Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Guess Collecting Signatures During the Holiday Season Isn't So Difficult

Back in July, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin was floating the idea of delaying the recall effort against Gov. Walker so that the resulting recall election would coincide with the regular November 2012 elections. Their arguments for this position were concern that holding a recall election in April, which coincides with the Republican Party's presidential primary, would improve Walker's chance of surviving the election and the excuse that collecting signatures in the winter, during the busy holiday season, would be too difficult.

I always thought this was a clumsy effort to use the recall's coattails to help other Democratic Party candidates in November 2012.  I assumed that it would actually be easier to collect signatures during the time when people are out in public in large numbers, shopping and attending Badger football games. That seems to be the case.

There is still a lot of work to do, but things are on track for a Spring recall election.  Now, whether the Governor keeps his job has a lot more to do with the appeal of his eventual opponent than the timing of the election. Time will tell.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Remembering the Queen of Exotica

Three years ago this month, Yma Sumac passed away at the age of 86.  Most Americans are not familiar with her work. In the 1950s, she came to this country from Peru and recorded many songs in the genre now known as "exotica" (the kind of music one listens to while drinking libations garnished with umbrellas and tropical fruits). She was called an "Inca Princess" (though I suspect that was as fictional as her stage name).

What made her so remarkable was her incredibly flexible voice (which could reportedly span five octaves). At the low end of her range, she sounded like a Tuvan throat singer.  At the high end, she left Ella Fitzgerald's glass-breaking Memorex commercial in the dust.

This is my favorite Yma Sumac song:

I didn't discover her work until the 1990s, and it took me a while to really appreciate it. She has continued to influence modern pop musicians. The Black Eyed Peas have sampled her. In 1981-82, Adam Ant recorded two albums that had obvious Yma Sumac influences.  Go back and listen to Prince Charming, Stand And Deliver, and Friend or Foe after you've listened to Goomba Boomba and this classic Sumac track:

She was still working in the 1980s, and she still sounded amazing.  Here is a 1987 appearance on David Letterman's show:

I hope you've enjoyed this little bit of the tropics on this chilly and rainy Wisconsin day. If you've traveled for Thanksgiving, have a safe trip home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Be careful out there

Many years ago, I heard a comedian refer to shopping the after-Christmas sales as "gladiating for bargains" -- and that was long before the Black Friday door-busters inspired shoppers to trample and assault each other in Wal-Mart parking lots.  This year, a California woman took some inspiration from Fox News' assertion that pepper spray is basically a food product and used it to beat the crowds.

Before you enter into the fray, remember that Consumer Reports says that most items are actually cheaper after Cyber Monday. Is it really worth endangering yourself for a shot at one of the mere handful of deeply-discounted televisions? Of course, if it's really the thrill of danger you're after, by all means shop today.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ugliest First Down Ever

The Packers' coaching staff needs to work on teaching Tim Masthay to hold onto the ball for more than a few steps.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Tis Almost the Season

I'm not yet in the mood to write new posts about the post-Thanksgiving holidays and/or the War on Christmas. However, I see by the decorations in the mall and the ads on television for "Black Friday" sales that people are starting to think about it.  So, for those who want a jump start, feel free to revisit these posts from last year:

A Brief History of Christmas

A Brief History of Christmas, Part 2

Alternative Holiday Signs

Here's a bonus War on Christmas trivia question: name the insurgent who led a successful raid against an occupying army on Christmas Day, taking advantage of their holiday hangover.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Buying Shares to Have a Voice

The Sisters of St. Francis have developed an interesting strategy to try to influence corporations into being more socially responsible. They use their retirement fund to purchase the minimum number of shares needed to introduce resolutions at the annual shareholder meeting and use that leverage to gain private audiences with the CEOs. Other orders have done likewise.  However, they do not have enough leverage to really bring about change.

I wonder if it would be possible for a consortium of progressive stockholders to actually gain control of a major corporation. They would need to keep their purpose and connections quiet, to prevent a spike in share price and courting of a "white knight" to prevent a takeover.  The big question is, which corporation should be the target? The nuns went for Goldman Sachs. Given that bank's influence on our nation's economic policies (the firm is such a revolving door for future and former Treasury Secretaries that it has long been nicknamed Government Sachs), it's probably a good place to start.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You.

To all of those serving in the armed forces, and all of those who have completed their service, thank you (today and every day). K, I hope you're home for Christmas this year.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Economy Must Be Improving

Great Wolf Resorts actually turned a profit in the last quarter.

This is a company that was so badly run, it built its huge Lake Delton waterpark resort without convention space to put heads in beds. When it finally realized that hotels with convention centers can be highly profitable, it built one in Sheboygan, which doesn't even count as a "second tier" convention city.

While rivals Chula Vista, Kalahari and Wilderness Resort managed to do decent business during the recession, thanks largely to convention business, Great Wolf temporarily closed their flagship resort and eventually sold it.  The company pushed out the Board members who wanted to provide actual oversight rather than rubber stamp inflated management compensation and continued to borrow to build new resorts like Las Vegas developers during the boom years.

If Great Wolf, which is deeply in debt and heavily dependent on discretionary spending by families rather than corporations, is now turning a profit, things must really be turning around.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Not All Communications Are Better in Electronic Form

I get my bills from Madison Gas & Electric electronically. They include "electronic bill stuffers" (basically PDF versions of the glossy brochures and flyers they stuff into their paper bill envelopes).

Behold their natural gas scratch & sniff card.

Really, MG&E?  For an electric utility, you seem surprisingly unsophisticated when it comes to electronic communication.