samedi, août 02, 2008

Global guessing game

When I was getting my business degree five years or so ago, it was an article of faith that globalization was here to stay.

What few, if any predicted was the effect soaring fuel prices would have on businesses like the ones that grow avocados and ship wood from one country to another.

Manufacturers are moving lots of production closer to home, wherever "home" may be. Those of us who have to have tomatoes and strawberries in January might find ourselves paying gourmet produce prices.

In other words, we may take a step back towards a more localized economy.

I believe the economists who tell us that globalization is here to stay.

Like much of the rest of life, its evolution won't be linear-and may well be unpredictable.

The most sobering paragraph in the story (linked above) is the assertion that this won't neccesarily be good for us here in America. We've already lost many manufacturing jobs that aren't coming back-and we have to pay to get our goods to other countries.

It's fascinating, however, how the "Gospel truth" of one generation of business lore can be revised by the next-and how fast the generations change.


Are you one of those wired to assume the best about someone? Do you make allowance for past trauma-the unhapppy childhood, the bad marriage, or the teacher who gave them a C in second grade? Do you have compassion on them because they seem so confused?

Are people constantly telling you how naive you are?

Or are you suspicious of someone's motives from the word go? Do you assume that they really are self-absorbed jerks until you find out they are much nicer than you could have dreamed of? Ever find yourself surprised?

I'm in the former category. I'm always making allowances for bad behavior-sometimes behavior that would have caused many others to say sayonara a long time ago.

This isn't neccesarily a good trait. A healthy amount of suspicion might not only cut short some might cause others to last longer.

Instead, like my mother, I give WellsFargo robocallers or unquestioning George Bush supporters plenty of space to act like themselves-until that day when they cross the line. Then I'm so done.

I don't think we get to choose which character type we are. We can modify our behavior, but I don't think we can alter our basic personality.

What do you think?

jeudi, juillet 31, 2008

My cousin is a monkey

As I semi-jokingly told my guest last night at dinner, I eat animals that don't have well developed brains. Thus I eat fish, but not cows, pigs, horses, or chickens. I want to give Nick Kristof kudos for the article (linked above) on animal rights. As usual, he serves as one of the consciences of the upper middle class. But, as someone who hasn't touched a burger in 25 years, I wonder why it's taken us this long to talk publicly about the cruelty of our slaughterhouses and farms-to admit it into a more conventional place in our public discourse. Yes, novelists have been writing about slaughterhouses for a long time. And yes, PETA certainly has been excellent about creating controversy. Whether that helps the cause or not is an open question. But the fact that folks like my ex are now considering whether to buy free-range chickens instead of the shrink wrapped ones at Genuardis? That's big. As for Kristof-I hope this is just the start of his journey on this particular issue-because once you let the reality of factory farms seep into your imagination, veggie burgers seem like a far more compassionate choice.

mardi, juillet 29, 2008

Das Capital

It's been evident for a long while that the United States is falling behind in its ability to stay on the top of the heap when it comes to global business and technological innovation. But identifying the way in which we raise our kids as a large part of what is keeping us from global achievement? That's fascinating. It opens a whole new lens on a problem that can seem very abstract, and impossible to solve, when you are grappling with it as a societal phenomenon. That doesn't mean, nor does Brooks assert (see link above) that there are solely individual, bootstrappy soluations. But it does suggest that those of us with kids have an obligation as citizens to do everything we can do help our children grow up in as enriched environments as possible-and to apply some discipline to help them glean as much as they can. As the mom of an ADD child, I have long been aware of the importance of opening new prospects to her. Such kids thrive on novelty-so is she going to get that solely from the newest computer game-or from creating a new play at a local repertory theater? But B and I find it more logical to conceive of such enriched environments only because we, too, were raised in such environment. As a society, we need to discover and find money for ways in which working class and poor parents can have these choices for their kids, too.

lundi, juillet 28, 2008

Slapped around

Do I really care whether Max Mosley, race car dominatrix, has a sadomasochistic orgy with five prostitutes in an apartment in London? Particularly if this orgy evokes Nazi images for some observers? Should I even need to know about it?

Max Mosley (see link) is a Formula One maven who has been responsible in part for bringing the motor sport the money and attention that it now has.

He also happens to be the son of Sir Oswald Mosley, a fascist leader in Britain before WWII.

I've thought long and hard about the matter-for at least five minutes this morning while reading the article.

I don't think the public has an interest in knowing about people's sexual antics behind closed doors, even if they involve peculiar hats, whips and other fetishes.

If Mosley had been doing something extremely distasteful which made the possible Nazi undertones explicit?

No, again.

He's rich and famous, with notorious parents, and he just happened to get caught with his pants down. But he wasn't trapped plotting to overthrow the Labor Party and bring on fascism in Great Britain.

As a wise man said, history repeats itself, once as tragedy, and once as farce. Really, you've got to give Mosley some credit here for making something of his life. Imagine the circumstances in which he grew up. Perhaps this brush with entrapment, and the pain it has caused his wife, will impell him to clean up his private life. But, frankly, aside from the titilillation of reading about it, it's none of my business-or yours.