Jul 30, 2010

Joe Bruno's Ghost: 7/30/10

Dear Joe,

I don't think that bronze head at the airport looks like you. What's up with that?

- Frequent Flier

Dear FF,

I said the same thing when they unveiled it. I agree, I am much better looking. It was actually kind of embarrassing, but I didn't say anything because I noticed out of the corner of my eye that some troopers were rifling thru my helicopter.

Dear Ghost of JB,

I know you're a big horse guy. You got any action at the track this year.

- Punter

Dear Punter,

No, they won't license felons. Or ghosts.

Dear Caspar I Mean Joe,

Where should I go for girly action in downtown Albany?

- Horndog

Dear Dog,

Go talk to Sweeney. That's his department, not mine.

Dear JBG,

What did you really think about Spitzer's hookers?

- Curious

Dear Curious,

See my reply to Horndog.

Dear Joe,

Did you suffer any long term damage from your boxing days?

- Pugilist Pete

Dear Pete,

What do you mean?

Dear Ghost Man,

Which radio guy is more annoying: Fred Dicker or Alan Chartock?

- Dialed-in

Dear Dialed,

That's a tough one. Dicker reminds me of babbling psycho when he gets cranked up. Chartock is always hitting me up for a pledge. Let's call it a draw.

Dear Mr Ghost,

What was the worst part of your long and tedious court room trial?

- Juan from Amsterdam

Dear Juan,

The hemorrhoids

Dear Mr G,

I know you were somehow involved with receiving money from that crazy NXIVM cult. I was wondering if you ever took any of their courses?

- Extreme Life Coach

Dear ELC

Where do you think I got this glassy-eyed look from?


Counter-punching 101 for Democrats

Passion. This is what the Democratic party needs; someone willing to stand up, call some bluffs and rage against the machine -- even in their own bunkers. Take notes.

Jul 29, 2010

If you barf, is it a completed shotgun?

A question for all my old college pals:

**** Were we this screwed up back then?

Or is this just a Canadian deal? Let me know, will you?

Props to KFC at NYC Barsstool -- who poses some VERY GOOD QUESTIONS about this barfarama.

OK. I had to pay my lost wager to my young and foolish intern by posting his particular clip; so cut me some slack.

Jul 28, 2010

Bits & Pieces

1) Price Chopper has new shelf-tags, which in addition to offering the usual pricing information now has a Nutrition rating for an individual item. Each is ranked on a scale from 1 to 100. I was just about ready to pull down a box of blueberry pop tarts until its 4 rating had me going whooooa.' I spent the next ten minutes wandering the store just to see which product had the highest rank. The winner? Lactaid milk-substitute with a 91. Figure that one out?

2) When did Lake George become the northern outpost of the Jersey Shore? This weekend, I got my fill of more guidos, bling, ink, wifebeaters (the fashion statement), Yankee hats, tank tops, f-bombs, blaring hip hop and beer bellies (the men were no bargain either) than I've had life-to-date.

3) Relate to #2, I think it's pretty funny how a trade war has erupted between New York and New Jersey, with the Governor of the Garden State accusing NY of exporting guidos into its domain, thereby causing it great image damage via the Jersey Shore TV program. New York replied that it could have complained about the Sopranos gang coming across the Hudson now and then to grab some action; bit it didn't.

4) Could some lifeguard out there tll me why you don't allow children to wear those little flotation devices around their wrists or shoulders? After all, they prevent the kids from going under the water-- and isn't that the general idea?

5) There's something a little disturbing, reading about Saratoga's historic Hattie's restaurant opening up a new satellite in Sprawlville (aka Wilton). Even more disturbing is the number of sheep on Facebook greeting the news with a thumbs-up / I like reaction. Baaa'aaaa.

6) The NXIVM story just keeps getting stranger and stranger. I won't even go into it here, but your latest links are here, here and here.

Jul 26, 2010

Media Sensationalism? We'll Do That!

Dope Dealers Eyeing City's 5yo's?

City Cries: What About the Children? They're Coming for the Children!

Children's Museum to Beef Up Armed Guards

Visitors Now Subject to Diaper Search

Council to Convene Emergency Task Force

Nearby Head Shop Laying Low for Now

Saratoga Springs --- Yes, they are the easiest of targets when it comes to finding a local example of everything that is wrong with the state of modern American journalism, but today's issue of The Saratogian puts it all into perspective with one simple headline:

Two men arrested after apparent drug sale near Children's Museum at Saratoga

Now, keep in mind these points:

- There is no connection between the alleged drug dealers and anyone (adult or otherwise) connected to the Museum.

- In fact, the Museum was not even open. It was 1AM, after all.

- The Museum is physically located in the Caroline Street entertainment / bar district of downtown Saratoga.

- Given the urban neighborhood, this alleged incident took place in the vicinity of not only the Museum, but several other businesses and residential buildings.

But a headline reading "Drug Arrest Near Joe Smith's House" or "Arrest Takes Place Just Yards from Part Time Real Estate Office" won't really get the blood flowing, will it?

Desperate for Readers? Scare the Hell Out of Them!

Pop this --- disconnect that!

After sitting through a seminar last week on the general theme of "free your mind, don't be a consumerized sheep by sucking up every cheap product that Corporate America throws at you!," I was intrigued enough to look up the speaker's Facebook page to send a followup message.

A quick peek at her profile reveals the following as her Music preferences: Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Kenny Chesney, Sugarland, Brad Paisley and all sorts of other dance-pop and pop-country brands. (notice brands, not bands)

Can we say DISCONNECT?

I need to start giving seminars on any subject imaginable and needed; because you obviously don't need to be an expert or take the time to build any sort of credibility to get hired on the Rubber Chicken circuit.

Jul 16, 2010

Why the World Hates America

Have you ever pondered the question posed by the above headline? If so, maybe this post will help.

It's one thing to export an image of the American ideal through the time tested channel of broadcast media. Clever and funny-as-hell programming such as The Simpsons and Family Guy will establish an image of Americans as slightly dysfunctional family units headed by fat guys who enjoy beer as the national archetype -- harmless, pretty likable and not anything to be afraid of.

Bu the internet is the Great Equalizer. Give a dude a camera and the next thing you know "this is going on YouTube!" becomes the catch phrase of the day. When that happens, it usually ain't pretty. Exhibit A is available below for your viewing pleasure; a disturbing yet ho-hum scene from Anytown's urban center.

The great Beantown blog Barstool Sports (highly recommended) turned us on to this clip. But that site's visionary leader, El Pres, threw his hands up in surrender mode when attempting to describe all the action that was taking place here. Just too much was going on; a a case of information overload kicking in.

But as a sort of shout out to our brother blogger, we thought it would be appropriate to pick up the baton and provide a listing of the highlights from this testament to the current status of the American Dream. Here is what we came up with:

- Burger King, Home of the Whopper
- Ho's dis'ing ho's
- Ho's beating ho's
- Ho's kicking pregnant ho's in stomach
- Pregnant ho's standing around in underwear after having been beaten
- Ms Blue DON'T need no new daddy
- Pimping101.net on the scene with the play by play
- Pit bulls stopping by to catch the action
- Pimps dis'ing ho's
- It's Verdict Time!
- Pimps smoking weed
- Ho 'buggin' up' and asking for a new beating
- Ho touching the car
- Ho tossing the baby high chair
- Pimp flooring ho with knockout punch
- Crazy old lady arrives to give her take on the whole matter
- Bitch crashing into Oakland police cycle

So there you have it. If you're still interested in the full viewing of the rotting American corpse, here you go:

Jul 15, 2010

LeBron James answers the critics

Take that Cleveland!

It's the Tea Bagger Spelling Bee!

This year's theme: "We Don't Need No Education"

Jul 14, 2010

Riff: Deflation? Second Stimulus?

(Here is a random F/B riff in response to an inflation/deflation? and next move question that was posed by an interested party):


Deflation isn't coming, it's already here. It is there on the biz side, and if energy costs were stripped from food (the cost to farm and ship), it would be more evident there on the personal side as well

So what to do?

The 'between a rock and a hard place' analogy comes to mind. The two options most discussed are:

1. Some (Stiglitz) argued early on that the recent stimulus wasn't nearly enough and that to pull back now would be an error, as seen in the past (FDR stopping too early, before WWII hit and became the Mother of All Stimulus progrmas) and currently (just look at Ireland). Those of this view can not be charmed by today's political reality, with the GOP suddenly finding the Deficit Hawk religion and the general populace buying into it as well. Spend, Pt II might be the right thing to do, but it would likely also be Obama's swan song

on the other side...

2. the more convincing (but seldom heard) argument for austerity is to do so as a way of biting the bullet on 30 years of US econ insanity, and give the system a chance to purge the toxins of inefficiencies that have built up -- as in housing, the flow of too much talent into the financial industries, and so on. This, too, might be proper, but it would also be brutal

I guess I would lean toward another stimulus round, (if the relevent numbers decline sugnificantly in the the next couple quarters), but it can not repeat the major bout of misplaced priorities that polluted (and ruined) the first round (and I am saying that as a Democrat and supporter of Mr O).

The 2 major goals of each dollar spent under federal stimulus need to be directed towards: a) directly supercharding industry's ability to make exportable products; or 2) creating an infrastructure that has the same exact goal in mind.

Sorry, but $8K home buying credits, filling pot holes, new highways, cash for clunkers, and local govt transfer payments all fall under the 'miss' category.

Instead: I'd suggest better aims would be to simply direct them towards the buildout of a limited number of very specific initiatives: a) a legit rail system; 2) FREE ultra-broadband networks; and c) a quickly scaled new-energy ecosystem.

Bottom Line
: if we're going to take a gamble on another stimulus round, let's increase our odds with a more clear cut (and effective) focus. If we can't do that, then let's instead just resort to the yucky medicine of the deficit hawks, and see how that gamble works.


Jul 13, 2010

Armageddon vs Global Warning: Who Ya Got?

(from Onion News)

The Christian Right continues with their mission of Fair & Balanced classrooms:

Christian Groups: Biblical Armageddon Must Be Taught Alongside Global Warming

Jul 10, 2010

Visit Lake George in 2005? Be advised: you might get sued

The civil court system sure ain't working. Just ask anyone who's had the misfortune of going through it. I have, and it wasn't a pleasant or pretty experience.

A minor disagreement over an equity stake in a small local enterprise (an issue that likely could have been argued and settled in about two weeks) was approaching its four-year mark when I finally said "enough," picked up the phone to directly call my adversaries and got agreement on the matter in, oh: two weeks.

The problem, of course, is that we had leeches involved in the process; aka lawyers. Four years of trading fax's and phone calls, struggling to come up with jointly convenient calendar dates and a complete unwillingness to even come to a competent understanding of the basic issues of the case had this thing looking like it could easily go another four years until I decided to blow the whistle and end the madness. Naturally, invoices were generated all along the way for this useless activity, and my team of leeches still had the nerve to hold their hand out at the end for their full cut of my award settlement --- the one that I had ended up negotiating.

The whole system is plugged with this incompetence and systemic theft (yes; I consider it theft). As long as there is some sort of motion and activity, this transfer of wealth keeps rolling into the checking accounts of a profession that is delvering more harm than good to the greater society. Then we get into the concept of frivilous suits and the basic legal tenet of chasing the deepest pockets...

Nothing could highlight this aspect of The Great Scam better than the final civil matter concerning the Ethen Allen tragedy on Lake George in 2005, where a small tour boat capsized and sent twenty elderly visitors to their drowning deaths.

Still unresolved is the claim that one of the causes of this vessel's overturning was because a wave from the larger tour ship the Mohican, on its usual journey that it had been undertaking for several decades, knocked it over from several hundred yards away.

Why the owners of small crafts that were in much more closer proximity were not sued has an obvious answer (see the deep pockets thing). But how about the individual passengers on the Mohican? Rumor also has it that a couple kayakers were seen in the vicinity, does anyone know who they are? Don't be surprised to see just this type of action in the future, if there are no statute of limitations preventing it.

Let's name some names here: Attorney James Hacker of Latham is the gentleman reported to be the one adding disgrace to his profession (in my humble opinion) by acting as lead counsel to the defendanats (passengers) in this matter. Read the latest update as reported by the Free Press here.

The heros -- if there can be such a thing in all this -- are the owners of the Mohican. The usual "I surrender" on these matters is to turn it over to the insurance company and let them settle with a check of their own. But these folks are saying "screw that" and fighting back with a "It wasn't our fault, now get over it" attitude--at great personal cost and risk.

For their taking that stance, they should be applauded. Hopefully, this thing will get tossed out (but that would have likely happened by now) or a jury sends Mr Hacker away with his tail between his legs.

Better yet, let's hope that the judge then has some sort of remedy (and willingness)to punish someone for having let this nonsense delay the resolution of some unreleated and legitimate matters on the dockets that deserve a swift and proper resolution.

Somebody needs to fix this system...


Jul 9, 2010

Bring Winnebago Man to Albany!

OK, who's going to get this movie into a theater in the Capital Region? Funny ass shit, right here. Plus it's a great view of Viral Net culture.

Jul 6, 2010

Video: Panel discussion on the state of Saratoga's localized economy

If you couldn't make it in person: now available for viewing:

Here is the netcast of the recent "Local Economics of Saratoga Springs" panel discussion, as presented by Sustainable Saratoga on the Skidmore College campus June 22.

Watch it here

Panelists: James Howard Kunstler, Todd Fabozzi, Melanie Beam, David Hess

Moderator: Robert Millis

Opening Remarks: David Levesque

Viewing Guide:

0:00 Opening Remarks: David Levesque

0:45 Introduction & Remarks: Robert Millis (Moderator)

7:00 Introduction of James Kunstler
Question: “What is the state of the modern American community and how did we get here?”

18:45 Introduction of David Hess
Question: “Why is locally-owned important – and what is the math economics that supports those benefits?”

24:20 Introduction of Melanie Beam
Question: “What are the challenges in getting the buy-local message out there and thoughts on local currency exchanges?”

28:40 Introduction of Todd Fabozzi
Question: “What is sustainability and a sustainable community?”

36:10 Bullet Round Panel Question: “Is Saratoga being a bedroom community and a tourist trap a good thing or a bad thing?”

45:00 Bullet Round Panel Question: ”Should Saratoga explore a chain or formula store ordinance”?

48:30 Bullet Round Panel Question: “What specific initiatives should a group like Sustainable Saratoga undertake?”

51:55 Question for Melanie Beam: “ What products & services are overlooked as buy-local opportunities?”

54:20 Question for Jim Kunstler: “Private property rights vs new urbanist planning?”

57:00 Question for David Hess: “What local public policies can help or hurt localism?”

58:00 Question for Jim Kunstler: “Comment on Saratoga's planning and zoning policies?” (with followup by Todd Fabozzi)

60:00 Bullet Round Panel Question: “How do get real regional planning and case studies of model localized cities?”

64:12 Audience Question: “Will CDTA service help solve the parking issue?”

67:37 Audience Question: “What is the role of tech, energy sectors regarding sustainability?”

75:30 Audience Question: “Comment on our having become a market-driven society?”

80:10 Audience Question: “Local stock exchange feasibility?”

82:00 Concluding Question: “Is Saratoga weird enough?”
(with concluding remarks)

Plus, a little poetry, a little taking to task of certain city leaders, a little humor and a whole lot of wandering off topic. But it's all good....and worth watching if you can grab a leisurely 90 minutes. 'Cus it sure beats that mind-numbing TV show you're about to fall asleep in front of!


The Best Biz Strategy? Go Offline

An old friend of mine, now retired, had a pretty successful software business from the early 80's to the mid 90's. His product was a cross-industry application, and his market was local and regional, B2B.

He had some interesting policies on handling and managing his small sales team. Key was the fact that he refused to provide any of them with an office, a desk or even a telephone!

The thinking: "I don't want to see you around here. The office is for production and administration. It's not condusive to selling. Now goodbye."

The policy: "The only times you set foot in the building are: a) if I ask you to; b) to hand over a completed sale to the project manager; and c) if we're having some sort of a party."

His pack of lions (as he liked to call them) were to spend their days in one of two places: in a prospect's office or at some sort of event that a large number of prospects would be in attendance at. If any were to make the mistake of handing in an expense report that dared to list any sort of Home Office expense, all hell would break loose.

It seems to have worked: everyone made money and the company had a surprisingly low turnover rate in an industry notorius for just the opposite.

This nostalgia was brought about after having read Abby Johnson's What Startups Do and Do Not Need. Number two on her list:

- "A startup needs to have lots of in-person communication. In spite of how great the Web is for so many tasks, there is absolutely no substitute for offline communication...."

She is correct. Too often, newco's will setup shop in a fancy office, walled off from the very people they need to get to--and hesitant to lace up the shoes and go out into the real world to change that. This is espcially true of tech'y enterprises, who are often manned by founders dangerously married to remote communication technologies that are poor substitutes for the best communication forum ever designed: face to face.

As I've often said: more deals will get made in a bar room than they will using WebEx.


Here are a few random links, pointing to a variety of works that hit our eyeballs in recent days and which may be of interest:

In Ireland, a Picture of the High Cost of Austerity, the Comeback Kid of the European economy has hit the skids. Here we get a warning that the call to go into deficit hawk mode might be a bit premature and costly.

The recent G-20 Summit gave host Canada a chance to brag about its own economic fortunes. In Canada's Economy is Suddenly the Envy of the World, we learn of the best way to avoid banking excesses: MORE REGULATION! Notice, too, how both parties up north agree on that principle.

In Ending Sprawl Minus Growth , the TU's Jimmy Vielkind takes a look at the so-called Upstate Paradox.

It's not as old a dinosaur as ABC, CBS or NBC -- but CNN needs to shed its World Passed By vibe. Here are some thoughts on The Future Of CNN

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson offers up a pretty good spin on cap & trade and more inWhy Carbon Pricing Matters

In some unwanted local attention, the Daily Kos looks at how Albany area Tea Prty members are quietly folding into neo-fascist territory, in John Birch Society Speaker Rallies Teabaggers and Fewer Teabaggers Getting More Radical.

Has the Cult of Apple been delivered a black eye with the recent iPhone 4 problems. Wired thinks so in Signal Problem? It’s Just an Illusion, Apple Pretends.

In happy news: we're proud and grinning from ear to ear to see our friends Grace Potter & The Nocturnals explode into the stratosphere. Their highly anticpated new self-titled release entered Billboard's Rock Album Chart at #3 and Billboard's Digital Album Chart at #9. It seems like every TV show has picked them up, as has every music magazine and local media outlet in the cities around the world in which they are touring. It also seems like just yesterday we were enjoying their first local visit, a support slot for the North Mississippi All Stars at Revolution Hall. Here's the conquering heros doing a last minute, flash mob show in their hometown of Burlington recently. It couldn't have happened to nicer people.

(Also: isn't this reason enought to save Revolution Hall?)

Jul 2, 2010

The e-book revolution's daunting challenge

The e-book revolution is supposedly upon us. But here's the current reality, which reveals a major disconnect:


I wish to put my eyes on a copy of The Big Lie in anticipation of its author's upcoming appearance at Camp David (DND Saratoga Weekend) in August (a gathering of the east coast M&A industry's movers and shakers).

My Choices:

1. The Kindle version (e-book, delivered thru the air) is listed at $14.66, marketed as a significant savings from the new/hardcover price.

2. A Used/Like New hardcover copy of the same is available for $1.99. After S&H, it can arrive at my door for a total cost of $5.98.


Once a significant inventory of bought-read-used hard copy versions of the book are on the market, the e-book versions are at a tremendous cost disadvantage.

The e-books' current opportunity exists only during the early months of Current Releases (prior to the inventory of used copies hitting).

The e-book's future (or better: hoped-for) opportunity is when hard copy versions disappear completely. But that's a big IF; a big gamble.

We shall see ...

Either way, I'd hate to have my family fortunes tied up in a storefront book shop enterprise.