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Kill apathy

When I was on the city council I was amazed that when I would share stats that people did not know about them already.  I can’t tell you how many times during my election that I was asked who else is running.  I chalked it up to apathy.  People just don’t care or are too lazy to take the time to get involved.  After watching this TED Talk about apathy, I have a whole new perspective.

As you know, I love me some TED Talks and I usually only share the ones that hit home for me. I have sent this to the mayor and city council of Danville.  This video is only about 7 minutes long, but is very visually based.  If we want to make Danville a better place, we need to share great ideas like this video.  For more TED Talks, visit their website at TED.com

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Dan Ariely on TED

I found another TED talk that is worth sharing. This one is by Dan Ariely. He’s a faculty member at MIT. His talk is about “Why we think it OK to cheat and steal (sometimes). He shares his insight to the recent round of wall street woes. It’s 18 minutes, so grab a cup of coffee and watch away.

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Thanks, Jon Stewart

Jim Cramer of Mad Money fame came on the Daily Show to “defend” his network. As you can see from the video, he puts up very little fight because he’s got no backing. They missed the boat. Stewart asks the question that I have for years about CNBC, “Why do you take the word of the CEO’s at face value. Your job, as financial reporters, is to do some other work to verify this info.” I think he sums up the frustration of everyone with part 3 of the interview.(To set this up, at the end of part 2, Jon showed a clip of Cramer talking about how to easy it is to manipulate stocks based on rumors.) The whole thing can be seen here.

I have never been a fan of Jim Cramer, you can ask any of my clients. I watch/or listen to CNBC on occasion to hear the headlines. However, like Cramer points out, they have 17 hours of live TV a day to fill. Give me 17 hours period and I will be out of material in 3. I have commonly referred to them as the Financial Inquirer. I have said for years that it’s entertainment first and financial news second.

Thanks, Jon Stewart for making legit what I have been saying for years.

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Goodbye, 2008. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Reflecting back on 2008, I can honestly say: This year sucked. It’s always a good idea the look at the positives and all the good things that have happened to you and your family. That’s all well and good, but for the sake of argument I’m going to look back on what will go down in flames as the one of the crappiest years in my life. (How’s that for being professor positive?)

Screw you, Dow Jones and your average.
When you make a living in the investment business, it’s not good to have the worst year on record for every major stock average. Seeing the Dow drop from 14,164 to about 7500 makes for a bad year. Throw in a bond market that is for crap and there you go. I have spent most of the past three months dealing with this market, so, that’s all I have to say about that.

And Leo’s getting larger….
I started to get on a diet plan a couple of months back. I was jazzed about it and even wrote a blog or two. Then stress from the stock market crept into my waistline and the diet went by the wayside and McDonald’s came back into my life. Now I just have a bigger number to start from when I appear on Biggest loser next season.

Ahhhhh, my sports teams.
Indians – The Tribe was one win away from the World Series in 2007. Whoever won the American League was going to roll over the Rockies. The Indians managed to blow a 3-1 series lead in the ALCS and lose to Boston. C.C. Sabathia won the Cy Young award and things were looking good for 2008. Injuries, bad pitching and other excuses lead to a 81-81 season. We spent most of the season in 2nd to last place. Our bright spot was that Cliff Lee won the Cy Young this year. So, it’s December and we are still without a closer, a healthy, power-hitting DH, 3 spots in the rotation are up for grabs and we don’t have a 3rd baseman. Needless to say, I’m a little concerned for next year.

Cowboys – After expecting the Cowboys to run the table in the NFL this year, they sit at 8-5. Tony Romo was hurt, the team is still learning that NFL games are 4 quarters, not 3 and they still have the train wreck that is T.O. So, the Cowboys will be enjoying the playoffs from their couches this year.

Salukis – The football team had another good year, but was bounced from the playoffs in the first round. Our basketball team is average at best and missed the NCAA this past March after going for the previous 6 years.

So, I’m fat, work is tough and my sports teams stink. Seems like a thin reason to call it a bad year. I still have a beautiful, wonderful wife. My son brings a new smile to my face everyday. I have the love and support of my family. Most of the things that I am ready to flush are out of my control. And what that old serenity prayer say? “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. So, c’mon down 2009. I’m ready for you.

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You missed your chance Detroit!!

A couple of weeks ago, the Detroit auto makers came to congress to ask for some cash to help their struggling companies. Congress asked them for their plan, and they didn’t have one. So much for asking dad for an advance on our allowance to buy more Hot Wheels.

What I thought was interesting about this exchange is the story regarding their travel habits. The news was that the 3 CEOs came to Washington via private jet. Not 1 private jet, three separate private jets. Each flight costing $20,000 for the round trip. The comparable flight on a commercial airline would have been about $750 dollars.

With all the outrage from the public regarding executive compensation, you would have thought these guys would have maybe thought about this. Its tough for the american public to sympathize with you guys when you spent $60,000 on a day trip to Washington to ask for $25B in taxpayer money.

Missed the Oportunity

What could one of them done to look like a hero? Assume the Ford CEO, Alan Mulally, gassed up a new 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid and headed out for the 8-hour trip to DC from Detroit. As the news story breaks that the other 2 CEOs flew their jets, Ford’s CEO pulls up to the hearings in his shiny hybrid. When the microphones are shoved in his face, he quotes, “I didn’t think it would be right to show up and ask for help after flying the corporate jet. Besides, the Ford Escape is one of the best cars for highway travel with an estimated 34 mpg.”

He could have been a hero and great salesperson. That could have been the story. The book is closed on what “could have been.”

So, today the big 3’s plans are due to congress and Mr. Mulally is driving to DC and the other 2 are flying commercial. Sorry guys, you only get one chance to make a first impression.