Sunday, January 30, 2005

Blogs, Books and Budgets

Blogs: Your humble blogger has been slogging away for nearly a month and enjoying every minute of it. But something is missing. Intellectually, I know that when a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, it still makes a sound. But who cares? Maybe the chipmunks do. So, too, I thought that the writing and posting would be enough for me; but it’s not. I want readers!!!

Back in the business world we used both push and pull marketing. Push is like door-to-door sales and direct mail. Pull came with the internet. The idea is that a company like Xerox could list products on their web site and people would go there to buy them. It actually worked with toner and paper, but not so well with DocuTechs. Blogs work primarily in the pull mode. But like the product-positioning-hit rate measure of marketing success, you need to be known (positioning) before you make any sales. So if you are wondering why I sometimes send my blog posts via email, it’s because I’m falling back on the tried and true push mode. I promise to stop when more people are reading and commenting at PVBlog.

Books: How do you choose what to read? An avid reader might finish 1 or 2 books per week, say 100 per year at the outside. But a typical library might contain a million books and buy a few thousand new ones every year. So what’s a person to do? Well, you can go to the New York Times top 10 lists of fiction and non-fiction books, but, as with movie reviews, I’m disappointed more often than not. For a higher class of book review you can turn to the New Yorker or to the N.Y. or L.A. Times Review of Books. There you will be faced with phrases such as Los Angeles can be described as a postmodern mystery of the highest order… and an unabashed homage to the noir genre.” Pulleezze!!!

My approach: Take recommendations from someone you trust. For movie reviews I go to Michael Medved ( For serious books, I consult The Claremont Review of Books published quarterly by the Claremont Institute ( Just for you, my dear readers, I plan to begin reviewing books that I found to be worthwhile. The list of books that I have read recently, or am reading, and think that you may enjoy include the following:

American Exceptionalism by Seymour Martin Lipsett, Blog by Hugh Hewitt, Born Fighting by James Webb, Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe, The European Dream by Jeremy Rifkin, Hard America, Soft America by Michael Barone, I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, Love and Honor by Randall Wallace, State of Fear by Michael Crichton, Uncle Sam’s Plantation by Star Parker, Why Globalization Works by Martin Wolf. I’ll try to do one review every two weeks. Any suggestions?

Budget: I just downloaded the California budget analysis from the Claremont Institute, Golden State Center for Policy Studies. The report contains recommendations on K-12 schools, welfare and business for the CA budget. The information is interesting and likely to influence the Governor.

For example, the school proposal calls for ZERO cuts to the number of teachers, instructional aides, librarians, guidance counselors, physical and mental health workers, maintenance, food service and bus drivers. But it does propose cuts to state level bureaucrats, district administration and support staff, curriculum coordinators and general staff. A 30% cut of the latter bureaucracy would save $1.2B/year while enabling increases in teacher pay by 10.7% and books/supplies by 92%. I will be reviewing the three sections of the report during this week.


Blogger Ralph said...

My boss - a school board member for one of the elementary schools in my area- was complaining that he would have to find a private school for his son (a high school freshman). I was amazed that he had been fooled by the union hype into thinking that the budgets were cut and I sent him the Weintraub summary on Friday showing that per pupil funding would be up $206 for next year. I just sent him your post as well.
I just posted a LAT article about the failure of the self-esteem program I was venting about earlier. You might be interested.

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