Archive for August, 2009
Since we moved to suburban New Jersey, we’ve seen geese, deer, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and various species of birds and insects making their way through our backyard. I’ve always thought of it as both a beautiful display of nature’s variety as well as an inconvenient, and occasionally dangerous, pest problem.
That said, I’m not sure how I feel about three wild turkeys hanging out in our backyard this afternoon. When I went outside to photograph them, they made their way into the woods, so I didn’t get too good a picture (as it is, this is heavily photoshopped to highlight the turkey – damn those natural camouflage abilities of wild animals!)
Anyway, we’ll see if this guy has the nerve to show up around November…
What could cheap furniture maker extraordinaire, Ikea, do that would create reactions like this?
“Ikea, stop the . . . madness!” – Tokyo
“Horrific!” – Dublin
“It’s a sad day” – Typophile Online Forum
“The . . . community feels betrayed. If a company like Ikea can make this mistake, you have to wonder who is going to lead . . . ” – Bucharest
“Words can’t describe my disgust. It’s a bit like using Lego to build a skyscraper, when steel is clearly a superior choice.” – Melbourne
“It’s like taking the family sedan off-road. It will sort of work, but ultimately gets bogged down” – London
What have they done? Have they made faulty furniture? Supported an unpopular political candidate? Employed child slave labor to write cryptic instructions in Swedish for unsuspecting American bargain hunters? What could Ikea have possibly done that would surpass the death of Ted Kennedy on Twitter’s Trending Topics page?!?
Rooting for the Yankees has always meant more than aiming at the current year’s World Series; the bigger picture has also included their place in baseball’s history. This era is no exception, with the principal players being Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Here’s a quick analysis of where they stand with regard to home runs and hits, respectively:
Alex Rodriguez is chasing Barry Bonds’ lifetime home run record of 762 home runs. He currently stands in 9th place with 575, at the age of 34. Interestingly, if he ends this season with 30 home runs, and then hits 30 in each of the next six years (when he’ll be 40 years old), he will end the 2015 season with exactly 763 home runs. Given that A-Rod has averaged 42 home runs per year since 1996 (his first full year), I’d say 30 per year until he’s 40 is very doable. Of course, if he continues to average 42 per year, then he’d end the 2015 season with 847. If this year is any indication, though, that’s likely a stretch goal at best.
Derek Jeter’s story is not as encouraging. Pete Rose holds the all-time hits record with 4,256 hits. Derek, at the age of 35, currently sits in 59th place with 2,704 (NOTE: the hits category is much more dense than the home run category – Derek’s next 25 hits move him up seven slots). If Derek ends this season with 200 hits, and then averages 200 hits until he’s 40 (the 2014 season), he will end his career with 3,735 hits, putting him in fourth place all-time, just 36 hits behind #3 – Hank Aaron, and 521 hits behind Pete Rose. To reach Rose, he’d have to continue to average 200 hits until he was 43 years old (2017). Add to this the fact that Jeter’s averaged 194 hits per year since 1996 (also his first full year), so 200 per year is not a slam dunk like A-Rod’s 30 home runs per year seems to be (barring injury, of course). Not that fourth place on the all-time hits list is anything to sneeze at, of course, but #1 is looking pretty bleak right now.
Walking past NBC Studios on the way home today, I saw them filming an upcoming episode of 30 Rock. Here are a few pics. It seems the NBC pages are going on strike (led by Kenneth the Page, of course…)
Keep an eye out for these scenes in the fall!
The recent death of Senator Edward Kennedy marks the end of a tremendous political career, steeped heavily in accomplishments that benefited average, “working class” Americans across his almost forty-seven years in the Senate. The “Lion of the Senate” would even occasionally cross traditional political lines to accomplish his goals, as he did in 2002, working with Republican President George W. Bush to pass the No Child Left Behind Act.
So it is more than a little bit ironic that the aftermath of his death is about to demonstrate to us all how petty, partisan politicking can significantly and negatively impact the American people.
There’s this guy in my office who generates a weekly report every Monday morning and sends it out in advance of a weekly meeting, where it’s discussed. This week, the guy is on vacation, so late yesterday, we had to scramble to have someone else generate the report before the meeting today.
The guy who volunteered to do it received the request very late in the day, but wanted to make clear his willingness to help when he returned to the office today. Here is the full text of his e-mail to me (except, of course, his signature):
Brian – I will try to reproduce in the morning.
Now, ya see, this is more information than I needed. Unless he was trying to tell me he’d be late to work today?
Today is both Leonard Bernstein’s and Billy Ray Cyrus’ birthday. Fans of both will celebrate, although they’ve likely never met each other…
There really isn’t too much more to say, is there…
Hat tip: Anthony Campisi
Robert Benmosche, AIG’s new CEO had an internal meeting with his employees on August 4th. This being the Internet age and all, it took all of two weeks for a transcript to make itself available for public consumption. Check out some of these quotes:
- I don’t liquidate things, I build them. When we get the fair value for [subsidiaries that AIG is considering liquidating], that’s when we’re going to sell them; it’s not going to be before.
- We believe we will be able to pay back the government and we hope we will be able to do something for our shareholders as well.
- I have the luxury to say to the government, I’m not going to rush to do this. I’m appalled at how much pressure has been put on all of you [employees] to just sell [businesses] no matter what, because the Fed wants out, or the Treasury wants out. If they want out in a hurry, they shouldn’t have come in in the first place.
- My first charge is to get the company to operate at the level it used to operate, being the world’s best. The fact is we owe the U.S. government a lot of money and we are not going to be able to pay it back just by our profits, so we will sell some of the company off but only at the right time at the right price.
- I want to make sure we all get paid competitively. If you shoot the lights out in a given year, we should have enough flexibility to give you a big increase.
- It’s time the people in Congress stopped talking about you [employees] as the problem, because you’re the solution. It’s not your fault, it’s their fault, it’s the regulators’ fault.
- My fear is that you’ll say, ‘I don’t know if Treasury wants it, I don’t know if the Fed wants it, I don’t know if the lawyers want it, I don’t know whatever.’ If you sit there every day not making the right decisions to take us to the next level, we’ll miss an opportunity.
- [On his commitment to remain CEO of AIG until he's rebuilt it:] It’s not a question of, I’m here for a year, two years and then I’m going back to my retirement
Now, I’m sure most people will hear this kind of talk from a man who’s company owes the Federal Government $182.5 billion and think, “How dare he? What an incredible asshole!” But consider what it must be like to be an AIG employee, or even an AIG shareholder. To them, I think this probably sounds like the confidence and leadership required to turn the company around. Also, it sounds like a place where one can build and/or grow a career. Since the bailout, AIG has lost 45 of its managers to competing firms. Mr. Benmosche seems determined to retain his employees, even in the face of public pressure. He, himself, will receive a salary of $7 milion, with long-term incentives totalling as much as $3.5 million more (this, compared to the $1 that his predecessor, Edward Liddy, earned for the ten months he was at the helm).
Succeed or fail as he may, Mr. Benmosche seems determined to bring AIG back from the dead. If he succeeds, a lot of folks will likely be ticked off at him. Then again, we’ll get our $182.5 billion back, so maybe that’s not all bad…
Well, it’s “Back to School” time again, which means it’s time for Beloit College to publish it’s annual mindset list, reflecting the perspective of the incoming freshman class (the Class of 2013).
For some reason, this year’s list wasn’t as amazing to me as it has been in past years, but there were a few items that I found worthy of note:
Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991. For these students…
6. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
7. Earvin “Magic” Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
23. The European Union has always existed.
34. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
35. Women have always outnumbered men in college.
44. There have always been flat screen televisions.
50. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
53. Someone has always been asking: “Was Iraq worth a war?”
And, on a personal note, I’d like to add one of my own this year:
76. I have always been a college graduate.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, those damn kids are playing on my lawn again and I’ve got to go clear them off…