Thursday, November 06, 2003

"The Jews say that 36 just men keep the world going."
--poet & essayist Andrei Codrescu, earlier this year on NPR

Cleveland's NPR affiliate WCPN uses the slogan "All-Day Brain Food." But who would have thought that the widow of all-day junk food king Ray Krok, founder of McDonald's, would enrich the network with a $200 million gift? It's the best news I've heard in weeks, because NPR is a national treasure, something I'd have trouble living without, and yet it's perhaps easier to take for granted than a favorite paper, book or even website. Coming just a day after Morning Edition's 24th birthday, it's a splendid vote of confidence and morale pick-me-up for an incomparable group of professionals. It speaks volumes from beyond the grave. In any event, I plan to honor Mrs. Krok's memory by stopping in for a few more Big Macs. And Andrei really ought to amend his quote to read 36 just men and one woman...

Issue 1 Down in Flames. There's much angst today among local techies that their cherished state Issue 1 went down in flames at the voting booth this week. But I don't think it's really very complicated. For reasons I can't imagine, the campaign decided to use deeply unpopular Governor Taft as its poster boy, so it made it pretty easy for voters angered over his unavoidable belt-tightening during this recession to strike back. Plus, the average Joe doesn't tend to get all warm and fuzzy over the word technology, something technical folk never seem to understand. Most people, unfortunately, still think of technology as something pretty foreign, not a part of their world. I think a caller to WCPN yesterday morning summed up the feeling of millions of Americans. "I don't know why Taft did it (pushed the issue of selling bonds to support technology investments) because everyone I know who's lost their job was in technology. I don't think it is the future." It doesn't really matter that the future is going to overwhelm this woman even before she realizes it. Just don't ask her to vote for something so foreign.

Does This Mean the Clinic Will Soon Have Greeters?? Former duct tape czar and now Cleveland Clinic board member Jack Kahl takes a back seat to no one in his enthusiasm for the steamroller from Bentonville, Arkansas, also known as Wal-Mart. And just like his fellow mogul Peter Lewis (in fact like nearly all moguls), he likes to marry his various enthusiasms, suggesting (insisting?) that the targets of his philanthropy collaborate. In Lewis's case, that's why WCPN and the Weatherhead School have a strategic parternship (which includes those annoying sound bite moments on the radio, Making Change--Reinventing Our Economy). Now, in similar fashion, Kahl has apparently suggested that the Clinic learn from Wal-Mart. He told a group of entrepreneurs last week that Clinic chief Floyd Loop plans to send a group of doctors to the Wal-Mart Leadership Institute, where they can presumably learn how to scour the earth's sweat shops for the cheapest possible heart pumps and other crucial life-saving instruments (okay, that was a cheap shot, I admit). We also hear, much to our amazement, that ultra-PC, ultra-green Oberlin, Ohio may soon be getting a...Wal-Mart! Now, I'd pay to see that. Talk about blending opposite cultures...

Don't Miss This. At least there's some good news on the Making Change front. In a couple of weeks, Weatherhead and REI are hosting a lunch on the topic of driving innovation. It should attract a nice cross-section of the town's best minds. And with a price tag of just $15 for a lunch session at the Ritz, you can bet there's some heavy underwriting of the event by the school, which continues to furiously collaborate with everyone and every institution it can find in order to prove Peter Lewis wrong ("CWRU is a diseased university that is collapsing and sucking Cleveland into a hole with it"). We'll see what old Peter B. has to say tomorrow, when he speaks to the City Club's Young Leaders, which will be packed to the gills.

Lebron Energizes Things. Okay, so the Cavs went down to their fourth defeat out of their first four games in last night's home opener, and Lebron didn't do much in his long-awaited nationally televised match against his pal Carmello Anthony. But who cares, really? I just wanted to witness the spectacle of Cleveland becoming more energized, and wanted to treat my hoops-loving oldest son (mom and the younger son passed it up) to a slice of Cleveland sports history. So I sprung for some high-priced broker tix for last night's game, and we had a good view of the floor from just seven rows away in the corner. My Michael was ecstatic throughout, insisting that we get there more than an hour before game time so that he could drink it all in. And besides the game, which he loved, he got some other assorted goodies he didn't expect. Like taking a photo with the cheerleaders he spotted while we were waiting in line to go into the team shop (a second after I snapped the picture on the disposable cam and he accepted a hug from a babelicious cheerleader, I heard him mutter to himself 'now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout). During timeouts and halftime, his eyes busily scanned the seats next to the court, where of course a procession of Lebron's posse, friends, family and assorted famous folks, gathered. And he leaped out to quickly give a high five to baseball star Ken Griffey, Jr., and the rapper Jay Z. "Dad, I'll never wash this hand again," he said. He even got an autograph from former Ohio State running back (and Lebron inner circle guy) Maurice Clarrett. All in all, a pretty good night for some serious father and son bonding and memory-building...


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