Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween scare... SOCIALISM! BOO!

John McCain is turning Barack Obama's, "Spread the wealth around" statement to the omnipresent Joe the Plumber into a scary tale of socialism on the prowl.

Socialism! The ads for McCain cry. Obama's a socialist! He wants to take money away from you (good American people who work hard) and give it to them you know the... er... other Americans who... uhh... do other stuff. In this ad, the folks all repeat, "I'm Joe the Plumber."

News flash: we'are already socialist. We take money from people who don't have kids and use it to fund public schools. We take money from people who will never get sick or old and fund Medicare and Medicaid. We take money from all kinds of people and spend it on lots of different kinds of people. The money is called "taxes" and the benefits are socialist in nature.


The Tax Foundation has a "Taxes paid vs. spending received by state" analysis. If you match that data up against a red-state-blue-state map, you'll find that of the top 10 states for taxes paid vs. spent are Colorado, New York, California, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Nevada and New Jersey. Eight blues, one red and one fence sitter. The top 10 states on the spending side are: New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, South Dakota, Kentucky and Virginia. One blue, six red, three middling.

To put that in narrative terms, Alaska (Palin) spends $1.84 of federal tax money for every dollar they take in. Arizona (McCain) spends $1.19. Illinois (Obama) gets only $.75 of federal spending for every dollar it provides. And Delaware (Biden) gets $.77. That's right: if you're from Illinois, 25-cents of every federal tax dollar you pay goes to help the fine people of Alaska and Arizona... Who apparently resent you for helping them out.

I'm not Joe the Plumber. I'm the guy subsidizing his socialist public works and proud to do so.

[PS: I know that Ohio, where I live now, is in the "spend more" column. I'm identifying in a political, philosophical sense with blue states, like Massachusetts, where I grew up, and New York, where my family is from and I went to school.]

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Four new poems

All written in the space of about a week. Who knows why this happens? Perhaps John Hodgman.

Click to read. Or just enjoy the titles.

I kinda like one of them. You get to guess which one.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

WordPress funk -- call for group mind assistance

For some reason -- I hadn't changed anything, seriously -- I couldn't get into my WP admin module. Which means I couldn't do anything to the blog. So I upgrade to a later version of WP, updated the database, and deleted (moved) a bunch of plugins. Now, I can get in (as evidenced by this post), but all my categories, permalinks and archives are gone. You can get to any given post by using the "next page" thingy at the bottom of the home page... but everything else is upgehfooked. Search works, too... but not if you then click on the post name.  Weird.

Any assistance from WordPress Gods much appreciated. If I can't fix it, I may try exporting the whole tham ding and then wiping this build and restarting with a new SQL database, etc.

Or I'll just start a new blog with a link back to Tinker for old stuff. TinkerX just turned three, and that seems pretty old for a blog with no real cohesive topic. Any thoughts on what kind of more specific blog I might write would certainly be appreciated.

[edit] Dagnabbit. Comments are broken, too. Please send thoughts, ideas, solutions or general commiserations to

[edit 2] Fixed permalinks, which seems to have fixed comments and archives. Breathing easier. Still working on categories.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

iHate iTunes and the iStore

Yes. The iPod and iPhone are sweet and techno whizbang. But... great googly moogly... how much does iTunes and the iStore have to suck before Steve fixes them?

I don't even want to go into it. But the process of trying to get some TV shows and games that I bought from the iStore onto my wife's iPod is a tale of incredibly bad UI, stupdily redundant processes, and time consuming repetitions.

It's 2am. I've been trying to synch the damned thing for 3 hours. I'm going to bed now.

Know any lawyers? Tell 'em about this

After a couple year hiatus from writing in the legal marketing field, I'm back contributing to a publication I feel really good about. It's called "Originate," and the editors have already snagged some of the best legal marketing writers in the biz. Yes, yes. And me. Daryl Cross, Mark Beese and Adam Stock join Larry Bodine, Barry Schneider and me for monthly advice, tips, tools and deep wisdom about how to generate business for sole practitioners and small firms.This is not puff stuff. This is all highly usable, measurable, practical information from folks who have been in legal marketing for years, and who have helped firms generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue.My first set of articles (I'm on my fourth month at this point) focuses on setting up a specific, reliable sales pipeline. The idea being that you don't get people to go from never having heard of you to being a dedicated client in one step. Same as you don't go from "stranger" to "spouse" without some various activities in-between.I outline a reasonable sales pipeline in 12 steps. Yeah, I know. Sounds like a recovery program. Well... It is! It's a way to recover from relying on luck and your golf game to get new business. Lawyers become addicted to *doing* the work, and forget to take the time necessary to *get* new work. This pipeline plan makes it easy to define a number of specific, discreet steps that will move potential clients ever closer to being die-hard customers and fans.Friends and readers of mine get a nice little $50 break when they sign up. So, if you know any attorneys who want to start working on their rainmaking game... send 'em over here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Group cud

Good new word from Word Spy: co-rumination. n. The extensive and repeated discussion, particularly among friends, of problems and negative feelings. Also: corumination.

This amuses me even more, considering the roots of the word "rumination."

"Entertainment Shopping:" Grand Theft Lotto

[Alternate sub-titles for this post were: "Social Betworking," "Stoopidity 2.0," "The Venality of Crowds," and "Nothing for Money and Your Clicks for Fee."]

In line at the cafeteria this last Wednesday, I heard a couple guys I don't know talking about the online auction site Swoopo. It seemed, from the little bit I overheard, like eBay with a slight gambling twist. Not for me, as I am an inveterate non-gambler, but to each their own. Then I saw a post about it on BoingBoing, and read more. All I can say, like many of the commentors at BoingBoing, is that PT Barnum was right. There's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.

The site bills itself as "entertainment shopping." Note: this should be the first clue to anyone who wants to hang on to their money and/or get a decent bargain and/or actually buy something. "Entertainment" is a service. "Shopping" is (generally) for products. When you pay for a service, at the end, you have intangible assets: memories, new skills, an environmental change of some kind. From a pure-poetry standpoint, the phrase "entertainment shopping" is wonderful. The signal-to-noise ratio is incredibly high. I could spend an entire post just unpacking that phrase. Maybe later...

The Cake Scraps blog has a decent anyalysis of the site's mechanics. But the basic idea is that you pay $1 for the chance to raise the price of an auction by 15-cents and be the high bidder. The winner (in most cases; there are several types of auctions) then has to pay the final price, on top of $1 for each of however many bids they made.

So... let's say there's an item that's worth (retail value) $150.00 that finally goes for $75. If you placed the final bid, you would get yerself a nice deal; slightly less than 50% off ($75 price + $1 for the bid). But the total cost of bids to all players (the community?) would have been $500.

It's like eBay, but where the "house" also gets $1 for every 15-cents spent.

It's a variation on a scheme called a dollar auction. And Swoopo actually does auction off money, too. Bid on a $100 chunk of cash. As long as you (personally) bid fewer than 100 times (and win), you come out on top. And, of course, as long as there are enough bids to cover the dollar amount in bid charges, Swoopo wins.

It's brilliant psychology. There isn't even any trickery (unless, as several comments point out, a Swoopo shill or two is doing some bidding). It's perfectly transparent.

The value statement becomes, I believe, very simple: How much are you willing to bet that you're less of a sucker than everyone else who's playing?