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.
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.
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.
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.