Sunday, July 31, 2005

News of the Day

  • No Thanks, I think I'll take the bus home. More issues with the shuttle Discover - New York Times
  • A perfect example of pension planning gone wrong. United Airlines employees are looking at a hair cut (Ya, it is always someone elses fault) - New York Times
  • Living to retire? Security is nice, but is that what life is all about? Globe and Mail
  • Air Ballllllllllllllllllllllllll! A little white lie isn't mortgage fraud is it? Hey the loan officer said it was ok - Miami Herald

I'm so damn straight..............

and I am not talkin' about sexual preferences.

I'm talking business scrupples (we had a small event at a box at the Skydome yesterday and while almost every guest asked if we owned the box, we were very clear with all of them that we just rented it for the game - it also happened to be the team owner's box).

While, you always have to do a little bit of spinning, there is a clear difference between selling and scamming. I'll give you an example. I just watched a segment on W5 about a guy named Curtis Malinowski.

Yes, it is another fraud story.

More Evidence That Life Isn't Fair

Canada police raid Marijuana Party on U.S. request

- No indictments for the bankers that conspire and cooperate to unknowlingly rip off investors in the Enron Fiasco, but bust some guy who peddles weed to consenting consumers. Is this the left wing Liberal government attempt to placate the US government or typical Canadian stupidity (yes, stupidity).

Silly Corporate Slogans (Why it is silly to approve corporate initiatives while stoned)

I'm standing at the bank machine around 6:45 this morning (Lil' guy woke up at 5 and by 6:30 MOLG - Mother of Lil' Guy - wanted a latte from Fivebucks, I mean Starbucks, so off I went), when the TDCanadaTrust's slogan flashes across the screen:

- Banking can be this comfortable.


What? Does this actually mean anything? Banking can be as comfortable as standing at an ATM before 7 am on a Sunday morning without having gone to the bathroom yet? What in god's name is TD talking about?

Did someone in TD's marketing department get high before approving this slogan.......... it is one thing to smoke some weed to get creative and come up with some ideas, it is another to approve one while stoned. (What I am getting at is that lots of thing sound good while inebriated, but are really quite stupid when sober)

Another great example of this stoned/sober conundrum is the minivan. For about the first 10 years or so, minivan's only had a sliding door on one side of the car, making it difficult to access the far end of the back seat benches. then someone got the idea to put sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle................like a normal 4 door car...............go figure.

Bottom line..............Inebriation may be great for coming up with ideas, but vet them through a sober eye before execution.

Now that is something you will not read in any text book.

While this may be fake............it is funny as hell

Friday, July 29, 2005

Hi Ho! Hi Ho!

It's off to clean up a balance sheet I go.

Still dealing with this small metal fabricator. Have to buy out the bank, get the BDC to subordinate to us, service tax arrears and deal with some claims and judgments.

Given the tenuous situation, it means that we will want 100% control of the cash flow - both payables and receivables. We want to make sure that our cash is being used as it should be and not ending up in the owner's pockets...........so we are looking to install a new controller in the company. While the company is going to be resistant at first, it will help them in the long run.

Initially the company will still be tight for cash, but its affairs will be in order. The government has agreed to stick with 15K/month in payments for the next 3 months. As long as these guys bring in the new business, they will grow. it may require over advancing, but I can live with it.

The company owners are good guys, very simple and not into paper work

I wonder what his buyout was

Goodenow was making about 2.5 million with the NHLPA. Did he take a buy out or just walk away? Was it based on the 2.5 million a year or 24% less than that? Regardless, he got a sweet deal for someone who led the players down the garden path. The only thing funnier is that he is being replaced by the chief negotiator.........now that is funny! AP

My bet is he shows up working for an NHL team, after all the owners owe him one.

News of the Day

  • Will the RCMP pension fund invest?- Tim Horton's IPO (Globe and Mail)
  • I wonder who has the dirt on this kid (he must have a good skeleton) - Lachlan Murdoch resigns (News.com.au)
  • Handle-bar moustache to become standard issue at Chrysler under the new boss (Chicago Tribune)
  • Ah, the begining of the beginning - the breeding of a stock analyst - (New York Times)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Happy Slapping

I think that someone should make a name for themselves happy slapping politicians and Fortune 500 CEOs. Nothing violent, just a slap on the ass.

A few people who need a happyslapping:

  • Tom DeLay
  • Rick Santorum
  • Canada's own Stephen Harper
  • Ralph Nader
  • John Mack
  • The "Bush Twins"
  • Frank Dunn
  • Richard Branson
  • Clay Ford
  • Donald Trump

Dealing with Liars

is similar to dealing with fools, except different. Both are an act and attempts to manipulate - one is an act of ommission, the other an act of commission.


A fool pretends not to understand, a liar says things they are know are false (a good liar tells the truth 90% of the time).

While I never pressure or question the fool, I grill the liar - I take careful notes and catch the liar in their lies. A good lie is a simple lie - minimizes the chance of getting caught.

Grill the liar, work on their sense of vanity and shame - they hate getting caught and being exposed. What ever you do, do not get mad and do not get emotional. Once a liar knows they are caught in a web, they will start getting aggresive and attacking you, trying to poke holes in your argument - that is when you know you have flustered them.

One of the last liars I dealt with, told me that if he didnt return a call by noon, I could call him a liar. So at 12:30, I picked up the phone and asked him if he was a liar, he said no. My response was, you said that if you didn't call me by noon, you were a liar, so are you a liar? This went on for about 10 minutes and by the end of it the guy was screaming like a lunatic, telling me that I shouldn't be calling him a liar and how dare I talk to him in that manner..........this was after hearing his lies for 2 weeks. The ability to get under the skin is a talent of mine!

Evening News

- Ah, nothing like the academics of business. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study that takes a look at business school studies and whether or not anyone really cares? - Knowledge@Wharton
- Indigo Books - We didn't do as bad as last year, but we still lost money - Canoe Money
- Bad Traders, You were bad, so we are cutting your allowance - Reuters

News Round Up

- Canadian travelers may be stupid. Either that or we are girding for war with Denmark- Reuters
- Used book sales hurt publishers? How about the fact that the entire new book industry works on consignment - Now that hurts publishers. Imagine if your clients could pay you for new inventory with old inventory they could not sell - NYTIMES
- Too much sell, sell. Not enough buy, buy - Mack starts to hack with a Cruz missile at Morgan Stanley - Bloomberg
-Private equity is starting to become passe, everyone and his brother are into it - Reuters
- How in the world has not a single Canadian bank been charged criminally in the Enron fiasco - Ottawa Business Journal

Denmark and Canada at War?

Canada's Arctic spat with Denmark hits Internet

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A spat between Canada and Denmark over a tiny Arctic island has moved to the Internet, where a Canadian man is dueling an unknown opponent over who really owns the disputed lump of rock (continued...)

- Well no, but, it could get nasty and Danish goods (pastry, Great Dane puppies and those butter cookies in the blue tins - do they make anything else?) could be cut out of the Canadian market place. Damn those Danes!

Rumor also has it that Canada has created a special elite military unit, trained in Israel, especially for this occupation and that the Danes have be getting pointers from the Palestinians

How not to respond to a lender

when they ask to meet the borrower face to face.

Why?


Never ask a lender why they want to meet the borrower face to face...........giant red flag!

Wanna know why you need to pay your taxes?

Oh Mr. Taxman!

So we are trying to put out a term sheet (low six figures) for a small metal finishing company.............and of course they have some tax issues.........low 6 figures with a settlement in place that calls for 8 monthly payments of a low 5 figure sum.

Having said that, we need to make sure that the government is subordinate to us. We call up the tax dude and when he hears that this little company is getting "all of this money", he starts saying he wants larger payments.

We tell him that he cut a deal and if he doesn't stick to his deal, the chances of him seeing a dime of the back taxes are slim to nil..................let's see where this one goes.

Having said that, this is a company that employs about 10 people and keeps them off the welfare line. While the tax man is looking at potentially killing the company, it is also looking at killing about 12 jobs or about $10,000 a person.

Tax Dollars At Work

Another reason why I am glad I dont live in Saskatchewan CBC

News of the Day - July 28, 2005

- After taxing porn 25%, are they are going to start taxing vasaline and Kleenex? -InformationWeek
- Let the liquor flow - World's largest buyer of alcohol avoids a strike - National Post
- DaimlerChrylser is not so Smart - CNN
- Next up, the Porsche Roadmaster - MSNBC

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

NASA Engineers ain't too worried

VOA News - Shuttle Launch Debris Deemed No Significant Problem So Far

...........I wonder how the people actually on the shuttle feel about this. I hope they brought some extra tile and grout with them. If one of them had some experience laying tile, even better.

A quick tutorial on how to run a 100 Million dollar business into the ground

RAM boss talks

7/27/2005 5:00:00 PM - Alan Schweitzer inherited a successful, $100-million firm when his brother died, only to see it spiral into insolvency. In an exclusive interview, he tries to make sense of what went wrong (continued...)

-Usually, it is the offspring that run the business into the ground, not the siblings...............but hey, I guess its part of being innovative

News of the Day (Ya it is late........Sue Me)

- Lets see how they can blame this on Canada - HoustonChronicle.com - Releasing mad-cow test results debated
- Post-penitentiary Pop is over for Martha - Reuters
- New Chicago Tower to get you closer to heaven
-Surprise, an airline is still losing money (Detroit Free Press). From now on, they should only write about airlines when they make money!

Is Jail Good PR

Is going to jail for a year a good 365 day investment in PR?
Lil' Kim "Naked" Before Prison - Yahoo! News

Anyone? Any Ideas?

Taxes

Business owners, pay your taxes....keep them current............kills the financing...........trust me!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Is GM going to hell in a hand basket?

GM to sell up to $55 bln in loans

By Tom Brown
DETROIT (Reuters) - The finance arm of General Motors Corp. (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Tuesday said it will sell up to $55 billion in car loans to Bank of America (BAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) in a deal that may secure near-term financing at the cost of future profits (continued... )

-Guys, it is time to start thinking carve out (of GMAC that is).................unless there is something nasty hiding deep inside those balance sheets that GM wants no one to see. Having said that, the headline is a littel misleading as GM is set to sell the 55 bln over 5 fiscal years.

What most small businesses

need are not more "consultants" who are going to "tell" them how they should be "running" their business, but rather "consultants" who will help set up internal processes to make sure the business runs smoothly.........Big Difference, trust me!

We are currently trying to do a deal that we want to do, but their internal records suck (like really suck) and they can't put together the information we need to make a decision!

A perfect example of

ramming something down your opponent's throat comes to us via the White House and the quagmire over Bolton's UN nomination.

I wonder how long this temporary post will be?

Had a meeting with

Roger from biz launch yesterday afternoon.

Guys (and gals), if you are going to start your own business, their program is probably a worthwhile investment of your time and money..........it could save you a lot in the long run.

As we see a huge number of business, the one thing we find is that there are lots of people who are good at the operations end of the business and not so good on the record keeping/admin end...........

In a small business, you really don't have the option of outsourcing your administration....you have to be good at it!

The secret to the US energy policy

I think I am starting to see the key to the US energy policy emerge in the soap opera that is the CNOOC-UNOCAL deal. It is a bit of stretch, but stick with me here:

  • US is concerned about the Chinese military;
  • Like all militaries, the Chinese need oil to run it - oil is, as they call it, a strategic supply;
  • The US army needs oil, but less of it than the Chinese, because it is smaller;
  • SUV, hugely popular cars in North America but really serve no purpose for most people (that giant hill on the way to the corner store), use a lot of oil; so...........

Promote the sales of SUVs in North America, use a lot of oil to go and buy milk and leave less for the Chinese army...........that's the ticket!

News of the Day

  • The Next Bubble, after residential real estate.........Currency Trading. Already starting to see the scams. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Is bigger better? Won't you eventually run out of "big" things to buy........or more importantly, sell? (The Globe and Mail)
  • Microsoft, the new FBI/CIA/DOJ? Spread 'em boys and girls! (New York Times)
  • Derek DeCloet thinks that EBITDA is a good starting point to analyze income trusts.........how about this, look at the cashflow statement instead......EBITDA leaves out a few important things.........like changes in working capital, capital expenditures, financing....minor stuff really.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Chinese Lust for Oil: Business Prowess or Military Might

Who's Afraid of China Inc.?

By STEVE LOHR
Published: July 24, 2005
(New York Times) - WILLIAM A. REINSCH, an avowed free trader, welcomes China's rising stature in the international economy. After all, he is the president of the National Foreign Trade Council, an organization founded in 1914 to promote an "open world trading system." Indeed, when he was a senior trade official in the Clinton administration, Mr. Reinsch was chided by some security analysts who said he was being soft on China by placing matters of commerce ahead of national security (continued...)

-Rather than developing hybrid cars, maybe the US military should work on a hybrid tank..........just a thought..........

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Why don't I understand

why anyone would give Stephanie Klein a book deal? I am still trying to figure out why she is exceptional.

What she was a fatty? So were a lot of people.

She had a starter marriage? I'm sure she was the only person to ever get divorced.

Are they giving out awards for annoying self absorbed chicks?......If so, I know a bunch!

Kudos to Ms. Klein for making lemonade out of lemons............or something out of nothing!

Do you really want to know

what is in Kentucky Fried Rat.......er I mean Chicken.............apperantly, only a few people do.

Still can't believe people eat this stuff. They really should levy a health care tax on this crap..........if you want to kill youself, at least you should have to pay for it.

It really is amazing

the way blogs that add absolutely nothing to the web, like Gizmodo, can generate such huge amounts of traffic.........you would thing that gizmo's were an essential part of a full life

Answers to silly questions asked by newspapers

The Green Machine That Could Be Detroit
By DANIEL AKST
Published: July 24, 2005
(New York Times) IMAGINE that you are running a domestic automaker. Rising gasoline prices threaten your lucrative S.U.V. sales, a glut of car-making capacity promises ever more competition, and burdensome union contracts limit your ability to cut costs. Then there are the Chinese. They're beginning to put together the parts they've been making for years, and sooner rather than later, whole cars from China will arrive at scarily low prices (continued...)

-Cuz silly, if this happened, who would buy all the oil?

Things on tap of for the coming week

  • Paper the deal that just came in Saturday - small metal working shop - should be good for about 150K - Maybe do 2 deals this week - have another small one for 50 K
  • Select the material for our final prototypes for the new product
  • Finish organizing our baseball outing - we have rented the owners box at the Skydome (aka Rogers Center) for Saturday July 30 - still may have a few tickets to get rid of
  • Finish up Lil' Guy's DRIP

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Honesty

British police kill Brazilian in bomb probe blunder
By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - British police hunting London bombers admitted killing a Brazilian electrician by mistake -- a blunder that dealt a blow to their efforts to track down militants they fear could strike again (continued...)

From former London police chief John Stevens:
"There is only one sure way to stop a suicide bomber determined to fulfil his mission -- destroy his brain instantly, utterly. That means shooting him with devastating power in the head, killing him immediately."


Security and intelligence gotta be one of the toughest jobs out there.......only find out what you goof up........

Maybe Jean Charles de Menezes should not have run from the police.........or worn a teflon helmet......one or the other

The Fool - continued

As I have said in the past, the "fool" strategy can be used in a variety of situations, even by very experienced and knowledgeable people, well, at least people who should be experienced and knowledgeable.

Take for example the situation involving Dick Grasso and the NYSE. This week the WSJ reported that the board (or should that be bored) of directors of the NYSE, during the time of Dick Grasso, claimed not to understand his compensation contract and how the value of his pension package would grow with his salary. Click here to get the article (you need a subscription).

Keep in mind that the Board of the NYSE consists of people with this sort of background. While these people may not have specifically been on the board at the time the contracts were signed, you get the idea that the NYSE doesn't put dummies on its board.

Understanding a contract is an essential part of business, isn't it? Were these guys (and gals) a board - or bored - of being directors and just stopped paying attention.

The point of this post isn't to rip on Grasso for getting paid - how does the adage go - "When they give, you take. When they hit, you run" . It is for the numbskull use of excuse of "I didn't understand" by the people who are suppose to understand these things. At least be honest and say I wasn't paying attention.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Does he have the balls

to do it?
Leadership > Issues for CIOs > HP chief urged to take pay cut to augment cost savings

If I was in his position, I would do the exact opposite.......tell the board you want a raise. Show them who is boss! None of this pandering to the masses crap!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Our Product

Just got our first prototype back from the fabricator.............looks pretty good. Just a few slight modifications and we can knock out some larger volumes and launch the product

Ack Movin;

Stinks.

Took 4 days for Bell to get the phone up and running. I feel like I have been using 2 tin cans and a string for a phone/internet system.


Having said that, I am making a resolution for the new office. A little while back, I made a resolution to drop the word "hate" from casual conversation except for places where the emphasis is appropriate, like I hate Nazis or something like that, but no more "hating" things like late mail, coffee cups that are overfilled, etc. I think this helps remove the negativity from my life (Ya, I know I'm touchy feely now). I even got my wife on this kick

The next step is to stop (minimize) my complaining about things beyond my control. I'll see how this goes. This does not bar me from critiquing events.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sunglasses

I wear my sunglasses a lot, even indoors and at night.

It isn't because I think I am cool.

It is because I have a habit of losing anything that I don't wear, so if I bring another pair of glasses with me, chances are I will loose (or break) them

Movin' in


New Haunt
Originally uploaded by Josh Kerbel.
Note my spectacular view of the wall!

and movin' out


Old Haunt
Originally uploaded by Josh Kerbel.
Another spectacular shot

Packin' Up


Old Haunt
Originally uploaded by Josh Kerbel.
Where I spent the last year or so

So you have pledged all of your assets to the bank....

and your growing company still needs working capital?

Well, with a little bit good ol' fashion financial engineerin', the boys at da' Thack may have come up with the answer to your prayers (financial prayers that is, we cannot put a supermodel in your bed!)

If you want to know more, drop us a line.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Lil' Guy is a Cheap Lil' Guy

DirectInvesting.com - The Support System for Self-Reliant Investors

Probably the best resource I have come across for DRIP investing.

We have narrowed our search to companies that run low/no fee DRIP.

Now I know that many of you will say that this is not the way to pick stock, but there are enough no/low fee plans that it isn't too much of a big deal, plus the elimination of most fees/expenses make it easier to generate an acceptable return for the LGP (lil' guy portfolio)

Prescott Thackery is on da' move!

Kids,
Prescott Thackery is pulling up the tent pegs and hoofin' it uptown. Effective tomorrow, our address is:
94 Cumberland St.
#806
Toronto, Ontario
M5R 1A3

Blinding Flashes of the Obvious

Backing U.S in Iraq put UK at risk, think tank says - Reuters

Thanks for the insight.

Coming next from the Royal Institute of International Affairs a report titled Gravity: It Gets You Down

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lack of Discretion in Action (AKA takin' a hit)

Things went pretty crappy for Andrew Rankin, ex-RBC banker, with the verdict going against him on a few counts.

I guess my question is, who did Rankin, piss off (or whose wife did he sleep with) to end up in a predicament like this. The guys passes a few tips, in exchange for a few gifts, from a childhood friend and he ends up on trial, while the guy that makes the dough, walks free, keeping a few coins for himself?

Me thinks that something stinks here. Unless Rankin has a huge off-shore account somewhere, I can't for the life of me figure this out.

What, me invest in stocks? (Who you callin' a drip)


Lil' Guy Raisin' Hell
Originally uploaded by Josh Kerbel.
Yes, you lil'guy!

We are starting to build a DRIP (dividend reinvestement portfolio) for you so you will have a little stash for when you finish university and you want to actually do something with your youth, other than waste it working - there will be plenty of time for work.

This is in addition to your RESP and the little gift that your great grandfather has given you.

Our biggest challenge will be how do deal with currency fluctuations and investing in the US market.

One of the criteria we will be looking (all,right I will be looking) at is that a company will let you enroll in a DRIP with a single share and also allow the purchase of fractional shares

Once you are a little bit older, you will start managing this little portfolio on your own.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Search engine optimization part II

A few weeks back I started to take a look at search engine optimization for a new venture and I thought, why not give it a shot for the Prescott Thackery site, so I tweak and fiddled and boosted my Google rankings for the following terms ( I know they are not the most competative terms, but they work for my business):

Toronto Invoice Discounting: Got this to number 1

Toronto Invoice factoring: got this to number 2 or 3

Toronto Invoice financing: got this to number 3 or 4

Toronto factoring company: Got this to number 9

And the most competative term - Toronto Factoring - bouncing around from 8 to 11 (second page)

I'm getting there........this is good practice

Did Ebber's deserve 25 years?

Probably, he ruined a lot of people.

Having said that, I think the justice system needs to think outside of the box when punishing people like this. While stripping him of his assets was a step in the right direction, ere are a couple of ideas:

  • Make him work for the rest of his life at a minimum wage job, like McDonald's
  • Put his skills to work at a non profit. Still pay him minimum wage and make him wear a silly uniform, but get some more out of him. He obviously has great people skills

I think him and the Tyco boys would look good together cleaning out grease traps.

Just an idea

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Played my first Poker Game Last Night

Managed to hold my own for the entire night with my initial $20 buy in (the only money I brought with me). Played it very tight most of the time, so it set me up for some believable bluffs - some of which worked, some of which saw me get beat by another junk hand with a better high card.

Made a point of never chasing a hand.........most of the time. I think that this goes with my personal motto "Never chase women or buses...............you always get left behind".


Have to bone up on my statistics for the next game.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Flowboards for you, Flowboards for me,


Another Flowboard Shot
Originally uploaded by Josh Kerbel.
Flowboards are being rolled out in 3 more HBC's! (see the little poem)

In addition to the flagship store on Yonge Street, Flowboards are going to Winnipeg, Newmarket and Etobicoke!

Yahoo!

Using your power (appropriately for god sakes)

Sometimes, the greatest show of power, is not exerting any at all.

Other times, you have to ram things down people's throats.

It's all a matter of the situation, but sometimes people don't respond to anything other than brute force as they are somewhat obtuse to the subtleties of a situation or they are just plain ol' dense in the mem-brain.

However, the greatest waste of power is not to use it, whichever way happens to be appropriate at the time, when you have it.

I'll have a good story (story that is) to share shortly

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tightenin' the thumbscrews (It's always about brinkmanship)

So that $2 million deal we were working on still hasn't closed. Client is still trying to strong arm me on my fee, which he knew from 4 months ago, was a percentage of the maximum authorized credit, payable on close.

Lender is getting pissed off (which is expected) and called up my client and told them that they have to 5pm today and the deal is off the table - which I suggested they do. The lender is starting to get a bad feeling about my client (and quite rightly) and I told my client this in an email this morning. The client knew enough to know that the lender wouldn't kill the deal back on the 30th. If I was the one funding the deal, I would have killed it - That is the difference between working for a large company and running your own show.

The last time I spoke with my client, on friday of last week, I told him I would be glad to renegotiate my fee to fit his "timing" needs. The fee goes up by 0.5% and I will take my fee over 3 months. This was in addition to my offer to keep my fee unchanged and take 67% of it on close and 33% 30 days later. I initially made this offer to the client back on June 30 when he called me and agreed to this arrangement. He even went as far as to tell me to fax him over a letter authorizing the changes and he would sign back the approval letter.


He then tried to pull the "fool" act on me as in, I didn't understand your fee agreement when I signed it. I told him a fool doesn't build a 15 million dollar a year business and a fool doesn't sign something he doesn't understand.

He also told me that I he doesn't close, my fee goes bye-bye - which is true. My response was that I don't care, this deal died for me back on the 30th, you don't sign it, its your problem...........Hope that 45% a year interest on your current factoring facility works out for you.

I have to give the guy credit though, he tried to push - even tried to play the lender against me (rather transparent, but never the less, it takes guts). Asked the lender to pay me out over a year (this was up from 6 months on friday).

This was, and is, a simple deal on paper, however the glaring personality issues are making it quite complicated. Part of me is tempted to call him and ask him what his deficit is, but that is just playing into his game. He is waiting for me to cave - but I am not the one making a $15 million bet, he is.

So I am going to sit tight. At this point my client has 4 options

1. Walk - Yes some people are this crazy
2. Sign the approval letter back
3. Sign the approval letter back along with my letter stating that I will delay taking a portion of my fee.
4. Accept my new fee proposal, boosting my fee to 3% and getting paid out over 60 days

This my friends, has been a long, painful poker game. Which reminds me, I am playing in my first real poker game this wednesday. Everyone is kicking in 20 bucks and the winner takes all at the end of the night................stakes are a little less painful

Monday, July 11, 2005

Plagiarism (Blagiarism: Copying blogs without identifiying the source?)

Look's like Fred Wilson is a little pissed that someone was lifting his work. Fully understand him getting pissed.

Me on the other, i'd be excited if someone thought I was worth copying............makes me an expert on something at least.

How (not) to keep a secret

Internet Chatroom Helps Keep City of London Open
By Jane Merriman, Reuters and Alistair MacDonald, Reuters July 8, 2005

LONDON, July 8 (Reuters)—A secret Internet chatroom run by Britain's financial regulators helped keep London's financial markets open after Thursday's bomb blasts, while financial firms activated security measures in case of further attacks (continued)...


-Secret internet chatroom...........a good way to keep it secret is by not talking about it to the press. Three cheers for security! Hip Hip Horray! Hip Hip Horray! Hip Hip Horray!

Product Design

So we are still working on the design for the new product that we are launching. We are under a bit of a crunch due to some advertising deadlines I am trying to hit.

Just got the schematics back for the prototype and they look pretty good. Made some minor modifications and hopefully they will be good to go. If the prototypes look good, I can use them for my advertising and start taking orders before I go to full out manufacturing...........remember the goal........NEGATIVE WORKING CAPITAL

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Big Three Carve Outs....

Are we going to see some large private equity players take a shot at carving out portions of the manufacturing operations of the Big Three North American auto manufacturers?

Its just a though, but it may be a way for the big three to cut some of their fixed cost, while maintaining their sales and distribution networks. Some people out there have similar ideas.

We've seen it done recently in other sectors, although I think that Ford has it backwards with its recent Visteon play or should I say re-play. One could say that Ford is a contrarian in the face of large outsourcing/carve-out deals, but given recent strategies at the North American auto makers, one could be forgiven for thinking that Ford is missin' da' boat.

Oy Gevalt!

Hasidic Reggae!

Matisyahu (Excellent in Hebrew) Miller

Saturday, July 09, 2005

And they're off..............It's the race.........

to the bottom!

GM Will Extend Employee-Discount Offer; Chrysler and Ford Follow Suit
Edmunds.com
07-05-2005
DETROIT - GM announced the extension of its wildly popular employee-discount program. In rapid succession, Chrysler and then Ford announced employee-discount-to-all plans of their own (continued)...

Chrysler has even brought Lee Iacocca (Watch this.............IACOCCA: I Am Chairman Of Chrysler Corporation America) back.

According to Edmunds.com

It also didn't end up costing the company much more money than previous promotions as GM's incentive cost per vehicle rose just $136 to $3865 in June, said research firm Edmunds.com.
"The company had an outstanding sales month while only marginally increasing its incentives spending, having lowered cash rebates and special financing programmes in order tosubsidizee the promotion," said Jane Liu, vice president of data analysis for Edmunds.com

Dude, or Dudette, I should say, didn't GM already lose about $1.98 billion from operations (i.e. actually making cars as GM is an automotive manufacturer for those of you who didn't know) and a $1.1 billion net loss in the first quarter of 2005 (so your financing arm made you some cash.........Yipee!) so what is another $136 a car for the month of june. GM sold 550,829 vehicles in June, so if my math serves me correctly, this is another $74,912,744 in costs. Did GM negotiate additional volume discounts from suppliers? I hope they at least got another $75 million worth

-so your companies are having a few business issues, your debt rating takes a shit-kicking.................and you start cutting prices. Yes, your sales have increase, but is this profitable? What sort of pension short fall do you guys have? What are your health care costs? Hey GM, isn't your largest production cost per car your pension plan or is it health care.......should it be steel or maybe wages?

Why aren't the Japanesee or Europeanss (I don't see the Daimler part of DaimlerChrysler AG cutting prices)? How about this idea..............build better cars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Notice that they don't say how old this Alpha Mom is

in the article

Empire of the Alpha Mom - Does the world need a Martha Stewart of parenting? Isabel Kallman would like to submit her résumé. By Randall Patterson

-Her idea of ideal parenting is to outsource everything. I'm not sure if the article was published simply to get a rise out of the readership or if someone thinks that this the new ideal way to raise a child.

Betting against the experts

Reichmann Family's Plan to Sell Assets Is Rejected

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- The Reichmann family's plan to sell its Canadian real estate to a group led by Brookfield Properties Corp. was rejected by O&Y Real Estate Investment Trust unit holders, scuttling a C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) deal that would have made Brookfield Canada's No. 2 office-building manager (continued)...

- Reichman has previously said it was time to get out of the real estate market...........sage advice from a group that made a fortune in real estate, lost it and made it back again. This is a prime example of the Bigger Fool Theory working against you.............the bigger fool is supposed to be the purchaser, not the seller's minor shareholders.

One shareholder was quoted as saying ``I voted it down because when you have an asset that's bringing in income like the O&Y REIT has, and it's got the finest real estate in Toronto, you don't sell something like that.'' Sounds like someone who has never lost any money before...............a bird in the hand baby, a bird in the hand......................................

Friday, July 08, 2005

What do you say to......

a client who wants to renegotiate a fee agreement right before the closing of a deal?


No.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Are entrepreneurs stupid or do you have to be stupid to be an entrepreneur?

or is it kinda like the chicken and the egg?

The reason I ask is that most reasonably intelligent people understand the word NO, however, most entrepreneurs, god bless their little hearts, don't seem to understand the word NO.
I think of myself as being halfway in the middle as an essential part of my business is saying NO, but yet I eat what I kill.

When I say no to my 18 month old son (aka Little Guy) when I see him throwing food on the floor, he laughs at me and continues to throw food on the floor.

So is it stupid people or those with a limited understanding of the world around them that make things happen...........probably. I guess the thing to take away from this is that when you hear NO, laugh and keep asking, you will eventually wear somebody down..............except me!

Trust

As someone in the business of financing companies, I tie people up left, right and center with tons of legal clauses in the piles of paperwork that we use in documenting a deal.

Having said that, the only people I feel comfortable doing business with are those people who I trust because if that trust isn't there, all the legal documentation in the world won't save you from having your ass handed to you in a bad deal. While it may sound ironic, the only people who I actually like to finance are those who I would finance without any documentation. Having said that, much like high fences make good neighbours, good documents make for good lender/borrower relations.

It is with these people who I actually trust, I will give a bit more leeway than I would with a regular client. While this doesn't mean I acquiesce to their every request, it does mean that I am willing to help them out of a bad spot as long as they are up front and straight forward with me.

One of the realities

of negotiations, which is a large part of what we do, is that ethnic and cultural backgrounds come into play.

As politically incorrect as it may be to some people, all people are not the same and what is accepted behavior in some culture is out and out rejected by others.

What this means is that you learn to expect different behaviors from different cultures and you have to develop strategies for dealing with them and, well sometimes, it gets a little dirty.

A Piece of Advice........

for anyone negotiating a loan. Do not, I repeat, do not go back and renegotiate a terms sheet when your lender hands you a loan approval. This destroys goodwill and gives the lender all the reason in the world to walk away from the deal (and grab any good faith deposit you may have put up - which you have) .


If nothing major has changed from the terms letter you signed to the approval letter the lender gives you, you have no basis from which to negotiate, assuming you signed the terms sheet of your own free will. If you don't understand something in a terms letter, do not sign it.

Saying that you didn't understand what you signed doesn't work in the real world..................just the court room.

A perfect example of why you follow instructions.......

Especially when they come from a judge!

We were pitched on a deal 2 days ago. The short of it is that our potential client was looking to buy $2 million of equipment out of a bankruptcy. The potential client had already put up $1.925 million and need another $75K to make it work and has a deadline of Wednesday night.


On Wednesday (the day of the dead line), the guy secures the $75K from a friend (who we would then buy out) and then attempts to pay it into court by way of a cheque (check for those of you who are American). the problem is that the courted order required a certified cheque and or bank draft, not a personal cheque.

So what happened............

The court did not accept the $75,000 and ruled that our potential client had forfeited the other $1.925 million he had already paid into court. Yes, this guy just lost almost 2 million dollars for not following instructions. At least the creditors are happy!

I don't make this stuff up!

Flowboards hit HBC in Toronto

Lefty International , one of our portfolio companies, has its Flowboards hitting HBC (The Bay) at their flagship store at Yonge and Queen. For more on the wonders of the Flowboard, check out Flowlab

Go buy a board and help Derek out! I promise you will love the board. This guy has product moving in almost every large retailer in Canada!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Discretion in Action

Fred Wilson had a great post on his blog about Judith Miller. Politics aside, sometimes keeping your mouth shut can be quite painful.

Search Engine Optimization

I am currently in the process of doing some research for our next venture and before I go out and blow a bundle on a web site and search engine optimization, I figured I would do some research on it myself.

I am amazed at all of the gossip and banter that surrounds the goings on of Google. Absolutely amazed!

The only thing I am more amazed with is the number of people who claim to be search engine optimization experts

Are we looking for empty promises?

"He's very difficult to deal with because he won't agree to things that he doesn't believe he can deliver, although that is very frustrating and annoying and infuriating," Bono told reporters while standing next to Martin"

Bono refering to Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin unwillingness to give a date by which Canada would raise its overseas assistance to 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product. See the rest of the article here.

-May be I am missing the context here (I assume there was some humor involved), but are Bono and Geldof looking for more empty promises? Aren't empty promises part of the problem?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Proof that when you have money, you can say anything

From my good friend, Maummar Gaddafi

Africa urges G8 to scrap debt, reform trade

By William Maclean

SIRTE, Libya (Reuters)
....

"The leaders delicately skirted around a call by their host, Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi, that they reject foreign aid extended under what he called humiliating conditions.

Gaddafi, a wealthy force among poor African states, had told the leaders on Monday that the solution to Africa's woes was the creation of one pan-continental country with one African passport and the appointment of federal ministers (continued)..."



-This isn't the first time that Gaddafi has proposed some bizarre merger of countries. Back when he was the "champion of the Arab world" (as opposed to his current role as champion of Africa), he proposed the merger of:


  • 1971 - National referendum approves proposed Federation of Arab Republics (FAR) comprising Libya, Egypt and Syria. However, the FAR never takes off.
  • 1972 - Libya and Egypt agree on a merger, but this fails to materialise.
  • 1974 - Libya and Tunisia agree on a union state - the "Islamic Arab Republic" - but this proves to be stillborn
  • 1980 - Libya and Syria agree on a merger, but this too fails to materialise; Libyan troops start intervening on a large scale in civil war in northern Chad. (Source - BBC)

Good luck with that Muammar, let me know how it turns out for you. Here is a hint, sell the synergy of the merger..........works for everyone else.

Wanna see a bank take an equity risk

for the cost of debt?

Buyout shops recap N.E.W.
by Kelly Holman
The Deal. Updated 10:42 AM EST, Jul-1-2005


TH Lee Putnam Ventures and Freeman Spogli & Co. are expected to announce today they have completed a $370 million financing that recapitalizes N.E.W. Customer Service Cos. and allows the two private equity firms to extract a dividend.....

Smith declined to comment on the size of the dividend payout to TH Lee, the company's largest shareholder, and to Freeman Spogli, except to say that it exceeded the firms' investment in N.E.W. in August 2004, when they recapitalized the business. That deal valued the business at about $370 million (continued)...

-essentially, the bank or debt investors are giving the company capital, probably at decent rates, in order to allow the owners to extract money from the company (not invest it in growth). Probably more money then they invested in the first place. So the shareholders get to own the business, benefit from profit and the lender is taking all of the risk as the owners have gotten their initial capital investment out. I wonder if there are any guarantees on the loan? Great deal for the lender........I wonder who bought this story.

What the lender is doing allows the owners to profit from the "value" of the company, rather than profits. Ask your bank if they will cut you a deal like this.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Another fine example of Discretion (or lack thereof) in action

In addition to the Video Vixen phenom going around Bay St. in Toronto, there is another scenario unfolding out on the left coast of the United States, Spokane, Washington state to be specific.

It seems that there are some issues relating to the mayor, Jim West, using the internet to fish for some chicken. A piece of advice to the mayor, you may not want to advertise the fact that you are they mayor while cruising the net for sex.

Just a thot!

The wonders of Walmart et al.

Having been dealing with big box retailers for a while, I have learned that the general public likes to suck and blow when it comes to saving money on their consumer products.

While the public loves lower prices, they often complain about the tactics and methods used by the behemoth retailers used to keep prices down. If anyone ever wants to see the other side (i.e. the suppliers who make sure the product hits the shelves), I can give you a few names, it could be enough to make you consider ever shopping at any of these places again.

What is ironic is that many of the small suppliers who work with the big box retailers fit in the exact demographic these retailers go after. Maybe the average consumer should get themselves a pair of C-IN2 underwear and spend their dollars elsewhere if they don't like the modus operandi.

Rackin' up the National Credit Card in the Name of Charity

So it looks like the Italian government is hiving off some assets in order to deal with its national debt, which currently stands around 106% of GDP. This alone should be enough to put them on double secret probation with the EU.

So does it make much logical sense for a country in this position to be committing to a .7% of GDP target by 2015 for foreign aid spending.


Is this any different than borrowing money from a friend who thinks he is rich because he can make his minimum monthly debt servicing payments?

I'm in the planning stages of the Concert to Rescue First World Nations from National Debt.

The goal of the concert will be to pressure multinational corporations to stopping using tax haven and other strategies to minimize the amount of tax they have to cough up to governments around the world...........sounds smashingly silly doesn't it?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

So where did Canadian taxpayer money go ($55 million of it at least)

-Back in March, the government of Canada unearthed some issues with work that HP was doing for the Department of National Defence.

DND money will be recovered: PM
Globe and Mail Update
Thursday, March 11, 2004
The Liberal government expressed confidence Thursday that it will be able to recover the $160-million it has lost in a massive fraud that potentially goes back a decade.
Reports surfaced Wednesday that the Department of National Defence has asked Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd. for a reimbursement after discovering a scheme involving fake invoices and subcontractors, unless HP can prove that work was actually done for the money...


Unfortunately, I missed this when it came out...

HP Agrees To Pay $105 Million To Canadian Government
By TechWeb.com
May 14, 2004

Hewlett-Packard on Friday said it has agreed to pay the Canadian government $105 million to settle a dispute stemming from a criminal investigation of a Defense Department outsourcing contract.
In announcing the deal, the Palo Alto, Calif., company did not admit to any wrongdoing, noting that it inherited the contracts through its 2002 acquisition of Compaq Computer.
"HP determined that it was important for the company to honor its contractual obligations, rather than engage in protracted litigation with the government of Canada, despite the lack of evidence that HP employees derived any improper benefit from the scheme," the company said in a statement (continued)...


So where is the rest of the money? I could understand this sort of settlement in a civil suit, but we are talking criminal here. I hope the next time I defraud the government of $160 million, I get to keep $55 million and just walk away.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Video Vixen Part III

Rumour has it that the Video Vixen of Bay Street has sent out a few "ransom" notes to members of her illustrious video club. No clue as to the demands, but I am sure a few divorce lawyers have been put on retainer. Could we be seeing something long the lines of Tommy and Pam in the coming days.............who said that the world of Canadian finance was so boring.

Could be the reason there are so many power brokers getting out of town for a summer holiday.

To do list for next week

The next CEO of Hollinger?

Irish police hunt Colombian conman who absconded from British prison
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK Associated Press Writer
Thursday, June 23, 2005
(AP) - DUBLIN, Ireland-Ireland's national police force warned hoteliers Thursday to be on guard for a Colombian conman who absconded this month from a British prison and has bluffed and charmed his way into other people's hotel rooms and safes worldwide.
Detectives said Juan Carlos Guzman-Betancourt, 29, was suspected of stealing cash, jewelry and a credit card from a room in a five-star hotel in Dublin and using the card for a shopping spree (continued)...

-Looks like this guy got picked up in Ireland a few days ago. His escape from a British jail was amazing (they let him go the the dentist........unescorted). How people get fooled by the quick talking slicksters is astounding............all the power to you. Much like gullible institutional investors, if someone falls for your schtick, ya gotta wonder if they deserve it.

News Flash............this just in from Live 8

July 2 2005 (Toronto) Live 8 organizers, just realizing that not a single dollar was being raised for debt relief, have hired the entire population of country of Chad (all 9,826,419 of them) in order to assist with the post concert clean up at the concert sites around the world. Chad was chosen after a competitive tendering process, with other bids coming in from Liberia, Ethiopia and Somalia

Logistical details are still being worked out, but the plan is for the government of Chad to charter the world's largest plane, the Antonov 225, to ferry workers to the sites.

Details of the deal were not released, although insiders suggest that Chad should just break even on the deal, but at least Chad is seeing some green tossed its way.

So really, what make gambling gambling?

Even Poolside, Casinos Entice by Hand-Held

By FOX BUTTERFIELD New York Times
July 2, 2005
LAS VEGAS, July 1 - No more need to fret about all that wasted time waiting in line for the buffet at your favorite casino. Or those tedious talks in a convention room just a few yards from the casino floor. Help is on the way to make it possible to gamble any time - in fact - all the time (continued).............

-Originally designed for bond trading, these little nifty devices allow adrenaline junkies to get another dose of excitement. Perhaps the only thing more ironic than the concern over casino gambling via the internet (after all, no one has a problem with stock market gambling over the internet) is the fact that the last name of the president of the Nevada Resort Association, which represents the major casino companies, is Bible.

Quick question.............

And the point is?
McKenna's militia takes on America's `Fox factor'
Ambassador arms Canadians in U.S. with facts, figures Begins campaign against negative image of Canada
TIM HARPER
WASHINGTON - Canada's ambassador to the United States marked Canada Day by embarking on an ambitious new goal - mobilizing more than a million Canadians in the U.S. to take their country's message to Americans (continued)....

-So let me get this straight, the idea is to get the over 1 million Canadians who have no voting rights in the US, unless they happen to be AMERICAN (which means that in most cases, they are not Canadian), to exert some influence on Washington so that Canada goes back to being thought of as a the place where "cold weather and Canadian bacon comes from".

It must because all the kids are playing with their Tamagotchi

Live 8 Fails to Generate Interest in Japan

By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer

MAKUHARI, Japan - The Live 8 global music marathon to raise awareness of African poverty began in Japan on Saturday, as Bjork and Good Charlotte joined local bands in a concert that failed to generate much interest in Asia's only G-8 nation(continued)...

-Is it because fad obsessed Japanese youth were too busy playing with their Tamagotchi, swapping customized ring tones or that the line up just sucked? Or are they saving their energies for The Concert To Erase Credit Card Debt?

Things to watch for in the coming week

  • Conrad Black joining the board of Enron (yes they still have one), Healthsouth and Adelphia
  • Sir Bob Geldof announcing his next benefit concert - The Concert To Erase Credit Card Debt - with funds being raised to help North Americans ease their debt burden. Credit card donations will be accepted.
  • The Sling Support Bathing Suit for men will fly off of shelves after being featured in the Style section of the July 2nd edition of the Globe and Mail. Rumor has it that Gerry McCaughey, the incoming chief executive officer of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, has bought a few suits to show people that he actually has a pair. He'll probably need them as CIBC is looking like a prime takeover candidate with its retreat to retail!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Here's a free idea to help America solve its pharmaceutical woes

Canada Drug Export Ban Could Change Rx Landscape in U.S.
By Amanda Gardner

FRIDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- If Canada makes good on its pledge this week to restrict exports of prescription drugs, it will mean short-term headaches for U.S. consumers needing cheaper, potentially lifesaving pharmaceuticals (continued)...

Cheap drugs from Canada are not the answer.......Cheap drugs from the US are!

-Here's a free idea for my American friends............imitate the US Department of Veteran Affairs and every HMO. It seems pretty obvious that the solution to the problem of high drug prices is to buy them in bulk. In other words the AARP should create a buying group out of all of its members, hell.............send out membership cards to every uninsured American.........works out to about 45 million people.............pretty good buying power there.

Did a small study during my MBA that compared drug pricing in the US. Lo and behold, those that bought in bulk got cheaper prices...........go figure.

Oh, I'm sorry, I missed when Sacha Trudeau became God!

Holding people without charges unCanadian, Trudeau says
Wed, 29 Jun 2005 11:32:04 EDT
CBC News

The son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau told a Federal Court that he believes a Muslim man jailed for alleged connections to terrorism is innocent and that Canada should abandon the controversial measures keeping him there.

Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau made the comments at the bail hearing Tuesday of Hassan Almrei, a Syrian national who has been detained for almost four years for alleged connections to al-Qaeda (continued)...

Not a lawyer, but not sure why Trudeau has standing at this hearing.

When a government lawyer suggested that Almrei had tricked Trudeau, he disagreed, saying world travels had inured him to such tactics.

"I have an instinct for that," he said

Now he's an oracle too. Hold everything.............Sacha has instincts! I'm impressed!

I'm far from right wing, but give me a break, you have met the guy twice while he was in jail. Why don't you take that camera for your planned documentary and.....................

Darfur Refugee Pissed Off (Damn you Geldof!)

Looks like some Sudanese are pretty pissed that the Canadian Live 8 show is being held in Barrie and not Toronto

I'm lost (or are they lost, but just don't know it)

Mack is back at Morgan

by Heidi Moore Fri Jul 1, 6:00 AM ET

John Mack's return to Morgan Stanley as chairman and CEO was made official Thursday, June 30, in one of the most gleefully received management changes on Wall Street in years...

I must confess, I am lost, Mack helps merge MS with Dean Witter a few years back in an attempt to create a "financial supermarket" (which isn't working) and then gets pushed out a little while later.

MS tanks, CEO (Phil Purcell) is forced out and they bring back Mack, the guy who helped merge the two companies in the first place.

Now I never followed the MS/DW merger all that much, but why in the world would you bring back the guy who pushed the firm that way (for god sakes, he even has a fan club of old executives).

Some of you may say that it really wasn't a merger, but rather DW bought MS, then Mack would be an even less attractive choice as a CEO due to the fact that he could come up with some strategy to prevent the purchase. And if he really thought it was such a bad idea, he didn't exactly resign from MS around the time of the transaction.

And who said re-runs were only on TV!

But were there any porn stars involved?

From 9/11 to 'landmark transaction' Keefe Bruyette plays key role in MBNA acquisition

By David Weidner, MarketWatch
July 1, 2005

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- When Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis sought an adviser for the contemplated purchase of credit-card giant MBNA Corp., he went to what -- on the surface -- probably seemed an unlikely source.

Why was it an unlikely source? Because it is a small firm or a small firm with a penchant for loose women? I would say that this is more of a landmark for KBW as they managed to survive this little snafu..

Ex-Keefe CEO barred for passing tips to porn star

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The former chief executive at Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc., who previously pleaded guilty to charges that he passed inside tips to his porn-star mistress, has been barred from working in the securities and investment advisory business, the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission said on Tuesday...

Third World Debt..........again

You just can't get away from this stuff.


Nigeria happy about debt relief but battles loom
01 Jul 2005 13:38:33 GMTSource: Reuters
By Estelle Shirbon

LAGOS, July 1 (Reuters) - Nigeria's government is euphoric after securing debt relief from its biggest creditors, but the pressure is on to produce benefits for a sceptical population used to seeing the nation's wealth squandered and stolen.
The Paris Club of rich lenders said on Thursday it had agreed in principle on a debt relief package for Africa's most populous nation in what President Olusegun Obasanjo hailed as "one of the pillars of success of this administration"...


My question is what plans do Bob Geldof and Bono have for dealing with
corruptions and malfeasance in the governments of these third world
countries on whose behalf they are pleading with the developed world
to forgive debt.

It looks like a few people in Africa may have the same question for Sir
Bob & Co.


'Bob who?' Geldof's Live 8 message lost on many skeptical east Africans

NAIROBI (AFP) - Twenty years after the landmark Live Aid concerts raised a small fortune to feed famine-hit Ethiopia, the message of pop star Bob Geldof's new endeavour for Africa is lost on many of those he intends to help.
As the world prepares for this weekend's star-studded, multi-city Live 8 shows to raise awareness of the continent's many plights, people across east Africa doubt the events will change their lives but hold out hope for change.
"Bob who? Never heard of him," said Makonen, a mechanic in Eritrea, the tiny poverty stricken nation perched on the Red Sea that in 1985 was part of Ethiopia and whose people received Live Aid assistance...
"A concert for Africa is a good idea, it might work," he added hopefully, recalling the earlier event. "East Africa especially needs help. The question is, will money go to the people or will governments use it to buy weapons?"

Back in Black!

Conrad Black joins tiny Canadian oil firm's board
By Jeffrey Hodgson Fri Jul 1, 8:14 AM ET
TORONTO (Reuters) - Former press baron Conrad Black, who was ousted from his Hollinger newspaper empire and accused of wrongdoing by U.S. and Canadian regulators, has joined the board of a tiny Canadian oil and gas firm.

-Reputation aside, where is Conrad coming up with a million dollars to invest. I'd be real happy about that if I was the mortgage holder on his personal properties. Isn't this guy staring at about a half a billion worth of lawsuits, SEC investigation and potential criminal investigation?

 View My Public Stats on MyBlogLog.com