Today RR has belatedly established a link to the Ooga Labs Blog that is the online voice and vision of James Currier. To you people of my generation, James is an exemplar and phenom of the young 21st century. He is a recognized and successful dotcom entrepreneur popped from one of the east coast’s elite leadership mills. The man is educated, smart, brilliantly instinctive, a deep thinker, loving husband and caring father, … well, at this point it gets a little overdone no matter how true it is. Let me just say that he’s also good looking and has a great singing voice. Oh, and did I mention that his educational pedigree lists degrees from Exeter, Princeton, and Harvard. His ideas are not to be trifled with, and if you do decide to debate him, don’t show up at the gunfight with your pocket knife.
The “yellowdogs” piece has generated a lot of back channel chatter. Russ Steele posts one correspondent’s contribution on NC Media Watch. Here’s an exchange from this morning with Phil from New Hampshire who lets us know that we in Nevada County are not alone – yellowdog hails from a prolific family and has cousins all over the place.
Hi, George, Just forwarding along Kurzweil's most recent optimistic view for our energy future just in case you are too busy getting yourself beat over the head and run out of town in your wheelchair dragging your trailer full of money behind you, to have caught his latest newsletter. I am sorry to have to admit to you that I have had one of those wonderful laughs reading the "yellowdog" saga. His letter to you re: the backwater town is priceless. And don't think for a minute we don't have same exchanges here in Bedford, NH between some of our more priceless citizens. It's absolutely great. I hope my enjoyment of it is not offensive. Perhaps it's rising to the seriousness of the Hatfield&the McCoys. I hope not. Take care of yourself and of Joanne. Voila! Phil
And my response …
Good morning Phil – Thank you for the good words, and it did occur to me that our latest hoorah is probably repeated in many places across the country. The problem of the ignorant disaffected is, however, real enough as I’m sure it is in Bedford. You now see how our local paper in its desperation to seek circulation is creating these little dust-devils by also seeding the comments of its online edition with unregistered correspondents which can only be insiders – e.g. ‘General J’ is most likely our anonymous editor talking to himself. Laughing at this is good medicine for all of us, but I hope that in the longer run the debate will generate more than a giggle before our short attention spans lapse into the next outrage du jour.
As a lifelong technician I have witnessed the downfall of America’s interest in maintaining a cadre of wealth generators coming out of our schools – and in my small way I continue to spread the alarm (e.g. here). Today our higher centers of technology and science mainly educate students from overseas who are taking courses in how to eat our lunch. We make it difficult to for them to stay here and help us make the lunch. Calls to change, as the one below disseminated by the Association for Computing Machinery, go unheeded. Any high school teachers reading this should strap an appropriate notice on the walls of their school.
Gates to Students: Consider IT Careers eSchool News (02/25/08)
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates says the widespread shortage of information technology graduates in North America is forcing Microsoft and other software companies to look to developing countries such as China to meet their needs. "When we want to hire lots of software engineers, there is a shortage in North America--a pretty significant shortage," Gates says. Speaking at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, Gates told students that IT workers are in high demand and urged students to consider a career in IT. Gates criticized the United States government for its strict adherence to the H-1B visa and argued that there should be a free flow of talent going into the United States. He said if there is a bright person who wants a job it should not be difficult to cross a boarder to get one. Gates also recalled when he want to college in "the Dark Ages" and learned about computers on his own time, and told students how lucky they are to be learning during this period. "Fortunately for all of you, you're in a generation where all of these courses are going to be online and basically free," Gates said. "I'm taking solid state physics from MIT, though MIT doesn't know it." Speaking at Carnegie Mellon University, Gates predicted that people will increasingly interact with computers through touch and speech rather than with a keyboard, and said that software is proliferating into different branches of science such as biology and astronomy. Gates said that researchers have to manage so much information that the need for machine learning is absolutely essential.
Solar Power Will Rule in 20 Years: So say a panel of experts and futurists who see the confluence of two of the big three ‘Singularity technologies’ bringing about this milestone in human history. Ray Kurzweil pointed out that the sun bathes us with 10,000 times more energy than all of us can use, and it will be the rapid advances in nanotechnology and machine intelligence which will make harvesting this energy possible at an ever increasing rate. Investors, prepare for a massive sector shift. Activists, don’t screw things up by pushing the dufuses in Congress to hinder this through the joys of socialism. More here.
Desktop box outdoes medicos on another task. AI is advancing so fast that every month new applications in diagnostics, prognostication, and treatment design are being developed that out-test human physicians. These are quietly being incorporated into the healthcare industry. The future here looks very bright and soon we may even see the death rate from medical mistakes start going down (now almost 100,000/year, but don't tell anybody), and perhaps, just perhaps, the lawyers and lawmakers (same crowd) will allow healthcare costs to follow suit. Here is the latest on an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Hello 'Matrix', Goodbye Outdoors: Since 1987 outdoor activities such as camping and hunting have been declining in America. We like to have our fun more virtually than put up with all those pesky insects, blisters on feet, and poison whatever on our skin. As the realism of computerized games, worlds, and, yes, even athletics improves, we may have to start closing all those national and state parks, monuments, and forests. Why drive for hours, stand in line, and then stand shoulder-to-shoulder looking over the edge at the Grand Canyon when you can sit comfortably and pilot your own flyer (F-22, car, helo, …) through and over that beautiful piece of erosion while listening to your favorite music? Have you picked out the color motif of your personal cacoon yet? More on this changing mood here.
An interesting dust-up occurred in the online Union that involved me. My rapid response is contained in the post ‘Beaten About the Head and Shoulders’, but upon reflection, a more considered response is due since the county is headed into another season of planning for economic development. The cited piece by Jeff Pelline served as a launch point for someone calling himself ‘General J’ who diverted attention from the Pelline piece. It is a good thing that this General J doesn’t pretend to be a journalist, for his charged and inaccurate reporting would earn him low marks even in today’s schools of journalism. Nevertheless below we record his comment in its entirety.
George Rebane that said at the recent county economic meeting in Nevada City that the County should cater to the whims of rich retirees and write everyone else off? If I remember correctly his statement was something like; If you don't do what we(rich retirees)want we'll take our money and move somewhere else and Nevada County can become a backwater foothills community made up of poor and(supposedly) useless people. That's the kind of "community spirit" that makes me proud. Now that was a "Chilling" presentation!
by General J on Sat, 23 Feb 2008 07:49:41 PST
My real intent here is to shine a light on the influence of the county’s “yellowdogs” – see comment from The Union below – on the hesitant planning process now getting under-way to improve or goad economic development in Nevada County. These yellowdogs (henceforth quotes understood) are ignorant yet passionate folk who mourn a phantom limb more magnificent than the one they once had.
Mr Rebane can hit the road!!
Backwater my a**, this was a great place to grow up , before the wealthy S. Cal., Bay area retirees came!!We had local businessmen supplying the needs of our community , traffic was nothing, and you knew everybody, especially your neighbors. People you could trust!!Leave your home unlocked , keys in the car in downtown N.C. or G.V. anytime. A great place to raise your family, we HAD vol-unteer firemen who gave their all without question and would be there to help anybody, anytime! They are all gone , thanks to people like Mr. Rebane!! I'll take the old Nev. County anytime, but it's long gone, and we have really no one to blame but ourselves for letting them come here to begin with!! If the local blood would have stayed in Nevada County politics , instead of letting people like Re-bane in, well, the rest is history, we didn't see it coming!!Our family had many generations in Nev. Co. , logging , local shops, volunteer firemen ,graduates of Grass Valley high & Nevada City High, Nevada Union, Football on friday nights, we bleed blue & gold, But , they are all leaving because of the attitudes like Re-bane, sad day!!
by yellowdog on Sat, 23 Feb 2008 10:11:48 PST
We find from the start that the county’s yellowdogs believe they lived in a ferociously insular region wherein they had fascist-like powers to determine who came and went – “no one to blame but ourselves for letting them come here to begin with!!” I can imagine the distress of having my tires shot out in 2002 as my wife and I crossed the Bear River bridge from the south.
Well, maybe I deserved it. I was taken to task by some strong comments appended to Jeff Pelline’s Unionarticle on emergency preparedness. This upbraiding is for what, even to me, was a lengthy presentation of my bonafides before giving some input during the recent county economic development summit at the Miner’s Foundry. I apologize for the amount of wind it took me to say it.
That afternoon the audience was filled with all the usual representatives from the county’s legion of non-profits and activists and special interest groups. There was little evidence of many for-profit employers in attendance, they must have been minding their stores/shops. So before I gave my distinctly politically incorrect input, I wanted to make sure people knew it didn’t come from someone who had never been there nor done that. But if summarizing one’s business experience - garnered over 45 years - makes people think that you might know something, then I take the “smart” appellation as a compliment, no matter by which side of the hand it was delivered. Nevertheless I do wish I could have said it shorter and was happy to see that the solicited comments from the audience petered out way before the clock did. Everyone who wanted to speak had more than ample opportunity to do so.
However, the criticism from the left about my representing the “rich” retired people is expected but misdirected. I was talking about the thousands of us in Nevada County who are retired and own our own home. We demand very few services, put down a gentle footprint, like to and do shop locally, and generously support local charities. For the simple reason that we are empty nesters and employment is no longer an issue, we are able to move very easily if the environment here turns bad. It is a reality that is often forgotten in this county with double the average percentage of older folks – we are pandered by the local social engineers, but otherwise ignored. However, to the class warriors at the meeting, anyone who is retired and owns their home is instantly a member of the benighted rich living off the backs of the poor. As such, the content of our words can be dismissed by simple attribution as a discredited source.
And so our community again makes a show of promoting economic development guided by those for whom profit and its pursuit is misunderstood, foreign, and distasteful.
(PS – Most of us whose public comments are made over our own names continue to decry the futility of dialogue with people who hide behind the veil of anonymity. In such cases it is hard to tell whether they are sincere in their statements or use the veil to vent some mood of the day so that they will not be burdened by consistency or coherence in their diatribes. Most disconcerting is that some profiles of the pen names (e.g. “General J”) used by these worthies are not even registered by The Union as required by their stated policy. How could they get around doing that without some inside connection to the newspaper? But then again, I guess "yellowdog" says it all.)
Yesterday we heard reports about Vallejo’s financial problems and that it may soon declare bankruptcy. Groups of city emergency services employees are resigning early so as to save their pensions. These dire straits are reported in other media markets (see here), our local media have yet to see a reason to report or comment on the matter. For a more complete discussion of this situation as it may apply to local governments in Nevada County, read the piece by Mike McDaniel, Executive Director of SESF.
To this observer, Vallejo’s problem seems to be the same ol’ same ol’ of government taking care of its employees. The typical scenario goes something like this. Since government deals with other people’s money (OPM) that it has the imprimatur to collect by force if necessary, there is little feedback between performance and pay. To get along, everyone goes along and ratchets employee wages and benefits at every opportunity. These become fixed obligations in the budget. The rest of the stuff, like services and infrastructure maintenance, is done with what’s left over. And if there is not enough left over to cover such needs, then they are deferred – e.g. the potholes are not fixed again this year. Soon such deferments pile up until a critical point is reached the solution to which is always the need for more government income through either higher taxes or more borrowing (which leads to higher taxes, a result of the TINFL Law).
What to do? Easy, manufacture a very visible crisis by shutting/slowing down a widely appreciated or critical government service or function – say, close the municipal swimming pool – and then pitch the need for higher taxes or a new bond issue. This process can be pulled a number of times before the voters catch on. But, hey, what can we do? We need our water, sanitation, parks, fire, and police.
We in Nevada County are lucky that our city and county governments are not up to any such shenanigans. Just recently the county declared itself fiscally fit as a fiddle, and since there is no peep from the cities (or alarms from our ever watchful media) they must be doing OK also. As opposed to the folks in Vallejo - and a lot of other cities eyeing how Vallejo wiggles out of this one - we here in the mountains are truly blessed.
TINFL? - pronounced ‘tinfel’ – is the old ‘there is no free lunch’ maxim.
I teach eighth-graders about Karl Marx's "take from each according to their means and give to each according to their needs." The teacher takes away 20 points on a test from those who got 95 and gives those points to those who had 55. Therefore everybody now has 75. OK class, will the 55 students study for the next test? No! Why bother studying (working) if it will be given to you. And what will the 95 students do? The same thing. Why bother working (studying) when it will be taken away. What will happen to the class average (the standard of living) on future tests? The average will go down. Eighth-graders understand this.
George Cull Peninsula, Ohio
And this from a correspondent in the Wachington DC area on catching wild pigs:
“Read with Caution” is the warning label on the column of blogs to which RR is consigned on Nevada County Voices. And so is the website of the non-partisan SESF (of which I am the Director of Research.) Of continuing interest are the left-liberals who deny vehemently that self-declared progressives, who overwhelmingly make up the content providers in the mainstream media, can create an industry that has no political bias. However, if a conservative or libertarian contributes a non-partisan piece to a non-partisan information outlet that by law must remain so, that outlet is still labeled right-wing regardless of the lack of any supporting evidence. In short, the lefties can control themselves to be non-partisan. But the righties, not similarly blessed, are condemned forever to spew forth only partisan output from which the unsuspecting readers must be protected with warnings and other proscriptions.
The actual political spectrum is a bit more complicated than the linear left-to-right or liberal-to-conservative. The two major dimensions of socio-political thought involve personal freedom and economic freedom. The modern left-liberals are thought to occupy the space where personal freedoms are high (moral relativism, et.al.) and economic freedoms are low (central control of wealth and its distribution). The conservative right is ascribed a region near high economic freedoms and low personal freedoms (rules for bedroom and abortion). People of the libertarian persuasion claim the area that maximizes both personal and economic freedoms. Finally the manipulated populist is the citizen stupid (not ignorant) enough to be persuaded that s/he will do best under an appropriately configured authoritarian regime providing little personal and economic freedom. The Nolan Chart here shows how these political belief systems relate to one another. A short quiz here lets you place a dot at the coordinates of your socio-political orientation.
Let's Cut Back on Spending, by Corps, in the Form of Dividends Now there where there might be some real savings. If the corporations weren't pumping out all the excess profits as dividends, it might be easier to say, "hey, that's unreasonable, and ought to be taxed." Corporations buy themselves all kinds of perks by paying dividends, including hiding where the money is going.
It's funny that 50% of teachers quit within 5 years, but CEO's don't step down until asked. Do you suppose the high wages might be a motivator for staying on? That excuse is used to justify paying thm high wages in the first place when they are hired. The rest of the world is never motivated by high wages, just the CEO's. Why if you paid those teachers who a quitting, a million dollars a year, they'd still walk off the job. by Keachie on Tue, 12 Feb 2008 13:42:27 PST
This worthy is an example of America’s “dumbth” (as characterized by the late Steve Allen) by an individual who most likely takes his wisdom regularly into the voting booth. He can identify the level at which profits become “excessive”; he doesn’t know that dividends are already taxed; he thinks corporate “perks” come out of paying dividends to shareholders; and then figures that corporate earnings can be hidden through the declared and recorded payment of dividends.
A further peek into his curious store of knowledge reveals that only corporate CEOs are motivated by high wages. And alas, he then goes merrily sailing off the cliff of reason in a jumble of words attempting to characterize the financial behavior of teachers. The unhailed benefits of a pluralistic democracy, oh my.
Lawyers Embrace U.S. Climate Practice at $700 an Hour - First create a swamp, then force everyone to wade through it, and finally, count the leaches that cover the bodies of those who are able climb out on the other side – not all will have enough blood left to make it.
A new batch of Darwin Awards were claimed in Accokeek, Maryland this weekend. The candidates were required to report to a straight stretch of in-service highway in the wee hours of the morning. There they had to assemble on either side of the road to watch two cretins in over-powered vehicles drag race. As the cars took off down the road in a cloud of burning rubber and exhaust, the applicants then had to quickly fill in behind the cars on the road all facing away from oncoming traffic in the direction of the departed racers. This would create a solid phalanx of human bodies into which the next unsuspecting vehicle driving at normal highway speed would plow. Eight of the participants received the terminal Darwin Award, thereby dutifully removing themselves from the gene pool. At least five others received honorable mention about which they will hear as soon as some semblance of consciousness returns and the hospital permits visitors.
The following came in an email from a learned friend and regular RR visitor who lives in New Hampshire. I think these thoughts frame so well the complexities and unknowns of the anthropogenic global warming and climate change issues that I wanted to share them in their entirety. My responses to specific points/questions follow.
Morning, George, Your summary dismissal from The Union blog sounds egregious and ignominious, though it certainly reflects the times, and obviously your “diverse viewpoints” did not at all fit-their-bill, and I could not tell if condolences were in order. If so, please accept them. Or locally is there an aspect of the wounded warrior here? We loved your “local dust devil on main street”.
I read your earlier writings on climate and had some chuckles at some of the responses … man, you get’m all upset, even if they don’t understand you … and was impressed by some good arguments by others. I am sending along here some of my own thoughts. Non-scientific. Sorry. And before I forget, what is utility & decision theory? **************************
Rubric: Your Sisyphean Task. Global climate change is not a “yes” or a “no”, not a “true” or a “false”. It is the natural, perpetual condition of what we call the earth’s “weather”, and our existence depends on it. But the phrases climate change and global warming have become “memes” and taken on lives of their own, so now when I hear people refer to either, I know they are referring to changes and warmings which they believe are the result of human activity and which are different from what is considered normal. I also know that they are referring to anthropogenic changes and warmings which they believe are nudging the parameters of our planet’s climate toward ever more extreme conditions and even out to the edges of those conditions that sustain life on earth. And, finally, I know that they are referring to anthropogenic pollution as the cause. Whether-or-not that is the case we don’t know, but I think it's irrelevant.
It does appear that the debate is over, but I do not believe it's over because the science is right or that an age of enlightenment is upon us but because climate change and global warming have become inextricably linked in peoples’ minds to pollution. It no longer matters whether CO2 and mercury and all their little brothers-and-sisters have anything to do with global warming. Most people believe they do. Plus, the pollution here on the ground is nasty. If there is a link or no-link, so be it. Even if a very high wall could be built between pollution and climate, even if it turns out we are dealing with normal global climate fluctuations, the clean-up needs to happen.
So the contestants can parse and deconstruct the terms and the science until the cloned and genetically modified cows come home, and they should, and someday many scientists may have egg on their faces, but in the end, sooner better than later, we will have a lot of good science, a lot of good technology, and maybe a lot of good fresh fish back in the seas.
I think at this juncture we would all do well to be reminded of Emmanuel Kant and of those wondrous hours we spent years ago trying to make sense of his categories of mind and of being humbled, and somewhat annoyed, to discover that our capacity to think and to know is not quite as infinite as we thought and that the terms of the analysis alter the outcome and that just because we can think in a certain way does not mean that we should or that it does us any good. That’s about as close as Kant ever got to humour.
So, George, I hope that this gives you a sense of where I am at on all this. Some days I am very pessimistic, and others I can see some light. My (wife), who is even more ferocious on this than I, is even more pessimistic: that our entire society and economic model are dependent on excessive consumption which in turn results in excessive energy needs which result in more and more pollution here and around the world. We do believe, however, that technology is one of the things man does well and agree with you that somewhere in the next 100 yrs, we’ll get a handle on it. A nip of trouble awaits us, however, between now and then, and even possibly an unforeseen thing or two.
Hope this finds you well and ever embroiled. Ne perds pas la foi.
Re my dismissal from The Union’s blog – thanks to friends and readers like you, I am in no sense the “wounded warrior”. I hold the hope that after some period of purgatory, I will again be admitted into their dominion of light – but there is, of course, no guarantee since I’m not sure that they have yet properly assessed and digested all my sins. The newspaper is going through a difficult transition, and we independent bloggers are definitely seen as loose cannons, no matter which way our muzzles may point. I have kept a civil tongue in hopes that such contrite behavior will bear on their better natures.
This used to be the bawdy definition of ‘divorce’, but now, alas, it will have to do double duty for Social Security as well. For those of you not yet retired or close to retirement and paying in to Social Security, be prepared for (drum roll please) The Entitlements Meltdown. TEM is a certainty since to maintain promised payout levels we would all have to be taxed at rates between 50% to 80% according to Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff.
If you consider this to be a slim chance, then Plan B is for the US Government to say ‘just kidding’ to you younger workers by citing the 1960 Fleming v. Nestor decision of the Supreme Court, to wit – the government has no legal obligation to pay the worker because the worker has no legal right to Social Security – entitlements are not a contractual obligation like other government securities.
Add to all this the fact that, as David Brooks of the NYT recently reported, “the U.S. government has $43 trillion in unfunded liabilities, or $350,000 for every taxpayer. Standard & Poor’s projects that in 2012, the U.S. will lose its AAA bond rating.” , then you begin to get the right perspective here.
I say ‘begin’ because the unfunded liabilities story doesn’t end there. States have an additional layer of unfunded liabilities waiting for future taxpayers, and then we have your local county and city. Our Nevada County governments currently have visible unfunded liabilities in the order of $50M for just government worker pension benefits. (For an up-to-date report on this visit SESF.) Other layers are waiting to be added.
Recall that the federal government gets money only through taxation, borrowing, and printing the stuff (called fiat currency) – the latter two go to make up the ‘invisible tax’of inflation. From here on out your dollars are going to be protected only to the degree that they are backed by a healthy and growing economy abetted by a fiscal (taxing and spending) policy that keeps investors investing. When investment stops, then look out below because Santa Claus resigned some time ago.
Super Tuesday in Nevada County – Take Two On 7 February 2008 The Union published a glowing piece on Mr. Gregory Diaz, County Clerk-Recorder, and how smoothly and competently the county’s election was conducted. This is available here. Hints of an alternative view began to emerge almost immediately. The YubaNet had a reporter at the Rood Center and filed this report on YubaNet.com. Hopefully we learned a lot this time around so that when reporting the June election we will see The Union and YubaNet flying in a tighter formation. (For the record - Mr. Diaz’s daughter Angela Diaz is an employee of The Union.)
For Your Offline Friends – Remember those who scoffed at putting a telephone into their house and thought the tin lizzies were a passing fad. Well, neither do I. But I recently read and now cannot find a short little thought that went something like this –
Those with no access the internet wake up every morning into a world with yet another light turned off.
‘Creative Capitalism’ was proposed at Davos by Bill Gates who intensely dislikes (I hate the word ‘hate’) Bill Easterly’s ‘White Man’s Burden’ on the follies of western aid to the third world. Like Soros and Buffett, Gates has now joined the enlightened billionaires club, and seeks to remake the world into a place where people get to their levels of wealth only through the power of the bayonet. In a 7feb08 WSJ article New York University economics professor and former World Bank economist Easterly writes –
The number of poor people who can't afford food for their children is a lot smaller than it used to be -- thanks to capitalism. Capitalism didn't create malnutrition, it reduced it. The globalization of capitalism from 1950 to the present has increased annual average income in the world to $7,000 from $2,000. Contrary to popular legend, poor countries grew at about the same rate as the rich ones. This growth gave us the greatest mass exit from poverty in world history.
The parts of the world that are still poor are suffering from too little capitalism. Foreign direct investment in Africa today, although rising, amounts to only 1% of global flows. That's because the environment for private business in Africa is still hostile. There are some industry and country success stories in Africa, but not enough.
And in response to the state being the central planner of human economic activity –
Much research suggests that "picking winners" through government industrial policy hasn't worked. Winners are too unpredictable to be discovered by government bureaucrats, much less by outside philanthropists. Why did Egypt capture 94% of Italy's import market for bathroom ceramics? Why did India, an economy with scarce skilled labor, become a giant in skill-intensive IT and outsourcing? Why did Kenya capture 39% of the European market in cut flowers? Why did tiny Lesotho become a major textile exporter to the U.S.? Why did the Philippines take over 72% of the world market in electronic integrated circuits? Because for-profit capitalists embarked on a decentralized search for success.
• This from a correspondent. Hard to believe that this will actually become a reality, but stranger things have happened.
“5 million of our older Americans have not signed up yet for their Medicare, Part D, drug plan------they are old and confused.
We are NOT going to grant them an extension.
However, 12 million illegal aliens are in our country and we are going to allow them to stay, protest, procreate, receive support monies, attend schools, avoid paying income taxes, have our teachers take 300 hours of ESL(English as a Second Language) training at our expense, etc.”
• Thomson is selling the GV tech center site as reported in the breaking story from Russ Steele's NC Media Watch. While other reasons are possible, our political leadership should take the most likely interpretation that Thomson is preparing to pull stakes. This is a bad time to be selling any real estate, and if leaving is not a viable alternative being considered, then there would be no reason not to hold on until the market improves. Thomson is a multi-national electronics giant for whom cash from a crash sale should not be a critical part of their plan forward. There should be a full court press on the county’s part to discover the true reasons for this and consider them seriously as we go forward (some day) with our own economic development plan. Stay tuned to Russ as he ferrets out the substance here.
The Union turned up the screws a mite this morning and threw me off their blog – here is Jeff Pelline’s post.
Misuse of blogs 10:16, 2008-Feb-8
From the two Jeffs and Tom Harbert, our Web editor: Our blogs are meant to let people comment on issues of the day. In some cases, we find this mission is being abused, such as posting a blog that only provides a single link to a Web site. This is not the purpose. We'd also like to remind people that our policy for commenting includes that you remain on topic and there are no personal attacks. Here is the full policy: http://www.theunion.com/article/20070308/MISC12/70308006 Thanks for reading The Union.
(JeffP didn’t have to send me a warning email or comment, but he could have.) I had posted links to the DA office move articles on this blog, and such naked cross-linking from that newspaper is considered detrimental to The Union’s survival. This, of course, is counter to the entire direction and momentum of today’s internet communications. As the readers of RR know, I cross-link to The Union at every opportunity to provide my readers complete and easy access to references and source materials. A prime reason to not comment on controversial issues on the newspaper’s blog is that their text editing and HTML software is next to brain-dead, and besides one can not tell which entries are allowed to live for how long. Witness the recent removal of the comment about a meeting to discuss the paper’s editor that is to be held this Sunday. You can still see it on RR here.
I am saddened that The Union will not join the growing web of information and comment that the internet enables through bloggers like me (and NC Media Watch, Light on Nevada County, NC Focus, …) and other special information sites like YubaNet.com and NC Voices. I will continue to lobby Jeff Ackerman to abandon this paranoid and insular policy to become the county’s sole legitimate source of online information. I believe the newspaper can have a new and productive life open up when it accepts the realities of 21st century connectivity and communication.
I also wonder if there is a compromise policy that allows cross-linking between the newspaper and other local information sites that does not pose the threat I apparently did. I will go on cross-linking to The Union so that my readers can continue to easily surf the web. On the web Rebane’s Ruminations claims to be neither The Final Destination nor the Burning Bush of Goodness and Light; it is simply meant to be an informative and, hopefully, enjoyable waypoint on the Reader’s daily online experience.
I invited Jeff to correct and/or expand on my 'Hanging Chad' post regarding the DA office move. The following is from Jeff's email that I received this afternoon. ============
Good seeing you today.
No other shoe to drop really. We asked questions that needed to be asked. To be clear (and you may use this in your next post update), here are the questions:
1. Last August we (and others) were told the building’s use would be “retail (downstairs) and residential (upstairs).” Tintle said at the time that he had some retail businesses, “already lined up,” but did not disclose details. There were no initial plans to have office downstairs and that all of that space would be reserved for retail, generating much needed sales tax monies.
2. The BOS approved the lease essentially the same week it eliminated 9 positions in the Building Department, amid more concerns of a continued economic downturn. We questioned the timing of that. We also questioned the price, since it did not appear that the owners had a long line of folks waiting for the space. Where are those retailers Tintle had lined up?
3. We also questioned the relationship between the building’s partners and the elected BOS members who have been openly endorsed and financially supported by the “landlords” of the property they were approving a long-term lease with. Are you really suggesting we should not be asking those questions?
4. Finally…after having lunch with the DA, we walked down to the building for a tour. I could not help notice how much work had already been done to get the DA’s offices ready to occupy. I have been involved in several multi-million-dollar building projects and can tell you for certain that much of that work had been done BEFORE the BOS voted to approve the lease agreement. Rubber Stamp? It sure makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I always thought you got approval first and then started putting up the walls.
This newspaper NEVER suggested the DA didn’t need better digs, by the way (although we suspect it will be a LONG time before their courthouse offices are occupied). And since Nevada City is so concerned about Real Estate offices downtown, why are government offices different? They don’t generate any more sales tax than a real estate office. Remember that debate?
I just returned from the weekly meeting of our Rotary Club at the National Hotel. Today’s program was a talk by The Union’s publisher Jeff Ackerman. Jeff gave us an update on the paper’s current fortunes as it implements a plan forward in this age of the internet that is sinking many newspapers across the land. His report was hopeful and positive – pulp readership “flat”, online daily readership under ten thousand but growing.
Most folks in Nevada County know that Jeff Ackerman, through his columns and community activities, has been the gravitas of the newspaper and lent it a human touch. This has served well to balance the journalistic travails of the paper’s editorial staff.
Last week the paper published an op-ed piece that introduced the issue of the county DA’s moving to new quarters. The three salient factors of this planned move – were 1) did the DA need to move, 2) was new office space appropriate, and 3) was there impropriety involved in the selection.
The piece – under The Union Editorial Board byline - was a heavy hitter and drew a lot of subsequent comment from those who were in agreement and those who criticized the planned move. Through obvious innuendo it called into question all three factors, but especially focused on the second and the third. There it left pieces of hanging chad that implied that better locations were available and overlooked, and that the Board of Supervisors had colluded with the owners of the building in a manner that could range anywhere from cronyism to outright fraud
Well, here’s a little egg on my face. For the last couple of years I have been occasionally critical of The Union. Jeff Pelline took me to task both publicly and privately on my transgressions, finally suggesting, in no uncertain terms, that such contributions on community matters should no longer grace the pages or website of that newspaper. More than a little surprised at Jeff’s attitude, I nevertheless did pack up and go. Now Q and his/her commenters shame me for the cream puff criticisms that I delivered in my scribbles. Finally, a spade has been called a spade.
Now if we only knew where the community meeting is being held.
========= The following is taken verbatim from The Union’s website here.
Jeff Pelline's attitude 10:03, 2008-Feb-6
Well, they have censored my opinion in the forums, let us see if they will do it in the blogs too. I have an 'axe to grind' with the editor of our little paper, Jeff Pelline. His sarcasm and facetious attitude towards any among us who care to criticize his opinion or methods is extremely unprofessional. The editor of any paper is responsible to be the guiding voice, and lets the readers know exactly what positions the paper is likely to report, and through what lens their perception may be interpreted. If Jeff's attitude is any indicator of his 'lens', then I question exactly how much does he benefit our community? His lack of respect for local communities, such as his issue with the Cascade Shores debt relief, can have a detrimental effect on the interaction of the many varied naighborhoods which make up our county. In the end, Jeff Pelline will not foster a cooperative attitude in our community; he will continue to muckrake and create tension between us, not unite us, like a great editor would. Just my two cents, hope you read it before they delete it. Q
Well said This will be gone soon! He is the WORST thing that has ever happened to this community in the 25 years I've lived here.
by sunshine&rainbows on Wed, 06 Feb 2008 14:03:01 PST
Thank you sunshine Jeff has accused me of being so critical that he threatened to involve law enforcement. He seems to think I take this issue too seriously, and he refuses to address my concerns. Please make others aware of the damage his sarcasm is having in our community. We will see how much Publisher Ackerman wants to improve our county by his future actions regarding Editor Pelline.
by qen23 on Wed, 06 Feb 2008 15:26:16 PST
You might be interested... In a community meeting being held Sunday at 4 p.m. to discuss that very thing.
by sunshine&rainbows on Wed, 06 Feb 2008 16:47:51 PST
• SuperBowl Analytics – we were a mite early • More on the DA space issue in the Union • How closely do the candidates match your views?
SuperBowl Analytics – On this SuperBowl weekend Jo Ann and I will watch one of our few sporting events during the year. We only get excited when season-long competitions come to an end – i.e. World Series, NBA Finals, …, and when on the off-chance that UCLA athletes do something notable. Anyway, I ran across an interesting article on how rocket science (aka analytics) has become embedded in athletic decision making both on and off the field. In the 70s when friend Gary Irving and I were doing ‘black studies’ in the defense of our country, Gary (a former world-class sprinter) suggested that what we did for Uncle Sam could be of great profit to sports like football. We were two hotshot systems engineers and there wasn’t a technical problem in the world we couldn’t solve.
So after some fun noodling we had a portfolio of ideas and specific methods on applying high-falootin’ math and science to sports. With colored pictures and graphs under our arms Gary got us appointments with a number of coaches on both sides of the country. One, I remember, was with George Allen of the Washington Redskins. All were genuinely interested, but all assured us sports was such an intuitive and complex field that analytics would be of little use. Well, it turns out we were either too early or too easily turned away (we did have day jobs and families to feed). Twenty years passed and analytics entered sports on a full time basis. For tomorrow’s SuperBowl in this article you can read how analytics are used today in high-powered athletics.
Good article on the new DA office space issue in today’s Union here. The writer satisfactorily answers most people on the ‘need to move’ question. The matter that The Union considers yet unresolved is the Supes’ choice of the new Union Street Building. The implication by the paper and many of its correspondents is that there are better digs available and the selection job was not properly carried out, or worse, that it was done in an underhanded way to reward cronies. The Union asked three questions to illuminate the matter (see my post on this), which, until they explain themselves,in reality posited an accusation of impropriety that still stands. The final resolution of this will be to identify over-looked alternatives that point-by-point satisfy the county’s and DA’s specifications for new office space. We will try to help to resolve this shortly, stay tuned.
Finally, in this election season my daughter pointed me to a site where you can answer a few questions on issues and then be shown the candidates ranked in the order in which you agree with their positions. Revealing and lots of fun.
It's been snowing all day and all week here in Nevada County, and we're happy to be staying home huddled around a warm fire. I'm ready to make a bigger carbon footprint if it'll help things get warmer.
Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered six years ago in Pakistan by radical Islamists. Danny was an exceptional person and the journalist who headed the newspaper’s South Asia bureau. His father, Dr. Judea Pearl, a world-renowned computer scientist and humanitarian, wrote a memorial to his son to commemorate the anniversary of this tragedy. In this reflection he raises to our attention facets of journalism and journalistic behavior that bear not only on how we see the world, but how reporting can and does put its mold on the world.
Journalism is a tough profession and not everyone who gets a check from a media outlet can automatically call himself a journalist. In this piece Judea Pearl offers some important guidelines for all reporters who would be journalists. Even we commentators and ideologically colored surveyors of the local scene may find here a point or two to ponder. This short article may be downloaded here as a pdf. Download the_daniel_pearl_standard.pdf
(For the Record – Judea and Ruth Pearl are long-time friends of ours, and we are supporters of The Daniel Pearl Foundation.)