IT Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh closely. With that in mind I've added the Pittsburgh Technology Council's blog and Pittsburgh Ventures (a blog run by two Pittsburgh Venture Capitalists (VCs)) to this new category. I hope to be filling more blogs in as I feel my way through the area.

Sour Kraut

Cabbage is good for you, mayonnaise is not:
  • Sometime in the last month the Blog of Burgher Jon crosses 1,000 visits and 1,500 page views (the page views came first). While these achievements pale in comparison to other blogs in the blogosphere and even the burghosphere it is nice to know that at least a handful of people are watching this young, "up and coming" blog.
  • The Casino project is back on schedule according to the Post-Gazette and the thing should open in September. That's impressive considering it was a month off schedule just about a month ago. Neil Bluhm must be handy with a hammer. I may have missed an update but is that "on schedule" with or without the amphitheater and boat slips? I will research this if no one comments with the answer.
  • Check out this sign in Lebo, "A vote for Obama is a vote for Socialism." It's actually only about 3oo yards from the house where I lived from the time I was 3 until after 1st grade. I know it's a conservative area, but it's also an educated area, let's try to raise the level of discourse not hurl crazy acusations. Especially at a time when both parties are supporting some pretty socialist fixes to the economy.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I know I'm a democrat, I know that I favor progressive taxation, I know that I'm a "Bleeding Heart Liberal" who thinks it's an abomination that we have even 1 poor person in the US... but we need to not forget in this time of trouble that financial freedom (and the invisible hand) are what have allowed the United States to be as wealthy as it is. While I believe in taxing the rich we need to be careful to do it as little as possible, to allow the market economy to do its thing and raise the standard of living of ALL of us. I wonder if we haven't gotten carried away in the current recession. The chart above is the latest depiction of one of the most famous studies in the history of economics (Gwartney, Lawson and Block 1996), it found that the freer the economy (less nationalization, less taxation, less tariffs) the wealthier the country is per person. It is the "proof" that the economics of Smith/Laisez-Faire is what made us wealthy in the first place, and what we need to employ to get out of this jam. Image borrowed from the PowerPoint here.


Pirates Updates

I wanted to close the season with a couple optimistic notes, because in spite of being a Pirates fan, I'm not a fatalist.
  • I made another post about Jack Wilson, and I wanted that one to stand on its own with nothing but my admiration for him in it. That being said though, many people believe we have done a good job trading or vetrans for the kind of talent we will need to become a serious threat in the next several years.
  • Jason Alvarez will be competing in a Pirates Jersey.
  • Also there's this quote from Nate McClouth. When he was interviewed post-game, he was asked about the standing ovation Wilson got in the 5th when he came to bat. At first he didn't realize why Pirates fans had been so excited, after he was told about the probable trade he said:

    Well, if that's the case, it was a great show of appreciation for a player who's done a lot for Pittsburgh, on and off the field.

    He started to walk away from the interview, but upon considering it added:

    This tells you something, Pittsburgh isn't some town that's new to baseball. They know what they're watching, what's going on. And you know what that makes me think about? Can you imagine how this place is going to get behind us when we give them something to actually get behind?

    There's nothing I want more than what the Penguins have, to have those people on our side, to have other teams fear coming here. And that might look impossible now, but there was a time not that long ago when you could walk up and get a center-ice seat. Look at it now. ... That's what I want here, in our place. But that's up to us.

    It's attitudes like that that make it possible. I have a deep admiration for Pirates players that never use the phrase "small-market team" or "not enough talent", guys that come to the park every day believing THEY will turn this thing around. As we (probably) say goodbye to one such player in Wilson it's nice to know we have another in Nate.
With that post I'm done with Baseball until next year. Enjoy your off season and try to forget that if we lose again next year it sets the record for the most consecutive losing seasons ever.

Jumping Jack Flash

In one of the more depressing moments of this season (and there were many to choose from), Jack Wilson took what will likely be his last at-bat in Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon. As he strode to the plate the crowd rose to its feet in appreciation for what the man has done for us over the last decade. He's done more then just show up every day with a smile in spite of the teams losing (which is an accomplishment all by itself); he's been involved in local charity, mentored young players, run the annual bowling tournament, run to first base like he was playing for a good team, dove for more ground balls then a little leaguer who likes dirt and spoken kindly about our city. I don't care that he's never had a winning season, I believe Jack Wilson is one of the finest champions that the city of champions has ever produced.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Chris Briem made an excellent point about just how massive the fallout of this recession is. After pointing out that many people are claiming that we shouldn't panic because there hasn't been a one day drop like the one in October 1987, he stirs the pot with this:
How big a drop has wall street endured… another way to look at it is to ask how much growth has there not been on Wall Street for some time. One way to look at the drop today. The level the Dow close at today was first hit in April of 1999. The Nasdaq was nearly twice its current value as far back as 2000. To put that in some perspective, the October 1987 crash put Dow Jones back to where it had been less than a year to a year and a half earlier.
In the wake of that sentiment why do I have a question mark after tragic in the title? Because I'm not so sure that it is. Most of the problem in this recession is the brokerage houses, not the things listed on Wall Street, but Wall Street itself. Brokerage houses are largely being replaced by the individual investor (by being part of a venture capital fund or buying stocks on eTrade) and the hedge fund. If brokerage houses are becoming less and less essential to the economy, it would make sense that they are having more and more trouble finding money. When you combine that with the fact that some of the most brilliant (and most expensive) people in the world are employed by these brokerage houses, they're sure to be running a deficit.

This recession will force Wall Street to evaluate which people it really needs. Rumors are swirling that as many as 150,000 people on or associated with Wall Street will be looking for work. This is good for the economy, not because it's fun to look for work, but because there are other professions that need their skills more. THIS is how a market economy redistributes its work force. I noticed a venture capital firm in NYC has seen this on one level or another and started a website www. Leave Wall Street Join a Start

Penn Staters Doing Well

I ran across an interesting tidbit about a few kids from my old college (Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University) two alumni and one from the business school have started a company called The interesting thing to me is that these kids (I can say kids cause they're a full 2 years younger then me) have gotten a lot of media exposure (including):
Good luck to those guys, I hope all goes well.

Phrase of the Day

The Sunglasses of Football Justice

I thought that was a hilarious turn of phrase and picture, quoted/stolen from this PittGirl post.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Welcome Clayton to the Blog

I am pleased to announce that the "Blog of Burgher Jon" is now not only the property of Burgher Jon. My brother, Burgher Clayton, is joining the team. I have had the pleasure of listening to Clayton's opinions over many rounds of golf, fine scotch whiskeys and plumes of cigar smoke. Lucky for you, you will now be able to read many of those opinions right here. Clayton shares my enthusiasm for and optimism about Pittsburgh and his thoughts will doubtless contribute to the level of discourse in the Burghosphere.

Pat Ford

The fact that the administration believes it can pay Pat Ford not to talk with my tax dollars without Pittsburghers noticing makes me embarrassed to be a Pittsburgher. I lack the creative skill to adequately describe my level of frustration not only with the administration but with the lack of public outcry.

That's all I'm going to say about it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


After working in New York for most of the year in a building where I could look down in to ground zero and just before flying out of DCA today, I wanted to say a quick prayer for all those who perished in the deadliest battle of my lifetime.

UAL and the Power of Internet News

Above is the chart for United Airlines (in blue) for Monday. At 10:56am the price sat comfortably at 11.71 at 11:00 on the nose it was 3.72 (it actually fell lower, but not on an even minute), a 4 minute 68% drop in value. The reason was that through a glitch in technology first Google and then Bloomberg accidentally posted an old story about United's bankruptcy as a new story.

The concern I have with this is that it may have exposed (or perhaps was the first one to exploit) a weakness in the way internet news works. Suppose this was how it happened (note that from the stories I've read it is unclear that the first step of this is entirely possible, but it might be at some news agencies that feed google):
  1. Some crafty person at the Sun Sentinal guessed what might happen if the UAL bankruptcy became the lead story on Google and made Bloomberg. He called a distant friend in Alaska that no one could trace to him and the guy put 100,000 in his eTrade account and then the Sun Sentinal worker posted a new link to the old story.
  2. He watched as people traversed the internet and happened across the article. They quickly read it and passed it along causing it to become the most popular article at the Sun Sentinal.
  3. Becoming the most popular story on the Sun Sentinal meant it climbed Google's story rank. After it gained steam there it quickly became a top Google story.
  4. Bloomberg (the news/ticker tool used by most serious traders) automatically picked up the story because it had climbed Google's rank.
  5. The stock hit $3. Our Alaska co-conspirator had previously placed a limit buy trade for UAL at $3 (this means that if the stock falls to $3, the stock is automatically purchased). So at 11am, the man in Alaska now has 33,333 shares of UAL worth 100,000.
  6. Google, Bloomberg and the Sun Sentinal announce the mistake, the stock returns to 11.78 at 12:42 and Alaska buddy unloads his position in UAL for $392,662. He's made almost $300,000 in a little under 2 hours. He does a TV interview or two and tells everyone how lucky he is that his randomly placed $3 buy order came true.
  7. In a few years, when the SEC investigation has died down our Alaska friend gives are Sun Sentinal friend a couple hundred thousand dollars to start his dry-cleaning and laundry shop.
I'm not saying it did happen or that it will, I just don't understand what's being done to insure that it doesn't.

Sour Kraut Bits

You have cabbage stuck in your teeth, that one's for Kim.
  • More on the politics of Lebo and the EXTREME (at least to me) number of campaign offices that Obama is running in PA and OH courteosy of Schultz (if you didn't notice, I linked to this Madison comment on Lebo politics the other day and made this post about another new Mt. Lebanon fixture).
  • I commented extensively on the Pittsburgh Tech Council's noticing of the WeatherWise Federal Court Case. If you're a legal nerd you might want to check it out.
  • I was going to make a post on the "Lipstick on a Pig" fiasco, but Dave at 2PJ covered it (though I did comment).

Physics is Phun

I don't know if you noticed this, but I'm a little bit of a nerd. So when I read a story like this, Large Hadron Collider Fired Up in God Particle Hunt I start thinking and start wishing I was a scientist so I could understand. I realize that you can't adequately explain some things in lei man's terms, but there are some doozies in this article:

a 9 billion dollar particle accelerator designed to simulate the big bang.

What? how does it simulate the big bang? What happened with the big bang, other then the noise? Did particles smash in to each other at a fast rate? is that why this simulates it?

Skeptics, who claim that the experiment could lead to the creation of a black hole capable of swallowing the planet, failed in a legal bid to halt the project at CERN.

Do bomb shelters work against black holes? How do you create a black hole? Is it the collision? Just the fact that the molecules are moving so quickly?

the experiment has the potential to confirm theories that physicists have been working on for decades including the possible existence of extra dimensions.

HOW? Why do quickly moving molecules confirm other dimensions? Other dimensions have long been an interesting idea to me... If it's near impossible to explain sight to someone that was born blind, maybe there are things we're missing. Still, I don't see how a fast molecule could prove that.

Although physicists acknowledge that the collider could, in theory, create small black holes, they say they do not pose any risk. A study released Friday by CERN scientists explains that any black hole created would be tiny, and would not have enough energy to stick around very long before dissolving...even if the black hole were stable, it could just pass through the Earth without being detected or without interacting at all. The gravitational force is so weak that you'd have to wait many, many, many, many, many lifetimes of the universe before one of these things could [get] big enough to even get close to being a problem.

A little black hole? Passing through the earth without being detected? Is that kind of like a baby tiger before she grows up and eats someone? Are little black holes cute? How cool would it be to say at your next cocktail party, "I might have created a black hole yesterday" or even "I stood in the same room as a black hole."? Are we going to read this article and kick ourselves "many, many, many, many, many lifetimes of the universe" from now?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This Sour Kraut Tastes Funny

Some exceedingly random links and thoughts on this slow news day:
  • I'm aware that I have done a lot of kraut lately. I've been so busy with trying to orchestrate quiting my current job, starting my new one and moving that it's been difficult to keep up with the news let alone create original thought. I'll try to do better.
  • The Bureaucrat has a modest proposal for the Pirates. You should read it, I'm not sure it's practical, but it's very creative.
  • Since I'm moving to Charlotte I found it interesting the Penn State Nation is trying to organize like the Steeler Nation.
  • I got the chance last night to walk through the nation's capital last night. I don't mean just checking out a couple things either, I did the whole bit (without going in any buildings). I followed this path (warning google maps was not a big fan of the number of destinations I put in so it loads slowly). It was a 3.5 hour, 9.2 mile reminder that there is a LOT of power stored here and has been for quite some time.
  • Lastly, the Slovakian Women's Hockey team narrowly escaped the Bulgaria 82-0. Yes, you read that right.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sour Kraut

A couple quick notes this morning and hopefully a longer post later:
  • As a student of politics and a reader of McCain's second book, it has surprised me that the Keating Five has not been a bigger deal for McCain's presidential bid. I think the Keating 5 was blown out of perspective when it happened. McCain is guilty (as are the other 4) of not being aware what was going on, but I doubt anyone outside of Keating did anything with sinister motives. Schulz picked this up, but is a little less forgiving.
  • Schulz also picked up that the Wall Street Journal has squashed Palin's claim that she rejected the bridge to nowhere. Granted she was probably was acting out of political necessity, but it's unfair to brag about it now.
  • Bravo to Luke Ravenstahl on his efforts to have the state help fix Pittsburgh's (and other municipalities') pension problems. It's exactly what REPRESENTATIVES are supposed to do, represent us.
  • Bravo to Bram for this comment, "It would also be helpful to have a column on the website listing the political contributions of all contract winners, bidders and principals involved."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sour Kraut of the Blurghopshere

A couple interesting notes from around the city:
  • The most important note is the bankruptcy of Vallejo. Chris gave a nice overview of all of his previous coverage. Mike Madison also covered the event. They both mentioned how Vallejo is both relevant and not relevant. On the one hand it means that bankruptcy might be possible in Pittsburgh, but it doesn't seem Pittsburgh is in quite as bad of shape (at least from a cash flow perspective). Mike also pointed out that Vallejo is not to California as Pittsburgh is to PA, implying the old "too big to fail" point. It would be interesting should we (though I'm hoping we won't) face the cash flow difficulties that Vallejo faces.
  • I was surprised at how limited the coverage of the statewide smoking ban was. Bram picked it up on the Comet, but mostly it was left to the newspapers. Kudos to Bram for seeing the implications to the local Cigar scene. This is interesting to me, as a cigar smoker. I'm going to bring it up with the owner of my local cigar shop and see what he has to say. More to follow this weekend or next week.
  • 414 Grant Street was pissed about the apparent URA Corruption. I think that the corruption at URA, while inexcusable, is not THAT big of deal. The problem is that it is just one bullet point in a very shady looking line of history for this administration. It will be interesting to see how things like this play out in next year's election.
  • Jonathan Potts is leaving the Conversation. While he hasn't been as active lately as he once was, his voice will be missed in the Blurghosphere.
  • Great article on a couple of Pittsburgh Venture Capatalists. Boy would that be a sweet job.
  • Last post about John Doctor and the field in Bird Park. The man coached my brother in baseball, and made an impact on everyone he met.
  • Mike Madison made a post on Blog Lebo about the "new" politics of Mt. Lebanon. It really is pretty interesting. What it makes me wonder is whether this is reflective of a change in the type of people who live in Mt. Lebanon or a change in the type of person who is a Republican or Democrat?
  • Lastly, a comedic note from PittGirl.

Up First in Kraut, Sports

I'm hoping to make a couple posts later in the day that have some substance, but right now all I can talk about is the wet dream of a weekend that the Steelers and Nittany Lions had.
  • First the obligatory coverage of loss #82 for the Pirates. I remind everyone of this because the more sour we consume, the sweeter sweet will be. Although, it doesn't get much more sour then officially tying Philadelphia (of all teams) for the longest streak of losing seasons in the history of major American professional sports. Reactions from Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke andBucs Dugout.
  • My Fantasy Football Team is having a prayer session at St. Paterno's this evening. We will be praying that Donald Driver, Darren McFadden and Aaron Kampman don't score 34.3 points. I'm cautiously optimistic.
  • The Pensblog guys have released their gameday inspirations for next season. There are some fantastic selections.
  • The Steelers are going undefeated. Willie Parker averaging 5.5? Big Ben 13 of 14 with two TDs? How do you beet us exactly?
  • The Nittany Lions will go undefeated as well assuming we have a defensive line by the end of the season.
  • They probably won't both happen, but allow me to enjoy the possibility for a couple weeks, ok?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's Official I'm Leaving, for a While

I'm changing jobs in the coming month and it is going to mean a move from Pittsburgh to Charlotte, NC. Since I have been discussing this with family and friends for weeks I am very aware of the common questions, so I thought I'd run through the FAQs with my readers...

Will the blog be changing?
For the most part, no. I have always traveled quite a bit (I'm writing this from Arlington, VA), and that has always informed some of my posts. Now you can expect to see more posts about Charlotte, but I think that is a good thing. Charlotte is a similarly sized city to Pittsburgh, but it is moving up in population not down. I intend to use my time in Charlotte to dive in to the reasons why. I hope that I will be able to, in some small part, share any insights I gain from Charlotte with Pittsburgh through this blog. Mostly though, I will still continue to cover Pittsburgh politics, Pittsburgh issues and (of course) Pittsburgh sports as religiously as ever.

Do you have to move?
I suppose I don't "have" to. I did have a couple opportunities in Pittsburgh that would have made me happy. Unlike a few bloggers who have left town because they didn't have options in the city, I found a few very interesting ones. However, a little company in Charlotte made me an offer I could not refuse (not just good money but a chance to do the kind of work I love with the people who are best at it).

Are you coming back?
You bet your ass I am. I'm not selling my house in Pittsburgh and want to be back as soon as I have taken full advantage of the opportunity in Charlotte. If you made me put an over-under right now I'd say 2.5 years.

How do your family and girlfriend feel about the whole thing?
They are being very supportive in spite of the fact that this puts a burden on all of them. That's why they call them loved ones :-).

A Couple German Delicacies from the Burghosphere

  • All this stuff on McCain's houses is starting to drive me nuts. Being poor is not part of the job description for president. In fact if you're bright enough to lead the free world you've probably found a way or two to make a couple bucks. Did you hold it against John Kerry that he married Ms. Heinz and probably had more money then John McCain ever will? No, then shut up already.
  • Speaking of ridiculous, no selling food outside on Carson at 2am? That's horrible. Such a great tradition ruined for almost no reason. I usually enjoy either a cheese steak or one of Obaid's gyros on my way in from a night out. This goes back to the old issues with the Southside, the very vocal "natives" (people who've lived there their whole lives), are fighting the very things that are making their houses worth 50 times (not an exaggeration) what they were worth 40 years ago.
  • No commuter left behind noticed that PAT is spending more money on retiree's health care then gas this year. That can't be good for business.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ron Cook on Pitt

Pitt Fans Get No Bang for the Buck from today's PG:

East of the city, where Penn State put 106,577 fannies in the Beaver Stadium seats for a game Saturday against Coastal Carolina, out west, where Ohio State had a crowd of 105,011 for Youngstown State, and to the south, where West Virginia attracted a sellout crowd of 60,566 to see it play Villanova, they are laughing at Pitt. They have it all going with their football programs. Pitt clearly does not. The crowd at Heinz Field for Pitt's opening game against Bowling Green was 45,063. As depressing as that number was in a stadium that holds 65,050, this is much worse: Pitt doesn't deserve 45,000 in the stands. Or 35,000.


Would you believe the 27-17 loss to Bowling Green left Pitt with a 9-11 record -- 1-5 under Wannstedt -- when the crowds are more than 45,000 at Heinz Field?


Pittsburgh deserves better than hearing Wannstedt brag about his recruits and then not seeing the results on the field. Certainly, it deserves better than Wannstedt's 16-20 overall record, 10 of those losses coming when Pitt was favored to win.


That's probably as it should be, but pardon me if I don't share in the laughter.
Pitt might be a joke, but I don't see anything funny about it.

Don't worry Ron, I'll laugh enough for both of us. I wouldn't mind seeing good Football from the Panthers, but I'm not losing sleep over it.

Sour Kraut

Some things worth thinking about this morning:
  • WHYGAVS gives an overview of the 10 September callups. If you have some tickets to see the Pirates left, these might give you something to watch.
  • Hilarious Deer Abby style letter. Who says the Angry Drunk Bureaucrat is not compassionate?
  • On the topic of Sarah Palin, I got one commenter who was displeased with my post yesterday. Please note a slight change in my language in the comments.
  • Still on Sarah Palin, I saw a Fox News report last night where the commentator said it was unfair to use Palin's pregnant 17 year old to criticize the governor's "Abstinence Only" philosophy to Sex Education. I think that's ridiculous. I think it's inappropriate to use her daughter's pregnancy to call her "immoral" or "unfit to be President", but it certainly is fair game when it comes to Sex Education. On the counter argument, I would think it would be appropriate to criticize any Bill Clinton authority on "Family Values."
  • Last thing on Palin, The City Hall where Palin was Mayor (from 2PJ).
  • The referendums are dead (Burgh Report has the breakdown from the major news sources and blogs). I agree with this completely. If you don't like the drink tax then make it a major issue and elect new county councilors and a new county executive. We can't make every issue a referendum, we have representatives for a reason.
  • Chris Briem's been watching the news out of Vallejo and he informs us the decision is approaching on their bankruptcy. If you dare, take a close look at the chart Briem provides, it is SCARY.

That's all the news that's fit to print.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sour Kraut

I found two stories too interesting to let them pass, but not interesting enough for their own posts:
  • The City's Police Force has written 188 tickets for silly things like profanity. I agree with the ACLU (and the law) that swearing or flipping someone the bird are not acceptable reasons to get a ticket. I further agree with this article that the obvious reason is that it violates the first ammendment. I think there is a less obvious reason that the paper didn't mention... discretion. Discretion is power and police officers should hold as little of it as possible. By virtue of the fact that cops wear a gun or a billy club, they already have enough, just ask Rodney King. That might of been a little harsh, but it's worth mentioning so as not to forget. It's not that all cops are bad (the majority of the ones I know are nothing short of true heros), it's a simple matter of limiting the opportunities they have to "misinterpret" a person or a situation for any reason.
  • So, this article posted to shows why Trenni moved back home to WI. It also breaks down the Burgh vs Milwaukee. Having never been to Milwaukee, it seems Trenni was pretty fair. Though unless I'm reading this wrong it sounds like she likes Pittsburgh better and just threw together an overall edge for Milwaukee because it's home. A.J. debates the issue with a Pittsburgh slant.

The Last Time I'll Have To Criticize TWM

Chad Hermann writes this long post about how all of the "zealots" who "worship" Obama are imbeciles. To support this he takes a sentence here and a paragraph there from the apparently wide selection of emails "fired off" to him defending Obama. He would like us to believe that every email he receives is as ridiculous as every one that he posts about. If you want sympathy that everyone who writes you is an idiot, then open up comments. Otherwise, stop being so dramatic.

It appears I will no longer be able to fill my blog with criticisms of his, as this post would imply that he has quit. The post itself carries all the over dramatization you'd expect of a second rate middle school theatre teacher, he claims "The Rest is Silence" then leaves a laughably emphatic number of empty lines. Maybe we'll hear from Chad again when his work writing speeches for Republican candidates is over. Maybe then we'll get to enjoy more of his eloquence (and yes he has exhibited very enjoyable eloquence in years past) and less of his inconsistent blabbering (mostly written with his current Obama stick stuck in the wrong orifice). Maybe then he'll allow others to post their opinions of his work instead of hiding behind an email only policy. Maybe.

Till then, good luck in your future endeavors (not too much good luck if I don't like the candidate you're writing for) and we all hope to see you in the Burghosphere again some day.

Obama's Reaction to Palin Pregnancy

I was sitting at a hotel in DC this morning watching CNN and caught this sound-byte from Barack Obama:

Let me be a clear as possible: I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people's families are off limits, and people's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics, It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor, or her potential performance as a vice president, and so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.

You know my mother had me when she was 18, and how a family deals with issues and, you know, teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that's off limits.

I think the first paragraph is the boiler-plate "what you say when your opponent's kid does something" statement. It is somewhat noble, but nowhere near extraordinarily so.

What is special to me is that he points out that his mother was 18 when she had him. By doing that, he has linked himself to Palin and her daughter. That is truly noble, because he had every right to lift his nose and hide behind a "don't judge her, just look how I'm better" statement and instead he made a "listen, if you're so shallow that you'll judge someones political career on the basis of the morality of their immediate family, then you better not elect me either" statement.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Reactions to College Football

It was a very interesting week in college football. Here are the headlines you didn't read:

Following a 27-17 loss to Bowling Green, the reactions from Pitt faithful:
  • Wanstedt to Call Porn King of Pittsburgh, Inquires if His Pornstache Can Help Him Launch New Career
  • Mark May's Sleeper Pick Goes to Sleep, Announcer Eats Words, Drinks Whiskey
  • University President Points Out That the Football Team Has Chocked 2 Months Ahead of Schedule, Credits Planning and Watching Mark May Game Film for Efficiency in Achieving Mediocrity

In the wake of Michigan's loss to Utah:

  • Michigan Attorneys Debate Whether Refusing to Pay $4 Million to WVU Would Make Rich-Rod Go Back to Morgantown.
  • Lloyd Carr Enjoys Record Sized Cigar
  • Michigan Athletic Director to Attempt to Schedule Central Catholic High School for Next Year's Opener
  • Big House, Little Team

After Eastern Carolina, lead by QB Patrick Pinkney defeated Virginia Tech:

  • ECU Pirates (1-0) Have Won Infinitely More Games Then Pittsburgh Pirates (0-10) in the Last Week
  • Pinkney and the Brain Plot World Domination

Oh ya, now even with the rule technicalities, no one has won more division I-A games then Joe Paterno. Way to go Joe!

Burn the Jolly Roger

I went to the Pirate Game yesterday, and it didn't take the little tiff with my girlfriend to depress me. Watching the Pirates lose their 10th in a row was more then enough. Here (mostly from this PG article), are the reasons it makes me want to jump off a bridge with Dave Littlefield:
  • This is only the second 10+ game losing streak in the 40 year history of the Pirates.
  • 4 runs in their last 4 games.
  • 22 games below .500
  • We rank dead last in the National League in ERA, Batting Average Against, OPS Against, WHIP AND Quality Starts.
  • In batting average Xavier Nady leads the team and Jason Bay is in second, neither of which are still playing for the team.
  • We are 27.5 games back of the central division lead meaning we are ALREADY mathematically eliminated.

Can the Steelers start the season today and allow me to stop thinking about this?