Archive for September, 2011

A small item… last night we were interrupted not once but twice by the President Of The United States… !

We were at the My New Red Shoes charity event in the afternoon (such a nice charity!)… when it was all over, we were stuck until the presidential motorcade went by… on their way to a fundraiser.

Unfortunately, it passed by on the freeway so we only saw the cars whiz by from afar.

But, then, lo and behold, the second fundraising stop was — literally — two blocks from our house… with the presidential motorcade scheduled to pass by our street in short order.

I must say, it was a festive atmosphere.  Regardless of whether you are a republican or democrat, if you haven’t seen the most powerful person in the free world travel, it is definitely a sight to behold.

Most of the local residents — alerted by heavy police support — lined the street to sneak a glimpse and maybe catch a wave.

I took my daughter and shot some video of her waving as the president went by, literally feet away!

So that’s the cool news.

The broken news is how much that cost.  Apparently, we taxpayers pick up most or all of the tab for these trips…

… which include the total operating cost (machinery, gas, personnel, flight maintenance, etc.) for flying out Air Force One, a dummy Air Force One, a bunch of military transport planes carrying the 20-30 armored vehicles (which had been flying in to Moffett Field all week), probably a lot more equipment that was behind the scenes, and what felt like hundreds of local law enforcement personnel.

Someone has had to figure out the exact costs… but my guess is the amount he raised was dwarfed by the taxpayer tab.

I get the need for positive press… especially in times like now… but given that his official business in Silicon Valley was to have a town-hall meeting with LinkedIn, you’d think he could have actually used some technology and done it virtually and save us all some dough?

Back in December, 2009, I published a post entitled, “The Stronger Euro Doesn’t Makes Cents.

I posted some “External debt as a % of GDP” figures.  How do they stack up nearly two years later?

With the Euro current around 1.3491, here’s the comparison:

External Debt As A Percentage of GDP:

2009:  #20: U.S. at 94%…                      2011: #20: U.S. at 101.%
2009:  #14: Germany at 178%…         2011:  #14: Germany at 185.1%
2009:  #8: France at 236%…                2011:  #12: France at 250%
2009:  #10: Hong Kong at 206%…     2011:  #11: Hong Kong at 250.4%
2009:  #3: U.K. at 408%…                     2011:  #2: U.K. at 413.3%
2009:  #1: Ireland at 1,267%…           2011:  #1: Ireland at 1,382%

So, really, not much has changed… the U.S. is still the strongest of the bunch… but everyone has gotten a bit worse… with France a bit more than the others… Hong Kong a lot worse (speaks to whether Asia is overheating or not)… and Ireland, unfortunately, a whole lot worse.

P.S.  I know the U.K. and Hong Kong aren’t part of the Euro per se, however, they both are in the thick of it, so to speak.

P.P.S.  Here is where the other “PIIG” nations stand:

2011:  #17: Italy at 146.6%
2011:  #15: Greece at 182.2%
2011:  #13: Portugal at 223.6%

I am very sad today.

A little known fact about me is I’m an All My Children fan.  A big fan.  Been watching on & off since 1971.

Think about that… now that’s a LONG time.  There are very few things in my life that I could count on more than life in Pine Valley… that has been there consistently for me… through thick and thin… in good times and bad… almost 41 years worth for me.

Oh, sure, I would miss a decade here or there… but it was easy to catch up in the first five minutes before the opening credits.

Whenever I thought I was having trouble in my life, I could always take heart that my evil twin hadn’t shown up on my doorstep wanting to extract years of revenge for being the outcast of the family that I never knew about… or that the woman I was seeing hadn’t escaped from prison, incarcerated for some haunting and mysterious secret yet still having a heart of gold… or that our local priest wasn’t in reality a transsexual and/or the supreme leader in a hidden underworld cult.

When someone would marvel that I actually watched a “soap opera,” I would quickly point out:  It’s not a soap opera… it’s how I learn about real life… and then I would ask, “well, how do you learn about real life?”  Sadly, not everyone had the advantage of the All My Kids education that I have had.

I have such terrific memories around the show… hanging out with my sisters and gram as they cat-called the tv screen… eating lunch to it with good friends in college… watching tapes at night with my girlfriend-turned-fiance-turned-wife.

My daughter Elle watched her first episode when she was just about 24-hours old.

I even got to hang out on the set for my 40th birthday.  Sweetly, the actors pretended that they were just as happy to see me as I was thrilled to see them.  Hayley Vaughan (a.k.a. Kelly Ripa) even ran up to me and gave me a giant birthday hug, exclaiming, “who’s the birthday boy?!”… at which I just had to turn to my wife and ask, “is this my birthday present?  Can I keep her?!”

Undoubtedly, one of the best birthday gifts I have ever received.

From a business perspective, I cannot believe how stupid ABC is… trashing such a strong brand… and throwing away nearly a half century of character development.  It’s a pity ABC wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to transition the show more gracefully, both emotionally and economically.

From a familial perspective, it makes me sad that all of my children (well, child) won’t delight in the particular on-goings of Pine Valley… that we won’t be able to share that together.  A generational opportunity lost.

I said good-bye today to a community — families — people — that have been with me almost all of my life.

I am…

… heartbroken.

In true soap opera style, they are wrapping up 41 years of programming by having the evil Dr. Hayward bring back some of the truly beloved characters.  I know them all… and I care for them all… and am so happy to have them all back one last time.

I just wish the evil Dr. Hayward could have worked some of that medical magic on the zombies at the ABC network.

 

Update!  In even truer soap opera style, they wrapped up the show with a real, live, honest-to-goodness cliff hanger… three, actually!  Will Erica Kane really chase after Jackson Montgomery and forgo her huge movie stardom and finally find true love?  Was that really a gun shot we heard at the end, as in, did JR really pull the trigger and, if he did, who did he shoot?  And — the biggest mystery of all — who is the last mysterious patient that was brought back from the dead?  They never told us… !

Way to leave everyone with wanting more… you were true to your roots to the very end… good show, AMC!

Has anyone talking about job creation actually run a company?

Finally someone got it right.  From Citi’s Tobias Levkovitch:

     “…it is terribly difficult to convince employers to add workers they don’t need.”

Duh to everyone who thinks otherwise.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize guy in economics, just wrote what I think might be the best summary of how I feel about the BUSINESS of the military actions we’ve taken over the last decade.

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m all for defending ourselves.

But — from a business perspective — we did it / are doing it in about the most ineffective way possible.

As Stiglitz says, the $3-$6 trillion estimates don’t even include tons of other directly related costs… both monetary and emotional costs…

… like the damage to our global reputation…

… like putting all of American in danger because of the massive debt hole we’re now in.

Ironically, the war that was supposed to make America more secure has left us anything but.

This last decade has been more than a waste… it’s a giant step backwards.

 

Update:  This post says it all, too:  “10 Years Later It’s Clear America Overreacted to 9/11”.