business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story the other day about how it was the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General's landmark report on the dangers of smoking, which led one MNB user to write:
I am an ex-40 year smoker who knew better but kept at it. I now, at the age of 65, have severe COPD. I have 22% of the lung function of a normal person my age. I use supplemental oxygen about 12 hours per day and there are many things that most people find routine that I simply can’t do anymore. It is most likely that it will be the cause of my death and that such death will be untimely whenever it might take place. On the other hand, because I quit cold turkey when I was diagnosed 4 years ago and because I work out aerobically every day and do all my doctors suggest I do, I am getting along pretty well and continue to do many things I did before all be it a little slower.

What I find fascinating at the moment is the broad intolerance of smoking, smokers and the idiots they obviously are, at the same time as we are beginning to legalize marijuana, most of which is smoked and inhaled. I have no problem really with marijuana’s use per se, I just find the two things to be a bit of a disconnect. Am curious what that says about our society, if anything.

Along the same lines, another MNB reader wrote:

I’m curious, what are your thoughts about your last sentence of  commentary as it relates to the new marijuana laws in Colorado.  Are Colorado law and government approach to the risks of smoking appear contradictory?

To be perfectly honest, I'm conflicted on the changes in marijuana laws in Colorado, and the suggestion that this could be a nationwide trend. I do think that it seems clear that marijuana has medicinal purposes, and I have no problem with it being made available to people who need it. But recreational use? I'm not sure. I'm willing to believe that it is not all that different from alcohol, but I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of smoking in general. So yes, I think there are some contradictions here.

In some ways, I wish I had a more personal perspective on this. But I don't. The simple truth is I've never smoked pot. That's a somewhat embarrassing admission for someone who grew up in the late sixties/early seventies to make, especially someone who went to college in Southern California. But I always figured that I could handle either booze or pot, but not both … and so I stuck to booze. It seemed like a good decision at the time, and I haven't had a lot of reason to second-guess myself.

And while I'm being confessional here … I must admit that over the Christmas holidays, I smoked my first cigar. Ever. My sons were home for Christmas, they indulge in the occasional cigar, and they thought it would be fun to go out in the backyard with the old man to enjoy one, accompanied by a glass of bourbon.

I enjoyed the bourbon. I'm glad I tried the cigar. Once.

But they were right. It was a fun evening. (Though it is amazing to realize that as we drank our bourbon and smoked the cigars, we were standing just feet from where the old backyard jungle gym used to stand.)

We had a piece yesterday about iBeacon, which allows companies to track consumers and send them relevant messages on their smart phones about the specific products they are looking at in specific aisles.

One MNB reader wrote:

I actually downloaded checkpoints (the iOS app used for this stuff) and found it interesting. My understanding is that initial tests will target customers in parking lots and as they are entering a store. That's all fine, but I cant wait to see them try to test this stuff in-store.

Grocery stores - like highways - are busy, crowded places with constant traffic to navigate. The act of staring at your smartphone as you walk through a grocery store is the equivalent of texting while driving. I could see some of these technologies making sense in less crowded, less hectic settings, but by no means in a grocery store. It has always struck me as odd that these folks have been cramming all kinds of stuff into grocery stores for the better part of 30 years with the goal to "drive increased revenue". They've turned floors into billboards, they've put up sticky ads at-shelf, they've deployed robots, they've used intercoms, radios, TVs and, of course, those QR codes that were going to revolutionize how we gather information.

One wonders if this isn't the same scenario as those "prepare your own meals" franchises that were popular for about 12 days in the late 90s. The success had nothing to do with consumers and everything to do with selling franchise opportunities to people who were to ignorant to understand that nobody wants to drive somewhere to make food. I've always sensed the same thing with grocery retail. Never mind whether or not these tools and technologies will actually ever work, we've got a huge number of retailers to peddle our wares to, etc.

Skepticism noted.

Had a story yesterday about a study looking at how and when people use their iPads, which prompted one MNB user to write:

Just a comment – I related to your view…

The 9-10 pm iPad time is when I use it, and I skew to ‘older’.

I am on my iPad at night before bed – larger screen, easy to wander around site to site and relax at the end of the day. Best part - the iPad does not feel like you are still on the computer at work.

And another reader had a reaction to the subject that seems to be on a lot of iPads:

“Men’s lifestyle content” -   Is that what I think it is?

Well, it could be about how to tie a tie or choose a pair of jeans or what is the most flattering haircut.

But I think at least some of time, it is exactly what you think it is.

I had a short obit yesterday for Jerry Coleman, the former Yankee second baseman who became a terrific broadcaster for the Yankees (I grew up listening to him) and the Padres.

MNB reader Michael Core responded:

I believe you and I are pretty close in age. I also grew up with a transistor radio on my ear laying in bed listening to Dodger games and the great Vin Scully. The one memory that I can still remember vividly is the sound of kids popping paper soda cups (placed upside down on the ground and them stomped on by foot) in the background of the post game show.

From another reader:

One of my favorite pastimes as a kid sitting in the stands at San Diego Stadium (before it was San Diego Jack Murphy stadium and then Qualcomm Stadium) was looking back up at the announcers’ booth to watch Jerry “Hang a Star” on a play (he dangled a star from a pole and swung it back and forth outside the booth to the delight of the Padres’ fans).

He will be fondly remembered and dearly missed.

And another:

While the passing of Jerry Coleman was noticed as a great man and broadcaster, I am surprised you missed the passing of another great voice and that was Larry D. Mann the voice of Yukon Cornelius from the show Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer….His voice and character will be in our hearts forever….

Frankly, I didn't see the news of his passing until after MNB had been posted.

But you're certainly right about one thing … that there are generations of Americans who know exactly what I'm referring to and can almost hear the voice in their minds when I write the following two words:

Bumbles bounce!
KC's View: