Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FOX News Special Alert

John McCain Photographed Socializing With Terrorist


In the photograph it appears that Senator McCain is voluntarily involved in an embrace with an "arab" identified as "Hussein." While details remain sketchy Fox News is unafraid to bring you the facts, it appears at this point that the combination of all of the years that John McCain spent around brilliant, reasonable people in the Senate and his relatively high intelligence level may have lead him to "question his own ignorance", "embrace a need for change", "be reluctant to run a campaign based on fear" and possibly even "attempt to use reason when creating the laws and foreign policies of this country." Naturally his efforts to bring these monstrous concepts to (of all things) a republican campaign have caused panic around the party.

This unfortunate development comes less then a week before the United State Presidential Election. The fair and balanced opinion of this news agency is that John McCain has no choice but to step aside and allow his vice presidential candidate (Governor Sarah Palin) to run in his place. She is the only leading republican with the ignorance, arrogance, close-mindedness, stupidity, cluelessness and folksiness to win this election in the model of the greatest president of these United States, George W. Bush.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Clearing up the confusion III

How about some analogies to clear up the current socialism confusion:

1. Barack Obama is to socialism as _______ is to communism.

Accepted Answers:
  • John McCain - Barack Obama is not a socialist, John McCain is not a communist.
  • Apples - Barack Obama is not a socialist, Apples are not communist.
  • Penguin - Barack Obama is not a socialist, a Penguin is not a communist.

2. Universal Health Care is to socialism as _______ is to socialism.

Accepted Answers:
  • Universal Education - Universal Health Care is so important to the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that it must be guaranteed, Universal Education is so important to the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that it must be guaranteed.
  • Social Security - Universal Health Care is so important to the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that it must be guaranteed, Social Security is so important to the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that it must be guaranteed.
  • National Defense - Universal Health Care is so important to the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that it must be guaranteed, National Defense is so important to the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that it must be guaranteed.

3. Liberal is to Socialist as Conservative is to _______.

Accepted Answers:
  • Poopy Head - Liberals are not socialists, Conservatives are not Poopy Heads.
  • Neo-Fascist - Liberals are not socialists, Conservatives are not Neo-Fascists.

Clearing up the confusion II

I thought that perhaps a word association game could clear up some of the confusion:

Not a Socialist
John McCain has a consistent record of supporting free enterprise, with one notable exception, the Bailout of 2008 in which he and other law makers proposed the government take partial ownership in private companies, in effect nationalizing some of industry.

Socialist
Castro ruined Cuban Cigars by nationalizing the industry and forcing all of the truly capable cigar makers to the less fertile grounds of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras. Oh ya, he also nationalized pretty much everything else, making him a socialist (sorry, I'm a little bitter about the cigar thing).

Not a Socialist
Barack Obama has consistently backed free enterprise. In fact for several years he worked as an attorney. Attorneys are one of the most visible signs of a NON-socialist society, as one of their largest responsibilities is to protect individual rights and property. Obama has also managed to make a ridiculous sum of money by authoring two books, money which he kept for himself and did not give to the government.

Clearing up the confusion

I thought of a few ways fun ways to clear up the socialism confusion running rampant in this country. So, here goes method #1:
Dictionary.com
So - cial - ism (noun) : a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

American Heritage Dictionary
So - cial- ism (noun): Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
You'll note that allowing people to earn a living and then implementing a progressive taxation system is not the definition of Socialism, nor is universal health care.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Race and Politics

There have been a couple popular opinions circulated that I flat out disagree with and I want to attack. Since I'm pseudonymous I think it is worth pointing out that I am a young, white, male democrat raised in (relatively) racially vanilla Mt. Lebanon. This gives me absolutely no authority on the issue, but does give me an interesting perspective. For many years of my life racism was a concept, not something I ever actually saw... there simply weren't enough African Americans in my neighborhood. My parents raised me to be tolerant, but it was through discussions (like the ones around many water-coolers and dinner tables during this election) that I learned my tolerance, rather then having black friends. As a consequence of my vanilla upbringing, I have a very intellectual perspective on racism. I KNOW that blacks are the same as whites in every way except appearance and consequently I find racism (and reverse racism) equal parts puzzling and infuriating. I can see the emotions on both sides, but I don't feel them. I think this has given me a perspective from which I can see whether or not those emotions have their roots in a just cause or a fake one. I'm not sure if I got my point across there, but I thought it was important that I try to give some perspective before I tackle these issues:

"All the blacks will vote for him just because he's black."
Bullshit. That is some racist trying to get you to vote against Obama just because he's black. That racist might not even know that he's being racist but its there. He's afraid of how "the blacks" will influence the election. Point me to one black person who has said all blacks must vote for Obama because he's black. Where's his endorsement from the most powerful black politician, Condaleeza Rice? Are these all the same people who voted for Ambassador Alan Keyes just because he was black? The same ones that elected Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton because they were black? Are these the same blacks who called Clinton the "first black president" in spite of the fact that he defeated Lenora Fulani in the 1992 primary? The argument is flat out ridiculous. Many black people are (justly) proud that a member of their community is so close to the white house, but if he weren't going to be a good president, they would vote against him as they have other unqualified blacks in the past.

Secondly, let me clear something up. What if your friend with the above quote is right? Doesn't that mean you should vote for McCain to balance out the black vote? Black people represent 10.7% of Pennsylvanians (only 12.8% of Americans as a whole). White people represent 85.7% of Pennsylvanians (80.1% of Americans). So that means if EVERY black person in the state voted for Obama just because he was black (and I think I've shown they wouldn't) then only 2 in every 17 white voters would have to vote against him just because he was black to balance out the racial vote. In a state where the Klan still exists, I don't think YOU have to worry about balancing out the black vote, in fact I would wager that there will be more votes cast for McCain because Obama is black then vice verse.

"John McCain's campaign should be ashamed of how it handled the famous "B" incident."
This I also find ridiculous. If a black man had claimed that someone in a hood had carved KKK in to his cheek right after an Obama rally, I bet the Obama campaign would have pointed reporters in the direction of the story. If you want to be upset with someone be upset with this college student that faked it, though I think sadness is probably the more appropriate emotion. This is a dwindling presidential campaign, if the story is already in the news then McCain can and should point it out unless he has some reason to believe it is false. On that note, don't you think that if McCain (or his communications director) had known the story was a hoax he would have stayed miles away from it? He's losing, but he's no idiot... if he had known this was a fake he would have run from it. Suggesting that McCain is race mongering in this case is the left wing bullshit equivalent of the right wing bullshit like calling Obama by his full name (Hussein included) or questioning his birth certificate. It just gets people riled up.

Conclusion
Let's do the right thing here, let's not let the liberals convince us that McCain is engaged in race mongering and let's not let the conservatives convince us that black people (or their vote) are something to be scared of. Let's put those things aside and elect the best president 11/4, God knows our country will need the best president.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Asshat

I've been known to comment that PittGirl is a little tough on Santonio Holmes, Asshat is not a nickname many aspire to. However, now that he has slowed my fantasy team to a crawl by possessing pot I am inclined to agree. I can't wait to see how long the suspension is, I hope it includes my fantasy playoffs.

I hate Holmes and Fantasy Football.

The World of Threes

I was going through my google analytics report and noticed that I've had a couple hits deflected from the bazaar world of threes. It appears that this is the reincarnation of a deceased blog, arriving (again?) in the burghosphere October 18, but I do not know the details. What I do know is that he's got some solid posts and a great description of why he's in the burgh:
Mom moved back here. Dad still lives in Florida. And I’ve been back and forth between the two regions my entire life. Graduated from high school and college up here, but ended up moving to Florida after college because I couldn’t find work up here. But, about 8 years ago, I took the plunge and left an up-and-coming career and moved “back home.” People up here often say to me “I can’t believe you did that.” My response is always: “I can’t believe I waited so long to do it.” I love the region immensely, despite all of its flaws and quirks. There’s no place I’d rather be … except for maybe Salma Hayek’s bed … but that’s a blog for a different day.
Welcome to the Burghosphere and the Blog Roll III, may your posts be fruitful and multiply.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We Have a Winner

We have a winner in the fight for control over DRM, and it is no one.

For those of you who long ago sold your soul to Apple, bought an iPod, downloaded iTunes and don't even know what DRM is, here's a quick explanation. Remember how the music industry whined like babies when Napster was around? You would have thought that someone had invented a way to tape radio, remember how that killed the music industry? Anyway, what techies did to allow themselves to sell music online in spite of Napster's court losses is add DRM. I don't know if you've ever tried this, but try to open that new Toby Keith song you just bought on iTunes with your Windows Media Player. That error you get, that's DRM. Technically it's supposed to keep you from giving the song to a friend, but practically it limits interoperability.

That's no problem for you, but your not a nerd like me. I want my music to work on my iPod, my Zune (like an iPod but made by Microsoft), my Media Center (a computer connected to my TV for music and video) and in my car (Nav System with a hard drive). Consequently, I wasn't going to buy songs with either Apple's or Microsoft's DRM until all of my systems could play the music.

Apparently there are enough of us nerds around because over the last couple months DRM has been fading. First Amazon opened up a DRM-free store then eMusic expanded, and now Walmart has an online store with DRM-free music. That means it's over. Remember how long it took Toshiba to give up on HD-DVD after Walmart announced they were going to carry blu-rays? About a week. Sure, Apple will continue to carry DRMed music for a little while till everyone realizes they can get it cheeper elsewhere, but for all intents and purposes DRM is dead.

Next up, Apple's cornering and DRMing of the TV Show market.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not a Lot of News

As the world holds its breath to see how Wall Street will respond to its first net UP week in quite a while, I have little to report and even less time to do it. I read the post-gazette and the burghosphere this morning and it seems that no one has much to discuss. So I'll offer a few personal insights.
  • Pittsburgh is a city of secret little charms. I spent an hour or two last night sitting on the dock on the Southside trail looking at the city and the stars (all 7 that you can see from downtown) and snuggling up to my girlfriend. It is a night I will not soon forget. While NYC and other cities certainly have their charms, I think Pittsburgh has more secretly charming places per square mile then anywhere in the world.
  • Football fandom is not one of our "secret" charms and yesterday we made it clear. Approximately 9,000 (or 10%) of the crowd in Cincinnati were Steelers fans cheering their team to yet another victory. I follow Penn State and the Steelers and so far I'm 13-1 with both teams looking like title contenders. There's a lot to cheer about.
  • One thing I'm not cheering about is the fact that this is my last day in my beloved city for a little while. I first announced well over a month ago that I was likely going to be accepting a position down South, but tomorrow is the day I'm actually moving. My feelings could not be more mixed, I am excited about the opportunity but I will dearly miss my girlfriend, my brother, my mother, my father, my friends and my city.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Presidential Elections and This Blog

On my last post about the Presidential Election, Barack Obama's Funny, one of my frequent commenters and a good blogger himself, Schultz, left this comment:
Well said burgher jon. I hope you are going to join me and other bloggers in a challenge to call and speak to 100 voters before election day. A lot of us bloggers talk about how bad we want change but more of us need to put some work in so we don't get let down on November 5th!
There is a reason I will not be joining this challenge or following the Presidential Election in any serious way on this blog. Don't get me wrong, I clearly have my opinions about the election, having made not one, not two, but three posts on presidential politics already this month. I'm excited about Barack Obama and I truly hope, for my own and America's sake, that he wins on November FOURTH, but I can't, won't and shouldn't have any impact on that election.

Being a math nerd, after writing that paragraph I thought, just for fun, let's figure out exactly how little influence I have. Let's say that through my writing on this blog and by calling 100 people that I could influence 200 people to vote not for John McCain but for Barack Obama. In order to calculate the chances those 200 make a difference, we need some assumptions.
  • The guys over at FiveThirtyEight developed a VERY interesting statistic called tipping point state. It gives the probability that a given state will decide the presidential election. According to their simulations, their is a 6% chance that the electoral map works out in such a way that PA going one way or the other will decide the election (This post explains the metric and the latest results are on the right side of the window). In an effort to be conservative with probability equations, I always try to be, let's round up and say there is a 10% chance that PA will matter in the Presidential Election.
  • In 2004 5,769,590 people voted in the PA election for president. To once again be conservative with my calculations, I'm going to round that down to 5 million, in spite of the consensus that this will be an election with a high turnout.
  • The latest polling data for PA comes to a trend adjusted average of +13 for Obama (keep scrolling down on FiveThirtyEight). I'll round that down to a 55-45 lead. You know what, that makes this game NO fun. Let's say that the racists skew the polling numbers by 13 points and that 50% of PA voters plan on voting for McCain.
Ok, those are all the assumptions we need... now the math:
  • First, the probability that I would have an impact in Pennsylvania. If there is a 50% chance that any given voter votes for Obama and 5,000,000 people vote there is roughly a 1 in 6,000,000 chance that McCain wins by 200 votes or less.
  • Next, since there is only a 1 in 10 chance (10%) that PA matters I have to multiply that number by .1. We now have a 1 in 60,000,000 chance (based on stated assumptions) that I influence the election.
I'm going to attack the following counter-argument before it even comes up... "So what if there's a low chance that I influence the election, it's REALLY important, so I should do it anyway."

Well, that just depends on how REALLY important it is to me. There's a way to calculate this. If you're a rational (in the mathematical sense of the word) person then you would pay exactly $10 for a 1/10 chance at $100. You shouldn't pay any more then that, if someone offers it to you at less you should always take it. With that in mind, let's assume that I've invested 10 of my hours to blog and call 100 people and that my time is worth $40 per hour. That means I've paid $400 for my lottery ticket. What would the prize (an Obama election victory) have to be worth to me to pay $400 for a 1 in 60,000,000 lottery? $24,000,000,000. That's 24 Trillion.

In Conclusion, I should only participate in Schultz's challenge if I think Obama winning is 24 trillion dollars better then McCain winning. I don't. Consequently, I (and my blog) will be focusing on the presidential election as more of a public interest story then an "issue" and will instead be focusing on local issues, where I believe I can make a difference with this blog and my voice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Troy Polamalu




Don't think that just because Troy Polamalu crosses himself before every play, he's not out to hit you like he means it. ESPECIALLY when you're on OUR turf. He gave the following quote about the (silly) $15,000 fine that Hines Ward got on a play when he wasn't even penalized.

It loses so much of its essence, and it really becomes like a pansy game.

I think regarding the evolution of football, it's becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch. We've really lost the essence of what real American football is about. I think it's probably all about money. They're not really concerned about safety.

You have to figure out how to tackle people a new way, There's such a fine line. I guess, hitting quarterbacks late and whether they're going to slide or come forward -- it's too much.

If you look at any sport, maybe besides mixed martial arts, it's a real gladiator sport. We go out there at a high speed, killing each other.

You see guys like Dick Butkus and those types of really raw, old-school, pound-it-out football players; they could never survive in a game like this today. The Ronnie Lotts, the Jack Tatums -- these guys who really went after people. They were that way because the game was physical. They couldn't survive in this type of game. They wouldn't have enough money because they'd be paying fines, and then they'd be suspended for a year after they did it two games in a row.
Anybody else glad the bye week is over?

Also posted at the Pittsburgh Men's Blogging Society.

Technical Gadgets

A few more bits of goodness from the world of technology:
  • The Internet isn't over. Google announced a solid quarter, meaning we can all stop worrying that no one is out there, for another 3 months. (TechCrunch liveblogged the meeting and posted the video)
  • Speaking of Google... They made a wide screen version iGoogle. I spent the afternoon configuring it and it is quite cool. I use iGoogle to get an update on blog postings, news feeds, WSJ articles, my stock portfolio, the ebay auctions I'm watching and the weather every single time I open a browser. It's amazing that I lived without it.

Barack Obama's Funny

Mark posted the YouTube's of a very funny speech given by Obama. These showed that Obama is clearly the kind of guy you want running a country.

Not because he turned McCain's barb of palling around with terrorists in to the joke, "there's no crowd I'd rather be palling around with tonight."

Not because he observed that from the doorstep of the Waldorf you can see the Rusian Tea Room as clearly as you can see Russia from Palin's house.

Not because he noted that McCain should get credit for dealing with the housing crisis at all 8 homes.

Not even for this gem about Al Smith the governor of New York in the 20s. "I never knew [Al Smith] (governor of NY) but from everything Senator McCain has told me, the two of them had a great time together before Prohabition."

Barack Obama will make a great president because he can look straight in to the eyes of a congressman, a senator, a soldier even a television camera and say:

I want to especially say a word of thanks to Mr. McCain. We are in the midst of a we are in the midst of a tough battle right now. American politics at the presidential level is always tough but I've said before, and I think it bears repeating, there are very few of us that have served this country with the same dedication and honor and distinction as Senator McCain and I'm glad to be sharing this stage with him tonight and have during the course of this nomination.

The fact that each October in the closing weeks of a hard fought campaign people of all political persuasions can come to this dinner to share a meal and honor the work of this foundation underscores the reality that no matter what differences or divisions or arguments we are having right now we ultimately belong to something bigger then a political party, we belong to a community, we share a country, we are all children of God.


Those are the kinds of words that aren't just words. Those are the kinds of words that unite people. That make Americans want to make America great. Make no mistake about it people, this country is as great as WE want to make it, not as great as its president. We want, we need, we deserve a President that can persuade us to come together.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pittsburgh Sour Kraut

Because Cabbage tastes better dipped in Mayo:

Techy Sour Kraut

A few things I noticed from the techy business world that I think have some general appeal in the blogosphere. It's Kraut with a side of silicon:
  • YouTube Co-Founder Chad Hurley gave an interesting speech in which he compared the internet video industry to the TV industry of the 40s. There was only one big player (YouTube, CBS), it was hard to sell advertising, content owners (Movie Companies and Stage Acts, Movie Companies and TV Stations) were wary of losing money, etc... TechCrunch has the full speach as well as Michael Arrington's notes.
  • Technocrati has purchased AdEngage, I think that Technorati, either on their own or after being acquired by one of the big boys (Google, Yahoo or AOL) is just a good, condensced reader away from being the main site in blogging. With the AdEngage acquisition they may be able to monetize that power and make a good living.

Why the Debate Didn't Matter

From a conservative blogger on the debate last night:
McCain needed Obama to show up drunk. He didn’t.
That's good stuff. Personally, I agree. McCain looked better then he has, Obama looked worse, but I still think Obama won. However, I don't think it matters. Here's the election in Algebraic terms:
  1. People hate the current financial crisis. (People's Hate = Current Economy)
  2. For some reason people believe the president controls the economy. (Current Economy = Current President)
  3. The current president is a Republican. (Current President = Republican)
  4. John McCain is a Republican. (Republican = John McCain)
  5. Therefor, people hate John McCain QED
If McCain is going to win he has to change one of those statements. Statement 2 is unfortunately a fact of politics, an unfair one, but an unchangeable fact none-the-less. Statement 3 won't change before November 4. So John McCain has two chances of winning (alter statement 2 or statement 4).
  1. He comes out tomorrow and says that he is no longer a republican and that he has never agreed with Bush and hopes Republicans will vote for him anyway since he's not black. Part of me actually wonders if someone in his camp hasn't mentioned this to him.
  2. The economy goes through a miraculous recovery. It's not going to happen in three weeks, just flat out WILL NOT happen.
I think Obama can start working on a thrilling acceptance speech. I think I know a good candidate for the Secretary of Defense, a real maverick... more on that another day.

Don't Lose Your Gun

I'm perfectly fine with the city passing the steep penalties for "losing" your gun. I would even take it one step further and argue that there should be a legislated way of securing your weapons (i.e. "Gun must be secured by at least two locks and stored separately from the ammunition"). Bram is right, if the NRA wants us to strictly adhere to the "right to keep and bear arms" part then they need to deal with the "well regulated" part. This rule would be a powerful tool for city prosecutors to imprison people who are distributing guns.

As to the constitutionality of the ban, that's not an excuse for not passing it. That's what the courts are for. Throw it on the books and if the Supreme Court (or another Federal Court) says it has to come off, then it has to come off. Pass the law cause its smart. It's not a city councilman's role to decide whether it is constitutional or not.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Must Be Kidding...

I have tried to stay out of the presidential politics fray the past few weeks because I know all of my readers are getting plenty of it elsewhere. However, as a devoted Christian I could not let this pass. The video below is of a speech given by a pastor in Iowa moments before McCain took the stage. He implies (unbelievably) that the Christian God backs McCain and that if Obama wins believers from other faiths will think that their God is bigger then our God. For this reason he implores God to defend his reputation and make McCain win.

I'll let that sink in.

I don't think much of a response is even necessary, but I'll give a multi-point one here for fun:
  • In case you haven't heard him screaming at the top of his lungs, Obama is a Christian. That is to say, he says he is a Christian. Which is all any person who we don't know personally can do, and God commands us not to judge one's faith.
  • Can you think of anything less Godly then presidential politics? I imagine you would be more likely to see a work of God in a crack den then in an election.
  • God isn't so much worried about his reputation. I believe, as I imagine this pastor does, that if God wanted to He could arrange the stars in the sky to read "I'm here, obey me. Signed, God." That would give Him a few converts, certainly more then helping McCain win the election would. For whatever reason, I think I'll leave the big picture planning to God, He has decided to let us come to Him by faith. A little presumptuous to ask God to mess with that master plan so your guy wins the election, don't you think?
  • Perhaps a more appropriate "prayer" might have been, "I hope Obama doesn't win because it might mean that the politicians have no use for the Christian Right anymore. If politicians and the Fox News / Rush Limbaugh crowd stop thumping the bible nonsensically, I'm going to have to go back to the measly salary I made as a non-political, non-propaganda, charitable, tolerant, universally loving, CHRISTIAN pastor."
  • McCain did an interview yesterday in which he criticized Obama for not calling out the people on the far left who spread lies about him (and make no mistake there are some). In the same interview he said he felt justified in criticizing Obama because he has been calling out the people on his side who spread lies about Obama. Well sir, you let a pastor tell a crowd at YOUR rally that the Christian God endorses you, I think that entitles Obama to say whatever the hell he wants.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sour Kraut

A couple quick notes on this busy Tuesday:
  • Mike Madison, a former Pittsburgh Blogger (sorry, had to), had an interesting post at his non-Pittsburgh blog on how the Episcopal Church is splitting in Pittsburgh. This is interesting to me as a member of the Presbyterian Church which is similarly suffering. Essentially, in most cases, the buildings belong to the denomination (as opposed to the individual churches). The part of the Episcopal church that broke away is essentially saying, "now we're the denomination and if you want to keep YOUR building you have to apply for it." Should be interesting to see how this plays out in court, would be a dangerous precedent if it's allowed.
  • Did Ravenstahl not know the law or just ignore it? It will be interesting to see what his response is. We will be able to tell a lot about whether these last couple years have prepared him to lead or not.
  • Interesting to see a Burghosphere Update on the Pittsburgh Promise. Why has this not been better for the city?
  • Andy Kessler is optimistic and actually was so before yesterday's rally. That's good news people. Maybe I'll be able to retire someday after all.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Anniversaries

A couple anniversaries worth noting this day:
  • 25 years ago today the first cell phone call was made. It seems like it can't possibly have been that recently. I mean companies have come and gone in the cell phone industry (the first call was made by the president of Ameritech Mobile), a phone has gone from $4,000 to free, from 2 phones to 3.3 billion, and on and on... This has to have taken more then 25 years. By comparison, the first comercially produced car was made in 1888 but one could argue it wasn't until the 40s and the VW Beatle and similar cheap cars that cars became commonplace, that's 50 or 60 years. An interesting reflection how the pace of innovation has changed.
  • 48 years ago today Bill Mazeroski lifted his second (and last) CAREER post-season homerun over the wall at Forbes Field. How great would it be to have this anniversary marked in the pregame of a league championship game in PNC Park? Let's try to make it happen for the 50th anniversary.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Entrepreneurship Sour Kraut in the Burgh and Out

Ooooh, good times, the title rhymes

First, outside the Burgh:
  • Venture funded entrepreneurship may have been one of the last places that the financial collapse had a meaningful impact, but that impact is being felt now. Angel Investor (that's a single investor with a lot of money who invests his/her own money) Ron Conway (famous for being an early investor with Google) has sent a letter advising those running his investments to run a tight ship.
  • Some previously successful entrepreneurs in Seattle are banding together to help keep Seattle's tech community well funded. I think this is the kind of thing that is built in to the Pittsburgh economy due to our diaspora and general loyalty, but it will be interesting to see if an organized effort becomes necessary to save the Pittsburgh tech community, who steps up and how.
In Pittsburgh:
  • A local company, Vivismo, is getting a lot of credit (I noticed it at Pittsburgh Ventures) for being moved in to Gartner's "Leader's Quadrant" (signifying that they are one of the best in bread in enterprise search). I have actually helped clients through architecting for Vivismo and have found that the clients are extremely pleased with the results. Congratulations to one of Pittsburgh's finest.

Pittsburgh National Cick-Ass (PNC) II


I noted last week that PNC was having one hell of a year (a tad bit of a surprise given how most banks have done this year). I also noted that their highly valued stock could be used to acquire a whole bunch of under valued shares of another bank. At the time I was thinking in terms of Wachovia. Now, it appears more likely that National City could be acquired by PNC. Any chance this means that they would replace the ugly white National City Center (pictured above) with a building worthy of our majestic riverfront?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

All Man

What do you think you're going to be doing at 83 years old? Gambling at nickel slots in the meadows? Riding a handicap assist to three church services a day? Testing a nurses patience with the call button? Performing at the peak level of your career, perfecting a year of work that may be your magnum opus and guarantee your status as a legend? If you went with option 4, then you are probably Joe Paterno. Joe will turn 83 on December 21 and probably will be pretending to care what his wife got the grand kids as he watches game film of his BCS bowl or (knock on wood) national title opponent.

All men have a secret dream of immortality, a wish that our productivity will never fade. A wish that people will always recognize us as the best in our chosen vocation. Joe Paterno is living that dream. Every time a pundit says it is time for him to retire, two more say "look at his team this year," and as I watch it unfold I like to think that Joe's somewhere watching it too, having a good high pitched laugh and wearing a wry, sly smile.

Originally written for the Pittsburgh Men's Blogging Society.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Economy and Bailout Update

I saw a few things that I wanted to make sure the Burgh wasn't missing.
  • First, Warren Buffet has an interesting idea about how to better use the $700B. In general, instead of having the government directly buy securities, they would instead lend money to Hedge Funds and other organizations at ridiculous rates so that THEY could buy up the securities. The advantage would be that rather then an obtrusive bureaucracy (the Treasury Department) owning the securities and having to actively manage them, smaller, more agile companies would manage them. Hopefully, more profitability. It's an interesting idea, though I don't expect it to get much more traction then this article.
  • Second, I wanted to point something out about why the house will likely pass essentially the same bill that they voted down on Monday. One of the main reasons is the most demonized word on Capitol Hill, "Pork." That's right, when you have a bill that won't pass you add amendments that representatives who are on the fence can't refuse, amendments such as these.

Sour Kraut

Is cabbage better or worse then broccoli?
  • First, the Pittsblog final two posts. There is some GREAT stuff in Mike's list of over-achieving organizations and blogs. His farewell post is worth reading too, Mike will be sorely missed, here's hoping his guest blogging appearances are frequent.
  • Here's the schedule for the Pittsburgh 250 celebration. I'm going to the Fireworks and I hear it's going to be crazy.
  • The scoop on a local company that is bringing some local talent to the Burgh. Just one reason you should follow Mike's advice and read up on TECHBurgher.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Live Blogging Hermann on DVE

I know most people don't have the time to listen to Chad Hermann on WDVE this morning. So I'm going to write my comments out live and post them for you with nothing more then a spell check. Here we go:

"The straw that broke the back" hell of a communication consultant.

Randy is being pretty tough on Chad, I didn't really expect it. I thought he'd give him the CSB leniency.

For the record, someone saying "I wish he'd just die" on a comment in another blog. While it's tasteless, let's not confuse it with real deep malice.

I think he's right about the greatness of the blogosphere, furthermore the blogs that are crap die in a very Darwinian survival of the fittest. Taking a good blog off the blogoshpere isn't helping the process.

Randy is being very very tough, pulling out the Pausch stuff. Chad is playing in to it by actively critiquing a dead man's lecture. I do kind of agree with him, it was a good speech, but wouldn't have been a book if Prof. Pausch wasn't dying. I will give it to Chad, it takes balls to go on the radio and defend that though.

See note above, I wish he'd stop talking about the "death wishes" they are so not a big deal. If I had a dime for every time someone said "I wish he was dead"...

Did Chad Hermann just accuse everyone ELSE of selectively quoting?

Chad said that 8 pittsburgh blogs posted on his article "in the midst of the financial crisis." We talked about the financial crisis too and the Rich Lord article, and the budget. However, when you call us all idiots who are "lowering the level of discourse"... expect a response.

The Gary Roberts thing, I really think he doesn't get it. It's a frickin joke man. Did he enjoy the Chuck Norris jokes before they were Gary Roberts jokes?

It's over, I'm reminded how reasonable and articulate the man can be when he wants to be. I will miss that, the TWM before he started picking fights about Obama, Pausch, etc... Hopefully we'll see Chad again soon in a format that is a little less grating and a little more like this interview.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Go On Ball, Get Outta Here

Many of you know that I thoroughly enjoy listening to the Bucs on the radio or watching them on TV while I work on summer evenings. You do not need to listen to the commentary of NFL games long to realize just how fortunate we in Pittsburgh have been for the last several seasons to have Steve Blass, Lanny Frattare and Greg Brown (no offense to Bob Walk and John Wehner, but those three are the special ones). Unfortunately Steve Blass has cut back to half time and now, Lanny Frattare has retired. So on behalf of all of the people who have loved the great Pirate broadcasters, good bye and good luck in the future Lanny.

The Out Post

I was about to write a LONG post about every issue I have with Chad Hermann (otherwise known as Teacher, Wordsmith, Madman) and his P-G article, the point of his article was to explain why he was quitting the Burghosphere. Instead I have decided to sum up Hermann's article in one sentence for all of my readers and consequently save them the 20 or 30 sleep-defying, yawn-inspiring minutes necessary to read Hermann's 2000+ word "post." Here's the bottom line:

Chad Hermann is a pompous asshole who, in typical form, grabbed a few select comments against him that were in poor taste and drew the conclusion that the entire Burghosphere is so inferior to him in intelligence that he can no longer trouble himself to share anymore of his overwhelmingly superior thoughts with us, the slightly retarded and highly delusional masses.

I have mentioned in everyone of my critiques (here, here and here) of Chad that he is an eloquent (if not absurdly long winded) writer and while that remains true, I say good riddance Mr. Hermann, I look forward to seeing evidence of your selective version of the truth and refusal to engage in open debate in the speeches of many failed republican candidates.

Sour Kraut

Here are a few stories I intended to promote days ago:
  • Here's a pretty good highlight real from the McCain/Obama debate last week. I post it because I missed the debate and found a good highlight real VERY difficult to find.
  • It's a shame that Rich Lord put "billboard" in the title of his editorial this week. It analyzes some of the deeper issues, the most prominent of these (for me) being, why are none of the recommendations from the Mayor's consultant included in the budget? The sooner they're in a budget the sooner we can benefit from them. Instead he chooses to primarily rub old wounds by pointing out one of the planks of the report, maximizing billboard profits.
  • Another reminder of CSB's brilliance: "Testicles on Wall Street's Bronze Ball Return to Scrotum with News of Bailout"
  • The following point by Harold Miller, does not demand an entire post because he states it perfectly. So I've included it here:
Although Pittsburgh's current economic mix has helped "recession-proof" us in these challenging times, it should not be mistaken for good performance. Even in the midst of the recession, Boston and Denver had double the job growth rate we did, and jobs in Charlotte have increased 8 times as fast as in the Pittsburgh Region. If we're going to ever match that, we need to keep working to create a better business climate and to grow startup firms.

With the credit crisis growing, it will be particularly important to make sure that the small businesses in our region can get the financing they need to stay in business and to take advantage of growth opportunities.

Pittsburgh National Cick-Ass (PNC)


One story that I'm surprised is not getting more attention in the Burgh is how WELL PNC is doing this year. Take a look at this comparison between PNC and XLF (an ETF that tracks the Financial Services Sector). If you can't read the little font, it says that PNC is UP over 19% on the year while XLF is DOWN over 22%. There are VERY few financial services businesses out-performing PNC and the longer this crisis continues the better the chance that PNC becomes one of the top 5 or so banks in the United States before this is over. PNC's inflated stock prices and other financial institutions extremely deflated stock prices lends itself to a good environment for PNC to acquire strugling banks with stock. After losing the headquarters of Mellon, it's nice to see the Financial Sector of Pittsburgh fighting back.