Monday, March 27, 2017

LEGGINGS

How silly can people be. Employees know that in order to fly free, they and their dependents have to abide by a pretty simple dress code. Free for a "small price."

Doesn't seem too difficult, does it? When Linda's sons would arrive at the terminal, they would have slacks (not denim) and a nice shirt with a tie. Didn't seem to hurt them a bit. And it sure as the world didn't hurt our pocketbooks.

So Sarah Silverman decided to quit United Airlines because two teenage girls flying on employee passes showed up in leggings. They were not allowed on the flight...for free. Had they decided to pay like the rest of us, no problem.

The Twitter-verse was ablaze with criticism of it. I'm reminded of the old SNL skit (when that show was actually amusing) where Gilda Radner would end it with "Nevermind."

FLASHBACK, COMMENT ON NEWSPAPERS


Formerly respected newspapers have behaved in highly partisan, often embarrassing manners during and after the 2016 election cycle. Their economics have descended rapidly. This essay was written in 2009, eight years ago, just when media manipulation was hitting its stride and before the masterful manipulation by Trump in 2016.

I think the questions raised here are still valid. The solutions are still not in sight.

NEWSPAPER EXTINCTION


When the day comes that there are no newspapers, who will correct my English?  Who will give me an example?

The Senate heard from executives in the newspaper business today.  The facts are not difficult to figure out—newspapers are going broke because their revenue streams, advertisers, are going to the internet.  For the obvious reasons—cost and results; because that is where the buyers are.

Imagine a world where all the news comes from MSNBC, NPR and the old “Ditto Head” himself, Rush Limbaugh.  Tonight, one of the MSNBC headlines was “American Idol down to Three.”  Hmmmmm.  Do you suppose NBC owns that “news” outlet?

According to NPR, there are only two countries in the world, the US (from New York to Washington) and Israel.  Then there’s Rush.  What if we depended on him for facts?  Instead of factoids?  He is an entertainer, the same sort of hogwash as the guy who was just elected to Congress from Minnesota despite the fact that he is a comedian by trade and this was just a schtick to get more exposure.

Suppose we were relegated to the position of depending on the chain letter “don’t break this, you will have bad luck” emails that quote Bill Cosby (falsely) and give us drivel written in the style of George Carlin…but not written by George Carlin, even when he was alive.  You have to run to Snopes every time you see one of those things because, this time, it may be true.

One of the suggestions is that the newspapers become non-profits.  That may help, but it is not a solution.  The solution is to get more revenue, not have “drives” to get contributions.  Who will pay Posnanski’s salary?  How will we get good, reasoned coverage of the Royals, the Chiefs?  How will we find out what is going on with the mayor of Sioux City?  Or, whatzizname in Kansas City?

More seriously, who will be the next Bob Woodward who seeks out Deep Throat and finds the mistakes and criminal activity of the Nixon administration.  It surely isn’t going to be the shallow “details at ten” group.

There will still be the George Wills, there will still be writers of books and poetry, but the mundane, down to earth and very valuable stuff that citizens in a democracy depend on—the truth—will be in short supply.  Maybe non-existent.  The only thing we will hear are the demagogues, the Talibans of the world.

Maybe national news, Newsweek, Time, network TV, will survive, but the really local news will be hard pressed to compete against a free and accessible, 24-hour source of information like the internet.  Who is going to cover the facts surrounding some goof ball who espouses a light rail system for Kansas City.  Cheeez.

I surely don’t know the answer, but I sense the loss.  The Kansas City Star has been a huge factor in exposing people who do wrong in the central US for a long time.  What will take its place?  Local TV news has been reduced to a police blotter recitation with the occasional cat up a tree.  Not likely to have any journalism there.

Something to think about.  I sure as hell don’t want to get my news from Rush and NPR and my sports from Carl Radich or someone like him with 3 second sound bites.  If you really want to perform a service for the country, figure out a solution to this one.  I can’t.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

COMMUNAL LIVING

  Actually, this has nothing to do with communal living, or at least very little. Just a gimmick to see if I could get readership up. We'll see.
This is going to be unrelated tidbits.
Reading List
My recent reading has been limited to "chewing gum for the eyes." Pap. Trivial stuff, just marginally entertaining. Then, Taryn recommended Kissinger's On China. Admittedly, she is quite a bit smarter than me, but I picked it up and it is terrific. The writing is superb, the observations immensely understandable and precise.
At the same time in the library, I picked up Ken Adelman's Reagan at Reykjavik and highly recommend it. The subtitle is "The 48 hours that Ended the Cold War." The year was 1986, Reagan was under attack for lack of results, being stupid, saying things that weren't verifiable and generally thought to be a great failure by the "experts," AKA the New York Times, et al. Does this sound anywhere near familiar?
He had just started his second term (elected despite the vicious attacks by the elite and Hollywood) and the biggest concern of most citizens was the Cold War. Well, getting bombed until you glow was right up there, but the whole thing circled back to the US-Russia conflict. But that was 30 years ago, and we know that politicians and the electorate have a hard time remembering what happened yesterday, let alone then.
One of the biggest factors in the meeting of Reagan and Gorbachev was SDI, the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars as it was dubbed by the skeptics. It was, as it turned out, pretty much a figment of Reagan's imagination. It didn't exist, wouldn't work and still doesn't...mostly. But it scared the bejeezus out of Gorby, and a lot of others.
Side bar: Our friend, Pam, said the 24-hour news cycle was the worst thing to happen to this country. It facilitates ridiculous "news" and the "fake news" we see so much of. Where are the crusty old editors with the cigar stuck in his mouth and a blue pencil in his hand? Non-existent, my friends.
I especially liked this book because he was there. Same with Kissinger's book--can you think of anyone more involved with diplomacy than him?
Regulation
You've all heard me grouse about the nearly immediate deterioration of the Small Business Administration when the Obama administration took over. The bureaucrats ascended to what they believed to be their rightful position--in charge. They forgot what they were there to do.
The trucking industry has been one of my "specialties" in my business brokerage practice. To keep up, I take a lot of trade publications, and the word now is that the regulators are seeing a different landscape--they are trying to find a more reasoned approach. Take the 2013 provisions on driver hours. The restart provisions were investigated by the DOT and it was found there is no benefit. That comes from the same government that imposed the requirements. The "safety groups" dispute the facts.
The motto for the last eight years has been, "Push the regulations that damage the regulated to the utmost, let the review and court processes try to reverse the damages." Sort of a guilty until proven innocent attitude.
Another Book
I have not read this book, but Lee sent an interview with one of the authors, Charles Murray. The book was published more than 20 years ago, and its premise was that the gap between the "elites" and the bottom rungs of society were going to get wider and the plight of the citizens in the lower socio-economic levels of American society would get worse.
One of the factors that formed the basis for that conclusion was that residents in the lower parts of society have lower intelligence. That means the "upper quartile" of intelligence had a self-perpetuating advantage--they got into the better colleges and had better opportunities.
You can see this coming: "Test bias." "Racism." Shouted from the roof tops. Regardless, that's pretty much what has continued to happen over the last 20 years.
Communal Living
Yes, this deserves a comment or two. It is sort of like socialism--a terrific idea, but one that just doesn't work in practice. My theory, expressed here many times is that these types of concepts fail because they refuse to consider fundamental characteristics of humans. What most of us call "human nature."
We may not be as negative about the human condition as Chaucer's Parson (The Parson's Tale) or the medieval Church, but we need to recognize pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth as human qualities that exist, like it or not. Just like over-crowded rats, we tend to attack one another when pushed.
Jobs Report
In January 2017, the Jobs Report "crushed it" according to one source, with the economy adding 227,000 new jobs. February 2017 just reported, and it was an addition of 235,000 jobs (earlier posted as 298k in error, although I don't think I just made up that number?). There seems to be a new confidence among job creators. Apparently not listening to the mainstream news? That's in the neighborhood of a half million jobs in two months, should make a dent in the "unemployed but not counted" that has been the non-story of the press over the last 8 years.