business news in context, analysis with attitude

There obviously is a lot of discussion – here on MNB and elsewhere – about the obesity problem in America. But a recent story in the Wall Street Journal suggests that maybe we ought to be paying more attention to another problem: congenital laziness.

The Journal writes about a 37-year-old truck driver who cruised around Disney World on an electric scooter normally reserved for the disabled – even though he is perfectly able to walk. The truck driver says he’s just lazy and wants to save his energy for late-night dancing.

The Journal writes: “The power scooter is an increasingly ubiquitous sight, with an estimated 1.2million in use nationwide. But while the $1,000 plus vehicles have been hailed as a boon for the infirm and the elderly, they are now finding a new constituency: able-bodied people who simply don't feel like walking. In addition to theme parks like Dollywood and Minnesota's giant Mall of America, the scooters are popping up everywhere from Las Vegas casinos to grocery stores. When scooter demand outstrips supply at Wal-Mart, greeters ‘evaluate the situation’ and make sure that people using the scooters can demonstrate a legitimate need, according to a company spokesman.”

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but it seems to me that a perfectly legitimate life goal is to keep walking until the day I keel over. That’s how you stay young, that’s how you stay vital.

You start riding in electric carts because you’re lazy, and that’s the first step to an early death.

In my humble opinion.

Any day now, is scheduled to launch a digital download service that will allow consumers to download movies and television shows onto their computers – essentially trying to leapfrog Apple’s iTunes service that focuses primarily on music and develop an online version of the Netflix model.

I think this is a really bright idea, and it will be interesting to see how Amazon and Apple compete…because you know that Steve Jobs is not going to allow himself to be leapfrogged for very long.

There is a great example on Apple’s iTunes service of how the world of entertainment has changed. The number two video download – and for much of the last week it has been number one – has been something called “Aquaman,” a TV version of the old DC comic that is sort of like “Smallville” under water. (For the uninitiated, “Smallville” is about the young Clark Kent’s teenage angst before he became Superman, and “Aquaman” takes a similar approach.)

What is remarkable about this is that while “Aquaman” was produced as a pilot for the new CW network (which is a combination of the WB and UPN networks), it didn’t get picked up as a series.

Normally, in the network TV business, pilots that don’t get picked up never see the light of day…but in the new world, Apple is charging $1.99 to download it.

And here’s what I think could happen. If “Aquaman” continues to be popular, I think that the CW could revisit its decision and decide to turn it into a series…purely because of consumer demand.

That is a remarkable shift in how the entertainment business operates, and a perfect example of how the world is changing.

At any rate, I can’t wait to see what Amazon has to offer.

I know they aren’t very popular in some necks of the woods because of their political views, but I have to tell you something: The Dixie Chicks can flat out sing.

I know this because on Tuesday night I took my 12-year-old daughter to a Dixie Chicks concert at Madison Square Garden, one of the best things I’ve ever done as a dad. First of all, there is nothing like watching the Garden getting rocked…and that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night. But more important, I got to share it with a wide-eyed 12 year old who’d never been to a concert before. She’s an enormous Dixie Chicks fan, and I think she’ll remember the evening for a long time…not least because I think it is good for a young girl to see assertive, talented and obviously empowered women owning the stage and the audience.

Besides, I don’t care about their politics. I could listen to them sing all night. And did.

Some wonderful wines to recommend this week:

• A 2005 Bolitho 2005 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Waimea Estates, which is light and refreshing and perfect for these hot-as-hell August days. (And, the bottle has a screw top, which just shows you how open minded I’m getting in my old age…) Thanks to my New Zealand friends and MNB users for turning me onto this terrific wine.

• A 2004 Don David Torrontes Reserve, from Argentina, which is a delicious and intense white wine that goes great with spicy seafood.

• And finally, a wine that has become a real favorite around the Coupe household this summer – a 2005 Gruner Veltliner, which is a white wine from Germany that is perfect with just about anything during the summer months…and that, believe it or not, comes with a pop-top. Not a cork, not a screw cap…but a pop-top that looks like it belongs on an old soda bottle. This wine is wonderful and cheap…though I wonder what’s happening to my standards.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend…stay cool…and I’ll see you on Monday.


KC's View: