Haven’t seen “The Simpsons” in years, but this opening couch scene is magnifique:
Haven’t seen “The Simpsons” in years, but this opening couch scene is magnifique:
I went to see “The Lego Movie” under ideal conditions. A Thursday matinee in Louisville in a modern theater containing only three people. It’s usually fun to watch a kids’ movie with kids around, but it have to be your kid, and mine is now in his 20s and had to work that day.
So, anyway, I got to see the movie and hear all the jokes without the distraction of 5-year-olds kicking the back of my seat and asking their moms to buy them a Batman Lego set when the movie was over.
This was a pretty good marketing move for the Danish company. (What? You thought Lego was American? Think Lincoln Logs instead — which actually started in Japan). Lego is a multibillion dollar (euro? krone?) enterprise going through massive growth. Here’s a chart that shows how well it’s doing:
That’s a lot of building blocks.
A lot of these franchises are represented in the movie (and the voices of C-3PO and Lando are really the voices of C-3PO and Lando). And since it is, as they say, “Fun for the whole family,” expect a lot more currency to end up in Lego’s coffers. And since it comes from Fox studios, there goes more dollars into Rupert’s pockets.
Anyway, here are the (scripted) outtakes:
As you can tell, the movie’s a lot of fun. Even when there are a lot of kids around.
It’s hard to believe Jay Leno had been the host of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” for 22 years:
What’s harder to believe is that I’ve never seen a complete episode of “The Tonight Show” since Jay Leno has been host.
The last full episode of “The Tonight Show” I remember watching was Johnny Carson’s last show.
I really thought, after that, why watch anymore. And I haven’t seen a full late night talk show since.
OK, four things here:
1) That is true. There are no good looking people on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I went to Columbia University. Didn’t see one.
2) How is it possible to end up in a coffee shop in Harlem and not see any … I mean not one … black person? Did Harlem get gentrified? It’s like watching an episode of “Seinfeld.” There were never any black people on the show.
3) Tina, find the lever to move your seat back! Your knees are scrunched up on your chest. It looks really uncomfortable!
4) They talked about it, they showed it and they ate it, and I still have no idea what makes a cronut a cronut? What is it?
Less than nine months ago, Cheerios ran an ad in which a little girl asked her mother “Are Cheerios good for your heart.” Mom said yes, and the girl dumped a box of cereal on her sleeping father’s chest (see that ad here). Pretty innocuous, but Cheerios had to disable comments when the ad showed up on YouTube, because a bunch of people went apoplectic because the ad featured a mixed race family.
So that was it, right? Cheerios runs an ad, racists respond, but Cheerios kept running the ad. And now it’s got this one.
This one’s called “Cheerios 2014 Game Day Ad.” Sounds like it’s going to run during the Super Bowl, the biggest advertising day of the year. Right now, it has almost a million hits on YouTube, and the comments are on. Let’s see how long that lasts.
The ad, though is still pretty innocuous. I’m totally with mom’s “Are you nuts?!?!!” reaction to the puppy deal.
But given the time between the first ad and the presentation of this one, the underlying message is: “See! Cheerios were REALLY good for dad’s heart.”
Dave Coplin, the chief envisioning officer at Microsoft (yeah, I don’t believe that title either), talks here about flexible working, which translates to not working in the office. He says it benefits workers. They don’t have to go into an oppressive office, they can do their jobs wherever the technology takes them, and they will be able to contribute more economically to their respective communities by spending their dollars where they live.
So why does that last part raise red flags for me?
Yes, with the today’s technology, we’re on call 24 hours a day. Coplin says in the “Star Trek” part of the illustration that people complain about getting e-mails from work on their days off, and dismisses the complaint by saying it’s the employee’s fault for looking at work e-mail on his or her day off. Okay, I don’t think the chief envisioning officer would necessarily be called at home on his day off if a server goes down, or if some huge business deal materializes, but there are plenty of other workers (and I’ve been one of them) who end up on the hot seat if the boss can’t get them in the event of an emergency.
But even that doesn’t really bother me that much.
My question is: Who exactly benefits if a corporation decides that the new work model will be “flexible work?” I mean, if it’s a corporate decision, doesn’t that tell you the company is doing what it’s decided is best for the company, not necessarily what’s best for the worker?
Maybe I’m overthinking this, but anyone who’s worked for a company that has an IT department knows that when your computer crashes, the IT people who used to be on the next floor aren’t there anymore. You have to call someone off site. And anyone who’s gotten a call from a telemarketer or calls a company for tech support knows that the accent on the other end of the phone isn’t always from the American Southwest but from Southwest Asia.
The day an American conglomerate decides that flexible work or remote work or working from home, or whatever you want to call it, is the official policy, somewhere in the company strategy, there’s going to be a proposal to move jobs offshore, because, as our chief envisioning officer says:
For the average knowledge worker, you don’t have to be in a specific location, a specific point in time, to access specific services. You have all the tools that you need … in your pocket or in your bag, and you can work from anywhere.
Anywhere means “ANYWHERE.” You don’t have to be in a specific city, or state, or region. You can be anywhere on the planet.
And if your saying you’re safe because you work for an American conglomerate, you probably should kiss your job goodbye. Because there is no such thing as an American conglomerate. Conglomerates are global. Microsoft has offices all over the world. So it could one day look at worker salaries at a global level, figure that it could pay a chief envisioning officer in India a modest salary by U.S. standards, which would be a fortune by South Asian standards, and get the same quality of work at a lower price. This video, in a way, proves how easy it is to work from anywhere in the world. Microsoft is on the West Coast. Coplin’s accent is found on the European west coast. And the illustration of the commute. That’s not Washington state. That’s the London Underground.
Your tax returns can be done in South America. (Because I worked abroad, some of my tax returns are still being done in Europe.) Your newspaper editing can be done in any part of the world that has a strong English speaking population. (A lot of news organizations have editing operations that aren’t in the cities, the states or the countries their subscribers are in.) The animation of a movie can be done in Japan or Korea (Next time you to a science fiction blockbuster, look at the names in the end credits of the people who worked on the CGI.).
Job competition is a global matter now. Blue collar manufacturing jobs that used to build the American middle class are now in the developing word. The jobs that Dave Coplin talks about are white collar jobs. Those are now just barely sustaining the American middle class, but they can just as well be done where labor is cheap.
I’m not saying that bad from a global perspective. Higher paying jobs throughout the world will bring a lot of countries out of poverty. Look at the economic growth in China and India. That means more people worldwide have more money to buy more stuff. But that also means that those jobs don’t have to be on our shores.
The only jobs that are safe for now are service-sector jobs, where people have to deal face to face with people. But, as I noted a couple of posts back, those jobs are going to be done by robots.
Oh, and for the record, I’m one of those people who can work from anywhere, and I wouldn’t mind having a flexible work setup. My family lives in one city and I work in another, hundreds of miles away. I can do my job from home in either city.
But, just on a gut level, I really need to be in the same room with the people I’m working with. But I’m from a generation that didn’t have chief envisioning officers.
One thing I’ve noticed in the news for a while is that when anyone does anything particularly weird, crazy or murderous, some reporter somewhere finds that person’s Facebook profile and gets all kinds of juicy details.
Because a lot of people spell out their whole lives on Facebook.
There’s even an insurance commercial that talks about how burglars use Facebook to determine when someone is leaving their house vacant for a significant amount of time:
And the thing about Facebook is that it seems to be impossible to remove things from it. Back in the days when I had to hire people for a living, I’d occasionally do a Google search on them and find their life histories on their Facebook pages. (Yeah, dude, that photo of you with no shirt on and in the hat that holds two beer cans that have straws leading to your mouth is really going to impress your future employer.) I tell younger family members to watch what they post.
So wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to erase your Facebook profile? (From Slate):
Wow. That seems like a lot of work!
Is there a Wal-Mart in your town? (Stupid question. Of course there is.)
Well, here’s a gif that shows you the spread of the American retail behemoth.
That’s pretty impressive. It starts in the middle of nowhere (OK, maybe Arkansas is a suburb of nowhere) and has completely taken over the country.
Now the company will say the consumer has benefited the most from this, because Wal-Mart allows shoppers to buy more with fewer dollars, and given the economic trouble we’ve been through recently, that’s a fair point. But do you want to know who REALLY has benefited from all this?
These are the Waltons. No not Erin, John-Boy, Jim-Bob and Mary Ellen. It’s Christy, Jim, Rob and Alice. They are the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune. Christie is the widow of John Walton, the second son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. (OK. Maybe the kids were called John-Boy and Jim-Bob.) The other three are Sam’s kids. That “B” after the dollar figure stands for billion. And that number above the dollar figure is where they rank in Bloomberg’s list of the world’s richest people. Christie is the richest woman in the world.
Now, year-to-date, their combined net worth shrank by about $1.2 billion. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they probably haven’t have to cut back much to make ends meet.
It’s fascinating to watch the growth of a company over the years. And it sure as hell is amazing to see the amount of wealth it generated for a handful of people.
This is supposed to be a happy game-show story:
Should I break it to her that she’s not going to keep the car? I mean, she looks so happy.
I’m just going with the odds here. I was on a game show once. Won a significant chunk of money and a trip to Europe. I also had to pay taxes on the winnings. Federal tax, taxes to the state I lived in, and California taxes, because that’s where the show was taped.
Now, for argument’s sake, I’m guessing the taxes all together are going to be AT THE VERY LEAST 30 percent of the total, so somewhere in the vicinity of $60,000.
She doesn’t have that kind of money. She said so. Remember when she turned over the first card and got $4,000, and she yelled to her significant other in the audience, “$4,000 is a lot of money.” Yes, when you don’t have a lot of money, $4,000 is a lot of money.
And $60,000 is a lot more money. I’m not going out on a limb here when I say she doesn’t have $60,000 laying around to pay the taxes on $170,000. The $10,000 in cash she won isn’t going to cover it.
So, she won’t keep the car. She’ll probably turn it over to an Audi dealer, who will take it off her hands for far less than the retail price, because as an owner, she now makes it a used car (pre-owned as they say in the classy television ads). And I’m not a tax lawyer here, but she still did get $170,000 from “The Price Is Right.” That’s income. Income is taxed. She still owes about $60,000. All told, she might walk away with cash in the low five figures. But nowhere near this “Price Is Right” moment. Maybe “The Price Is Right” folks have this all figured out and they’ll offer her a cash deal that covers everything. I doubt it, though.
I guess this dose of reality makes me the grinch who stole “The Price Is Right.” But I didn’t steal it. The tax man did. And the folks on “The Price Is Right” know this is going to happen. They also know this is great television. That means higher ratings. That means they can charge more for ads. You know, like giving Audi this six-minute ad for a car that’s never going to go to the contestant who won it.
Oh, you thought Audi gave “The Price Is Right” the car, or the show bought the car from Audi? No, this is product placement. The car will be back in the showroom next week. No cost to Audi. No cost to “The Price Is Right.” A $60,000 cost for the poor lady who’s having the happiest moment of her life.
(By the way, I did pay the taxes on my game-show winnings. Spent Easter in the sun in southwestern Europe. It was very nice.)