business news in context, analysis with attitude

I have no idea whether the public really pays attention to this stuff, but it has been interesting to see the extent to which Michelle Obama and food have gotten coverage in the media.

In the New York Times there was a piece about how, before a state dinner for the nation’s governors, the First Lady took some reporters and culinary students into the White House kitchen for a tour and some tastings.

According to the story, “The first lady took the opportunity to put in a pitch for local and sustainable food and for healthy eating, a recurring theme of hers during the campaign and since she arrived in Washington. When food is grown locally, she said, ‘often times it tastes really good, and when you’re dealing with kids, you want to get them to try that carrot. If it tastes like a real carrot, and it’s really sweet, they’re going to think that it’s a piece of candy. So my kids are more inclined to try different vegetables if they are fresh and local and delicious.”

That’s a positive message.

But an even more positive message, I think, comes from the fact that the First Lady seems to have a good sense of balance.

The Chicago Sun Times reports, “During the campaign, a regular stump-speech feature of the future president was a riff on parents' responsibility not to let their kids gorge on junk food. In that vein, Mrs. Obama is taking on healthy living as a cause. While the Obamas are known as foodies, the first lady is not a purist. She took some of her newer staff out to a Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Washington recently. Her order: a cheeseburger, fries and a Coke.”

I don't know about you, but I love the idea that the First Lady was eating burgers at a place that was high on the MNB “Best Burgers In America” list.

That kind of balance, in which one goes from locally grown produce to Five Guys burgers and fries, is a healthy trend.

I get regular emails from an organization called Iconoculture, and there was a great line in an edition that came out earlier this week. A Spaniard was quoted as saying, “Some call it optimism, others (principally psychologists) call it denial … but one way or another, while we've still got the sun, good food, cheap wine and each other, there is still hope!"

That’s what I call a positive attitude.

Not so positive is the story this morning out of London saying that Ryannair, the discount airline, is considering charging a fee for people on its airplanes that want to use the toilet.

If you think it annoys people to have to pay for water and coffee while in the air, just imagine how irritated they will be if they have to use the john and are reduced to searching their pockets for spare change. (Especially in a recessionary economy?)

Would it be inelegant of me to suggest that people are going to be pissed?

Here’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard about how to spend so-called “bailout money,” courtesy of New York Times columnist Tom Friedman:

“You want to spend $20 billion of taxpayer money creating jobs? Fine. Call up the top 20 venture capital firms in America, which are short of cash today because their partners — university endowments and pension funds — are tapped out, and make them this offer: The U.S. Treasury will give you each up to $1 billion to fund the best venture capital ideas that have come your way. If they go bust, we all lose. If any of them turns out to be the next Microsoft or Intel, taxpayers will give you 20 percent of the investors’ upside and keep 80 percent for themselves.

“If we are going to be spending billions of taxpayer dollars, it can’t only be on office decorating bankers, over-leveraged home speculators and auto executives who year after year spent more energy resisting changes and lobbying Washington than leading change and beating Toyota.”

That’s what I call uncommon sense.

I have two wines to recommend to you this week, an Australian white and a Spanish red…

The 2006 Step Rd. Chardonnay from Australia is an excellent white, with just a little bit of fruit and a nice creamy taste…

And the 2006 Bodega San Prudencio Cueto Seleccion in a wonderful Spanish rioja made from 60 percent tempranillo, 20 percent garnacha, 15 percent mazuelo, and five percent graciano…which is great with both grilled meats and even a spicy seafood dish.

This is going to be a Jesse Stone weekend in the Coupe household.

The new Jesse Stone novel, “Night and Day,” has been published, and I am looking forward to spending some time reading Robert B. Parker’s latest novel about the troubled police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts.

And then, on Sunday night, CBS will air “Jesse Stone: Thin Ice,” the fifth movie in the series, produced by and starring Tom Selleck as a somewhat darker version of Parker’s creation. This one isn’t based on a specific Parker novel, but the advance word is good and I can't wait.

Last week, we saw “Taken,” the Liam Neeson movie about the retired spy who finds himself back in action when his daughter is kidnapped by a slavery ring in Paris.

Now, I have to be honest here. Mrs. Content Guy hated it. Hated it. Thought it was nothing but mindless violence and car chases.

But I liked it a lot. A lot. Sure, it is a cheesy thriller, but there is something to be said for watching Liam Neeson rampage through Paris, shooting anyone who gets in his way as he tries to recue his daughter.

And sometimes, mindless violence and car chases is exactly what the doctor ordered.

That’s it for this week.

Have a good weekend.


KC's View: