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Showing posts from August, 2008

The Token Vice President

John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his Vice Presidential candidate today. Is it a victory for women? Palin wants you to think so, as she made clear in her acceptance speech:

It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.
I can't speak for women or minorities; but as an objective observer, I can say that there is a major distinction between what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama accomplished this year and other so-called "advancements" for women and minorities in the past.

Take Colin Powell and Condaleeza Rice, for example. No doubt, they are accomplished individuals, but they serve in appointed positions in government. It is one thing for an African American or a woman to be respected enough to be appointed to a high-level position by a powerful white man. It is quite another f…

The Great College Textbook Racket

Racket, scam, gaffle, con... these are all words used at the beginning of every semester to describe the college textbook market. I'll be the first to admit: the whole system is bogus. First you have those professors who author their own textbooks, require students to purchase them for the class they are teaching, and then collect royalties. Then you have other professors who are simply getting kickbacks from book publishers if they require the publishers' books for their classes. Finally you have professors who just seem to pick the most expensive books on the market, without any regard to what their students can afford.

Let me make this clear: traditional laws of supply and demand do not apply to the college textbook market. In a market favorable to students; the students in a particular course would be allowed to collectively decide which textbook to use. They would take into account factors such as the cost of the book and its quality. They would not select books strictly b…

Pundists = Worthless to Society?

I made the unfortunate mistake of listening to some Republican pundits giving their opinions after the Democratic National Convention on Monday. One thing that I found amazing (but not surprising) was that the Republican pundits found every single strategic move that the Democrats made objectionable. Granted, I'm sure Democratic pundits would say the same about Republicans, but the whole situation confirmed how pointless listening to political pundits are. Regardless of what happens, the pundits will say it is wrong and that the exact opposite should have happened. Consider these three examples:

On Biden: Obama selected Biden as his VP and the Republican pundits object. They argue that if Obama was truly a "change" candidate that he wouldn't have selected an old Washington insider. So what if Obama would have selected someone much like himself? The Republican pundits would argue that the Obama ticket severely lacks experience and that Obama should have selected someon…

Bush Then vs. Bush Now

In June 2000, during George W. Bush's run for the presidency, this little gem appeared in the New York Times:
Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude. ''I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,'' Mr. Bush, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, told reporters here today. ''Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.'' And 8 years later... this little gem appeared in the AP wire:
President Bush on Saturday blamed the Democratic-led Congress for the high cost of gasoline and renewed his call for expanded offshore drilling to increase U.S. oil supplies... "This Congress has been one of the m…

Why Obama is a Marketing Genius

America is on the edge of its seat; anxiously awaiting the announcement of Obama's Vice Presidential candidate. For many, this doesn't mean being glued to CNN or NPR, it means watching their email or text message inboxes. The Obama campaign has been hyping the VP announcement for weeks - ensuring supporters that they will be the first to know when the news is released. While this strategy promises to make Obama supporters feel special and important, it also accomplishes a much more important marketing goal.

The Obama campaign is in the process of building a massive database with thousands (or more) names that can be utilized throughout the campaign. Whether Obama needs to respond quickly to attacks, whether he needs to push out important news, or whether he simply wants to motivate his supporters to go vote, Obama will be able to market directly to these individuals. Email marketing isn't new to politics, but the Obama campaign has taken it to the next level. It may be har…

Offshore Drilling Guarantees Nothing

One thing that has baffled me about the political climate lately is has become dominated by debates over offshore drilling in the United States. Even more baffling is the bogus logic that undermines most of these debates. For instance, it seems to be assumed that if we drill for oil off the coast in the United States, that we as Americans are entitled to all of that oil at a low cost. This just plain isn't the case. Cenk Uygur explained in the Huffington Post last month that whichever company extracts the oil will simply sell it on the world market to the highest bidder.

The issue goes even deeper, however. Think of the oil market as a giant bucket. Right now companies extract oil and then pour it into this giant bucket. The logic follows that once the US starts drilling that more oil will end up in the bucket. But wait... this is based on the flawed assumption that all other producers will continue pouring their oil into the bucket at a fixed pace. What guarantees that if the US r…

Living in a Daze

How are Americans setting themselves up for another mini-disaster? USA Today has the answer...

Car shoppers who panicked in June and July about gas prices are losing interest in small cars and hybrids as fuel prices have declined. As gas prices topped $4 a gallon for about seven weeks this summer, truck and SUV sales plummeted, and small-car sales soared. But, which attracts about 50% of people using the Internet to research their next car purchase, says research interest in compact crossover SUVs now is on the rise... the future of compact and smaller cars may not be as bright as some predict. In addition to's report, a study by consulting group Acxiom found most buyers won't look to small cars for their next purchase but may downsize in the class of vehicle they drive. Owners of big SUVs, for instance, would more likely buy a smaller SUV or crossover, not skip to a small car just to save gas.
Apparently America has already forgotten about what happened…

Car Free in America

Some folks love their cars, so much that they spend every penny they earn (and even some money they don't have) on them. Others hate cars and would be perfectly happy never getting behind a wheel. I suspect, however, that most people have a love/hate relationship with vehicles - they value the convenience but dislike the cost. Owning a car isn't cheap - AAA released a report this year that indicates the average cost of owning a car is between $7100 and $9100 per year, depending on the make and model. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that cars are the second biggest expense for average Americans behind homes and home mortgages. Is it worth it? To car lovers, the cost can always be justified; but to more and more, the answer is starting to switch to "no".

"No, it can not be done" is often the answer I get to the question: is it possible to live comfortably without a car? A recentWashington Post front page article does a good job explaining how we got where …

Paper, Plastic or Nothing?

If retailers are serious about lowering their costs, and if consumers are serious about saving the environment, an absolute no-brainer would be to alter the way we utilize plastic bags. Progressive states, like California, want to tax plastic bags, or ban them altogether; but that isn't going over too well politically. Sure, Whole Foods has its Bring Your Own Bag program, where they give you 5 cents off per bag; and sure Giant Eagle has its plastic bag recycling program. These are all good starting points, though they have their flaws. Sometimes you're out and simply don't have your Whole Foods bag or don't have anywhere to store your plastic bag until you can recycle it. What bothers me is that our current system requires you to opt-out of plastic bags, rather than opt-in. Convenient? Maybe. Efficient or cost effective? No.

Case in point: last week I bought a bag of coffee beans at Whole Foods; I figured that with just one item, something that I could easily carry home…

Cleveland's Urban Renewal

I've been thinking a lot about the theory that urban centers will be revived over the next few years at the expense of car-centered exurbs. Theories are all good and fun, but having solid evidence that it is happening is a lot more exciting. Even in rusty old Cleveland, there are a handful of urban development projects; which I've been surprised to find out that many suburbanites have no idea about. I've picked my top 5 favorite mixed-use development projects in Cleveland. A few of these projects are already under construction and a few are planned, but they all look awesome to me and a good step forward for urban mixed use development.

5. Stonebridge
Status: Early phases complete/late phases planned
Comments: The West Bank of the Flats has seen better days. Sure, there are still things happening at the Nautica Complex and Shooters, but most would describe this part of town as "past its prime". The location on the Cuyahoga River…