Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, November 12, 2021

Mega-corporate America is taking it on the chin lately over the amount of dough it makes. First it was the record billions of dollars in profit Big Oil reaped during the hurricane disasters and Iraqi insurgency, and now the proposed Protection Against Executive Compensation Abuse Act seeks more transparency in just how much monetary and non-monetary pay bigtime chief execs get (with the intended result being a reigning-in of sky-high pay packages).

Of course, it’s based upon a ludicrous notion: That companies and the people who run them shouldn’t be making “too much” money. Just how much is too much doesn’t rely on market conditions as much as the retching threshold of the hoi polloi.

It’s amusing that, for as much as the national zeitgeist has favored a general loosening of economic regulations, there’s little support for it when considering specific industries, and the top dogs within those industries. When the theories translate into real dollars and cents, suddenly unfettered capitalism becomes distasteful.

It’s not as though the oil company windfalls couldn’t be anticipated. Those rising pump prices were going toward someone’s bottom line, after all. It’s how a market economy works (even though the notion of a true market economy skews when an oligarchy like the oil companies exercise a good bit of control over the pricing structure). The only alternative is nationalizing the energy industry — and that prospect usually shuts people up quick.

As for executive compensation, it’s just as much a demonstration of market forces. In-demand head honchos are going to have plenty of options, and will go wherever the best offer is; and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that “better” usually equals “more money”. It amuses me how much of a parallel there is between corporate CEO recruitment and talent procurement in major-league pro sports; people bitch about how much money a centerfielder or wide receiver gets paid, and then turn up their noses in the same manner when a Fortune 500 company makes a similar maneuver to bring in a C-level merc. Yet it’s based upon the same principle: You have to pay to play, and the top-flight players get top-flight cash. The misses make more noise than the hits, leading to popular discontent.

I will say that the reporting information that the Securities and Exchange Commission requires is as thin as can be. I recently completed research on executive compensation for Florida public company CEOs for an upcoming special report, and it’s comical just how little the reported figures jibe with real life. Between stock options (that are used as major collatoral, even when not cashed in) and a plethora of perks, a CEO frankly never has to worry about how much money’s in his pocket (or checkbook). And frankly, that’s usually the point.

Is a sports-like profit/salary cap the answer? It’s a ridiculous notion, but since the idea that too much money being made is, in itself, ridiculous, then it’s fitting enough.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/12/2021 07:12:44 PM
Category: Business | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Some guys don’t like funny women — at least, not genuinely funny women, the ones who can tell good jokes and have a broad enough sense of humor to appreciate the blue material without getting grossed out. The reason: Joke-telling is part of many a man’s charm arsenal, and so the thinking is that if a woman can amuse herself, who needs the guy?

(Yes, I know: Exact same principle behind vibrator use. Draw your own conclusions on the salutary effects of a dildo vs. a joke on a woman…)

Even though my ability to make ladies laugh (intentionally) is one of my strengths, I don’t consider the prospect of a funny female to be threatening in the least. In fact, I love a sense of humor in a woman. It means she’s laughing at a joke because she actually, y’know, gets it, instead of just tee-heeing because it’s the polite/expected thing to do.

Extending that into the mass entertainment realm, it explains why I like Sarah Silverman so much. Of course, I like her a bit less these days, ever since she hooked up with that glorified Morning Zoo jockey Jimmy Kimmel… but I digress.

I guess Silverman is finally turning heads with her comedy in a major way. She recently registered some big movement on Yahoo!’s Buzz Log, apparently over the upcoming release of Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, her one-woman narrative. There was some speculation that her turn in The Aristocrats helped spark her higher profile; hard to believe that, as she was but one in a cast of many there.

It’s a well-deserved arrival for someone who’s been the “it” girl of comedy for years now. There’s something to be said for hitting your stride in your mid-thirties, and doing it with a dirty joke and a wink along the way.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/12/2021 06:31:25 PM
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, Women | Permalink | Feedback (1)

One would assume that “Silicon Bay” would be located somewhere adjacent to the San Francisco-area Silicon Valley.

But point your browser to siliconbay.org, and where do you end up? At the Pinellas County Economic Development agency, with offices only a few block away from where I’m currently sitting.

What’s the story? I think it’s a leftover piece of local tech-boosterism from the Internet bubble days; probably also a good bit of wishful thinking, as it never hurts to promote technological adroitness. I don’t think the PCED is actively promoting the Silicon Bay moniker these days, though.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/12/2021 05:55:48 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback (2)

So this is what it takes to get an AP writeup about your blog: Glom onto a prominent newspaper columnist and obsessively parody his/her prose. That’s essentially the premise behind The Bruni Digest, Julia Langbein’s acerbic (bordering on stalkerish) critique of New York Times’ restaurant critic Frank Bruni.

Somehow, this brings to mind the proposed Adopt-A-Reporter idea for bloggers — namely, why it’s a fairly bad idea.

The Bruni Digest doesn’t draw squat for traffic: About a thousand hits a week, according to Langbein (by comparison, this site brings in about three times that, and that’s small potatoes, comparatively). The trumping factor is the target she’s chosen, which in turn has drawn attention to her. And focusing on the niche realm of food/restaurant reviews doesn’t hurt either; it’s a field that annoints cult figures pretty readily.

Maybe I ought to pick an NYT reporter to shadow, blog-style. But the only one I read regularly is Advertising writer Stuart Elliott, and he’s not really that controversial. (I used to follow David Pogue until he got all consumer-electronicish; maybe I can bitch about that!)

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/12/2021 05:35:42 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

Earlier this afternoon, I took a swing through Target. As I went through the checkout, I said to the checkout girl:

“Did you know someone signed their name in ink on the card-scanner screen here?”

“Yes,” she said, blankly.

Thus, I became probably the thousandth person to point out this obvious faux pas by a previous customer.

The funny thing is, I’m not sure why I bothered to say anything at all about it. It wasn’t an impulse, because I actually looked for a few seconds at the little screen, scrawled with blue ink, before consciously deciding to say something. I wasn’t looking for an opening to talk with the girl, because she wasn’t much to look at (right now, only a couple of hours later, I absolutely can’t remember what she looked like). And generally, I eschew unnecessary chatter, especially with strangers. So I can’t say at all why I decided to engage in this smallest of small talk.

But I did. And while I can’t say I wound up feeling embarrassed, I did feel a bit less than useful for having done it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/12/2021 04:33:41 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback