Posts Tagged ‘privileges v. profits

18
Jan
12

1.18.2012 … Yesterday’s Bible Study at FPC was great … then lunch at Mert’s where my date John stood me up … Catfish was good! … New Mantra: “Adopt a policy of being joyful.”

FPC, TMBS, Genesis, Mert’s:  Yesterday’s Tuesday Morning Bible Study at FPC continues to be insightful as we study Genesis with Rabbi Sachs’ book … then lunch at Mert’s Heart and Soul Restaurant where my date John stood me up … Catfish was good!

Fried Catfish

Fried Catfish

Recipe created by James Bazzelle, chef/owner of Mert’s Heart and Soul, Charlotte, NC.

4 medium catfish

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups self-rising cornmeal (fish breading)

1/4 cup white vinegar

Vegetable oil

via Mert’s Restaurant.

culture, mantra, advice:

“Adopt a policy of being joyful.”

Elderly ‘Experts’ Share Life Advice in Cornell Project – NYTimes.com.

tweet of the day, pop ups, libraries:

Maria Popova @brainpicker Close

Ooh! An entire Flickr stream of miniature pop-up libraries around the world j.mp/yN86cv (HT @shawncalhoun)

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private equity,  privileges v. profits, 2012 Presidential Election: The Republicans and their in-fighting are just fueling the OWS …

Mitt Romney, the favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, has brought the rights and wrongs of private equity to the front of U.S. politics. He once ran a private-equity firm, and he has been attacked for it even by fellow conservatives.

This is a new version of an old complaint, and the quality of the discussion is not improving with age. The question to ask about private equity — which involves taking over companies, restructuring them and selling them at a profit — is not whether it creates jobs. It is whether taxpayers should be subsidizing its practitioners’ paychecks.

Many politicians say private equity is rapacious. Not long ago, the same charge was laid against leveraged buyouts, and before that against hostile takeovers. The issue is essentially the same. When control of a company changes hands, are the new owners so intent on short-term profits that they act against the interests of other stakeholders — not just shareholders, but also employees, customers and the wider community?

The current debate has revolved around jobs. Defenders of private equity say the new owners tend to boost employment, and critics say the opposite.

The study concluded that “private equity buy-outs catalyze the creative destruction process.”

Exactly. In a market economy, some companies or industries are shrinking, while others are growing. You can’t have one without the other, and the spur for both kinds of adjustment is profit. Market forces raise living standards not by increasing wages and employment enterprise by enterprise, but by applying capital and labor to the best uses. Private equity, leveraged buyouts and hostile takeovers all serve this purpose. To keep managers on their toes, capitalism requires a functioning market for corporate control.

If private equity can succeed without preferences, that’s fine: The more competitive the market for corporate control, the better. Its current mode of operation, though, is largely a symptom of a flawed tax code. The industry’s borrowing is subsidized and so are the generous incomes it pays its staff. These privileges are a problem. The issues its critics choose to emphasize aren’t.

via The Trouble With Private Equity Is Special Privileges Not Profits: View – Bloomberg.

Winnie the Pooh, Americanisms,children’s/YA literature:  Oh, bother … I actually prefer the original … non Disney version …

REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The publishers, Parragon, are based in Bath and responded to Weeks’ complaint about the new phrases with this explanation: “[W]e sell our books around the world and not just the UK and so we sometimes need to adapt the language accordingly to make it accessible for the widest possible audience.”

While it seems like a fair enough explanation when taken at face value, many critics, both British and American, have joined in the protest, saying that editing out the original language fundamentally changes the work.

More worrying, however, is the recent crop of errors and grammatical mistakes that have appeared in the books and similar children’s stories such as Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. According to Weeks, in the Alice story, the words “all ways” was written as “always” and in another story, whales slap their “tales” rather than their “tails.”

It would seem that this is all a case of some editors stuffing up royally. Oh, excuse us, we’ll rephrase — they messed up big time.

via Oh, Bother: Brits Say Modern Winnie the Pooh Riddled With Americanisms | NewsFeed | TIME.com.

PIPA, SOPA, Internet:  There is a lot more here than many realize …

The video above discusses the Senate version of the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). In the Senate the bill is called the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). SOPA has gotten more attention than PIPA because it was moving faster in the legislative process. But PIPA is just as dangerous, and now it is moving faster.

via PROTECT IP Act Breaks the Internet.

The biggest impact of Wednesday’s blackout may be in the shutdown of the English-language version of Wikipedia, which gets 2.7 billion U.S. visitors per month.

“It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web,” said a statement signed by three of the free encyclopedia’s administrators, with the handles “NuclearWarfare,” “Risker” and “Billinghurst.” They said the decision to shut down the English-language portion of the site, starting at midnight Eastern time, had been made after a virtual discussion that involved 1,800 users.

But already, the momentum of the two controversial bills has been largely halted. Just weeks ago, they seemed on their way to passage, having cleared a Senate committee and garnered bipartisan support in the House.

via SOPA protests shut down Web sites – The Washington Post.

2012 Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, President Obama:  Glad to see someone saw the irony of the acceptance speech at BANK Of AMERICA Stadium!

In another break from tradition, Democrats announced Tuesday that they’re shortening their national convention and moving events to the Charlotte area’s two largest outdoor venues.

Party officials – and even the White House – said the moves are designed to allow President Barack Obama and his campaign to reach a wider audience while energizing supporters at the same time.

The president will deliver his acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium, replicating his 2008 address at Denver’s Invesco Field.

And in a twist, the party will forgo the convention’s traditional Monday opening and instead entertain tens of thousands that day at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He said the changes won’t reduce the convention’s regional economic impact, which is expected to be at least $150 million. About 5,000 delegates and alternates are still expected to arrive on Saturday or Sunday for the convention.

Though the role of modern conventions has changed dramatically from the days when they actually decided the nominees, the format has changed little. They traditionally span four days. So will the Republican convention in Tampa this August.

“Four days really is an anachronism,” said Washington political analyst Charlie Cook. “There’s arguably not more than one day’s business to do …

“I think the Obama folks like to do things differently for the sake of doing things differently.”

via DNC: Charlotte’s convention to try new twists | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

Moving the president’s speech mirrors the playbook the Democrats used in 2008. Obama spoke at the Denver Broncos’ home field after becoming the Democratic nominee, a last-minute move party organizers say allowed more people a chance to attend. The rest of the Denver convention was held at that city’s NBA arena.

Agreements between the Democratic National Convention Committee and both the stadium and the speedway are being negotiated. Jerry Richardson, owner of the Panthers and the stadium, said the team will not charge the Democrats rent, but he declined to discuss details beyond that.

“This convention isn’t about political ritual and speeches on the floor, it’s about the American people coming together to commit ourselves and our country to a path that creates more opportunity for all Americans,” said Stephen Kerrigan, national convention chief executive. “And that is why we have decided to make a few changes to meet that goal. President Obama made it clear from Day One that he wanted this convention to be different than in any history and definitely any happening this year.”

via Obama speech moves to BofA Stadium – Charlotte Business Journal.

While Obama and Moynihan seemed to be on good terms a couple of years ago, more recently the president ripped the bank for its ill-fated attempt to hike debit-card fees.

Organizers and other Democrats said Tuesday they have no concerns about links between the president and a Bank of America-named venue.

“We don’t believe there’s any relevance to who the sponsor or the naming rights are handled by to any of the venues that we host convention events in,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic national party. “In particular, this president has a remarkable record not only of rescuing our economy from the precipice of disaster. Now he’s been able to make sure that folks on Main Street aren’t run over by folks on Wall Street.”Wasserman Schultz was referring to the president’s creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010, part of the Dodd-Frank Act.

via Odd couple: BofA, Obama – Charlotte Business Journal.

Bank of America,  CEO Brian Moynihan: Delicate …

Appointed in late 2009 as predecessor Ken Lewis retired, Moynihan, the article says, has had a “delicate” hold on his job. Sources quoted by the paper, apparently close to the board of directors, point to an assessment earlier in his career at BofA that said Moynihan tended to micromanage, struggled with communication and failed to surround himself with experienced advisers.

The article also says those are areas the CEO has targeted for improvement.

An unnamed director told the WSJ that Moynihan’s handling of BofA’s denied dividend increase request last year showed a “very inexperienced team.” And another portion of the report says Moynihan didn’t heed a suggestion by former consumer banking chief Joe Price to study a $5 debit card fee longer before announcing it publicly. That fee, announced in late September, became a public relations nightmare and was cancelled a month later.

A spokesman for BofA told The Wall Street Journal, “We are a less risky, smaller, better capitalized, and more streamlined company since Brian became CEO.”

Moynihan’s vision calls for BofA to continue shrinking both expenses and non-core operations. He has initiated asset sales, capital raises and efficiency initiatives. He has also re-tooled his management team this year, jettisoning Price and brokerage head Sallie Krawcheck, and elevating David Darnell and Tom Montag to co-chief operating officer roles.

Montag openly sought the CEO position before it was given to Moynihan. Darnell is a longtime BofA executive, dating back to Hugh McColl-led BofA and its predecessors in Charlotte.

BofA this week also sought to improve its public image, placing its ad account on review and soliciting new ideas for its marketing efforts.

via WSJ: BofA could retreat, Brian Moynihan’s hold on CEO job ‘delicate’ – Charlotte Business Journal.

bookshelf, books, list:  I found this one interesting. I have most in my house … haven’t read them all.

What makes a must-own classic book? After all, there are many kinds of book available. There are the coffee-table books, designed to be flicked through by guests, with their impressive art and embellished covers, and then there are bookshelf books – either novels we’ve read so many times the pages are inked up and torn, or those books we bought on a whim, and really keep meaning to get to whenever we’re not so busy.

Somewhere in between lie the Essential Bookshelf Conversation Starters, those spines that add a touch of class to a room, or might provoke a fascinating conversation. After all, UK newspaper The Daily Mail reported last year that a survey by Lindeman’s wine in the UK showed the average bookshelf was filled with 80 books that the owner hasn’t themselves read.

Don’t get us wrong – these recommendations are also fascinating reading in their own right. But if you’re going to buy hard covers with at least one eye on the opinions of visiting friends and relatives, these are our choices of the titles you really should have on display.

via 12 Books You NEED On Your Bookshelf.

faith and spirituality:

Be Yourself

Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now.

We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!

via Daily Meditation: Be Yourself.

René Descartes, Cartesian Theory:  Watched a movie where they discussed Cartesian Theory … Mindwalk (1990) … and I hate to admit that I needed a refresher course.

René Descartes may just be the Thinking Man’s thinking man. More than any other modern philosopher, he is identified with the view that the soul is separate from the body and superior to it—in fact, we refer to this position as Cartesian dualism. The synonymy is so overwhelming, one can imagine him subjected to some hackneyed literary or television treatment wherein he is brought forcibly into the present, only to find success as an advertising executive with his slogan for the Winterman sneaker account that promises “mind over matter.” (For the women’s line: I pink therefore I am.)

Any dualistic theory encounters what is known in philosophy as the mind-body problem: how is it possible for two entirely discrete substances to act in concert and produce what we conceive of as unitary being? Curiously enough, Descartes’ lifelong passion for experimental physiology—which, for him, was just rationalistic epistemology by other means—influenced his answers. He was an avid practitioner of dissection on both human and animal bodies. (Because he believed animals were mindless machines and could not feel pain, he often dissected them while they remained alive.) In his search to discover the differences that distinguish humans and animals from one another as res intelligens and res extensa—that is, intelligent beings and “machines,” respectively—he hit upon the pineal gland, which he found present only in the human brain.

via The Devoted Intellect.

antidepressant v. placebo:

Irving Kirsch, professor of psychology at the University of Hull in England and author of a 2008 meta-analysis in PLoS Medicine that found little benefit of antidepressants for most patients, is less sanguine about the new study. He characterizes the results as “indeed important,” but says they suggest that “while many people may benefit from antidepressant treatment (although most of them to a degree that is not clinically significant), about 1 in 4 are made worse.”

“What makes this particularly problematic is the fact that we don’t know who these people are,” Kirsch says. “Although placebo may not be a viable treatment option, there are other treatments that on average work as well as antidepressants, [such as] physical exercise and cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. As far as we know, these alternatives don’t make people worse.

“This suggests to me that antidepressants should be kept as a last resort, and if a person does not respond to the treatment within a few weeks, it should be discontinued,” says Kirsch.

Krystal agrees that if one-quarter of patients with depression are made worse by antidepressant treatment, “we need to find ways to identify who those people are and find other ways to reach that group of people.”

via New Research on the Antidepressant-Versus-Placebo Debate | Healthland | TIME.com.

technological change, end of an era, RIP, Kodak, Fuji, creative destruction:  I remember the first time I used Fuji film.  I felt like a traitor. And for the second time in two days I run across the term “creative destruction.” (See above in the excerpt on private equity.)

Kodak’s blunder was not like the time when Digital Equipment Corporation, an American computer-maker, failed to spot the significance of personal computers because its managers were dozing in their comfy chairs. It was more like “seeing a tsunami coming and there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Mr Christensen.

Dominant firms in other industries have been killed by smaller shocks, he points out. Of the 316 department-store chains of a few decades ago, only Dayton Hudson has adapted well to the modern world, and only because it started an entirely new business, Target. And that is what creative destruction can do to a business that has changed only gradually—the shops of today would not look alien to time-travellers from 50 years ago, even if their supply chains have changed beyond recognition.

Could Kodak have avoided its current misfortunes? Some say it could have become the equivalent of “Intel Inside” for the smartphone camera—a brand that consumers trust. But Canon and Sony were better placed to achieve that, given their superior intellectual property, and neither has succeeded in doing so.

Unlike people, companies can in theory live for ever. But most die young, because the corporate world, unlike society at large, is a fight to the death. Fujifilm has mastered new tactics and survived. Film went from 60% of its profits in 2000 to basically nothing, yet it found new sources of revenue. Kodak, along with many a great company before it, appears simply to have run its course. After 132 years it is poised, like an old photo, to fade away.

via Technological change: The last Kodak moment? | The Economist.

 Apple,   ‘Digitally Destroy’ textbooks:

While MacInnis reiterated his belief that this event should see a new Apple tool for creating iPad textbooks, he told Fortune they weren’t a “GarageBand for e-books” (that phrase was imagined or perhaps misunderstood by Ars) and that the whole thing is actually designed to complement the textbook biz, not breathe Godzilla-style atomic death on it.

Tune in here Thursday at 10 a.m. ET for Techland’s full coverage of the event.

via Apple Poised to ‘Digitally Destroy’ Textbooks? Don’t Bet On It | Techland | TIME.com.

apps, Day One (Journal/Diary):  I like this one …

Day One is a micro-journal / diary / text logging application that makes it easy to quickly enter your thoughts and memories and have them sync and available in the cloud.

via App Store – Day One (Journal/Diary).




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