For any subject, broad brush analysis doesn’t let you see all there is to see.
Back when I was a baby associate with a law firm, the associates and staff got year-end bonuses. By the time I became a partner, associates were getting $1,000.00, staff something less each year.
As a partner, my ownership of the firm was renegotiated every year based on my relative contribution to profit. We also "awarded" “bonuses” to partners who had had a stellar year and would have been greatly under-compensated had they only been paid based on their share of ownership. (No one gave money back after a poor year, that was reflected in re-allocation of ownership.)
So that brings us to Wall Street and President Obama’s and our outrage at $18 billion in bonuses. Most of the companies involved had really, really bad years. But within those overall terrible results, there were people that had performed really well, made money for the company. Given the bad year, they lessened the loss.
I suppose we could say screw them, no overall profit, no extra money for doing their best and succeeding. But if that approach is to be taken, it needs to be going forward, not after the fact.
Part of the problem is the word bonus. The bonus I got as an associate was a gift. No one begrudges a salesperson getting a commission for making a sale. Is the extra compensation paid to a partner or an executive who made money for the company any different?
Saturday, January 31, 2009
For any subject, broad brush analysis doesn’t let you see all there is to see.
Friday, January 30, 2009
"State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. For necessary expenses for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, $79,000,000,000, which shall be administered by the Department of Education, of which $39,500,000,000 shall become available on July 1, 2009, and remain available through September 30, 2010, and $39,500,000,000 shall become available on July 1, 2010, and remain available through September 30, 2011: Provided, That the provisions of section 1103 of this Act shall not apply to the funds reserved under section 13001(c) of this title: Provided further, That the amount made available under section 13001(b) of this title for administration and oversight shall take the place of the set-aside under section 1106 of this Act."
This is language from HR1, the House bill that was passed yesterday. Here’s the link if you’re if a fan of turgid language at Thomas. Language a little further down in the bill requires governors to spend their share on funding education at 2008 levels as a first priority.
So, I’m a state governor and I’m figuring out the 2009 budget. It wouldn’t look too good it I cut education funding by 50%; but, times are tough, 25% is reasonable isn’t it (wink)?
Posted by Dave at 1:18 PM
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I’ve read a number of articles over the last week and watched and listened to TV and radio news.
All I read, see and hear are quotes from the squabbling pols and talking heads.
I’ve totally lost track of what they are proposing to do other than the fact that the Democrats have dropped their plan to spend a bunch of money for condoms.
Then I heard today that whatever the hell they’re going to spend money on to “stimulate” the economy isn’t going to happen in the near future – the agencies aren’t capable of gearing up and throwing away money (or wisely investing it) this year and for the most of next year.
And no one seems able to tell me just what, point by point, this money is going to do. We seem to have a more leisurely rush to spend for the sake of spending that we had last fall.
I know we need to spend money on infrastructure and that is part of Obama’s plan; but, just how is spending a good number of billions over say four or five years gong to end the credit, employment, housing, etc. crises we face now? And are we in a deep crisis? I’m told many times a day that we are. But again, step by step, tell me just what is wrong and what needs to be done to fix it.
We seem hell bent on doing something, anything, everything.
Posted by Dave at 7:21 PM
Monday, January 26, 2009
Today, and over the weekend, I’ve spent some time coordinating Tony’s wake. I’m dealing with the venue (Manuel’s Tavern – a reminder to those of you that are local – be there) and a menu. I’m also collecting pictures to put into a slide show that a friend is doing.
So, I’ve been talking to people about all of this; and, today I was asked about The New York Story. I mentioned it in the first post I did about Tony’s death and then ranted.
So here it is, with a bit of preface. I write better than I talk. Quit with the jokes. When I talk, I tend to meander. I call it color and nuance. My friends call it not getting to the damn point.
Years ago we were sitting at the neighborhood bar. I’d just been to New York for a deposition and started telling Tony and the guys about it. Tony kept interrupting me and then ragging on me for not getting to the point, “what do I care about the fact that the bellman had epaulets?” I stared back at him and said “fine I won’t tell you the story.” “OK, tell the damn story, I won’t interrupt.” “Nope, I’ll write it down and have it read at my funeral.”
Over the years it became a joke. Tony would ask what happened and I would flip him a bird. Everyone would laugh. So here’s the story. I’ll print this out and have it for the wake. So you know, I tried it out a bit earlier and Big Rick actually smiled a couple of times and laughed out loud once.
I don’t remember just what year I made the trip but it was before 2001 because I stayed at the Millennium Hotel, which was then brand new and was across the street from the World Trade Center. I got a deal - $199 a night.
One of my client’s employees was there as he was going to be deposed. We had breakfast in the morning and he was amazed at his $29 bacon and eggs.
We did his deposition and then I deposed the President of the bad guy company. We didn’t finish early enough to get a flight that night, so I got to stay another night in my luxurious walk-in closet. I planned to fly stand-by the next morning on the first Delta flight from Laguardia to Atlanta, about 7:00 a.m.
I had a wake-up at whatever time, showered, dressed and called down to get a bellman to come up as I had four or five boxes of documents. He had a South American dictator’s uniform on. Yes epaulets.
That’s the last of the story that Tony heard.
The bellman loaded the boxes and my shoulder bag on to the cart. I gave him $10, I’ve found you get better service if you tip ahead for these kind of services. It worked, as you will see.
When we got to the lobby I told him I needed to check out. “No problem Sir, I’ll be over by the door.” When I finished, I told him I needed a cab to the airport. He whistled for one. The cabby saw the boxes and popped the trunk, the bellman started to load them in. From nowhere, he started screaming at the cabby “Ya don’t throw the FUCKIN’ flag till ya put it in gear!”
I was getting in the car. I jerked my head back and looked at the bellman and then forward to the cabby who’d thrown the flag. Now in the grand scheme of things, throwing the flag would have gotten the cabbie what, an extra half a buck? I didn’t know they weren’t supposed to start the meter until they started. The bellman did.
The cabby feigned deafness. “Did you FUCKIN’ hear me? DID YA? Sir, would you mind getting out of the cab? I’ll get you in the next cab that isn’t driven by a FUCKIN’ MORON.”
This gets the cabby’s attention. He gets out of the cab and starts screaming at the bellman who screams back at him. The cabby is screaming a language that is not English. The bellman reverts to pure Brooklynese. Understanding is reached when the bellman starts to pull boxes from the trunk. With a final rhetorical flourish, the cabby gets in the cab and resets the meter.
“Yer FUCKIN’ right, ya zero that meter, ya MORON!” I gave the bellman another five, I’m not sure why. “There you go Sir, you are a true gentleman, have a good trip.”
The cabby pulled, shall we say quickly, onto the street and drove me into the just waking city. Parts of the city I’d never seen, that I’m not sure anyone has seen. All the while he yelled into his microphone in whatever his native language was. We drove and turned, drove and turned. It seemed to me that I was being taken to a warehouse for a ritual killing; and at times, my rational mind said we were moving in a northern direction and we were progressing to the airport.
Bear in mind, there aren’t any short buildings in lower Manhattan. All I saw at this time of the morning was gloom, garbage and steam, with a hint of sunlight eight or nine stories up.
Then we broke out and there was a bridge. Bridges are signs of civilization. We took the approach, got on the bridge and there in the distance was Laguardia. The cabby dropped me at Delta Departures. I paid him and tipped him. In perfect English he said “Thank you Sir, have a good flight.”
That’s it. Tony’d be saying he’s glad he didn’t have to sit through that.
Posted by Dave at 7:59 PM
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Other than on occasion, I now get my news online, even on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sunday is the worst. I went through the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times in a bit less than hour this morning. Part of my problem is that both papers, and the other sites that I read (LA Times, Washington Post, the Vegas Paper, Creative Loafing, Slate, CNN, Google News, NPR) all “print” at various times and I’ve seen what they have to say before my traditional, what used to be a couple of hours of reading on a Sunday morning. I think that was a sentence.
I could rage about the fact that the AJC is for the most part a reprint of AP and NYTimes stories; but, I won’t.
So, let me know what I can add to the Favorites/Newspaper part of my computer.
Posted by Dave at 6:03 PM
I’m laying on the couch, kind of surfing and kind of watching the Bob Hope Classic.
It just went to commercial break and there was a commercial for the “Art Instruction School.” I think they used to call it something else; but the commercial had the same little pictures for the “test” that would tell you if you had talent.
If you want to know if you have talent you can click here. Please take the test and let me know if you fail, I won’t tell anyone if you do.
Posted by Dave at 5:10 PM
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Do you, or have you ever, used a tip calculator?
My Google phone has a bunch of downloadable applications, ranging from great to funny to dumb.
Weather.com, a level that really works, a picture of a desk bell that you can tap and it makes a bell sound.
It also has about ten “tip calculators.”
10% of $27.00 is $2.70. Other quick percentages are $5.40 and $4.05. If you want 18%, figure 20% of the pre-tax bill depending on what your sales tax is, it will be close.
Who uses a tip calculator and who are all of these people that take the time to program one and upload it to Android?
Posted by Dave at 8:55 PM
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
A friend sent me an Email forward of something he got from Herman Cain, a local radio talk show host. Cain is a well-to-do retired business owner that ran for either Governor or Senator here a few years ago and lost. I’m not sure if he’s a Republican or just a conservative.
He’s interesting, I like a lot of what he says; though, like all talk show hosts, he beats everything to death.
He’s come up with a new idea, his “Intelligent Thinkers Movement.” He wants 100,000 people in each congressional district to spam their representatives on issues he originates so as to convince them to vote his way. That’s not quite the way he puts it.
I looked at his first four issues. The first is to demand that defense spending never be allowed to fall below 4% of GDP. No explanation. All intelligent thinkers are supposed, I suppose, to just know that is the perfect minimum level of spending for defense.
So… if the economy is just rolling, GDP is going through the roof, and the world is quiet, and has been, we should spend 4% because? I don’t know what percent of GDP defense spending is; but, I know no intelligent person would peg a budget item at a minimum or maximum percentage of anything.
Another interesting point, Cain is in favor of the FairTax, one of his initial four spam subjects. I’m a bit enamored by it. The FairTax is a constant in that it is about 23% of retail spending (it’s a bit more complex than that). Retail spending does not have a linear relationship with GDP. Indeed one of the positives of the FairTax is that it may well increase foreign investment in the U.S. and U.S. exports, the latter increasing GDP but not retail spending. A ready made formula for increased military spending in a more stable economic world which should mean less strife needing less military spending?
At least the Intelligent Thinkers Movement is opt in.
Posted by Dave at 7:07 PM
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I listened to most of the Inauguration today while driving for a couple of hours.
I think I don’t have a problem with having a prayer by a pastor that doesn’t believe much that I believe, he and I in our country get to believe and say what we think. But, there’s real religion and civic religion.
Reverend Warren played a game on us at the end of his prayer in the name of “Yeshua, Issa, Jesús, Jesus.” As I understand it, that’s Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish and of course English. So, if you throw a bone to Jews and Arabs and use an ethnic and mainstream pronunciation of your religion’s name for (here, I have a problem quickly describing a third of a triune deity) - pick your own, it’s OK to exclude everyone else’s beliefs (thus the long tradition of civic religion that just talks about “God” or “our Heavenly Father”).
Reverend Lowery used his prayer time to divide:
“....help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right."
I want all that the Reverend prayed for; but, the Inauguration is not the time to call out a race that helped elect the man he was praying for, a man that reached out to people of faith (and no faith) and all ethnicities in his campaign and his speech.
Maybe I’m being thin-skinned here; but, I don’t like the juxtaposition of religion and politics, especially when the religious part masks views of people that, despite their words, see people as less than equal. I know in the case of Reverend Lowery, that is a bit sacrilegious, to misuse a word. But, the Reverend is holding on to old grudges when he divides colors. Reverend Warren was apparently invited to show a willingness to create a conversation between people of good will, but with different religious backgrounds. Yet, he saw fit to pray to just his god.
Today when we celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama, a cross-cultural, cross-generational man, is not the time to pray to insular versions of god or to remind us of the ethnic sins of the past. It is the time to pray, or acknowledge, that people and their gods need to pull together.
Posted by Dave at 8:02 PM
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Richard Nixon appointed Harry Blackmun to the Supreme Court and later told others he regretted it as Blackmun transitioned from conservative to liberal views.
George W. Bush campaigned as a “compassionate conservative,” drawing moderates. He evolved to be (or maybe always was) anything but compassionate and betrayed his conservative backers on issue after issue, especially fiscal policy.
Winston Churchill said "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest." Is the same true of Barack Obama? He certainly skews liberal when he orates; but, parsing reveals something else.
He wants to withdraw from Iraq “responsibly” as does George Bush.
He is going to escalate in Afghanistan as he withdraws from Iraq.
He wants to shut down Guantanamo; but, it looks like he will do it almost as slowly as Bush was doing it.
His views on the next phase of the bailout seem more aligned with Republican views than those of his fellow Democrats in Congress.
I know I’m cherry picking issues. But, Obama was elected by a coalition of liberals and moderates acting on the assumption that we were ready socially and economically for a return to compassion. They weren’t planning on compassion hitting an economic wall at home and abroad.
I’m thinking that over the next four years conservatives will be less displeased with him than they expected to be; and, liberals will feel much more betrayed than they expected to be.
Posted by Dave at 1:10 PM
Saturday, January 17, 2009
...when you have two funerals to go to and given time and logistics can only go to one.
So, I went with a friend to the Straight Life, Church of God Pentecostal, Inc. service for the brother of my friend. His brother was actually a member of another church; but, for various reasons, the service was at the Pentecostal church.
Pentecostal people have more fun at funerals than I’m used to having. There’s a bit of sad; but, the theme is that the person who died is “gone over” and is in a better place.
We had call and response, dancing in the aisles and melodic words. Many of the latter. The man that left us, Albert, was a deacon in the church. I didn’t know him, just his brother. He was a smooth dresser and a man who could dance when the Lord moved him. The main preacher, among the many, said that when he got to Heaven on Tuesday morning, the angels announced that James Brown was there again.
My favorite part of the very long service was the preacher holding up the pamphlet that had a great picture of him on the front, the middle and the back with his birth and death years, 1936 – 2009. He announced those years and asked us what we have done with our dash. He went on to tell us what Albert had done with his dash.
All and all, it wasn’t that bad a day. A lot of people who loved someone celebrated his life. I was able to share with them and support his brother. I’ve had worse Saturdays.
Posted by Dave at 7:13 PM
Friday, January 16, 2009
I’m not much for coupons. Now and again I run across one and have the need or want for the product. I’ve had a couple from Subway sitting on the counter for a couple of weeks that I always forget to put in the car for the spur of the moment desire for a sub sandwich.
But, now having a Google phone, wouldn’t it revolutionize coupons if you could save them to your phone say with a bar code and show them or have them scanned at the store or restaurant?
I assume stores and restaurants want you to use the coupons they spew upon the world, why not make it easier to use them?
Or is this idea already in practice and I’m just behind the curve? UPDATE: As it turns out, I'm on the crest of the curve. Check this article:
and this site:
Posted by Dave at 9:18 PM
Of the novel sort. I’ve been off my literary feed for going on two years, since I succumbed to the Internet.
I read. I read fourteen or fifteen hours a day: work, news, commentary, blogs. But I’ve been off fiction and I really don’t know why.
Big Rick gave me my favorite author’s latest book for Christmas with the unstated command/hope that it would inspire me to begin again. I’ve started and plowed a bit. It is good; but, I’ve gotten out of the habit of diving in for multiple hour sessions.
What I do here is in bits and pieces whether it be for work, news, commentary or blogs.
So, I’m going to publish this, make some dinner and eat and read. I just need to get my sea legs back.
Posted by Dave at 7:00 PM
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I won't do a link, the story is everywhere.
There's a certain kind of person that just does what they are supposed to do, and beyond it.
We've seen pictures over the years of planes with their roof ripped off, landing without wheels, without a major portion of their wings. We've heard black box recordings from planes that didn't make it. Invariably, the pilots, whether they lived or died, were focused on what they were doing, calm, doing their best; the crew shepherding passengers.
Then there are the firemen, police, Coast Guard and so on that plan and practice and execute.
Together, more often than not, they save lives as they did today.
I like them.
Posted by Dave at 8:27 PM
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Georgia’s legislative session has started; it lasts for “forty” days. It will take longer than that as they mess with the clock and the calendar.
I’ve said in the past that the short term is a good thing, there’s only so much harm they can do. This year, they are further constrained by the fact that we are broke, to the tune of a $2 billion shortfall. That’s just the state, not the lesser governmental entities. They’re broke and looking to the Legislature for money. Fat chance unless the Governor or one of the other honchos is from their part of the state.
They are going to consider many of the things they do each year. Sunday liquor sales to infuriate Fermi and me – it won’t pass. Some of our representatives want to be able to kill people on a 9 – 3 or 10 – 2 jury vote. They’ll tinker with our sex offender laws so that a court next year can find their latest measure yet again unconstitutional.
They all swear there will be no pork this year. And pigs do fly.
The ugly word, taxes, is making its way into the media. Some say no, hell no! They and their fellows then, quietly, say let’s add a buck to the price of a pack of cigarettes, ten bucks on the price of your car tags (license plates for you Yankees), a quarter levy on one of the multiple line items on one or more of your utility bills that everyone complains about, but no one looks at. They know that last part.
I’ve long railed about add-on charges, be they for goods, services or government. I want to know up front what something costs. I don’t want tacked on “amenities,” “security,” or other fees at a hotel. I don’t want fuel surcharges from FedEx and UPS. If I order a coffee, I don’t expect a “cup” charge over and above the menu price. Tell me what the price is and I’ll pay it, or not.
But that’s what government does to us. It hides the ball. We know what the sales tax is. Some of us know what the income tax and property tax rates are. But it’s the little add-ons that no one pays attention to that governments have come to depend on to feed their spending sprees.
None of our state officials are talking about cutting government spending. Not that I have any say in the matter; but, that should be the first step, spend less money. If you can’t cut enough, increase taxes; but, tell me upfront: the new income tax, property tax, sales tax rates are X, Y and Z. We’ll get that right after I can buy a six-pack on a Sunday.
Posted by Dave at 5:59 PM
Monday, January 12, 2009
I just got home. I’ve obviously turned on the computer. The TV is also on displaying my least favorite Food Network star, Rachael Ray, as that was the channel on when I shut down last night.
The question is, why do women without appreciable cleavage always display it, as opposed to women who have it and cover it?
Posted by Dave at 6:35 PM
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I’m pretty good at filtering stuff I see and hear. If I’m not interested, “it” whatever it is doesn’t register on my radar.
As an example, I’ve always thought radicchio was a type of cabbage. I learned the other day (via the Food Network) that it is leafy chicory. I thought chicory was something in New Orleans coffee and nothing more.
When I was in New Orleans last month, I noticed that women of all ages wearing slacks, especially jeans, were wearing them tucked in to their mid-calf boots. Has this just started?
What does Lv Ur LG mean? I saw it the other day in an Email forward. I’m guessing “love your” but haven’t got a clue on the LG. I’ve reluctantly joined the texting world sometime after friends and clients started sending them to me; but, I can’t bring myself to use the abbreviations. U know?
It turns out that something that’s been around since the Forties just registered with me, Nutella®. Has this stuff been popular since way back then and I just didn’t know? Or is it a recent trend? Am I in at the start or as I expect, it has registered to me as it’s on its way out?
I’m thinking salad bars are due for a revival, I haven’t seen one in a long time.
Posted by Dave at 12:55 PM
Friday, January 09, 2009
We put Tony in the ground yesterday. There was only a graveside service, short and not enough for many of us. We are going to put on a wake in a few weeks. But, Tony’s family now knows how many people that golf badly, play poker badly, gamble badly and hang out at the corner bar love him. I’d put it at two to one, us, and family/family friends.
The cemetery folks weren’t ready for the onslaught but they coped.
The day had started out, for this part of the country, looking pretty good. Wednesday had brought rain. The forecast was for clear skies and something in the low fifties. That happened; but, the weather forecaster neglected to tell us that at about 11:00 a.m., the starting time, the wind was going to pick up.
I’d taken my overcoat from home and left it at the office, a mistake. We had tears from the event and from the cold.
The brief service ended. People milled about, smiling, talking, hugging. Given the brevity, we weren’t really ready to leave. I wandered around, smiling, talking and hugging, though I’m not always comfortable with that last one.
Here’s the blessing. A friend brought her daughter, a little bit of a girl of about a year and a half. She of course had no idea of what was going on, was cold and was hugging her mom for warmth if nothing else. I’d not met the young lady before, so I smiled and introduced myself. She gave me a look and retreated into the crook of her mother’s arm.
The adults among us talked a bit, me standing and she being held, in our positions. I looked at her and smiled. She reached into the baggy her mom was holding and took out a Cheerio. We were close enough that I only had to lean my head forward a bit to receive a bit of non-religious sacrament.
I backed up a bit and she reached back into the baggy and got another piece, holding it out. This time I got my Cheerio by hand, both of us smiling. Something or someone else got her attention and our moment was over.
All of your comments this week were also blessings.
Posted by Dave at 6:44 PM
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Just how is it that we are going to run a $1.2 trillion deficit for the near term future?
Posted by Dave at 8:22 PM
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
The title of the picture, sent a bit ago from Dennis, includes all the words.
The back story:
Tony does not recognize territorial rights. If a couch or a chair was occupied and is briefly vacated for a call of nature, it is his. That explains his laughter and my expression as I returned to reclaim my half of the couch.
He also steals lamb chops if you leave the table at a restaurant.
I'm still in my present tense phase.
And, I know, that's me. The beard is gone, just about the time of this picture as the color was not changing for the better. Hedy, tell them, I don't look this bad.
Thank you all for your really great comments on the last post.
The genesis of this post was earlier today when I, rather than working, searched my pictures and sent some around some to friends. It caught on and this picture is from the third round back to all of us.
I'l stop this soon, just now, work with me as I work though this.
Posted by Dave at 7:39 PM
Monday, January 05, 2009
The nicest one is The New York Story. The worst is God Sucks.
I’m going to start with the second.
I don’t have a lot of friends. I’m not saying I want a lot of friends, I’m picky. But when I pick…. God decided last night that I don’t need one of my friends. Who is He or She to take him at 47?
He tolerated my early inability to play golf. He never laughed. That’s not totally true, he smiled with an evil look when I screwed up; but, he kept playing with me until I got to the point that I wasn’t terrible. Then he’d give me hell if I screwed up.
On the subject of golf, we were playing a few years ago with some heavy dew on the ground, he was driving, down hill, and slid. The slide sent me about ten feet in the air. Once he and our friends found out I wasn’t dead, they laughed at me. Our friends on that day were Big Rick and a guy you’ve not heard of here, other than tangentially – Dennis. My gone friend is Big Tony.
There's lots more, and I may write about it. Right now I'm crushed.
We, absent him, met for a bit at the neighborhood bar tonight, a mini-wake. I’m not sure what, and when, is going to happen. I’ve spent the day doing. Doing has allowed me not to think too much. Now I’m thinking.
I’m thinking that if there’s a Heaven where we know each other, when I get there, he’ll yell “articulate” or “yeah” (among several ways he answers his phone – until I want to - I’m not using past tense) and show me to a really nice course.
I’m not going to do the New York Story now. I’ll save it for later. I know we all die; but, why? Really, why?
I’m not at all happy, I know, this stuff happens. Damn it, why?
Posted by Dave at 8:23 PM
Sunday, January 04, 2009
I was doing year-end billing Saturday, after having to Email the vendor to get the program to work, the third time it crashed. Stupid me, I quit just before ending a bill to a client. This morning, the program opened but wouldn’t do anything. I spent about an hour and a half finally getting it to print what I’d done. I then did a Word bill for the rest of what I charged.
I still have three more bills to do; and, no program, other the piece of ^%&#% that doesn’t work to create them. In comparison with legal billing software, Microsoft at its worst is a wonderful company with wonderful programs.
Posted by Dave at 5:20 PM