--> Gill Blog: November 2005

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Carnival of Hurricane Relief

Hurricane season is officially over. Hurricane relief is continuing.

This season brought 26 named storms, compared to 11 in an average year. And, this season, 13 storms became hurricanes, compared to the seven hurricanes seen in an average season.

Perhaps most ominous, Katrina, Rita and Wilma were three of the six strongest hurricanes on record.

It has been four months since Instapundit joined with NZ Bear announcing Hurricane Relief Blog Day: 9/1/05, an idea suggested by Hugh Hewitt. The quick response by bloggers was remarkable.

Continuing to focus on the need for relief, and documenting the response and recovery,Carnival of Hurricane Relief presents weekly updates from the blogs as an antidote to hurricane relief fatigue.

Rebuilding Hope and Habitat
Operation Eden, an inspirational photoblog, is a personal chronicle of what Hurricane Katrina has done to these poor proud people.
I've donated my photographs to Habitat For Humanity to use in money-raising efforts to aid Hancock County, Mississippi, where my mom's little town of Pearlington is. There was no established Habitat chapter in Hancock before Katrina, so the efforts are actually being led by the chapter in Walton County, Florida. They hope to build 100 homes for displaced people in Pearlington, and are trying to get them up as fast as possible as we get deeper into winter.

I'll have a blue, blue roof for Christmas
Ernest Svenson, who practices law in New Orleans and blogs as Ernie the Attorney, reports that by a herculean effort the Lakeside Mall managed to open for the day after Thanksgiving.
I don't think all of the stores are up and running but apparently they've at least managed to get the Christmas village and train display up for the kids. Notice that wonderful little detail on the roof of the house. What would a toy village be without little blue roofs?

It's heart warming to see that the Army Corps of Engineers' Blue Roof program is helping protect all kinds of houses here in the hurricane ravaged Crescent City.

Hurricane-Ravaged Region Needs Volunteer Doctors
Leslie Champlin, writing in AAFP News Now, reports that nighttime temperatures have plunged into the 30s, forcing Hurricane Katrina survivors to abandon their tents in favor of heated shelters that reopened in mid-November.
Volunteers at free health clinics throughout the hurricane-devastated region have begun to worry about not having enough doctors to treat respiratory infections and other winter ailments.

One such volunteer is Dawna Howell, coordinator for medical services at the Christus Victor Lutheran Church disaster response center in Ocean Springs, Miss. The center serves hurricane survivors from Pascagoula on the eastern Mississippi coast to Biloxi on the central Mississippi coast.

"We still need volunteer doctors starting in December and going through March," said Howell..."Most people are living in tents and waiting for trailers," said Howell on Nov. 16. "With colder weather, we're going back into the (emergency response) process again. Eight shelters reopened last night so people could get out of the cold. The church boxes up food for the families, and people are still lined up around the building to get them."

National Bar Association Aids Hurricane Victims
Reginald M. Turner, at, reports that the National Bar Association (NBA) is protecting the civil and political rights of Gulf Coast residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
There are still staggering numbers of gulf coast residents that are not receiving sorely needed federal, state and local recovery assistance, and this situation must be immediately rectified. Nearly four weeks after the hurricane, FEMA is still stumbling in its efforts to get relief aid to victims. Additionally, immediate measures must be taken to protect the elderly in shelters. We also call upon NBA lawyers and other national law groups to step up to serve as representative payees for social security and other beneficiaries of government assistance programs.

The Oldest Black Neighborhood in the U.S.
New Orleans Renovation hopes to bring a blighted home back into commerce to preserve the vitality of an important neighborhood, but faces challenges.
I was approached by Mercy Corps to help salvage my item of desire from the home, then let them keep some wood for reuse through the Green Project here in the city. In this deal, they would do the excavation for free.

However, they can't touch the asbestos shingles. This is so ridiculous and it causing a lot of problems for many homeowners. As one person put it, "asbestos shingles are eating the lunches of a lot of contractors right now." If I could get up there I would pick them off myself. The whole thing is utterly stupid. The absurdity makes me just want to leave it. No one cares.

This Week, I'm an Electrician!
New Orleans :: Metroblogging has an interesting story by Chris Martel.
For those of us in this city with flooded houses, there are a lot of difficult decisions being made. The first of which was the eternal “should I stay or should I go?” And for those of us who have chosen to stay, many of the decisions that follow hinge upon “can I do this myself, or should I call a professional?” For me, so far the answer to that question has been “Baby, I am a professional!”

You see, getting a ‘professional’ out to your house these days is just not an easy task. Actually, that is purely speculation, because I haven’t even tried getting someone out. I know already that it would be an exercise involving patience that I don’t have, money that I don’t have, and results that I probably wouldn’t be satisfied with. Therefore, this week, I am an electrician.

Tourism Takes a Back Seat to Construction
Construction Owners & Builders Law Blog refers to an article in the Sun Herald that reports, ""Hurricane Katrina has changed the Coast's economy from a tourism to construction, but the real rebuilding hasn't even begun," adding that the absence of skilled workers may slow down re-construction.

The Politics of Hurricane Relief
Independent Weekly has a cover story on the politics of hurricane relief: "Best intentions and promises of unity preceded the recent special session, but even two hurricanes couldn’t shake politics-as-usual from the Legislature."

People Get Ready
People Get Ready is one of the most comprehensive Katrina info blogs that merits a good look and listen up.
I am in a rage! I can't believe this is happening. I can't believe that Americans would allow this to happen. I can't believe that New Orleans will become nothing more than a strip of land along the river, with scattered little shanty towns where people wager their homes and livelihoods against another disaster, and the whole city at risk of being completely destroyed in the inevitable direct hit Category 5 storm, after the busiest and most powerful hurricane season on record showed us its fury, and with many more future hurricane seasons anticipated to be just as active.

Wee Mini Highland Games
Eye Of The Storm, a remarkable photo blog that has stories and photographs, is worth a visit. Here's an excerpt from the entry for November 12, based on a story from the Sun Herald that sets up a series of photographs.
The crowd let out a cheer and the welly boot toss competition ended just as it began, with smiles all around.Welcome to the first and possibly last Wee Mini Scottish Highland Games,hosted by Karen and Jeff Green at their Long Beach home on Country Farm Road Saturday afternoon.

These games were the substitute for the 20-year-old Celtic Games normally hosted by the Highlands and Islands Association, a Scottish heritage group made up of expatriates, Scottish descendents and general Celtic enthusiasts from all over Mississippi.

The official games (which draw up to 3,000 people annually) were canceled because of "tha’ wee storm," so Scotland native Karen Green decided to host a smaller version in her expansive backyard for 50 or so friends, relatives and anyone who managed to hear about it.

Native American Communities
Real Reports of Hurricane Relief reports that the Native American tribes of the Biloxi Chitimacha, Houma, and Pointe-au-Chien of the southern Louisiana bayous continue to face a monumental struggle in channeling relief efforts to their tribal members devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Big River Hurricane Relief Concert
St. Louis Jazz Notes tells us that singer Dianne Reeves will join the previously announced lineup for the Big River Hurricane Relief Concert to be held at The Sheldon on Thursday, December 29.

Tim McGraw Kicks Off Fundraising Efforts A-List For Hurricane Relief - a partnership between and more than a dozen celebrities and former president Bill Clinton - launched today to raise awareness and funds for non-profit organizations helping victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. The program will begin on on November 30, with the exclusive premiere of a recently recorded unreleased song entitled "Louisiana" by superstar Tim McGraw and will continue every weekday through December 20 with a new celebrity partner's gift of exclusive content. customers will have the opportunity to make donations to the hurricane relief non-profit organization selected by each celebrity.
"People in my home state of Louisiana still desperately need our help after their lives were changed forever by Hurricane Katrina. To help us all remember that the losses caused by the hurricane remain, me and some of my fellow artists have partnered up with," said McGraw. "As a special way of saying thank you for making a donation to one of the many worthy causes in the affected areas, each of us is making something special available. I just ask that people find it in their hearts to help any way they can. It is very much needed and will be appreciated."

Additional participants include former president Bill Clinton and celebrities Clay Aiken, David Beckham, Blondie, Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon, Rob Thomas, Christy Turlington, and Trisha Yearwood.

Getting Restless
World Class New Orleans, a blog dedicated to the resurrection of New Orleans, says that "our rich culture, care for one another, and roll-up-our-sleeves tenacity will lead New Orleans into a new golden era." Chris Wiseman is trying to stay calm when he hears this:
"We want to see them helping themselves before they ask us for help."

A Republican congressional aide (unnamed) said this to Time magazine in an interview for their recent November 28 cover story on New Orleans.

I'm going to type that sentence again because I need to see it again, and I need everyone to contemplate these words.

"We want to see them helping themselves before they ask us for help."

I'll try to stay calm, but it's not easy.

New Orleans: Proud To Call It Home
The New Orleans: Proud To Call It Home Tour is designed to bring the food, music, arts, and culture of New Orleans to the cities where most of our evacuees have landed, in order to remind them of home and encourage their return as soon as possible.

Legal Issues and Challenges
Louisiana Law Blog announces that on December 6th, Kean Miller is partnering with the national law firm of Hunton & Williams to produce a seminar on post-Katrina/Rita issues and challenges at the state and federal level. The seminar will be simulcast from Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Baton Rouge. Listen in for updates and practical insights on federal and state regulatory, litigation and legislative issues arising from the Gulf Coast hurricanes and the challenges presented to those involved in the rebuilding effort.

We Will Rise Again
George Rodrigue presents a silkscreen benefiting the victims of Hurricane Katrina. As of November 22, 2005, Rodrigue has donated $200,000 to the American Red Cross (Southeast LA Chapter).
Those of us from South Louisiana grew up with the aftermaths of hurricanes Audrey, Betsy, Camille...and now Katrina. As with times before, "we will rise again." Tears and rising water threaten to drown us. But don't be deceived. The land may be under water, but the spirit of New Orleans and the culture of Louisiana hold their heads high.

We Will Rise Again shows the American flag covered with water. The blue dog is partly submerged, and its eyes, normally yellow, are red with a broken heart. Like a ship's S.O.S., the red cross on the dog's chest calls out for help.

Two Humbling Gifts
Raymond Ward, an attorney in New Orleans, tells us two stories about extraordinary gifts, and shares his new perspective on Thanksgiving:
Here are a few things that, after Katrina, I no longer take for granted:

* food
* electricity
* potable water
* sanitation
* a job
* neighbors
* friends
* living with my immediate family

If you have some of these things, you have something to celebrate today.

That Time Of Year Again
Letters From Little Rock has a final thought this holiday season.
Beginning with the Christmas tsunami and continuing on through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to the recent earthquake in Kashmir, there have been so many major catastrophes over the last year that it is easy to become a little shell-shocked and inured to the suffering of the victims. While it is difficult not to become hardened to the near constant appeal for donations I’d like to remind everyone that there are still thousands of our neighbors and relatives in the areas affected by the hurricanes who are still essentially homeless and unemployed. In the past I’ve always been a little put off by the various agencies who hit us up on the holidays since all those images of saintly volunteers serving instant mashed potatoes and turkey loaf to vagrants strike me as somewhat self-serving and a trifle Dickensian. This year is a little different. The normal expenditures of the various relief agencies are understandably strained and while I feel certain most of us have made generous contributions to our favorite charities already this year, it is only right to do so again during the holiday season.

Carnival of Hurricane Relief is looking for bloggers who would like to host this travelling carnival. If you'd like to submit one of your posts or recommend an excellent blog post related somehow to encouraging long-term support of relief in the aftermath of the devastation of the Gulf Coast, just send an email to hearye at cehwiedel dot com.

If you'd like to help now, and would like some ideas how best to get involved in the ongoing hurricane relief effort, you might find some help here.

cohr flood aid hurricane+katrina hurricane+rita carnival+hurricane

Monday, November 28, 2005

Carnival of the Capitalists

Welcome to this week's Carnival of the Capitalists, which is sponsored by Gill Advisors Inc. where our work focuses on business continuity and risk management.

Recently, on the Gill Blog, we’ve discussed natural disasters that have caused disruptive slowdowns for business, including these posts about Hurricane Katrina.

"Continuity Planning in a Post-Katrina World", our most recent article, is published in The Public Manager, a Washington-based public policy journal. Ours is one of four articles in the Fall 2005 issue providing a new view on the potential direction of Homeland Security.

But enough about us, let’s get on with the show of shows, the Carnival of the Capitalists, a weekly roundup of some of the best business blog posts. This week, we start with discussions about disaster planning and business continuity.

FEMA Pays $236M For Cruise Ships!
Wonkette says, "FEMA's Ship of Fools Sails Onward." The author of Strange Women Lying in Ponds writes, "Perhaps FEMA made an error in negotiating this deal. But don't blame the cruise line for making the decision." Douglas Shaftoe at Big Brass Balls gets credit for having the balls to tell it like it really is.

Scary Stuff
The flawed response to Hurricane Katrina by local, state and federal officials has experts worried that the nation is unprepared for another major disaster. Legal Redux has gathered information, graphs, and charts, from an article published in CQ Researcher, an academic journal that looks at current events.

Katrina Sparks Evacuation Plan Changes
W. David Stephenson, who blogs about homeland security issues, says, "the lesson for other states and municipalities (not to mention companies, which have their own business continuity issues to deal with) is that they've got to be going at this collaboratively, and that there's no room for 'not invented here' prejudice about some other area's ideas."

Business Continuity Planning Practices
Freedman Consulting's Law Practice Management blog reports that fifty-two percent of the 669 business continuity planning (BCP) professionals who participated in a recent survey said they didn’t think their plan would hold up in the event of wide-spread communications failures such as those following a Katrina-like or 9/11 event.

Not Walking the Walk
Chris Nerney at the Datamation IT Management Blog says that although there has been a resurgence of interest in "business continuity" since Hurricane Katrina, in too many cases, that interest isn't being translated into action in the enterprise.

Blowin' in the Wind
Insurance Scrawl has commentary on the law of insurance, the insurance business, and the business of insurance. "Seemingly in anticipation of the expected deluge of coverage disputes arising from Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, the Second Circuit released a careful opinion in a case where rain damage resulted from wind-caused openings in a building," notes Marc Mayerson.

Worse than a Murderer?
Warren Meyer, at Coyote Blog, writes about Jason McBride, arrested for selling gasoline at too high of a price during the shortages that followed Katrina, under an Alabama anti-price-gouging law.

The Price of Doing Business in New Orleans
Mises Economics Blog posts an email from a reader about price-gouging and the generally high cost of doing business in NOLA...comments ensue.

People Are Weird
Micha Ghertner of Catallarchy argues that people who prefer shortages from price controls to availability of goods at a high price in a non-price controlled market are "weird".

Buy Nothing Day Protest
Mad Anthony is mad at people protesting capitalism [consumerism?], who buy nothing on the day after Thanksgiving, and says, "If you want to protest against the consumer culture, join a commune, live off the land, and grow your own food while wearing homemade clothing made of burlap." [hemp?] But, yeah, I wish the lines at Staples had been even longer.

Shameless Commerce Weekend
Tom Hanna won't be joining the anti-capitalists from left and right who combine to decry the "commercialization of Christmas" and he's using his blog, Tom Rants, this week for a series of posts featuring lots of goodies for Christmas from lots of different places.

Will anyone be working, today?
Diane Pfadenhauer, the editor of Strategic HR Lawyer, says that today is Black Monday, the cyber-cousin to Black Friday, the mad-shopping day after Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Also, known as Cyber Monday, the first workday after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the biggest online shopping day of the year. Cyber Monday seems to be the better name for this day, as Black Monday is the name ascribed to Monday, October 19, 1987, which recorded the largest one-day decline in stock market history.

Small Businesses Anticipate Strong Sales
Anita Campbell, the editor of Small Business Trends, has posted a pdf of a recent survey of nearly 1,300 small businesses that indicates small businesses in the United States have confidence in holiday season sales in 2005.

Season's Greetings
James Howard Kunstler thinks the holiday frenzy will be as instructive as the hurricanes of late summer.

What is it?
Whatever it is, you can get it on eBay. Wordlab links to the leading online merchandiser's new marketing campaign.

Thanksgiving Lesson
Michael Cale, at Financial Methods, says they should teach kids in school that Plymouth Colony was founded with community property, where all pilgrims shared equally in the colony's production and, as a result the colonists nearly starved, and that only when the colony instituted private property did the colony flourish.

The Golden Age of Television
Mark Cuban, blog maverick, thinks we are entering the golden age of television; tv like we've never seen it before, and we will want more more more.

First take: XBox 360 Media Center extender
Chris Anderson, at The Long Tail, suspects that the release of the Xbox 360 is going to be one of two breakthrough events that take the Media Center concept mainstream.

Get Your Unclaimed Property Back
Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog has information about where you can go online to find out how to get unclaimed property that’s rightfully yours, and one of his commenters has already found something.

Relationship as Investment
Noah Kagan's devotes a week of posts to his special series about creating friendships and enjoying all the good things that go along with relationship management.

Partnerships: Handle With Care
Harshly Mellow has a discussion of the caution needed with partnerships, inspired by what became Pajamas Media, and the early involvement of Dennis the Peasant.

Rich versus King
Professor Noam Wasserman, in the Entrepreneurial Management unit at Harvard Business School, follows up with charts his original post in which he argued that most founders will have to choose between building valuable companies in which they are minor players (being "Rich") versus being major players in less-valuable companies (being "King").

Coyote and The Grim Reaper
Adrian Savage's blog on business life, The Coyote Within, presents a story to share insights and thoughts into how to survive and prosper in a harsh world.

The Traits of Slow Leaders
Slow Leadership contrasts slow leaders and traditonal leaders; it isn't what either believes, it's what they do that provides the contrast.

Niche Content Websites
Yaro Starak at Entrepreneur's Journey asks, "Does the idea of continuous passive income from websites you can set-up and forget about sound good to you?"

Scientology's Marketing Lessons
Andy Wibbels asks, "What can the Church of Scientology teach us about viral marketing and the sales cycle?"

Blue Law Insanity in Massachusetts
Rhymes With Right looks what happened when the state decided to protect consumers and employees from the evil of open grocery stores on Thanksgiving. Greg says, "Don't you love it when the governemnt decides to make economic decisions on behalf of the people, rather than letting market forces run free?"

Union Cars vs. Foreign Cars
Kevin at The Liberal Wrong Wing shares his opinion of the UAW and its influence in the American auto industry.

Foreign Investors Dig Japan Stocks
Steven Towns, at The Japan Stock Blog, takes a brief look at the numbers behind the Tokyo Stock Exchange's climb to five-year highs and why the bulls will keep running through '06 and into '07.

To Think or Not To Think
That is the question, asked at *Star In The Margin by Michael Chaffin. He thinks you should employ "thinkers" to ensure your organization moves forward, because passionate, imaginative, creative people have a natural tendency to prosper and to be successful.

Does Google plan to overtake Microsoft?
Or just take over the world. Gaurav takes a look at how the times have changed since Microsoft decided to take over the world in 1980 to how Google is planning to do it now.

Google Base Porn
David Jackson, on The Internet Stock Blog, notes that Google Base is gaining rapid traction with regular people and the porn industry, and thinks that's a bullish data point for GOOG.

Coke-Pepsi-Google Test
Will Crawford at The Integrative Stream points to Seth Godin's recent post about a blind taste test of search engines, and concludes that "a lot of perception is bound up in the branding."

Lie, lie, stinking, heaping, vile lie!
"Humans aren't paralyzed by choice," says Brian Gongol, adding that Barry Schwartz at Slate is "fundamentally wrong" to suggest that people are more free when they have fewer choices.

Communications for IPO
Steven Silvers at Scatterbox has six communications tips for young companies considering Initial Public Offerings.

Delphi & GM: a pledge and ruin is near
Capital Chronicle suggests that, fates inextricably linked, Delphi and GM may not survive the next five years - even with Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Will the United Nations spoil the party?
Jeff Cornwall at The Entrepreneurial Mind says, "If there is a wet blanket that could be thrown over the entrepreneurial economic boom that should follow the emergence of real convergence, it is the regulation and taxes that the UN is about to put in place."

Benzene Leak from Chinese Chemical Plant
An expat American is blogging on the Harbin disaster in China, as linked on Instapundit, where Glenn Reynolds also points to an excellent roundup of links on the disaster by Pajamas Media.

The Economics of Fear
Tony Gill looks at some recent news concerning avian flu pandemic fears having an effect on global markets.

Economics, Politics, and Psychology
Economist Gary Becker says, "Hurricane Katrina and now the danger of an avian flu pandemic--one an actual, the other a potential, catastrophe for which the nation failed or is failing to prepare adequately--underscore the need for institutional reforms that will overcome policy myopia based on inability to plan seriously for responding to catastrophes of slight or unknown probability but huge potential harm." Judge Richard Posner responds.

Starbucks Challenge, Part Deux
Peter Begley, of Credo Advisors, who blogs about business ethics and social enterprise, had an encounter at an independent coffee shop that has unfortunately sprouted a new batch of questions about Starbucks and their Fair Trade claims.

Watch People And You'll Know
Evelyn Rodriguez at Crossroads Dispatches presents Part 2 of a series on observing customers for consumer insight, the bedrock of innovation.

Save Endangered Species: The Middleman
Mr. Proteus at Liberate Wisconsin says the legislature can raise taxes, but how dare they mess with the price of our beer!

13 Ways to Live Well on Less
Free Money Finance has great savings tips, practical advice, and top-notch personal finance personalities -- all in one series of posts!

Are you Renting Your Customers?
David Daniels at the Business & Technology Reinvention blog offers 5 easy things you can do to enable long lasting customer relationships

Personal Finance, Pensions, and Politics
Ted, whose blog is chronicling an insane attempt to Retire at 30, tells the story of his father who was "forced into retirement" at 60 by an archaic FAA regulation (although wished to keep working) only to find the airline now in bankruptcy and trying to jettison their pension obligations.

Listing New Sites on Search Engines
Yaro Starak at Entrepreneur's Journey knows how to get a new site listed on search engines, and he shares some simple first steps toward Search Engine Optimization.

Discount Health Insurance Plans Debunked
Henry Stern at InsureBlog presents an assessment of the pros and cons of so-called "discount plans" for medical services.

Will the FDA kill Brian White?
Different River has a compelling post about people who are dying waiting, not for an organ transplant or a cure to be invented, but for a signature on a piece of paper.

Where's the Value in Digital Media?
Andrew Raff says, "With the variety of entertainment options available, copyright owners have to be very careful with deciding how to set prices. Digital delivery may create new services, but those services are competing for limited free time and entertainment budgets with existing media, so these prices are not set in a vacuum."

Eliminating the Mortgage Tax Deduction
Barry Ritholtz, at The Big Picture, is wondering what the economic ramifications of this would be of the President's suggested tax reform capping the mortgage deduction at significantly lower levels.

Hedge POG
Mover Mike discusses hedging and the future price of gold as it affects the hostile takeover bid for Placer Dome by Barrick.

Hedge Fund Risk
James Hamilton, at Econbrowser, discusses one way a hedge fund could earn outstanding returns over the period, and one reason you should be careful about investing your money in strategies that you don't fully understand.

Hedge Fund Crosscurrents
Abnormal Returns wonders, as hedge funds become more ubiquitous, raising issues for institutional and individual investors alike, should we prefer simple portfolios to the complexity of hedge funds?

Shareholder Activism
Professor Bainbridge thinks the importance of hedge fund activism is vastly overrated.

Reviewing a Proxy
George at Fat Pitch Financials discusses how he reviews corporate proxy statements. He walks though Microsoft's latest proxy statement as an example of what to look for in a proxy.

Process Thinking
Elisa at the Worker Bees Blog has read the latest thinking about the "end of process" and has some thoughts of her own.

Joe Kristan at Roth & Company Tax Updates pauses to give thanks this year for a new and unexpected blessing from New York's other senator. Chuck Schumer has slipped a provision into the new tax bill that, while horrendous tax policy, may just finance Joe's retirement. Bonus photo of the InstaCat as digital art.

Sounding Board
Decibels, defects and the anecdotes of disgruntled customers are the take-aways of our warranty service reps. This is clearly not a job for everyone, according to Big Picture, Small Office.

Non-profit organizations: a blog can help
Wayne Hurlbert at Blog Business World says, "The value of blogs to any non-profit orgainzation is almost unlimited."

John Locke, Fearless Philosopher
Stephen Littau at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds presents a biography of John Locke and an overview of his writings, concluding that the free world owes a debt of gratitude to this fearless philosopher for the clarity he brought to the cause of freedom.

Grand Theft Otto
Starling David Hunter, at The Business of America is Business, looks at the problems Germany's first female prime minister, Angela Merkel, and the economy faces in light of the legacy of Germany's first Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck.

Peter Drucker, 1909-2005
Rob May, at BusinessPundit, has a great tribute post with excerpts from Fortune magazine and a lot more on his main page, where Rob has temporarily removed his blogroll and replaced it with a dedication to Peter Drucker. There, we found a link to Bruce MacEwen's excellent post at Adam Smith, Esq.

Peter Drucker vs. Henry Kissinger
Jack Yoest compares the styles of Peter Drucker and Henry Kissinger when dealing with students or staff.

Horatio Alger, Asian Style
David Foster, at Photon Courier, recounts the story. From a tin-roofed hut in Malaysia to founder and CEO of a water treatment company, competing with GE and Suez.

More Space
Jackie Huba, at the Church of the Customer Blog, reviews a new kind of business book. More Space: Nine Antidotes to Complacency in Business, edited by Todd Sattersten of 800-CEO-READ and A Penny For, gives some of the leading business bloggers more space to ruminate about their passions than is typically found in short-format blog posts.

Five Hundred Dollars Cash Prize Offered
Noah Kagan is going to give someone with a great business idea $500 to pursue that idea. The cash might as well go to support one of your good ideas, or one of mine.

Business Blog Carnivals
Speaking of good ideas, look at the new Carnival of Marketing. And business bloggers might also be interested in Blawg Review, the carnival of law bloggers. For information how to participate in future editions of Carnival of the Capitalists, be sure to check out the spiffy new blog at, which has the complete list of upcoming hosts and much, much more.

Giving Thanks
Raymond Ward, a lawyer in New Orleans, has a new perspective on things to be thankful for in a post-Katrina world. For more blog posts and stories concerning hurricane recovery efforts, please visit this week's Carnival of Hurricane Relief.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Economics of Fear

As the news media picks up stories about bird flu, it's getting increasingly difficult for corporate executives and their workers to make critical decisions how to prepare for the next pandemic flu.
Determined to "cut through the noise" on avian flu and understand what U.S. animal and human health officials should be focusing on, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, held a full hearing last week to get committee members up to speed on the issue.

Ron DeHaven, administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, served on the first of two panels during the 1-hour, 45-minute hearing. A researcher and several poultry industry representatives served on the second panel.

The link between animal and human health is important to keep in mind, Gerberding told the committee members, pointing out that 12 of the 13 emerging diseases in recent times have arisen from animals.

On the one hand, this is "first and foremost" an influenza that affects poultry, although a number of humans directly exposed to infected birds have died, primarily in far eastern countries. On the other hand, global corporations are learning firsthand the effects of a global pandemic on their operations. According to a report in the Business Standard:
Companies such as Wipro, Coca-Cola India and ICICI Bank have already started to prepare a plan of action. While most companies are still at an early stage of health-risk assessment, some such as Coca-Cola India have actually put in place a team to assess how the organisation needs to operate business in the case of a pandemic.

Whatever the impact of a global pandemic in the workplace, the effects of widespread apprehension about avian flu and other influenza pandemics are of real concern for global economics. As the virus spreads across Asia and Europe and the death toll mounts, investors are already placing bets on which companies will win or lose in the event of a global catastrophe, according to a recent report in the Globe and Mail.
"The human cost is terrible -- I'm not trying to diminish that -- but the economic cost will be huge as well," World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz told a conference in Helsinki last month.

In a worst-case scenario, global travel would slow to a crawl as countries tried to contain the virus, sending airline and lodging stocks spiralling downward. Restaurants, movie theatres and other public gathering places would be deserted, poultry producers would see their sales slashed and workplaces would suffer from crippling levels of absenteeism.

"The repercussions on global trade would be devastating," Sherry Cooper, chief economist with BMO Nesbitt Burns, said in a recent report. "Trade disruptions would shutter manufacturing plants and curtail global demand for most commodities."

According to the World Bank, an influenza pandemic lasting one year could cost the global economy $800-billion (U.S.). The World Health Organization has warned that the H5N1 virus, if it mutates into a form easily passed between people, could kill two million to 7.4 million. Some estimates of the death toll are much higher.

In Hong Kong this week, the government organized a preparedness drill, code-named Poplar, in view of the global threat of flu pandemic and human cases of avian flu in neighboring countries. More than 220 players from about 30 government departments and organizations took part in the drill.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Academia Provides Template for Telework and BCP

I had a fascinating chat yesterday with our financial advisor, Ralph Gill. We began by discussing the costs and benefits of telework, as well as the same old institutional impediments that slow its rate of adoption – namely, the reluctance of middle management to embrace it fearing that it may somehow affect worker productivity. As we've discussed many times before, the common belief among middle managers is that in order for a worker to be productive, he/she must be within their superior's line of sight.

One of the challenges management often wrestles with is simply if a more decentralized work environment is created (regardless of the degree to which telework is implemented in this new structure), how will such a reconfiguration affect the productivity level of workers? Additionally, how will it be possible to measure worker performance when workers are out of sight? After thinking about this for a while Ralph provided an analysis I’d never previously considered, but one that really hit the mark.

He said that a corporate world that is the midst of substantial change needn’t look any further than the world of academia for guidance, as its underlying structure has been decentralized since the very beginning. Wait a minute here, are we talking about that fabled bastion of slackers and people who refuse to grow up? It’s time to engage in a little rethink on this one, for as much as we may perceive that environment through our own biases, it is actually one that counters its openness by imposing very strict deadlines. More surprisingly, it actually provides the model for more forward thinking organizations to emulate as they organize future work activities around telework. This becomes particularly important as our economy sheds its production-based past and moves toward one that is more knowledge-based.

Think this is wacky? Read on. Let’s begin by considering the concept of a term paper or a final exam. When assigned to students, there is an implicit message that goes along with it: choose to do whatever you want between now and then, but remember, this assignment has an absolute drop-dead date (with no exceptions) - fail to meet it, and you’re going to get an F, no questions asked. In a sense then, an academic environment is one that despite appearances to the contrary imposes a system that very effectively organizes work. Given the longevity of academia, as well as the innovation that springs from its hallowed halls, one sees that not only are deadlines a fundamental element of academic structures, but more importantly, it shows that people seem to respond to deadlines. Let’s not forget that it is also one that thrives on its decentralized structure (to get more information on the growing link between academia and corporations, you may wish to read this paper I wrote on this a few years back – a bit dated, but still relevant).

Consider for a moment what might happen if the structures used in a corporate environment are applied to academia. In fact, we have seen such applications, and one of the best examples of this is called Study Hall. The idea is fairly simple, make students come to a central location for 3-4 hours, have them sit and try and get some work done in carefully monitored silence. Now anyone who has actually been exposed to such a torture chamber knows very well that such a model simply doesn’t work on campus. If students needed constant supervision, the simple fact is that they wouldn’t learn anything. Innovation and productivity springs from a more flexible environment.

Now, let’s do a little bit of compare and contrast for a moment and analyze the standards that drive productivity in a corporation. How many times have you been in a meeting where the manager says: “we need more time on this, so let’s move the deadline back by a week”. In fact, this happens more times than not in many work environments, and unfortunately is emblematic of a pervasive culture of “letting things slide.” What this nakedly exposes is that institutionalized systems are in place that actually absolve people from responsibility. The whole notion of the “death by firing squad” structures that are firmly in place within academia, are foreign concepts in a corporate environment – a factor that removes or significantly reduces accountability. Instead of the judgment cast by the corporate world on academia, it might be argued that in fact someone who has spent a lifetime in academia could look at their corporate counterparts and quite correctly remark that, despite appearances, such workplaces are sloppy and undisciplined.

Now let's return to the thing that started today’s rant – that is the concern expressed by middle managers, namely, the difficulty in measuring worker performance in a decentralized environment. Our example shows that there are indeed very tangible ways in which performance can be measured. Surely, we're not suggesting that workers have to do term papers, but we are saying that there are an entirely new range of information-based products that can be used to efficiently monitor employee performance remotely – and when knowledge work becomes more prevalent, this can be regarded as nothing but good news!

Faculty and staff on a university campus can be likened to the original knowledge workers and operate within a very productive sub-culture. It may not be so apparent now, but the fact remains that as our economy shifts from a production-oriented model to one that is more knowledge based, the optimal management strategies will be those that best align to the nature of the work. One of the fundamental disconnects that exists today as we find ourselves in the midst of this shift between production-oriented activities to those that are knowledge-based, is that management still uses the old 9-5 centralized location management model to govern knowledge work, which is in fact a vestige of our production-based economic past. If we hope to compete in a global economy, one of last changes we need to make is to readjust ourselves to new management structures that better align with knowledge work. We could do a whole lot worse than looking to academia for some clues as to how this will be accomplished.

I’m well aware that some of our readers will question the relevance of this tangent I’ve gone on and wonder what connection this has to anything we’ve previously discussed. In my mind, the connection is crystal clear: telework – a strategy that is centered around the deconcentration of people – will become a key component of a business continuity strategy (just watch the buzz as we move closer to avian flu), but before it does, critics will argue that it will negatively affect worker productivity, thus slowing its adoption. It's time for us to question this line of thinking, for as far as I’m concerned, I left study hall behind long ago.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bird Flu Prompts IT to Rethink Continuity Planning

As a new day begins and the sun rises to the east, we often find ourselves falling into the same old daily routines, that seemingly repeat themselves in a perpetual loop (hey, sounds like a good premise for a movie). It appears, however, that our pre-programmed patterns of behavior will have to change, simply because of the pending arrival of some unwanted guests who will be winging their way toward us from that same eastern sky.

The potential impact of avian flu is gradually becoming the topic, and in the last few months we have seen a pronounced shift in the tone of the discussion. What was once being discussed solely in terms of public safety of people, has now caught the attention of businesses, specifically what the impact of this pandemic will be on national economies and the day to day operations of business. I came across the following article from Computerworld that more than anything, demonstrates the degree to which all of us like to compartmentalize fears especially pertaining to things that haven't happened yet - as the saying goes: "Out of sight, out of mind.":
...although the threat of a major outbreak is raising alarms among governments, it doesn't appear to be doing so for many IT managers.

Stephen Pickett, CIO at Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Penske Corp. and president-elect of the Chicago-based Society for Information Management, attended a conference in Detroit last week with about 280 other IT executives. No one at the conference mentioned the bird flu threat, according to Pickett.

"The subject never came up, even though we were discussing various elements of disaster recovery," Pickett said. That may be because companies think their disaster recovery plans, in the aftermath of 9/11, already cover the possibility of significant employee losses and an inability to communicate, he noted.

In an ever-changing risk environment, risk managers can ill afford to become static in their tactical strategies simply because the dynamics of each event can be very different:
A pandemic could leave IT operations short of staff, especially if schools are closed or the federal government imposes quarantines. If a company is running multiple shifts and an IT worker on one becomes infected, "you could lose an entire shift," (Roberta) Witty (an analyst at Gartner Inc.) noted.

Computerworld reached a half-dozen CIOs last week to ask if they're concerned about the possible impact of the avian flu on operations both overseas and in the U.S. Some declined to discuss the issue.

But others took both sides. "We should be thinking about this, and I will be talking to my [disaster recovery] people this week," the CIO of a large university wrote via e-mail.

"It is not on our radar," said an IT executive at a building products firm, also via e-mail. "All of our operations and employees are U.S.-based, and we haven't discussed it in our company -- yet."

The time for businesses to take a new view on preparedness in anticipation of an event we have never seen before is now.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Historical Drainage Maps of New Orleans

Ernie the Attorney writes about the practice of law, and life in New Orleans. His house survived Katrina and he and his family are okay, considering. Continuing his law business, post Katrina, has been a real challenge.

Of interest not only to lawyers is an upcoming seminar of the American Bar Association on insurance issues in light of Katrina but, for most businesses in NOLA, it's still all about jobs.

Ernie reports from New Orleans that, overall, the legal system is not doing too good, and neither are the Saints.

Among the Katrina stories told by Ernie, there's an interesting link to some historical maps of New Orleans that really caught our attention.
About a week ago the Times Picayune showed a 1879 topographical drainage map of New Orleans. Then they displayed the areas of New Orleans that had just flooded after the levees broke. The two maps were amazingly similar. In other words, if we had only built in areas that were deemed high ground on the 1879 map we would have been mostly okay. If you want to take a look at the map click on this link and then look at the T.S. Hardy map. There are other interesting maps at that link.

Ernie's anecdotal style of writing makes for a good weekend read, and puts a friendly face on the realities of disaster recovery—like the other day when he got a call from FEMA.

Friday, November 11, 2005

FEMA Graphic Disaster

The FEMA website explains what they do, and uses a graphic to illustrate the process.
One way to look at what FEMA does is to think about the life cycle of disasters. Some of the functions involved are shown below.

The disaster life cycle describes the process through which emergency managers prepare for emergencies and disasters, respond to them when they occur, help people and institutions recover from them, mitigate their effects, reduce the risk of loss, and prevent disasters such as fires from occurring.

This chart, clearly depicts the agency's responsibilities in the event of a disaster. It begins with a response to a disaster, leads to recovery, mitigation, risk reduction, prevention, preparedness (dramatic pause) and ends up BACK IN DISASTER! In truth, FEMA did exactly what they said they were going to do. — Jon Stewart

Pilloried by late night television, mainstream media, and the blogosphere, former FEMA chief Michael Brown is no longer on the agency's payroll, the Homeland Security Department said Wednesday, ending nearly two months of compensation after he resigned under fire.

Michael Brown stepped down as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Sept. 12 after the government's sluggish reaction to Hurricane Katrina and questions about his own disaster response experience. He remained on the FEMA payroll until Nov. 2 to help the agency complete its review of the response to Katrina, officials said.

After learning that Mr. Brown's 30 day consulting contract to determine what went wrong with FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina had been extended for another 30 days, Senior House Democrats demanded that his contract be terminated, saying it was "a gross waste of taxpayer dollars."

That ridiculous graphic can go, too.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Applying Business Continuity in a Campus Environment

Connecting the dots seems to be a familiar theme around here. The more that organizations look at different ways business continuity can be applied, or different tools that can be used to increase the effectiveness of business continuity, the more we move these concepts along with our clients.

On this topic, I've been invited to speak at a small forum of business continuity professionals next Thursday, and the theme strikes a familiar chord:
Applying Business Continuity Principles
in a Campus Environment:

Applying new principles of business continuity to centrally-located operations presents ongoing challenges to business continuity professionals. The question becomes, how are these challenges magnified when the operations become decentralized in a "campus" environment? In this session we well discuss some anecdotes from the educational sector as an example of new challenges, and open the floor to discussion of how these issues can be constructively tackled.

If you'd be interested in finding out more about our work helping educational institutions apply business continuity in a campus environment, please drop me a line anytime.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

International Safety & Security Conference 2006

Noting our recent publication in the July/August 2005 issue of Facility Management Journal, the Fall 2005 issue of The Public Manager, and our upcoming publication in the early spring of 2006 by the Journal of Facilities Management in the U.K., Gill has been scheduled to speak and participate in a workshop at the upcoming International Safety & Security Conference in New York City, presented by Emergency Corps.
This gathering of professionals addresses advanced strategies and best practices for the development and ongoing maintenance of corporate emergency management and business continuity programs in the context of integrated risk management. Participants will learn both proven strategies as well as new and evolving trends. Proceedings will focus on how to prepare organizations for the future in a changing world. Professionals will share the strategies they have successfully employed.

The conference focus will be application-oriented insights from professionals, with presentations designed to go beyond the basic conceptual overview, and will address successful operational strategies, policies and procedures, and emerging trends.

Anyone planning to attend this conference next February who would like to meet with me to share ideas, while in New York City, is more than welcome to give me a call to arrange our schedules.