Friday, July 01, 2022

If this ain't the okiest, dokiest thing. Ever.

I haven't seen it. Then again, I'm not in Somerville all that often. But I would love to come across it.

Maybe not quite as exciting as seeing the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, which I've been fortunate to have experienced a few times over the years.

But who wouldn't want to see the not-so-big yellow truck topped with a big ol' yellow pencil - all nine feet of it?


It's apparently been creating quite a stir. There's even a question posted on a Reddit forum, asking it locals could figure out wazzup with the pencil truck.

Turns out, it's the brainchild of artist Adam Zapotok. He's the manager of the Digital Maker Technologies Studio at Mass College of Art, where he's helping students create digital art. (Prior to that, he spent three years at my alma mater, Emmanuel College, where he was a technology and innovation specialist, managing the school's Maker-Space. This was a position that definitely wasn't around when I was a student. Other than making (good) political trouble, the only maker space I was involved in was a complete gut arts-and-crafts course I took second semester of my senior year. I made a Valentine box, hooked a 12"x12" "rug" with a floral pattern, and made a corduroy rag doll. I got an A.)

While Zapotok's teaching is in the digital fabrication space, he also makes actual physical art works, with a specialty in 3D miniatures. And one anti-miniature: the nine foot pencil.

The mystery surrounding the pencil truck was deliberate:
Zapotok said he had been “trying to drum up some confusion and wonder” around the truck before adding his business’s name, “Okiest Dokiest,” to it this weekend and then hitting the road this spring and summer to sell his artwork at fairs. Putting a hard-to-miss pencil atop his 1996 Ford Ranger, then painting the whole thing yellow, has certainly done the trick.
“It’s getting great reactions,” said Zapotok, 28, who specializes in illustrations and fabrications. “Everywhere I go people are waving to me or smiling, and people are stopping me all the time to ask about it.” (Source: Boston Globe)
Some parts of the pencil were created with traditional carpentry. Others were made with 3D printing. Zapotok also had to trick out the truck itself, which was a bland beige and didn't have a covering on the truck's bed when he acquired it. 

And now that he's added his business' name - Okiest Dokiest - to it, the "Magic Pencil Truck" is a rolling promotion for his work. 

I took a look at his wares over on Instagram, and those miniatures sure look like a lot of fun. Too bad I'm no longer in the market for fun little art thangs. 

As for the pencil truck:
“It makes everyone smile when they see it,” [Zapotok] said. “It brings joy to people.”

Given the times we're going through, we could use more of this. Maybe on one of my rambles, I'll ramble on over to Somerville to see if I can spot it. I could use a smile and some joy. (Couldn't we all?)

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Should it stay or should it go?

Eight years ago, as I prepared for some major reno work, I went through - and got rid of - a lot of stuff.

I didn't do Craigslist. I didn't do a sidewalk sale. (We don't have yard sales where there are no yards.) I didn't bury stuff in the trash.

I gave stuff away. (Pots and pans that wouldn't work on my new induction cooktop. With the exception of my mother's Dutch over - couldn't part with it. Or my grandmother's cast iron skillet - couldn't part with it.) And I paid the Brazilian junk guys to haul stuff away. (The pullout couch in the den. An ancient and huge air conditioner that we couldn't use in any of our windows, even if we were wired to support its voltage. Which we weren't. The last giant box TV still in use in the United States of America. My husband's pride and joy: a large screen LCD TV that was so heavy and ancient that, even though the picture was still crystal-clear and great for watching sports, none of the guys doing my reno work wanted it. One of them did take the old fridge.)

Still, I hung onto an awful lot of stuff.

It took me until last fall to have the Earthworm electronic recycle guy come to disappear all my old laptops, and a desktop that had been my husband's. Plus miscellaneous routers and other gear. And a ten-ton printer. 

And I still have, for whatever reason, the manuals for every appliance, great and small, that's ever been in this place. More glassware than I could use up if I smashed a glass once a week for the rest of my life. And why did I take all those planters my sister Kath was jettisoning? I do have a basil plant going in the kitchen window, but am I ever going to repot it in that snappy blue planter? Realistically, no.

The other day, my friend K (who downsized from a 5 BR suburban home to a 2 BR urban condo a while back, and did a major winnowing then) and I made a pact to go through our stuff and drive all the stuff we don't want or need to Goodwill. Someone will be able to use those planters.

So I'll be going through all my excess stuff any day now, warbling the only words I know to The Clash's best known tune: "Should I stay or should I go?

I'm inspired by my friend Joyce, who is going through all the closets and drawers in her house. Not that she's going anywhere. She just wants to lighten the psychological load. (Bonus: she's finding all sorts of pictures from our college days. And from our great post-college European adventure.) 

Any day now...

And I'll be doing it on my own, without the services of a professional move manager. 

Still, it's good to know that there are professional move managers out there. And they're apparently in high demand, what with the young oldsters downsizing their big suburban houses. The tweener oldsters downsizing their downsized digs to move into active oldster communities. The old oldsters shuffling off to assisted living. And the post-oldsters shuffling off this mortal coil entirely, leaving their heirs to get rid of their mahogany dining room tables.

Speaking of mahogany dining room tables, I just got rid of mine.

Although I'm trying to get out of acquisition mode and into deaccession mode, in January I decided that I could no longer stand my old mahogany dining room table. Although the table was too damned big, it was the chairs I couldn't stand.

This set - which my husband and I bought about 40 years ago - was from the 1920's. 

Apparently, those chairs didn't like the fact that I hadn't been assiduously polishing them. They were dried out, fragile, and cracking every time someone leaned back in them 

So I took advantage of the January furniture sales and ordered a new dining room table and chairs, which just arrived. And which I like a whole lot better.

Fortunately, I was able to find a good and loving home for the old table and chairs. A friend has a young niece who's recently bought a vintage 1920's house. She and her husband - who, get this, like to refinish furniture - were interested in period pieces. Katie even liked the fabric on the chair seats. Have at it, kids!

Anyway, there are move managers who specialize in working with seniors. They take care of the logistics and other moving details (packing, unpacking) but, of equal importance help folks "cope with the emotional aspects of letting things go." So says Anna Novak, who owns Home Transition Pros in Arlington, VA:
“There are a host of challenges that go along with moving, including family dynamics and the guilt of getting rid of a family heirloom,” says Novak. (Source: Washington Post)
Much of the work of these senior move managers is therapeutic in nature. Jason Suderman is the owner of Lifecycle, in Carlisle, Mass.

“A move manager needs to listen, learn and establish trust with their customers,” says Suderman. “We need to learn where each person’s sensitivities are. Sorting is one aspect of the job, but the dispersal is especially important. What may look like a shabby blanket to you could have important sentimental value for someone and should be handled with care.”

One of the senior move managers' tricks of the trade is not going in there and begin by "sorting items to donate, keep, or throw out." Instead, they start by just focusing on the keepers: what's going to the next place. After that, they may ask the kids and grandkids what they want. Only then do they start having the trash, donate, sell discussions. By then the old folks at home are better prepared for the inevitable decisions about getting rid of stuff. If you've already decided you don't want/need it in your next place, if your kids don't want it, it's easier to get rid of the shabby blanket.

And get rid of it you should. Senior move managers frown on deferring the decisions by boxing up all the left over crap and renting storage for it. 

Anyway, I'm not quite ready to downsize. And fortunately, I don't have a very big place (1,240 square feet) to downsize from. 

Still, I do want to get going on unstuffing the place of the stuff I don't need. And also make some notes on the disposition of my goods, in the eventuality that I won't be there at some point in the hopefully distant future. Mostly, I hope that someone wants the more sentimental attachment items - my grandmother's cookie jar, my other grandmother's sampler, the steer horns that hung in my grandfather's saloon. But do with the rest of the stuff what you will, folks. Other than Sniffy, the worn out little stuffed dog I got for my fourth birthday. When they push my body into the flames, I want Sniffy by my side. 

So w.r.t. Sniffy, he's definitely staying for now. For a lot of my other earthly possessions, it's definitely a case of should it stay or should it go.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

If brass knuckles are outlawed...

I'm very happy to live in a non-gun culture.

Never say never, but the only state where I'd be less likely to be killed in a shootout is Hawaii. 

I don't hate, hate, hate all guns. Not for me, but I can see the attraction. But I don't get the love affair with weapons of mass destruction. And open carry makes me nervous.

I see these pictures floating by on Twitter of bozos walking in to a McDonald's to order a Happy Meal, armed to the teeth: Handguns on both hips. A semi-automatic cradled in their arms. Bandoliers strapped across their chests. Something that looks like an RPG hanging across their backs. 

Chicken McNuggets please. Apple slices? You gotta be kidding me. Make it fries!

Pure, unadulterated psycho performance art on the part of the nasty one-man arsenal.

But if I ever saw someone like that in real life, I'd be out of that McD's faster than if I'd been shot from a cannon.

Not that I've seen all that much open carry. This is, after all, Massachusetts. 

But I've been in restaurants in Texas and seen yahoos sitting at the bar wearing guns as casually as I wear a scarf. In Arizona, I was once on van to the airport rent-a-car place with a fellow who was carrying. Less creepily, while hiking in a state park in AZ, I saw a guy on a horse packing. I've seen enough Westerns to know that you may have to shoot a rattlesnake or other varmint. Still, it's unsettling.

The one time I saw non-cop open carry in Boston, I was at an ATM, and there was a fellow - military hair cut, a bit steroid-buffed - with a gun on his hip. When I left the ATM, I saw a policeman on the corner and mentioned it to him. He just laughed and told me it was probably a newbie cop just showing off his newly acquired iron. 

Massachusetts is, in fact, an open carry (licensed) state. It's just that most people just don't open carry. 

We're just not a particular gun culture. Thankfully.

But even in gun culture states like Oklahoma, normal people can be alarmed when they see someone strutting around, living his best life, channeling his inner Kyle Rittenhouse. 

On June 13, a man in a tactical vest was openly carrying a semi-automatic rifle and holstered pistol in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Not surprisingly, people were pretty freaked out.

Employees at the Broken Arrow Justice Center ― a government building that houses the local court and police offices ― locked their doors, and someone called 911. More people called 911 when he approached a Target. (Source: Huffington Post)

There wasn't much the police officers could do about this walking armory. After all, open carry in OK is OK, even if the open carrier doesn't have a permit or any training. 

So the cops - and the good (alarmed!) citizens of Oklahoma - were at a loss about what to do with this idiot, who kept his little walkaround going to walk into an AT&T outlet, "prompting employees to run out the back door."

As all this was ensuing, the police figured out the the guy had a warrant out on him. 

Officers then found out that he was carrying brass knuckles ― which actually are illegal under state and city law ― and a .50 caliber semi-automatic pistol concealed in a pouch, rather than a holster, which is also illegal.

So, busted for brass kncuks.

I never want to find out, but I'm pretty sure that brass knuckles can do quite a bit of damage. I'm thinking smashed in nose, pulverized teeth, etc. But one would think that a semi-automatic rifle is more dangerous in that it can do more damage than a set of brass knucks, wouldn't one? (Side note: in my wanderings, I found that, in French, brass knuckles are called "poing américaine", or "American fist." Once again, American exceptionalism in action!)

Now that the Supremes have slapped down a NY State law "requiring people to get licenses in order to take guns outside of their homes," we're likely to see more of this nonsense. 

I'm sure that at this very moment, some folks are cooking up challenges to Massachusetts' common sense gun laws. (When their not cooking up challenges to Massachusetts' women's reproductive health laws.)

Anyway, if this stuff bothers the normal, sensible folks in a gun state like Oklahoma, you have to think that there's no getting around that it's just plain awful, and not the type of behavior that decent folks, of whatever political stripe, want to be around. 

We are just so not in a good place. Poing américaine, indeed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Open to work? Who wouldn't want to hire David Besonen?

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed the great pleasure of going to a Ben Rector concert with my sister Trish and my niece Molly. They are both major Ben Rector fans - he's an amazingly talented singer-songwriter who doubles as an amazingly kind and decent person (truly, it would be shock to learn anything negative about this guy) - and, through them, I've become a fan myself. 

Other than the cluster associated with the ridonculous bag policy at the show's venue, and the fact that the evening, down by the waterfront, was a bit chillier than I'd planned for, it was an all-round wonderful night. And the most wonderful aspect to me was the story behind the band's saxophonist, David Besonen.

Last winter, Besonen put a clip of himself playing a Ben Rector tune on Instagram. As it turned out, Rector was looking for a saxophonist for his upcoming "Joy of Music" tour, so he reached back out to Besonen. 

Turns out that Besonen is "just" a kid, an early-twenty-something student at the University of Nebraska. 

But as long as he could keep up with his classes and take his exams virtually, Besonen was naturally game to join the tour.

David Besonen is a very talented sax player, and the story of his discovery was just so good...

I, of course, with my keen interest in good stories wrote one in my mind for Besonen. 

A Nebraska kid, probably hoping (along with his parents) to become the band teacher at Cornhusk H.S., gets discovered by a famous (middling famous, anyway) musician, and the rest is history. Lana Turner in Schwab Drugstore. Baby, take a bow.

I, of course, was wrong, as I learned when I found Besonen's Linkedin profile.

Having finished up his undergraduate degree in Computer Science (minors in Music and Math) in three years, Besonen's going on for his master's. Here's his statement:
I am a first year graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln pursuing a M.S. in Computer Science. During my time as an undergraduate student, I have been involved in the UNL Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE), the University’s Jazz Orchestra, the Jeffrey S. Raikes Design Studio Program, and the Initialize UNL Development Team, where I assist in the creation of web applications for non-profit student organizations.

Oh, is that all?  

His professional gigs include being a band member of the Ben Rector "The Joy of Music" Tour; working as a graduate research assistant in the university cyber-physical networking lab; and an internship at Blackbaud. All the while, madly volunteering and getting madly involved in all sorts of projects during his school years.

If it could get any cornier and more heartfelt, Besonen is from Apple Valley, Minnesota. It almost goes without saying that he's an Eagle Scout.

Careers come about in all sorts of different ways. Singular determination and drive. Accident of birth. Friends in high places. Drifting into something. Drifting out of something. Right place/right time. Opportunism. Dumb luck. Smart luck. 

By posting his saxophoning a Ben Rector tune on Instagram, David Besonen was making his own luck. And choosing Ben Rector - Mr. Nice Guy - to focus on was a smart move. 

I hope that, if he wants it, David Besonen has a brilliant musical career. Or, if he wants it, a great career as a computer scientist. Or, if he wants it, a great career as both.

His picture frame says #OPENTOWORK. 

Truly, who wouldn't want to hire this fellow? Soft rock on! (A star is maybe being born.)

Monday, June 27, 2022

What's there to say?

What's there to say? 

Other than that - even though I'm never going to need an abortion - I feel fortunate to live in a state where abortion is legal.

Sure, we knew it was coming. 

Still, it's shocking. It's seismic. It's stomach churning. It's gut wrenching.

To have our days and nights consumed by fear for women and girls in those benighted states where those impregnated by rapists will have to carry their pregnancies to term. Where a little girl raped by a family member will be forced to give birth. Where a woman who's had a miscarriage will be subject to invasion of her privacy, and possible prosecution. (Was that really a miscarriage? What did you do to cause it?) Where someone with an ectopic pregnancy will be refused care and bleed to death. Where someone who crosses the state border to get an abortion will be subjected to arrest and prosecution. Where the provision of reproductive rights services will be criminalized. Where those who have an abortion will be tried for murder. 

To have our days and nights consumed by fear for the already marginalized communities that will bear the brunt of this ruling. 

To have our days and nights consumed by fear of what else this SCOTUS could do.

This SCOTUS on which at least two of the "justices" - Gorsuch and Kavanaugh - lied about Roe v. Wade in order to get voted onto the Supreme Court. 

So, what is there to say? 

That I feel fortunate to live in a state where there are common sense gun laws, and a low rate of gun violence.

That I feel fortunate to live in a state where those arrested are likely to retain their Miranda rights. 

That I feel fortunate to live in a state where contraception - whatever Clarence Thomas can pull off on the radical, hyper-conservative SCOTUS he so smugly sits on - is legal. Where sex between same-sex couples - whatever Clarence Thomas can pull off in the radical, hyper-conservative SCOTUS -  is legal. Where marriage between same sex couples - whatever Clarence Thomas can pull off in the radical, hyper-conservative SCOTUS - is legal. 

That I feel fortunate to live in a state that promotes rather than suppresses voting rights. 

To live in a state where climate change is acknowledged, and where there are laws protecting the environment. 

FOR NOW.

Because despite all the "here and no further" protestations, there's no reason to believe that SCOTUS stops here. Sure, they said that abortion rights should be decided by the states. So why can't gun laws be the province of the states, too? Didn't they just overturn a NY state law (lightly) protecting gun protection?

This has been in the making for years, but this radical bunch is just out of control.

Easy to imagine that, if Trump and Co. had succeeded in getting the legitimate 2020 election outcome tossed by Congress by getting his bogus elector slates put in place in swing states, this crew would have been all "states rights, okay..." 

And here comes 2024, when a lot of these R-controlled states are implementing rules to throw out the popular electoral results in favor of whichever corrupt authoritarian and/or christofascist the R's nominate next time around. 

That will okay Texas latest plan to implement a state-level electoral college that will guarantee that a popularly elected governor - if such a person happens to be a Democrat - will have their election overruled by a set up that privileges the vote of rural, conservative voters over urban, liberal voters.

It's pretty clear by now that the forces of reaction aren't going to ease up and compromise. They're all or nothing - if they can't win legitimacy; if they can't win the hearts and minds - they'll take and keep powers by whatever means possible.  

Something's got to give, because the flaws of our system-  flaws that allow for the tyranny of the minority - are just too much to bear. At some point, the voice of the majority needs to be heard. 

I'm old. I'm probably not going anywhere. But if I were younger, I'd be looking for a way out. 

Maybe the differences between the Red States and Blue States are just insurmountable. Sorry for the folks in Red States who are stuck there, but if New England became a Canadian province, I'd be down with that. O, Canada and all that. 

This is not a matter of one law being overturned. It's a scary pattern that's been in the making for decades, with the Trump regime bringing it to the fore. And I don't believe for a Massachusetts minute that the tyrannical minority will come gunning for the states they resent. 

In the meantime, "When women's rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up. Fight back!" Donate to Planned Parenthood. Get out the vote. Support companies like Dick's Sporting Goods that are promising to pay travel expenses for employees who must travel out of state for reproductive healthcare.


Friday, June 24, 2022

The four day workweek? Yay!

Back in the good old days, when life was nasty, brutish, and short (as opposed to modern life, where it's just increasingly nasty and brutish), the American workweek was a six-day one. And, depending on the industry and the outfit, the hours per day could be anywhere from 10 to 18 (18: !?!). 

Then, in the 20th century, things started moving towards a shorter workweek. Six 8-hour days. Five 10-hour days. 

In the mid-1920's, Henry Ford, that old anti-union anti-Semite, was good enough to implement a five day, 40-hour work week in his factories. 

During the Depression, this became more of the norm, and by the end of World War II, 9 to 5 was how things rolled, workweek wise. 

And now, in a lot of countries, experimental programs are underway or in the works that play around with four-day workweeks. Some of the schemes are four-days, 40 hours (i.e., 10 hours). Others are a shorter work week, both day-wise (four) and hour-wise (32).

Some American companies are inching towards the four-day work week. I know a couple of places around here that give Friday afternoons off during the summer. But, given who and what we are, European and other G20 nations are more likely to embrace this new approach.

After all, we have to focus so much of our attention on making sure that 18-year-olds can acquire AR-15's, that rights for LBGTQ folks are diminished, that our Black citizens find it more difficult to vote. Not much energy left to champion a shorter work week for the great unwashed. Especially when there are billionaires who wannabe trillionaires. Let's go!

And, of course, there are the industries and professions (consulting, finserv, legal, frantic start-up tech) where the high flyers pride themselves on working crazy, burnout hours (18 hours a day, even).

But there is a lot going on out there. And most of it sounds pretty good to me.
Hailed as the future of employee productivity and work-life balance, advocates for the four-day workweek suggest that when implemented, worker satisfaction increases, and so does productivity. (Source: Euronews)
Belgium, which earlier this year put in place a rule for government workers allowing them to ignore after-hours emails and calls from their managers, also began offering many employees (non-shift workers) the option of getting their hours in by working longer hours four days a week, or sticking with the traditional five-day work week. Their PM, Alexander de Croo said:
"The goal is to give people and companies more freedom to arrange their work time,"

Creating a more dynamic economy and giving their workforce a break.  

In the UK, a six-month program just launched that involves 70 companies and 3,000 workers:

Employees are expected to follow the "100:80:100 model" - 100 per cent of the pay for 80 per cent of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity.

Other programs are in the works in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and even the good old US of A.

(While we're generally laggards on the let's-treat-are-people-more-humanely front, there are a number of organizations, largely tech companies, with a smattering of local government entities, that have moved to a four-day work week.)

Iceland, which when it comes to social programs and general decency is a pretty darned good place to live (admittedly, it's simpler if your population is small and homogeneous), ran a pilot for a slightly shorter work week (35 to 36 hours, down from 40 hours). 2,500 people participated, which doesn't sound like much, until you take into account that Iceland's population is 366K. 

The pilot was dubbed a success by researchers and Icelandic trade unions negotiated for a reduction in working hours.

The study also led to a significant change in Iceland, with nearly 90 per cent of the working population now having reduced hours or other accommodations.

Researchers found that worker stress and burnout lessened and there was an improvement in life-work balance.
Every country hasn't enjoyed such success. Sweden tried it and didn't like it all that much, even in the instances where the workers thought it was working. One major company (Toyota), however, stuck with it, and gives its workforce reduced hours for the same pay.

Germany already has a shorter average work week than many European companies, with workers averaging 34.2 hour a week. But there are calls to reduce hours or to institute fewer working days per week.  No surprise that there's a lot of popular support for this among workers, and (more of a surprise) nearly the same level of support among employers.

To date, it's mostly German startups that are experimenting with shorter work weeks. 

Japan, "where death by overwork claims many lives," is also doing some experimenting. As is Spain. 
Overall, the four-day workweek seems to be slowly but surely gaining traction across the globe, but whether governments will definitively adopt the idea is yet to be seen.

I don't see the four-day workweek becoming widespread in the States anytime soon. Maybe in pockets here in there. 

But I'm all for it.

Power to the four-day workweek! 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

I just KNEW it was all Jack Welch's fault

Because he was a local boy made good, and because he ended up in Boston for a while towards the end of his life - just up the street from where I live, in fact - because his third wife's kids were still in school, there was always a lot of stuff in the news about Jack Welch.

And because I was in business, and for decades Jack Welch-ism pretty much defined American business, his theories and modus operandi were always in the ether, there was no escaping him.

Neutron Jack. Mythic leader of GE. Icon.

Me? I never particularly liked Jack Welch.

But, as I said, if you were in business, there was no escaping his influence.

One company I worked for tried to adopt Welch's "get rid of 10% of your workforce each year" approach, in which - no matter how well your company was doing, no matter how good your employees - you ranked everyone and chopped off the bottom 10% of performers. 

In real life, of course, most companies will have poor performers, and one of a manager's responsibilities is to either improve performance or part company with those who aren't working out. But this 10% gone, across the boards, philosophy was pretty arbitrary, and my idea of corporate terrorism. 

Fortunately, at my company, it met with such resistance - managers pretty much refused to fill out the rating sheets - that it never took of.

I do know some people who worked in a company that had adopted this practice, and everyone pretty much hated it. 

When I worked at Wang, as founder Dr. An Wang was passing out and away, they brought in a Jack Welch disciple, Rick Miller, to turn the company around. Miller had come up through the GE management ranks, but wasn't earmarked for the GE C-Suite, so he was free to satisfy his ultra-executive jones elsewhere. So he blew into Wang, and with him came a briefcase chock-full of Jack Welch-y ways of going about things. 

I'll spare you the details here, but I found his reign - even though I wasn't there for much of it - obnoxious. It was also futile. Wang ended up folding.

My closest personal encounter with Jack Welch was when he was being treated for something or other at Mass General Hospital at the same time my husband was. Whatever ailment Welch suffered from, he checked in at the same waiting area where we checked in and waited. 

When you got to the desk, you were asked your name and date of birth. No one paid any attention to who was coming in. If you were there, you had something serious going on and were pretty much focused on yourself. But you got use to the rhythm of hearing people recite their name and birthdate.

I looked up when I heard the person checking in give his name, but only a partial birthdate. No year of birth. Omitting the year broke the rhythm of the recitation, which was the only reason I looked up. My assumption: too vain to give his year of birth. And there, checking in, was Jack Welch.

But the reason I found Jack Welch odious was this:

I was at a corporate learning event, a week long mini-MBA program at Babson College. In one of the sessions, there was a video of Jack Welch humiliating some young schmuck in the GE management trainee program for asking what Jack Welch considered a dumb question. 

The way Jack handled the question was so cruel, so demeaning. You could see the face of the young schmuck - I'm pretty sure his name was Kelly - crumple as he realized he was being called out by the great Jack Welch, and that he was now on the management track to nowhere other than a likely trip to that year's bottom 10%. I often wonder what became of Kelly, but I'm hoping he had a happier life and more successful career outside of GE than he ever would have on the inside. 

Anyway, I never particularly liked Jack Welch.

So I was more than gratified to see a Q&A with New York Times business writer David Gelles, in which Gelles has a lot to say about the great Jack Welch and the role he played in hurting not just GE, but a lot of other companies who adopted the Welch Way. And, in fact, the role he played in harming the overall American economy in terms of growing income inequality and worker insecurity. The title of Gelles' book on Welch is The Man Who Broke Capitalism.
Welch transformed G.E. from an industrial company with a loyal employee base into a corporation that made much of its money from its finance division and had a much more transactional relationship with its
workers.

That served him well during his run as C.E.O., and G.E. did become the most valuable company in the world for a time.

But in the long run, that approach doomed G.E. to failure. The company underinvested in research and development, got hooked on buying other companies to fuel its growth, and its finance division was badly exposed when the financial crisis hit. Things began to unravel almost as soon as Welch retired, and G.E. announced last year it would break itself up

Similar stories played out at dozens of other companies where Welch disciples tried to replicate his playbook, such as Home Depot and Albertsons. So while Welchism can increase profits in the short-term, the long-term consequences are almost always disastrous for workers, investors and the company itself. (Source: NY Times)

I. Just. Knew. It. 

Jack Welch. Icon? Schmicon! 

Think I'm gonna get me David Gelles' book.