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Friday, February 11, 2005


February Stuff

I am planning a special social security entry, but to tell the truth, I'm not done reading and thinking on that issue. I do think those who reflexively trash every new idea on the subject are making a serious mistake. There is little doubt that the level of current and promised entitlements in this country constitute an economic and fiscal train wreck in the not too distant future. Question is, what to do? At least the administration has an idea. It may not be the best idea, but it sure is better than putting one's head in the sand and pronouncing that "there is no crisis."

Big news today was that poor Carly got fired by HP's Board. To me, the surprising thing was that she lasted as long as she did. Though the Compaq acquisition was her clearest blunder, her fundamental mistake was undermining the HP culture. The "HP way" may not have guaranteed the highest ROE, but it sure stood for something. When you bought an HP product in the old days, you knew you were buying quality, probably at a premium price. An awful lot of smart people chose that route when buying calculators, printers and lots of other gadgets. Now, HP stands for ---nothing. The damage is done. It was always all about Carly. The Board will try to salvage the Company by bringing in a new super C.E.O., but if I were on that board, I would advocate for selling the place ASAP and salvaging as much value for shareholders as possible.

The Pats won the Super Bowl as expected, and a pretty good game it was. Certainly the MVP was an obvious choice, but T.O. played an incredible game, showing the difference between a man risking everything to play versus a stiff (John Abraham of the Jets) risking nothing for his team. Now maybe the Jets will get it straight and get rid of the bum.
Paul McCartney showed that a 60 something can still rock, and I thought it was a great show, short as it was. There's still great rock being done today, and some decent R&B and Hip Hop, but Rap is azsomething I just don't get, and that's what the kids love today. Hopefully they listened to Paul and the seed is planted for the future. Of course, for the last twenty years, I prefer jazz most of all.

We are losing some real icons. Johnny Carson was unique, building on the format started by Ernie Kovacs, Steve Allen, and Jack Paar. He found the right blend of laid back entertaining style and topical sophistication to establish the perfect late night format. Every late night host will be forever in his debt, the way pro golfers owe Arnold Palmer and anchormen owe Walter Cronkite. Rodney Dangerfield was a comic's comic, one of those "overnight successes" in middle age whose career just never seemed to really peak. His movie career was most amazing of all. Jimmy Capaldi was one of the co-founders of one of rock's most innovative bands, Traffic. If ever a rock band sounded like it was playing jazz, it was Traffic. Listening to the first side of John Barleycorn Must Die is still one of the best ways I can think of to spend twenty minutes. Ozzie Davis was a true talent, whether you agreed with his politics or not, which too often overshadowed his artistic genius. He was one of those people who made every project he was associated with that much better.

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