Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Body Of Evidence: Government Freeways

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Los Angeles




Highways around Chicago from Krzysztof Pakula on Vimeo.


Interstate 5 from Tim Bonnemann on Vimeo.


Virginia--- golly we need more!

Cleveland--- shot during a National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies conference.

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda, it what we see every day. I gotta pay for you building this crap and then I have to pay for a conference on how to slap lipstick on this pig, while I pay for a conference in Copenhagen to discuss the alleged damages, while...
we talk abou how free markets, individual liberty and private property have F-d up the world.

Be back to add more and connect a few dots

Body Of Evidence: Housing Projects In Chicago, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans



Brooklyn, NY

Bronx, NY


New Orleans

It should be somewhat obvious where I'm going with this, but I'll be posting some of my "evidence" first in random order. The projects above, were I think not built by aliens. More and more of this evidence has been destroyed in the last few years.

Connect more dots later.

My point being that we can't have an open, honest or productive discussion of how governments can "help cities", without being upfront about what they've already done.

Suckers Needed : Fast!!

Via Null Space comes the news that the Rivers Casino Debt is now rated by S&P at CCC, a drop of two notches, from B-. For folks who don't know this---there is no F given.

A D rating means currently in Default, which gives one some idea how precarious things are.

From the Post Gazette.

Unless there's a "significant improvement in operating performance from that observed to date" the casino might not be able to generate enough cash to meet fixed charges, which include the arena payment, in excess of $55 million next year, S & P stated.

It said it expected a $56 million interest reserve account set up as part of the casino's financing to be depleted in the first quarter of 2010, putting more pressure on the facility to boost revenue.

No doubt they are watching the same sharp declines in weekly revenues, that Chris at Null Space has charted at the end of his post.

If they fail to make the arena payment, we may get to really see the naked scum on the bottom of this pool.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beyond The Motor City Documentary

Early next year a new 90 minute documentary about what went wrong in Detroit and the latest scheme to revive it. The consensus among even the dullest bulbs out there seems to grasp that something happened beyond just the decline of the big three car makers, which is pretty obvious since the city has been in drastic decline for years.

Most place racism and "white flight" at the top of the list, noticing the openly toxic trends in the region's social and political culture and a large number now acknowledge that-- perhaps the city's sacrifices to the car played a big role.

Gotta love the self important, "Yes We Can" beat to the trailer. It's part of The "Blueprint America" series!

What planet are these people from? Detroit, is the visible evidence left after the last two great hopeful, helpful, "Yes We Can" projects, the National Highway System and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and Urban Renewal programs. Yes, they did.

Near as I can tell from the trailer, the latest plan is to undo the last ones with major taxpayer "investments" in mass transit. (probably a better Blueprint than the last one)

But will, the film take an honest look at what really happened? Detroit, more than even most American Cities handed itself over to be experimented on by the nation's "best and brightest" urban experts and engineers who replaced it's normal street grid, street car lines and all the self organizing aspects of it's social fabric with central planning.

Remain calm, fair citizens of Detroit -- more help is on the way.

Hat tip to Rust Wire.

Sorry, can't seem to embed video.

Streetsblog News Gadget

You can see, I put a new gadget which feeds news and editorial items off the Streetsblog network of urban oriented blogs.

I don't come close to agreeing with all stories and content, most especially the constant push for more taxpayer transit funding, however they are a fountain of good info on basic street level, pedestrian issues as as well as aggressive sceptics of the one thing even more insane than government mass transit --government highway and road infrastructure funding.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Still More Jane's Walk Talk

More general buzz and discussion popping up about bringing some kind of Jane Jacobs related events and walks to Pittsburgh and other former Rust Belt cities.

Diana Nelson Jones, who hosts one of the few blogs focusing on Pittsburgh from a pedestrian perspective did this post, which quotes one of my comments on Null Space. She also links to a number of other Jane related sites, articles-- and we can add to this the previous talk on Rust Wire, all of which point to some building support for doing something in the Spring.

Using the inevitable football metaphor, living here is often like watching a terrible coaching staff leaving almost all your best running backs on the bench, refusing to block, refusing to tackle while wasting time and resources on ever more bizarre hail Mary passing plays or relying exclusively on kickoff returns.

Not only do the coaches and owners, not put the best people on the field, we can't even let them practice and even worse, one always has to live in fear of which reasonably good or potentially great players might be traded away or cut next, whose property might be seized, whose street cut off and taxes raised for another "special teams operation".

It's not like Pittsburgh doesn't have some great walkable neighborhoods-- and it's not like they ain't successful-- there's plenty of game tape out there that shows what's working on a social and economic level as well as plenty of red ink, empty streets and failed shells to show us what hasn't worked. Yet almost all major government policies repeat these failed plays over and over. Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining!

Team is a good word to use, since as Jane pointed out city's are continuous experiments in social interaction.

Just one more thought, Jane always left a cop out for bad coaches looking for excuses when she said "no two cities or streets are alike". Obviously, this is self evident, but one just has to look at Death and Life's chapter titles, listed below to get the idea that she thought some things worked and some things didn't or only look at a few cities closely to see she was mostly right.

The uses of sidewalks: safety
The uses of sidewalks: contact
The uses of neighborhood parks
The uses of city neighborhoods
The need for mixed primary uses
The need for small blocks
The need for aged buildings
The need for concentration
The curse of border vacuums
Gradual money and cataclysmic money
Erosion of cities or attrition of automobiles

May not be sexy enough to always make the highlight films.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What About The Ref?

Watch CBS News Videos Online

I found this amazing story on a great blog called Extraordinary Observations that is interesting on so many levels and brings up things we should think about a lot more.

I'm gonna take a flier and say that this case of an NBA ref betting on his own games is a close to one in a million case. But by digging a little deeper some big issues come up, you see this guy won his bets over 70% of the time even though there is almost no evidence that he skewed his own play calling or favored any particular team.

What was his secret? He likely knows the normal game variables like player match ups pretty well and occasionally may have had inside dope on things like injuries; however, this wasn't the factor that usually determined his bets. Instead he keyed in on something that few people even think of by guessing who would win by knowing the personal preferences, moods and biases of the referees calling the games. It worked like crazy!

Now keep in mind that these are events seen by hundreds of thousands or millions of people, and taped and watched by expert broadcasters and observers. Even so there is more than enough slack in how a a game is called for referees to be affecting outcomes.

In the wider world that is still mostly not "on film", one can only guess the influence little known government agencies and bureaucracies have on the game of life.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Opening Reception Sunday 13th 1-4, Gallery Sim Southside

This is going to be a very worthwhile exhibit. I do have to say that the images on the card and the website do not in any way do the artists justice.

The exhibit features the work of painters Joe Shepler, Bob Robinson (I'm pretty sure it's Bob, deducing this from the other artists in the show), Jim Dugas, Frank Harris, David Goldstein and Lilli Nieland. I don't know Lilli Nielands work at all. The other 5 artists are excellent painters. I know them personally from the old Carson Street Gallery days of the 1980's, and their work has been shown in Pittsburgh and beyond for decades. I am really looking forward to this exhibit: it is a chance to see work by some very strong artists simultaneously. In addition, these artists don't seem to show all that much lately.

Gallery Sim is a new venue.
Gallery Sim 1735 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side)

Opening Reception Sunday, December 13th, 1-4 pm

Insolvent By Design Part One: Pittsburgh Promise Problems

I hate to gloat, but one of the good things about the economic recession is it's blown sky high a lot of the convenient lies public figures have been telling us. As Warren Buffet said, when the tide goes out you learn who's been swimming naked.

Poor Luke, he's likely far from being our worst mayor, but the tide is out and more and more inconvenient truths about our budget are being revealed. Don't look to anyone else for help, like the county, state or feds, they're naked too.

The cash strapped city received a firm no from a coalition of almost all the colleges, to a "request" by the mayor for 5 million annually from non profits towards the city's general fund. The rejection letter contained this quote.

"a. When you solicited significant contributions to the Pittsburgh Promise from the non-profit community, you significantly diminished that community's capacity to support the City, a fact that you have acknowledged on other occasions."

Ever since the mayor announced the ambitious Pittsburgh Promise program, people have been wondering if there wasn't a wink agreement that contributions would replace tax payments to the city's general budget. It sure looks like that's what many non profit's thought.

The ironic thing is that the mayor needs the money, mostly to fill a massive hole in it's employee pension fund. In other words, we didn't have close to enough money to pay for our previous "promises", and yet Luke piled on some more.

The whole situation is IMHO, likely the product of a long chain of public policies that have worked to put more and more of Pittsburgh's land area in the hands of non tax paying uses.

How did this happen? It's a long story, many details of which I don't know but it sure as hell should be an area of study.

Be back with more thoughts.

Dangerous By Design

High School Bike Bus from Keri Caffrey on Vimeo.

This video I found on Streetsblog New York about kids who are working together to create a "Bike Bus" to ride safely to High School in Orlando is both moving and sad.

A recent study called "Dangerous By Design", ranked American City's risk level to pedestrians, runners and cyclists. Orlando Wins!

"a recent AARP poll of adults 50 years and older found that 40% reported inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods and nearly half of respondents reported that they could not safely cross the main roads close to their home."

The words "by design", tells the story. It took trillions in American city, state and local tax dollars as well as an untold number of eminent domain enabled land grabs, parking mandates, zoning laws and building codes to create the world we have today.

I also have a theory these same policies have helped make the city of Pittsburgh, Insolvent by Design. I'll get back to that later.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some Thoughts About The Blog

Hi, it's John. Many of you might have been wondering about the turn my posts have taken over the past month which since I'm the most active poster, have shifted the direction of the blog.

I have only so much time I'm refocusing my energies on the areas where I think I might be most helpful.

When the blog started there were far fewer blogs and online resources, no blogs giving art announcements or reviews, few blogs about things to do; almost no coverage of grass roots organizations and galleries and virtually no connections or interactions with the wider world outside Pittsburgh.

It's far from perfect, but more of these holes are being filled, making what I'm doing somewhat redundant. I think more and more people are increasingly aware of the many small things that make the city great.

However, in spite of what should be the obvious facts, far too people are thinking about what may be going wrong, that may threaten what's left of our social and economic fabric. You don't have to travel far around the Rust Belt to see how far we can still fall.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Matter & Memory at Wood Street Galleries -- through 12/31

Matter and Memory the US debut of French installation artist Julien Marie at Wood Street Galleries through 12/31/09

Both images of LES INSTANTENES [1998] in the 3d floor gallery.

This piece resonates with the Gregory Barsamian works seen at Wood St. in 2003 (my response to that show can be read here). Slides of actual glass objects are projected on the gallery wall, animating because they cross the threshold of motion in the mind's eye. The work in this show dances elegantly around the issue of re-presenting reality.

Why do we trust this media we have made?

Exploding Camera [2007] uses a historical event (a Taliban assassination of a northern Afghan warlord using a video camera that was ostensibly present to interview him) as a starting point for a complex installation evocative of too many things to describe here. Signals of violence, control, memory, communication, authority, authorship, and the power of story, all emanate from the work.

Model for the Apocalypse [2008] is a confounding, sensual, participatory piece that reminds us of Eliot's admonition, "The world ends not with a bang but a whimper." I'm not going to physically describe this because I want you to go see it and play with it - it does some very strange things.

Take a break from your holiday shopping, spend some time in the Wood St. Gallery with this remarkable body of work. You won't stop thinking about it for quite some time.

A Critical Game Against The Browns: How Humiliating

Standing in the bitter cold wind, with our backs up against the lake with our season on the line-- against Cleveland. Who would have thought it would come to this?

Jane's Walk Update

Since I first brought up the "Jane's Walk" idea, there's been a bit more buzz and talk about it,on this blog, Rust Wire and Null Space including several people interested in guiding a walk or helping in some way.

The official "Jane's Walks" are held in early May in cities and towns across mainly North America, so there's plenty of time to plan things out.

The central site's for info are:

Jane's Walk USA

All walks are free and there are no limits to how many a city can have.

Here's the comment I left on Rust Wire

"If I had to pick one walk, I think choosing an area with a variety of positive and negative issues might be best. For example, a functional or semi functional neighborhood divided by a major highway or a functional street grid cut off by a senseless mega block office park or even a poorly thought out park.

Also from my general knowledge, the issue of minimal concentration and population density is a big issue like it is on Pittsburgh’s North Side and Hill District both of which have big troubles supporting a supermarket, shopping district or mass transit.(even though both once had thriving shopping areas)

Remember, some of Death & Life’s chapter titles.

The uses of sidewalks: safety
The uses of sidewalks: contact
The uses of neighborhood parks
The uses of city neighborhoods
The need for mixed primary uses
The need for small blocks
The need for aged buildings
The need for concentration
The curse of border vacuums
Gradual money and cataclysmic money
Erosion of cities or attrition of automobiles

Sadly, I think in both Pittsburgh and Cleveland the best plan might be to walk the streets with a really old person with a memory of their neighborhoods before they were “improved” by government highways and politically organized mega projects.

Stay tuned, it looks like this will happen.

Pittsburgh Art Events: 12/ 11-12/09.


Space Gallery (812 Liberty Avenue, downtown) has a group show of creators who have somehow affiliated themselves with the monolithic complex of institutional arts organizations throughout the area. "Behind Our Scenes" includes 34 artists who work in a variety of mediums, and is curated by Laura Mustio & Nicole Rosato. The opening runs from 6-10PM.

You can see a variety of student productions at the Melwood Screening Room in North Oakland (477 Melwood Avenue) this evening by attending an event unveiling thesis screenings. Not only will you have no idea what you might see, but you can also avail yourself of a free reception to follow (7PM).


Artists Image Resource (518 Foreland Street on the North Side) is opening its doors for a preview of "Pittsburgh 250 Portfolio, 2009 Projects Portfolio", from 7 until 9:30PM. Along with the output of its 2009 Resident Artists, there will be work from Pittsburgh 250 Portfolio artists (Delanie jenkins, John Ritter, Glenn Kaino, Nick Bubash, Hiroki Otsuka and Shepard Fairey) . If you don't know about the services that AIR offers, or what the organization has done for the past 13 years, this is a good chance to find out.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Igloo From Hell

I'm really sorry for not doing more local arts posts. There are lots of great things about Pittsburgh, great people, offbeat projects, some great neighborhoods, history etc.... which luckily now you can hear more about in places like Pop City, the City Paper, The Post Gazette and great new sites like Bittersweet Harvest and City Creative.

However, the city is small, fragile and cannot survive the kind of taxpayer supported clusterf--cks it's had to go through in the past.It's not fun but someone has to stand with a sign saying-- not again, and I guess that's my job.

In spite of all the promises made when they built the new Penguins Arena, to tear down the old one and build a normal mixed use, residential, retail development to help reconnect the Downtown and The Hill, a curious number of people are showing up with honestly bizarre excuses to keep old "Igloo" standing-- few are Hill District residents.

No doubt is was an interesting and significant building and even less that it holds a lot of great memories for many people. But, almost nobody who remembers the old Hill, or has an even passing knowledge of urban issues, thinks the area was improved by the huge steel shell, massive block of parking space and highway interchange that made it very difficult and unpleasant to walk from the Hill to Downtown or that the city was made better off by the loss of several blocks of potential tax generating property.

Even the Post thinks it's wacky.

"Pursuing them would produce real harm by placing significant constraints on the development of the plot that surrounds the arena and, at least from the vantage point of the Hill District, a large steel shell -- albeit smaller when fully opened -- would remain standing between the neighborhood and Downtown."

Keep it up Pittsburgh. You still have a shot at being Detroit. Just follow these tips.

"Tear holes in your city and stick in as many highways as you can. Highways that will divide and cut through existing business districts are the best. You must have major highways cutting into your downtown!! Remember, you don’t want people to live in the city especially wealthy people.

Raise Taxes in the city to pay for it and your other plans. Well, just raise taxes for any reason really.

Cut and remove as much mass transit as you can. Transit is needed to have a dense city and you don’t want that.

Add as much parking as you can. You can build huge garages to help waste tax money but you mainly need huge areas of plain old surface lots.

Put huge Sports Stadiums in or near the key areas of the city. Since they are usually empty, they are are like putting extra fancy holes in the town. they waste lots of tax money and best of all they need tons of parking!!! (remember you don’t have mass transit.)The key is to put these holes in or just near the downtown and make sure that a sea of parking lots sit on the most useful city land."

Hat tip to Pittsburgh Comet.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Some Tips On How To Destroy A City

This was something I wrote two years ago on the Pittsburgh Metroblog which seems worth putting up again. It relates to a few future posts.

One bunch of people who are likely to want to come to Pittsburgh are urban planners. This isn’t a complement; Pittsburgh is almost a lab experiment in poor government and bad urban design and It’s kind of famous for it. So,it may be that people may want some tips on how too screw up their towns too. These tips are most useful if you are looking to screw up a city with a small land area (by which I mean -in the city limits) and are great for places with lots of hills, rivers or other barriers.

Here are just a few. I will come back with more.It’s a two part strategy to destroy the value of urban land; quality of life and tax base while at the same time making it easy and cheap live outside the city.It’s proven and has worked great here.

Tear holes in your city and stick in as many highways as you can. Highways that will divide and cut through existing business districts are the best. You must have major highways cutting into your downtown!! Remember, you don’t want people to live in the city especially wealthy people.

Raise Taxes in the city to pay for it and your other plans. Well, just raise taxes for any reason really.

Cut and remove as much mass transit as you can. Transit is needed to have a dense city and you don’t want that.

Add as much parking as you can. You can build huge garages to help waste tax money but you mainly need huge areas of plain old surface lots.

Put huge Sports Stadiums in or near the key areas of the city. Since they are usually empty, they are are like putting extra fancy holes in the town. they waste lots of tax money and best of all they need tons of parking!!! (remember you don’t have mass transit.)The key is to put these holes in or just near the downtown and make sure that a sea of parking lots sit on the most useful city land.

Try to remove as many mixed uses of land as you can. Say that offices should not be near homes or stores etc… This requires more driving, more and wider highways and more and more parking holes in the city. It also will likely cause lots of traffic and pollution which will chase people out of town. Remember to raise taxes or borrow to pay for the roads.

Use all kinds of anti walking policies. Shoppers usually walk and you don’t want that. Get rid of sidewalks and use highways with walls to cut up areas.

Basically, It’s a progressive strategy. You set in motion a chain reaction that requires more and more of the same–more holes and lower densities require more driving and more holes in the city and so on. For example, chances are that your downtown retail will start to die off– so you say you need to add more parking or perhaps pay the retailers to stay. Some people might start to feel bad about their town as you destroy it (by now your suicide rate might be up) so they need cheering up with some other new stadium.

You can do it to!!!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Not Again

Crap--- they left the door open and we have the Kansas City game all over again. All credit to Oakland which clearly has a team with some real talent.

The other thing that's clear is that Rashard Mendenhall is the real deal.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Georgia O'Keeffe at the Whitney til January 17th

The Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit at the Whitney through January 17th focuses on her early groundbreaking work. Abstract, powerful, and no skulls, thank goodness.
To quote the New York Times "There are two Georgia O’Keeffes. They’re closely related, but one is far more interesting than the other. Not so interesting, except maybe as a marketing phenomenon, is the post-1930s cow-skull painter and striker of frontier-priestess poses. More interesting, and less familiar, is the artist found in “Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction,” a vivid and surprisingly surprising show of more than 130 paintings and drawings at the Whitney Museum of American Art." For the rest of the review, go here
The exhibit makes it clear that O'Keeffe was a pioneer, and a monumental figure in 20th century art.
The exhibit gives justice to the artist who said: "One day seven years ago I found myself saying.. I can't live where I want to -- I can't go where I want to go -- I can't do what I want to -- I can't even say what I want to... I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to".
Georgia O'Keeffe, 1923

New Blog Links

I'm getting caught up adding some links.

The recent batch which I will be adding to includes a number of blogs focusing on Urban issues, planning, transportation and related themes. A number, also have a generally pro capitalist, freedom oriented approach to cities, a minority viewpoint that's coming out of the closet.

Anyway, one of my favorites has to be Urbanophile. Check it out, I've been reading it a lot.

Also, check out the growing Streetsblog network.

One Of Cleveland's Biggest Banks Fails: FDIC Get's Poem

Can't keep on stealing all these great haiku from Calculated Risk.

Wow, a bright comet...
Giant "Amtrust-Rex" looks up.

Soylent Green Is People

Another, bank failure Friday bringing us to 130 this year. Amtrust, which had 12 billion in assets and 8 billion in deposits hits a bit closer to home, another big smack Cleveland doesn't need. The failure also points out a recent trend; unlike troubled National City which quickly found a buyer in PNC, AmTrust had been shopped around and couldn't attract any interest.(or at least anyone who would pay any cash)This is happening more and points to larger losses for the FDIC.

New York Community Bank will be taking over the entire branch network, but from what I can tell they are not putting money in since the banks losses are so great.

Remember-- Depositors are protected up to $250,000!

Taxpayers don't fair so well. Estimated cost to the FDIC for this failure--2 Billion.

"Among the nation's 8,100 banks, AmTrust was the 92nd largest as of June 30. At its height, it was the 68th largest in 2006 and 2007. In the last two years it's lost nearly 40 percent of its assets and deposits as its loans lost value, CDs matured and customers left. AmTrust was simply into mortgage lending too deep, much of it risky or in markets that were about to implode."

To bad for them, they never became "too big to fail".

From what I have read, the company was far from the worst bank out there. To pursue growth it moved into the then hot, speculative markets in Florida and Arizona-- Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.

But,the bank's problems were hardly a secret either.

"The move comes more than a year after AmTrust's federal regulator said the bank was guilty of "unsafe and unsound banking practices," including making risky loans with no documentation of income a year after most banks had stopped such loans.

The Office of Thrift Supervision essentially told AmTrust to shape up, or else. Instead, AmTrust's finances got worse every quarter and the bank had lost money for seven of the past nine quarters. The bank tried to cut costs and raise money by laying off nearly 40 percent of its workers -- more than 1,000 people -- in the past two years and by holding a fire sale on various branches."

Honestly, the FDIC is probably overwhelmed. The plug was also pulled on 5 other banks on Friday including one with almost $900 million in assets.

Greater Atlantic Bank, Reston, Virginia
Benchmark Bank, Aurora, Illinois
The Tattnall Bank, Reidsville, Georgia
The Buckhead Community Bank, Atlanta, Georgia
First Security National Bank, Norcross, Georgia

Friday, December 04, 2009

Lies And Other Government Statistics

I'd like to get the blog back to more locally oriented posts but I feel compelled once again to try to point out what should be obvious facts and areas of discussion not covered or often even mentioned by the major media or what I call the Zombie Media.

"How can you spot Zombie Financial Media?
No Memory
Contradictions between reports are not recalled or noted.
Previous reports are forgotten shortly after release.
No comprehension:
No two events are related to a shared root cause"

Remember those words every time you hear a widely reported economic figure. Kick the tires, look under the hood, even if you are bad at math, and dazed by numbers like I often am, you will probably be better at it than the government and mainstream media.

Another tip is to write these figures down--- and compare them to later and earlier numbers. Above all-- watch for "revisions".

Initial numbers are always fuzzy estimates and are later revised as harder figures come, like tax and Social Security receipts.

Funny thing is that initial numbers are always page one and revisions on page 28.

"No Memory"

For example here are the headline unemployment figures some months last year and early this year next to the later revised figures.

August 2008: Initially 84,000, revised to 175,000

September 2008: Initially 159,000, revised to 321,000

October 2008: Initially 240,000, revised to 380,000

November 2008: Initially 533,000, revised to 597,000

December 2008: Initially 524,000, revised to 681,000

January 2009: Initially 598,000, revised to 655,000

If you were watching or listening to the news at work or on the drive home, you likely were cheered to hear that the BLS, the main federal agency keeping economic stats says the unemployment rate is down to --- only 10%. The dollar and stocks rose, gold fell and the president called it "encouraging".

But in the same report-- they say 11,000 jobs were estimated to have been lost. This is a small clue! So if 11,000 jobs were lost then the unemployment rate went up right-- unless perhaps the population fell? Well, actually they assume it went up by a small amount so one really has to look under the hood.

But before we start lets get to the mother of all revisions in a little bomb dropped by the BLS in October-- and of course not widely reported.

"The Labor Department said that it planned to revise the job figures by subtracting more than 800,000 jobs that it had wrongly estimated were filled by workers.

The planned revision indicates that this has been by far the worst recession since World War II, causing a 5.8 percent reduction in the number of jobs in this country since employment peaked at the end of 2007.

The decline in private sector employment was even greater, at 7 percent.

The so-called “benchmark revision” that was announced today will not formally be incorporated into the job figures until February, and could be revised. But the figures indicate that last March the government overestimated the total number of jobs by 824,000, or 0.6 percent. Its overestimate of private-sector employment was even greater — 855,000 jobs, or 0.8 percent."

Yes, that's right, these changed figures hack off more jobs than most economists think the so called "stimulus" created. One has to ask why, the government is admitting their numbers are very off while only promising to fully adjust them in February.

Why wait and allow numbers they know are wrong to be widely reported by our Zombie Press?

"Contradictions between reports are not recalled or noted."

"Previous reports are forgotten shortly after release".

Click to enlarge

Even more disturbingly, the BLS or B.S. for short is still putting out data using the same flawed thinking as before.

The key here is the last line on the table labeled, Total Nonfarm Birth/Death Adjustment. Really, this is a number number pulled out of thin air, in an attempt to guess how many businesses are being born and dying in a given period and the number of jobs created by them.

The underlying problem is not hard to figure out, people extrapolate from trends. In normal or "boom" times, the net number of jobs created by new businesses is greater than the number lost by closing ones. But, hello--- every statistic and figure available shows we are in a very serious recession that has hit small businesses particularly hard. It doesn't take a genius to guess that the birth death adjustment should be assuming net job losses among small businesses.

But it's a mighty convenient mistake isn't it?

Now getting to the other big factor in today's reported number. As stated, Even after the 30 thousand jobs the BLS imagines small businesses created, one still has a loss of 11,000 jobs.

But, here the BS people have a different spin. See, according to them only people who actively looked for a job in the last month are counted as part of the "labor force". After all the long term unemployed are conveniently removed, they can report this hopeful and encouraging decline in the unemployment rate.

As a reality check a survey of small business owners released today provides a grim contrast.

The mood of small business owners generally has soured in November for three straight years, as economic confidence dropped from October to November in 2007 and 2008. The November 2008 index of 67.5 is the low point for the Watch since it started in August 2006.

52 percent of owners say they have experienced cash flow issues in the past 90 days, up from 44 percent in October. Forty-one percent of owners say they have not experienced cash flow issues, which is the lowest response in this category since the Watch began. The remaining 6 percent said they weren't sure.

53 percent of small business owners see conditions getting worse in the next six months, up from 43 percent in October; while 19 percent report that conditions are improving, a sharp decline from 29 percent in October; 23 percent see conditions as the same, and 5 percent weren't sure.

62 percent of small business owners rate the economy as poor, an increase from 55 percent in October; 30 percent rate it as fair, and 8 percent say it is good or excellent.

53 percent of small business owners think the overall economy is getting worse, up from 44 percent in October but still significantly lower than the 69 percent of owners who felt that way in February 2009, the last time the Watch index was this low. For November; 28 percent say the economy is getting better, down from 35 percent in October; 16 percent see it staying the same, and 3 percent are not sure.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pittsburgh Art Events: 12/ 4-5/09.


The calendar informs us that it is once again time for Unblurred, on Penn Avenue. Instead of giving you a full rundown here, I'll merely divert you to the official website of the Penn Ave. Arts initiative, which has ALL the details. I do, however, insist that you make it a point to stop at Most Wanted Fine Arts to see the work of fellow Unicorn Mountain denizen Tibi Chelcea.

If you have a taste for a bit of music, I recommend you check out Slim Cessna at Club Cafe (in the SouthSide) at 10:20PM. While his legendary Auto Club is a burst of mad energy and revelation, his local band is shaping up as a formidable act to be reckoned with. Sure, there's gospel and country roots included... but don't fool yourself- these guys rock. Believe me, you need a dose of this to get yourself in the mood for the holiday season.


Sometimes it's kind of pleasant to have something to do midday, before its time to head out for your particular brand of nightlife. So why not grab a cup of coffee, and peruse some art by Hannah Reiff at the Morning Glory Coffeehouse (1806 Chislett Street) in Morningside from 5-8PM? She's advertising "wintry prints / drawings / collages". While you are at it, check out the neighborhood's new Sprout Fund mural nearby.

Over on the South Side, the Michael Berger Gallery
(30 S. 6th St.) has an opening for your enjoyment earlier in the day (12-5PM). It's entitled Sundown of the Last Dynasty Hung Liu: Tapestries & New Prints. That's an explicit enough title to give the prospective viewer at least an inkling of what one might see.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Opens Friday at Unsmoke Systems in Braddock

Opening this Friday at Unsmoke Systems in Braddock. One night only.

E.Q. Show
Dec. 4, 2009 Reception @7:00 Screening @ 8:00 A one night multimedia extravaganza brought to you by the staff of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Equipment Office.Featuring new films, videos photography and installation by:Tess AllardSam BoeseMike BonelloMatthew R. DayJulie GonzalezAnna HawinsLaura Jean KahlTom McConnellGretchen NeidertMarina PfenningChristopher Smalleyand surprise guests

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Skyscraper Index

The emerging Dubai debacle is only starting to play out but it looks like another case of the world's tallest building heralding a major market top.

"The Skyscraper Index is a concept put forward in January 1999[1] by Andrew Lawrence, research director at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein,[2] which showed that the world's tallest buildings have risen on the eve of economic downturns.[3] Business cycles and skyscraper construction correlate[4] in such a way that investment in skyscrapers peaks when cyclical growth is exhausted and the economy is ready for recession.[5] The buildings may actually be completed after the onset of the recession or later, when another business cycle pulls the economy up, or even cancelled.[5] Unlike earlier instances of similar reasoning ("height is a barometer of boom"[6]), Lawrence used skyscraper projects as a predictor of economic crisis, not boom.

Lawrence started his paper as a joke (emphasized by a title referencing a comedy show[1]) and based his "index" on mere comparison of historical data, primarily from the United States experience. He dismissed overall construction and investment statistics, focusing only on record-breaking projects.[4] The first notable example was the Panic of 1907. Two record-breaking skyscrapers, the Singer Building and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, were launched in New York before the panic and completed in 1908 and 1909, respectively. Met Life remained the world's tallest building until 1913. Another string of supertall towers - 40 Wall Street, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building - was launched shortly before to the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The next record holders, World Trade Center towers and Sears Tower, opened up in 1973, during the 1973–1974 stock market crash and the 1973 oil crisis. The last example available to Lawrence, Petronas Twin Towers, opened up in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and held the world height record for five years. Lawrence linked the phenomenon to overinvestment, speculation and monetary expansion but did not elaborate these underlying issues.[4] The concept was revived in 2005, when Fortune warily observed five media corporations investing in new skyscrapers on Manhattan[3] (none of them, including the tallest New York Times Building, broke any records"

Singer Building
Met Life Tower

Panic Of 1907

40 Wall Street
Chrysler Building
Empire State Building

1929 Stock Market Crash/ Great Depression

Sears Tower
World Trade Center

1973-74 Stock Market Crash/ 73 Oil Crisis

Petronas Twin Towers

1997 Asian Financial Crisis

But here comes the doooozy

2008 World Financial Crisis

Social Media And Economic Development

Jim Russell @ Burgh Diaspora talks about economic development professionals finally warming up to the use of social media and provides this link.

"Social media–in the form of tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and blogs–are starting to transform how we live our lives. When it comes to the world of economic development, social media usage is growing, but not yet as a consistent part of the practitioner's tool kit.

A recent survey sponsored by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and Development Counsellors International (DCI) took a deeper look at the state of social media among economic developers. The survey asked more than 300 IEDC members about their use of social media and its role in their organizational strategies and communications efforts.

The survey results clearly indicate that social media is still a "new thing" for economic developers. While 57 percent of respondents use social media in their organization's communications efforts, most of this use has only begun in the past year. In fact, of those using social media, only 37 percent of respondents have used social media for longer than one year. As DCI President and Chief Creative Officer Andy Levine noted, "Economic development groups are just getting their feet wet with social media. We're in the very early days of this work."

Skipping ahead:

"Finally, Levine expects to see a lot of innovations in the use of social media. For example, he envisions that communities could create "digital ambassadors" to discuss the benefits of living and working in a certain region or community. These ambassadors, people who have many Facebook followers or LinkedIn connections, would serve as a very credible advocate for local economic development efforts. He expects to see lots of experimentation and new approaches over the next several years."

Of course, the basic premise is absurd. Almost every city already has dozens, if not hundreds and thousands of bloggers, Tweeters and such eager to hype their favorite city street,urban park, event, band, gallery, house tour, or private business.

The trick is often to just unleash them or at least not actively stand in their way with no photography policies and other barriers as many still do.

The viral success of an event like Artprize owed largely using this energy to market the event and the city.

Not surprisingly places like Youngstown with meager resources are leading the charge towards innovation and openness.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Barden's Majestic Star Files For Bankruptcy

Chart From Wall Street Journal

Desperate Gary, Indiana now a major creditor.

"Gary and Majestic Star, the owner of both local casino licenses, have been in negotiations for years now over its local development agreement. Former Mayor Scott King signed an amendment to that agreement in 2005 which required Majestic Star to pay the city 6 percent of its adjusted gross revenue.

Previous agreements set that amount at 7 percent. It also capped the maximum amount of money Majestic Star would pay to Gary at $6 million annually.

However, attorneys for Mayor Rudy Clay have disputed the validity of that agreement because it wasn't approved by Gary's Board of Public Works and Safety. In February 2008, Majestic Star filed a lawsuit against the city, asking a judge to sort out the matter."

How far off we are from this situation is open to debate but so far revenues from the new Rivers Casino are far below the company's projections even as the city's need for cash grows.

"I believe this stopgap funding measure is crucial," said state Rep. Chelsa Wagner. She added that a long-term solution may come if the General Assembly dedicates 1 percent of Rivers Casino table games revenue to libraries."

CityCenter In Las Vegas Makes A Big Bet On Public Art And Urban Design

Sorry, yet another post not directly about the arts in Pittsburgh which does however touch on both art and urban design.

Las Vegas has some real problems, but developers are still placing bets that Vegas can transcend gambling or destination tourism and attract wealthy people interested in an "urban lifestyle".

This doesn't exactly look like something Jane Jacobs would recognize or support, but it's also dramatically different from the totally car centric Vegas of the 60's.

"The $8.5 billion hotel/living/dining/entertainment/shopping destination is billed as the largest privately funded construction project in the USA and is considered Vegas' big gamble. Its lack of emphasis on gaming (only Aria has a casino), edgy style and city-within-a-city layout are "the next step in the evolution of Vegas," says CityCenter CEO Bobby Baldwin– unlike anything yet seen in the USA's adult Disneyland."

Time will tell how this plays out. As you can see from the video, Art plays a big role in this project.

Read the USA Today article here.

Update: Key CityCenter Investor Dubai World asks for a debt moratorium.

"Dubai World, one of the emirate's main state holding companies, said it was asking for a delay on maturities until at least May 30. It has $60bn (£35.9bn) in declared liabilities and one of its subsidiaries, the "palm island" developer Nakheel, is due a $3.52bn Islamic bond repayment, plus charges, on December 14."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rick DeVos Talks About Artprize

I found two long but very interesting videos which delve deeper into the event and the broad range of responses to it.

What's clear is that big questions have been raised on all kinds of levels (not just about art) and more importantly they are being asked by almost everyone in the community.

The first video is a kind of three person panel, centered around the project's founder and original funder, Rick DeVos but most of it involves questions from a very engaged audience. (can't seem to embed video,follow link)

All kinds of topics are touched on in this video but generally most are art related.

Few "formally trained "arts professionals" like university faculty, arts administrators, curators and the like had ever dealt with the energy level and passion this thing brought out.

It's also very clear that Rick pushed this snowball in a downhill direction without almost no idea how big it might get or what it's final results might be. He knows it--and that's what's so great about it.

Museums, local venues of all kinds, Businesses and the city government were forced to actively collaborate with each other(and more than a thousand artists) in a short time frame with scarce resources or risk a spectacular public failure.

PLEASE WATCH, I really think it's worth it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Carol Coletta Talks About ArtPrize Grand Rapids

Carol Coletta, the head of CEO's for cities has a great take on the ArtPrize contest.

Of course she has to take a gratuitous backhanded shot at it's founder Rick DeVos, the wealthy son of one of Amway's co-founders, described as "famously conservative". In fact, Amway's founders would be far more accurately described as Libertarian and pro free market.

It should be obvious, that I love the Art Prize idea for the same reason I love Jane Jacobs in that both DeVos and Jacobs placed faith in the abilities, energy and creativity of individuals over self appointed experts and bureaucracies.

"ArtPrize also proves the value of rapid (in this case, lightning-fast) prototyping. This initiative went from zero to 1,200 artists in five months. Although DeVos always intended that the competition would be decentralized, the timeline forced him to pursue radical decentralization. And that led to rapid prototyping. As DeVos put it, “We had so little time that we were forced to admit when stuff was not working. We just tried something else.”

Another lesson demonstrated by ArtPrize is the value of giving people permission to be entrepreneurial. Artists, by nature, are risk-takers. They make things that are unfamiliar and new to the rest of us, then send their creations out into the world to be judged by the rest of us. But ArtPrize was a platform for entrepreneurship at a massive scale—for artists promoting their work with their own networks, for venue owners, for bloggers, for those promoting Grand Rapids, and for ArtPrize voters.

Finally, ArtPrize organized as a platform rather than as an institution. It completely defied the convention of nonprofits."

That's right folks-- they offered a tidy cash prize and then actually allowed creative people to be creative-- something very rare, these days.

I'm not at all sure the lessons learned here will be copied by many but something very powerful might have been unleashed.

Let's Have A Jane's Walk In Pittsburgh

Been visiting NYC again, going to museums and walking the streets and looking at the endlessly fascinating fabric of the city at ground level. Why people choose to live here and not there? why are some blocks crowded and others empty and dangerous? It's always interesting.

I always want to kiss the ground (umm-- not wise) and remember how close the city came to being destroyed by starry eyed urban planners armed with billions in Federal tax dollars. Jane yelled stop and asked people to walk the streets of their cities and look and and think about the practical, common sense things that made them tick. Sadly, most people didn't listen.

"All Hypotheses get tested in the real world"

For the last three years a project called Jane's Walk has invited volunteer guides to take people around and talk about the unique things that work well and make their neighborhoods special.

"Each of the participating cities in Jane’s Walk finds its own volunteer tour guides to conduct walking tours. Some tours focus on heritage sites, while others explore the nooks and crannies of the city. From great hangouts for kids to ethnic business and residential enclaves, the tours and their leaders are diverse like cities themselves."

The list of Jane's Walks from 2009

Dayton, Ohio
Jackson, Mississippi
Moscow, Idaho
New Orleans
New York City
Oklahoma City
Salt Lake City
San Francisco
Spanish Harlem, New York City
Starkville, Mississippi
St. Louis

Notice a trend-- almost no "rust belt" cities on this list and Jane's hometown of Scranton isn't either.

Some Canadian Cities with walks (Jane moved to Toronto in the late sixties)

Brant County, Ontario

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. See complete list here!

And--- the coolest walk so far has got to be a Jane's walk in Mumbai!

Anyway, if nobody else takes this up for 2010, I guess I would guide a tour myself, something I honestly don't think I'd be too qualified to do.

The most fun might be to have several people who know a neighborhood well to guide a walk together with each adding their thoughts and knowledge about an area's history, design and inner logic.

Kandinsky Retrospective at the Gugghenheim through January 13th

A trip to N.Y.C. last week resulted in a whole lot of trekking through museum exhibits, and seeing dazzling work, work that was ground-breaking when it was produced. Specifically, I am referring to exhibits of Kandinsky, O'Keefe and Blake.

First: Kandinsky at the Gugghenheim. The paintings are wonderful (well, not so much the later period). Anyone who loves painting should not miss this exhibit. A lot of great material is available about this exhibit, including an excellent video of the exhibit on the Gugghenheim website.
So I am providing three links, and I will keep my own comments to a minimum.

I will say though that I think some will discount Kandinsky too quickly for producing beautiful paintings. But the power and depth is also there, and it is unmistakable. In the same vein, I think his passion, as seen not only in his work, but in his writings on art, can also get him too easily dismissed, again by some, as somehow not deep enough. But there is a LOT in Kandinsky. I always think of the following quote when I see a piece of work that is "out of it's era" so to speak, and hence looks not too interesting.

From: Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912)

"Every work is a child of its time, often it is the mother of our emotions.
Thus, every period of culture produces its own art, which can never be repeated. Any attempt to give new life to the artistic principles of the past can at best only result in a work of art that resembles a stillborn child. For example, it is impossible for our inner lives, our feelings, to be like those of the ancient Greeks. Efforts, therefore to apply Greek priciples, e.g., to sculpture, can only produce forms similar to those employed by the Greeks, a work that remains soulless for all time."



Boston Globe review:

New York Times review:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hollywood Theater "Making Going to the Movies Fun Again" Great "New" Repertory Cinema Venue

After coming back from a trip to NYC (by the way, posts about various museum exhibits there will be posted here over the next few days), I was excited to see an ad in CP for the "Hollywood Theater". I assumed it had just opened, but I later learned it has been open for a couple of months.

The Hollywood Theater is in Dormont. From Shadyside, where I live, it is about a 20 minute drive. And well worth it. A non-profit has renovated an old movie thater there and is showing a broad range of films at low prices.....6 dollars! This week's schedule includes The Big Lebowski, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Manchurian Candidate.

A terrific addition to the local film scene! I used to go to this theater before it closed in 1998. It was beautiful but really run down. The residents of Dormont did a great thing in getting this place renovated and up and running again!
Hollywood Theter website:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Poems For Disaster

Another Friday and more bank failures, (some big ones last week too)fortunately, our poet master at Calculated Risk has their juices flowing.

Combined losses for just the three banks closed yesterday, may be 1 Billion to the FDIC fund. Remember when that was a lot of money?

Suited Bureaucrats
Waiting for critical mass
Century flames out

by Soylent Green is People

"The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $344 million. ... Century Bank, FSB is the 121st FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the tenth in Florida. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Flagship National Bank, Bradenton, on November 6, 2009."

Also gone Orion Bank in Naples, Florida which had assets of 2.7 Billion and deposits of about 2.1 billion.

"The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $615 million. ... Orion Bank is the 122nd FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the eleventh in Florida. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Century Bank, Sarasota, FL, earlier today."

A number of these banks had previously received Tarp infusions which are now gone. While only thee were taken down, this is likely because the FDIC is too overwhelmed and overworked to do more. More cynical types might suspect they are also very reluctant to hit the public with too many big losses at once and are trying to contain the media coverage. It's working.

Losses at the FHA soon will be too big to hide.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thad Mosley Reviewed In Art In America November Issue

In spite of Pittsburgh's higher profile in the broader media, reviews of area shows in National Art Magazines are very rare-- perhaps more so than they were even in the 1980's and early 90's.

Thad Mosley's amazing mini retrospective at the Mattress Factory got a very nice review by Melisa Kuntz in this month's Art in America which doesn't seem to be online yet.

Taking a small chance-- I am typing in the first paragraph since I agree fully with her words.

"The work of Thaddeus Mosley might seem derivative at first glance: the influences of Noguchi, Brancusi, Giacometti and African Art are evident. Yey closer consideration of his prolific career reframes the work, and Mosley emerges as an artist driven obsessively to explore endless permutations of his chosen medium."

I'd steal more but -- here is her closing.

"Each of the 78 exceptional works is proof of his inexhaustible commitment to one medium and evidence that imitation does not preclude brilliance."

One great thing is that Thad is good at speaking for himself. In this video he talks about his process.

Anyway-- buy the issue.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pittsburgh Art Events: 11/ 13-14/09.

There are plenty of art-related odds-and-ends around town this weekend. They are dispersed throughout the city, so you'll have to put a bit of thought into what you might be desirous of seeing.


I've never attended a faculty art show at CCAC, but I am aware that some of the most passionate educators can be found at our nations' community colleges. You can see the annual show over at 808 Ridge Road on the Northside campus between 5-7PM.

Last week, it was puzzling to discover that the new Fast>>forward Gallery (3700 Penn Ave) had apparently decided to distance itself a bit from the monthly Unblurred event. I noticed its conspicuous absence on the promotional literature. But I've recently discovered that the reason it wasn't open was because co-founder Craig Freeman had a solo down at Zombo Gallery. That explains this week's opening reception for Breath Deep: An Ecological Exhibition by Ross Hardy (6-10PM).

And while we are on the subject, there's another 2-day exhibition at the Zombo Gallery. This one is entitled Mod as a Hatter (that's cute... right?) and features work by someone named CZM. I've also caught wind of the news that Zombo and Co. will soon have regular hours, when they open up their doors (4900 Hatfield Street) for a fashion boutique. Sometimes I wonder where Michael and Julie find the energy and time to be involved with their various projects.

You can also catch the unveiling of Matt Marino's current preoccupations at the Crazy Mocha in Bloomfield (4525 Liberty Ave), and stop by the grand opening of Gallery Sim (1735 East Carson St.) in the South Side. Kathleen Zimbicki has curated the show at this location. It's been awhile since there has been a viable cultural presence on that side of town, but who knows? A few venues have been active down there lately. Might there be a third "First Friday" art walk soon?


The ToonSeum opens its doors for the first time at 10AM. It is one of only three museums in the nation dedicated to the art of cartooning. From what I hear, it will focus heavily on the type of strips that have been delighting American newspaper readers for over a century. I've also been told that Bill from Copacetic Comics Co. has been asked to run the gift shop, AND that he'll be offering some pretty sweet specials for the occasion of the Grand Opening. The ToonSeum is located at 945 Liberty Avenue, downtown.

Luke & Eloy Gallery
(5169 Butler St.) has a daytime reception (11AM-5PM) for Paper or Plastic, a group show featuring stuff by creators from across the country, and you can follow that up with a visit to the Christine Frechard Gallery (5871 Forbes Ave) in Squirrel Hill. Hisham and Kamal Youssef are the featured artists there, and the opening lasts from 5-8PM. If it's anything like their inaugural event, you should get there early if you want some of the divine refreshments they put out.

If you'd prefer to get out of town (but not that far), you can venture out to DV8 Espresso Bar & Gallery in Greensburg (208 South Pennsylvania Avenue) for a solo show of Gabe Felice's intricate and fantastical paintings. Felice regularly produces an output of wondrous images on wood that suggest medieval engravings and illuminated manuscripts. If you went to see the Visionary Arts Festival this past August at Schenley Plaza, you would have had a hard time missing Gabe, toiling in front of his tent, and working up a back stock of affordable inventory.

Event Date: Friday, April 2, 2010
Where: First Friday "Unblurred" on Penn Avenue/ Penn Avenue Business District
Why: A Celebration of Green Industry and Tech Wizardry

Festival Statement: As Southwestern Pennsylvania's premiere Art + Technology Festival, The GAGI or Geek Art and Green Innovators Festival is platform for showcasing all that is new, unique and experimental in the green and technology industries in Pittsburgh and beyond.

We're building this festival by showcasing your ingenuity!
We're looking for:
Digital Media
Green Technology both simple and complex
Sound Experimentation

Tell us what YOU want to do!
If your submission or idea is accepted, we'll find a venue for you to do it!

ALSO: Information Tables available in our "Green Room" info Center.
Part gallery, part green/tech Central for companies who want to do community outreach and get the word out! 8x10 table Just $50

Submissions and Ideas to: <>

RESPONSE DEADLINE: November 30, 2009
For more information visit:
Or Email
Looking forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Defend The Taxpayer Videogame: Bailout Wars

Gotta love this new video game. The naked game of looting the "public purse" for private gain is getting so blatant there's even a game now called Bailout Wars.

"Hope you got some fast fingers because this is what Bailout Wars is all about. You have to protect the White House full of money by ways of your finger. You have your classic poking the enemies which cause some enemies to explode, and you have your flicking of enemies which cause some enemies to lift off the ground and fly in the air. Only some tactics are used to stop enemies and others require combinations"

Version one includes enemies like "bankers, investment bankers, and CEOs but future games could include literally thousands of special interest looters, defence contractors, corrupt road contractors, union bosses, welfare goons, politicians and perhaps NFL, NHL and NBA owners eager to claim their sacred "projects" are in "the public interest".

Of course the idea there's a war is absurd, they just walk in and grab the cash. Why would the president or congress protect it? Did they earn it?

"Louis XIV had left France with serious financial difficulties. Ultimately, Louis XV failed to overcome these fiscal problems, mainly because he was incapable of putting together conflicting parties and interests in his entourage. At Versailles, the king and the nobility surrounding him showed signs of boredom, signalling a monarchy in steady decline. Worse, Louis seemed to be aware of the forces of anti-monarchism threatening his family's rule and yet failed to do anything to stop them. Popular legend holds that Louis predicted, "After me, the flood" ("Après moi, le déluge"). In fact this quotation is more precisely attributed to Madame de Pompadour, although it is not certain that even she ever said it."

Monday, November 09, 2009

Amerasians in Korea See Themselves in Hines Ward

Listening to the Steeler Game-- kind of a classic reminding one of the Steeler 2006 season with some great Ben drives, (a few screw ups) Polamalu back at his best; a clock cleaner by Harrison and of course some great play by Hines Ward.

The Times had a nice story on the impact his achievements and celebrity have had on Korea's small biracial population. Ward,is a national hero there.

"The plight of biracial children in South Korea was largely ignored until 2006, when Ward was the most valuable player of Super Bowl XL. Koreans were quick to make the link to his Korean heritage.

That spring, Ward and his mother, Young He Ward, visited South Korea for the first time since Ward was a baby nearly 30 years earlier. They were mobbed by television cameras and gawking fans. They were honored by the South Korean president.

“I got more love there than I did in the States,” Ward said.

Ward was only starting to understand the underlying hypocrisy. Biracial children in South Korea recognized it instantly."

Anyway, Ward has been playing a big role in changing things. Likely, you know all about it but still a great read.

“They liked someone because he is famous,” So said. “If you are not famous, they are very cold. So I was happy, but also bitter.”