Thursday, December 17, 2020

Justice Alito speaks out at national lawyers convention

Justice Samuel A. Alito gave a virtual address to a lawyers convention on Nov. 25th.  

A little over 30 minutes; I'd recommend the YouTube video below, to anyone trying to understand why some Americans feel strongly that basic rights enumerated in the Constitution like Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Assembly are being tested.   

This is not, IMO, a dry legal lecture for lawyers.  Rather it's a clear overview of recent actions by the courts, legislators and special interests and how those actions may collectively dilute protections sought by the Framers.  

Example: the uproar over Nevada's COVID restrictions (overturned on appeal) that prohibited religious gatherings of more than 50 people (regardless of precautions that could be taken), while permitting a percentage of capacity as the governing measure of people able to patronize a casino; even if that percentage equates to more than 50 people.

In any event; the video is worthwhile viewing....

Friday, November 13, 2020

Avoid Shopworn Business Phrases

 I’m guilty. Whether at the office or via conference calls, I’ve used clichés repeated so many times by so many business people, that the phrases lack impact and often convey unintended impressions, or at least, a serious lack of imagination. Nothing here is dangerous; usage is not fatal, but for your consideration, I’ve listed my top five abused business phrases....

1.      “Let’s get the low hanging fruit” – This relic is normally meant to convey the speaker’s opinion on prioritization. Pursuing whatever he/she advocates; will presumably result in a higher success rate because of fewer barriers. Be wary when you hear it. Often you’re closer to the orchard and your gut may tell you that more fruit hangs high, has already been picked, or already rotted, than the speaker knows (or cares to admit).

2.       “It is….what it is” – Of course. What else could it be? If you wish to say we must reluctantly accept the current state and move on; just say that. Unfortunately, use of "it is what it is" not confined to business. Even Jerry Seinfeld does his bit to ridicule those who use this one in every day life.

3.    Here's another classic cliché and one typically used to answer a very simple and honest question like, how are you? I'm referring to the standard, cringe-worthy reply, "I'm living the dream". It might been amusing the first five times one hears it....but after that?

4.      “Let’s think outside the box” – This one, without exception, is my most loathed idiom because: a) it’s incredibly old and b) its usage reveals that the speaker trying to catalyze freethinking lacks creativity -- which defeats the purpose of using it to inspire others. 

5.      “Our people are our most valuable asset” – PU. How many mission statements, speeches and ads, include this syrupy old slogan? It’s usage automatically invites skepticism. Why not post examples that actually demonstrate an organization’s commitment to employee well-being, as opposed to spewing a ubiquitous platitude?"​>Business photo created by pch.vector - www.freepik.comption

Monday, October 26, 2020

A dried pasta revelation

Growing up, we ate pasta frequently in the Maddente home.  I still enjoy it; but all I'd ever learned about this staple is that it's a mortal sin to over cook it.  I never could discern any significant taste difference among the many different dried pastas on the market.  

Recently; I've learned something new.  Extrusion methods matter.

Food photo created by timolina -

Here's a parallel.  Ever heard of "Steel Cut Oats"?  I used to think that's an either slightly pompous or at least a haute description used to sell oatmeal.  

I'm going to rethink that assumption and try steel cut oats.  That's because I've stumbled upon a dried pasta called "Bronze Cut" which is a reference to the metallurgy involved with the device that extrudes and cuts the pasta.  

For those interested in the science and engineering behind this alloy for pasta making purposes; here's an article.  For the rest of us, suffice it to say that the bronze cut process produces a noodle that's less dense and more porous.  It simply tastes better and it adheres to sauce (or sauce adheres to the pasta) ….better.  That's all I know.  

It costs a little bit more; but worth it.  Bon Appetit!  

Thursday, July 02, 2020

A real estate CEO moves to TX

Last Saturday, a CEO named Peter Rex published an opinion piece in the WSJ that attracted a fair amount of attention on LinkedIn.  The article is entitled, "I'm Leaving Seattle for Texas So My Employees Can Be Free (You'll probably hit the pay wall if you don't have a WSJ subscription.)  

I believe you'll find the views expressed in this piece reasonable and factual -- but unfortunately -- not widely promulgated by traditional media.  🙉

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The downside of low interest rates

Columnist Jeff Sommer published a piece called, "Dealing With the Dark Side of Low Interest Rates" in the May 17 edition of the New York Times. Mr. Sommer’s take is refreshing.  Monetary Doves and Pols on both sides of the aisle typically ignore the ill effects of low interest rates on conservative investors and senior citizens who receive abysmally low returns from their fixed income investments.  

Mr. Sommer points out that in an ultra low rate world, retirees and those approaching retirement, are left with three poor choices... 

“Live on less, dip deeply into savings or take on more risk…”. 

A steady trough of cheap money and easy credit induces bad decisions that impact all of us.  As mentioned in this space over five years ago, a perennial ultra-low rate environment coupled with lax credit standards, was one of the factors that enabled the masses to over leverage and buy homes they couldn't afford before the housing bubble burst.  
Business vector created by dooder -

We hear much about the economic benefits of low interest rates including increased capital investment and consumer spending; but there's also a down side.  

Asset bubbles and inflationary pressures strike us all when the cost of credit stays too low, too long.  Yet, it's still easy to find pundits and politicians who always advocate for lower interest rates.  Cheap money.  Who's not for that?

As for the once unthinkable prospect of the FOMC taking short terms rates below zero (a scenario also cited in Sommer's column); it was comforting last week to hear Fed Chairman Powell publicly tamp down the likelihood.  

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The public courtesy award goes to Ricky Gervais

A few winners at the Golden Globe Awards on January 5th decided to sermonize the public, even after host Ricky Gervais admonished them not to do so.

Freepik image 
The majority of us don't tune in to the Golden Globes to watch Stars advocate for a cause celebre.  It's not a free speech issue; it's a public courtesy issue.  Want to speak out about Abortion?  How about Gun Rights or Gun Control?  OK; but please choose an appropriate forum.  Yes, actor Charlton Heston spoke out in 2012 but he made his Gun Rights remarks at an NRA convention, not the Golden Globe Awards.  Big difference.

There's no shortage of outlets to express one's political opinions on one's own time and Golden Globe Award viewers deserve to hear from invited artists, not crusaders.

Mr. Gervais is an intellectually honest Progressive who was speaking to his peers that evening because some of them insist on pontificating about matters having nothing to do with why they are being recognized.  He told them...

"So, if you do win an award tonight; don't use it as a platform to make a political speech."  

Then Mr. Gervais added....

"You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything,"