Friday, April 15, 2011

Chock Full of News

Why do we need Federal oversight agencies? If you believe in less government, if you believe corporations will do the right thing to protect the public or the environment without government pressure, if you believe in the Tooth Fairy, then you believe government programs like OSHA, FDA, FTC, SEC, and EPA, are wastes of taxpayer money.

Exhibit A: The Ford Motor Co. had a problem. Its most popular vehicle model, indeed, the most popular vehicle sold in America, the F-150 series of pickup trucks, suffered from premature ejaculation of its airbags. Embarrassing, but not something Ford wanted to publicize. We are, after all, talking about a macho-man truck. So Ford was willing to quietly recall nearly 150,000 of the touchy trucks.

Not so fast, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unexpected deployment of an airbag can injure drivers, or cause them to lose control of a vehicle. The NHTSA strong-armed Ford into announcing a 1.2 million vehicle recall.

No doubt those extra 1.05 million F-150 drivers, along with everyone else on the road with them, will feel a lot safer once the safety improvements are made. I know I will.

Thank You, Uncle Sam.

Short-sighted on Wall Street: The money boys live for the here and now. They denigrate executives who build for the long term. For years they chastised Jeff Bezos for investing millions of dollars instead of reaping earlier profits from They’ve blasted Jim Sinegal of Costco and Howard Schultz of Starbucks for granting benefits and wage scales not commonly provided to rank and file employees, ignoring their reasoning that happy employees are ambassadors of good will and produce more sustained profit in the long run.

Now Wall Street is attacking Google for investing too much in technology and for rewarding its employees too lavishly. Wall Street is like a dog that won’t let go.

Flipped Off: I admit it. As soon as I became a new grandfather, actually even before Finley’s birth, I raced to Costco and bought a Flip video camera. I would document all of Finley’s moves.

Well, we used it to record his bris (ritual circumcision) 17 months ago, but haven’t touched it since. In explaining Cisco’s decision to get out of the Flip business it bought in 2009, analysts theorized that smart phones have interdicted much of the market for digital video, just as they’ve co-opted sales of wristwatches, GPS systems, alarm clocks, digital cameras, newspapers, and e-readers.

I still think it’s a cute device, but clearly one now behind its time.

Dodger Blue Runs Red: Interesting to hear former LA Dodgers manager and current ambassador at large for Major League Baseball Tommy Lasorda comment on the violence at a recent Dodgers-San Francisco Giants game (a Giants fan was attacked outside Dodger Stadium and has been in an induced coma for about two weeks).

Lasorda said it’s okay to want to figuratively bash the opposition on the playing field, but beating someone up off the field is a no-no.

Very true, especially when one considers that almost all on-field baseball related scrimmages are mostly shoving matches, with nary a punch thrown that lands squarely on a jaw or any other body part.

One Dodgers-Giants brawl, however, was a nasty affair 46 years ago, with lots of blood involving some of the game’s biggest stars of the time—Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Juan Marichal and Johnny Roseboro. If you’re interested, here’s a link:

Storm Trooper Black: I never really took a fancy to Hugo Boss clothing. Today I learned why my instincts were correct.

It wasn’t a secret, but I heard on NPR that Hugo Boss designed the black Nazi SS uniforms.

It gives another meaning to the term, “dressed to kill.”

I know lots of German companies aided the Nazi war effort, by choice or design. Companies like Mercedes Benz, Krups, Braun. Even IBM. Others may wear Hugo Boss. My skin would crawl.

Fat Wrists: I’ve noted before I’m self-conscious about my lankiness, despite my eternal gratitude that being underweight saved me from conscription into the military during the height of the Vietnam War.

Now comes another reason to celebrate being rail thin as a child. Seems a child’s wrist can be an indicator of adult heart disease. The larger the wrist bone the greater the risk, according to a study by Sapienza University of Rome.

If this study is correct, I’m going to be blogging for a long, long time.

The Gig Is Up: Paul Marcarelli’s career as the Verizon “Can you hear me now guy” has ended. The nine-year campaign is being replaced, giving Marcarelli an opportunity to talk about what it’s like to be pidgeon-holed as a corporate spokesperson. Among his more amusing comments, as reported in The Atlantic: “At his grandmother's funeral, a family friend whispered, ‘Can you hear me now?’, as her body was being lowered into the ground.

Perchance to Dream: Have you ever fallen asleep on the job? I have. Fortunately, I wasn’t in la-la land while being responsible for flying a plane, or guiding it to a landing. Or driving a truck on an interstate highway. Or running a lathe or any heavy duty machinery. Or, like Vice President Joe Biden the other day, listening to President Obama tell everyone I’d be in charge of reconciling the differences between the Democratic and Republican visions of our future.

No, when I would fall asleep on the job I’d be sitting at my desk, usually after lunch around 2 or 3 pm, staring into a computer terminal, eyes getting heavier and heavier. When I would fall asleep the most damage I could do was click on a mouse and delete a story. But the sudden movement of the mouse would usually wake me up. Rats!

We’re a nation of sleep-deprived. I won’t recount my bouts with sleeping on the job. You can read it again here:

I’m always amazed we don’t see more people nodding off when any president is speaking before Congress or some other august body. Nice to know I have what it takes to be vice president of the United States.