Thursday, April 30, 2009

Let the Big 3 automakers go bankrupt: then see what's left

Rumor has it that the United Auto Workers and the US gov will own GM. UAW gets 39% and USA 50%. If the thought of the Union and the US gov running GM isnt scarey enough for you consider the following. The UAW has bargained with the big 3 auto makers as a unit - basically, the UAW was a union monopoly. The big 3 had little choice but to "bargain" with them. then came the foreign car imports. GM and UAW knew they couldnt compete cost wise, so UAW and big 3 agreed to employee buyouts, some closures. UAW protected the most senior members. Foreign imports cost about $2000 less a car than GM, ford or Chrysler cars, so they couldnt make money on cars. but the gov has a 25% tariff on imported trucks, AND, the gov didnt count passenger trucks as cars that had to meet mpg fuel standards. So, the US gov made a deal with UAW, the Big 3 - make a profit from truck and SUV sales. Since the Big 3 knew they couldnt make money on cars, the quality of cars declined. Now we are part of the global economy - china plans to make suv's in Mexico and import them. And the price of gas went up, as a recession was building. the end product is that the Big 3 cars have a reputation that is bad, even though the cars are good - the new malibu is good, ford has some great cars too. Even their good cars wont sell now, give their past reputation, and the recession. (the big 3 once made great cars, like the Corvette split window coupe shown). The Silverado truck is still the best selling GM product. But what will happen when the UAW is both owner and union? with the US gov the majority owner?

My vote: let the Big 3 go bankrupt. At this point, the taxpayers will not get their bailout money back. Its gone. so just let them go broke without more bailout money. the more money the US gov gives them, the more money the taxpayer will lose.

The problem is that the Big 3 operated in a government regulated industry - between the UAW and the US gov, the Big 3 had little control over their destiny.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Spector becomes a Democrat - not really!

The Republican party quit Arlen Spector - Sen Trent Lott and Pres George W Bush did not treat arlen very well. Arlen thought the clinton impeachment was a waste of time, he voted not guilty, then after Trent Lott threatened him on TV (yes, it was televised without sound, Lott angry, sticking finger in Arlen's chest, obviously cursing him) Arlen voted "not proven" on the next article of impeachment. president bush treated Arlen like he had an infectious disease while battling cancer, there is a picture of bush standing away from Arlen, it was obvious he didnt want to be close to him. Then Pat Toomey is again running in primary against Arlen - Toomey just might win, many Republicans switched registration in 2008 (we are a closed primary state, you have to register with a party to vote in that party's primary)and Arlen thinks this time Toomey would win. Toomey however, is nuts, would never win a state wide race. so Pennsylvania will have another democratic senator, whether Arlen switches parties or not. Arlen will easily win re election. Toomey is destroying the republican party in Pennsylvania. The right wing conservatives, the evangelical southern baptists, have made Republican party the minority party. The republicans so called southern strategy has resulted in making the party more conservative, less inclusive. Republicans won over the southern states votes in national elections, but it has destroyed the Republican party in the process.

sleep deprivation

Last saturday I went to fitness center, ate lunch, and then laid down because I couldnt keep my eyes open. I slept for 3 hrs, had a hard time getting out of bed. I spent the weekend at home, housekeeping duties. Last night I fought with my book chapter and computer (electricity is out on campus, I had to bring printer home) finally got a draft version done 3 am. woke up at 7 am. I am stressed out over not hearing from the new york college i applied at - I thought it was a perfect match, and then I read that they have reopened the search. Bad sign. A reopened search will not find anyone out there that hasnt already expressed interest. I dont know whats going on but maybe this is a sign that I shouldnt have taken a job there. but another year in slippery rock? The electricity is still out on my end of campus, so I have to bring my CPU home with monitor, the finals exams are on that computer, and I have 150 students who need to find the new location for the final, but we cant contact them because there is no power, so we are relying on the old fashioned method of communication: hard copy. We have put signs up all over campus announcing the new location of my final. This should be another intense day. I need routine and normal sleep schedule.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Rick Warren prayed at Pres. Obama's inaugural. He thinks homosexuality is perverted, they aren't welcome at his church unless they go through some kinda homo-vaccine program. Anyway, I think it was Steven Colbert who said the name of Warren's church, Saddleback, is a perverted sex act. It is? Turns out, perverts around the world could not come up with an explanation of what sexual saddlebacking is. Sooooo, Dan
Savage, sex columnist exceptional, had a contest. The entries are here. Do not read the link if you are easily embarrassed. How did i find such a perverted contest? Dan Savage's column is in City Paper, the free paper in pittsburgh that gives movie and art and theater reviews, and also has some great local news coverage. the winner? Readers voted and the definition that won is below:

"'Saddlebacking' should be the term for the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities. 'After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she's saving herself for marriage.'

Schindler's List

I finally saw Schindler's List, it is a long movie, i think Steven Spielburg's masterpiece. My great grandfather, Isaac, was a jew, but I dont see myself as jewish, and would not be considered jewish by even the most liberal or reformed Rabbi. I see orthodox jews in squirrel hill, with their hats, their curls, and they look very medieval. A tribe unto themselves. I wonder how jews were seen in Poland, with their separate villages, their "Shtetls" - Nonetheless, i have a strange affinity for jewish people, for example, I feel very comfortable in squirrel hill, almost "at home," whenever I see a jewish temple, i smile inside, like there is some kind of familiarity. I have always wanted to go to Israel. so i guess there is some jewish DNA in me, and I get very reactionary whenever someone makes a jew joke, or whenever I hear someone blame something on jews, like 911. Anyway, I have never seen Schindler's list, because i thought "oh no, another movie about the holocaust." Actually this IS the movie about the holocaust. The transformation of Schindler was remarkable - its as though the movie presented the worst side of human beings, but then, Schindler makes this amazing transformation - no matter how horrible human beings can behave, there is always a sparkle of goodness - Schindler becomes a real "mensch" in the face of human cruelty. The end of the movie is amazing - the descendants and survivors all pay respects to Schindler's grave in Jerusalem. Beautiful. Shalom.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Igmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers

What a movie, I mean Bergman outdid himself on this one. Story is, he discussed with a colleague the "cries and whispers" we all have, about our lives, our phoniness, our fear, our existential angst. And he took it from there. Two sisters return home because the third sister is dying of cancer. She has a painful death. She leaves a diary, and in it she refers to a moment when she and her sisters were perfectly happy, when she was happy, when she had no fears about life. What was that moment? You have to watch the film. But lets say we all experience happiness when we are free from existential bad faith, when we are authentic individuals, capable of loving each other.
This film is most famous (i guess) for the eulogy the Lutheran minister says over Agnes, after her painful death. here it is, I typed it from the dvd:

The Lutheran minister’s prayer over Agnes, recently deceased from cancer, a painful death. From Igmar Bergman’s film Cries and whispers.
God in his infinite wisdom Has called you home to him
Still in the bloom of your youth.
In your life he found you worthy
Of bearing a long and torturous agony.
You submitted to it patiently and without complaint
In the certain knowledge that your sins would be forgiven
Through the death on the cross of your Lord, Jesus Christ.
May your father in heaven, When you stop into his presence
Have mercy on your soul.
May he let his angels remove from you the memory Of your earthly pain.
Should it be that you gathered up our suffering in agony Into your body.
Should it be you bore with you This hardship through death.
Should it be that you meet with God As you come to that other land.
Should it be that you find his countenance Turned toward you then.
Should it be that you know the language to speak So this god may hear and understand.
Should it be that you then talk with this god And he hear you out.
Should it be so.
Pray for us.
Agnes, dear child, please listen.
Listen to what I have to tell you now.
Pray for us who have been left in darkness, Left behind on this miserable Earth
With the sky above us, grim and empty.
Lay your burden at God’s feet, The whole of all your suffering
And plead with him to pardon us, plead with him that he may free us of our anxiety and of our
Wearniness, Of our misgivings and fears.
Plead with him that he may make Sense and meaning in our lives.
Agnes, you who have borne Your anguish and suffering so long
Are most surely worthy Of advocating our cause.
She was my confirmation child.
We often had talks together through the many years.
Her faith was stronger than mine.

When this came out in 1972 I went to see it twice with my girlfriend, just one more reason she dumped me I guess. The other infamous scene is when Agnes' sister inserts a broken glass into her Vjay (as Oprah says) as a symbol of the phoniness of her marriage and of her entire life. That MAY be why the film is so famous for some, but I think it is because of the Lutheran minister's eulogy. How Swedish ! I can't imagine the Lutheran minister who gave my father's eulogy giving a prayer to god like that - To better understand Bergman films I took a seminar on Christian existentialism my senior year in college, we read ALL of Kierkegaard. I mean every freakin book. From that course i concluded that having a crisis of faith is what faith is all about. The institutional faith, the cult like faith of some ministers (and not just Luderans, as they say in chicago) is not real faith. Kierkegaard would say that faith involves doubt, but to have faith even though you have doubt, even though you know faith is irrational, is a beautiful thing. That's what faith is: belief in the irrational, belief in something beautiful, something more beautiful than we ugly humans here on earth.

Spoiler: the happiest moment of Agnes' life? When she spent the afternoon with her sisters, playing in the yard, swinging each other on swings, an afternoon full of authentic love, absent of the pretense of everyday life. Thats it: her happiest moment, spending one afternoon playing with her sisters. maybe life comes down to that: a simple truthful moment.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Former colleagues "discover" my topic

so if I do a google on "collaborative public administration" my 2001 book "Creating Sustainable Community Programs: Examples of Collaborative Public Administration." published by Praeger, a good commercial publisher, comes right up, at the top of the search. A child could conduct a literature search on google and find it. It was a straight commission contract, I made a little over $3000 on royalities.

So my former colleagues are publishing "Real World Cases of Collaborative Public Administration" with a publisher that does only academic books. What a coincidence? My book comes up with any google search, or barnesandnoble or amazon search, it was reviewed in Public Administration Review (on which one of my former colleagues is board member), featured in PA Times, I had two panels from the book at the ASPA conference in Newark, it was on display for several years at ASPA conferences.

They are either (1) too lazy to come up with an idea for their own book or (2) clueless to what has been published on the topic of collaborative PA.

I hlope they at least give me a footnote or citation. Working with them for 4 years was the worst experience of my life, ranks up their with having a root canal at the dentist....

UPDATE: forthcoming ME Sharpe book, summer 09, "Sustainable Development for Public Administration," by two different authors, announced as "the first book to focus on application of sustainability and sustainable development theories to public administration." Again, no, mine was. Don't academicians do a simple Internet search before they announce the are the "first" to publish something? I wonder if they will give me a citation....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sen. Ted Stevens' conviction overturned

So Ted Stevens (known for his Bridge to Nowhere) has had his conviction reversed. Does that mean he is innocent? No. This guy is a crook, like so many of his congressional colleagues. He was known for earmarking and pork spending in Alaska, which is not necessarily bad for Alaskans, but is nonetheless wasteful. He proposed the Bridge to Nowhere, which was a bridge to unite an island with mainland, to promote development of the island, which is not a bad thing in itself, but the question is how much should gov spend to promote private sector development? We watched a video about the 2002 mayoral election in Newark NJ in class last night, the incumbent mayor drove a Rolls Royce, and serving in an elected office was the only source of income Mayor Sharp James ever had. So how did he get a Rolls Royce? "investments." I told the class never to vote for a politician who drives a Rolls Royce. Ted Stevens did a lot for Alaska, no doubt, but he prospered himself too, and I have a problem with politicians who see elected office as a way of enriching themselves.

Megamouth shark caught, eaten in Philippines

Just the 41st megamouth shark ever identified was caught and eaten by fishermen in the Philippines. The fish was caught at a depth of 660 feet, really deep for divers. So it must have been a bottom trawler net, a net that scrapes the bottom of the ocean. this type of fishing is terrible for the environment, because the net catches everything on the bottom, destroys eco system of ocean floor. It also catches fish and other critters that are not edible but usually die and are thrown back in ocean. then again, these fishermen eat mostly shark, so they were just trying to feed their villages. This is good example of the ethics of environmentalism - hungry villagers eat an endangered species of shark: what is more important, feeding hungry poor villagers of protecting a shark species? The shark was already dead when net was reeled in (most fish die in these bottom nets), so what should they have done with a dead shark other than eat it? Could the villagers be introduced to other fishing that is more sustainable? Do they have to use bottom nets, do they have to eat sharks? Is there no affordable and effective alternative for them?