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RIP ROBIN WILLIAMS

Written over ten years ago.

RIP, Robin Williams.

 

By: Lewis Medlock on August 13, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SUM TING WONG INDEED

If you have doubted that the Internet and all of the other forms of instant journalism has led to the demise of professional journalism you should no longer be in doubt.  

I'm referring to the recent San Francisco television station news broadcast which aired the names of the Korean pilots involved in the plane crash at SFO.   I have read that this particular station is one of the most respected news stations in the SF area.  I don't know if that's true but if it is then it's even more proof of the decline of professional journalism.  

The station said they had confirmed the names with the NTSB.  That apparently is true (supposedly a summer intern) but it's hard to believe that if someone had only pronounced the names before going on the air they would have figured out they were being pranked.  In other words every indication is they did no further fact-checking, discussion or even pronunciation before going with the names on the air.

I can't imagine Murrow, Cronkite, Brinkley, Brokaw or any big city news organizations ever doing this in their time. But cable news, the Internet and the economy have changed things. And not for the better. We don't have journalism anymore; we just have broadcasting.  There's a big difference.

By: Lewis Medlock on July 18, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

STEVE JOBS AND AMERICAN POLITICS

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.

By: Lewis Medlock on January 13, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WASHINGTON GRIDLOCK

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.

By: Lewis Medlock on November 22, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

SHAME AT PENN STATE

Disgusting. 

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.

By: Lewis Medlock on November 9, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

OCCUPY WALL STREET

I have been watching this movement since it began and have waited to post about it.  I did so because I wanted to see if it was in fact driven by the abuses of Wall Street or was actually about a group of people having more wealth than another (and not being happy about it).   

I have decided that it's about the abuses of Wall Street at this point and if I'm right I am in full support of OWS.  That's because in my lifetime I have seen nothing more damaging to the American economy and way of life that what has been occurring on Wall Street in the last twenty years (and reaching its worst point in 2008).

The current economic mess is a direct result of Wall Street pushing mortgages so they could package them and resell them as securities.  Sure they were after profits but what has become even more important to them they were after bonuses.  Now the public is paying the price not to speak of paying to bail them out.  A recent USA Today editorial said:

"the bonus system has gone beyond a means of rewarding talent and is now Wall Street's primary business. Institutions take huge gambles because the short-term returns are a rationale for their rich payouts. But even when the consequences of their risky behavior come back to haunt them, they still pay huge bonuses."

I totally agree.  Of course they are still doing it and even increasing the bonuses.  I understand that Wall Street is certainly not the only thing hurting the economy but I sincerely believe they deserve a major part of the blame.  Here's a word I think describes Wall Street well these days:  thieves.  Yes I truly believe that.  

Are they too big to fail? Of course not.  At least not without major consequences.  But Wall Street has already shown their audacity after their bailouts by continuing what they were already doing.  They aren't afraid of the Federal Government either because no-one has gone to jail.  Maybe it's time they became afraid of something even bigger--like the American public.  That's why I support OWS.

Here is a good read about OWS and Wall Street thieves. 

By: Lewis Medlock on October 26, 2011 in Business, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FIVE THINGS I THINK

1.  I am not the least bit surprised at the $16 muffin news out of D.C.  That is what happens when there is no competition to be reckoned with and no incentive about providing customers a quality product at an competitive price.  Pure and simple, our government has no profit motive and therefore very little interest, if any in cost control.

2.  I am now convinced that we must enact some kind of incentive or penalty to corporations that shut down factories here and outsource to another country.  I don't really like doing that as I think it goes against the free market principle but we have lost so many manufacturing jobs that we have to do something or we won't have any products being made in this country.  We're becoming a nation of baristas.  CEOs are driven by the bottom line; and they should be or else the stockholders will demand a new CEO.  Therefore we need to make outsourcing so costly that the decision is to keep the jobs here in this country.

3.  I don't think it is any coincidence that the two American hikers were released at the same time Iran's crazy Ahmadinejad is in New York City.  The Iranians are not known for being subtle.

4.  It struck me that the former marine from Kentucky who received the Medal of Honor was a throwback to what used to exist in this country.  He is obviously strong and humble and did the right thing when action was called for.  We literally had millions like him in World War II.  Now they are such an exception that they stand out.

5.  I'm a Netflix customer or I was one for both DVDs by mail and streaming.  But I'm going to drop the DVDs and go strictly with the streaming. I was fine to get both for the same price but not with the new pricing.  I'm not mad at Netflix.  It was good while it lasted but now that it's over I can see DVDs going the way of LP recordings and CDs.  Somewhere along the line I think everything is going to be streamed or something similar and we'll look back at quaint old days of DVDs.  It's just the way things work.

By: Lewis Medlock on September 22, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

JUMPSTARTING

For those fellow baby-boomers out there, all of you know that there was a time when this country was truly the center of the economic universe.  We were the world's supplier for the majority of goods in the world and especially those considered high-quality.

That was especially true in manufacturing. Up until the late sixties American car manufacturers dominated the world market.  American television manufacturers dominated into the late seventies or early eighties.  And so on and so on.

Of course the opposite is now the case.  We no longer dominate anything.  Our trade balance has been negative so long now that down looks like up.  The economy that matters most now is the world economy and not just the American economy.  In a word, globalization has occurred.

If I could put my finger on any one thing that began a globalized economy it's when this happened.  Specifically it's when this guy's idea began to be used industrywide and internationally.  As the article states, that was the start of cheaper transporation and jumpstarted a globalized economy. 

It allowed the world's manufacturers to compete much more evenly with American companies.  Then their cheaper labor began to be translated into lower prices everywhere.  Product quality improvement followed, especially by the Japanese and then the economic center of power began to shift.  And we all know the rest of the story.  All of this didn't just happen because of Mr. Tantlinger's idea but it certainly was a big part of it.

Yeah.  I'm back.

By: Lewis Medlock on September 7, 2011 in Business, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

FIVE THINGS I THINK

It's been awhile but I am back...

1.  How can someone immigrate to this country, become the best at his profession, change his profession and become extremely successful again as well as famous, change again and be elected to the highest office in his state and then make a decision to screw his housekeeper without the benefit of birth control?  Human beings continue to amaze me.

2.  It used to be that teenagers and seniors were the worst drivers on the road.  Now it's anyone driving and talking on the cellphone.  I'm guessing that an auto body shop is a good business to own these days.

3.  Here's what I will do when I become King.  There will be no political talking heads allowed on TV--no Beck, no O'Reilly, no O'Donnell, etc and there will be no reality shows.  OK, I will lighten it up a bit.  There can be all of the above but only from midnight to 6am.  It's nice to be King.

4.  Of all the problems that we have in this country, I really don't understand why we are wasting time and money investigating doping by professional bikers.  I simply do not care whether Lance Armstrong was doping or not.  I can understand why it means something to the sport but why does it require federal resources?

5.  I have this picture in my mind of Ayman al-Zawahri sitting cross-legged on a rug somewhere in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Yemen.  He's talking with a comrade and suddenly stops mid-sentence and whispers "what was that noise?"  Rest comfortable Ayman.

By: Lewis Medlock on May 23, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

REFLECTIONS ON THE DEATH OF BIN LADEN

I haven't posted about Bin Laden's death because I think it's a milestone for this country and that caused me to reflect upon it for awhile.

I certainly don't think it means an end to terrorism but I think his death will certainly hasten its demise.  I think the democratic movements we have already seen in the Middle East were already doing that.

I do believe justice was served.  As simply as I can say it "if you live by the sword, you die by the sword".

I was elated at the news but I did not have feelings of joy.  Instead I felt relief that another madman has been stopped from killing innocent people unjustly.  Yes I most definitely believe that such things have to be done for the good of civilized people.

I am not in favor of the photos being released.  I see no point in it and I agree with President Obama that it would appear to be gloating and might even serve as a rallying point for terrorists.  In addition I think it would be barbaric and inhuman.  I would hope that we are not that type of people.

I think Bin Laden and his actions have hurt the Muslim faith so much that it may never recover.  That's a terrible thing for Muslims because I don't believe he and his movement was representative of the majority of Muslims. However I continue to be troubled that people of that faith don't express that view more.

I am dumbfounded at the reactions of some people and organizations that raise the issue of whether Bin Laden was armed are not at that time of his death.  That is simply a non-issue to me and I am relieved that he was killed as opposed to being captured.

I am saddened by some of the joyous reactions to his death that I have seen.  I distinctly remember having that same feeling when the Palestinians did the same on 9-11.

I continue to be troubled by the extreme interrogation techniques that occurred and that apparently led to Bin Laden's demise.  But I am less troubled about it than I was before because of what it led to.

I believe that Obama's decision was indeed gutsy and I think it was the defining moment in his Presidency and it will remain that even after he has left office.

Finally and most importantly I am extremely proud of our military and I am not just speaking of the Navy Seals who carried out the mission. The Seals are incredible and I cannot fathom the bravery of those guys that do what they do.  They are the best that America has to offer.

But there were literally hundreds of others involved from the Generals and Admirals to the photo analysis technicians, the helicopter mechanics, etc.  They are all always under appreciated and they never get enough credit for what they do.  Just imagine if the mission in Pakistan had failed.  The media would not only be painting Obama and his administration as incompetent boobs but also the military itself.  The United States military is simply the best.  Their spirit and actions embody what this country was founded upon.  God bless them all. 

By: Lewis Medlock on May 5, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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