Sunday, October 13, 2013

Some links for Sunday

  • James Gill's column this morning is about ION Chariman Jay Lapeyre and his role in helping Bobby Jindal bring the SLFPA-E to heel.
  • Lapeyre is not just a big shot in Texas. He is most active in his home state of Louisiana where, for instance, he chairs the committee that nominates candidates for seats on the Flood Authority. The committee gives Gov. Bobby Jindal two to choose from when a member’s term expires, which (John) Barry’s has.

    Barry was a certainty for reappointment until Jindal lost his rag over the lawsuit. None of the official reasons for the administration’s dudgeon make any sense, but the oil and gas industry has never lacked friends in high places. At Lapeyre’s urging, four members of the committee joined him in voting against Barry. That produced a 5-5 vote, and Barry was a goner.

    “Whew,” the roomful of ION customers would exclaim, “that was a close one! Where would we be without Jay?”

    Various civic and educational institutions are represented on the nominating committee, where Lapeyre’s sponsor is the Campaign for a Better Louisiana. Not that much better, though. A blatant conflict of interest is evidently still jake.

  • Also from The Advocatea front page feature on the still very much in doubt future of Avondale shipyards. Avondale currently employs 1500 of its one time 5,000 strong workforce and is scheduled to close once the final order from its Navy contract runs out next month.

  • As various players scramble to put together a new strategy for the shipyard, the bulk of the 3,500 displaced workers are still in limbo.
    Amid the slowdown, it’s hard to gauge what’s has become of the yard’s nearly 3,500 displaced workers.

    Ault said he has had a hard time convincing people to drive or move the 120 miles to Pascagoula, where thousands of openings remain unfilled. He said the union has kept in touch with laid-off members, and many of them have stuck around. “Bringing back people would be a fairly rapid transition,” he said.

    Bollinger — who employs about 3,000 people in Louisiana and whose firm typically has hundreds of openings, mostly at its repair facility in Amelia — said he expected to be deluged with resumes when Avondale’s closing was announced. But it didn’t happen, and his company has hired only about 50 former Avondale employees.
    Neither going to Pascagoula nor working for Boysie Bollinger seems particularly appealing to these folks for some reason.

  • Google's plan to turn your every idea or public discussion about anything into an advertisement.
    When the new ad policy goes live on Nov. 11, Google will be able to show what the company calls shared endorsements on Google sites and across the Web, on the more than two million sites in Google’s display advertising network, which are viewed by an estimated one billion people. If a user follows a bakery on Google Plus or gives an album four stars on the Google Play music service, for instance, that person’s name, photo and endorsement could show up in ads for that bakery or album. Such product endorsements, especially from friends and acquaintances, are a powerful lure to brands, replicating word-of-mouth marketing on a broad scale. Social advertising — which includes a wide range of ads, including endorsements — is a $9.5 billion business, according to eMarketer, accounting for 8 percent of digital ad spending.

  • Related: Here is Thomas Frank writing about the Silicon Valley (which we really should think of as the new Madison Avenue) obsession with monetizing "creativity" whatever that might be.

    Those who urge us to “think different,” in other words, almost never do so themselves. Year after year, new installments in this unchanging genre are produced and consumed. Creativity, they all tell us, is too important to be left to the creative. Our prosperity depends on it. And by dint of careful study and the hardest science — by, say, sliding a jazz pianist’s head into an MRI machine — we can crack the code of creativity and unleash its moneymaking power.

    That was the ultimate lesson. That’s where the music, the theology, the physics and the ethereal water lilies were meant to direct us. Our correspondent could think of no books that tried to work the equation the other way around — holding up the invention of air conditioning or Velcro as a model for a jazz trumpeter trying to work out his solo.

    And why was this worth noticing? Well, for one thing, because we’re talking about the literature of creativity, for Pete’s sake. If there is a non-fiction genre from which you have a right to expect clever prose and uncanny insight, it should be this one. So why is it so utterly consumed by formula and repetition?

  • Here's an amusing stunt by comedian Sam Hyde who passed himself off as a presenter at a TED show. For the uninitiated, TED is kind of a tent revival circuit of motivational talks for middle managers who worship the Creativity consensus thinking Frank describes. Hyde bullshits his way onstage and delivers... well.. this.

  • Bill Moyers on the House Republican rump:
    Despite what they say, Obamacare is only one of their targets. Before they will allow the government to reopen, they demand employers be enabled to deny birth control coverage to female employees; they demand Obama cave on the Keystone pipeline; they demand the watchdogs over corporate pollution be muzzled and the big bad regulators of Wall Street sent home. Their ransom list goes on and on. The debt ceiling is next. They would have the government default on its obligations and responsibilities.

    When the president refused to buckle to this extortion, they threw their tantrum. Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn down the place, sink the ship.
  • From Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union speech:
    But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"

    To be sure, what the robber demanded of me - my money - was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle.

  • Yesterday, as the shutdown talks moved back to the Senate, Harry Reid kept up the hardball stance.
    At an afternoon news conference, Reid said he wanted a shorter period for stopgap funding and a longer extension of the Treasury’s borrowing authority. Reid particularly wants to scale back deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, which were passed during the 2011 debt-ceiling showdown and will take effect every January for the next decade, unless Congress amends them.

    Exclusive footage of Senate negotiations between Reid and McConnel

  • Speaking of stomping on the Tea Party, the Saints kickoff in New Engaland in about an hour and a half. This means, among other things, I'm going out for beer. Here, via B&G Review, is a moment of greatness for you to ponder in the meantime.

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