Monday, September 29, 2008

A Brief, Humorous Aside

From the joke files:

A sailor hired on as the first mate to a merchant ship back in the days of the pirates. After a few days on the open seas the crew spied a pirate ship on the horizon. The captain shouted to the first mate, "Hurry, go to my cabin and get me my red shirt!" The first mate did as he was told and the captain donned the red shirt. A furious battled ensued, but the pirates were driven back and the merchant ship cruised on victorious. Two days later they again spotted a pirate ship cruising toward them and the captain shouted, "Quick! Go to my cabin and get me my red shirt!" The first mate got him the red shirt and a terrible battle was underway with the pirates. The merchant ship won the battle and sailed on into the night. Two days went by and they saw two pirate ships on the horizon. The captain shouted to the first mate, "Hurry! Go get me my red shirt!" - and the first mate quickly obeyed. Again, the merchant ship valiantly fought off the two pirate vessels and sailed away victorious. Finally the first mate could no longer mask his curiosity and he asked the captain, "What is there about that shirt that makes you win your battles? Does it bring you simple luck? Is it a mystical shirt?" The captain laughed and said, "Oh, nothing as unusual as that - I simply wear my red shirt so that if I am cut in the heat of battle my enemies and my own sailors won't see that I am wounded. It gives the impression that I am in a stronger position." A week later they spied TEN pirate ships cruising toward them. The captain turned to the first mate and shouted, "Quick! Go to my cabin and get me my brown pants!"
Wait a second... what's Ben Bernanke wearing?

Oh my...

US Publishers Warn of Capital Meltdown

(Reuters) New York City - New York Times Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. warned Congress today that the US Newspapers could see an entire industry wide meltdown if the Federal Government does not inject more Capital Letters into the publishing system. 

"We stand here today at the precipice not seen since World War II, where in a relatively short period of time between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and VJ Day, we saw the near exhaustion of our Capital Letter Reserve....  If we are to continue to present news to the American people with big, bold headlines that capture their imagination, hopes, and horrors, the Government must provide us with more Capital letters." 

Mr. Sulzberger had been called to speak in front of the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee on the matter by Chairman Bobby Rush (D-IL) who declared the matter to be one of the "most pressing matters of our new information economy."  

"With the ongoing Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the current financial meltdown, and the upcoming presidential election our national typesetters we be pushed to the breaking point.  Soon, publishers will not be able to express shock, outrage, or panic."

The US publishing industry had traditionally employed a conservative approach to the use of Capital Letters, the last major use thereof coming in 1969 with the first moon landing.  Other instances, such as the freeing of the Iranian hostages, the Challenger disaster, and the start of the First Gulf War also merited the use of Capital Letters, although such occurrences were rare.  The New York Post was one of the few periodicals to refrain from such restraint, allowing even minor event headliness to be published in all caps.  

With the coming of the internet and the information economy, however, a grass roots publishing industry began to take shape.  Consumers and producers alike became awash in cheap Capital Letters.  Many new media sites, most notoriously CBS's, began to use all capital letters with regularity, and private individuals began using them to compose entire emails, slowly grinding away at the US Capital Letter Reserve.   

Rep. Rush has gone so far as to suggest that all US keyboards eliminate the Caps Lock key by the end of 2009.  Some, however, feel this would be too little too late. 

As of September 24th, the Government Printing Office has reported that the US Capital Letter Reserve is down to nearly 1% of where it should be.   In a prepared written statement to the Congressional Subcommittee, GPO Public Printer Robert P. Tapella said that at the current rate, "US publishers are not prepared, at this point, for another unexpected event and may be forced to use lowercase letters in reporting major headlines.  Something must be done, Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat." 

A report to the full committee is due out next week. 

Bailout This Post

You may have noticed that our posting count has been down quite a bit this month over previous months. By current count, we are down about 14% from August, which, this blog has seen an increase over the previous year, investors have expected this blog to improve its post count. Our auditors have noticed that our idea liquidity has been down recently, with not enough good ideas to cover future postings, and they fear that this may negatively impact our hit count.

How did we get to this point?

Back in the early 2000s, when blogging was in its infancy, folks like Alan Greenspan developed policies that promoted blogs, almost to the point of "irrational exuberance." As more and more people started to write blogs during the last decade, more and more people started visiting blogs, cross-posting and referencing each other. This inflated the value of blogs; hit counts went up and everyone was happy.

But many of these blogs were poorly written and people visited them without realizing that they were bad, unfunny, or just lame. Still, the mainstream media picked up on these poorly written blogs, not knowing about their quality, and repackaged them into legitimate content, which was sold to advertisers.

Now, this whole "scheme" has started to crumble.

The Blurghosphere is now facing a crisis of confidence; if this blog fails others may fail too. If the Blurghosphere fails, so may other Regional blog communities, and then maybe issue based blog communities. In time, this cancer could spread to places like DailyKos or Little Green Footballs. Those blogs are just too big too fail.

Clearly, there's only one solution: stop this freefall before it stops.

And there's only one way to do it: pay me $700 Billion in order to up my post count.

Oversight in unnecessary, of course, the responsibility of $700 billion is so awesome, that no one could conceivably waste it or abuse the power.

Others may suggest that the government take an active role, purchasing shares of this blog, in order to prop it up. This suggestion, however, is based on the faulty assumption that because we have the word "Bureaucrat" in our title, we are somehow implicitly backed by the government.

Without immediate government intervention, all online content may breakdown and we may find ourselves in a great online recession, and New Media pioneers may be forced to get real jobs.

This is a tragedy that can still be averted.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008 Election Poll Falls Behind in Poll Poll

(Reuters) Washington D.C. - New polls indicate that the 2008 Presidential Election polls have fallen behind in Colorado and are maintaining a slim lead against other polls in California and New Mexico.

A CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation Poll out Sunday shows the 2008 Presidential Election polls slipping 3 points, allowing the 2004 Presidential Election poll to maintain a slim lead in this key swing state.

The polls indicate that the two polls are running nearly neck and neck in California at 39 points for 2008 and 38 points for 2004. The 2000 Presidential Election poll, 1996 Presidential Election poll, May, Vaulting and Lech Wałęsa are splitting the remainder in this poll of polls.

The 2008 Presidential Election Poll has slipped behind the other polls following some changes to polling methodology, which were apparently unpopular amongst those polled. Others point to the inability of pollsters to reach certain demographics, including college students, working mothers, those without a home phone, and the Germans, who apparently misunderstood the question.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser said that the results of this poll were somewhat unexpected, as, historically, more recent polls did better than historical polls.

"The American public, generally, has the attention span of a gnat and the typical response to this poll tends to focus on the polls that are at the forefront of people's consciousness."

Polling trend data, suggests however, that the 2008 Presidential Election Poll will pull ahead by election day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Business Casual Friday - Suspended Blog Edition

I'm not posting a post, but for selfish reasons (fucking Comcast)*, I need to post these, if for no other reason than I miss the days when Dave Letterman was really, really funny:

Olbermann Part I:

Olbermann Part II:

And now: Rotating Pies...

*h/t to Maria who should be glad to know that she probably wasn't the only one to fling the remote control at her T.V.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Special Announcement from the Angry Drunk Bureaucrat

I would like to announce at this time that I am suspending this blog so that I can concentrate on the ongoing financial crisis that has gripped this nation.

Thank you and God bless America.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pirates Season Ends with "Mercy Rule"

The Pittsburgh Pirate's season came to an abrupt end tonight during its away game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Midway through the third inning, the Umpire received a call from Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League baseball, who directed the game and the remaining five games of the season be forfeited by the Pirates. Pirate Manager John Russell and Brewers Manager Dale Sveum were called to home plate, where the matter was discussed. Both mangers shook hands and directed their teams to the clubhouse.

The move by Selig was unprecedented in the modern era of baseball, but not surprising. Major League Baseball's little used "Mercy Rule" has become almost apocryphal, with the last usage of it in 1959 against the Washington Senators, who were forced to abandon the last game of their season. The Senators went on later the next year to become the Minnesota Twins.

Russell had been anticipating this move. "Well, you have 16 straight losing seasons. At this point in the season, it's kind of cruel to send us out there, day after to day to get our butts whooped. And for what? So that other teams can use us as batting practice?"

Pirates Owner Bob Nutting was not pleased by the invocation of the Mercy Rule. "You know, they didn't enforce this rule on San Diego or Seattle or Washington. They've all done worse than us this year. I feel it's hypocritical to expect us to be forced to give up just because some pencil pusher thinks we suck on toast."

MLB officials disagreed and threatened the Pirates with a total media blackout should they try to play any of their remaining games, going so far as to threaten to throw a giant black tarp over the Stadiums should someone accidentally see them playing.

Pirate players were generally unaware of the controversy as most of the roster had already been traded to other teams.

Special Guest Commentary from H Franklin Rockchild IV, Esq. BSC, SSC

I have become increasingly frustrated by the recent stream of ads coming from the campaign of John McCain and his surrogates which insinuate that his Democratic opponent Barack Obama is some sort of "elitist.". These kinds of lies cannot stand.

When my butler told me that some community organizing, Chicago Negro-American was supposed to be an "elitist" I nearly choked on my glass of '45 Mouton. I immediately had my staff prepare the jet so I could fly off to my private island to visit my wife and tell her of this ribaldry in person. We both laughed incredibly hard over our breakfast of baby dodo omlettes.

When my ancestors came to this country on the Mayflower, they did not come here so that some nouveau riche upstart could dilute the meaning of the word "elite". Indeed, my grandfather H Franklin Rockchild II would roll over in his mausoleum if such a thing was possible, especially as the result of a Democrat son of a goat farmer. (He would have risen from his grave had it been some damned dirty Irishman!)

Where are the ivy league academic halls named for Mr. Obama? Where are the skyscrapers? Why doesn't he have more cars and houses than he needs? Where are his collections of Old Masters, fine cigars, or vintage wines? Where are his countless servants, mindless hangers-on, and deadbeat relatives lounging near one of the pools in some obscure corner of his estate? But most importantly: can a man truly be elite if he has actually had to work a day in his life?

Has he been categorized ad elite merely because of some passing reference he made to arugula? Any Skull and Bones member worth his salt knows that arugula is not even in the same class of elite leafy green vegetables as, say, "lettage," "spinace" or any other found by one's servants in the aisles of Even More Whole Foods, away from the lecherous eyes of the proletariat.

In conclusion, therefore, I would like to remind Senator McCain that (1) the continual attempts at labeling Mr. Obama as an "elitist" is only serving to weaken the brand that my ancestors made others work so hard for them for and (2) that we're still on for bridge with you and Cindy on Thursday. I'll have one of the servants clean out the hanger for your jet. Luvvy and I are looking forward to it.

H Franklin Rockchild IV, Esq. BSC, SSC

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Open Letter to Henry Paulson

Dear Mr. Paulson,

As I was feverishly digging through the cemeteries this weekend to horde any gold fillings that certain next-of-kin had abandoned in their hastily discarded relative's corpses, I saw that you were proposing bailing out the financial sector with up to $700 billion of taxpayer money. I must say that this is a very gutsy move on your part as you are now leaving the fate of the nation's, if not the world's, economy in the hands of my brethren in the Treasury department, namely people with not enough social skills to make it in the "real" economy and who are merely counting down the days until retirement.

Well, those folks, and a shit load* of consultants.

I mean, your party has advocated since the mid eighties for, as so eloquently articulated by that paragon of neo-conservative intellectualism Grover Norquist*, a government small enough to drown in a bathtub. So, it is refreshing, if you don't mind me saying, that you have so readily embraced a mantra of "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

So, as you folks are obviously new to all this government helping stuff (at least I assume you are, I have yet to find an example to the contrary), I figured I would give you a few economic pointers on where and how to use this money so that it maximizes the benefits to the financial markets:

(1) Invest in printing more money. This one is a no-brainer. I mean, you guys are the friggin' government for God's sake. Just print a couple billion worth of C-notes and walk down Wall Street tossing bags of money into the atria of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, et al. They'll take that money, pay off their debts and the problem is solved.

(2) My buddy Vince. Vince bet me last week that the Steelers would lose by nine. Sonofabitch was right on the money and I lost 50 big ones. This guy is so good at gambling; he wins nearly half the time. So, if you want a really sound investment, give the money to Vince and he'll double it.

(3) Zimbabwe. I hear that the current exchange rate is like 1,000,000 Zimbabwean whatevers to $1. That's awesome! Think about it for a second: with $700 billion dollars we could become Zimbabwean Quadrillionaires. No one has ever been a Quadrillionaire before so think of what that would do in terms of our financial standing in the world. I guarantee that we would even probably make the Forbes Wealthiest list, bumping off that know-it-all Warren Buffet.

(4) The Internet. My understanding is that this whole Internet thing is going to be big. Like really, really big. Bigger than Prime Time Gameshows big. We should definitely give these guys some money to build transistors or something.

(5) Porn. Seriously, I can't think of anything else that holds up as well during turbulent economic times. Perhaps you could see if Ben Bernake will do a Donkey Show?

Well, those are my solutions. I'm sure there are "intellectual" ideas like buying up mortgages at a discount and give people new fixed rate mortgages, using the FDIC (the folks who take over failed banks) to take over failed mutual and money market funds, declaring a national emergency (with judicial review) or expanding the social safety net. Those things, however, won't demonstrate the power and shear awesomeness of a Republican lead government program. Those are small minds for people that don't believe in un-regulation and don't want to see $700 Billion pissed away.

Good luck Mr. Paulson, and godspeed.

The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat

*Or as they call it on Wall Street: a bovine-equine hay derivative.
** Another form of bovine-equine hay derivatives.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ADB Guide to Coping with a Transit Strike

As you may or may not have heard, there is an increasingly large chance that the drivers of the Port Authority of Allegheny County may go on strike in the very near future. Other more sober folk can discuss the intricacies of the current union contract or the cost-benefits of public transportation, however, if you are reading this, you probably just want to know how you're going be able to get from your hovel in to your shift as night manager/senior cashier at Subway.

We here at TADB have repeatedly flogged our interns, and have come up with some alternatives to taking Public transit:

(1) Car - Let's face it, if a car was an option for you, you'd probably already be taking it instead of standing cheek to jowl on the bus between that sweaty fat guy in the bad suit and the sixteen year old that won't get off her damned cell phone. If this is not the case, however, I'm sure you'll be excited about your 40 minute 4 mile commute and stuffing a whole mess o' cash into the coffers at David Onorato's Parking Authority. Between that and the cost of fuel, you won't be able to afford to go to work anymore and will be forced to get another job to pay for the first one.

(2) Walking - This is probably the best option for most Pittsburghers who, by definition, haven't left their neighborhood since the Carter administration. I hear there's a woman in Bloomfield who still refuses to acknowledge that there's anything past the Bridge.

(3) Biking - If you are a young, hip urbanite who like careening through parked cars with no regard for things like personal safety and deductables, then biking is probably a pretty good choice. If you happen to live at the top of any number of hills around here and are not in peak physical condition, however, you might want to pack it in and setting up a campsite down in the flats. Trust me, living down by the river in a tent will be much less embarrassing than them finding your doughnut gorged, tiny spandex shorts clad corpse halfway up McArdle roadway.

(4) Telecommuting - If you are very, very lucky and have a white collar, wage slave job, telecommuting might be an option for you. Unfortunately, after a few days of the experience, you will quickly realize that such social niceties such as bathing, shaving, speaking English, or wearing clothes are no longer strict requirements. After a few weeks, you may find that you have no real need for civilization, resulting in a solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short existence... with only a millionaire, his wife, a movie star, a professor, and Mary Anne as your only companions. That, and you'll perpetuate the lie that Day Time television is worth anything more than a bucket of warm spit.

(5) Cannon - I haven't tried this on out yet, but I'm pretty sure with the right wind conditions and with the appropriate caliber gun, anyone can hit the Steel Building. The pain in the ass is the connecting cannon, if your destination is not downtown. Bring your own helmet.

(6) Catapult - See Cannon

(7) Helicopter/Airplane - Should this be an option for you, you probably have more money than sense. I would be perfectly happy with relieving you of this burden.

(8) Falcor - Lucky dragons are not native to this region and are considered impractical.

(9) Lawn Chair Lifted by Weather Balloons - Only viable if you have no particular destination in mind or enjoy being shot down by the U.S. Air Force.

(10) Carpooling - All the charms of a taxi combined with all the joys of being stuck at work with people you don't like.

(11) Hitchhiking - Adds the extra excitement of the possibility of becoming the inspiration for a particularly bloody episode of CSI.

(12) Rickshaw - Region is under served by the Japanese immigrant population necessary to make this possible.

(13) Hanglider - Silly, and possible target for commuters traveling by cannon.
So, there you go. Hopefully one of these suggestions will work for you. If not, you can always live underneath your office desk for the duration of the strike.

I already have my sleeping bag.

Monday, September 15, 2008

John McCain Repeats Questionable Claim at Campaign Stop

(Reuters) Boca Raton, FL - In a campaign appearance at an early morning pancake breakfast, John McCain today repeated claims that have been called into question by both the Obama campaign, the mainstream media, biologists, and experts on Russian history.

"My friends," said McCain to a crowd of nearly 3,000 octogenarians, "we are at war with an enemy that has attempted to undermine our civilization, from back when I spent five and a half years as a prisoner of the Viet-cong to when they tried to assassinate me and my father Czar Nicholas II in 1917."

This marks the fourth time in as many days that the McCain campaign has tried to equate the struggle against global terrorism with the cold war struggle against Communism, and has implied that he is the missing Russian Duchess Anastasia.

Bloggers on DailyKos were the first to identify this new campaign talking point, and question its veracity. The Washington Post later examined this and other recent statements made by the campaign and determined that such points were at best "suspect."

The Obama campaign immediately jumped on McCain's claims: "Senator McCain is obviously trying to deceive the American people. We have clear evidence that the Senator was born in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone" said Obama spokesman Harvey Finklebaum.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds issued a swift response to the Obama campaign. "Senator Obama obviously can't go twenty minutes without trying to slander a man who spent 5 and a half years as a P.O.W., which is just what you would expect from an American hating Muslim terrorist. Who is he to question that Senator McCain didn't escape Lenin's execution squads by feigning death amongst the bodies of his family members and servants, made his escape with the help of a compassionate guard who rescued him from amongst the corpses after noticing that he was still alive, had a sex change, and flew five missions in Vietnam?"

The response did little to stop the Obama campaign, who sent Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden on CNN's Larry King Live program with three biologists, twelve Russian Historians, and Mr. McCain's own mother to prove that the Senator was born in 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone, and, most importantly, was not the 17 year old Russian Grand Duchess.

Fox News reported that, while it may seem that John McCain could not possibly be the lost heir to the Russian Empire, it was certainly premature to judge such matters without a full accounting of the facts.

This is not the first time Senator McCain has been accused of "playing fast and loose with the truth," in the words of an anonymous Obama campaign staffer. The McCain campaign has recently been accused by both the mainstream and internet news media of misrepresenting his opponent's positions, accusing Senator Obama of supporting sex-ed for kindergartners, misrepresenting his Vice Presidential candidate's support for earmarks, misleading media on estimated crowd sizes, downplaying his fragile health conditions, saying that the time was quarter til three (when is was most definitely half past five), claiming to have written the last three best Oscar Pictures, misleading reporters into believing that he can tell the difference between butter and I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter, claiming to have visited every country on the Earth, claiming to have the ability to speak with small mammals, claiming to be the inspiration for the song "My Humps," claiming to have the ability to see through walls, insisting that he was the inventor of fire, and claiming to have died aboard Apollo 15 twice. has debunked all of these claims, with the exception of the Senator's ability to speak to small mammals.

John McCain currently leads Senator Obama by 18 points in national polls of people who sleep with their sisters.

Hurricane Ike Bolsters Texan Housing Market

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New 1,500 sq. ft. rubble pile now selling for $350K.
Wreckage found to be "comparable, but more desirable than Lehman Brothers stock".
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae partner with FEMA for 'Heck of a Job'
Adjustable Rate Mortgages available!

Stock Market Falls Down Well

(Reuters) New York City - A 216 year old stock exchange is trapped and suffering from major injuries after a severe tumble down a well on Wall Street.

The New York Stock Exchange was playing with risky sub prime mortgages with her friends Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and two of the Lehman Brothers, when she slipped on the lid of the well and fell in.

"The well lid crumbled to pieces," by-stander Ben Bernake told reporters.

The Exchange fell over 400 feet, although she managed to pull herself up several dozen feet, before falling down another hundred feet. The well contains questionable derivatives and bovine fecal material, Security and Exchange Commissioners said.

Authorities are not sure if she is actually at the bottom of the well, or merely holding on halfway down.

Her sister quickly ran inside her Uncle Sam's house to get help, but he was out to lunch. The authorities were notified late Sunday, and only arrived this morning.

Reports of similar such incidents worldwide could not be confirmed.

Many in the neighborhood blame the Government for allowing the Exchange to play near the well, although others point out that she had been previously warned about risky behavior. Earlier this year, neighbor Warren Buffet had posted a warning sign next to the well, only to have it torn down by local "hooligans."

A small minority of residents believe that the Exchange should have to crawl out of the well on her own, pointing out that "this is the only way she'll ever learn."

Still, emergency crews are holding a guarded vigil tonight, hoping to rescue the girl with a series of leveraged bailouts. Failing that, according to the police, they will continue to throw items down the hole until she can climb out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Business Casual Friday

Sometimes I identify with Mario: life is one seemingly ridiculous challenge after the next and just when you think you've reached your goal, the princess is in another castle.

Plus, mushrooms have done some really messed up things to me too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Adventures in Urban Redevelopment

The internets are lightning fast, so by now everyone has heard that the URA has accepted Pat Ford's resignation, and will pay out his salary through June of next year.

A reader quipped to me, "Best $90,000 the URA ever spent.

To answer questions elsewhere, my guess is that the URA would have had to hire specialized outside counsel in order to defend itself and the City against whatever allegations they may throw at them.  Not sure what Ford could have done to them, but the nuances of employment law escapes me (and it's probably not the specialty of the URA legal team either) and there seems to be enough of a pretense of a challenge to warrant concern.      

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

OPEC and Pro-Life America Protest "Drill Baby Drill" Mantra

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Groups inform Republican National Committee that infants are not an efficient source of petroleum.

A Modest Pirate Proposal

By now, everyone knows that the Pirates are tied for the worst losing season streak in Major League Baseball, ever. Beyond being an embarrassment for the team, it financially hurts the Pittsburgh Region.

Consider the following: the Pirates have a (nearly) brand spanking new stadium, built through tax payer money. Obviously, one of the arguments for the stadium was that it would first help to improve the marketability of the team and second draw revenue to the City in the form of amusement tax revenue and spillover tax revenue (I'm thinking of hotel taxes, car taxes, and sales taxes from people patronizing establishments as part of their baseball experience). Without a good team, however, these revenues just aren't there for the City.

Suppose (and I'm totally making this up) that PNC Park contains 30,000 seats and that the average ticket price is $10. Every night, the Pirates should take in $300,000 in revenue and the City of Pittsburgh should recoup $9,000 in amusement taxes. Over the course of a 90 (let's say) home game season, the City should see about $810,000 in taxes and the Pirates should net $27,000,000 in revenue.

When the team has a bad season, however, and the Park is, let's say, only 1/3 filled daily, the City only receives $270,000 in tax revenue and the Pirates only receive $900,000 in revenue.

Again, I'm making up these numbers.

But, let's suppose a few things (1) more money to the team means better players can be acquired, (2) people want to see a winning team, and (3) there's a way that we can peg the amusement tax rate of the Buccos to their win/loss percentage.

Suppose we reduced the amusement tax rate on the Pirates if they started winning. There would be a baseline rate, to be sure, but between the current rate and this base rate if the Pirates started to do well, taxes would be reduced. The team could start reinvesting in their player development, win more, and have their taxes reduced again.

From the City's perspective, a half full Stadium or even a completely full Stadium would bring a better return at a lower tax rate than a third filled Stadium at a higher rate.

Of course, this assumes that there's no substitution effect on the rest of the Regional economy, such a plan could work without complaints from other more winning teams, and that the Pirates management is actually running a friggin' major league baseball team and not some AA farm team for the National League.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bush Administration Nationalizes Electric Industry "For the Hell of It"

(Reuters) Washington D.C. - In the wake of the takeover of mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the Bush administration has stripped the America's biggest electric companies of operational control over all power generating operations in the U.S.

"Well, you see, I mean once we picked up the banks we figured, heck, why not go whole hog," said the President in an early morning news conference. "I mean, I owned an oil company once and so did [Vice President] Dick [Cheney]. And, you know, oil companies are kind of like electric companies."

Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman was more circumspect in his assessment.

"In a time like this, with great economic and energy uncertainty, it seems ludicrous for investors to take such risks. It's only rational that the U.S. Government come in to secure the market and protect Wall Street from the stresses of supply and demand."

Under the plan, all stock in private electric generating corporations will be exchanged for Treasury Bills. The U.S. Federal Government will assume controlling interest, in much the same way that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were taken over.

Nationalization of industry has been rare in the history of the United States, although not without precedent. Amtrack and Conrail were created as government-owned corporations in the 1970s. In 1939, the Government nationalized the facilities of the former Tennessee Electric Power Company and reformed them as the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In this case, the U.S. is taking successful nationalizations in France, Venezuela, Zimbabwe as the models for this move.

The President hopes that following this takeover, two more railroads would be nationalized as well as the country's water system. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has also expressed interest in acquiring Illinois Avenue and Park Place, with the hope of building hotels.

Former City Councilman Demands Resignation of State Senator from URA Board

Former Pittsburgh City Councilman Jim Ferlo demanded the immediate and unequivocal resignation of State Senator Jim Ferlo from the URA Board today at a hastily assembled press conference outside the City-County Building. 

"From day one, I believed Mayor Ravenstahl and his administration when they said that they were approaching government operations in a different way, with an eye toward improving the process," said the former Councilman, "but we cannot continue to have a municipal Authority who's board members have ties to questionable deals.  I accuse the Senator of self-dealing and corruption."

The former Councilman made further reference to an alleged connection between loans given out by the URA to a developer, 3811 Associates, which owns the building containing the Senator's district office.  The allegations are part of an investigation supposedly being undertaken by the Department of Justice in relation to allegations made by former URA Executive Director Pat Ford. 

The Senator rebutted such claims, calling the charges "spurious" and the antics of a man "desperate to get his name in the paper." 

"In a small City such as Pittsburgh, you're always going to to have some level of overlap between the people that you serve and the people that are in charge.  [3811 Associates] made an honest application to the URA and I, in no way, influenced staff or other board members to advance this request."  The Senator admitted that while the timing seemed very suspicious, all activities were completely "on the level". 

Both the Senator and the former Councilman have been at odds recently.  Both initially began their careers as community organizers, and vocal political antagonizers representing the Lawrenceville neighborhood. The Senator, however, moved on to Harrisburg and, in the words of his former colleague and doppelganger "sold out to Harrisburg."   The Senator has repeatedly called the former Councilman "a micro-manager with a Napoleon complex."  

"The Senator just doesn't understand that he's part of the problem," said the Councilman, who was later dragged away from the press conference by Pittsburgh Police. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More Pointless Milestones

At 8:23 AM today, somebody from Philadelphia, PA became the 100,000th visitor to this site.

Why do you all insist on making me waste your time? Get back to work.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

We Get Letters...

I got an email from a reader looking for personal advice. I thought I'd share:

Dear ADB,

I very recently became involved with a smart, hot, professional woman for, what I hoped would be, a long term relationship. We were at a party together and, I don't know if I was drunk or what, but we made out for awhile and I asked her if she wanted to go out.

Now, most of my friends like her (they've never really be fond of my other interests in potential mates), but it turns out that she's kind of wacky. She has a couple of kids, which I can deal with, but one of those kids is also having a kid. She didn't tell me that. Also, turns out she'd some sort of state secessionist, a creationist, and a book burner. And I finally found out what she does as a "profession". Believe me that kind of "professional experience" is not the quality I want in someone who's supposed to be with me. The more I find out about her, the more she just seems to have all kinds of issues that I didn't know about.

I don't know how I'm going to break this to her, as she's going to be devastated, or my friends, who really, really want us together.


John M.
Dear John,

The last thing you want to do in this situation is to string this woman along when you know that there's no hope in it working out long term. I understand that love is blind, and we often go into these things without fully understanding or even knowing anything about our potential mates. If you want someone, however, to truly be able to stand by you and help you out in the long term, you're not going to just pick whomever your friends want you to hook up with.

We all make mistakes sometimes. It's best to learn from these mistakes, however, else they become habits. You don't sound like the kind of person that would continually make poor decisions, almost as if you have no real control over your own life.

Don't worry about your friends. If they like you only for the person that you're dating, they aren't really your friends.

If you think it's uncomfortable now, think about how awful it's going to be in four months or even four years! Best to break it off now while you can still save face and before you end up at a big party, having to explain why she's drunk and claiming loudly that she's the mayor of some podunk Alaskan town.

You'll find someone new who respects you for who you are, and not just some bit of arm candy.

Best of luck!

The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat

Monday, September 01, 2008

Echoes of '72

Your brief history lesson for today:

In 1972, after being rejected by other potential candidates, George McGovern selected less than well known Senator Thomas Eagleton as his running mate with a minimal background check. It was later revealed by the press that Eagleton had checked himself into the hospital three times for physical and nervous exhaustion, receiving electric shock treatments twice. While psychological treatment is commonplace today, back in the early 70s, Eagleton was pegged as "crazy." The press made frequent references to his shock therapy, and McGovern feared that this would detract from his campaign platform.

Eagleton imploded, withdrew from the ticket, and was replaced by Sargent Shriver. The Republicans used this incident to highlight questions about the Democratic candidate's judgment.

McGovern subsequently lost the election, winning only two states.

You'd think that somebody on the McCain campaign would remember things like this and would have vetted their candidate a wee bit better.