Archive for the ‘Dolan Media’ category

New Address For This Blog

12-30-07

Dolan Media is now hosting From 50,000 Feet: The Blog About Business internally, which means I have a new URL:

http://from50000feet.dolanmedia.com/

…and a new feed address for subscribers:

http://from50000feet.dolanmedia.com/feed/

I’ve also changed the layout to a wider format, which should make this blog a little easier to read.

Thanks for your visits, and I hope they continue at my new address.

-John

Advertisements

Dolan Media Pre-Christmas Rush

12-17-07

Before you break out your favorite Christmas movies, here’s a delectable selection of news morsels from around Dolan Media….

green-river-formation.jpgShell Oil Company wants to extract oil from the Green River Formation, which contains one of the largest oil shale deposits in the world. According to the Colorado Springs Business Journal’s Amy Gillentine, the government’s permitting process runs on a different track than Shell’s research on how to squeeze the goo from the rocks.

Shell submitted the application a year ago, but withdrew it when the company realized that research was going to lead in another direction, said Tracy Boyd, spokesman for the Mahogany Project, the name for the oil shale research work being conducted on 17 acres in the Colorado back country near Rifle.

“But that doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped anything,” he said. “It’s a delay, but other things are going on at the site. We’ve finished building the freeze wall test and it’s 100 percent online now. They’re working on heating tests elsewhere on the site.”

The next step, which requires combining both the freezing and heating elements into one big test to see if Shell can really wring oil from the rocks, is causing the delay.

“It takes about a year to process the application, and things in this research are changing so fast that knowing exactly what you want to do in a year is difficult,” Boyd said. “We’re learning a lot more all the time. We’ll resubmit the application a year or so down the road when we have better information to know exactly what kind of integrated test we want to do.”

Shell, which has secured 200 patents for oil-shale extraction technology, is the only oil firm working this problem on such a massive scale. As one might expect, the whole shale-oil enterprise has its critics and skeptics. (more…)

Oklahoma on Ice — The Aftermath

12-12-07

iced-flag-zoom.jpg

Things are looking up in frozen Oklahoma — if you’re in the tree removal and replacement business, according to Kirby Lee Davis in The Journal Record.

“If you’re in the tree removal business you’re going to have a bonanza,” added Gary Trennepohl, a professor of finance and the president of Oklahoma State University’s Tulsa campus. “In our campus I bet we’re going to lose 90 percent of our trees. To me that’s the most devastating financial impact.”

Those comments reflect the aesthetics of the storm, the most visible area of damage. And it points to a huge, often overlooked sector.

Trennepohl estimated just replacing the trees at the OSU-Tulsa campus will cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. Multiply that by the thousands of square miles seeing similar wreckage, from Yukon and Norman to Grove and Claremore, and economists might start shaking their heads at the enormity of the issue.

icy.jpg

Those businesses, however, might be affected by a labor shortage brought about by the state and federal crackdown on illegal immigrant labor.

Lee interviews University of Oklahoma economist Robert Dauffenbach and OSU-Tulsa’s President Gary Trennepohl (also a professor of business) on the broader economic effects of the still-ongoing blackout affecting hundreds of thousands of the state’s homes and businesses. (more…)

Cheaper to Keep Her? If She’s a Military Base, Maybe.

12-12-07

On the Record‘s Jackie Sauter rounds up coverage of the $10 billion overrun the Defense Department has incurred in its base-closure process.

Although these base closures have been painful for the communities affected, it always stood to reason that consolidating military facilities would represent a win for taxpayers. In the long run it will, but as John Maynard Keynes said about the long run…

Oklahoma on Ice

12-11-07

t_labskd_tulsaice9rip.jpgNo, it’s not a new version of the old Broadway musical. It’s what’s happening right now as a major storm has frozen parts of Missouri, Kansas and especially Oklahoma under an inch-thick coating of ice, leading to power outages affecting millions of homes and businesses and transportation nightmares.

The Journal-Record’s Kirby Lee Davis today describes the scene in Tulsa.

(A) disquieting eeriness pervaded every shadow, which spread into an omnipresent foreboding as twilight drained to a cold, misty dark Stephen King would have loved.

That’s when a dense shroud of gloom crept into these hilly streets, mile after mile lit only by fog-dimmed headlights. Dusk transformed much of Tulsa into a bleak ghost town, one where the cold and hungry flocked like moths to most any flicker of electronic light – like the McDonald’s at 15th and Peoria, a beacon of civilization in the deserted blackness of a normally robust Cherry Street.

Amazingly, downtown Tulsa seemed graced with power – almost the exact opposite of two years ago, when a frozen water main flooded an underground Public Service Company of Oklahoma station and knocked out much of the high-rise district. But the prevailing void Monday night caught up with those who sought refuge at the Spaghetti Warehouse and other Brady District venues by 6:50 p.m., plunging them into darkness in the twinkling of an eye.

Ted Strueli blogs about the storm’s impact. (more…)

Brad Pitt, Nanotechnology, and an Attorney Playing Himself on TV — Just Another Week on Dolan Media

12-10-07

First of all, there’s a new home for On the Record, the blog for Maryland’s Daily Record. Click here to read it and then click on the feed for your reader. It’s a widescreen blog with a great masthead and some useful new features….

To celebrate the new look, they’ve posted some good stuff lately. Like this post about a flamboyant Baltimore attorney who gets to play “essentially, himself” in the final season of HBO’s “The Wire.” And this one, about Baltimore being “the 46th safest drunken city” in a Men’s Health survey. There are a couple of excellent photos on this post about last week’s Pearl Harbor commemoration….

pitts-bourg.jpgNew Orleans City Business’ Ariella Cohen covers the Brad Pitt “Make It Right” plan to redevelop the Katrina’d Ninth Ward.

Rebuilding homes is Pitt’s top priority but replacing stores, banks and offices could be next, according to “Make it Right” Director Tom Darden.

“We went to members of the community and asked what they needed. They said, ‘We desperately need housing.’ But all of us here recognize the need for other development, too.”

Any commercial building would require funding and development partners, he said.

Homebuilding paves the way for retail development, experts often say.

“Retail follows rooftops,” said Rich Stone, vice president of the commercial real estate division of Latter & Blum Inc.

But in the low-income Lower Ninth Ward, even a relatively dense pre-storm population of 14,008 did not attract a full-service grocer. Instead, people relied on convenience stores, small, locally owned markets and gas stations. Shopping trips were done largely at Winn-Dixie or Wal-Mart in Chalmette.

(Photo by Frank Aymami, New Orleans City Business)

VLW, the blog of Virginia Lawyers’ Weekly, reports alumni are disappointed in the “hopeless” new College of William and Mary logo. Feathers were removed to terminate insensitive Native American associations, but the result is being compared to the logo for the trash conglomerate Waste Management

In an economic development move reported by The Journal Record, Oklahoma State University and OK state government have teamed to form the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Education Initiative to ensure the state will have enough trained nanotechnology technicians — people who can work with items fabricated on a molecular scale.

“First, we have to develop awareness and excitement among middle school and high school students about the enormous career opportunities this field will offer,” said (OSU-Okmulgee President Bob) Klabenes. “Then, we have to have sophisticated teaching facilities and labs so that students can have hands-on learning experiences with extremely complex equipment.”

Nanotechnology laboratories and classrooms will be in a new building on the OSU-Okmulgee campus. The facility will include atomic force microscopes, including specialized software for analyzing nanomaterials data, a scanning tunneling microscope and a fiber-optic spectrophotometer system.

So if your kid comes home from school one day and announces, “When I grow up, I want to be a nanotechnology technician!” remember you read it here first….

Monday Morning Dolan News Fix

12-03-07

Sorry to have been such a quiet poster the past few days…been under the weather.

Here are a few stories from Dolan Media I wanted to get out of bed for.

The state-run Healthcare Group Arizona was supposed to be a self-sufficient health insurance plan for small businesses. Instead, “it’s in financial meltdown,” according to a state rep quoted in Arizona Capitol Times.

And the Department of Insurance seems to agree with(Rep. Kirk) Adams’ assessment. Preliminary results from a report that will be finalized in February show Healthcare Group does not collect the data needed to predict health care trends and adjust its premiums accordingly, said Director Christina Urias.

If Healthcare Group was a private insurer, she told the panel Nov. 27, her department would have shut it down.

“In my view, this is a situation…very, very similar to an insolvent insurer operation because it’s relying on subsidies from the Legislature to keep itself going,” Urias said.

Even Kevin Nolan, deputy director of Healthcare Group, told the committee the program may be entering the beginning stages of what is known in the insurance world as a “death spiral,” in which recently increased premium costs drive healthy people from the system, leaving only those with serious illnesses.

Another state Rep. thinks the situation is salvageable — that restrictions on eligibility and on marketing the service could get the program “back on good footing.” The full story is available to subscribers….

If you’re on top of the global warming issue, you’ve doubtless heard the litany of environmentally-friendly sustainable sources of energy: Solar power, wind energy, geothermal…and now “wave parks.” The Daily Journal of Commerce in Portland surveys the seascape, and reports that Oregon’s bid to be the world’s leader in commercializing the technology faces a surge in competition from Nova Scotia, British Columbia and neighboring Washington state.

Oregon… is working to expand Oregon State University’s wave research to a national in-water wave energy research center where companies around the world can bring their technologies for testing. And the state already has two test devices in the water – Canada-based Finavera Renewables’ Aquabuoy and OSU’s wave energy buoy – with six more permit applications on file at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Finavera suffered a setback last month, however, when the Aquabuoy off the coast of Newport began leaking and sank to the ocean floor. And public perception of wave energy parks as threats to ocean life and fishers could set back the state, energy consultant Justin Klure said.

“Oregon needs to accelerate our efforts for community outreach and education,” Klure said, “so wave energy projects are seen as positive instead of a threat.”

Also on the water… If you’re in Baltimore today or tomorrow, you can catch a glimpse of a very cool-looking high-speed Navy ship, on display in the Inner Harbor as part of the Army-Navy game festivities.  Go to On the Record to see it….

Slow home sales in New Orleans have some owners resorting to auctions, writes Deon Roberts in New Orleans City Business. But it seems like the auctions are serving to illustrate that sellers and buyers remain far apart on what they think properties are worth.

(David) Gilmore, president of Sperry Van Ness/Gilmore Auction, said New Orleans-area home auctions are attracting fewer buyers than for commercial properties or lots. Also, many sellers have not been satisfied with residential auction bids, he said.

“There are still buyers in the market,” Gilmore said. “We had bidders at every one of our auctions for 12 different sales three weeks ago. But I’ll tell you, on the residential homes, there was a price differential between which the sellers were wiling to accept and the buyers are willing to give, and that tells you we have market issues.”

Of the 12 properties Gilmore’s firm featured three weeks ago, three homes did not sell because the sellers rejected the offers, he said. There was a 30 percent average difference in what the sellers wanted and the buyers offered.

What one word comes to mind when you think of New York? Did you say “politeness?”  Me too!  But apparently the Long Island Railroad has concerns about its passengers hogging seats with their bags and gabbing on the cell phone, so they’ve launched an anti-rudeness campaign, according to LI BizBlog….

Three thousand gallons of chicken fat from a Perdue poultry plant. An unlatched tanker. Twenty miles of Virginia highway. Yuk.  And a few auto accidents, according to the VLW Blog…. Talk about rude….