Monday, February 25, 2013

Attention McCormick spice company. Didn’t anyone ever tell you? The only smell that interests investors is the smell of money.

The following is lifted from a press release issued by PR Newswire:

SPARKS, Md., Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- McCormick & Company, Incorporated (MKC) , a global leader in flavor, announced the publication of its blackberry and clove scented 2012 annual report.
Over the years, investors have been led to McCormick (MKC)'s annual report by following the aroma of nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon, among others.  McCormick (MKC) produces the only scented annual report and has been doing so for more than 30 years.  The new report is entitled "Flavored for Global Growth."
Blackberry and clove come from the company's newest global Flavor Forecast®.  The rich fruitiness of the blackberry balances pleasantly with the sweet aroma of cloves – a delightful paring of fruit and spice.  Since 2000, McCormick (MKC) has been at the forefront of identifying emerging trends with a focus on flavor through the Flavor Forecast.

As of 10:13 the morning this was posted, despite a generally upward stock market trend, McCormick was down $7 a share.

Meanwhile, the company's most recent proxy statement revealed that the Board of Directors had increased the total compensation of Alan D. Wilson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, from $7.76 millionin 2011 to $9.5 million in 2012.

Whaddya wanna bet the money he crammed into his bank account smelled like money, not a rich fruity blackberry balanced with the sweet aroma of cloves?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Imprison the Pistorius magistrate – for nearly inflicting death-by-boredom on the entire planet

So here’s the deal. I was getting dressed for work this morning.  The TV was on, as it always is on weekdays, tuned to CNN. I was hoping to hear some news. Instead, I got a South African magistrate named Desmond Nair making a superhuman effort to turn his courtroom into the dreariest law classroom in the entire history jurisprudential pedantry. 

He succeeded. 

Moreover, his effort to bore everybodfy to tears during his 15 minutes of fame (which ran far longer than 15 minutes) were plainly superhuman, considering what has been reported about the case:

A beautiful woman had been shot to death by her lover, a legless sports hero. His story of how it happened seems to challenge credibility. But a police detective had been yanked off the case because he himself is charged with murder in a different case. And if Pistorius’ own testimony as to what had happened was weird, so was the investigator’s.

The world was watching because the story had sex, violence, abuse, murder, a blonde beauty, sports heroics, high-tech prostheses, adversity overcome ­– virtually everything that draws attention to a story save for whipped cream covered chocolate mousse, a dominatrix wearing a tight patent leather bustier – and parked outside, a truckload of gold bars.

So with the planet watching, what did Magistrate Nair do? He droned. And droned. And droned endlessly on, with references to “Paragraph Capital A” and “Paragraph small (a)” of this document and that document. He schlepped in a stultifying lecture on English common law,  Roman law, South African law, and more ifs, buts and maybes than a 20-part legal contract among 50 competing parties for the division of labor in a project for clearing machined screws from medium-sized dustbins.

Sheesh! CNN cut to the courtroom around 8 a.m. Eastern time this morning, and by five to nine I decided, the hell with it, I don’t need to know whether Pistorius gots bail or not. I turned off the TV, and went to work late.

What’s Nair’s motivation for holding all of us prisoner instead of simply telling us (I learned the end via the Internet at noon today) that he had decided there wasn’t enough evidence to hold Pistorius prisoner? Beats me. The inflated ego of a very boring man, perhaps. Or perhaps Nair is more clever than we think and he is simply tricking us into going away and ignoring the case.

If so, he has a point. Each month, hundreds of lovers shoot their wives or girlfriends, accidentally or otherwise, right here in the United States. Gorgeous blondes? We got buckets of ‘em in the good old US of A. Sports heroes? Those, too. Prostheses? Maybe we ought to be making heros out of the American military vets who go through life with them after sacrificing their limbs in Iraq, Afghanistan, Viet Nam and elsewhere, rather than idolizing a South African sports hero with what appears to be a very short fuse.

As for Magistrate Nair, he deserves to be beaten over the head with a titanium shin until he pleads to be dispatched more quickly with a heavy law book.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shoot the watchdog – and other political stuff that will either make your head explode or tickle your fancy

So you’ll noticed that I haven’t posted for about a week. Sorry. I open the newspaper, or turn on the TV news, and it’s the same-old same-old.

Until this morning that is. Suddenly I found a number of items ­­– well, three of them anyway – that may not merit a full post on this blog, but that are certainly worth calling to your attention.

Let’s start with shooting the watchdog

Suppose there’s a great government agency. Or suppose, if you don’t believe in such things as great government agencies, that there’s one highly exceptional government agency that miraculously is doing its job. And that job has been helping millions of Americans. How?

It has saved thousands of home buyers from predatory lenders. It has sued and won in a settlement $85 million from a credit card company that would rather fork over the $85 million than go to court over its discriminatory marketing and billing practices.

It has also launched an investigation into the way banks, in collusion with some colleges and universities, rip off college students and get vulnerable kids skewered on a financial hook for a lifetime, or at least a few decades, of unnecessary debt.

In other words, you’ve got a government watch dog that not only barks, but also bites the bad guys. What would you do with this dog?

Well, many of the political prostitutes who call themselves Republican senators and congressman are trying to shoot the dog, of course, before it ruins the political corruption business. Further details here.

To the left march! With laughter

Like most progressive bloggers, when I read the news for more than ten minutes at a time, my head starts to explode with rage. But every so often, a blogger comes along who can get you, well, to use the language of text-a-holics, ROTF!

Such a blogger is Tom Degan. I have no idea why I never came across him the blogosphere before. But I can tell you, I’ll be reading him from now on. And I've posted a link to  his hilarious rage on my own blog.

Just to give you a sample, here’s what Deegan says about himself in his biographical notes:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: TOM DEGAN is a traitor to this beautiful and bountiful nation of ours. Not only that, he is a disgrace to the flag that all real Americans honor and revere. It is a sad thing to realize that he walks among us, with the same rights granted to decent people everywhere. Here is how utterly contemptible he is - He wrote what you are now reading. He is trying to make you believe that it is being written by a third party. How cruel! He is just being a smug, elitist liberal! Tom Degan has no shame. I take back what I said. "Contemptible" is too kind a word for me - I MEAN "HIM". 
Run over here and read him.

“I don’t know much about science
but I know what I like”

Introducing the case of another ignorant school teacher, (by law that ought to be an oxymoron) this particular school teacher in Indiana, Her name is Diana Medley, and Ms. Medley wants to ban gay kids from the high school prom because she, er, doesn’t “agree” with homosexuality.”Agree?”

Reports the Crooks and Liars blog
"I don't believe they were born that way," she opined. "I think life circumstances made them choose that. I think God made everybody equal...  
Wait a second, lady. Just wait a second. This isn’t a matter of opinion. It doesn’t matter what you think, or what I think. This is a matter of science and the interplay between endocrinology and genetics. I know this is hard, lady, but let me simplify this for you. The latest science is that gay kids were wired that way by a combination of the hormones in their mothers’ wombs and genetics that they didn’t ask for. They were just handed the dang things and told by nature to go be gay and have a life. 

On the other hand, Ms. Midley, one might come to the conclusion that you were wired for airhead – unless, of course, you chose airhead.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Gay “issue” puts Boy Scouts between a rock and a hard… Oh, nevermind.

A full and very lengthy disclosure first: I may be the only American male alive who flunked out of the Boy Scouts. Well, maybe “flunked out” isn’t quite the appropriate term. Let’s put it this way: I couldn’t pass the entrance exam.

No it had nothing to do with sexuality. My wiring determined I would be born and remain straight.  I had to do with different wiring ­­– the same attention deficit that kept me a borderline student from second grade through college. When I was 10 — or was it 11 or 12?—  well anyway, somewhere in that range, I went down to the neighborhood Boy Scout troop to join up.

“Do you know the Boy Scout Oath?” the local scoutmaster asked me.

“No, I don’t,” I confessed.

“What about the Scout Law?”

“What’s that?”

I’m really, really fuzzy on the next part. But I think I came home with something called The Boy Scout Handbook. And I have the vague impression that the scoutmaster sold it to me, although I wouldn’t swear to it on a stack of Bibles.

“Memorize the oath and the Law and come back next week.”

Well, I overcame my attention deficit enough to memorize, at least for the moment, the oath. It’s the one that begins “On my honor I will do my best…"

But the Law, essentially a string of a dozen adjectives, (“A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind,….” etcetera, etcetera) eluded me. No matter how many times I read it aloud and repeated it to myself, I couldn’t remember all the adjectives, and even when I thought I had them all down, it would turn out I had them in the wrong order.

Gross insubordination

The scoutmaster listened, his frown extremely grave, and then said, “No no, you haven’t memorized them. Come back next week.” I came back for three weeks in a row, flunking  Boy Scout Law each time. Finally I said “Screw you!”and walked out.  It was an act of  gross insubordination that would have gotten me thrown out of the Scouts in a millisecond, had I ever gotten in.

To hell with it. I was never that interested in tying knots anyway. If anything, I needed help untying knots, particularly the ones in my shoes. To this day, I don’t know a square knot from a clove hitch from a lariat loop. (Although, during a very boring junior high school science class, I do remember figuring out, all on my own and without diagrams, how to tie a hangman’s noose.)

Maybe because I was never involved in scouting, I really never saw the value in it. If you ask me, it’s often just an organized way of frittering away time that ought to be spent on homework. Who the hell cares if you can tie and know the names of fifty different knots or if you won a merit badge in backpacking, bugling, or bird study? 

Yes, I know there are merit badges for considerably more advanced subjects, such as the Nuclear Science Merit Badge. Its requirements encourage kids get close to “a radioactive source,” which sounds dangerous, or build a model reactor, which I’m certain Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would heartily applaud. Even so, “nuclear reactor” isn’t the first thing that generally comes to mind when you think about the Boy Scouts, right?

On top of that, the Boy Scouts are pushing a kind of ecumenical religiosity, with scouts encouraged to earn merit badges in their own religions, from Baptist to Meher Baba. (Yes, traditionally discriminated-against religions, from Judaism to "Islamic" to Hinduism, to Zoroastrianism are also covered, although I can't find Scientology on the list.)

With that in mind, the current dustup over whether the Boy Scouts should/should not/should be required to admit homosexuals leaves them in a no-win situation.

Situation Impossible

Opt in favor of allowing gays to join, and the Scouts will be in deep doo doo with lots of the churches that donate the use of their basements to Scout meetings. And they’ll be pariahs in certain religious communities. Opt against gays and the Scouts mark themselves as discriminatory, uptight, and out-of-step. 

Either way they go, somebody will declare them in violation of their self-declared mission to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” Ditto if they make the admission of gays a local option.

So I watch inflammatory bigots like this guy with more than annoyance. He’s a worthless boob, trying to ban people who God wired for gay, for reasons so specious and ridiculous that they’d be laughable if not for the fact that the entire concept of Boy Scouts is starting to feel laughable. Maybe the Boy Scouts made sense in the days of Norman Rockwell, who drew idealized America as Americans once ideally imagined ourselves.

These days, though, the Boy Scouts are just a bunch mostly well-meaning but silly people in silly uniforms, tormented by equally silly people with self-righteously bigoted opinions.