Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Ox and a Moron?

Halfway through the morning coffee I came across Duncan's post on the grifter society. That an arts administrator might claim a salary so far in excess of the annual budget of the small arts groups I can lay any claim to once administering boggles.

But a further thought meditated on the title Chief Executive Officer. Somewhere late in the sixties this locution became trendy, and then de riguere, in place of the title 'President'. It was part of the moves that took top management compensation into the stratosphere. It appears to be an interesting feint.

In the way of things corporate power is nominally wielded by a Board of Directors who delegate their powers to the President. The President runs the operation, with the consent of the board. The military analogue is a Captain of a ship. Said 'Captain' [a title, not necessarily a rank] may report to an Admiral, but still runs the ship.
Assisting him or her is a second in command titled The Executive Officer. Every officer aboard may execute orders, indeed, that is their function, but only one is 'The Executive Officer'.  To call him a 'Chief Executive Officer would be an offense even to the Navy's love of verbal redundance. To call the Captain a Chief Executive Officer would offer a heinous demotion insulting to military honor or gloire or some such.
So, in an epic Uriah Heap move, our quondam president offers to titularly demote himself to Chief Executive Officer for a slight increase in compensation by a power of ten, or so. And, with complete humbleness would be delighted to remove the onerous duties of Chairman of the Board from the Board's weary care including adding to their compensation and a promise to vote likewise for each Director at their own company. All CEOs together!

Friday, April 20, 2012

But, Doctor, What Is in That Coffin?

In the event, it is a century since the demise of Bram Stoker. BBC Radio 3's The Essay presents five short (fifteen minutes each) takes on the man who wrote the book that eclipsed himself and the notable Hungarian actor, Bela Lugosi.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Today's Guardian has an article about job interviewer's trick questions and riddles to winnow applicants.
Try this one. You're locked in a pitch-black, empty room with bare walls and no electric lights. You've got a book of matches, a box of tacks and a candle. How would you attach the candle to the wall for a light?
The best answer: empty the box of tacks. Take the box top, turn it upside down and tack it to the wall. The box top projects out like a little drawer. Then put a tack to attach the candle to the box's bottom. The tack's point, projecting through the box bottom, serves as a pricket. Finally, slide the box bottom into the box top on the wall. The nested top and bottom will be sturdier than either alone, and safely support the weight of the candle.
So that works.

If you are used to tacks distributed in full telescope boxes. (that's the kind where the bottom has sides that fit inside the sides of the top.)

In my observation, tack makers stopped using that style decades ago. The boxes cost too much and slowed processing which diminished productivity.

Reverse tuck boxes had a go. (That's the kind that is one piece and the top flap tucks into the side opposite the one it is integral to.)
These were disparaged when the blister pack appeared.

These permitted small quantity packaging in an easily handled form. Everybody appeared to win.
The customer is sold on the convenience; she can see the product, and buy as few as she needs. There is little excess to store.The blister pack's total retail cost is less than the box price.
The seller has an attractive low maintenance display which saves his clerks' time because customers find the options they desire on their own. The cards the blisters were on, make the product bulky enough to discourage shoplifting while they provide a good platform for price tags and, later, bar codes.
The maker can inflate the price per unit outrageously. The per pound price of a 100 count box might be $10 at retail. When repackaged in tens, those same fastenings might sell for $1.98 each. That makes $19.98 per hundred. The maker and seller  more than double their margins. The customer "saves" $8.00.

Neither blister packs nor reverse tuck boxes would be suitable to support the candle as the full telescopic box does. Given the difficulty I had finding the image of the telescopic box, I guess it would not be very familiar to today's job applicants.

The interviewer might think that these children just don't know as much as she did at their age. That would prove that the labor force has declined in quality?

Perhaps that is the real point?