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    “Analyst” pfah!

    John Gruber, talking about something completely different (a rumour Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer was due to speak at an upcoming Apple event) says something I’ve thought myself over the years about the property market:

    It never ceases to amaze me the sort of crazy speculative bullshit people will take at face value if it’s attributed to someone whose job title is “analyst”. After following this stuff for so many years, I find that information from “analysts” is generally less credible than average.

    You tell it, brother!

      A good (simple) retrospective look at Europe’s economic woes

      I heard from a friend of mine who works in Banking (with a capital B) in Geneva recently that things ain’t good in Europe. ‘European economies are in real trouble. I have had a deep sense of foreboding about the global economy recently’ he wrote to me — which is alarming considering what he and his colleagues have already been through in the last three years …

      BNZ Chief economist Tony Alexander wrote his update this week (27/5/10) from Brussels — which he described in his covering note as:

      Tony Alexander BNZ Chief Economist


      “… the most financially disturbed part of the planet at the moment. It is very unclear when this current period of uncertainty about European government debt management will end and very unclear to what extent it will spill over into a new banking crisis because of the exposure of European banks to European government bonds. For now the risk seems to be that things get worse before they get better and although various forecasters remain confident of positive growth near 1% for the EU this year, and a tad better next year.

      For NZ the main implications of what is happening over here are high currency volatility continuing in the short term because of our classification as a risky currency, downside risk to exports to the EU and UK, plus tightening credit availability once again because interbank markets are again contracting in Europe.

      His (longish) essay is worth reading. (I’ll leave it out of blockquote to make it easier to read, or you can download the PDF of his whole report (12 pp) at the BNZ site or it’s here in ThePaepae.com media library.)

      In Brussels

      by Tony Alexander BNZ Chief economist

      I’m in Brussels at the moment located some 200 metres away from the European Parliament having just spent two days attending the annual Brussels Economic Forum. The title for this year’s forum was “Strategies for a Post-Crisis World”. Be certain that there was no shortage of comments from speakers noting that the conference theme had been decided a long time ago when no-one really anticipated the current new crisis underway.

      To say that there are some very confused people over here would be an understatement. There are also many very embarrassed ones, and a rapidly growing number (the public) who are getting angry about their deteriorating economic prospects and confused about exactly where Europe is going. There are growing concerns about the rise of extreme left and right wing parties in response to the crisis, the financial sector is concerned about new taxes and regulations which are being applied haphazardly by Germany, and in the more extreme commentaries issues are raised such as whether the Euro can survive and even whether the European experiment has failed.

      What is happening is this. Continue reading →

        Off to a good start?

        Oh boy. This guy is off to almost as good a start as Brian J Hogan the iPhone prototype finder-keeper/thief/seller …

        Brian Corman, Columbia Valedictorian, PLAGIARIZED Patton Oswalt In Graduation Speech

        … leaving the university, home of the famed Columbia School of Journalism, embarrassed…

        It has come to our attention that a portion of our Valedictorian’s remarks at this year’s School of General Studies Class Day was taken from a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt. As an institution of higher learning that places a core value on respect for the works of others, we were surprised and disappointed to have learned of this matter today.

        Columbia University and the School of General Studies do not condone or permit the use of someone else’s work without proper citation. The student speaker has appropriately issued an apology to his classmates and to Mr. Oswalt for failing to provide such attribution.

          Speak up

          REAL ESTATE ALERT from Neil Jenman

          Thursday May 27, 2010

          Dear Subscriber

          A few weeks ago, my wife and I got an extortion demand – take down your web sites, abandon the publication of your book, Stitched! or your children will be targeted. On Friday May 14, Channel Seven ran a story about the threats to our family. If you didn’t see it, it can be viewed here:

          Click to watch the video below the fold — or click (more...)

          The police have been notified and so, too, has the children’s school who are taking it seriously. It has been quite an emotional time for us, however, we have had hundreds of lovely messages of support. One of the most common questions is: “What can we do for you?” Well, your wonderful support is enough. And, of course, if you are ever selling or buying real estate, I’d be grateful if you’d give our financial supporters your support. Without them, we could not do our consumer protection work. You can find details of our supporters at the link below…

          http://www.hhpf.com.au/contributors.php?support=yes

          Sobering.

          As I have for a long time, I salute this man’s courage. And his family’s.
          … And yours, if you dare.

          Many saw evil. They dared to stop it.
          .

          Continue reading →

            If you missed him last time …

            Leonard Cohen as I saw him in Montreal.
            (Image: Reuters)

            Leonard Cohen and his nine-piece band will return to New Zealand for three shows later this year.
            Concerts in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will form part of a nine-city Australasian tour in October and November. — NZ Herald today

            If you know who he is, I can’t recommend this highly enough
            — it was an uplifting, brilliant, powerful, moving, holy experience both times I’ve seen him perform live. Wonderful. Cohen’s poetry and song encourages and challenges me to be more, and resonates with my spirit.

            Footnote: How interesting that Cohen has come up the day after Dylan.

              RIP Paul Reynolds

              Farewell Paul Reynolds. A genuine ‘internet expert’ and a good and generous human being. He died on Sunday, unexpectedly.

              I was so sorry to hear this today. What a lion he was!

              I recall a seminar where Paul gently, quietly, affectionately, but oh-so-effectively pierced some hyperbole that had been released into the room by yet another vapour merchant.

              I liked his style. A lot. And admired his intellect and his vision.

              A sad loss. – P

                Ranting and raving? Oh yes, but sooo right!

                I had lunch with my good friend Graeme today after he picked ‘the best song ever written’ on National Radio … and he hadn’t yet seen this absolutely wonderful recent rant and rave, telling-the-truth criticism of Glenn Beck by The Daily Show’s acerbic commentator, my hero Lewis Black

                Click to watch the video right after the jump (to save the YouTube script slowing down this page load.)


                Continue reading →

                  Best song ever written …

                  Here’s my pal Graeme’s ‘best song ever written’ interview with Jim Mora on Radio NZ National today …

                  Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

                  … which I mention in the post above.

                  Here’s Every Grain of Sand covered by Emmylou Harris (if you can find a Dylan version on the web, let me know. I have his Shot of Love album in iTunes … and on vinyl — along with Slow Train Coming … bought, like, erm, when they originally came out! Ahem.)
                  Jokerman by Dylan (from Infidels).

                    ‘Little known internet marketing expert’ ‘Mr X’ is actually spruiker Dean Letfus. (Oh, really?)

                    'Superhero Power: Mr. X has the ability to see through clothing. While he can’t see through walls, tanks or anything that would help him fight crime, Mr. X still claims superhero status.'
                    image: namethegarels.com (click for link)

                    Less than 12 months ago Dean Letfus breathlessly told the world via YouTube how excited he was to have “discovered” the power of the internet through attending Shaun Stenning’s Geekversity weekend course — which it appears Dean Letfus and his mate Steve Goodey promptly started to promote far and wide as affiliates … ‘twisting Shaun’s arm’ to return to NZ to pitch it … until Geekversity was reportedly SHUT DOWN down in Australia amid rancour and complaints … at a AUD$5.5 million loss.

                    Lawyers are still (even last weekend!) promoting their services (PDF) to Geekversity victims on a ‘no-win, no-pay’ basis to pursue their legal rights and refunds, presumably for non-delivery of the hyperbolic promises of cash rolling in through the whizz-bang ka-ching internet marketing ‘cash machine’ the smooth-talking self-proclaimed ‘experts’ hawked around the country.

                    Is this a case of deja vu?

                    Here’s Dean Letfus speaking in June 2009 in his enthusiastic promotional video for Geekversity (full transcript here):

                    I’ve been a professional sales and marketer for a long time and I never realised the power and just the volume of business that’s being generated online. It’s like a whole new world.
                    I never really understood that I could replace a 40 or 60 hour a week job and earn a lot more money than I could in that from the comfort of my own laptop or my own home and effectively ‘buy my life back’.
                    You can do that too, and it’s incredible just with a little bit of education and some action the results that you can get.

                    Questions:
                    (1) Hey Dean, how much of that ‘a lot more money’ was affiliate income from promoting Geekversity itself?
                    (2) Er, jeez, Dean. What did you say to people who signed up for the Geekversity $20,000 12 month ‘coaching’ on your recommendation for it to all fall apart a few months later?

                    Anyway, RIGHT NOW Dean Letfus is being marketed as an ‘internet marketing expert’ (no joke) who can show you how to “build your very own online cash machines”.

                    It looks to me like just another version of the rags to-riches, I-was-lost-but-now-I’m-saved, blind-but-now-I-see tale peddled by this same spruiker with the same ‘I’ve been here 5 minutes and now I am a guru’ spiel he used with his property “coaching”-property sales business.

                    This time he’s in partnership with a boy-wonder salesman who claims to have been an internet marketing expert since puberty.

                    From the look of it, Shaun Stenning is promoting his own business partner Dean Letfus as the mysterious “Mr X”, “a little known internet marketing expert”, to Asian wealth seekers — while keeping a very low profile himself in Australian marketing for the same er, product.

                    This reticence is understandable, I guess, given the fallout from the collapse of Geekversity and Stenning’s high profile in promoting that scheme to Aussie battlers. (Perhaps the ‘Shaun Stenning scam’ Google suggestion indicates some stigma?)

                    The story of Dean Letfus as the ‘little known internet marketing expert’ almost deserves an award for new fiction writing. In my view, the whole sales pitch has a sort of sixth-form social studies essay ring to it — and like any good sixth-form essay, it looks like someone’s copied their mate’s work.  

                    See if you can spot any similarities … Continue reading →

                      Living with a mountain in your backyard

                      I’ve just spent a weekend in the shadow of Mt Taranaki, with family on matters to do with our season of grief, and throughout that time I found myself ‘checking in’ with the mountain from various angles.

                      There’s a kind of ownership — does the mountain belong to the people? … Or, more likely, are the locals ‘the people of the mountain’? (I think the latter.)

                      The constancy, yet changeable nature of the mountain speaks to me. It’s never exactly the same, but is always there, even if behind cloud for a time. It must have an effect on one’s psyche to live with that in your backyard. Mt Taranaki features in the hearts, the art and the spirit of many in the region, even visitors.

                      Continue reading →

                        More opprobrium for dishonesty

                        America’s favourite whipping boy, once media-darling Mark Zuckerberg, ‘founder’ of Facebook, gets even more attention (below). I wonder how he’s coping?

                        Facebook CEO Faces Accusations Of Securities Fraud

                        Huffington Post | Catharine Smith First 05-20-10 05:38 PM

                        It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

                        Facebook’s new privacy policies have sparked a user backlash, with over ten thousand users organizing a coordinated exodus from the site on Quit Facebook Day.

                        But that’s not the only thing troubling the 26-year-old social media tycoon. Zuckerberg is now facing allegations of securities fraud regarding the out-of-court settlement Facebook made with a rival company whose owners claim Zuckerberg stole their source code.

                        These allegations have followed Zuckerberg since his Harvard days, when he was hired by a student-run dating website called Harvard Connection (now called ConnectU), which at the time was similar to Zuckerberg’s startup TheFacebook.

                        Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the creators of ConnectU, brought suit against Facebook in 2003. They settled for a reported $65 million in 2008 and turned ConnectU over to Facebook. …. Read on at Huffington Post

                        One word: Consequences.
                        (I bet he thinks he’s a tall poppy too.)

                          Wow. What an image …

                          This is one of the slides illustrating a story about the oil spill affecting the Louisiana wetlands and the environment in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond …

                          Oil hits Louisiana wetlands (image: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert via HuffingtonPost - click to view larger)

                          The damaged beauty of the image speaks to me. God knows we really need to protect the natural environment — for our kids, and their kids. This seems tragic to me. {UPDATE: I found an image credit for the dragonfly shot here (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) thanks to John Gruber. More painfully striking photos of this disaster at that link.}

                          Here’s another:

                          Crude oil doesn't mix ... (image: HuffingtonPost - click to view larger)

                          Here’s where Pass A Loutre, La. USA is… (thanks to Google Maps)

                          PASS A LOUTRE, La. Not so blue at the moment. Take it as a wake up call... (image: maps.google.com)

                            Uh, kinda missing the point …

                            So there’s this like Facebook page, right? Where people like take a nostalgic look back at how Facebook used to be, right? Like before all the complicated privacy, breakdowns, and monetization issues and stuff? And you like click on it, right? But then, holy smoke, it’s sorta kinda like what direct marketers call a squeeze page? (But not like exactly.) And you have to you know ‘Like’ the page before you can see it? … like, doh!

                            NOT a public page, complaining about the changes to Facebook ... ?

                            But it has 18,068 ‘Jimmy likes this page‘ listings … so … oops, it’s climbed to 18,251 in the time it took me to write this post … so … is that internet marketing ‘success’? (Genuine question.)

                            PS I think it’s chewing gum for the brain.

                              Review: An odious little volume

                              Is this Shaun Stenning's internet marketing? Be a thief?

                              An intriguing document landed in ThePaepae.com mailbox for my review recently. It appears to be a guide to (supposedly) making money through the internet by adopting ‘blackhat’ techniques used by ‘YouTube Traffic Thieves‘.

                              From appearances, this MAY emanate from spruiker Dean Letfus’s new business partner itinerant salesman and self-proclaimed internet expert Shaun Stenning (or perhaps one of his henchmen colleagues?) judging by the ‘twa.lk 2.0′, ‘make big money on social media’ branding (not to mention the giveaway typos and poor grammar).

                              But I note there is NO author’s credit, publisher, copyright notice, nor contact details showing on the document as I received it, so it may be that Shaun Stenning et al has simply plastered his (latest) branding on someone else’s work. I really don’t know. (If you can shed light on this, and you care, please let me know. And feel free to send me more material.)

                              Whatever its origins, it is an ODIOUS little volume, let me tell you.

                              It’s interesting to note it carries this anonymous ‘disclaimer’, neatly demonstrating the term we recently touched on in another discussion, consciousness of guilt:

                              Hardly confidence-inspiring, is it? (Source: YouTube Traffic Thieves report)

                              The unnamed author shares dodgy methods he uses — and he says you can try at your own risk — to hijack people watching videos on YouTube and driving ‘traffic’ to your websites (ka-ching!) — with no value added, it seems to me. In fact, some of the techniques are downright dishonest, in my opinion. (Hence the disclaimer, I guess.)

                              Here are some extracts, to give you a sense of the ‘flavour’:
                              Continue reading →