The silence is over, turn out the dark.
Yeah, it's been quite awhile since I've posted. I've wanted to but simply didn't have the time, mostly work-related issues. Sometimes one has to take on the Big Blue Ball and when you do it takes time and a lot of energy, in this case four weeks of my time. Worked out good in the end though. Enough said.
You knew I wasn't going to let this go by with commenting. God bless Greg Smith. He refused to drink Goldman's kool-aid any longer. It's a big deal for someone to resign their job based on principle and even bigger to do it from as big a name as GS and as public as he has. He has written so eloquently about what I have known was a cancer in American business and tried to say in this blog for a very long time. He says it much better than I ever did. I dare say he will be blackballed from any major American company from this moment on.
I want to emphasize that Goldman Sachs is only an example of the malaise that not only affects American business but affects this country as a whole. Simply put we put personal wealth over everything else. Love thy neighbor? Only if he is generating profits for us. We have lost our values and our sense of purpose.
We didn't get to this point overnight and it will similarly take a long time to get out of this mess. But it has to happen. Businesses and people can make money, even lots of money, without losing their integrity. They just have to focus on the integrity part first. Doing things the right way with respect for your customers and others isn't always easy and it doesn't necessarily equate to financial success. But it can be done that way because we did exactly that for many years. It has only been in the last twenty to thirty years that greed has overtaken the respect of customers and our fellow man.
I have to say it again. God bless Greg Smith.
He's an American hero.
1. Take a look at this and if you think that was bad then you need to read this. Obviously anything goes. We clearly have lost our way in terms of having political disagreement in this country and the media is the ring leader. What happened to respect? Shameful and disgusting in both cases.
2. My doctor says it's time for me to renew my relationship with my gastroenterologist. We last were, shall I say, "intimate" about 10 years ago. It had to better for him than me though because I don't remember a thing after he had me roll over to one side. For those of you who have yet to experience a colonoscopy and you are over the age of 50 you must do so and the absolute best way to prepare for it can be found here. Read and make an appointment soon.
3. The stock market is up and housing sales are improving. Auto sales are booming. Gas prices are rising again even though demand is down. And because demand is down U.S refiners are shuttering plants and exporting gasoline. Bank of America is apparently looking at imposing fees for providing checking accounts to consumers. That's right. They want you to give them your money so they can charge you for doing so. It's an economic bizarro world out there, sports fans. I wish Professor Milton Friedman were still alive. I would love to hear what he had to say about all of this.
4. And speaking of bizarro what exactly was the deal with Angelina Jolie and her right leg at the Oscars? She looked like a hooker in a lineup of hookers trying to pick up a john.
5. There's one thing that I think could really help this country and that's a fair and just tax system. It's not that hard to do. I believe everyone, including corporations, should pay at the same rate so that if you make more you pay more. It's Congress and the lobbyist who prevent it from happening.
Here's an article on the science of why Adele's Someone Like You makes so many people emotional and even cry.
It's a very cool analysis and I like the song and the performer a lot. But I think there's more to its appeal. One obvious thing is that nearly everyone has a "someone like you" in their past. And I love the beautiful melody with the soft piano. It's perfect.
Don't go by me though. I still get choked up when the F16s do a flyover at a Titans game.
Most years I enjoy the Super Bowl commercials as much as the game. But not as much this year. I thought the quality was down somewhat this year. There were still commericials I liked though. Here's my top three in ascending order:
3. Halftime in American/Clint Eastwood--Chrysler. Loved the message. Perfect choice for the actor and voice. I saw no political spin from it as the media is trying to portray. I just thought everything worked in this commerical. Moreover it's at a time when we needed to see and hear it and from an icon.
2. Adriana Lima--Teleflora. I don't think this one needs any explanation. If it does, I feel sorry for you.
1. Business Trip--CareerBuilder.com. I've always loved their commericals and this one carries on the great tradition. Hilarious and reminds me of where I used to work.
I've been a little too busy at work lately and haven't kept up my posting.
But there's one news item that I want to go back to that happened a couple of weeks ago. It's when Arizona governor Jan Brewer apparently got into it a bit with President Obama on the tarmac in Phoenix.
The truth is that I know nearly nothing about Governor Brewer. I know she's the Governor and I know she's a woman and that's it. I have no idea what her political persuasion is or what party she is affiliated with. And I really don't care.
But from reading news reports she was pretty upset with the President over what she perceived as some less than cordial treatment in a previous Oval office meeting. At least that was the way she described it in a book she published. Apparently the President didn't care much about what she had written and in their meeting on the tarmac he let her know that.
I don't know who is right or wrong in the dust-up but one item that really seemed to ring true with me was the Governor's description in news reports about the Oval office meeting:
"I felt a little bit like I was being lectured to, and I was a little kid in a classroom, if you will, and he was this wise professor and I was this little kid, and this little kid knows what the problem is and I felt minimized to say the least."
That rang true to me because that is exactly the way I feel when I watch the President's speeches and interviews. And that's been true for me for some time. So I think I can understand why the Governor feels that way.
Maybe it's only my perception instead of reality. But it's my reality. It offends me so much that I don't watch him anymore unless it's a special situation like his 60 Minutes interview after the Bin Laden killing (which I give him credit for a very gutsy decision).
Full disclosure: that wasn't an issue for me with his predecessor because Bush III didn't have the communication skills to convince anyone that he was as smart or smarter than they were. Of course Ronald Reagan was the Presidential master communicator. He could make everyone from foreign leaders to the man on street to think they were listening to their friendly grandfather speak.
I think that the President could benefit from changing his tone. If he gets rid of the attitude I think he can win re-election fairly easy over what appears at this time to be some rather weak opponents.
And I'm not even speaking as a wise professor.
I posted some time back about the Steve Jobs biography.
I wasn't really a fan of the man when he was alive but the book changed my mind somewhat. After 600 pages plus I came to admire him from the business management standpoint. In may ways he was a rebel from that angle and I liked that. He wasn't a traditional manager and he rebelled against traditional management.
Peggy Noonan alluded to that very thing in a November column.
He (Jobs) has a theory about “why decline happens” at great companies: “The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesman, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues.” So salesmen are put in charge, and product engineers and designers feel demoted: Their efforts are no longer at the white-hot center of the company’s daily life. They “turn off.” IBM and Xerox, Jobs said, faltered in precisely this way. The salesmen who led the companies were smart and eloquent, but “they didn’t know anything about the product.” In the end this can doom a great company, because what consumers want is good products.
I remember reading that passage and saying to myself that Jobs was dead right. He perfectly described why American business and industry is and has been in decline. I have seen it up close and personal and on the national stage as well.
Ms. Noonan thinks the same thing applies to American politics:
America is in political decline in part because we’ve elevated salesmen—people good on the hustings and good in the room, facile creatures with good people skills—above people who love the product, which is sound and coherent government—”good government,” as they used to say. To make that product you need a certain depth of experience. You need to know the facts, the history, how the system works, what the people want, what the moment demands.
I think she's dead on as well. Unfortunately both Congressional leaders and Obama appear to be good examples. And that combined with how I feel about the decline of American business makes me pretty depressed. When both economic leadership and political leadership is failing it paints a rather bleak picture for the future.
Nevertheless I retain some optimism. The last time I saw something like this was during the Carter years. Ultimately that led to Ronald Reagan and a revival of the American spirit in both areas. Let us all hope someone similar is out there just waiting to come on the scene and change our fortune again.
Today is my blog anniversary.
Exactly eight years ago today I posted for the first time on this blog. According to Typepad this post is number 1,986. That means I have averaged posting about 21 times per month or about 1 per work day for the last eight years. That's not a lot for most bloggers but it's pretty amazing to me.
There has been a lot that has happened in those eight years, notably the loss of my father in 2010. My wife, sister and brother are still with me so I'm grateful for that. And exactly four years ago this week I began the job that I now have and it's the best job I've ever had. Too bad I spent 30 years doing something else for a living. On the plus side It did provide me a comfortable living and pension so I am very grateful for that.
During the past eight years I can't say I ever seriously considered not continuing the blog. But I definitely slowed down in 2011. That really wasn't by choice though because the job I love just required a lot more time.
I consider myself a blessed man. I could be sitting at home retired and collecting social security but I really can't see that right now. According to Uncle Sam my full retirement age is about two and a half years away. Most likely I will work at least to that age assuming my health holds. My father is looking down and laughing as I write that. He was still working at 89. I had my workout done at 6:30 this morning so I'm trying, Dad. I'm trying.
Maybe it's time I cleaned up some some of the loose ends on Deliverance. I've got some old links and such and I'll try to get that done. Maybe I'll even change the design or add something. I don't believe that one shouldn't just tread water at my age.
And so it goes. Eight years later. Thanks to all of you that visit. You all come back now.
I took the last two days off and spent the better part of those two days reading Steve Jobs, the biography. It's a bit of a beast at 600 pages but I found it an easy read and zipped through it quickly. I didn't know that much about him but now I feel like I do. That is a fitting tribute to the author and I think it is the best book I have read this year.
Jobs was clearly a design and marketing genius and the author describes that aspect of the man very well. And he does a very good job of maintaining objectivity about his subject. Although there was plenty about Jobs personal life I would have liked to have seen even more since Jobs, like other geniuses, was an extraordinarily complex man seemingly filled with contradictions. Having said that I thought the author did a comprehensive and excellent job overall. And thankfully for me he did not write the story of Apple but a comprehensive story of Steve Jobs.
I found myself fascinated with the personal side of Steve Jobs and at times even emotionally affected when the author wrote about his last days. Perhaps that affected me because of the closeness of our ages. After reading nearly six hundred pages I was especially struck by Job's love letter to his wife as the end neared:
"We didn’t know much about each other twenty years ago. We were guided by our intuition; you swept me off my feet. It was snowing when we got married at the Ahwahnee. Years passed, kids came, good times, hard times, but never bad times. Our love and respect has endured and grown. We’ve been through so much together and here we are back to where we started 20 years ago—older, wiser—with wrinkles on our faces and hearts. We now know many of life’s joys, sufferings, secrets and wonders and we’re still here together. My feet have never returned to the ground."
A man who writes like that is to be admired. And it doesn't matter what he did for a living. Go read this book. It's a keeper.
1. I caught Obama's 60 Minutes interview Sunday night. Steve Kroft had some great questions and Obama, ever the politician and orator, handled those questions very well. But it struck me that everytime I see him in an interview like this, one in which he can take his time to answer thoughtfully and not be rushed, he seems like a professor addressing student questions. He almost appears condescending, as if someone who asks such questions needs to be educated to be able to understand the issues the way he does. I'm thinking that does not bode well for the President in an election year. Having said that, unless the Republicans run a Washington outsider against him (Romney?), I think he wins.
2. I can't find a lot of fault with the USPS from the customer service side of late. They get the mail moved timely and they have remedied some of their service problems by making stamps available in many ways and places. I like the USPS. If they're going bankrupt I don't think it's because of that side of the business which means the problem is on the cost side and they appear to be trying to address that. The trick is maintaining service while they do that. Not easy but possible. Start with Saturday deliveries.
3. My home town has become fond of traffic circles or roundabouts as the Northerners call them. There has been several constructed in the last year. It amazes me at the drivers who cannot deal with them. I've seen everything since they were installed, including people going the wrong way in the circle. I think some of the problems are due to drivers talking on their cellphones because I have actually seen that problem but beyond that I don't understand why drivers have trouble navigating them.
4. There are a lot of problems that could be reduced or even eliminated in this country if men would be responsible husbands and fathers and respect women, especially their wives and girlfriends.
I didn't pick last week due to the holiday or as Seinfeld would say "no pick". There was some strategy involved though as I really didn't want to pick Tennessee against Kentucky. And I'm glad I didn't. The season is mercifully over for the Vols and maybe should have been for me as I went 0-5 in week 12. Anyway I'm 33-17 for the year even after my disaster week.
LSU 27, Georgia 20--I'm thinking Georgia will surprise the experts and play LSU much better than anyone is predicting. If so it will be good for the Tigers as they need a tough game in preparation for the national championship game.
Oklahoma St 31, Oklahoma 28--State seems to have plateaued which should mean the Sooners roll. But hold your horses. This game is at State and I think that makes the difference.
Baylor 37, Texas 24--Another home field situation. This game is at Baylor. And I think this is an excellent Baylor team that on any given day can play with the big boys. This is one of those days. Longhorns can't hang with them offensively.
Clemson 27, Virginia Tech 24--Just like the Cowboys above Clemson has seemingly plateaued after a great start. But I think they get riled up for this one. It will be close but it's the upset of the week.
Wisconsin 24, Michigan St 21--This one should be the game of the week for college football fans. Both teams are even talent wise and both have had losses they shouldn't have. The game is at a neutral site so no advantage for either team there. I believe the Badgers win because of their quarterback play.
1. I'm an old fart and I know that I don't understand a lot of things these days. But even an old fart understands that Herman Cain must be an idiot. If you are going to run for a national office these days you better be ready for those skeletons in your closet to come out because they will. A 13 year friendship with a lady that isn't your wife and you haven't told her about it? And you gave that friend money? Come on,man.
2. What a pitiful collection of candidates the Republicans have come up with to run against Obama. Obama now has an approval rating that is very weak from a historical perspective and the Republicans seem to be favoring Newt Gingrich? Reminds me of when the Democrats decided to run John Kerry against George W in 2004. Bush was ripe for not being reelected and the Democrats put an unelectable Kerry against him. Same thing seems to be going on with the Republicans now. My thought is that Romney has the best shot against him but even that will be tough. That's the state of our nation: weak economy, weak President and even weaker candidates.
3. I actually ventured out on Black Friday and even went to Wally World. It wasn't by choice. I had to pick up something. And I learned something. Those people working on Black Friday are heroes. I couldn't do what they do and to stay composed and polite. Even more important they're working instead of being with their families. If you're reading this and one of those people, you are a hero. End of story.
4. I miss the old days when you could tell a female in the office that she looked nice that without getting arrested.
5. Here is the latest sign the apocalypse is near.
Thomas Jefferson, et al, are no doubt rolling over in their graves...again.
The so called "supercommittee" failed at reaching a consensus on what cuts would go into effect to help balance the budget. What a surprise that was.
Let's be honest. Obama, the chosen one of "hope and change" passed the buck to the supercommittee in order to get his spending increases in place. And of course the supercommittee did the same. They passed the buck by doing nothing. In other words the Washington way of doing things kept on keeping on. Obama was concerned. So concerned that he hasn't been in-country in weeks. What a way to run a country but hey, there's hope and change--it's just in Indonesia or Australia.
I note that Congress has now reached a new low in approval rating (9%). Moreover for the past few months, the public had a higher opinion of everything from celebrity heiress Paris Hilton to going to war with Iran than it did of Congress. If you think that rating concerns them well, let's just say they have more important things to worry about. Like making sure they time IPOs that they know about, their reelection campaign funds, etc. There's simply no time to be concerned about whether they are governing or what's good for the country.
So now automatic cuts are supposed to be triggered for budget year 2013. But don't count on that happening because the same Congressmen who can't govern will scream the loudest over those cuts as the lobbyists and other fat cats that they are beholden to begin bringing the heat on their butts.
The ratings agencies (now there's another story, i.e. 2008 financial crisis) will drop the credit ratings if the automatic cuts don't happen, the dollar will slide again, and the American economy will take yet another hit.
It would be laughable if it weren't so serious. If there is a single politician in this country with any backbone I don't know who it is. As for us we need to do what needs to be done. We need to remember all of this next November and the bums needed to be voted out en masse. And then we need to hold the new guys accountable for the change in Washington that MUST happen. Washington is broken. It's just that simple. And it's just that shameful. As he tosses and turns Jefferson has be in anguish over what has become of his governing model.
May God rest his soul. And ours.
After three straight weeks of 3-1, finally a 4-1 week again. I only missed the Florida/SC game last week. I'm 33-12 for the year.
Tennessee 27, Vanderbilt 24--This is the first time in many years that Vandy has a solid chance to beat the Vols. But I think the Big Orange will be fired up for its in-state rival and beat them with a late field goal. There's both good and bad about this game. The good is that Tennessee wins. The bad is that we have sunk so low that we are getting fired up over playing Vandy.
Oklahoma 34, Baylor 20--I still believe the Sooners have a chance at playing LSU for the national championship. Sure there are a lot of things that have to happen and LSU could stumble at Arkansas along the way but besides their one loss Sooners are damn good.
Oregon 41, USC 27--Ducks are my team in this one. Full discosure--whoever is playing USC is my team. Why? Lame Kiffin. Enough said.
Ohio State 28, Penn State 21--Buckeyes are not having a good year but compared to Penn State it's a wonderful life year. An upset of sorts for the Buckeyes and more misery for the Lions.
Nebraska 24, Michigan 23--This one should be the game of the week. Both teams are 10-2 but I think the Cornhuskers have played a little bit tougher schedule. I'm not entirely sure that will be enough to overcome the home field advantage for Michigan but I hope so.
I had my third straight 3-2 week last week. Pure mediocrity but I'm 29-11 now for the year because I did well with my early picks in the season.
Arkansas 34, Tennessee 17--A weak Vol pass defense against a very good Razorback pass offense means this could be a blowout. Let's hope that I'm wrong.
Nebraska 16, Penn State 13--This is a pure guess. Who knows how the Nittany Lions will play? It could be the exact opposite score or a blowout by either team.
Georgia 27, Auburn 24--Tigers have lost their three games this season on the road. They will play Georgia tough but come up short for their fourth road loss.
Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 20--The Yellow Jackets running game is excellent but I think the Hokie's run defense is even better. This game could be close if the Jackets decide to cross the defense up and come out passing. Hokies run nearly as well as the Jackets so I think that decides it.
Florida 23, South Carolina 21--this is my upset special of the week. Steve Superior against his alma mater. Gamecocks have not been playing well. They are home but I don't think it will be enough.
That's the only word that I think can describe the entire Penn State situation. You can read the grand jury report online and I did. But after a few pages I quit reading. It was that disgusting.
There were at least two incidents that were actually witnessed. Not hearsay but actually witnessed. At least one of the witnesses reported it to Paterno who in turn reported it to his boss the athletic director. But no one from Penn State reported it to outside police and their only response was to bar Sandusky from bringing children into their facilities.
The coach who did this was allowed to keep his office on-campus and was in the weight room as late as last week. The abuse was apparently going on over 15 years. This guy was an authority figure who used his position to take advantage of young boys. And higher up authority figures did nothing to stop what he was doing except on their own campus. Unbelievable. Can you imagine what those young boys feel like today and how it affected their adult life?
I don't understand how the witnesses, Coach Paterno, the AD, the President of Penn State or anyone else who had knowledge of these incidents could not report it to the police. For God's sake we are talking about sexually abusing children. Except for murder I can't imagine much worse.
What the hell has happened to doing the right thing? I pray that this entire situation was an aberration and is not reflective of our society as a whole. God help us if it isn't.
Yet another 3-2 week for me last week. I'm 26-9 now for the year.
Tennessee 27, MTSU 20--After playing the number 1, number 2 and number 9 teams in the nation in sucessive weeks, the Vols should have a breather. It's homecoming and they're playing an instate rival. Let's hope they take advantage.
Alabama 23, LSU 21--Everything is two in this game. Two great defenses meet. But I believe two other things make the difference for the Crimson Tide. One is the Tide's running game and the other is home field. And therefore Bama by...two, of course.
Arkansas 30, South Carolina 20--Razorbacks got lucky last week and missed getting upset by Vandy. Gamecocks didn't look that good against Tennessee. I think the Hogs bounce back and take it.
Oklahoma 41, Texas A&M 17--Sooners are back rolling again after stumbling big time against upstart Texas Tech. That game may have cost them a spot in the national championship game if LSU or Alabama don't stumble the rest of the way. The Aggies don't have enough to stop the Sooners.
Michigan 30, Iowa 23--Hawkeyes have been upset minded on their home field in the past and even though they aren't very good this year they could still surprise the Wolverines. If they don't come to Iowa ready to play this could easily be the opposite score but I'm going with Michigan.