Monday, January 26, 2009

Is There Another Kind of Recession?

It is pretty pathetic the lengths the media goes to to over-dramatise and editorialize what should be standard news articles. Here is a perfect example today: Job-killing recession racks up more layoff victims.

Got that, a "job killing" recession. Instead of one of those job creating kinds that everyone prefers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The "Ken Burns Effect"

Everyone has seen this, but unless you do video editing yourself (like on a Mac) you probably didn't know that documentaries, and now many consumer products that use still photos are incorporating the "Ken Burns Effect"

a widely used technique of embedding still photographs in motion pictures, displayed with slow zooming and panning effects, and fading transitions between them. The name derives from extensive use of the technique by American documentarian Ken Burns.

It must be cool to have an "effect" named after you. Here is a video example, but turn on a documentary and you'll see it plenty.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Americans: Fat and Tats

I have been reading about how Americans are getting more and more obese, and originally thought it was a lot of nonsense. But I have been observing people in airports and public places, and after walking around this weekend at Disneyland I finally agree: Americans are not only fat, they are covered full of disgusting tatoos.

I'm not talking about old people who have slowed down. I am talking healthy young people. Almost to a man, most twenty-somethings are carrying around a large gut, and they must think getting a tattoo will compensate for the extra load because they all have one. Maybe it does since most of them are with women - but most of them are also rather large and also with tatoos. Some of these women wear tight-fitting shirts, showing a stomach roll coming over their pants. And if you can't see a tatoo on one on their exposed fat-rolls, my guess is that it is on a hidden somewhere where you can't see it.

The worst part is that people aren't even trying. I see people bordering on obese - or over the line - sitting at airport McDonalds stuffing their face with all sorts of junk all the time. Even worse are the fat couples with the fat kids, all stuffing their face with fatty foods, totally oblivious to what they are doing to their own body as well as their kids' bodies.

And the world has come to the same conclusion. I was having dinner in China when my customer remarked about how fat all Americans were. Then he frowned "Except people at your company." Which is true, actually. Why is this? I was thinking that maybe those of us who do business in Asia are embarrassed by the heavy loads of Gaijin compared to all these skinny Asians and try harder to keep it off. Over here fat is normal and now "in" - there seems little stigma attached to it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Idiotic Call: No Fancy Hotels Ever

Via Gongol comes a rather infantile list of "things American business can do better". It reads like it was written by an 18-year-old parroting his Econ 101 prof.

But one comment really put me over the top:

Nobody should ever stay in a fancy hotel for business. $200+ a night? Are you stupid or what?! It's. A. Room. With cooties. No matter how nice it is.... It's a bed and a bathroom... You wouldn't burn your own money-- why would you burn company money?

Obviously not a road warrior - and someone who could never retain talented individuals if he ran a business that required people to travel.

I go on the road sometimes for 1-2 weeks a month. My hotel is where I LIVE when I am on the road. It's my home. And for being away from my real home, for putting in the long miles and hours, giving up my weekends, I deserve to be comfortable when I am at my "travel home". This is part of my "compensation" for what I do. An unlisted part of my paycheck.

This jerk thinks that skimping on hotels for his travelers will help business? This is the same sort of manager who makes people come in on the weekends for free because his people should be thankful for having a job.

Do I put up my own money for nice hotels? You bet your ass I do. I also spend my own money to have a nice home when I at not traveling.

Let's ask this guy if he is saving his own money living in a dive. I bet he isn't.

Monday, January 05, 2009

What a Way to Start 2009

My first business call of the New Year was to a guy who had just gotten laid off ten minutes before. He wasn't upset, he was already thinking ahead, asking if he could send me his resume.

I think we'll hear a lot of this in the coming months unfortunately...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 Prediction: The Zen Perspective

As a counter-point to my bleak prediction below, my Japanese colleague writes:

The storm has come. The storm will go.

My 2009 Prediction: Unpredictable

While I got a few easy predictions last year (economic downturn, increased taxes coming, etc.), I think we are now entering what in engineering and math is called a "non-linear impulse".

Right now we have vast economic uncertainly, which is causing people and governments to do things outside established norms, which is creating more uncertainty, which is causing people and governments to do even more things outside standard norms. It's a process that feeds on itself and I don't see anyone leading the way out.

So my only prediction for this year is that a lot of really bad $&*t is going to happen as governments and people start an "every man for himself" phase.