Sunday, October 26, 2008

Is Obama a Socialist?

So I just got so dern worked up over what is going on out there is the politi-sphere that I had to make my a little stand. I blasted out the following e-mail to all manner of folk in my address book, and wanted to share it with my blog readers as well. There is a 90-97% chance you probably just got this e-mail, but in case not:



Friends and Family,

Please forgive me for sending you this- I try never to send e-mail forwards. I am sending this because its actually not a forward, it comes from yours truely. I believe this is a very important election and there is a lot of misinformation being passed around. Please read carefully and pass on to your friends/loved ones, maybe even your enemies! Jesus will give you a pony is you send it to 100 friends! Just kidding, but if you think this information makes sense, please do pass it along.



An open letter to anybody with an ear to hear before this incredibly important presidential election in 2008:


Before you buy the line that Barack Obama is a socialist, consider the following:

Taxing the rich more than the middle class or the poor isn't a new concept in American taxation.

It is call Progressive Income Tax, and it had been around in America since the 16th Amendment was originally ratified in 1913. At that time, any income under $3000 ($66,297.88 in today's dollars) for a single person or $4000 for a married couple ($88,397.17) would not be taxed. Taxes on the super wealthy were up to 7 time more than those of moderate to high incomes.

So when Joe the Plumber says "it's un-American for people who work harder to pay more taxes" that statement is just about as valid as his plumbing license...


Well, just because America has embraced an evil-socialist tax model doesn't mean we can't go back to a more "Free Market" friendly tax model, does it?

The problem with that theory is this: free markets need the infrastructures and legal framework that government provides in order to operate.

Consider how the free market in America would run without the Interstate Highway System. Without easy, consistently maintained transportation routes, shipping costs would be sky-high for getting goods across the country. Items in stores would be more expensive, and people would buy less. Consumers would travel shorter distances and visit less attractions, and ultimately spend less money. The economy would be drastically smaller today had Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican, not massively intervened in the free markets with the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.

Actually, it was Adam Smith, the Father of Free Market theory himself who wrote back in 1776 in The Wealth of Nations:

"The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion."

Indeed it is built into the foundation of free market economics that the rich should bear a heavier burden than the poor in order for a market to thrive.


An important point: Income Tax rates are at an extremely low rate since their introduction in 1913. Usually rates are dramatically increased to pay for the costs of war. Consider the following:

Top Tier Tax Rate 1918 (World War 1): 78%
Top Tier Tax Rate 1945 (World War 2): 94%!!!
Top Tier Tax Rate 1969 (Viet Nam War): 77%
Top Tier Tax Rate 2003-2008 (Iraq War): 35%

Wonder why we face a $10,000,000,000,000 national debt?

Most financial planners actually expect tax rates to increase, that is why they suggest investment in a Roth IRA to shelter against future income tax hikes.

Barack Obama, the so-called socialist, is only proposing to repeal the Bush Tax Cuts, which now appear to be fiscally irresponsible. That would simply restore the top rate from Bill Clinton's balanced budget back to 39.6%.

Ironically, Regan and Bush, the great tax cutters, actually increased the tax burden high income earners:

" The Tax Foundation states that the tax cuts signed by U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, contrary to popular belief, actually made the U.S. tax code more progressive, not less. In 1980, before Reagan's tax cuts, the richest 1% paid 19.05% of all federal income taxes, and by 1988, after Reagan's tax cuts, their share had increased to 27.58%. Likewise, in 2001, before Bush's tax cuts, the richest 1% paid 33.89% of all federal income taxes, and by 2006, after Bush's tax cuts, their share had increased to 39.89%. "



So when somebody calls Barack Obama a "socialist" on the basis that he wants to reset the upper tax rate from 35% back to 39.6%, I take great exception. I get angry actually, because it a great distortion of the truth. Obama actually proposes to use supply side economic theory on a different sector of the economy, the middle class, by cutting rates for 95% of the population and 98% of all small businesses including eliminating capital gains tax on small business investments.

You know what really make me mad? John McCain isn't going to do away with the progressive income tax. He isn't going to do anything different. He is simply proposing to keep the current rates in place. Those rates haven't effectively stimulated the economy, while driving our country rapidly towards bankruptcy.

I am not an economist, and I am not a socialist. I am concerned for the welfare of America, and I can't stand to see one of its most promising leaders attacked with "words that have the form of truth, but not the substance thereof. " This is too important an election to vote with your gut, and not do some homework.

I invite you to prove me wrong. Do some research yourself:


Bush Administration's US Treasury Web Site:
http://www.ustreas.gov/education/fact-sheets/taxes/ustax.shtml

Wikipedia on Progressive Tax:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_tax

Wikipedia on Income Tax in the USA:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States

Barack Obama's Tax Proposals
http://www.barackobama.com/taxes/

John McCain's Tax Proposals
http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/JobsforAmerica/taxes.htm

Inflation Calculator:
http://www.coinnews.net/tools/cpi-inflation-calculator/

Please vote smart, and definitely vote.

God help America in our hour of need!

- Chris Reilly

Some catching up to do

Hello folks,

I still have a lot to update you on... tons really. Its coming. The whole burrito, and some sauce. Sit tight for a little while longer, I know you can..............

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Triumpant Return...

Yes folks, I am back.
With a vengance.

To blog.

Okay, before we exchange our pleasantries, before I make the massive post about how we are living in a new and entirely different city than Seattle and how my new job at a startup company is going and my several and diverse thoughts on this interesting financial and political times, before I can tell you what is about to happen, I must say this one thing, this very important thing:

I was TOTALLY right. Hah.

In the course of just a few short months, Oil has arrived at the $70 price per barrel that I was dreaming about on one of my earlier posts. If you recall, I blamed $148 oil on wall street speculators. When you take them out of the equation, look what happens- Voila! Prices that aren't artificially inflated! Uncanny isn't it? Unfortunately I am afraid that equities will behave the same way, and that 14,000+ Dow was an artificially inflated number created by leverage and financial wizardry, not serious valuations of the underlying assets. Which means it might stay where it is. Which really REALLY sucks for anybody who is trying to retire right now. Which means, among several terrible and diverse other things, my dad will have to work for several more years which may create a cranky pall over family functions for years to come. Oiy.

Anyhow, we should catch up sometime. I miss you, loyal readers. More substantial and hopefully less self-agrandizing posts to follow we can all hope.

<3 Chris

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Portland

I'm there. Awesomenesity. Yup.











p.s. More on that later

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Awesomeness insues on Capitol Hill

I had a rad time hanging out last Friday at Seattle's famous Capitol Hill Block Party. Got to hang out with my good friend and soon to be ex-band mate Pete. Got to blow him out of the water with my bowling skillz (mind you neither of us broke 100). Let's not talk about my pool skillz. Please.

Seeing one of my favorite bands in concert was super fun - Menomena. Pete turned me on to them about a year ago. With just 3 dudes on stage they made an incredible amount of sound. Check out this video that I ::heart::



But let's not forget the highlight of the evening, the incredible Vampire Weekend! Governor Chris Gregiore was there to introduce them and pander for votes. A nice touch, but it felt a little too much like Hillary making a stump speech. Neither here nor there. Vampire weekend was awesome. Very tight. They sounded just like their album which is excellent. I think they are a perfect mix of Paul Simon (I'm a fan) and the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic (I'm a big fan). If you haven't heard their stuff, check it:

http://www.myspace.com/vampireweekend

I felt pretty old being around a bunch of kids having fun, but it was a good time regardless. Just know everybody knows, Peter Jordan is a republican at heart. I won't take it back until he admits that Al Gore isn't an "extremist", he is a actually fairly moderate with extreme commitment to climate change. Admit it, and I'll take it back. Simple.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Donating your downtime


Something fun I want to share with my peeps on the innerwebs...

You can put your computer to work while you are not using it for your own uses for a variety of causes. The smart people at Berkley originally developed the BOINC platform based on their SETI @ Home project. It allowed individuals to donate their computing downtime to process the massive reams of data they collect from satellites to analyze the data in hopes of finding signs of extra terrestial intelligince among the cacophony of outer space. It currently has 2,006,653 computers in 252 countries working together to help analyze the data. It doesn't really have a measurable impact on your own computer, but it is fun to paritipate in a massive community of people working on the same project.

You just simply download the software, go through some basic setup, and let it run while you are away from your PC. Easy!

I started using the system around 2002ish for SETI@Home but stopped doing it after reformmatting my PC and kind of forgot about it. I started doing it again because there are tons of cool new projects that the platform can be used for now. For example:

MalariaControl.net - a research project focused on finding and fighting the malaria.

ClimateControl.net - helps analyze huge reams of climate data

Rosetta@Home - analyzes the way protiens fold?! Potentially huge impact for fighting disease

There are many others centered around solving massively complex math problems, crunching physics experiments, and playing crazy complex games of chess. You can find your favorite project here.

I dig the idea of my lil' old mac helping sciency types out figure out how to help people. I'm not really using it anyhow most of the time. Compute and enjoy!

Minding Manners

It has been just under a week since I made my public "meat free" declaration. For the most part it is going well. I'm not going hungry or craving bacon too badly (I always like me some bacon though...). I am blessed with a wonderfully supportive partner in Felicia, who was disturbingly ecstatic to hear about me swearing off meat. She has a huge variety of vegetarian dishes she knows how to make that are tasty enough that I forget that I am "going without". We eat really really well at home, there is always a bounty of local, organic foods, plus a bowl of ice cream every night, so I can't complain.

The difficulty of me of this whole endeavor so far is managing the social stigma that comes with not eating meat. You can see I am reluctant to call myself a vegetarian, because that has so many connotations that may not fit me or what I am doing. I actually just don't want to get beat up. Seriously, there is a hostility that forms when a group of people are sitting down to eat together, and one person is choosing to eat something different. Do they think they are better than the rest of us? Are they getting enough to eat? What are they thinking, what is wrong with the meat that I am eating? There is some kind of implicit threat that comes from eating vegetarian. It is subtle but tangible- and divides people along friendship and political lines. Its almost like the social stigma of being a vegetarian is bigger than that of being overweight...

Anyhow, in this case I am going to choose my battles. If I am on my own or with my family, I am going to continue to be pretty strict about our meat consumption. When we go out to eat, it is easy to have a yummy meal without ordering something silly like a garden burger- I would rather get grilled cheese and fries. I digress. The vast majority of the time, we get to choose what we eat without input from others, and we can choose with our conscience. I figure that will cover about 90-95% of our eating habits. However, if we are guests at somebody's home, I am not going to make them go out of their way to provide vegetarian options, or go off on some soapbox rant about the meat economy. This is an issue I care about, but I am not at the point that I am going to be an evangelist about it, except maybe on my blog ;).

There is something very special that happens when people eat together, a spiritual connection. The bible is rife with references about 'supping' together. Sharing food together is a symbol of friendship and connection. The biggest symbol of conflicts coming to a close is when enemies sit down to share a meal together. Thus, I want to respect the relationships I hold dear with friends and family and not take exception to how we eat together.

Am I comprising? Pretty much, yes. However, I feel it will help make our little stand here into a lifestyle that we can sustain in perpetuity, not just an impassioned fad. Your support in this effort is welcome and appreciated!!!!!!

A long overdue sortie


In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.
Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC), Parts of Animals
We just enjoyed a long overdue family hike. Be it busy schedules, misplaced priorities, or just kind of forgetting about nature, it has been a LONG time since we went out in the woods as a family. It actually may have been Calvin's first time in the great outdoors that wasn't the park or lake, etc. He was as excited as I've ever seen him.

Our destination was Rattlesnake lake, a quick 30 minutes out of Seattle that felt incredibly remote. There is a serene lake with a curious fishing policy: single barbless hook only, no bait allowed. To any fish stupid enough to bite on to a dull piece of metal and hang on for dear life- you deserve to be eaten. There is also a stunning rocky ridge you can hike up to in about an hour, with a trail that leads all the way to Snoqualamie falls if you are up for a 10.2 mile walk. We didn't make it up to the top of the ridge- easier said than done with a 17 month old... instead we found a fire road that nobody was on and let Calvin have the run of the forest.

We don't any pictures to share as we left the cameras and cell phones at home, just a few fun memories:

- Chasing a deer through the woods- Calvin was determined to find her and have a deer ride. No such luck...

- Finding a patch of tall silvery mushrooms- they looked delicious but we all were to scared to touch them.

- Listening to Calvin scream at the top of his lungs so he could hear his voice echo in the trees

- Getting soaking wet, muddy and massarced by mosquitoes and remembering it fondly

There is something magical about the woods in western washington. I don't know if it is the mist, the moss that hangs like beards on the tree stumps, the cool energy you feel from the plants- it makes one feel a little mysterious and nostalgic. Maybe I was just getting a little intoxicated from all of the fresh oxygen coming of the flora. It seemed to offer me a certain clarity that was much needed after a completely topsy turvey last 6 months. It was a pure joy to watch my little one romp around like it was his living room. We will not deprive him of the outdoors so long next time, nor ourselves either.

By the way, we still haven't had an official family camping trip yet. If any friends or family want to join us to help remedy that, hit me up!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Be Kind Rewind




http://www.dvguru.com/2006/10/03/the-dvd-rewinder/

Yes it is real and it is fantastic!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Comic Sans Saves The Day!



Too funny after I watching Helvetica. Pretty good movie if you like design et cetera.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Scientific Evidence that Tofu isn't Manly


Science has confirmed what men have know for ages:
Eating Tofu is for sissies. Or it actually makes you into a sissy if you eat it. Apparently the estrogen contained in tofu and other soy products has the unintended effect in men of reducing sperm count and other ill effects. I always felt funny about eating soy products- apparently my manstincts were trying to tell me something.

This is of particular concern to me as I recently stopped eating mass produced meat products. I haven't really missed them yet, but I am concerned about soy being one of my only alternatives for protein. I personally think it takes a large helping of manliness to give up something so dear as delicious beef for the sake of others and the planet. Now my backup food is going to make me impotent? Possibly make me grow bigger boobs? Oiy. You can't win.

I'm going to start eating tree bark. That sounds like it will put the hair back on my chest.

What's Up?

What's Up?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Snow Driving Fail



I came across http://failblog.org last night. This video was on top and I absolutely could not stop laughing for about 15 minutes straight. For whatever reason it struck me at the most hilarious thing I had ever seen. My laughter was so bizarre and uncontrollable I actually scared Felicia out of the room, she thought I had developed a brain tumor. Maybe I just had to get a good laugh on. Anyhow, be careful where you watch this. If you react like I did at work it would probably result in your immediate termination from your job and possible counseling recommended.

If you are in a safe place, spend some time at http://failblog.org... it is by far the funniest web site I've ever come across. Check out Bridge Fail, Boat Fail, and the many other wonders of failure.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wild horses vs. Cheeseburgers - Guess who wins?

This NPR piece is a straw that broke my back...

We are taking up too much space. So much so that we have to kill wild horses to make room for our cattle.

"Heyde says the BLM has a built-in conflict of interest; the agency is the tool of cattlemen who graze cows on the same public land used by wild horses."

First, let it be said that I am NOT a PETA nut- I am fiercely opposed to the draconian techniques they use to shame any and all use of animals. It is excess- critters have to die sometimes, it is natural, it is the food chain, it is the way the world works. I have been quite the carnivore in my day, up there with the best of them. However, I am starting to wonder about just how high the cost of cheap meat really is...

From the New York Times article "Rethinking the Meat Guzzler":

“When you look at environmental problems in the U.S.,” says Professor Eshel, “nearly all of them have their source in food production and in particular meat production. And factory farming is ‘optimal’ only as long as degrading waterways is free. If dumping this stuff becomes costly — even if it simply carries a non-zero price tag — the entire structure of food production will change dramatically.”

and

"a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days."

More stats from Global Issues:

  • The total cattle population for the world is approximately 1.3 billion occupying some 24% of the land of the planet 3
  • Some 70 to 80% of grain produced in the United States is fed to livestock 4
  • Half the water consumed in the U.S. is used to grow grain for cattle feed. 5
  • A gallon of gasoline is required to produce a pound of grain-fed beef.
That is a ton of resources consumed so I can have my $1 double cheeseburger. Some of the problems the cattle industry contributes to:

- Obesity in Americans

- Other health problems including liver disease, heart disease, and new diseases like mad cow disease that stem from bizarre feeding practices: A study published a few years ago in Preventative Medicine notes that in Arkansas alone, 3 million pounds of chicken manure were fed to cattle in 1994.

- Rampant carbon emissions - methane from cow butts, petroleum used in production/distribution, etc

- Massive water consumption/drought

- Water Pollution - loss of species/habitat

- World hunger - reallocation of 30% grain to non-livestock would feed the entire world a 2000 calorie diet (much of the third world lives on less than 800 calories a day)

- High fuel costs

- Massive consumption of land resources - hence aforementioned horsey concentration camps

- Deforestation in South America- double carbon trouble in less absorption of C02 and huge emissions from burning

- Loss of biodiversity

- More problems I don't understand or know about



All of this screams EXCESS!!! to me. It is the opposite of moderation. It is a slovenly poor job of stewardship. While the world's population starves and the environment is pillaged, Americans are getting fatter and fatter and having more heart attacks. Is it worth it?

The Cattlemen think so. Theirs is a $60 Billon industry that they aim to protect. They are expert lobbists and employ hundreds of lawyers to help them win environmental and land use disputes every year. The "Beef, its what's for dinner" campaign costs them $1 per every cow sold in the US, which the recently doubled in Feb. 2008- so you can expect to see even more beef advertising soon. Unfortunately, enviromental, hunger, and climate advocates simply don't have the marketing dollars to compete- so the message has to be distributed via cheaper means- blogging and telling your friends included.

Now, to one degree or another I knew about some of these issues, especially since many of them had been raised by Fast Food Nation and Supersize Me. Even with that awareness, I didn't really end of changing my habits. The convenience of fast food has been a seductive siren... its cheap, hot, and fills me up quite nicely. A bit too much actually, I've gained quite a lot of weight over the past 5 years largely due to fast food intake.

I don't know what it was about the thought of wild horses getting slaughtered on me had such an impact... They are such a powerful, pure creature, an embodiment of freedom. Perhaps it has to do with growing up around horses and horse culture- I respect horses. They seem to embody the best of American values and have such a rich role in our history, both pre and post colonialism. Seeing wild horses killed to protect cattle interests is like reliving the genocide of Native Americans today. It is criminal, and it is preventable.

If our nation were to act in moderation, there wouldn't be any need for very large changes by individuals in their consumption habits. That being said, I understand that many people refuse to make any changes (I see why they carry that attitude and understand their point of view) so others have to make greater changes to compensate. As such I am going to stop eating meat produced by corporations. I am not going vegan or anything... and you won't find me at your dinner party asking for vegetarian only options. I am just going to make better choices when I am craving fast food, or at the grocery store. If there is a local rancher that raises his cattle in a sustainable, reasonable way, I will buy, eat, and enjoy the deliciousness of it. Taco Bell grade D kibble meat is off my list now. Maybe one day it will be off yours too?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

In case you were interested- How to Destroy the Earth

http://qntm.org.nyud.net:8090/?destroy

I personally found the section on how to build your base from which to plan and implement your earth destruction strategy quite useful. Not that I am planning on destroying the earth or anything, it would just make a sweet second home...

The perils of near beer

I had to chuckle a bit when I stumbled on this. An excerpt:

In an article entitled, "The Beer Facts" it quotes:

"A lot of people like the taste of beer, they like to drink beer, and they don’t end up as alcoholics or drug addicts," says Rick, a former beer drinker. "The problem I see is that once you start drinking, the Spirit is going to withdraw from you. So although your drinking might not get out of hand, you still can’t have the influence of the Holy Ghost with you because you’re drinking." (Laury Livsey, "The Beer Facts," New Era, Mar. 1993, 44)

Not only would you be unable to have the spirit, what about the example you are setting? Will people know the beer you're drinking doesn't have alcohol in it? People will know you're a member of the Church, how do you think you will affect them with your example?



It is not that somebody's ardent pursuit of living out their faith is innately humorous to me... it is just that this reminded me so much of myself not too many years ago.

Most people get passionate about something when they are in high school. For some it is one or several sports, others it may be one or several members of the opposite sex. Perhaps somebody may captain a debate team, another may be a national competitor for Future Business Leaders of America. Whatever it is, high school is a time to throw all your energy and enthusiasm into an area and see what happens. Me, I was the president of the bible club. Yes indeed, First Priority. We met weekly, prayed fervently, had leadership events, pizza parties, and plenty of good clean Christian Rock.

For me at that point in my life, I had a very deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that also ended up being very public. Trying to live out that type of faith meant a buzz of activity (3-4 days at church per week) and a long list of no's- no drinking, (wouldn't think about it, nor was I ever given the opportunity...) no swearing, no secular music, no dating (a personal choice, because courting girls is more holy), no believing wrong theologies, no reading the wrong translation of the bible (king james 4 eva!!!), no keeping quiet about your beliefs or your friends are going straight to hell. Its funny to think of what my rules omitted, like playing uber-violent video games, or letting my grades slip... How much time did I waste 'trying to be a good example' when nobody was paying attention? How many people did my hideious little attempt at righteousness actually discourage from engaging in some form of faith for themselves?

Bear with me, this is a rather painful era of my life to reflect and write about... Since then my journey of faith has been 'interesting' in the most wonderful ways. In moving away, getting an education, going off to the big city etc. I found two things to be true:

1. You actually can't escape God...

2. None of those pledges, none of that piety, none of those lofty principals have had any lasting value on myself or others, except to perpetuate more piety.

It was actually pretty amazingly uncanny... I spend a good part of my college career and subsequent years trying to disassociate myself from the particular brand of faith that I had subscribed to. At times I doubted the validity of my entire system of beliefs. There were several times others and even a versitage of my former self would say that I was 'falling away' from The Way or 'backsliding'. As my learning, experiences, choices, and doubts were tearing at the fabric of my faith, I expected God was eventually going to smite me it I wandered too far off the path. If I didn't get smitten(that is the right word, right??) then it was all for naught after all. The amazing thing it that I actually do now feel that there is God behind all of that working mysteriously to strip away all of those deep set patterns of religious piety and allow me to walk in a faith that is completely freeing. The gospel is actually about freedom from slavery- and it is good news! Something to actually get excited about...

Before, I felt like I knew pretty much everything I could about theology, and I definately knew I was right. Now, I don't feel like I know very much at all, and I don't know if I'm right about anything. I do feel confident that there is an unfathomably large diety out there that has a character that is anything but black and white, who happens to take great pleasure in messing with us humans, and who at the end of the day is working things together for the better, though the really better things almost never look that way.

Wow, that was a long bunny trail about my journey of losing my religion to find my faith. I said all that to say this: the idea of not drinking near beer because you are worried about what somebody will think of you- that is funny to me. So funny it hurts.



P.S. - Though the article I cited was by and for members of the LDS church, I was not specifically targeting that faith as being to pious. In fact, beleivers from all sects of Chrisendom and beyond fall prey to systems of moralism that betray the freedom found in the Gospel. Mormons are just better than most of us at living really 'clean' lives...

P.P.S. - Much of what I said has been inspired by the work and words of Pastor Eric Blauer. You can read a good article here and listen to a good sermon on the subject here. Wait, was he not an instigator of my former zealotry? Indeed... and it has been a pleasure walking down the road of faith together.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Careful out there...

humorous pictures
more cat pictures

Friday, July 18, 2008

The internet claims another victim...

The phone book is dead. Long live the Googles.

Well, its not quite dead yet, but its on life support. The new Qwest Dex book just came out this week in Seattle. It is a vestige of a past age, a pre-information age. Its almost silly to think of having a database of every business in a city, then printing out every single record, binding it in a huge book, and driving it around to every citizen in the area. Once a year.

The phone book is the opposite of green (yellow?!). It consumes massive amounts of resources to hire a sales force to contact every business and try to get them to advertise, then print thousands or millions of copies of a massive book, then burn tons of fuel to get it everywhere in a city. Most people just recycle them on the spot - which contributes to saving some paper but consumes plenty of resources in the process. Since the deregulation of the phone industry, the Phone Book is now 5-7 Yellow pages per market, with players like Verizon, Qwest, Yellowbook, McGregor, MyCommunityBook, and several others vying for usage and advertiser dollars.

It is asinine to think of how much a small business spends to advertise in this dinosaur of a medium- Full page ads in a decent sized city still run $10K+ PER MONTH! It has historically been a hugely profitable means of advertising for many types of businesses such as personal injury lawyers, plumbers, garage door repair people etc etc. Now advertisers have to divide their $$ across several print phone books as well as all of the local search options online.

There are several sites started by the phone book publishers to try to hedge their losses- Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, DexKnows.com, Yellowbook.com... These sites work fine enough, but are rooted in the old print book advertising mentality, so the highest paying advertiser gets to the top, not the most relevant search result. Just try making a few searches on Yellowpages.com- see if you get what you need, where you need it. They compete with other directory sites such as CitySearch, Yelp, as well as data aggregators like www.yellowbot.com. And of course- Google. Search engines are the most convenient way to do searches for local businesses, but the search results can get muddy. For example, a search for 'Plumber Seattle' got me several plumbers, but also some heating and cooling companies like Ballard Natural Gas, and a photographer?! Then, the companies that are best at SEO (search engine optimization) or who pay the most for SEO get to the top. The highest bidders get to be on the top of the sponsorsed links. So search engines still end up getting tainted and can offer confusing results, sometimes nowhere near the area you are searching. Several companies are offering local businesses guaranteed clicks, calls, or search engine ranking for a fee- or the business owner can do that work themselves. The waters remain muddy.

Local search is the BIGGEST area of growth in online advertising in the next 5-10 years, period. The company that offers the most usable, relevant search results and delivers advertisers consistent volume of good prospects for a fair price and is easy to work with will win Billions with a capital B of local business's ad dollars.

FYI I worked for Yellowpages.com until just recently, I'm not just a local search fanatic as a hobby...

Real Corporate Leadership - should pay off nicely

Mercedes is getting out of the car business. The gas powered car business that is... They have committed to eliminating internal combustion engines from their fleet by 2015. Already they have made some pretty impressive electric cars and are pushing hard for fuel cell technology. This kind of innovation should be rewarded very nicely in the coming years. Assuming they stay true to their word and achieve results, they will have a leadership position in a hugely demanded market. If global oil production is expected to peak between 2011 and 2015 alternative modes of transportation will be a hot commodity, as fossil fuel prices will likely be incredibly high in that scenario.

Isn't it fitting that the company who invented the first 'horseless carriage' back in 1886 is going to be one of the first to put the fossil fuel powered vehicle to rest?

My name in binary code

Binary Code for 'Chris Reilly' (for all of you assembly language readers out there)

01000011 01101000 01110010 01101001 01110011 00100000 01010010 01100101 01101001 01101100 01101100 01111001

find this and other such silliness at http://www.isthisyour.name/


Chris Reilly Coupons!

That is right folks, you can save money on all your favorite Chris Reilly brand goods, only at the Coupon Shack! If I were you I'd start saving today!

Where does the internet come up with this stuff???

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Breaking News: Oil specutaltors are innocent! Also, Elvis Lives and is producing the next U2 album!


I am not an expert on the global commodities market. Who cares? This is the internet and I am going to say my piece.

After a round of no-results congressional hearings, the conclusion is inevitably that so-called oil speculators are not influencing the price of oil in the slightest. Oh really? Why then was there a 10% drop in the price of oil overnight when Iran launched test missiles? Did that coincide with a dramatic increase in world oil supply all of the sudden? Or did global demand for oil all of the sudden just drop overnight by 10%? Both of those scenarios would be welcomed, needed really. No, investors saw some signs in the market, got scared, and started selling. Fast.

Several very smart economists have calculated that oil speculation adds an incremental ~$70 to the market price of oil, currently approximately 50% of the cost of a barrel of 'sweet light crude' today. Imagine how our economy would start moving if gas prices were cut in half. Airlines wouldn't be on the brink of closure... Food would get dramatically cheaper. Businesses would more money to invest in new equipment and jobs. Consumers paying $2.25 at the pump would have more money to spend elsewhere. The billions of poor who have abandoned subsistence farming for participation in the world food market might get a chance to eat.

Just think- hedge funds were primary players in the housing and mortgage boom. They purchased sub-prime loans in huge quantities, either directly as Bear Sterns or in the form of CDO's and other securities. When that market collapsed for (and by) them, all those billions of dollars shifted to commodities, the most popular of course being oil. All of them are playing in the oil futures sandbox, and several have actually bought huge warehouses and started filling them with barrels of oil they hope to sell at a profit in the future (hoarding). Not a bad idea really, they stand to make incredible profits. Have they created a bubble just like they did in the housing market? Here is a graph of Los Angeles and National housing prices over the past 10 years, see also oil prices 2006-2008 chart.



Note- oil pricing only current through Jan 2008- it is up almost 50% since then. Yikes!!!

What can be done? Not much to my knowledge... US regulators recongize the problem and are eager to tame the beast, but it is a global market. Only if every country in the entire world (even Switzerland) agreed to uniform regulations on oil trading and speculation would there be ANY impact on prices. Good luck.

Sorry so gloomy, I just wanted to call the provervial cat black here. The well-monied investment industry is making a concerted effort to say they aren't impacting pricing of this precious commodity. I am saying they are. So there!!

PS- We are already seeing other vital commodities being identified for trading and speculation, aka WATER! I am not kidding. Just watch out for the next market coming down the pike- air futures trading. Buy your oxygen rights now before prices double!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hello World!

This blog is an experiment... A good part of my life has been spent saying the right things to the right people, and keeping everything else to myself. Religion, Politics, Parenting Techniques etc. are best reserved for the right company, aka people who think like you do. I am going to try to speak my own mind about anything and everything without respect to who is listening (or reading I suppose). Please don't be offended. Or do be. Help me in endeavor of openness. Let the fun begin!