Pentagon Doing Their Thing Again. Let’s Take a Look at the 2nd Quarter. I am Not Smart Enough to Understand the Consumer Benefit to this Merger. Happy Halloween. Update.
- As if we don’t have enough craziness coming out of our nation’s capital it now looks like the Pentagon has gone mad. I am not going to rehash the particulars of this asinine and ridiculous scenario but in a nutshell the Pentagon has gone to extreme efforts to recover decade-old reenlistment bonuses paid to thousands of California Army National Guard soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. So what if some of the bonuses were paid out to soldiers who the Pentagon now says did not qualify for the incentive? These are the soldiers who reenlisted due to a shortage of troops at the height of the two wars, and the California Guard officials offered bonus incentives of $15,000 or more to build up forces required for combat. These are the US citizens our government is going after for repayment of incentives? Thankfully, Ashton Carter has finally stepped in to temporarily stop the Pentagon’s relentless harrassement of these soldiers….the soldiers who reenlisted due to a shortage of troops at the height of those two nasty wars. Google the back stories….just unreal.
- Some who read last week’s blog had quite a bit to say about my piece on baseball and the length of the game. What most of them said was not so nice. This week, I decided to take a look at the NFL. I watched the first half of the Monday Night Football game and gathered the following metrics (love that word) regarding the 2nd quarter:
- 39 – # of minutes of the second quarter
- 35 – # of plays during the second quarter
- 4 minutes, 10 seconds – total play time from the snap to the end of play whistle
- 10 minutes, 30 seconds -total time for six commercials/promo spots Extrapolate what you want from those numbers but the ratio of time played to commercial breaks is a bit concerning. All of you know I am a huge football fan and try to watch as much college and pro football as possible before it is all over in early February. With that said NFL ratings are down 12% year-over-year and the NFL is blaming the low ratings on the presidential race and the bad matchups for prime time games. What they are not saying is that one of their key target audiences, the millennials, have little to no appetite for sitting anywhere for over three hours watching pro football. The NFL has some very smart people working up at that NYC office….I feel confident they will make some changes to make the game time a bit less. Not so much for NCAA.
- $85B. A good bit of coin for AT&T to swallow up Time Warner. On the surface it looks like a great play for AT&T’s shareholders as the merger will allow for convergent technologies across various platforms with a broad content and service offering. I guess my initial reaction is that the competitive landscape in this space will quickly diminish. For example, could AT&T make it more expensive for their competitors to gain access to content from Time Warner? Pricing that their competitors would certainly pass on to their customers. Think Game of Thrones or Anthony Bourdain’s great show called Parts Unknown….or any other content found on HBO or Turner’s family of networks. Sure, the FCC and FTC are taking a hard look at this acquisition and there is a possibility that these federal regulators could compel AT&T to accept modifications or go so far as to kill the deal. Competition is good for all of us. Let’s hope that this deal turns out to be a good thing for the customer.
- Spooks, ghosts, skeletons and haunted houses. Thank you to the people of Scotland and Ireland for bringing the Halloween celebration, the night before All Saint’s Day, to America. I don’t like anything to do with the devil, ghosts and goblins, and especially skeletons. Thankfully, October 31, similar to any other reason for Americans to party, has become another celebration for kids to dress up in costumes, go trick or treating, and for most adults, dress up in something socially unacceptable and attend a party or two. Staggering amounts of money are spent during the Halloween season. Last year, more than 150 million Americans planned to celebrate Halloween, with eight in 10 millennials saying they were planning something fun with their friends. The total spend in 2015 was expected to be $7 billion, with the average American planning to spend $74 on decorations, candy, costumes and more. Enjoy Halloween and let’s keep everyone, especially the children, safe.
- Updates from previous posts: The Colombian government is again sitting down with the FARC rebel forces to try and hammer out a deal; The Falcons are back at home later today and yes, they need their defense to rise up; the Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, now wants all foreign troops out of his country within two years; Baseball and the World Series between the Indians and the Cubs is good stuff but why have the Cubs’ bats gone missing? Manchester United: figure it out soon and do something with Paul Progba. You can’t pay $119m for one player and have him do nothing. Completely unacceptable.
Adios and Happy Sunday Funday!
Back up Your Big Mouth Duterte. Two Areas of St. Pete. Even the Millennials are Going Classic Rock. America’s Pastime.
- The Philippines and Rodrigo Duterte. Moron, self-serving ‘leader’, or simply a power hungry politico who needs to play the U.S. against China? During meetings this past week with the Chinese brass, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that HE (the Philippines) is “separating from the United States”. This statement, in itself a radical foreign policy shift, has sent a very strong signal that the treaties and investments the United States have made in the Philippines is all for naught. Yes, a 70-year old defense treaty…..guarantees to the Philippines that the United States will come to immediate aid of the island nation in case of foreign conflict or war and continued financial guarantees, delivering close to $200m in aid in 2016. Does he not remember that the United States, with the help of few allies, defeated the Japanese during WWII? Yes, the Japanese, who invaded and took over the Philippines from 1942-1945. Now Duterte says he wants to align with China and maybe Russia. His Secretary of Defense stated that the military aid received by the United States is ‘not enough’ and not significant. Is time for us to call their bluff and pull all foreign aid? I do realize that the island nation sits in a very strategic location in the Pacific but enough is enough….time to move on and let Duterte catch hell from the Philippine people when things go south very quickly.
- An interesting dichotomy only eight miles apart. I am thinking about the area of St. Petersburg, Florida, with those white beaches on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and a urbanesque downtown that bumps up to Tampa Bay. Yes, the state of Florida’s 4th largest city is booming with growth on their beaches and city center. From downtown, you take a short drive south on I-275 to the Pinellas Bayway and head across the intercoastal waterway past Isla Del Sol and Tierra Verde to Gulf Boulevard. Heading north you experience a complete difference from downtown St. Pete, from the every-ending hotels and condos to the restaurants and dive bars. So different than downtown St. Pete, which as of now has numerous cranes building new live, work, and play buildings that will blend well with the landscape of the Bay. Instead of the dive bars on St. Pete beach, experience one of many downtown museums or enjoy the Pier and Beach Boulevard. If you have not been, I highly recommend a long weekend to experience downtown and the beautiful beaches.
- Classic rock. By definition: “Classic rock is a radio format which developed from the album-oriented rock (AOR) format in the early 1980s. In the United States, the classic rock format features music ranging generally from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, primarily focusing on commercially successful hard rock popularized in the 1970s”. So why is this music genre still so popular and why is the music format starting to skew younger, even to the millennials? According to Nielsen, classic rock’s largest growth, surprisingly, is among 18-34 year-olds, who are listening 50% more to the format now than three years ago. My only answer to this is the music is timeless, lends emotion with it’s lyrics, and is ‘cool’ for the younger generations to relate to the likes of Jerry Garcia, Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler and Ozzy Osbourne. Funny how you can have 150 channels to choose from on Sirius XM but their classic rock offerings are in the top five most listened to over the last four years. Classic Rocks!
- I was raised in a family of baseball fans. My mother and father were Yankee fans and that spilled over to me and my brother. Maybe it was my dad’s interest and my brother’s never-ending appetite for baseball stats, but along with my early interest in the NFL and worldwide soccer I was able to name every starter on every major league baseball team. My interest, for many reasons, has diminished greatly. I did not attend one major league baseball game this season and unlike past years did not watch one inning of a major league baseball telecast. Maybe it is the world of free agency, the duration of a game, or me just wanting to spend time watching or doing something else. I will most likely attend a game next season in the Braves’ new digs located a few miles from my home but I can definitely say that my interest in baseball may never come back to the level of my youth. Sure, I like the atmosphere of any stadium but I just lose interest after four or five innings. Never the naysayer, I do realize that baseball has a following…..maybe this year’s World Series, starting Tuesday night in Cleveland, will inspire me to enjoy one of America’s great pastimes. Last night the Cubs advanced to the World Series for the first time in 45 years…..that in itself is a great storyline.
- Updates from previous posts: Donald/Hilary: thanks for the WWE event Wednesday night; Yemen: Hey, you Houthi rebels, you sure got quiet after a response from the USS Mason’s Tomahawk missiles; Atlanta Falcons: no let down later today! The family at Amalfi Restaurant: keep doing what you are doing; Chris Talley at Common Quarter: good luck with your next chapter!
Adios and Happy Sunday Funday!
It Does Not Get Any Better. You Really Thought Firing On One of Our Warships Would Have a Positive Outcome? The Dining Experience. A Look Back.
- I am sure it is the combination of the cooler weather, the trees showing some color, college football, the baseball playoffs and worldwide soccer that make this time of year the best. The combination of the early Saturday Premier League matchups and the afternoon college football are like dessert for most sports fans. While I understand the northeast is a bit slack when it comes to college football, the rest of country is glued to the flat screens, attending watching parties at restaurant/bars, or watching the games live in one of the many massive college football stadiums around this country. Fall festivals are abundant, parents are juggling their young ones from one activity to another, and the incredible weather (my thoughts are with you in the Pacific Northwest today) are a great prelude to the colder weather coming next month. Get out and enjoy the day and maybe catch the 4:25 EDT Falcons-Seahawks matchup.
- I am not pretending to really understand the dynamics of the Middle East and all of their territorial and religious conflicts. The issues go back thousands of years and there is no simple solution to the ongoing threats between countries and religious sects. One of these conflicts includes Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries. Yemen has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement. It is no surprise that the Houthi’s are backed by Iran, who continues to be a thorn in the world’s side. So Iran is calling the shots with the Houthi’s and their efforts to overthrow the Yemen government. I guess Iran also ordered the Houthi armed forces to fire on the USS Mason three times in the last week. Yes, our warship, which intercepted an Iranian shipping vessel sending vast shipments of arms to the Houthis in April of this year. The weapons included 1,500 Ak-47s, 200 RPGs, multiple 50 caliber machine guns and other weapons. So call me stupid but the Iranians and the Houthi’s had to know that that firing on the USS Mason would result on our warship firing back. I realize that this is their way of being provocative but you have to be a moron not to understand that the USS Mason is equipped with weaponry that is best in class including Tomahawk missiles. Yes, Tomahawks, capable of hitting targets from hundreds of miles with pinpoint precision. So minutes after the Houthi’s missiles fell short of the USS Mason, our warship deployed Tomahawks that destroyed Houthi radar sites (and probably a bit more than that). I don’t know what the Houthis are thinking but that decision did not go well for them. Maybe our outgoing President can send the same message to the Iranians before he departs office?
- The dining experience is different for all of us in many ways. The dynamics depend on so many factors including the atmosphere, the customers, the type and quality of food, and the level of service. Like many I have had the opportunity to experience restaurants around the world with mostly positive results. Atlanta, like most major metropolitan areas, has a fantastic restaurant landscape, from simple sports bars to gastropubs to high-end steak and seafood houses. With all that said, there is one north Atlanta restaurant that is a must to experience. Amalfi, located in Roswell, is run by a close knit family who came to the States from Naples, so naturally they focus on southern Italian cuisine. The restaurant is simple, from the minimalistic décor to the location in a non-descript shopping center….unpretentious to say the least. What is not simple are the dynamics of the family, led by Chef Anna with her family support team of Alfredo, Salvatore, Francesco, and Angelo. The food is fantastic, the portions are perfect, and the banter between family members is a must-see and must-hear. Salvatore is the kingpin and his Naples upbringing delivers something special when sitting at his bar. If you have been to Amalfi keep going. If you have not been you are missing out on a great dining experience.
- Updates from previous posts: Samsung, it really took you this long to figure out the S7 Note was a no go? Atlanta Falcons: please keep proving me wrong. To those in Colombia: prayers with you that the ceasefire with FARC stays intact. Atlanta United: keep the great things you are doing going. Brangelina: thanks for keeping the children out of the media. Hilary/Donald: fake it and be Presidential.
Adios and Happy Sunday Funday!!
Quality Control Issues. Like Golf or Not, an Awesome Competition. The Dictator and his Lieutenant. Can’t Start the Inaugural Season on the Road. Hilary and Donald: How About Pretending to be Presidential?
- Ok Samsung, enough. I mentioned in an earlier post how I felt about corporate America pushing new products and technology to market too fast. The lack of quality control with the likes of Samsung and Tesla are a bit alarming. The Samsung S7 Note battery issues, with some of those phones’ batteries catching fire, resulted in the Consumer Product Safety Commission enacting a mandatory recall of the product. So what does Samsung do? They take the product off the market, offer their customers an apology and free change out of the S7 Note. Too fast and not enough product testing as a replacement S7 Note caught fire on a Southwest plane before takeoff (thankfully). I am a Samsung customer, using the regular S7 phone, but you have to have your head examined if you purchase the S7 Note anytime soon.
- Many people find watching golf on TV a bit boring. Understandable, especially if you don’t play and have no idea how difficult it is to consistently put up a respectable score. With that said, last weekend’s Ryder Cup was exciting, compelling and presented a very high level of competition. The format is well thought out with the three-day competition ending with twelve single matches. Even with the majority of players from both the European and American teams being multi-millionaires, the pride these players take in winning the Ryder Cup is unprecedented. I was happy to see the Americans take back the Cup and enjoyed the competitive spirit between Rory McILroy and Patrick Reed during their singles match. Fun stuff.
- Ironic that the USA’s men’s national team was in Havana on Friday to play Cuba in a friendly. The result really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how far Cuba and the USA have come to try and repair some level of foreign relations and understanding. Especially considering that today marks the 49th anniversary of socialist revolutionary and guerilla leader Che Guevara’s execution. Back in the 1950s, it was Guevara who met up with Fidel Castro and his group of exiled revolutionaries. Guevara played a key role in Castro’s seizure of power from Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and later served as Castro’s right-hand man and minister of industry. Guevara strongly opposed U.S. domination in Latin America and advocated peasant-based revolutions to combat social injustice in Third World countries. Castro later described him as “an artist of revolutionary warfare.” Accused of ordering the executions of thousands of Cubans, including political prisoners, Che Guevara, sometime in 1965, broke away from Castro’s regime and somehow was recognized by some as a symbol of anti-imperialism and revolution. When Guevara eventually ended up in Bolivia, the USA helped the Bolivian government hunt down and execute Guevara. As I watched yesterday’s game in Havana I thought about all my Cuban friends and their families whose lives were and continue to be forever changed by the likes of Fidel Castro and his lieutenant, Che Guevara. “Motorcycle Diaries” is a fact-based movie based on Guevara’s life. Probably worth the watch on a rainy day. Sometimes time does not heal all.
- Atlanta United rolls on. This past week, another example of the excellent management team Arthur Blank has put together to run this Club. Steve Cannon, Darren Eales, and Carlos Bocanegra bring a high level of experience that will pay great dividends with United. The Bobby Dodd stadium play is a fantastic solution to overcome the delays with the new Mercedes Benz stadium. Playing on the road to start the inaugural season presented many issues, from both a financial and team performance standpoint. Bobby Dodd’s location, seating capacity of 55,000 and the 72-yard field width will play well with Gerardo Martino’s high pressure tactics and mentality. Well done United. Good bet that season opener at Bobby Dodd will sell out.
- As I have stated this blog will not go down the path of religion and politics. Not that I take Donald Trump’s sound bites lightly, but let’s hope tonight’s debate, produced in a ‘town hall’ format, stays away from the reality TV syndrome we witnessed in the first debate. Note: you can always record the 90-minute debate and watch Sunday Night Football.
Adios and Happy Funday Sunday!
He Will Always be the King. It is Time for Debate Parameters? Two Complimentary RB’s. So You Think the USA has Civil Unrest? Making a Statement in the MLS. Brangelina Gone Missing.
- I won’t revisit the awards, honors, and tournament wins by the King. Last Sunday Rory McIlroy won $11.35m by winning the FedEx Cup and tournament. But all the praise for Rory quickly dissipated as we learned of the passing of Arnold Palmer. You don’t have to be a fan of golf to understand the impact Mr. Palmer had in worldwide sports. His stature, presence and competitiveness basically forced the television networks to start covering golf on the weekends. He will be missed. RIP Mr. Palmer.
- I have my own rules with posting anything on this site that relates to politics and religion (two of my least favorite topics). With that said I hope I was not the only one humiliated by last Monday night’s debate. I really don’t care who ‘won’ the debate but what I do care about is really understanding the two contenders and the discernible differences on topics of foreign affairs, healthcare, the economy and the racial tension that still exists in our country. I know…..the next debate is theoretically formatted to cover foreign affairs but does anyone, based on the 90 minutes of mud-slinging we witnessed on Monday night, feel that the two candidates will thoroughly outline their platform with the issues and topics we care about? There is enough reality TV on the air already without our presidential candidates joining that fray. What a farce and embarrassment.
- My take on the Falcons running duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman may be a bit premature but I was raised watching NFL football and the impact the running game. On Monday night I recorded the presidential debate and watched the Falcons v Saints game (way more entertaining). The Freeman and Coleman show was great to watch as they combined for 296 running yards, caught eight passes for over 100 yards, and scored four TD’s. Yes, it was one game and it was the New Orleans defense but these two young running backs could be very special NFL players. The Falcons v Carolina game today should be very interesting so lets see if the Freeman/Coleman show continues.
- Many Americans are dealing with the issues of racial unjust, and many of us don’t understand what is going on with our country, our government and the division between races. If you think we have problems, look at what is going on in Colombia: the Colombian government somehow convinced the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) to negotiate a treaty. So many Colombian’s have mixed emotions about this deal as hundreds of thousands of people were killed or displaced because of FARC and the 50-year battle they had with the government. Part of this deal is to give FARC complete immunity from prosecution – a decision that does not sit well with many Colombians for obvious reasons. On June 23, 2016 a ceasefire accord was signed between the FARC and the Colombian Government. Under the accord, the Colombian government will support massive investment for rural development and facilitate the FARC’s reincarnation as a legal political party. In return FARC promised to help eradicate illegal drug crops, remove landmines in the areas of conflict, and offer reparations to victims. FARC leaders can avoid prosecution by acts of reparation to victims. I hope this is the end to what seemed like a never-ending civil war.
- In a previous post I have complimented Arthur Blank and Darren Eales of Atlanta United on the first class organization and Club they are building in support of their 2017 inaugural season. This week they again stepped up to the plate by announcing Gerardo Martino as their manager. Many are surprised that a manager with the credentials of Martino would take a Major League Soccer job – so am I but this is another sign that our domestic league is becoming more prominent in the world’s view of international soccer. Martino, known worldwide as “Tata”, should bring a very aggressive and interesting approach to both player acquisition and team management to United. Great stuff Mr. Eales.
- Update on the Brangelina divorce: thanks to both of you for staying out of the media this past week. We don’t care so take care of your six kids and just go away.
Adios. Happy Sunday Funday.