July 27, 2016

Higher paid CEOs run some of the worst performing companies

Independent UK 

The highest-paid CEOs tend to run some of the worst-performing companies, according to new research.

The study, carried out by corporate research firm MSCI, found that for every $100 invested in companies with the highest-paid CEOs would have grown to $265 over 10 years.

But the same amount invested in the companies with the lowest-paid CEOs would have grown to $367 over a decade. Read more

July 26, 2016

It's too late now but. . .

Sam Smith - Just for the record, in a saner time, the Democrats would not be choosing Hillary Clinton as their candidate. This is not about ideology it's about facts. She is not a good politician. Her only real success has been in the Democratic state of New York.

Nationally, she not only lost to a black guy with minimal political history, she now stands in a dead heat with the most bizarre, unpleasant, and dangerous candidate ever to represent a major party for the White House. On the other hand, Bernie Sanders was still beating Trump in the polls by 10 percent last spring.

It's really not surprising. The Clinton crowd has been in denial for years. They even gave her the gift of being the first politician in history whom, if you didn't like or agree with, you were a "hater."

But on a practical level it didn't work all that well. She lacks the sort of friendly instincts so nicely demonstrated by her vice presidential pick. Her manner often seems artificial or even robotic. And she is lousy both at getting into trouble and getting out of it. Whatever her husband tried to teach her about conning others, it didn't transfer well.

In short, if the Democrats wanted a reliable candidate against Donald Trump they have picked the wrong one.

And, in politics, being a Hillary hater doesn't come close to being a reality denier.

But given the Democrats' choice, reality also tells us now to vote for Clinton anyway and hope that luck will intervene where realism couldn't. It's a necessary if unpleasant step in helping the movement that Bernie Sanders started. We are not choosing a candidate but the best battleground for the future.

New home sales best in eight years

Build a wall to stop Pokomon players?

The U.S. Border Patrol briefly detained two teenagers from Alberta, Canada, who inadvertently crossed over into Montana in search of the imaginary creatures

Morning Line

Nationally, Hillary Clinton is two points behind Trump, tied for her worst and 12 points less than her best.

In the Senate the Democrats stand to gain two seats and the GOP one. The Dems could possibly win another two. That would be enough to control the Senate with the help of a Democratic vice presidentI

Links; Civil rights and justice

Civil liberties & justice
Drugs: marijuana
Homeland Security
Clues your country may be becoming a fascist state
The militarization of civilian America
The true power of juries
Letter to a spook
How to stay free
Of pink suits, golf balls & civil liberties Letter to Thomas Jefferson Mississippi summer 1964
Backing off of hate
The biggest threat to America: ourselves
Final thoughts
September 12, 2001
Follow the limousines
An alternative 9/11 report

American Civil Liberties Union
Constitutional Accountability Center
National Lawyers Guild

Gun talk
On guns
Firearm insurance
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Project on Government Oversight
Stand Against Spying

Part time restaurant work for nine to fivers

The collapse of sailing

Portland Press Herald 

Once a staple of the Maine summer – and Maine’s boatbuilding industry – sailboats are still the stuff of bad office art and good tourism brochures, but their numbers are dwindling, along with people with the passion for this most sustainable form of recreational boating.

When Matt Minson, who used to coach the sailing team at Maine Maritime  is out on the water in his Lindenberg 28 he sees maybe 15 other sailing vessels. A decade ago, “It would be nothing to see 40 boats,” Minson said. “It is very depressing to me.”

Experts suggest a variety of reasons for the drop-off, including generational and parenting shifts and an American lifestyle that puts a premium on expediency. It’s hard to quantify what the biggest factor is. But industry statistics bear out the fact that observations of less sailboat traffic such as Minton’s are not just longing for some illusionary golden past.

“Sailboat sales are about a quarter of what they were 15 years ago,” said Thom Dammrich, the president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

During the recession, all sales of new boats dropped off, he said. Then as the financial crisis eased, sales of powerboats ramped back up. “They have been growing for the past five years,” Dammrich said. “In the last 12 months, they’re up 9 percent. This has been a good year.”

Not so for sailboats. Sailboat sales encompass only about 2.5 percent of all new boats.
... Hinckley Yachts, once known for the elegant sailboats it built on Mount Desert Island, now puts out a steady stream of powerboats. The success of its picnic boat, a sleek powerboat introduced in 1994, which counts the likes of Martha Stewart as fans (and an owner), put sailboats on the back burner. Hinckley has a few sailboats under construction this year, including a Bermuda 50, an updated model of one of its classics, but for years the company had virtually shut down its sailboat division.

.... “I could have a million sailboats right now, for free or less,” said Michael Chasse, who founded his Freeport business, Northeast Sailboat Rescue, 12 years ago. He’s been buying abandoned sailboats from boatyards around the state, restoring and selling them. Back when he started Northeast Sailboat Rescue, he said he could sell 200 boats a year. So far in 2016, he’s sold none. (He’s planning on retiring soon and moving to some good-sized Maine lake. To sail.)


Woody Guthrie Wrote of His Contempt for His Landlord, Donald Trump’s Father

Despite sky high profits, airlines find new ways to gouge riders

How Big Pharma bribes doctors

July 25, 2016

Indiana court unanimously decides to overturn Purvi Patel's feticide conviction for her self-induced abortion:

Home Depot's CEO has endorsed Trump

Here's how to find your nearest Lowe's

Morning Line

Nationally, Hillary Clinton is one point behind Trump, 1 points better than her worst and 11 points worse than her best.

Trump to Obama appointees: "You fired."


If he wins the presidency, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would seek to purge the federal government of officials appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama and could ask Congress to pass legislation making it easier to fire public workers, Trump ally, Chris Christie, said.

Christie, who is governor of New Jersey and leads Trump's White House transition team, said the campaign was drawing up a list of federal government employees to fire if Trump defeats Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“As you know from his other career, Donald likes to fire people,” Christie told a closed-door meeting with dozens of donors at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters and two participants in the meeting.

Christie was referring to Trump's starring role in the long-running television show "The Apprentice," where his catch-phrase was "You're fired!"

Trump's transition advisers fear that Obama may convert these appointees to civil servants, who have more job security than officials who have been politically appointed. This would allow officials to keep their jobs in a new, possibly Republican, administration, Christie said.

Links; Cities

City news


Alaska heatwave shatters records

Confessions of a vision impaired stakeholder with dubious managment practices embarking on an ill-defined mission

From our overstocked archives

Sam Smith, 2009 - Have pity on me. Say a prayer. Drop a penny in the pond on my behalf. In a few days I have to go to a non-profit's strategic planning meeting. It's a great organization that does great things, but - like so many non-profits - it periodically seeks to cleanse and refresh itself by turning what it does into indecipherable abstractions. I'll survive and maybe there'll be some good food, but, as a general rule, I don't do strategic visions.

Still it's happening all over America. "Strategic plan" and its semantic variations have appeared on Google seven million times just in the past month.

Strategic planning, in its non-military sense, got its start at the Harvard Business School in the 1920s. Not long after we had the Great Depression. The concept had a revival in the 1980s and contributed to the philosophy and practices that .left us with the Penultimate Great Depression.

Coincidence, perhaps, but bear in mind that in the 1950s - when the economy was booming - we were turning out only 5,000 MBAs a year. The number of people in business who had any idea of about strategic planning was minute. By 2005, we were churning out 142,000 MBAs a year and we had huge trade and budget deficits, a disappearing auto industry, one of our most costly and disastrous wars, a growing gap between rich and poor, and a constantly projected inability to care for our ill or elderly.

Worse, everyone in the country had been infected by corporate verbiage and values. And, often unconsciously, much of America had bought into the rightwing and absurdly simplistic Reaganesque view of life and the very voices that should have been among the loudest in opposition - non-profits - signed up as well.

Non-profits found that it helped to adopt the language of business. It made them seem responsible rather than just over-idealistic do-gooders. It also reflected one of the most misguided assumptions of the educated elite: if one can understand, identify, manipulate and be loyal to abstract principles, the specifics will obediently follow.

Editors and reporters, among others, know better. Reporters run into this sort of language constantly at news conferences and elsewhere. They have a professional term for it: bullshit.

And editors know that a reporter may come up with a great idea for a story and even have a strategy for carrying it out, but if the journalist doesn't know how find the right sources, or ask the right questions and write it all down, the strategy won't work.

Over the past three decades corporations have done an incredibly effective job of turning Americans into just so many more corporate employees desperate for a strategic vision that will foster formulations of actions and processes to be taken to attain the vision in accordance with agreed upon procedures in order to achieve a hierarchy of goals. It has - with bombast, bullying and baloney - convinced an extraordinary number of Americans that its childishly verbose and coldly abstract culture is transferable to every human activity from running a church to driving a tractor across a field.

Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that. You need to look no farther than the military to see this. During the post-war period when the US military devoted more effort to strategic planning that at any time in its history, it has also had the sorriest record. Over and over, the problem has been an attractive general principle overwhelmed or sabotaged by reality and facts.

Now bounce back 150 years to a war in which general strategy was more than balanced by specific generals. At one point a White House aide complained of General Grant's drinking and Lincoln invoked his best management practices - which was to tell the aide to find out what Grant was drinking and give it to all his other generals. Put that in your vision statement.

And the key battle at Little Round Top was won by a general named Joshua Chamberlain who had studied theology, taught ever subject except science and math and was fluent in nine languages. He had, however, never study military strategy.

In any specific situation, a general strategy can quickly lose value without supporting virtues like wisdom, sufficient staff, adequate budget, imagination, energy and good fortune.

But of course, if all else fails, you can always fall back on your mission statement.

Like most people, I never read mission statements except under duress or when I have nothing better to do, like standing in the lobby of a pretentious restaurant waiting to be seated.

Gordon Luk said it well: "The easy and fun way to test whether a mission statement. . . is garbage is to negate it and see whether it still holds up. If a mission statement does not make sense for a company not to do, then why even bother stating the obvious?

"Striving to be a leader in a field? Of course you are - you better not be trying to come in dead last. . .

"Trying to connect people to passions or interests? Hell, why not disconnect them instead!. . .

"Douglas Adams wrote frequently about the human penchant for continuously stating the very, very obvious. Mission statements take that principle to the extreme, to the point where we even believe that we're going to persuade people about something or other by making an official public statement about what we are going to do that would be insane to negate."

Occasionally a mission statement rises to the occasion. The alternative newspaper Eat the State had one that read: "Missions were created by the Catholic Church to subjugate Native Americans in California. We oppose them." And a small computer consultancy business in West London posted a sign: 'We are not ruled by a mission statement, we are smarter than that'. But when you start to count the number of organizations - from religious to non-profit to social to political - that feel they can't get along without some gobbledygook on the inside cover of whatever they're publishing, you know the corporate cultural invasion is complete.

Which doesn't mean you shouldn't have plans, think about where you're going, discuss alternatives and figure out what you do best. But the better model should be the pragmatism, inventiveness and realism of small business culture which still provides most of America's new jobs. Most small business people don't have time to sit around a table coming up with empty adjectives to describe their efforts. And they tend to call the people who buy their stuff customers rather than stakeholders, which makes sense, given that the pre-corporate definition of stakeholder was someone who held the bet during a gambling match and handed it over to the winner. Not a particularly exciting or profitable role in life.

Here's how
David Weinberger put it back in 1999:

"Mission statements are vapid because they think of business as a march to a goal or a war of conquest. Businesses are far more complex than that. . . Further, missions are things you accomplish and are done with. Businesses, on the other hand, generally aim for long-term existence. The board doesn't get together and say, "Well, we've accomplished our mission of being the world's leading supplier of high quality wombats to blind gombricks, so I guess we can just shut it all down now. Good job, lads!"

"Businesses often are more like farming than like making war. How can we get maximum sustainable yield from this ground? And what happens when the ground changes radically? Are we going to keep trying to grow potatoes in the layer of ash, or are we going to see this as a splendid opportunity to succeed with ash-loving radishes?

"So, yes, write up something about your commitment to treating your customers well, building great products, and contributing to the lives of your employees and your community. Heck, even admit that you're in it for the money. But one thing is certain: if your mission statement achieves the usual goal of fitting on the back of a business card, then it's just about guaranteed to be empty of anything worth saying."

Which is why I don't look forward to my afternoon of strategic planning. We will declare, no doubt, some fine principles, but life is controlled not by the glories of the grand but by the uncertainties, blessings and perversities of the specific. It is in organizing the latter in some rational, useful, imaginative and, yes, enjoyable fashion that life becomes better. As Benjamin Franklin noted, happiness is not the result of great strokes of good fortune, but of the "little felicities" of every day.

Meanwhile, if you are still curious about my personal vision statement, please consult my optometrist.

Jazz break