Performance-Enhancing Bugs

Yeah, I’m irked. Bugged you might say.

The news today leaking that Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez were on performance enhancing drugs in 2003 reveals more and more the complicated and often interwoven nature of drugs in Major League Baseball over the last 20 years. And creates a sideways glance of people we’ve grow to respect, if not love. As a fan of baseball, it’s disheartening to know that many of the results of the past era or so are false or at least have an indelible stain on them. Simply placing an asterisk on the home run baseball is an insult as it seems to me—a completely separate result—from the natural result gained in a sport characterized as a game of inches.

The most difficult and deflating part of the “Steroid Era” in baseball, or the “Festina Affair” in cycling take away the fans ability to gauge what is real. The athletes who take part in this doping façade destroy any semblance of reality for the fans who deify their acts. Doping scandals in the Tour De France are famous for negating a dramatic result, making pretend that we can erase our memory of what we saw. But we can’t. It’s some hybrid third by-product of the truth. 
This same dynamic of the lies of “performance enhancement” exist in the business world where there’s an insatiable desire for even those who “don’t need to” to cheat and get fantastically unrealistic results. Watch The Smartest Guys In The Room, the movie about Enron and the company’s fabled financial results that were “too good to be true” in the late 1990s. Well, as it turns out, those results were too good to be true. The fallout was on the investor who commits her faith to the company’s approach and results and the respectable companies who struggled and foamed at the mouth to have the similar results that the now-defunct energy company reached. All to find out it was a disconnected reality. 
How do we make sense of business results that were little more than gold dust and professional leagues where the only thing professional was the way in which they obscured people’s view of their cheating. (… Getting caught with a “Whizzinator” marks one as a rank amateur. Wouldn’t you think?)

Waiting in the Doctor's Office…

Want to make the doctor's office worse than it needs to be? Take that 15 minutes they see you and wrap it with an hour wait and 15 minutes of forms (new doctor) that I might've been happy filling out watching The Bernie Mac Show at home the week before.

We want to improve medical care but we could start with the doctor visit. Insist people come on time(financial incentive)… Electronic forms or (department store) sku's on check-in would be a start.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

BWI Institutes Gotcha Fee …

Today, The Sun announced that BWI is raising the fee on what was the first free half-hour of parking in BWI to $2 for the first half hour. This a small, but significant “gotcha cost” that the airport is trying to push its operation costs on the public.

Quoting from The Sun’s article: “As of last Monday, the airport has begun charging $2 for the first two half hours and $4 per hour after that in the daily lot. An airport spokesman said BWI officials made the change to help raise revenue during the slow economy. The change is expected to bring $500,000 in additional revenue.

“It’s primarily a financial decision,” said Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for the airport. “During this economic downturn BWI has worked to contain costs and raise revenue where possible.””


Why am I against this and why do I care: The problem stems from the aftermath in “revamped” security post September 11 attacks, when the dynamics of picking people up changed dramatically. In the past, when picking someone up or dropping them off, the choices were many. Among them, people simply clogged up the departure lanes at the airport. After September 11th, suddenly, the airport’s police, rightfully so, began a low-tolerance policy, issuing tickets to people whose cars were standing in the lane and were either waiting for people or not moving. This includes quick towing of unattended cars. 

In the rationale, it seemed completely reasonable to give people an option of parking in the garage and avoiding the fray and if desired walking their passengers into the airport or going in to pick them up while cracking down on the lingering traffic of the departure/arrival lanes in the name of security. The free parking is a good way to continue the tradition of being the “easy come, easy go” airport. It’s sort of like getting free wi-fi at a coffee shop: a small deal, but a “thank you” so to speak. Truthfully, it might take a half-hour to get in and out of the garage, but it was a nice benefit nonetheless to feel like you didn’t have to quick someone out of your car to not spend money taking them to the airport.

I think the thing that bothersome is these small fee hikes are circumspect in dealing with the flaws in the business plan but instead make a service model more cumbersome for people.

Obama's Comment …

In a way it’s refreshing that President Obama had a genuinely human reaction to the ordeal involving “Skip” Gates’ arrest even if he went a little far in his comments. So often, his comments are so measured that it’s difficult to get a sense of how angry he is about anything. Some of his oversteps are the best indicator to a true sense of his feeling. In this case, I might get the sense that “over a beer” he might think what kind of cops are they? And asking such a question might be appropriate. Racial background irrespective, It’s easy to imagine that it’s a bit “unusual” that the police might arrest a guy in his own house after showing identification. 

That said, getting loud with cops gets you nowhere. Fast. I know. Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink described police interaction dynamics and those dynamics are important to understand the way police approach a situation. I mean, watch “Cops” and we see that the policeman’s first goal is to control a situation not really understand it. Then, and only then, do they try to rationalize the particular situation… Anybody yelling at a cop is possibly gonna get smacked in the interim.
As a part of my own neighborhood association, I’ve often been confronted with questions of how to help people identify whether something was “suspicious” and having to encourage people to call the police if they are uncomfortable because it needs to be said that many times people ignore suspicious things, not wanting to profile people. Personally, I don’t trust anybody. If the pope was sitting in a car at the end of the block, I’ll call the police. It takes time for people to “know” a neighborhood and who might be unusual, etc. Without that accurate sensibility suspicious behavior should be referred to the police who should know. That’s their job. But, herein, we understand how important it is that people get to know their neighborhood and recognize a guy in his mid-fifties and a limo and driver and differentiate them from the cast of Ocean’s Eleven.
Similarly, the police could use a little training on what I call their “touch”. Touch is essentially this (sports analogy): In professional football, for instance, the least practiced pass that a quarterback makes is the “screen” pass—a pass that’s only thrown about fifteen feet from the quarterback. Most QBs tend to throw more passes downfield not really training themselves on throwing accurate short passes. An emerging professional quarterback has to learn to throw the ball soft enough so that the guy who runs with the ball (usually not a great ball catcher) can actually catch the pass. If the pass is thrown too hard technically the QB has not done anything “wrong”, but the play doesn’t go off well. Same with cops.
Since a cop’s goal is to, first, “control a situation, it’s difficult to judge them as stupid because they are “doing the job”. But, if they can exhibit a little more “touch”, they might find out that in this case, Gates, was tired and may have a chip on his shoulder about having been called the police by his own neighbor… (mmmm fun). Et cetera, et cetera: A little uncomfortable but everyone goes home. Yet, often, police exhibit attitude and it merely escalates the situation. Did they do anything wrong? Maybe not, but maybe they didn’t do anything right, etiher.
With these types of situation dynamics, the best thing to do is to defuse the confrontation by complying with the requests. Why? It’s easy enough to do. Headlines aside, if Skip Gates had been Chris Jones, it’d just be a story about how some loud-mouthed “number 1 male” got arrested and no one knows why or really cares except for the lawyer he later has to hire. Knowing that Gates got loud, makes me wonder how I would comment on an issue like that as Obama did. Doubling the bounty of the president’s mistake was commenting on it during a press conference on health care. Presidential politics dictates not losing your message by misdirecting people with something else they could seize on like cursing, being flippant or some other mistake. Thinking back to George Bush, that was a weekly occurrence.

General Motor’s Chariman sounds off on the state of GM, its current advertising campaigns, and the direction he wants them to go. Agree or disagree with his points?

General Motor's Chariman sounds off on the state of GM, its current
advertising campaigns, and the direction he wants them to go. Agree or
disagree with his points?

Truth is Bob Lutz can turn around GM advertising no problem because
it's been sooo bad for sooo long, I could do it. (Ad Age did an
article where a former GM exec called GM out for their staid
advertising). Pre-bankruptcy, GM spent so much on endorsing events
(football, NASCAR, golf, etc.) instead of improving products or
communicating improvements—essentially protecting an eroding and
shifting base—it's difficult to see how they can go wrong when it's
completely clear that things need to change completely.

As a GM insider, he's poised to take the tenor of advertising in a new
direction but all along, I've been suspect of him and thought that one
of the best prospects for change at GM was showing him the door…

Not to mention the odd statements the article claims he's made, Lutz
went on 60 Minutes last year and claimed he didn't believe global
warming. Now this isn't a foray to get into that debate (there are
some scientists out there who question the exact nature of global
warming). But more importantly, as a "car guy" why would he go on
there and try to make a point like that knowing everyone would call
him an idiot next? I mean it's 60 Minutes.

GM suffers from way too many insiders who suspect that they just have
to change the facade of the buildings to really be the company they
once were not understanding that the industry is no longer the
industry it once was. Much of the change needed could be captured in
the microcosm of all the car execs flying down to congress in
corporate jets, instead of having a little humility (a little touch)
and recognizing what they were doing by asking for money when looking
"glam" themselves. I don't think that Lutz can make that change not
because of age but because of who he is: "GM establishment."

The best GM happy ending I've heard recently was talking to a guy who
mounted my tires. He swore by GM saying "you can get GM parts
anywhere." Well, that's a selling point I've never, never heard GM
say. Though it's true at least in middle America.

Instead of relying like they had on being the default car, they need
to take a page out of Honda, Toyota, VW and increasingly Hyundai and
remember to try and become the default car of choice. And communicate
that.