Jeb says he bought Dub's book, but he's not gonna read it

Self-proclaimed “self-made man” Jeb Bush says

it is far more important to buy the book [his brother, George W. Bush's book, Decision Points] than to actually read it.”

The Daily Beast’s says this is one of the most viral videos for the week of December 4.

Watch, they both come off looking pretty bad:

And do, buy the book! I’ve made it easy for you!

Great Buzz: Unicorn Sighting Reported In Don Valley

Looking for buzz, and don’t have any ideas how to make it happen for your favorite project?

The Ontario Science Center, promoting a new exhibit called “Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, & Mermaids,” made a viral video hoax that is quite good from concept to execution.  They have it listed on their website as “Strange Encounters: Video Evidence or Hoax?”

According to Jeremy Scott in ReelSEO, the online marketer’s guide:

Creating a video that causes the viewer to wonder if what they’ve seen is real or fake is one of the most reliable paths to viral success. And though most everyone knew this one was a hoax from the beginning, the museum is still playing along and acting coy—they’ve issued warnings about what to do if you spot a unicorn in the wild—don’t use sudden movements or flash photography! And they have also voiced concerns about the safety of unicorns and humans should the creatures get too close to civilization and become frightened. Hilarious.

So, how does one generate true buzz?

When I found it, there had been more than 150,000 views on YouTube. He’s right: This little vid should be considered a great success.

Lesson to be learned? When you’re looking for buzz, you may be looking in all the wrong places! Or at least thinking in all the wrong places. I read somewhere (and forgive me, whoever said this first)

No more thinking outside the box. There is NO box.


Very Zen.  And it should be rule number one when you’re working on your next buzz campaign.

Lowered Credit Card use

I was surprised, and happy, I’ll admit to read in Yahoo Finance that more than 8 million consumers stopped using credit cards in the last year.

Written by Eileen Aj Connnely, an AP Personal Finance Writer, the article details the decline as

a combination of consumer choices and bank actions.  [bank actions being lowered available credit and closed accounts]

And, she goes on to say

TransUnion found . . . the use of general purpose cards such as MasterCard and Visa, Discover and Amex, fell more than 11 percent in the third quarter of 2010, compared to the third quarter of 2009.

While I was in the business of finance for many years, in residential mortgages and securities finance, I found the overuse of credit cards to be frequent in homebuyers, so I’m happy that the American population has found a way to ‘just say no’ to instant gratification.

Are you sure you want to do that?

The worst case I ever saw was a purchaser who had NO money for a down payment or closing costs, so he was going to have the seller pay the closing costs and he wanted to make the down payment WITH A CREDIT CARD.

He did not take it kindly when I suggested perhaps he could not afford rental property if he was going to put it on his VISA.

Reduced Debt at Year’s End?

Well, some of the population has slowed down.  We’ll see what is reported for the fourth quarter, after everyone buys Christmas.


Read the full article at More than 8 million drop out of credit card use

White Man Speaks with Forked Tongue: USDA admits no wrong; settles Native American lawsuit

A $760 million Settlement with the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) has been reached in the Keepseagle v. Vilsack class action lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the USDA discriminated against Native Americans by denying them equal access to credit in the USDA Farm Loan Program.

According to what I’ve read, Native Americans, along with African Americans and Hispanic Americans were discriminated against for a period of eighteen years by the USDA, a federal agency that makes farm loans and residential mortgages in areas that have a limited population. There are several lawsuits that are being settled:

  • Keepseagle v. Vilsack
  • Pigford v. Vilsack (“Pigford I” or the “Black Farmers Case”)
  • In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation (“Pigford II”)
  • Love v. Vilsack (”Women Farmers Case”)
  • Garcia v. Vilsack (“Hispanic Farmers Case”)

The detailed settlement notice states:

The lawsuit claims that the USDA denied thousands of Native American farmers and ranchers the same opportunities to get farm loans or loan servicing that were given to white farmers and ranchers.

The Settlement does not mean the USDA violated any laws.  The USDA denies it did anything wrong.

I find this upsetting on so many levels I hardly know where to begin.  The upside, I suppose, is that they have agreed to settle the lawsuit (without admitting to any wrongdoing) and the people who come forward will be in some way assisted for their losses.  They may have relief now, after who knows what hardships they endured, but I’ve found that money doesn’t often cure the harm that people do to one another.

I’m appalled that the USDA has denied they did anything wrong.  And they’re willing to pay seven hundred sixty MILLION dollars to prove it.

Perhaps I should explain my anger.

I’m descended from the Cherokee on both sides of my family.  My father’s grandmother was a full-blood Cherokee in eastern Tennessee.  My mother’s lineage is watered down further up the line than my father, and I think the last full blood in her heritage is her great, great grandmother, Esther.  My father’s grandmother, however, gives me enough Cherokee blood to be recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  If I could prove that my ancestors lived and died. Since they didn’t walk the Trail of Tears, but instead were the ‘renegades’ who went to North Carolina and refused to walk, they also didn’t keep birth and death records required by white men.  Guess they’d leaned their lesson on the combination of legal documents and white people, huh?

I grew up in Cobb County, which is the southernmost part of the the Cherokee Nation as it was mapped before the removal.  If you aren’t familiar with Cobb County, let me assure you now that they are steeped in the notion of their history (I lived in Historic Downtown Marietta for 20 years).  But the history they celebrate is that of the civil war; the battle of Kennesaw Mountain; Sherman’s march through Georgia.  The Gone with the Wind Museum is there.  Their history is only as old as the ‘war of  Northern Aggression.’  Nothing else has their attention.

The history (my history) relative to the Cherokee Nation: the treaties that were signed and then thrown out for more treaties, the theft of the land, the forced evacuation West (an open and obvious attempt at genocide) were glossed over so smoothly that in all my education it appeared that the Cherokee were talked into leaving;  there was no loss, no heartbreak, there were no real tears on the Trail of Tears.

In my history books the Dahlonega gold rush wasn’t preceded by forcibly moving the Indians off the land so the white man could steal the gold the Cherokee would not mine.

The land lot numbers we use in legal documents in north Georgia are the numbers given to Indian land when it was stolen and a lottery held to give it to white men.

Not only am I horrified at the treatment these people received at the hands of white intruders – I am angry that I grew up on Cherokee land and the Cherokee were  never even recognized as having a place in the history of my town, my state.

I learned these things driving my mother all over hell and creation (actually north Georgia and East Tennessee) as she did research on a book she is writing about her great, great grandmother: “For the Love of Esther.” The more places I took her, the more angry I became.

And today I learned that for whatever reason, Native Americans are still being treated as inferior.

Further information can be had at the following websites:

  • Keepseagle v. Vilsack Settlement
  • Full Notice of the proposed Settlement


May the Warm Winds of Heaven 
Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit
Bless all who enter there.
May your Moccasins
Make happy tracks
in many snows,
and may the Rainbow
Always touch your shoulder.

Cherokee Prayer Blessing

Thesis: Image in Post Title

I am still looking for ways to make my WordPress blogs look better.  I really don’t want my blogs to look like anyone else’s, and I want them to be pretty.  If you like the way it looks, my theory is, you’ll stay longer than if it looks like the ’40s and untouched by human hands!

You may already know I am mad about the Thesis Framework for WordPress, since lately it is almost all I write about here.

This trick is slick, takes about three minutes to implement, not counting the creative work on the image, and makes your blogs look more polished, and most important to me, more individualized.  If you want a picture next to the post title, here is how to include it in Thesis for WordPress.

I got pumped about the file folder images I used to substitute for the navigation bar, so I picked the guitar one (it is Blog like a RockStar, after all) and after loading the image, made additions to two files.

The CSS file needs this code:

/* Add Avatar Before Headline sitewide */.custom .title-avatar { float:left; margin: 0 1em 0 0;}


The Custom Functions File file needs this code:

/*Add Avatar Before Headline sitewide*/function author_avatar() { echo 'img class="title-avatar" src="http://Your-Website.com/wp-content/images/Your-Image-File.gif"  /'; } add_action('thesis_hook_before_headline', 'author_avatar');


Have I told you lately how crazy I am about the Thesis framework? So cool.

My next planned topic is a tutorial for adding customization to sidebars: adding images to sidebar headers, or using color to highlight your sidebars and headings, using Thesis framework for WordPress.

Rock On!

Bob Parsons: Sell Anything on the Internet

Great information from a pro, Bob Parsons is the brains behind these three mega-million dollar successes:

  • Parsons Technology (started in his home and sold to Intuit ten years later for $64 million)
  • GoDaddy (you know them, right?) and,
  • my personal favorite: Go Arizona Motorcycles

Enjoy.

Substituting images for the standard navigation bar in Thesis

One of my most favorite clients, Indulge With AniciaB.Com, had some pretty cool images done for a nav bar.  I wasn’t too excited, because I thought it would be really difficult to put together and make it look as slick as the rest of her site did.  I’ve got a ton of hours in this site, as do AniciaB, and her assistants.  It is a work of love for all of us.

Well, check it out:

Is this sexy, or what?

I was so thrilled with the way it looked, that I set out to change the look of my own website, TraciGregory.Com.  So, I redid the logo (different post) and made my own set of images from various places (free icon sets mostly) and replaced my plain-jane navigation bar with them.  The results:

I love this!

So, how hard is it with thesis?  Piece of cake. I learned how to do this from Somone Bull, the enthusiastic Aussie behind Thesis Theme HQ

  • the first step is to add the Openhook Plugin, which makes operating the Thesis framework practically child’s play.
  • then, with the Openhook Plugin activated, find “Feature Box“.  (Thesis Openhook is listed under Appearance in your WordPress menu.)  Here you will enter the HTML that is your nav bar.  I’ve included html similar to the TraciGregory.Com website as it is considerably smaller than the IWAB site, and you don’t really need to see a dozen image links repeated. I’ve centered my links as there are only five, we know they aren’t going to fill the space.
<br />
<a title="Home" href="http://yourwebsite.com/specific-url"><img src="http://yoursite.com/your image file.gif" alt="" /></a> <br />
<a title="About" href="http://yourwebsite.com/specific-url"><img src="http://yoursite.com/your image file.gif" alt="" /></a>  <br />
<a title="Contact" href="http://yourwebsite.com/specific-url"><img src="http://yoursite.com/your image file.gif" alt="" /></a>  <br />
<a title="Video" href="http://yourwebsite.com/specific-url"><img src="http://yoursite.com/your image file.gif" alt="" /></a> <br />
<a title="Subscribe" href="http://yourwebsite.com/specific-url"><img src="http://yoursite.com/your image file.gif" alt="" /></a> <br />






You will need CSS code specific to your image based navigation, mine is below.  This is to be added in the Custom File Editor, the custom/custom.css file. ( I always date and name the additions I make to the CSS file and custom/custom_functions.php files so they are easy to find – and fix – or edit later.)

<br />
/* 10/30  RockStar Feature Box Images for Nav Bar*/<br />
.custom #feature_box {<br />
background: #fff;<br />
border: none;<br />
margin-right: 45px;<br />
padding-left: 45px;<br />
padding-right: 45px;<br />
}<br />






If you’re previewing your work, you’ll see you have the standard Nav Bar in its place, and the images Nav Bar below the header.  Is time to turn off the standard Nav Bar on the Openhook plugin page.  In the Before Header Section there is a box to Remove Thesis nav menu

And finally, you have to turn on the feature box in the Thesis Controls: Design Options: Feature Box.  Choose placement, AND home page or sitewide.  In this instance it is Full-width Above Content and Sidebars.  After you’ve made that choice, the option for the pages you want is available.

Find your images, and put them up for your navigation bar.  Give your site your personal, original look.  And, as always, Rock On!

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William D. Cohan, my new hero: Make Wall Street Risk it All

I first read William Cohan when I bought The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co, and followed it with House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street.  (Don’t you love those titles?)

His work is indepth, interesting as hell, and very well written.

He also writes in the Opinionator section of  The New York Times Opinion Pages and yesterday, he blistered Wall Street and recommended the most thoughtful action possible to change the behavior of those who work there.  He suggests we curtail high risk behavior on Wall Street by assigning personal responsibility. Make them responsible.  Really responsible.

Prior to the 1970′s Wall Street Firms were partnerships.

every partner signed an agreement requiring him (and rarely her) to put his net worth on the line every day.

His cure is simple . . . do it again.

To my mind, its central feature should be that each of the top 100 executives at Wall Street’s remaining “systemically important” firms be personally liable for the risks they take. Not just their unexercised stock options or restricted stock, but every asset they have in their possession: from their cars to their fancy homes to their bulging bank accounts.

And just so you know, William D. Cohan, a former investigative reporter in Raleigh, N.C., writes on alternate Fridays about Wall Street and Main Street. He worked on Wall Street as a senior mergers and acquisitions banker for 15 years. He also worked for two years at GE Capital.


Read the full article here: Make Wall Street Risk it All


And I do recommend that you read every word.  Very well written, highly informative, he’ll make you understand why NONE of the new controls are going to make a positive difference in your life, and won’t really make a whit of difference in the way of doing business on the street.

News from all over: Foreclosure Hell


Obama vetos “Foreclosure Bill”

The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post all have articles on President Obama’s plans to veto a bill that should make it harder for homeowners to stop foreclosures.  H.R. 3808, is actually the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010.

The WSJ went so far as to comment that this is the

most direct intervention so far into a growing debacle tied to how banks foreclose on homes.”  Regulators “have struggled to formulate a coordinated response to recent mortgage allegations, in part because they worry intervention might destabilize the fragile housing market. (Italics mine)

So we’re going to let all these people lose their homes with bad paperwork from the banks, and that will stabilize the market?  What are we working toward here, a larger homeless population?

The Post reported the bill would have made courts accept notarizations from across state lines

but as the lack of a proper paper trail in mortgage documents came to light, the idea of relying on electronic notaries triggered protests from real estate lawyers and consumer advocates.

Hammering the market

Front page of the New York Times: the fallout from the slipshod foreclosure documents across the country is

hammering the market, especially in states where distressed properties are abundant.

And The Washington Post wrote about MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) documents being cited in thousands of court filings about questionable foreclosures and also predicts a worsening market.

If courts increasingly begin to nullify the MERS model – different judges have issued differing rulings — this could call into question the legitimacy of millions of mortgages, wreak havoc on the real estate market, spur costly litigation against Wall Street banks and ultimately harm the broader financial system. (Italics mine)

God knows we wouldn’t want to ask Wall Street to answer for anything, would we?


Full Article at the Wall Street Journal; New York Times, Washington Post