Thursday, September 18, 2014

Walmart’s right: you really can’t have your PR guy caught lying on his résumé

How, in this day and age, can there be anyone in any position of seniority at all in an American corporation who somehow thinks that he or she can get away with a résumé fudge?

A little white résumé lie is a double-wham-whammy in terms of risk.

First off, organizations increasingly vet what you’re saying about yourself.

Second, once you’re outed, you’re outed. It’s no longer just some mid-level functionary in Human Resources who knows, and your boss, into whose ear the Human Resources functionary has whispered that one or two of the sweet somethings on your c.v. are actually sweet nothings. Nope, every one with access to the Internet will know, and will, pssst, pass it on, through blogs and tweets.

And once those baying hounds start baying…

Honestly, you’d think that anyone who’s got a smidgeon of a smudge on their résumé would come clean and expunge that smidgeonly smudge before it becomes public, when all of a sudden it’s liar, liar,  résumé on fire.

It should be easy enough, no?

Say, I just noticed that there’s an error on my résumé. Hard to believe but, heh, heh, when I had a résumé service create it for me, they put down that I had a degree from Harvard College, when what I’d actually told them was that I’d taken an Intro to Accounting course at Harvard Extension. Blame it on my terrible handwriting, and piss-poor proofreading abilities. Heh, heh.

Now I know that you didn’t hire me because you thought I had a Harvard degree. So I’d just like make sure you knew that my degree was actually from Excelsior Correspondence Junior College.

Okay, okay.

No one would buy it.

But why not correct your résumé, apply for another job, get out of Dodge, and start your new gig with a clean slate and an honest story line?

Maybe all the folks with the pack o’ lies résumés all came of age before anyone really checked things out, and they’ve just let things sit there (and the lies propagate). And they’re just getting caught now.

There sure have been plenty of lost-the-job, publicly humiliated stories out there that someone would give pause before putting something untrue on paper.

I mean, a bit of inflation and puff-up here and there is fine. But a fake degree (or job or military service/honor) is definitely a no-no.

As David Tovar of  Walmart has learned the hard way.

Tovar, until recently, had been:

…the most public of Wal-Mart Stores’ vast public-relations team. For the past year or so, in addition to responding vigorously to any criticism of the retailer, he’s been sending mass e-mails to journalists with helpful tips about how to report on worker protests, among other more cheery musings. Sample e-mail subject lines include: “Exciting changes,” “American Pride,” “Taco Plate,” and “Hmmm…” (Source: Business Week)

When Tovar announced that he was leaving, inquiring minds in the press wanted to know just why.

What happened was that, in the course of vetting Tovar for promotion to SVP, Walmart found out that he had never quite finished up his degree at the University of Delaware.

By résumé tall tales, his was admittedly a short one.

Tovar was just a couple of credits short and had actually walked at his graduation ceremony. On to this real life, he never bothered to go back and fill in the credit blank.

Still, you really can’t have someone in a high level PR position who’s a proven liar, given that for the most part they’re presumptive liars to begin with.

Especially for a company like Walmart which is involved in such contentious issues, has a checkered reputation in plenty of quarters, and is not especially regarded as a bastion of corporate probity.

Walmart, by the way, didn’t fire Tovar over this issue. They just told him that he wouldn’t be getting that promotion. So he resigned. Nonetheless:

It’s also potentially embarrassing for Walmart that Tovar got caught in a lie. More than anyone else at the company, he has defended Walmart’s wages and working conditions with internal data and forceful assertions. He’s the one who responded to an op-ed in the New York Times about Walmart’s low wages with his own sarcastic fact check, which in turn was submitted to several fact checks by other news organizations and found wanting.

Hey, anyone who could successfully flack for Walmart is not going to be out of work for very long.

Still, if you’re in a position where people are going to assume that, at least some of the time, you’re speaking with forked tongue and fingers crossed, best not to hand anyone the proof that you’re a liar. Even if it’s just a little white lie sort of liar.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

“Four dead in Ohio,” and all I got was this lousy sweatshirt

It must be tough trying to keep up with a market where such primacy is given to edginess.

I mean, you just have to keep out-edginessing yourself.

Which for a hipster brand like Urban Outfitters is some challenging task, given that in the past they’ve brought out products that seem to be glorifying depression and anorexia.

So not only do they have to top those, but they have to put up with the backlash from the boring old prudes out there who are so unedgy that they squawk at anything the least bit edgy. Sure, the no-fun brigade is fine with the hipster fedora, but the minute your fashion statement seems just the tad bit objectionable… They just so go into outrage. (Cue eye-rolling. Cue ‘whatever.’)

Which is what they had to put up with last week after they “introduced” a one of a kind $129 (!) “vintage” Kent State sweatshirt. Because, like, there is just something incredibly hip and “ironic” (in the current usage of the word, which means a combination of eye-roll and ‘whatever’) about a situation in which four kids – all aged 19 or 20 - Kent State on a college campus were shot and killed by the National Guard for protesting the Cambodian incursion (or for being present when the Cambodian incursion was being protested).

Once the hue and outcry began, Urban Outfitters came out with what has to be the phoniest mea culpa ever conceived by a marketing department:

“Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.” (Source: boston.com)

Ah, yes, nothing says vintage charm like blood and bullet holes.

ROFLMAO, as they say. Or used to say. If I’m still using it, this one has had its day.

Meanwhile, if my read is correct, there was only one of these items for sale.

So, from a marketing standpoint, what Urban Outfitters has done is just brilliant.

They’ve managed to consolidate their reputation among those who think that being insensitive, tasteless, and offensive is just the thing, especially if it riles up the oldsters. They’ve gotten a ton of free publicity. And they aren’t stuck with a warehouse full of the heinous item. There may not even be the one. Maybe it’s all photo-shopped.

As someone who well remembers when those kids were killed – which was, by the way, right about the same time that four African-American students at two colleges in the South were gunned down; the Jackson State kids were protesting the Vietnam War, the South Carolina State kids were protesting segregation at a bowling alley – I can only say that I’m appalled by Urban Outfitters. Of course, the old geezers being appalled is exactly what they want.

Maybe next time they pull something like this – and you can pretty much guarantee that their edgy, cynical, soulless marketing folks have already scheduled their next ‘think outside the box’ session – maybe we should just ignore them.

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A tip of the decidedly non-hipster, virtual Pink Slip fedora to my sister Trish for spotting this item.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rah, rah, rah…As if the NFL doesn’t have enough of a problem with women

Well, yesterday I quit the NFL. I hope for good.

But I will nonetheless continue to follow the Billionaire Boys Club and their efforts to convince advertisers and fans that football really is superior to, say, cage boxing and ultimate fighting.

One of those elements of superiority that the NFL will be able to point to, of course, is the existence of cheerleaders to root their heroes on. I’m actually guessing here, but my guess is that cage boxing and ultimate fighting don’t have young women on the sidelines working the pompoms.

But most teams in the NFL do.

It should come as no surprise to careful Pink Slippers that being a cheerleader was never high on my list o’ things to do.

My one foray into this activity occurred in 4th or 5th grade when, with my pals Susan and Bernadette, we decided that we were going to cheer on one of the local Little League teams – lucky them – the one, of course, that had the boys we had crushes on. Or was it a collective crush on one boy? I’ve forgotten the full details, but I believe the team was Abdow Scrap Iron, and the colors of the crepe paper swishies we made were navy and white. Other girls in our class were going to do the honors for National Standard. (Red and white crepe paper swishies.)

We practiced a few times, and showed up for a game and cheered for an inning or so.

I’m sure we were dreadful; I know I was embarrassed.

I was probably out a quarter for the crepe paper for the swishies, but lesson learned: I was not cut out to be a cheerleader.

When I was in college, I girl in my class was a cheerleader for the Patriots. This was before cheerleaders were required to be leggy, toothy, and big-hair-y. My classmate was a perfectly pleasant looking girl, but most of what she had going for her was her pep and enthusiasm.

At our all-women’s college, there was little outlet for either, so she went off to cheer for the Pats.

We weren’t friends, and I have no idea how long she kept it up for.

Perky, peppy Peggy would probably not make any of the professional football cheerleading squads these days. Just not the type. And I like to think that she’d be too smart to put  in a 20+ hour workweek, for which she got paid little or nothing, for a professional sports team raking in millions of dollars a year.

I’ll have to guess what would motivate someone to become a cheerleader for a professional football team.

I’m guessing that they’re dancers and/or fitness instructors and, even if they get paid zilch or near-zilch to shake boobs and booty, they do it for the exercise or the fun or the camaraderie. Or to use in promotional materials for their dance studios or fitness centers.

I’m guessing that some dream of meeting the man of their dreams. First choice, a high-paid glamor boy like Tom Brady. Second choice, a billionaire owner seeking a trophy wife. Third choice, someone on the practice squad. Fourth choice, a creepy old season’s ticket holder.

Maybe they just like football.

Or, maybe, in the words of Buffalo restaurateur Russell Salvatore, who at one point sponsored the Buffalo Bills cheering squad, the Buffalo Jills:

“They did it from the good of their heart.” (Source: Businsessweek.com)

While Salvatore (of Russell’s Steak, Chops & More fame) backed the Jills, the cheerleaders didn’t get paid.  (“They never asked me for pay.”) There were, however, some side benefits. Sort of.

He did write them a song, set to the tune of Volare, to use when they took the field. (“Go Jills, go Buffalo, go Jills, we love you so / You make the game day so bright / Your cheers are sure dynamite.”) The cheerleaders opted not to use it.

While sometimes they’ve earned a little coin, for the most part, Jills just don’t get paid. They sign a contract stating that they’ll show up for practices, games, and mandatory appearances at charity events and the like. And, when there was no sponsor around to back them, they had to pay for their own uniforms. (Other sponsors over the years include the Mighty Taco, which paid the cheerleaders nothing for practice of games, but did fork over “$25 an hour for off-field appearances—only after a cheerleader made 16 unpaid appearances each year.”)

After a year as a volunteer, one Jill, Caitlin Ferrari, decided she’d had enough. Then, after a couple of years of thinking about it, she:

…filed a class action against the Bills for wage theft.

She has company. Other Jills are also heading to court.  As are cheerleaders from the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In all, 13 current and former NFL cheerleaders in five cities have filed pay cases. In every one, the cheerleaders are claiming that teams violated minimum wage laws.

As the plaintiffs pile on, fans are learning that the most powerful sports league in the U.S., with $9.7 billion in annual revenue, pays its sideline performers worse than the average birthday clown or barista.

The NFL says its up to the teams, and earlier this month, the Raiders tentatively settled, agreeing “to pay $1.25 million in lost wages to cheerleaders who worked for the team over the last four seasons.”

Historically, the Jills seem to have had the least to cheer about when it came to how they were treated.

Among other things, they had to buy 50 team swimsuit calendars. Plus:

Jills also bought and sold tickets—four per cheerleader at $125 each—to an annual golf fundraiser for the squad where, according to the group suit, they sat in dunk tanks, auctioned themselves off to ride on men’s laps in golf carts, and did gymnastic “flips for tips” that were kept by their employers [whatever group was sponsoring them].

The Bills, having outsourced their cheerleading services to team sponsors, knows nothing, etc..

“The Bills organization retains a number of third party vendors to provide ancillary services on game days. These services include, among others, parking services, concessionaire services and cheerleading services.… We are aware of public statements and allegations that have surfaced since the start of the recent litigation which attempt to give the impression that our organization employs cheerleaders. Such statements are inaccurate and misleading.”

While all this is being resolved, the Bills are Jill-less.

The NFL teams can, of course, well afford to pay their cheerleaders at least minimum wage for their services. (Which, in Atlanta this year include visits to the boxes of well-healed season’s ticket holders. Old goat duty must be really fun!) But once you’ve done something for free, it’s kind of hard to go back and cry foul. These weren’t kids or illegal immigrants being exploited. They’re grown women who, if they didn’t know what they were getting into Season One, sure had an inkling by Season Two.

So why go back for more?

Personally, I believe that cheerleaders should get paid. Just like hot dog vendors, parking lot attendants, and ticket-takers do. It’s completely disgusting that, given the wealth of the league and its constituent teams, that they are paid nothing, or a pittance, especially when you add up all those extra-added requirements (e.g., sitting in the lap of the creep in the golf cart).

But if someone’s willing to do this for little or nothing, well…

Is the word “ninny” still in use?

Anyway, the bottom line with the NFL is always the bottom line. But you’d think given all the bad news about treatment of women that has been showing up of late, exploiting the women who dance around and prance around for the fans wouldn’t be an issue they’d want to add into the mix.

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hub fan bids NFL adieu

The fall Sunday afternoons of my childhood were spent watching NFL games with my father.

While baseball was his (and, thus, my) first sports love, my dad also enjoyed football  - a sport which, like baseball, he had played.

We watched the NY Giants – then still called the New York Football Giants, although the baseball version had already fled to the West Coast – playing in Yankee Stadium, and wearing uniforms that were always described as “Honolulu Blue.”

The AFL was just getting started, and the league – and their local entry, the Patriots – was considered something of a joke. Even the TV station that broadcast them was a wannabe: Channel 6 from New Bedford, a low-wattage outfit that showed mostly a snowy, jittery screen.

So we were Giants fans: Frank Gifford, Andy Robustelli, Dick Lynch, Y.A. Tittle, Rosie Grier, Rosie Brown, Phil “Chief” King, Kyle Rote, Charlie Conerly…

By watching football at my father’s side  - he watched and appreciated sports with an athlete’s eye – I learned about the game, and learned to enjoy it.

But somewhere along the way, I lost interest.

I might have watched a few games during high school, but don’t recall watching many games beyond that.

Super Bowl?

Never heard of it.

And the more I thought about professional football, the less I liked it.

Too violence-glorifying, too flag-waving, too militaristic.

No thanks.

While I remained a sports fan – Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics - I went decades without paying much attention to professional football.

And then the Patriots got good.

And my husband and I found ourselves turning on the games on Sunday afternoons.

I watched my first Super Bowl in 2002, the year the Patriots, led by Tom Brady, won.

Our collective  -  Jim’s plus mine - interest in football waxed and waned with the fortunes of the Pats. Jim loved basketball, so I watched a lot of Celtics; I’m a Red Sox lifer, so he watched a lot of baseball.

But in the last couple of year’s of Jim’s life, when getting out and about got a a bit more difficult, we started watching a lot of NFL games.

Sunday afternoon. Sunday night. Monday night. Thursday night.

Half the time, there was a game on. And we watched it.

Still, there was always something unsettling about it.

All that violence, the martial music, the pumped up testosterone, the conflating of sports with patriotism, the grotesque adulation of athletes, the grotesque amounts of money floating around, the grotesque tobacco-industry-like posture towards brain injuries, the grotesque exploitation of college athletes in the NFL’s plantation-style minor league. All that violence.

Somewhere along the line, it occurred to me that football was the veal of sports.

If you thought about where veal came from, you wouldn’t eat it.

And if you thought about what professional football was all about, you wouldn’t watch it.

At least I wouldn’t.

So I didn’t think about it.

And Jim and I watched a lot of football last season, right on up to the Super Bowl.

Well, my father, who was my first football watching buddy, died in 1971. And my husband, who was my second football watching buddy, died last winter.

Meanwhile, the NFL just keeps going from bad boy to worse boy.

Nonetheless, as we neared opening day, I was thinking about getting back into the football-watching swing, if only to remind me of something that my husband and I enjoyed doing together.

But with so much free time these days to think about the NFL, I’ve decided to quit.

I’m quitting because, in the world the NFL operates in, smoking a doobie is a worse offense than cold-cocking your girlfriend – that is until the video’s released.

I’m quitting because, if someone’s a talented athlete, teams turn a blind eye toward whatever they do in the outside world – until they get caught, at which point there’s a wrist slap. That is, until the media starts to howl.

I’m quitting because NFL star Ray Rice decked his fiancée, and NFL star Ben Roethlisberger sexually assaulted a young woman, and NFL star Aaron Hernandez likely killed three men because he felt disrespected.

I’m quitting because:

The National Football League, which for years disputed evidence that its players had a high rate of severe brain damage, has stated in federal court documents that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely to emerge at “notably younger ages” than in the general population. (Source: NY Times)

I’m writing this on a Sunday.

The Patriots are playing the Vikings,whose star running back was just arrested for over-zealously disciplining  (translation: beating) his 4-year old son.

And I’m not watching the Pats vs. the Vikes.

Because I quit.

Not that the Krafts, who own the Pats, or Roger Goodell, who runs the NFL, could give a crap.

I don’t own any player shirts. I don’t wear a cap. I don’t go to any games in person. I don’t “play” fantasy football. I don’t drink beer.

They won’t miss me at all.

When I was a kid, my father listened to the Friday Night Fights on the radio. I sometimes listened with him.

Boxing used to be a big deal sport in this country.

Now, not so much.

Maybe the NFL will go the same way. Hard to imagine that parents are going to encourage their kids to play a sport that will give them a well-above average chance of becoming brain damaged.

But there’s an awful lot of money at stake here – billions and billions – so I’m sure the brain trusts at the NFL are figuring out how to “manage” their violence problem, while juggling it all against the trade-offs around the game’s visceral appeal as a macho, gladiator, violence-glorifying blood sport.

Whatever they end up doing, they’ll be doing it without me.

Maybe I’ll be tempted back in if the Pats end up in the Super Bowl. But for now, I’m off the game and, as far as I’m concerned, the game’s off.

Nice Sunday afternoon out there, by the way.

I’m going for a walk.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

I am a complete sucker for the TV show Who Do You Think You Are, in which ancestry.com pulls out all the genealogical stops to find something interesting in the ancestry of some celeb.

I mean, who doesn’t want to learn that Valerie Bertinelli is descended from British royalty? That Sarah Jessica Parker stems from a Salem witch? And that some celeb I’ve never heard of had a philandering murderer for his great-great-grandfather?

When it comes to my ancestry, I suspect that even ancestry.com wouldn’t find anything very interesting in the archives: farmer, farmer, peasant farmer…

Supposedly, my great-grandfather, Matthew Trainor, was a hedge-row teacher in County Louth, in Ireland, before he hopped on the boat for Amerikay.

Other than that, it’s pretty much farmer, farmer, peasant farmer…

But you never know what you might find when you start looking under the ancestry.rug.

So a few weeks ago, I spit in the cup and sent my DNA packing off to ancestry.com for DNA analysis.

As I am about as white-bread as you can get – half German, half-Irish, fair skin, blue eyes, light brown hair that started out blond – I wasn’t expecting anything very exotic. Still, I always wondered just whether my father – with his jet black hair, olive skin, and fabulous ability to tan-don’t-burn – had a wee drop of color in there somewhere. So I was kind of hoping to find out that I have some African ancestry.

But, no.

What I did find was that I’m 99% European stock, 1% Asian. And not just any old Asian: Mongol horde, all those “stan” country Asian. (Would I top Valerie Bertinelli if I found that my 20 times great grandfather was Genghis Khan?)

Where’s the rest of me from?

Ancestry

If you can’t quite read this screen shot, I’m 42% Western European, 38% Irish, 12% British, 4% Italian-Greek, 1% Iberian, 1% Scandinavian, and less than 1% Finnish/Russian.

The easiest way to interpret this is that my Irish father is responsible for the 38% Irish and 12% British, and my German mother the Western Europe, Asian, and mutt-mix.

With the last name of Rogers, I have always wondered whether one of Cromwell’s soldiers met a nice Irish girl in County Roscommon and decided that settling down with a colleen was a better idea than rampaging through the countryside killing Catholics. On the other hand, family lore has it that Rogers was an Anglicized version of McCrory/McGrory/McSomething.

At some point, I’ll have to hit the wayback machine and figure this one out.

And speaking of out, a probability range is attached to each ethnic bite, and the one attached to my being 12% Great Britain is 0 –33%.

So, with apologies to the wonderful folks from England, I’m going to cry Brits out, and get rid of that British heritage until I get proof positive that I actually am a proper Englishwoman. To the hounds! (I can just hear Nanny, my Irish grandmother, if someone suggested that her family was part-British. She would completely have fobbed it off on the Rogers, not the Trainors. And while the name Rogers, with its whiff of Brit, might suggest that she’d be right, her family was from the East Coast of Ireland, just across the pond from Great Britain. What’s to say that some English lad, out for a sail, didn’t run into a storm and get washed up on the shore near Dundalk…)

Anyway, the British blood doesn’t explain my father’s man-tan. That has to come from the 4% Italian-Greek connection, or the 1% Iberian peninsula route.

Of course, those numbers also have the same probability of zero at the lower end of the range. The only ethnic groups that I have a non-zero probability of being part of are Western Europe (which includes my ancestral home turf of Germany), where the probability range is 16 – 66%, and Ireland, where it’s 22-55%.

Thus, I can say with pretty much 100% confidence that I am Irish and Western European.

Which is not exactly the shock of the century.

Still, I was hoping for something a bit less Aryan Nation. That African I thought might show up. Some Polynesian. A bit of  European Jewish. American Indian. (Well, since I’m from relatively recent immigrant stock, having some native American blood would really have surprised me.)

Anyway, I’m hoping that in a few years, all this ethnic estimation is more refined, and can ferret even more info out.

Meine mutter, the German, had reddish-brown hair, green eyes, and exceedingly pale frecklish skin. Somewhere along the line, she’d heard that the neck of the woods where her ancestors hailed from (near Stuttgart) was populated by Celts.

Who knows?

Meanwhile, I will have to start brushing up on my Italian and my Greek.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

An almost perfect little urban experience…

One of the things that I cherish most about being a city-dweller, and a city-dweller in this particular city, at my particular address, is being able to walk to the ballpark. So, for the half dozen or so games I see during any given season, I take shanks mare.

The walk to Fenway from my home is an especially pleasant one.

I generally cut through the Public Garden, beautiful any time of year, but especially when the Swan Boats are in the lagoon, and the flowers are at their resplendent best. From there, I walk up The Mall, the tree-canopied allée that runs down the middle of Comn Ave (Commonwealth Avenue to outsiders) from the Public Garden on out to the Fens. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Cool (or at least a bit cooler than pounding the pavement) – via natural air conditioning – when it’s sweltering, and dry when there’s a light rain.

The allée ends, and your back to city streets, but, as you near the ballpark, a bit before Kenmore Square, things really start livening up. The baseball crowd becomes evident, and even when the Olde Towne Team is wretched, as happens to be the case this year, there’s always a bit of pre-game excitement, aided an abetted by those hawking programs (Two dollahs  hee-ah, five bucks inside; a bah-gin!) or scalping tickets.

The walk takes about a half-hour and then at the end you are, quite wonderfully, at Fenway Park and ready to watch a game.

Play ball!

Late Tuesday afternoon, even though I had just attended a game on Sunday with my sister Trish, niece Molly, and friend Michele – and, yes, we walked both ways – I felt the urge to once again take me out to the ball game.

Alas, the tickets that I’d seen on Stub Hub for $7.50 the day before – talk about a bah-gin – had been scooped up.

There were plenty of tickets available on the Red Sox site, but even this late in the pre-game – it was now about 6 p.m., and the game would be starting a bit after 7 p.m. – they were going to lard $7.50 in convenience fees or handling or whatever they call the surcharge for ordering on line onto a $20 ticket (lower bleachers) for the night’s game.

It being a pleasant enough evening for a walk, I decided to do something I haven’t done in years – maybe decades, even – and that is walk up to the ticket window on game day and buy my ticket in the here and now.

What with the Red Sox already E-for-Eliminated from contention, and fielding as they are a bunch of prospects, has-beens, and wannabes, I figured my chances were pretty good that I would score a ticket, even if the Red Sox are barely able to score a run.

(As we used to say in Worcester back in the day, this team stinks out loud.)

Anyway, there was line of twenty or so folks ahead of me in the ticket line, and I was easily able to get my singleton for the lower bleachers.

For a team that stinks out loud, the Red Sox are still drawing a pretty good crowd, and there weren’t a ton of empty seats. (I just checked, and the attendance is given as 37,008 out of a capacity of 37,400. I have my doubts, but it was a good crowd.)

I’m sure that some folks wanted to see a good team play – that would be the Baltimore Orioles, who should be clinching the Eastern Division title any day now. Maybe some just like baseball. And maybe some just like having the experience, absent in Boston for much of the past decade-plus, or just deciding spur of the moment to take in a game.IMG-20140909-00280

Anyway, because the Red Sox are such a sorry-arsed bunch, the team is apparently resorting to the sorts of gimmicks that I associate with the minor leagues and/or with franchises that can’t manage to draw good attendance.

So Tuesday night was bobble-head night, with each lucky attendee handed a Pedro Martinez bobble-head.

Now I completely adore Petey – all if forgiven for the ‘the Yankees are my daddy’ statement - and if I were a Hall of Fame voter, he’d get my vote.

But Martinez hasn’t played with the Sox since 2004 – yes, that 2004 – and, while he does have some post or other with the team, I’ve got to believe that we got the bobble-heads because some marketing assistant was rummaging around in what must be a massive swag closet and discovered 37,008 Pedro bobble-heads covered in dust.

Well, I’ve got mine.

The Red Sox being the Red Sox, and 2014 being 2014 (and decidedly not 2004 or 20013), the game was pretty much a bust.

But the seat I had was fine, the sausage sandwich tasty, and the organist even played a riff from Thunder Road.

Plus, former Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk was there  – who, let’s face it, is practically my boyfriend – so, as they always do when #27 is in the house, they showed his highlight reel and played Like a Rock, followed by a shot of Fisk waving to the crowd  - he was actually waving to me – from the swank seats.

The young couple sitting next to me – twenty-something nouveau fans – barely knew who he was. Probably not surprising, since Fisk’s heyday was 40 years ago, well before they were born. I suppose it would be like someone sitting next to me as a game when I was a kid and asking what I knew about Smokey Joe Wood or Tris Speaker. The young guy in the couple did know enough to associate Fisk with the scene in which Our Hero waves a ball fair, hitting a crucial home run in the 1975 World Series. (Not crucial enough that the Red Sox won that Series, of course. They didn’t.)

I stayed through to the bottom of the 8th, long enough to sing Sweet Caroline and watch Big Papi whiff for the second (or was it the third) time.

It was getting late, and I wanted to enjoy that walk home.

As it was getting late, I took Newbury Street (lit and commercial) vs. Comm Ave (dark, residential and arboreal) back home.

Not very crowded – 11-ish on a Tuesday in September – but lively enough.

Fortunately, Emack and Bolio’s was still open, so I was able to get me some ice cream. (Caramel with peanut butter cup: yummy.)

Other than the Red Sox losing – that and coming back to an empty house – it was as near a perfect little urban experience as I’ve had in a long while.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And today’s orange jump suit goes to Mathew Martoma.

Yet another Wall Street fraudster will soon to be kitted out with a decidedly non-bespoke orange jump suit.

The felon of the week this time around is Mathew Martoma, who was a portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, and will be doing nine years for, depending on the way you interpret things:

a) insider trading
b) refusing to roll on Steve Cohen, who the Feds are really after
c) cheating his way out of Harvard Law and into Stanford Business
d) a and b, but not c
e) a and c, but not b
f) b and c, but not a
g) all of the above

This is, admittedly, an awfully multiple multiple choice, but I’m going to go with “all of the above.”

Martoma, 40, convicted of making $275 million for SAC by using illegal tips to trade in Elan Corp. and Wyeth LLC, had rejected government offers of leniency in exchange for his cooperation in the probe of Cohen and his Stamford, Connecticut-based hedge fund. (Source: Bloomberg.)

Ah, Elan.

Many years ago, my husband made some money on this stock.

I don’t remember how he dug them up, but I do remember that they were headquartered in Ireland, and that on a couple of trips to the Old Sod we passed by and Elan building.

Of course, Jim didn’t make any $275 million on his trades.

Then again, Jim wasn’t trading on insider info that revealed that the clinical trials on a promising Alzheimer drug were showing disappointing results, insider info that let SAC drop its Elan holdings before the trial results went public and the stock price dogged. (SAC had revved up its holdings to begin with on the basis of leaked info that Martoma was getting that the trials were going well.)

Martoma is the seventh SAC-er to be convicted of insider trading.

This is a Magnificent Seven, but I’m sure the Feds would just as soon have nabbed SAC founder Steve Cohen, the big kahuna they were really after.

Martoma, who is married with three young children, asked for less prison time, arguing that he isn’t as blameworthy as other recent insider-trading defendants, including Raj Rajaratnam, who’s serving an 11-year sentence in a medical prison in Massachusetts.

Love that “other guy” excuse. And, it looks like it worked, as Martoma got “only” nine years, vs. Rajaratnam’s eleven.

Richard Strassberg, Martoma’s lawyer, told Gardephe that a prison term of two to three years would be appropriate. Martoma submitted 140 letters from supporters urging the judge to be lenient.

Martoma has already been substantially punished, Strassberg said. He lost his career and has been financially ruined, the lawyer said.

God, I hate to quote bad 1970’s TV shows like Baretta, but “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Not that figuring out what’s insider trading vs. what’s doing your homework isn’t a tricky and ill-defined business, but this Martoma seems like bad news.

In fact, in setting the length of the prison sentence, the judge was asked to take Martoma’s earlier dishonesty into consideration:

They told the judge that Martoma’s 1999 expulsion from Harvard Law School for creating a forged transcript “speaks volumes” about his character. Martoma sent the forgery to 23 federal appeals court judges with his application for clerkships.

In general, getting expelled by Harvard does not increase the likelihood of being accepted by Stanford. But a couple of years after Martoma got the hook from Harvard Law, he managed to weasel his way into Stanford Business School.

This was, of course, back in the day before admissions folks did a lot of background checking on candidates, but accepted it on face value if you failed to disclose, say, that you’d ever been at Harvard Law, let alone that they’d booted you out for changing all those “B’s” to “A’s”.

There’s more (of course):

After Harvard kicked him out, Martoma, who at the time was known as Ajai Mathew Thomas, legally changed his name to Mathew Martoma in 2001, the same year he arrived on Stanford's campus. (Sourc: John Byrne on Linkedin Pulse.)

Interesting about the name change.

Martoma’s apparently not the only one.

Sure, Steven Cohen is still Steven Cohen, but good old SAC Capital is now calling itself Point72 Asset Management.

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