During last year’s presidential primary sweepstakes, the ever plucky Bernie Sanders (can you call a septuagenarian “plucky?) infamously declared he would abolish all college tuition. Plenty practical folks brushed this Marxist rhetoric aside, but those were the adults in the room. The kids ate it up. (And I wouldn’t doubt the idea appealed to a few of their parents, especially after seeing the burden of the obnoxious levels of debt modern college attendance can require.) Still, no one considered this a serious policy. For any number of reasons, common Continue Reading “Cuomo’s “Free” Tuition Plan Reveals His Techno-Ignorance”
After living above the Pizzeria on South Park Avenue in Blasdell, my grandparents moved to Lake Avenue in Orchard Park. It wasn’t more than three miles away, but they decided to go to a new parish, one closer to their new home. Our Lady of Sacred Heart sits on Abbott Road just north of the intersection with Lake Avenue, about a mile away from what would soon become Rich Stadium, home of Western New York’s National Football league team the Buffalo Bills.
At the time the Bills still played their games in downtown Buffalo on a field lovingly referred to as “The Rockpile,” (it was officially known as War Memorial Stadium). However, the team Continue Reading “Why I Can No Longer Stand the Buffalo Bills”
There’s something about this season that evokes bygone memories. These aren’t sepia toned memories – I’m not that old – they’re more like a mix of warm vibrant colors filmed with a soft lens. In other words, they bring forth feelings both nostalgic and pleasant. Think of a classic Christmas postcard, its snow covered landscape offering the perfect contrast to the brilliant but somehow muted colors surrounding a heartfelt home filled with love and the joy of expectation. This paints the picture of the memories I’m writing about.
Except my memories aren’t make believe. They are very real, although the distant years sometimes make me wonder if the soft lens distorts more than the crisp definitions we’ve become all too accustomed to in the digitized world in which we live. No matter. The price of a slight distortion here and there is well worth the comfort of the inner smile they bring.
Of course these memories, as they do for everyone and almost by definition, come from Continue Reading “A Christmas Postcard”
The role of the media in society has been the subject of debate since before our country’s founding. Such was the oppression of the British government during the pre-Revolutionary era that our Founding Fathers, with great wisdom and foresight, codified “freedom of speech” directly on our Constitution via the first amendment. Through the years “polite society” has continually modified what was considered “proper decorum” when it came to public communication, it’s only been until very recently that our nation has forgotten the corollary of the First Amendment: “I may disagree with you but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” In modern times, it’s becoming increasingly accepted to wish death upon those that disagree with you.
The role of the press in maintaining the freedom of speech cannot be understated, and jolly old England appears front and center in this fight. It was Queen Elizabeth I who, in 1585, first created laws to limit the freedom of the press. Here’s the flavor of those laws: Continue Reading “Dave Snyder and The Alfred Sun Show How to Promote (Civil) Community Discussion”
Bring an old weathered football up to your nose, close your eyes, and take a good whiff. Can you smell it? Do images of sweaty muddied gruff men, caked with sweat and blood, move in slow motion within your brain? Do your muscles tighten in pleasant anticipation at the thought of the gridiron? If so, then congratulations. You are part of a dying breed, a member of a secret society that long ago closed its doors to new applicants.
Well, not exactly. Those doors remain open today and they will forever stay open. It’s just that, in an era of prefabricated microwave cooking, no one wants to go through the Continue Reading “The Annual Thanksgiving Mudbowl”
Imagine being a physics and astronomy major at a school interested in politics and government where the most popular major is political science and economics. It’s tough. You can’t engage in discussions, you can only listen. You know nothing, unless the conversation turns towards nuclear energy policy (which it almost never does) or space exploration (which it doesn’t ever).
That was me heading into the 1980 presidential primary season. I was nothing more than a naïve cheerleader. I wanted to be more, but what? In an ocean of future neo-cons, think tank thinkers, and government policy makers, I was merely a small deserted isle that didn’t even merit a place on the map. I tried and tried to think of a way I could add value, to discover something in one of the classes I took that would generate at least interest, if not respect, among my more politically knowledgeable classmates. About the only unique differentiator I offered was that I had lived in Jack Kemp’s congressional district, but that was just a novelty of coincidence.
Then it struck me. While all these talking heads spent their class time debating the merits Continue Reading “Here’s What I Learned When I was a Professional Political Pollster”
The group of more than a dozen met at a row of tables by the windows towards the back of the Pinehurst dining room. It was the early 1990s, and most businesses by then had discovered the most profitable way to increase productivity meant equipping its employees with personal computers. Spreadsheets, word processing, and this new thing called “PowerPoint” became the standard. Employers, though, had one challenge – they were ill-prepared to train their employees. It was one of those “old dog – new tricks” conundrums.
So the HFL Board of Education decided the best way the school district could add value to Continue Reading “The Soul of the Machine”
On a late Winter morning in 1775, William French woke up for the last time. The lively 22 year old lived in the Town of Bennington, a municipality only five years older than the young adult. Self-named by Benning Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire, the small hamlet lie on the west side of the Connecticut River, nestled in the broad curve of the oxbowing waterway in the fertile eastern valley beneath the Green Mountains. French walked that afternoon of March 13th along King’s Highway until he reached the farm house of an eccentric old patriot by the name of Capt. Axariah Wright. There he met Daniel Houghton and nearly 100 other men. They were there to tackle a pressing problem.
Many people know how I make my living. Every day I go to the office, sit behind six flat screens spewing economic and corporate data, and meticulously scan lists upon lists of publicly traded companies in search of winning stocks. On the face of it, you’d think I was a numbers guy. OK, OK, I admit it. I am a numbers guy. But a good numbers guy knows the limits of numbers, and numbers do have limits. The trouble with the stock picking industry is that it believes too much in the numbers. Numbers only tell a (small) part of the story. The bulk of the story is told by behavior – human behavior. That’s what I really do every day. Sure, I look at the numbers, but I’m really looking for clues in behavior. When I started my own firm, people – both professionals and academics – laughed at behavioral finance. Today, everyone is trying to work (the now Nobel prize winning) concept of “behavioral economics” into their marketing spiel. Ironically, even that becomes a factor in the behavioral analysis of stocks, markets, and the broader economy itself.
Perhaps I’ll explain how this works at a future date. For now, I think there’s greater interest (aside from greater timeliness) to explain how the psychology of behavior works in Continue Reading “Behind the Curtain: How Media Influences You”
The Buffalo Bills and I have a lot in common. We were both conceived in 1959 and emerged into the world (and the playing field) in July of 1960. That I was born in Buffalo means I was born a Buffalo Bills fan. That doesn’t make me much different from any other red (and white and blue) -blooded Greater Western New Yorker. Of course we cheer our team (and curse it, depending on the effectiveness of the particular play call). Actually, we don’t just cheer our team, we eat and breathe and live and die our team. We are the very definition of “fan” (as in “fanatical”).
How do you know you’re a rabid Bills fan? For one thing, you felt personally attacked and oppressed by the national media during the Bills’ four-year Superbowl run (they, along with the NFL, were out to get us, weren’t they?). But die hard Bills fans don’t limit Continue Reading “The Buffalo Bills: The Real “America’s Team””