Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP Paul Newman

Paul Newman has merged with the infinite.

We've lost him at the age of 83.

I've only seen a fraction of Newman's work, but, hell... what red-blooded American made it through college without watching "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"?

For the Ladies: I also have a firm memory of taking a class on "relationships" at UT, and talking about ideals for men and women, and the cacophony that hit the 400 person auditorium when Mr. Newman's image was presented as the ladies went a bit nuts. Well done, Mr. Newman.

There's no question we've lost one of the best who will ever grace the screen. Few actors have been smart enough to follow Newman's lead either in choice of roles or in his example for how he lived his life off the screen (the food line has been able to give $200 million to charity).

You'll be missed, Mr. Newman.

Friday, September 26, 2008

To Infinity, and Beyond...!


Sure, financial news is dire... but just as the Depression brought us aerial circuses and barn stormers, so should be turn our eyes to the fellow who just strapped a kerosene powered jet-wing to his back and crossed the English Channel.

Here's the article.

This Moment in History - Watching the Financial Crisis

It's always odd to live through a moment in the news that you realize is becoming a moment in history. I've been around the block long enough to recognize them when they crop up, I think (and getting the history degree doesn't hurt, especially once you see how these things cook up when using primary source documents in research). And, Leaguers, this story is picking up enough steam to maybe be one of those events.

And while the events of the current financial collapse won't be recognized in the same manner as, say, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, etc... it could be recognized in much the same way as Black Thursday. And you know what the big difference is between those events (aside from loss of life and the road to war)? The mistakes made along the way are amazingly clear in hindsight.

I am unsure what to make of the bailout. We're getting a plea from a government that has made a lot of claims over the years insisting that the public rush to get behind them, but its a governments whose credibility has been tragically diminished thanks to requests for blind faith (and this isn't just opinion here. I'm going off well known polls, Sunday morning show consensus, etc...) and then finding their goodwill has been taken advantage of.

Add in the idea that the government hasn't ever really reacted this way before to financial crisis, and the American public surely isn't too excited about finding themselves holding the bag (taxwise) for what's seen as nothing less than an act of hubris by people who would as soon step on them as speak to them.

The American public seems to have a feeling in their gut that the bailout plan is the wrong way to go, and you can't blame them. After all, where's the bailout for the people losing their homes? Why are CEO's for failing companies regularly receiving "golden parachutes" after driving their companies into the ground and losing their jobs? Why were the financial policies of the past few years ever allowed if anyone was aware of the potential risk? And whys hould we be expected to pay for their risk? When so many people have already lost so much thanks to participating in their risky behaviors? And it seems hopelessly mired in the notion that the financial well being of the country should be based in propping up the wealthy (and wealthy institutions) to support the trickle down effect theory of economics.

That's not to say I believe that $700 Billion should be set aside for people who took loans they couldn't afford, but I don't see the value in putting your $700 billion in fewer baskets over spreading the wealth when the institutions seem to lack the discipline to handle the money they have/ had. (Either way seems to be a dud. I wonder how historians and economists of the future will see the economic stimulus checks we got this summer. FYI: Mine was spent in Costa Rica. Viva America!)

Economists will be studying the past six years for the next fifty. And, I assure you, we'll do it all over again in my lifetime when another generation is running things, doesn't know their history and believes the people in their same jobs of a few decades back were merely fools who couldn't handle things the way THEY can.

In a way, we sort of know what will happen if the bailout doesn't happen. We have a major financial crisis and have to hit the reset button. And while it will surely hurt many, many people, its something that may serve to force our economy into a natural equilibrium. Joe Average on the street has no faith in the companies who have failed in the first place, so why would we give them $700 Billion again (whether that's how the administration looks at it or not, it's our dough...)? In short, if we think we're about to bottom out, anyway, why go further into national debt throwing good money after bad?

Frankly, I'm a bit stunned that this plan came from the White House. But if I were an outgoing President, I wouldn't be too keen on letting the end result of eight years of my economic policy being financial collapse of the US, either, I guess. So I'd be looking for some stopgap to try to keep that from happening. Nobody wants to be remembered as going down in flames in the same manner as Hoover.

Whether right or wrong on this bailout request, unfortunately the current administration has burned through its goodwill and claims of wise leadership (I guess they call it political capital). Which is another lesson in government to you future leaders of America. Sooner or later you might actually need for people to get behind you on something, so you better not waste and/ or drop the ball on the first two or three requests.

Part of me wonders if Bush did more harm than good in going begging to the public for their support instead of leaving the idea of the bailout as more of an abstraction without a face.

Part of why I'm writing this post is that LoM might be your daily bit of goofiness, but it's also got a multi-year archive at this point. So it seems a shame to not mark some of this stuff for posterity for myself. Especially if I suspect that events as they unfold will be part of our national narrative. So I can see if I was right or wrong in my predictions, and see how what I was thinking about the news as it unfolded.

So, yes, perhaps a bit selfish, but I hope it'll have some value for me in the future.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back from New York

Things I learned:

1) In New York, every two blocks, you are in a new town. We stayed in Great Neck, but worked in Manhasset, two miles away. This is all left over from the great days when, I guess, these were smaller towns run by people in tri-corner hats. But its weird to someone who grew up in the wild, wild west where we call areas of that size "a neighborhood". But people are dead serious about those being whole different towns.

2) Morgan Spurlock, or a guy who looks just like him, is taller than you'd expect. I think he was on the plane with me from New York to Austin.

3) Break it down with your team regarding polite amounts to spend vis-a-vis the costs of items on the menu when the client is paying. Nothing so sinking as seeing someone ordered the @#$% lobster.

4) I am too old and tired to go into the city to rock out with the rest of the team. But not old enough to care if they get lost/ arrested/ whatever... when they go off to the big city.

5) The reason the older airlines are failing is because JetBlue provides better service to the plebes like myself who fly coach, as they have nothing but coach seating. They've given everyone more legroom (noticeably more than American, I'd say), and don't spend their time reminding all of us in coach that we are not Platinum, Elite, or whatever else special group. They don't charge for the first bag. Or a drink. Or a bag of (good) chips. AND, there are little TV's in seatbacks with satellite TV. Which leads me to -

6) You can watch Animal Planet with the sound off and still get the basic idea. Also, baby walruses are very cute.

7) There is nothing better for airplane zoning out than This American Life on your iPod.

8) There is no such thing as a New York accent that is too over the top. I need to return to New York on a regular basis so that when I think characters on shows taking place in New York are acting a little wacky... it is as real as the big-haired Texas lady with the ridiculous drawl.

9) Nothing is more awesome than a 20-something hustler cab driver trying to make it in a tough, tough town. He was wearing a suit. To drive a beat-to-hell cab. We all LOVED that guy. And, you know what, he's going to make it. But I am not joining his pyramid scheme operation as the Texas branch.

10) I learned how to use my phone as an alarm clock for the first time. My hotel had this iPod Charger/ clock radio thing that seemed just too complicated for my blood.

11) Sometimes you get off the plane, and Kevin Bankston is just hanging out in the airport waiting for his ladyfriend.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blogging from Great Neck, New York

Hi Leaguers.

I am tired as heck. After Jamie's day Monday, traveling and corraling my crew yesterday, having an intense but (and I'm not just saying this) highly, highly productive day today with my team and our client/ partner team, I am bushed. And it's 8:30 central time.

I'm really impressed with this area. I could never afford to live here, but it's really lovely. Sort of like an overpopulated small town with a whole lot of name brand shopping, nice homes, nice storefronts, and some seriously pricey cars.

I feel a bit out of my element, but have had two great dinners in a row (both fish, while I can take advantage. I love fish.), and had NY pizza for lunch.

I think I actually eat more sensibly when I travel. If I lived on the road, I'd be in much better shape.

One interesting thing I'd forgotten about NYC, is that you forget living in Texas that not all women are blond. I'm not sure how natural all of the hair color I see actually is, but not everyone is blond.

Obviously I don't dislike blond (note: the wife), so its just an observation after living in Texas and Arizona.

But people are also a lot thinner here. I'm a whale in Great Neck. I miss my fatties in Texas.

I miss Jamie. And the pets (in no particular order). And I'm looking forward to getting home.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Week

This week is going to be pretty nuts, so if posting dries up, I'm going to ask you bear with me.

As you might have read at Jamie's site, she's undergoing some testing tomorrow. So... Monday is going to be highly unpredictable.

Then, Tuesday - Thursday, I'm traveling for work. So, I'm going to be pretty seriously out of pocket and busy with clients and co-workers.

Sorry about this. Posting is possible, but by and large... its going to be pretty quiet at LoM.

I was planning to actually post tonight, but I'm pretty tired, and I didn't have much to say, anyway. I'm sure you saw the Texas and Cowboys scores.

So, I'm off to get some rest.

In the meantime, it's election season, so here's Charlie helping Dennis run his campaign for Comptroller on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia".