business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Joe DiVincenzo:

I was reflecting a bit on the inspirational stories of Amy Robach and Shannon Huffman Polson in last Friday Morning’s Eye-Opener, and I can’t help but be stuck on a bit of terminology that was used:  “They both made clear that while both have been targets of harassment, they have not been victims.”

I’m having a hard time making a distinction between being a target vs. a victim.  By the very nature of being a target of harassment, doesn’t that victimize the target almost automatically?  Should an individual (of any gender) be targeted with harassment, whether or not any physical acts were carried out, that person is likely made to feel uncomfortable and demeaned or worse.  I think to call targets anything other than victims diminishes the problem and disrespects the individuals that were targeted.  Perhaps I am being overly critical, but I think that’s an important distinction.

Point taken. I guess I was saying that both women struck me as people who might’ve been targeted by men engaging in sexual harassment, but were able to avoid being victimized. But I certainly wasn’t trying to diminish the problem, and perhaps I should’ve written the passage with greater clarity.

We had the results of a consumer survey focusing on authenticity the other day, prompting MNB reader Mike Sommers to write:

Understanding that there is a large interpretation of authentic, interesting how no major beer brand was listed...probably because no major beer brand in the US is actually US owned anymore. However, that doesn’t stop Budweiser from putting the US flag on its label during summer and pretending. Also curious that the likes of McDonald's didn't make the list or any major car manufacturers.

What's more authentic to the US than McDonald's, Budweiser/Miller, Ford/Chevy? Also interesting GE, Coca-Cola, and Disney didn't make the list. Apparently what was authentic decades ago is no longer authentic, or my idea of American authenticity needs an update. Or I'm just conjuring up American nostalgia…

Along the same lines, I recently wrote in another context:

“Amazon has been very good throughout its history of not just making a value proposition, but delivering on it … often under-promising and over-delivering. Do that enough, and establish a beachhead in people’s lives, and you’re going to have credibility and equity that can be transferred to other products and services.”

MNB reader Brian Blank responded:

Amazon’s customers trust them.  Not only that, but Amazon is viewed as a retailer that people are proud to purchase from.  They have earned a position of being viewed as equal (or better) than name brand, a brand that customers are not only not ashamed for someone to see in their home, but a brand that conveys a bit of status.  Some other private labels that fit this description:  Costco’s Kirkland Signature, Whole Foods’ 365, and Trader Joe’s.

MNB noted the other day that New York City is endeavoring to stop curbside deliveries at certain times of day and in certain neighborhoods, and MNB reader Stan Barrett observed:

The Mayor might want to look at his budget and see how much lost revenue this cause.  The law of unintended consequences.

There are company in the food delivery business that have a budget line item - sometimes not insignificant - devoted to paying these fines.

Every time Bill Di Blasio opens his mouth, he makes me yearn for Mike Bloomberg.

Responding to yesterday’s piece about continued private label growth, MNB reader Bob Overstreet wrote:

I find buying private label not only to be cheaper but of better quality in most areas. The Safeway/Albertsons healthy choice frozen dinners are vastly healthier in its ingredients/sodium/calorie load than the brand names.

Their frozen pizzas are also much better.

These private labels as well as the store environment and service keep me coming back to the same store and their brands.

I am really curious on how they integrate Plated too.

Somehow this email slipped through the cracks … it concerns a review I wrote several weeks ago of the new “Star Trek: Discovery” TV series:

I’m also a big Trekkie and was looking forward to your review.  I left feeling rather disappointed, both with the show itself and CBS’ foolhardy notion that they can compete with Hulu or Netflix for my streaming service dollar.  I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since the DVD by mail days, and so I’m grandfathered in at $8/month.  In other words, I can get commercial-free content from a variety of broadcasters and movie studios for $3 less per year then CBS wants me to pay to watch NCIS re-runs.  That dog won’t hunt, monsignor.

As for the show, I sorely miss the episodic and character driven plots over Discovery’s “JJ Abrams-lite” approach. The effects are impressive, but a day after watching the premiere I happened upon the TNG episode “The Inner Light” and was reminded of just how powerful emotional substance and thought-provoking scripts can be in the face of flashy visual effects and laser space battles.  Maybe Discovery, like TNG and the other series, will find its stride but I fear the franchise as a whole has moved away from tension filled scenes like the Battle of the Mutara Nebula.

I’m completely engaged in “Star Trek: Discovery,” though I’d never argue that it is a perfect TV series. It isn’t even perfect ‘Star Trek.” But I love Michael Burnham, the lead character played by Sonequa Martin-Green, and I’m intrigued by Jason Isaac’s Captain Gabriel Lorca. So I’m willing to give it a chance.

Keep in mind that “The Inner Light” episode was produced well into the run of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It is almost impossible to expect that kind of resonance from a TV series that is only six weeks old. I’d like to think they’ll get there … and, in fact, one of the things that keeps me coming back is curiosity about how they’ll transition from the universe they’re showing us, which is a lot darker than most iterations of “Star Trek,” and the more idealized world that we’re used to from the series. One can only hope, both in life and in “Star Trek,” that chaos, anger and a focus on grievance will give way to a celebration of diversity and a kindness of character. At least, eventuality.

As for paying for the streaming service CBS All Access … I think the jury is out on that one.

I commented after Game 1 of the World Series how painful it is to watch Justin Dodgers be so productive a hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers after he was cast off by my favorite team, the New York Mets.

MNB reader Jeff Reinartz wrote:

Feeling your pain on Turner, KC. My Twins made a similar misstep with a fellow who came to be knows as Big Papi.

MNB reader Tim Bailey wrote:

We are in agreement that it was nice to see a game played in under 2.5 hours.  My cringing re Turner, however, is as a Cub fan.   Game 2 of the recent NLCS comes to mind…  And speaking of your Mets, 1969 is a more painful memory than 2015, in case you were wondering…

I wasn’t. I remember 1969 being a pretty good year in baseball terms.

MNB reader David Moen wrote:

There is an expanded thought there that could be another applied to the state of retail and selling…Don’t you think?


Go Dodgers!

Finally, I loved this note from MNB reader Deb Faragher:

I am lucky to live near a Disney Vacation property and I walk through it every morning. It is in a constant state of maintenance and improvement for its guests and when any work is underway, they post a sign that reads:

Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future. - Walt Disney

I think of you and Michael Sansolo every time I see this sign. Thought you’d enjoy it.

Thanks, as always, for a great way to start the morning.

Thank you for sharing. We try.
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