Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Podcast Episode–Michigan Music

 

Culture – See All Culture

By Mr Sig

A new podcast episode is in our deck.  Now we are up to #5.  Mr Sig tried to be a DJ and rip off the podcast format of the popular Daily Source Code podcast.  However, at least he thinks he did a good job.  The music features artists from the great state of Michigan.  Some you probably know, but others you are likely not to know.  Either way, it’s good listening and hopefully educational, and it is something that I’d like to do at least once a week.

Do you have any good Michigan music worth sharing?  Please let us know in the comments, or send us an email at michiganexpats@gmail.com.

Ted Nugent – Stranglehold – Purchase on Amazon

Grand Funk Railroad – Sally – Purchase on Amazon

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels – Gimme Shelter – Purchase on Amazon

Mitch Ryder – Subterranean – Purchase on Amazon

Sponge – Plowed – Purchase on Amazon

Detroit Cobras – Cha Cha – Purchase on Amazon

Ted Nugent – Free for All – Purchase on Amazon

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Does Michigan Suffer from the Africa Problem?

 

Commentary – See All Commentary

By Mr Sig

Being away from Michigan and trying to find a compelling excuse to give up my great life and opportunities here and move back home has been quite a challenge.  Over the months that I’ve been away, I’ve been able to blather on about the many reasons that the economy in Michigan is simply not friendly to new businesses or new residents.  Many posts on this blog have explored some of the reasons, mainly from a free-market perspective.  However, I often find myself questioning whether or not there is hope.

Let’s look at Africa.

Africa is absolutely beautiful.  Aside from horrible violence and exploitation, movies depicting Africa show it’s breathtaking landscape.  So do the new Windows 7 wallpapers with the Africa theme!  I remember some of the World Cup commercials declaring that South Africa is the most beautiful place in the world, encouraging many people to visit.  In addition, Africa has an enormous amount of natural resources.  And while the United States seems to be focused on colonizing the Middle East, the Chinese are starting to take note and are buying up swaths of land in Africa.  The continent is home to minerals, plant life, and agriculture.. some of the best in the world in all categories.  Africa is also blessed with just about every single climate possible in the world and has an outrageous amount of costal territory making it a prime place for international shipping.  Despite all of these benefits, the continent has been mismanaged so poorly and for so long that it seems that we’ve all been given up on the place.  Every now and then, a celebrity will go over there and pose with some poor-looking children, but come on, folks, is any permanent “good” change ever going to come to that continent?  In the last 50 years, we’ve seen that major overhauls of some countries can eliminate one evil only to lead to another.  We saw the white ruling class in Zimbabwe ceding control over the country and that only brought Robert Mugabe.  We saw apartheid end in South Africa, but the country remains riddled with corruption and hasn’t made much economic progress.  It’s been hundreds of years and it’s hard to see things ever getting significantly better over there.

Is Michigan the same way?  True, we don’t have the permanent history of consistent failure in our past, but has poor management and corruption embedded itself too deep in the culture of Michigan’s managers that there is no escape? I mean, seriously, folks.  Michigan, like Africa, has an incredible base of resources.  We have incredible amounts of fresh water, a climate that shows all 4 seasons, and physical beauty.  In addition to aesthetics, Michigan has an international border with Canada.  It has a highway system that connects nearly all our major cities with Florida and Mexico making it well placed to export many of the products we produce.  It has many top notch undergraduate colleges and some of the best graduate programs in the world in Michigan and Michigan State.  Michigan’s sports teams (with the exception of the Lions) produce excellent results keeping us well fed with several national championships every decade.  The Wolverines, Spartans, Grand Valley State in college and the Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings in professional leagues churn out championships and late playoff runs with regularity.  I’d put Michigan’s sports portfolio up against that of any state.  So why is our economy terrible?  Why is it that Michigan never got invited to the booming (albeit fake) economy (albeit fake) that existed in the middle of Bush’s term?  We simply kept being terrible while the rest of the country prospered. Sure, we can point to governing policies, a poor business climate, and corruption, but can these things be changed?  Is blaming Michigan’s problems on poor governing the equivalent of blaming gravity for plane crashes?  For centuries, Africa has not improved since bad people continue to control the country.  At least Michigan affords us elections where we can elect our officials, but the people in the state continue to accept economic failure by accepting poor governance.  Detroit’s former Mayor is in prison right now.  Flint almost recalled their second mayor in the past decade who resigned before he could be thrown out.  And even he is a convicted felon.  Who is going to take the leadership and root out the corruption and reinvent Michigan?

I do believe that Michiganders will continue to elect idiots, and Michigan will continue to be a poor place to invest for many years mainly because the smart and capable people simply don’t want to be politicians.  However, I DO NOT believe that Michigan will suffer from the Africa problem for one big reason.  But that… is for another post.  Any guesses?

I know that nobody ever wants to say that a place is hopeless, but honestly, what do you think will really make Michigan a more friendly place to invest?  Do you really think that the state will ever elect leadership at local and state levels to make that happen?  Really?  Or do you think something or someBODY else will happen / arrive that will turn things around.  What specifically do you think that will be? Or is it going to be a gradual process of the jabronis in charge either changing their minds, retiring, or dying off?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Northern Gravity Pull

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary

By John Galt

Have you ever heard of a psychological phenomenon called the tyranny of choice? It’s when you have so many options that you end up overwhelmed and in many cases, you end up doing nothing. Kind of like a lottery winner who spends all day watching Wheel of Fortune instead of blowing his new fortune on a yacht. I am starting to feel that about my love affair with Michigan.

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I have come to notice that I have been so eager to come back to Michigan that I began to think of Michigan as if it were some sort of monolithic place. The fact is Michigan is about as varied in culture and lifestyle as a state can be. Now that I am starting to seriously consider moving back to Michigan, I have to pull my head out of the clouds and begin to look at specific places. The trouble is, I haven’t really decided what kind of lifestyle I want.

First, the assumptions. Given the economy of Michigan overall, I will start by assuming that I will be somehow working remotely over the internet. If I happen to find a decent job, that will make my location choice much easier, of course. But for now, let’s assume I have carte blanche to move wherever I want. Do I want the hipster city lifestyle of downtown Ann Arbor? Or maybe the urban slum lord adventure of Flint or Detroit. Should I go for typical honkey suburban bliss, or should I basically retire, “4-Hour Work Week” style on the lake in Traverse City or Charlevoix? Even still, I find a certain romance to Going Galt and trying out the Unibomber lifestyle (minus the homicide) on some ultra-rural land up north. With every option open, I find myself eagerly overwhelmed with the possibilities.

The fun part about Michigan is that most Michiganders are a combination of these lifestyles. Despite the economy, Michigan is so cheap to live that many people have the disposable income for things like cabins or boats or dune buggies in addition to their 9 to 5 lifestyle. But I think part of that is also an effort to compromise between what people would really prefer to be doing and what they have to do to survive. I remember thinking as a kid, “how great it would be if I could life up north, if only there were jobs up here.” Well, now I can. The question is: Should I?

Part of my equation is an examination of where a city will be economically and culturally, say, 10 or 20 years from now. The more I look at the dying industrial sector and I try and imagine what Michigan would look like in the future, my mind gravitates to the belief that the future of Michigan is north and west. I would guess that 20 years from now people will be much more likely to live in a place like Traverse City than Detroit or Flint.

The more I think about it, the more I think my future will also probably be somewhere north, at least for a while. Why not spend a year or two living in a cabin on a lake? Is this shortsighted of me? After all, I might get bored up there. And despite my very real dislike of people in general, I might even get lonely. I might be romanticizing the up north lifestyle a bit too much, but then again, maybe that’s okay. Self-delusion just may be the welcome change I am looking for.

So now, I am unabashedly soliciting your advice. If you are an expat, where would you move to if you had total freedom to live as you please? And if you are a Michigan resident, where would you go if you had the choice to live anywhere you wanted in Michigan? Leave your comments below; they will be much appreciated.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bells Beer - Let's Take a Drink!

Michigan Expats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr Sig

Our first podcast featured Mr Sig and the Doctor reviewing three different beers from Bells Brewing Company.  Here is a quick rundown.

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Bells Amber Ale – Episode 2

Great all-purpose beer.  The flavor is not too much nor is it too little.  For someone who is new to “higher class” beer drinking, this is a good selection.  While this beer might be slightly more expensive than a typical Bud or Miller product, the quality and taste is much higher.  Given the alcohol content, it is a good “1 or 2” beer and not something you will drink several of.  This beer can go with all sorts of different types of food.  The only bummer is… it is not likely to be found in too many grocery stores.  Look for it in a specialty beer store.

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Bells Two Hearted Ale – Episode 3

Bells Two Hearted Ale is a fairly hoppy beer which is typical of an IPA.  As the Doctor explained, IPA means Indian Pale Ale which hearkens back to the British colonial days.  The Doctor gave us a history lesson indicating that the British have been known for drinking for centuries.  As such, British colonialists in India needed to import some of their great English beer.  In order to delay the fermentation process to account for the long trip from England to India, higher quantities of hops were used in the brewing process.  This created a stronger and more bitter taste.  This particular beer is probably not for the newbie to strange-brews but the Doctor recommends this beer with anything you put on the grill.  Like the Amber Ale, it is not likely to be found in a typical grocery store, but you should be able to find it in a specialty beer store.

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Bells Oberon – Episode 4

Bells Oberon is the Bells Brewing Company’s flagship beer.  It comes in the familiar orange label and despite being a wheat beer, it is the beer that Michigan beer drinkers most identify with.  The Doctor mentioned that this particular beer determines which bar wins the post-softball game company.  If Bells Oberon is not on tap, you can forget about this group spending money at your establishment.  Oberon is a wheat beer meaning that its drinker will enjoy an almost citrusy taste that goes down very easy.  It is considered a seasonal beer mainly set up to be taken in the summer.  Its sophisticated consumers are rarely seen enjoying an Oberon without an orange slice.  If you are a Michigan expat, you are most likely to find Bells Oberon on the shelves in your local grocery store than any other Michigan beer.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Podcast is underway!

Michigan Expats - Administration - See All Administration

By Mr Sig


Hello Readers! I'm proud to announce that we have successfully published our first podcast. Actually, we published 3! The doctor and Mr. Sig sat down and had a discussion over a few beers.... Michigan beers. That's right, our first three episodes review 3 different beers from the Bells brewing company. You'll notice that while the content is good, the sound is not too great. Either way, we're happy that we are able to provide alternative forms of content.

To subscribe to this podcast, simply past the below xml link into your RSS reader. In addition, you can add it to your iTunes list by following the instructions in this blog post. I haven't tested it yet, so let me know if it works. The reader should find the 3 episodes and automatically download them for you. Please leave us your comments and, most importantly, go out and buy some Bells Beer!

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9906552/MichiganExpats.xml

Of course, I'll have one of those goofy RSS logos up soon!