Airport Anxiety. Mr. Blank and the Falcons. Circus No More.

Let’s Go Private.  Houston Here We Come.  PETA Does a Number on Ringling Bros. 

  • It was always interesting to watch the strange behavior of people once they arrive at an airport and proceed to check in and get through security.  I suppose the dynamics of packing and getting to the airport, as well as parking and getting to the terminal leads to a bit of tension and anxiety?  The behavior of people changed even more after the events of 9/11 with security parameters heightened along with the Transportation Security Administration.  Yes, TSA, the array of disciples dressed in garb reminding everyone of their diligence and duty to the country.  For the most part, TSA has straightened out their hiring practices and training but there are numerous occasions that you just must wonder why the United States has not provided for the privatization of TSA services at our airports.  Obviously, money is not an obstacle because like most government agencies the marginal productivity of TSA personnel surely lags the private sector security firms that certainly could provide airports with more qualified agents to screen passengers and their bags.  I am not admonishing the TSA nor most of their agents, I am simply wondering why these services are still under the guise of the Federal government.   Speaking of privatization, next week I will take a hard look at the U. S. Postal Service, whose 2015 financials showed a $5.1B loss.
  • They are on their way to Super Bowl LI.  Yes, in two weeks the Atlanta Falcons, led by MVP quarterback Matt Ryan, will make their way to Houston to play for the NFL championship against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  It is simply amazing how a new head coach, a new staff and a few new players in key positions can change the performance of a team.  The person responsible for demanding these changes is 74-year old Arthur Blank, who co-founded The Home Depot, and is both a respected businessman and philanthropist.  You must feel great for Mr. Blank, who has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Falcons, their new stadium, and his new Major League Soccer franchise, Atlanta United.  Losing Super Bowl LI to his longtime rival Robert Kraft is not an option so let’s hope that the evening of February 5th is a great one for Mr. Blank and the Falcons.
  • Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been around for well over 100 years and has performed worldwide before hundreds of million spectators, many of those young children.  Wild animals and courageous acts filled most arenas and left young children with huge smiles on their faces as they wondered how you really survive getting shot out of a cannon or hanging out in a cage with a few lions and tigers.  Last week Ringling Bros. ownership group announced that they were closing down due to the financial pressures of increasing the level of safety, security and habitats of the performing animals.  PETA went after the Circus many times threatening lawsuits and continued protests mostly focused on how the trainers treated the elephants.  I do think there is a time and a place for PETA but this has gone on way too long and now Ringling Bros. has thrown in the towel.  What a shame that many millions of children will miss out on this spectacle.  I remember my daughter and her heightened excitement knowing that the circus was coming and the joy she experienced once she walked into the arena.  Hopefully, the assets of Ringling Bros. will be bought out, retrenched and reintroduced to the world soon.
  • Updates: the Trump inauguration costs will reach $200m.   The Philippines’ President Duterte has gone quiet and for good reason:  General “Mad Dog” Mattis was sworn in as the Secretary of Defense.  Nigeria needs help with Boko Haram and their terrorist ways…. maybe a first assignment for the new Secretary of Defense? Have you tried Wendy Dunlap’s Impromptus?  Great solution for a gift or bake them yourself for a great appetizer….Impromptus Savory Shortbreads.  To order, email Wendy at myimpromptus@gmail.com .

Adios and have a great week!

 

 

 

 

 

MLK Day. Cop Killers. The Road to the Super Bowl. Updates.

I Have a Dream.  Make Them Suffer.  Next Sunday’s Games.

  • In the United States, a federal holiday is an authorized holiday which has been recognized and designated by the US government.  Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday that was instituted by the federal government thirty one years ago.  In my view, the States of the Union share their sovereignty with the federal government including following guidelines and statutes of designated federal holidays.  Martin Luther King, Jr., incredibly strong by most and controversial by some, was honored by the U.S. Federal government for his work to combat racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.  In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Tomorrow, as designated 31 years ago by the federal government, all fifty states are mandated to honor MLK day.  Then there is the state of Mississippi and specifically the city of Biloxi, where MLK day is also called “Great Americans Day” incredibly honoring General Robert E. Lee on the same day as the designated federal holiday.  The same Robert E. Lee who held the black race in bondage, proud of his legacy as a racist.  Shameful and outrageous, you would think that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant would step in to stop this ridiculous practice of dovetailing MLK Day with this so-called “Great Americans Day”.  Dr. King must have had great insight as his famous “I have a dream” speech included this excerpt:  “…..I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice….”.   Maybe we should suggest to President-Elect Donald Trump that his infamous wall should be moved a bit north and east to sanction off the shameful state of Mississippi?
  • She spent seventeen years as an Orlando police officer and was decorated and honored numerous times during her career.  Last Monday, Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was gunned down pursuing a murder suspect.  While police in many states have come under scrutiny for unnecessary tactics, the police in this country, as well as firefighters and emergency response personnel, need to be honored for their dedication to protecting and serving as well as putting their lives on the line day in and day out.  I am not sure how to solve this trend of cop killers but people who kill police officers need to suffer the most dire of consequences.  Putting these types of criminals in regular prisons does not work as they are often glorified by their fellow prisoners.  Maybe the idea of a “special” prison could send a message to these vicious criminals who have no regard for human life.  A friend of mine has told me about “ADX Florence”,  a super-maximum security prison located in rural Colorado.  I had no idea something like this existed in the United States, until he told me that the likes of Zacharias Moussaoui (9/11) and Richard Reid (shoe bomber) are held here.  Each inmate is in solitary confinement and spends 23 hours a day in their cell.  With little to no human contact or conversation and only a skylight in each cell, these prisoners are completely cut off from interaction and reality.  Cop killers, like the one who killed Debra Clayton, should be sent here to deal with the consequences of their actions.
  • There have been exciting Super Bowls but next Sunday’s National and American Conference championship games are usually way more compelling to watch than the Super Bowl.  The anxiety and complexity of winning one more game to reach the Super Bowl leads to the anticipation of these two games, to be played next Sunday afternoon and evening.  The Atlanta Falcons, with their beat down of Seattle yesterday, face the winner of today’s Green Bay – Dallas game.  Matt Ryan, with yesterday’s performance, has locked up the MVP award and hopefully will duplicate his performance next Sunday and in February 5th’s Super Bowl.  And if anyone knows a great podiatrist (a.k.a. Dr. Joel Schancupp) can you please have them fix Julio Jones’ big toe once and for all?
  • Updates:  The presidential inauguration is Friday so can all you politicos just shut up.  Atlanta United’s college super draft went very well….twenty-three players signed and the opening game seven weeks away.  Thankfully, daylight savings time is right around the corner starting March 12.  The high in Alanta today, in the middle of January, will be 76…..where is Al Gore?

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!!

 

 

Helter Skelter. Football Weekend. Showrooms Only?

Serious Spend on Charles Manson.  I Can Be Wrong.  Online vs In-Store.

  • Over 46 years ago he was charged with orchestrating the murders of seven people, including Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant and at that time the wife of movie director Roman Polanski (he is another story altogether).  Last week I learned that Charles Manson, the maniacal menace who commanded the worldwide media’s attention with his outrageous behavior and cult following, was hospitalized in critical condition and hopefully will never leave that hospital.  Manson was sentenced to death but the death penalty, in that period of 1969, had temporarily been abolished by the state of California.  Sentenced to life in prison, Manson has somehow come up before the parole board twelve times in his 46 years in prison.  I reviewed a Congressional study on U.S. prisons and learned that the average annual amount of money spent on each inmate in California is $50,000, so my math tells me that taxpayers have spent well over $2.3m keeping Manson alive over the last 46 years.  Note: in the year 2014 the U.S. spent over $80B to maintain it’s prison population.  With respect to religious beliefs and feelings, it may be time, for many reasons, to reevaluate the use of the death penalty.
  • My opinion and take on things don’t necessarily relate to reality.  With that said I will eat crow regarding my post way back in August about Matt Ryan and his declining skill set. His season:  5,000 yards passing, 38 TD passes and only 7 interceptions. Don’t get me wrong, as an Atlanta Falcons fan I am thrilled that he proved me wrong and I can only hope that his level of play continues next Saturday against Seattle.  A lot of things came together for Ryan this year including his very talented wide receivers, the protection he gets from the offensive line and his execution of Kyle Shanahan’s complicated scheme.  I thought Matt Schaub might replace Ryan after the sixth game of the season and wow, was I ever wrong.  Ryan, depending on next Saturday afternoon’s performance, may be selected as the MVP of the league.  Go Falcons!
  • I would be very concerned if I was an executive with a big-box retailer.  In previous posts I have discussed how the customer experience influences loyalty and spend but there is only so much a retailer can do to grow year-over-year top line revenues.  The National Retail Federation reported that many big-box retailers, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penny reported a drop in revenue in the November-December holiday season while online sales were up over 16% for the same period.  Are customers using stores to preview the new lines of clothing or product and then going online to purchase?  Are stores morphing into showrooms?  Years ago it would be crazy to think this way but unless you are a specialty or discount retailer you better find a way to elevate your customer experience and do it very quickly.  Mike Wittenstein specializes in customer experience design and speaks to the subject at worldwide meetings and conferences.  Take a look at his website:  www.Storyminers.com.  Very interesting ideas and information.
  • Updates:  great NFL football watching this weekend and more to come later today.  Bagelicious in East Cobb, after 25 years, is still the best deli food on the Northside of Atlanta. Ice and snow on a weekend is No Bueno.  March 5th for Atlanta United is coming fast….the first/inaugural home game is at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd stadium and if you want to be there you better get tickets quickly because it will easily be a sell out.  Heartfelt thoughts to the people mourning the loss of their loved ones at Friday’s incident in Ft. Lauderdale.

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!

Another Ungrateful Athlete. Checkout. No Class, No Dignity.

Richard, Cork the Whine!  Turning Retail into a Commodity.  You Can’t Be Serious.   Updates.

  • From a very young age I have been a big fan and follower of the National Football League.  I was lucky enough to get exposed to pro football due to my father and brother and Miami landing an NFL franchise.  Similar to other sports, the television networks, knowing that the success of their overall ratings are attached to NFL broadcasts, pay the NFL hundreds of millions of dollars for broadcast rights.  This money is then allotted to the NFL franchises allowing them to pay their players big salaries.  Some of these salaries are staggering which alarms me when I hear a very high salaried player complain about the NFL schedule.  Yes, maybe the NFL on TV (as well as college football) has hit a saturation point but as a player under contract you deal with the schedule that the NFL establishes just like every other professional athlete.  I realize football brings a physicality unlike most sports but take a look at an NBA team’s schedule, or the NHL or Premier League.  Richard Sherman, one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, recently voiced his strong opinion about the NFL schedule, in particular Thursday night games.  He complained that playing away to Green Bay on a Sunday and then playing last Thursday night at home led to him playing at “only 50-60% of his ability”.  Seriously Richard, who are you comparing yourself to?  A railroad worker up every morning at 4am?  A steel worker dealing with freezing cold or incredibly humid weather conditions?  Sherman’s comments are particularly bothersome knowing that he recently signed a four-year, $56m contract that included a $11.5m signing bonus.  Don’t get me wrong, I admire his skills and ability, as well as his Stanford education, but he needs to shut his mouth, be respectful and very grateful that he plays professional football for a stupid amount of money.  As a side note, refer to the October 30, 2016 post analyzing the 2nd quarter of an NFL game……total playing time in a fifteen minute quarter was a bit over 4 minutes, and that included both offense and defense.  Man up Richard Sherman.
  • Amazon Go seems like a great idea.  As you walk into one of their stores you and your credit card that is imbedded on your smart phone are identified so you can fill your shopping cart and walk out of the store without waiting in line to check out.  Being cashier-less achieves two customer desires:  ease and speed of checkout.   So I guess this benefit achieves what many call the basics of people shopping at retail including getting what you want/need, a break from the day, some type of experience, or interacting with other human beings.  But what I am wondering is how much the retailer will miss out on making a connection with the customer?  If there is no customer experience (think Nordstrom’s or Starbucks) doesn’t the retailer risk becoming a commodity?   I totally get that to many the customer experience equals getting in and out with no hassles but it seems that this trend might be better suited to convenience stores.   Speaking of Starbucks, they released a presser that they are looking to open 12,000 additional stores within the next five years….they do have a great customer experience for those who like their coffee.  Starbucks realizes that  customer service and interaction drives loyalty leading to year-over-year increases in top line revenue and profits. It will be interesting how well the Amazon Go test works out.
  • Some strange observations while traveling this past week.  The Hilton in downtown St. Petersburg was nice enough to give me access to their ‘lounge’ on the top floor overlooking beautiful Tampa Bay.  Most of these lounges are reserved for Hilton’s top customers which in days past correlated to a more sophisticated crowd.  No longer as early one morning while having breakfast I noticed many people coming into the lounge in workout clothes, shorts and t-shirts.  Yep, times have changed but one guest to the lounge took it a bit too far.  She was very short, very overweight but decided it was appropriate to walk into the lounge in some horrid color ‘silk’ pajamas and yes, the pajamas were at least a size too small.  Hilarious in one way and a bit shocking to most, including me.  On another note I somehow I got upgraded to first class on my flight back to Atlanta on Friday.  Usually a nice experience unless you are sitting next to a “Pat” who, for sure, by their odor, had not taken a shower in days.  So what does “Pat” do?  How about climbing over me to go to the restroom AFTER the door is closed and the plane is backing off the ramp.  The poor flight attendant really had no answers for this creature and simply let “it” go to the restroom.  First class passengers….never judge a book by it’s cover.
  • Updates:  Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte:  be careful with your rhetoric and threats to the United States…..there is a new Secretary of Defense waiting in the wings to deal with people like you. Atlanta United has done well with the expansion draft and trade deadline.  Cyber warfare is not only coming from the Russians.  Can’t wait for Colin Kaepernick to come into the Georgia Dome later today.  Christmas is in seven days!!

Adios and have a Sunday Funday!!

Note:  no post next Sunday/Xmas Day or on New Years Day.  Happy Holidays and all the best for a great 2017.

 

 

Soldier ON! Martian-itis. Under Pressure. Update Central.

Mad Dogs and Lebanese.  So the Trip is Only 2.5 Years?  Finding the Right Players.  Updates.

  • Last week’s post regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of retired four-star General James Mattis as his choice for Secretary of Defense caused a bit of a stir with many readers.  Most of the response was very positive including this comment from a gentleman who did a stint in the Lebanese army“While I know the general is affectionately known as “Mad Dog”, I take issue with almost everybody ignoring his intellect. Our new secretary of defense is an avid reader, his personal book collection exceeds 7,000 books (mostly world history, warfare…) !! What is more amazing is the fact he did read them all. He used to require his troops to be well read regarding the culture and history of the regions where they were deployed. He has, in my opinion, a better nickname, the “warrior monk” mostly because he was never married.”  I appreciate any and all comments and certainly agree with this take on our new Secretary of Defense.  Godspeed, General Mattis!
  • I previously mentioned the cable television series, MARS, now showing on the National Geographic channel.  Now that the series is underway, I am pleased to report that the episodes to date have exceeded my expectations.  This is especially interesting as in general I have little interest in Sci-Fi.  What makes this series a bit different?  It mixes both documentary and speculation to tell the parallel stories of two groups: the fictional year 2033 explorers who will make that first journey, and the scientists and astronauts of today who are working hard to figure out the go-forward with a mission to Mars.  The task seems daunting for many reasons.  One glaring hurdle:  According to NASA, a vessel with humans on it would take roughly six months to travel to Mars and another six months to travel back. In addition, astronauts would have to stay 18-20 months on Mars before the planets re-align for a return trip. In all, the mission would take roughly 2 1/2 years.  Understanding that the Elon Musk’s of the world eventually want to monetize travel to Mars, 30 months on that planet could be problematic.   Watch the series as it provides a great deal of insight into science and technology with a very high level of production, writing, and vision of how we approach getting to Mars.
  • Here is a scenario for you to ponder:  You are an executive reporting to Steve Cannon, the former head of Mercedes Benz USA, who reports to Arthur Blank, a multi-millionaire, philanthropist, and CEO of the Arthur Blank Family of Companies.  Mr. Blank, along with his never-ending desire for the Atlanta Falcons to win a championship, has made a huge investment to bring Major League Soccer to Atlanta.  The initial investment all in was around $100m, but then Mr. Blank welcomes the idea of building a state-of-the-art headquarters and training facility for his new soccer team at a cost climbing to $70m.  Those numbers are staggering without recognizing that the new Mercedes Benz stadium, opening next summer in downtown Atlanta, has a price tag of $1.6B, with at least $1B of that from Mr. Blank’s pocket.   Those are the hard costs and now comes ‘simple’ things like player acquisition and their salaries.  As that executive, you must be feeling a bit of pressure when trying to build a roster that will compete right out of the gate as Mr. Cannon and Mr. Blank have very high expectations with this soccer team, as well as 25,000 season ticket holders who are expecting big things from Atlanta United.  The Club has acquired some players and is looking forward to next week’s MLS expansion draft, where United will have five picks.  Along with the expansion draft and the short trade window that is later today, Atlanta United could have an additional seven players by this Tuesday afternoon.  To follow this important process look for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution’s outstanding journalist, Doug Roberson, to provide detailed coverage of the trade window and expansion draft.  Darren Eales, United’s president, is the executive I am referring to, and with his strong background and experience we can all look for great things to come from Atlanta United.
  • Updates: I would not want to be the San Francisco ’49er executive who made the decision to get rid of Alex Smith and go with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.  Maybe new SecDef Mattis will call in the world’s special operations forces to deal with ISIS after all?  Can we refrain from shopping on XMAS day?   Matt Ryan:  you have proved me wrong but NO more pick-sixes and pick-twos, please; To the honorable John Glenn:  RIP.

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!

 

Mad Dog. Oh Cam. Pearl Harbor. Updates.

Experience with the Middle East. Can’t Afford a Tie.  December 7, 1941.  

  • I am very careful with the topics of religion and politics with this blog.  I will try to keep this topic short and sweet without bending my rules about those two subjects.  With that said, the President-Elect has a daunting task to select a Cabinet that is effective and relevant.  At this point I am only focused on Treasury and Defense as my two key appointments that seriously effect domestic and international policy.   Last week, James Mattis was selected to be our next Secretary of Defense (SecDef).  Like a lot of us, I have been very concerned about the direction of the Defense Department and the lack of presence and direction of our military stance, especially in the Middle East.  With the appointment of “Mad Dog“, in which former four-star General James Mattis is affectionately called, the United States has announced to the world that the dynamics and decision-making with our military is about to change and change quickly.  James Mattis is a decorated four-star General known for two things: 1) he is a soldiers’ soldier, having fought in the trenches of Falluja and leading our military through a very tough and bloody war; and 2) he is known to limit his sensitivity to collateral damage.  Why is this important?  It is very simple in my mind.  No longer will terrorists in the Middle East ‘hide’ behind civilians thinking that the U.S. commanders would back off from bombing targets surrounded by civilians. No longer will terrorist leaders hide in schools and hospitals knowing that nothing will happen as long as the children or patients are present.  “Mad Dog”, due to his many years in combat with Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda. and ISIS, clearly understands this strategy and has stated that collateral damage, unfortunately, is part of war.  Is Mattis a bit controversial?  Is he a bit of a loose cannon?  Will he tow the line with our President and Congress?  The answers remain to be seen but the rest of the world, especially the terrorists of the world, now have something different to deal with from the armed forces of the United States.  Godspeed James Mattis.
  • He is a professional athlete.  He signed a contract that gave him a $22m signing bonus and a annual average salary of $20m a year.  He is subject to injury as any NFL quarterback so his agent was able to negotiate a guaranteed amount of $60m.  His name: Cam Newton, the quarterback of last year’s AFC champion Carolina Panthers.  The Panthers, and Cam himself, are off to a very slow start and now find themselves with little chance of making the playoffs.  You would think as a leader, Cam would set an example for his teammates and coaches in this very trying time.  Instead, his coach, Ron Rivera, had to sit him down for the first series of yesterday’s game.  In a game that seems like a must win, Cam is disciplined by his head coach for violating team rules. The Panthers played at Oakland last week and did not travel home, choosing instead to practice on the West Coast for the week before yesterday’s game in Seattle.  It really does not matter what rule Cam decided not to follow as he is the leader of his team and should set an example for everyone.  Carolina was run out of the stadium by Seattle yesterday, and Carolina’s season is about over.  The rule Cam did not follow was a very simple one regarding team attire when traveling and Cam’s excuse is too lame to mention.  It is just too bad that a tremendous athlete with more money than he knows what to do with has a child mentality.  Maybe Coach Rivera should sit Cam down for an entire game?  Not that it would have any effect on Cam based on the money he is making.  Grow up Cam.  Your young age is no longer an excuse.
  • December 7, 1941.  “A day that will live in infamy” stated by President Roosevelt shortly after Japan, while negotiating to improve diplomatic relations with the United States, executed an all-out attack on Pearl Harbor with the goal of destroying our Pacific naval fleet.  You know the rest of the story and the surrender of Japan following the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with both countries slow to repair any type of diplomatic relations for many years.  I really think that we should leave well and good alone but now we learn that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor the day after Christmas.  While I think it is important for the U.S. and Japan to be allies, why open up all the wounds again?  I felt the same way about President Obama visiting Hiroshima this past May…..just leave it alone and move on from the horrific tragedy and devastation of December 7, 1941.  If you have a flag, please fly it this Wednesday.  If you don’t have a flag go buy one.
  • Updates: looking for a great place to bring family for a fun and different holiday dinner?  Try Amalfi in Roswell and Flatlands Bourbon & Bayou in Alpharetta.  Matt Ryan:  no more interceptions resulting in points.  If looking to watch a very interesting and well written movie…..try The Infiltrator starring Bryan Cranston.

Adios and have a great week!

A New Beginning? It May be Time to Call In the Bad Boys. Holiday Tradition.

The Machinery of Repression.  Time to Contact Stallone, Sheen, Schwareneggar, Norris and Seagal?  Shopping ON Thanksgiving?  Update Central.

  • A few weeks ago I discussed Che Guevara and his fellowship with Fidel Castro (see the Oct 8 post).  Along with Guevara, Fidel Castro went on to form a revolutionary group with his brother Raul, eventually providing the Castro duo with the forces needed to help overthrow the Cuban government in 1959.  Fidel Castro would eventually assume military and political power as Cuba’s Prime Minister. On Friday night, after so many decades of Cubans dealing with oppression,  the tyrant, Fidel Castro, finally is dead.  In a way it was amazing how Castro successfully posed as a champion of the people around the world, even as he trampled on the rights of downtrodden Cubans. His many admirers abroad chose to ignore, and for some reason justify, his denial of freedom to the people of Cuba.  His ethos was to instill obedience through fear, taking ownership of thousands of properties away from Cuban citizens to ensure that his Marxist regime would benefit…to the disdain of all Cuban citizens.  Castro had many ways of dealing with dissidents including the murder of 20,000 Cubans and the detention of thousands in rundown labor camps.   Castro survived the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Guantanamo presence of U.S. troops by being a pawn to the Soviet Union and eventually Russia.  Without the Soviet regime, Cuba’s economy suddenly spiraled out of control until Fidel slowly allowed foreign investment to energize the Cuban economy.  The ultimate dictator is finally dead.  May he and his brother rot in hell.
  • While most Americans around the world celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, an American soldier, fighting in the hinterlands of Syria, was killed in action.  While I am a proponent of a strong, massive military it is time to turn this so-called war with ISIS over to the groups who are trained to fight on the street, within the confines of buildings, and in general, urban areas of terror.  With all due respect to the militaries around the globe, the ISIS conflict poses a specific dynamic that only special trained forces can overcome.  Cities in Syria are not the jungle, the desert or the normal battlefield.  These ISIS-occupied cities are nasty and unpredictable which must be met with soldiers with different training backgrounds.  Soldiers that endure living hell while going through training and have no issues with collateral damage.  It is time for a worldwide coalition of special forces to come together, organize, plan and execute an operation of substantial proportion in the areas of Aleppo and Raqqa.  By definition, special forces, or special operations forces are military units extremely trained to perform unconventional, typically insecure missions for political, economic or military purposes.  The go forward in Aleppo and Raqqa is to select two hundred special operations personnel from the following ten forces:  Army Rangers, J2F2, EKO- Cobra, Navy Seals, SAS, GIGN, SSG, Shayetet 13, Black Cats and GSG-9.  These 2,000 special operations troops would be deployed to areas of concern in Syria to quickly eradicate ISIS once and for all.  Rules of engagement:  none.  Amount of coordination time for training and planning:  forty-five days.  This 2,000 person machine would be supported by all means necessary to accomplish the mission of destroying ISIS in Syria.  No questions, no political governance, and no grief.  More importantly, no more Americans killed in Syria.  One is way too many.
  • Similar to other holidays celebrated in the U.S., the traditions of the Thanksgiving holiday are somewhat diminished by the onslaught of retailers promoting their store openings.   I drove by a Kohl’s on the way home from a festive Thanksgiving evening to see their parking lot overflowing with cars….at 11pm!  I guess the tradition of waiting until the Friday after has dissipated since you can now eat Thanksgiving dinner and promptly go shopping?  Thankfully the food, wine and football watching still takes precedent over the shopping experience.  Lets just be thankful for what we have and hope that the new year brings the best of everything to everyone.
  • Updates:  Bruce Arena:  get the Men’s National Team to Russia 2018.  NFL:  keep the ball moving and shorten the game by at least 20 minutes.  General Motors:  keep small production close to home.  Time to see Gary Clark Jr. perform.  To our military on Thanksgiving:  Thank you!  And to Jaime and Daniel:  may all the good news be yours!!

Adios and Happy Sunday Funday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Debacle of San Jose. New Washing Technique. Leaving Detroit.

Can’t Win in Costa Rica. Samsung at it Again!  Losing Jobs to Mexico.  Update Central.

  • Last Tuesday night’s loss in San Jose preceded by the loss at home to Mexico leaves the United States National Team with zero points through 2 of the ten-game hexagonal tournament to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.  The Costa Ricans beat the USA 4-0 last Tuesday night, the USA’s worst loss in World Cup qualifying in 36 years.  So the pundits are all over the USA’s performance and specifically their coach, Jurgen Klinsmann.  To my surprise, I had predicted that JK would have ‘stepped down’ by now (fired in laymen’s terms), but there are some factors that may keep him in his job. One of those factors:  MONEY.  The US Soccer federation renewed JK’s contract in 2014 for four years at a base salary of $2.5 million a year so my math skills tell me that $5m would need to be paid out to fulfill JK’s contract.  Another factor is the timing as the next round of qualifying games is only four months away in March. For Klinsmann, the long layoff is brutal in two ways: First, it offers the federation plenty of time to make a move, while also meaning that Klinsmann — if he continues on — will have to live with the sting of this past week for quite some time.  The soccer community is obviously concerned.  While the top three countries coming out of the qualifying tournament automatically go to 2018 World Cup, the chance that the national team’s poor start leaves them out of the every four-year tournament is problematic.  Why?  National team sponsors spend millions and support the eye-opening expenses incurred by the team.  In 2015, the youth national teams and player development programs ran up expenses over $14m and the men’s national team operating expenses went north of $31m.  These expenses are covered by the many sponsors looking for the national team to yield exposure and impressions at every international tournament.  Would all of these sponsors continue to pour money into the national team if the team did not qualify for Russia in 2018?  With or without Jurgen Klinsmann the USA must qualify for the World Cup.
  • In previous posts I have reaped havoc on Samsung over their slow recall of the S7 Note smartphone – the phones now prohibited on all U.S. domestic flights. Bringing too much technology to market too fast has yielded Samsung millions of dollars in losses and a continued tarnished image.  You would think that their corporate brass would mandate that all product categories be reviewed and retested to ensure best-in-class performance and safety?  Nope, as last week Samsung said it would recall about 2.8 million of its top-load washing machines in the United States to address safety concerns. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported last week that the top of the washing machines can unexpectedly detach from the chassis during use, posing a risk of injury from impact. Samsung received nine related reports of injuries, including a broken jaw, injured shoulder and other impact-related injuries.  So the corporate giants of the world, under pressure to deliver year-over-year double-digit profits, continue to move product to market that is untested and obviously not safe.  Inexcusable behavior, again.
  • Sugar-coating a decision to move production “off-shore” or a strategic decision to deceive the American consumer?  Last week, in light of the presidential election, Ford Motor Company is moving ahead with plans to shift production of small cars to Mexico from Michigan.  Obviously Ford’s workforce and their unions have big problems with this decision as it seems jobs will be impacted.  Ford’s answer: they are shifting production of the Ford Focus to Mexico to provide more production capacity for two ‘more important’ products to be built in it’s U.S. factories. While on the surface this sounds like a strategic move, the decision is basically a like-for-like regarding job opportunities….it keeps the workforce level but does not increase the number of job opportunities for Americans.  Why not figure out a way to keep the production of the Focus in the U.S. and ADD production lines for the two new products that would yield more job opportunities? Let Ford figure out a way to overcome the cheap Mexican labor and build the small cars in our factories.  I am not a proponent of government interference but maybe the President-elect’s plan for import tariffs makes sense?
  • Updates:  Donald, please be diligent with selecting your Cabinet.  Matt Ryan:  get us to the playoffs!  Time to see Iron Maiden live.  Brangelina and the Phillipines’ Duterte have gone quiet…thankfully.  Daylight savings time – please come back soon.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Adios and have a happy Sunday Funday!

 

 

Border War. Time To Move On. Red Skies Tonight. Making Changes.

90+ Minutes of Pure Hell.  It is Time to Focus on Something Positive.  Visiting Mars.  I Told You the NFL Has Some Smart Peeps.

  • While I try to keep my passion for soccer to a limit I must point out some great takeaway’s from Friday night’s USA – Mexico World Cup qualifying match in Columbus, Ohio.  I realize that many of you could care less about the sport and our national team but any fan of sport would have enjoyed this game.  Above and beyond the ramifications of this being a World Cup qualifier and the USA winning the last four home qualifiers against the Mexicans (all by the score of 2-0), there was an underlying sentiment with all Mexicans regarding the outcome of our presidential election.  I watched the match at Ri’ Ra’, a midtown Atlanta Irish pub known as a soccer-viewing venue.  The atmosphere, led by the Atlanta chapter of the American Outlaws, was loud and obviously pro-USA until the late Mexican goal in the 89th minute. Qualification for the 2018 World Cup continues for the USA Tuesday night in a place where the Americans have had little success, San Jose.  Not California, but Costa Rica.  To get an idea of the task at hand, these are the score lines from previous matches: 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, 1-2, 0-2, 0-3, 1-3, 1-3. Those are the scores of the last eight U.S. games at Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying, all losses.  The qualification process consists of many games and we can only hope that the USA finds a way to come away with a ‘W’ in San Jose.
  • Part of the ethos of this blog is to stay away from the topics of religion and politics.  There will be no comment on the outcome of Tuesday night’s election other than to say it is time to move on.  Move on from the drama, the speculation and more importantly the instances of hatred spread by morons around the country.  I was in Dallas last week, looking down from my hotel room at ‘protestors’ marching in downtown.  I read about swastikas being painted on city sidewalks, and anti-Muslim rhetoric being thrown ab0ut.  C’mon Man!  Enough is enough. I do understand the emotion of the election but everyone needs to take a step back, take a deep breath, and enjoy the holiday season.  People who hate: there is an island that suits all of you very well.  Bouvet, located 1,000 miles from Antarctica, seems like a perfect place for all of you to rant and rave together.
  • It is difficult to get interested in something on Monday night other than Monday Night Football.  It is also difficult to get interested in programming that I have not reviewed but tonight starts the six-part series, Mars, on the National Geographic Channel.  Sci-Fi has never been on the top of my list but this series seems intriguing for the simple reason it takes place in the not so distant future of year 2033.  Elon Musk seems ahead of the game having lined up millions of dollars for his Mars project and there are thousands of people who have sent their deposits in to be selected to ‘fly’ to Mars.  And I thought getting from north Atlanta to midtown was a hassle this past Friday night?  I will definitely watch this series and yes, my DVR is set so I can watch it at my leisure as tonight is MNF!
  • In previous posts I have attacked Major League Baseball and the National Football League games due to disparity between playing time and the length of the game.  I also pointed out that I feel like the NFL has a lot of smart people sitting in the NYC headquarters.  True to form, a friend of mine sent me a NY Times article from last Thursday outlining how the NFL brass is working on ways to shorten the game and increase the amount of real playing time….see my previous post regarding the second quarter of a Monday Night Football game.  Kudos to the NFL brass for acting on their ratings being down 12% year-over-year.

Adios and have a great week!

 

 

Electors. The Curse. Inspiration. Update Central.

Is it Fair?  7th Game Heroics. Cork the Whine. Updates on Previous Posts.

  • I have stated a few times that I will always try to stay away from religion and politics.  We all hear way too much about those subjects on a daily basis so there is no need for me to bore you with further diatribe.  With Tuesday looming and the overt amount of conversation regarding the election (which by the way gets in the way of my college football discussions), I again educated myself on the election process.  In a nutshell:  the winner of the statewide popular vote generally takes all the Electoral College votes, a rule stretching back to 1824.  Each state is assigned a number equal to its Senate seats (two) plus its seats in the House of Representatives.  Not so confusing so far but that means the seven states with only enough population to qualify for one House seat will get three votes each in the Electoral College. On the other hand, California, with 53 seats in the House, gets 55 electoral votes, and Texas‘ 36 seats provide for 38 electoral votes. That’s why, after the U.S. expanded to 50 states, the Electoral College had 535 seats, the same as the total of members of Congress (Senate and House). It now has 538, because in 1961 the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution added three for the District of Columbia, which had previously been without a voice in choosing the president.  Is this process fair where the concept that the people could not or should not be trusted to vote directly for our national leader?  Four times in our history the nationwide popular vote winner actually lost in the Electoral College including the Al Gore, George W. Bush debacle (can you say ‘hanging chads’?).  Something to ponder as we close in on Tuesday night.  Our constitution does not specifically spell out the right of all Americans to vote but no matter how you feel and what party you support you should cast your ballot.
  • A couple of weeks ago I wrote about baseball and the length of the game.  I received a few terse responses from baseball fans and totally accepted and understood their point of view.  Not so much a naysayer and as a youngster a huge baseball fan, I enjoyed watching this year’s World Series and especially the 7th game.  The game itself was tense but what really added to those late inning dramatics was that the Cubs had the chance to overcome The Curse.  Back in 1945, the last time the Cubs had reached the World Series, the owner of a pub named The Billy Goat Tavern got kicked out of game 4 at Wrigley Field because the goat he brought to the game smelled so bad that the fans complained.  The pub owner was so outraged that he declared that the Cubs would never win again which was obviously interpreted to mean that they would never again make it to a World Series.  So The Curse declared by the owner of The Billy Goat Tavern is over and could not have ended in a more dramatic way.  Good baseball stuff!
  • Upon further review I may not write about enough positive things going on in this crazy world.  The topics of ISIS, Syria, our election and the healthcare debacle come to mind.  Fortunately I had the opportunity to read an article about a school teacher in Argentina….a very strong-minded and dedicated teacher similar to many of the great school teachers around the globe.  Though this teacher is a bit different.  Noelia Garella, now 31-years old, has Down syndrome and overcame many naysayers to now take over a class room teaching an early reading class to 2 and 3-year olds.  She was inspired by her parent, friends and fellow teachers to pursue her dream under very difficult circumstances.  Reading this just sort of grounds you, making you feel a bit guilty for complaining about things that seem so trivial compared to Ms. Garella’s daily challenges.  She should be an inspiration to all of us.
  • Updates:  I attended two Falcons‘ games in four days…two different types of wins but nonetheless fantastic; the Philippines continue to get stranger by the day….their President needs to be ‘eighty-sixed’; I have been on a few flights with the pre-flight announcement including the directive: “no Samsung S7 Note phones are allowed on any commercial airline”….blah, blah, blah.  Really Delta, as if passengers with S7 Notes don’t place their phone in their purse or briefcase?; The English Premier League and NBC continue to bring us great broadcasts every weekend; and finally,  I cannot wait until Wednesday morning.

Adios and Happy Sunday Funday!