business news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, brought to you by Webstop, your first stop for retail website design services.

The sad truth is that the things I don’t understand could fill a set of encyclopedias. (An equally sorry truth, by the way, is that there is an entire generation that has no idea what a set of encyclopedias looks like. But that’s another story…)

Today, I’d like to offer up short list of things I don’t understand…

I don’t understand how the judge down in Washington DC can come to any other decision than to force that moron who sued the Korean dry cleaners for $54 million because he said they lost his pants to pay all of their legal expenses.

The plaintiff in the case – and in a twist that raises concerns about the American legal system, this guy happens to be an administrative law judge - says that he is owed that much money because of a complicated formula that allows him to claim that the dry cleaners defrauded him and every other resident of the city for years by claiming “satisfaction guaranteed” and “same day service.” The defendants are a Korean couple that came to the US 15 years ago seeking the American dream…and then found themselves living an American nightmare.

Thank goodness that the judge hearing the case tossed it out, saying that the plaintiff was being unreasonable and was not entitled to any relief. She hasn’t decided whether to make him play the Korean couple’s legal fees yet, and some observers say it won’t matter, because the plaintiff has few if any financial assets. What he does have, apparently, is a colossal amount of gall – so I’d suggest that the judge in the case come up with an unusual and innovative solution, like making him work at the dry cleaners at minimum wage as long as it takes to pay off his debt. This would have two advantages – it would be emotionally satisfying for the Korean couple, and it would keep this guy so busy that he couldn’t work as a judge and couldn’t practice law.

I don’t understand how Salmon of the Americas can send out a press release saying, in essence, that the reason that 13-year-old Evan O’Dorney won the recent National Spelling Bee is because he eats fish – especially salmon – before every competition.

Give me a break.

First of all, hasn’t this kid been exploited enough? I get the feeling when I see events like the National Spelling Bee – and I’ll concede here that my opinion has been shaped in part by the rants of Mr. Tony Kornheiser – that the main reason the kids are there is because their parents want them there…that if they had a choice, they’d be out playing stickball or shooting hoops or playing video games or hanging out down at the malt shop. (Okay, maybe not playing stickball or hanging out at the malt shop…but you get my point.)

I just have trouble believing that poor Evan sits down for a nice salmon meal before he starts a spelling bee. What seems more likely is that his parents – and the folks trying to sell more salmon – saw a nice promotional tie-in here and decided to make some money.

By the way, I like salmon. Eat it all the time. I believe it is brain food. One can only imagine what my brain would be like if I didn’t eat it…but that’s not the point.

Be careful, Evan. Today it’s the National Spelling Bee, but with these kinds of endorsements and promotion deals, it won’t be long before you’re out clubbing with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, and having the tabloid newspapers go through your trash looking for odd misspellings that can be exposed to the world.

It is a slippery slope.

By the way, speaking of tabloid newspapers…

I want to go on record about the possibility that Rupert Murdoch could buy the Wall Street Journal.

Without making a judgment about whether Murdoch is a good guy or a bad guy, it seems to me that all the contractual agreements in the world guaranteeing that he won’t interfere with editorial aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. And I don’t understand how anyone can expect anything else.

Because once he owns it, he owns it. That doesn’t mean he’ll turn it into the New York Post, but it’ll be his toy, and he’ll have spent hundreds of millions of dollars for the privilege.

George Steinbrenner, when he first bought the Yankees, promised to be a hands-off owner who would spend more time concentrating on his ship building business. Look how that turned out…

I also don’t understand why it is possible to fly from Shanghai, China, to San Francisco, get through immigration and customs, and then catch a flight to New York and actually arrive early…but when it comes to trying to get from Columbus, Ohio, to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, it is like trying to get the proverbial camel through the eye of a needle. Can it just be that United Airlines is far superior to US Air? Maybe…but there also seems to be something going on with the US air traffic system that appears to be incredibly inefficient and ineffective.

It seems to me – and granted, I’m just a civilian with an attitude – that the airlines seem a lot better at applying band-aids and making apologies than they are at figuring out the real fundamental problems and developing strategic approaches to fixing them.

And finally, I don’t understand how anyone can not be excited about the launching of the iPhone tomorrow.

It won’t be for everyone, and a lot of people won’t want to switch cell service carriers in order to get one, or won’t want to pony up the $500 necessary to buy an iPhone.

But I think it is great when a company – and increasingly, that company seems to be Apple – pushes against convention and works to come up with products that are innovative in terms of design, function, purpose and even potential.

That, it seems to me, is what we all ought to be doing in our businesses.

End of rant. At least this one.

For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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