Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Jacked My Baseball Team?

I am a Cincinnati Reds fan. I have always been a Reds fan since I grew up in Southern Indiana. For the past year, I have been astounded at the number of new Reds fans all over the country. Everywhere I turn it seems someone has on a Cincinnati Reds hat. Well, not everyone, actually it is mostly kids who have the 59Fifty flat brimmed hats, are wearing tee shirts with writing on them that are too big for them or over-sized flannel shirts, with blue jeans that are falling off their hips and a foot longer than they should be, and are wearing Timberland boots that are untied. I was recently on the subway in NYC coming out of the city and heading to the Bronx. On the train with me were three guys in their teens or early twenties. One was white, the other two were African-American. All three had on their "uniform" topped off with the Cincinnati Reds hat. My first inclination was to slide down the subway car to them and start talking about the good old days of the "Big Red Machine" and wax on about Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Sparky Anderson. Or maybe they wouldn't know much of 1973, but surely they would know something about the 1990 World Series Sweep and how exciting it was to win the big one that way and hear Marty Brennaman say, "And this one belongs to the Reds...". Or I wondered how they thought Dusty Baker was doing as a Manager and could they pull out a post season appearance this year? But, I hesitated because they just didn't look like they were in the mood to talk baseball. Yesterday in San Francisco, on Market Street I saw a few Reds fans too. It seems like we are all over and we are taking over from where the Yankees once were America's Team! Truth be told, sadly, none of these guys are really Reds fans, but somewhere there are some marketing people who are trying to capitalize on the fashion that the Reds have become. I had to laugh because in Olympia Sports in Westerly, Rhode Island, in the clearance bin are a bunch of gray colored Cincinnati Reds hats that never sold. That marketing person clearly doesn't understand and thinks like, the naive person I would like to be, that everyone has become a Reds fan! I will tell you that I will be glad when the fad fades, so I can get back to wearing my own Reds hats and not worry about someone thinking I am treading on their turf.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Most Un-American Statement...

Warning, this post is a bit of a rant but because the topic has bothered me deeply since I read about it yesterday morning in the New York Times, woke me in the middle of the night and has had me tied up inside all morning, I felt I needed to get it out of me.

First of all, I don't want or need to get into why anyone wants to build a mosque in the area of the former World Trade Center. I actually don't care about that any more than if a shopping mall or a condo complex was being built there. It has been confirmed that the mosque meets all zoning and legal requirements of the city of New York and that is all that matters to me.

What I am troubled by are the statements that came specifically from former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. There was a time when I was a Newt Gingrich supporter and while my political views have moved one way, while his have moved in a different direction, I always felt that Mr. Gingrich has the best for the country in his heart and that his opinions were rooted in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But yesterday, Mr. Gingrich crossed a line that has me befuddled, bothered and made me a little afraid for what is happening to our country. These were Mr. Ginrich's statements as reported by the New York times and not refuted by Mr. Gingrich:

"Mr. Gingrich said the proposed mosque would be a symbol of Muslim “triumphalism” and that building the mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.”

“It’s profoundly and terribly wrong,” he said."

What I am appalled by is the small minded thinking that would cause Mr. Gingrich to associate a world-wide religion with the political Nazi party and think that it okay, under our Constitution to limit the rights for Americans to worship in whatever law-abiding way they choose. I have to ask, does Mr. Gingrich really think that all people who practice Islam were involved and support the terrorist acts of 9/11? Timothy McVeigh was Catholic. Should we also restrict the building of a Catholic Church in Oklahoma City?

The only appropriate reference and comparison to Nazi Germany that I can think of in this situation is that it was this type of segregationist, closed-minded thinking that Mr. Gingrich espouses that gave Adolph Hitler the platform to single out and eradicate the Jewish population of Germany and Eastern Europe. We are also not innocent as a country as this same type of thinking put Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II.

We have vowed as a country to never allow ourselves to return to that type of thinking, so please Mr. Gingrich, do not try and use your platform to sway people to return to a place where any American's religious beliefs, color of their skin or national origin, in any way restricts their American rights and their pursuit of happiness.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Values 2.0?

This past seven days have been intriguing if you are interested or follow how CEOs are acting as they face challenges where values and principles are put in dialogue and consideration. A week ago today the news broke that Mark Hurd was resigning from his position as CEO of HP for issues relating to a sexual harassment charge and expense reporting violations. Since we learned that he resigned, or was asked to leave, over the expense report irregularities that totaled no more, by reports, of $20,000. Later in the week, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, came out with his own statement that the HP Board had made the wrong decision in firing Hurd over this infraction. I was quite curious when I read his statements, as I wondered where he was coming from. The best I could garner was that in his mind, that the results and performance of HP, which have been stellar over Hurd's five year CEO tenure, outweighed the infraction and that HP was putting the wrong emphasis on values and integrity over performance. As I read this, I wondered if anyone at Oracle has ever been fired for falsifying expense reports and if they have, then maybe they should reapply for a job as the CEO doesn't see anything wrong with irregularities, at least up to $20,000. The two of them, Ellison and Hurd are titans of technology and this would have been enough, but then to see the news regarding Michael Dell and how apparently, Dell and his team knew of the 11.8 millions bad PCS that were sold to businesses and decided to not make their customers aware of the problems. Bundle these three examples together and it makes me wonder about what happened to the models left behind by Andy Groves, David Packard and Bill Hewlett's of the technology world? There are still many great leaders in the Tech world and more coming, but let's hope that we aren't entering an age of Values 2.0 where we turn our head to what is right and what is wrong.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Seeing and Describing the Bigger Picture with a Moonshot

As part of being a voter for the Emmy's, this past week I watched the movie Moonshot about Apollo 11's historic landing and Neil Armstrong's first walk on the moon. It is a story that any of us over 40 years old know well but what gets lost in the story of man going to the moon is the ability of our country, in that generation, to see and describe a bigger picture. As the movie depicts at the beginning, we see President Kennedy stating in the start of the 1960's that before the end of the decade we will put a man on the moon and we do so "Not because we choose to do what is easy, but because we choose to do what is hard". Those are inspiring words (and I must say that I long for the same inspiration from our current leaders). President Kennedy didn't launch the Apollo efforts just to put a man on the moon, he led this as a bigger picture response to both the nation's psyche of the cold war with the Soviet Union and the lagging of our countries ability to educate and produce students in science, technology, engineering and mathmatics. With one bold description of what the future could hold with a measurable outcome such as putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade, President Kennedy solved two bigger picture challenges for our country. BTW, we shouldn't forget that even after he was dead and an opposing party President was in office that President Kennedy's goal was still achieved. The bigger picture can transcend political barriers and divides if only that bigger picture can be seen and described. After 9/11, our past President may have had the moment to truly unite our country around service to others and to the country. For a fleeting moment it was there and then it flickered because of the lack of a tangible and compelling goal or "moonshot" type of vision. The same, I believe can be said about what could have been, or still could be, about how we have handled the Great Recession and the BP Gulf oil spill. One could argue that these both are rallying points crying out for the bigger picture and each with their distinct opportunities to reshape our country into something better and stronger. I am still optimistic that with the right bigger picture that there is a another "moonshot" of improvement and political unity in our future, but it will take a boldness that comes from being able to see and describe the bigger picture.