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Blog Posts for May 2010

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Today's Beauty

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/4/2010 9:50:30 PM
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Des Moines Stitched

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/8/2010 9:29:55 AM
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Today's Beauty

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2010 9:44:06 AM
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Today's Beauty, Part II

 

Tamara is enjoying her day, soaking up the sun and a good book on our back deck.

It's a perfect day :)

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2010 11:37:03 AM
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The Farcical

 

Early last year, I wrote about Fannie's and Freddie's impossible business model. At that time, I said this:

I ask you: what non-governmental entity competes against Fannie?

Answer: None.

Why is that? Because Fannie's impossible "business" model operates at a loss to give the power to Washington, creating a monopoly that is uncompetitive.

AIG is in insurance. That's the next industry. And Washington's acquisition will yield similar catastrophic results.

In the past week, Fannie and Freddie have come to Washington begging for more handouts - because their "business" models suck:
Fannie Mae has again asked taxpayers for more money after reporting a first-quarter loss of more than $13 billion.

The mortgage finance company, which was rescued by the government in September 2008, said it needs an additional $8.4 billion from the government to help cover mounting losses.

Fannie Mae was started by one of the worst presidents ever, FDR. Thanks to his desire to control it all from the top, there is no free market alternative to Fannie Mae today. And for that, our kids will pay dearly.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/10/2010 1:23:43 PM
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Supergenius, cont'd

 

Via Instapundit, a report about our nation's debt:

This graphic tells the story. Note what happened after the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007:

[T]he US, according to the IMF's projections, has more to do than any other country in the developed world (apart from Japan) when it comes to bringing its debt back towards sustainable levels.

Our kids are gonna be thoroughly pissed one day... and a lot of parents will have some s'plainin' to do.

Susie: "I thought you took math in school."
Dad: "But they told us it would be fine."
Susie: "Yeah, right... thanks a lot, Dad."

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/15/2010 10:04:34 AM
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Defining Achievement

 

My childhood friend, Jim Popp, told me in junior high school that jokes are always based upon the pain of others. He'd noticed this and commented about it while we walked home one day as we crossed Grandview Park in Sioux City. Later, as an adult, I learned that Plato, in his dialogue "Philebus," believed comedy to have been borne from pain. Someone once said that comedy is "pain with a happy ending."

It's easy to make humor at the expense of others. I could laugh at someone's awkwardness in a situation, a la Don Rickles. Their bad fashion, a la Joan Rivers. Clumsiness, a la Chevy Chase. The way someone talks, a la Tina Fey's portrayal of Sarah Palin. Much of humor stems from tragedy, mockery, and human error.

Climbing on top of the misfortunes and differences of others to elevate oneself is not unusual. It happens all of the time, in some form or another. But some people take it further and make it a goal to ruin someone else. It becomes their desired achievement.

You can destroy in minutes and days what took years and decades to build. Just ask South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Once whispered as a potential candidate for President in 2012, after very publicly cheating on his wife, it will never happen. Or Tiger Woods... the guy had a golden reputation in so many ways.

You can also ruin the lives of others in the same way - it doesn't have to be personal suicide. Gossip seeks this sort of thing... Michael Jackson is a great example of this. Rumored for years to be a pedophile, his audience left him, even though the charges were never unquestionably proven. Was he?

Some people will work to frame others, or to exaggerate their "sins." A woman who claims her husband hit her, only to find that he did nothing of the sort. But it's an easy charge. We find it easy to believe the negative. Like with those who believe that Bush was responsible for 9/11 - Truthers, as they're called. Amazing how devoted those folks are to proving that the murder of 3,000 Americans was not due to two planes flying into the Trade Towers but was instead an "inside job." That's their desired achievement, and you just won't dissuade them from it, no matter what facts you bring to the table.

What is an achievement?

When two teams meet on the football field, there are two ways of approaching the game. You either aim to win, or you aim to make the other team lose.

If you aim to win, you play your best game. You practice to perfection and strategize with your assets and then on game day, you execute your plan. If you win, you've achieved your goal. By default, the other team lost, but that wasn't the goal.

If you aim to make the other team lose, it's not hard to make the leap that you'll do so at any cost. You might try to hurt the quarterback, crush their spirit with insults, and even cheat. If the other team loses, while you were successful in your goal, is this achievement? By default, you won, but that wasn't the goal.

From Dictionary.com:

something accomplished, esp. by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc.; a great or heroic deed. Achievement connotes final accomplishment of something noteworthy, after much effort and often in spite of obstacles and discouragements.
Said simply, achievement comes from building, not from destruction.

Building and creation require talent. They imply that you're able to make something where nothing existed before.

You can't destroy what isn't there already, which means that those who spend their time working for the destruction of others are leeches. They're parasites, who need what others build in order for them to have anything to even tear down. They do it because they don't know how to build.

Anybody can show up with a sledgehammer or a rock. Toddlers are well-renowned for their ability to break things. It takes no skill to destroy.

Every once in a while, it's important to take stock of our ambitions. The only time that we have the right to hurt someone else is in protection of our own achievements. Anyone who seeks to hurt someone else just for the fun of it, who takes pleasure in others' pain - well, we become who we hang around. Be careful of the company you keep. You'll likely waste your time achieving nothing.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/16/2010 12:50:40 PM
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Apathy for the Clueless

 

I could have named this post, "In Pursuit of My Own Self-Interest..."

As readers of the site know, I created 247Toolset a couple of years ago. I envisioned it as a tool for libertarians / conservatives to become smarter in the coordination of their volunteers and base. After all, the Ron Paul campaign and the tea parties saw all kinds of professional people come out in service of a philosophy they believed. Smaller government? Sweet!

So I exclusively marketed my technology to those on the right side of the political spectrum. I explicitly told my sales force that I had no interest whatsoever in marketing to the Left. I lost tens of thousands of dollars in revenue for standing on principle. I said "No" to a lot of sales because I cared.

So I demo'd to the GOP. Eric Johansen of the Iowa GOP has seen the demo not once but twice. His comment to me was that campaign volunteers are "generally 70 years or older and they won't use a tool like this." Matt Strawn, head of the Iowa GOP, has seen it once. Chuck Grassley's people, Terry Branstad's people, Bob Vander Plaats personally... they've all seen it. And not just in Iowa... my salesfolks and I have shown it to people in Michigan, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

The reluctant conclusion to which I've come is this: the Right is clueless.

I say this because my salespeople begged me to let them show this to Democrats. I consistently said "No," to the point where the immediate follow-up question they would ask a prospect is "What political party are you?"

But the market of right-leaning campaigns kept telling me "No," so I finally I said okay and had a meeting last week with a well-placed Lefty guru. He saw 247Toolset, my calendar of events, and my previous work on email newsletter functionality. Blend the three of those together, and it's one hell of a volunteer engagement tool, he told me. "Love it!" he kept saying. Now, I have a trip to Arkansas in my near-future. He loves it, believes in it, and tells me I'm stupid to have waited for the Right to get it.

"Republicans weren't the first to discover blogs. They weren't the first to Facebook. They weren't the first to use Twitter. Why would you think they would see the potential in this?"

Fair enough. The guru had a point. So much for any "strategic advantage" I was offering to the Republicans...

Joe, the guy who connected me to the guru, reminded me that politicians don't care about anybody but themselves. "They're all after their self-interest. I don't understand why you care so much... those same politicians and activists don't care about you and yours, so shouldn't you take up for yourself? For your family? If a guy on the Left buys it, good for you. And if his opponent in the race eventually buys it, well good for you again."

He's right. So I've stopped caring about who buys it. Viva the free market. The only group I care about going forward is my customer base, and if it's the Democrats, then I'll take care of them with the same fervor I provide every customer of mine.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/24/2010 2:11:21 PM
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Today's Beauty

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/26/2010 9:01:07 AM
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Keynes, Not So Keen (The Proof)

 

Last fall, I wrote a post asserting why Keynes was wrong. I didn't go to Harvard. I didn't even get my Bachelor's degree. I dropped out after two years.

The folks at Harvard Business School studied it and found out that Keynes, to their great surprise, was wrong.

Professors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy discovered to their surprise that companies experienced lower sales and retrenched by cutting payroll, R&D, and other expenses. Indeed, in the years that followed a congressman's ascendancy to the chairmanship of a powerful committee, the average firm in his state cut back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent, according to their working paper, "Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?"

"It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman's state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending," Coval reports.

It's common sense, if you just sit down and think it through. I'm not a genius; I'm just willing to challenge the assumptions and work the problem.

The hardest thing in the world is to see things as they really are. Not that this study and its findings will slow down bankrupters like Obama and Pelosi and all of the other big spenders. But for those who read my site, now you know. Are you going to let the politicians bankrupt your children? Or will you do what it takes to protect their future?

 

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by Brett Rogers, 5/27/2010 11:12:22 AM
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