business news in context, analysis with attitude

So did you see all the news stories about the seven-year-old Utah boy who didn’t want to go to church, and so he stole his father’s car…only to be chased by police for driving erratically? There’s police video of the chase and of the kid pulling into his driveway, getting out of the car and running into his house, hoping to escape the long arm of the law.

The story made a lot of news programs, and at one point I was surfing around and saw Meredith Viera on the “Today” show interviewing the kid and his family live on the set. And so she asks him if he’s been punished, and he says, yes, he’s been grounded, and she asks him if he thinks that’s fair, and he says yes.

But I’m thinking to myself, if he’s been grounded, what the hell is he doing on the set of the “Today” show? This kid is no dummy – after all, he knows how to drive a car at age seven – and he’s probably thinking to himself, “Okay, sure, I can live with not seeing my friends for a while. In the meantime, they flew me and the family to New York, we’re staying in a nice hotel and I’m on national television. If I steal a bus next time, I wonder if they’ll put me on the ‘Tonight’ show?”

Not that I blame TV news entirely. At one level, I’m just glad they found something to talk about other than Michael Jackson. (Thank goodness for “Morning Joe,” where they’ve done their level best to avoid much of the Jackson nonsense.) I’ve gotten to the point were if any newscaster even utters the name “Michael Jackson” and I turn the TV off.

But if the parents really wanted to lower the boom on this kid, not only would they have grounded him, but they would have said no to the New York trip. Which, of course, they didn’t…because they got to go, too. And sit next to Meredith Viera.

How refreshing would it have been if the “Today” host had looked at the camera and said, “We were going to interview him…but we couldn’t, because he is being punished.”

I’ve heard of a fat tax, but this is ridiculous.

Someone sent me a story this week noting that while we in the US debate various forms of a fat tax that could penalize overweight people on things like insurance costs, in the UK, Ryanair is cutting to the chase…and is working on a plan to actually charge overweight passengers more than people who have kept their weight down.

The thing is, this isn’t just some airline executive trying to figure out hat else they can charge for, now that things like baggage require passengers to pay a fee. In fact, they surveyed their passengers, and this is what they came up with (though I suspect that most of the respondents spent an inordinate amount of time in the middle seat). And Ryanair is, after all, the same airline that, if I’m not mistaken, considered the idea of charging passengers for using the on-board lavatories.

From the Parallel universe file…

A lot of folks are trying to figure out how to survive layoffs and make their mortgage payments. But not everybody.

The New York Times had a piece the other day about the newest development in bathroom fixtures – a “RainBrain,” which has a touch screen and computerized controls that allow you to very specifically choose water temperature and flow, as well as play music from your iPod.

The only problem is that unlike most shower controls, this one won’t work if there is a blackout. No electricity, no shower.

The “RainBrain” costs about $4500.


This explains something, though I’m not sure what.

USA Today reports on a new study saying that the number of Americans taking anti-depressant drugs has doubled to 10 percent of the population in just the last 10 decades…while the number of people seeking professional help for depression has gone down from 31 percent of people taking medication ten years ago to about 20 percent today.

More and more, I think that Craig Ferguson is one of the best people in late night television – in his monologues, he is, in his own way, almost as good as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Just the other night, he did a piece in which he explained American mediocrity – and it was brilliant. Check it out by going to and searching for “Craig Ferguson: I figured it out.”

Found another version of one of my favorite wines – the 2008 Laxas Albarino from Rias Baixas – which is bright and tasty and best served nice and cold with spicy pasta or seafood.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

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