Aug 18

New study to study studies

Studyville, N.D., August 18, 2011 — The Center to Study Studies, headquartered here,  announced today it would begin publishing a quarterly study to study studies.Ludwig+Von+Drake+Von+Drake+nnnnn3“It makes a whole lot of sense,” said Dr. Sigmund Search, the center's executive director. “We're seeing more and more bizarre studies being published each and every day, so why not study the studies?”

Dr. Search says the center will specialize in tracking studies that publish completely opposite findings on the exact same subject. “I salivate like Pavlov's dog when I see one study that proves eating red meat clogs arteries while another one says it improves strength and endurance,” noted Search, who added: “Speaking of salivating, I recently saw studies on the subject from two, highly reputable institutions. One said too much salivating led to cavities. The other said it indicated superb oral health.”

Search said the Center's new, quarterly study is perfectly timed. “Americans are dazed and confused by everything they see, hear and read, so why not confirm it from a statistical standpoint?” he asked. Search added that surveys are “…the lifeblood of corporate America, PR firms and the media.”

“Let's call a spade a spade,” sniffed Search. “Surveys are the media's crystal meth. They're like crack heads who need pointless surveys each and every day to fill the 24×7 news beast. And, corporations love using surveys to prove their newest drug isn't quite as dangerous as it may seem. As for PR firms, show me one annual program that doesn't contain at least one survey? It's a great time to be a survey guy!”

The Center to Study Studies was founded in 2008 by Dr. Sigmund Search, who rose to fame by studying the effect of studies on laboratory rats. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Studies-R-Us, Inc., a Princeton, NJ-based conglomerate that studies the effect of studies on aliens, little people and members of the Tea Party.

Jul 02

What’s become of doing well by doing good?


July 2
What’s
more important, preventing brain cancer or selling more cell phones? You’d
think the answer is obvious, but not so for the telecommunications industry.
Allow me to explain.

A
recent Swedish study that followed young people who began using cell phones as
teenagers reported a whopping 400 percent increase in brain tumors! That
disturbing report, along with similar ones, has prompted San Francisco to become
the first city in America to pass legislation making cell phone retailers
display
radiation levels. That’s a biggie. Now, every Bay-area consumer will be able to
see how much radiation his or her cell phone emits
before making the
purchase. And, that does not sit well with telecommunications types.

According
to a Maureen Dowd column, different cell phone models emit anywhere from
0.2 watts per kilogram of body tissue to 1.6, which is the legal limit. That
may not seem like much, but consider this. Have you noticed how our nation’s
kids have their cell phones positively glued to their ears all day long? As a
result, they’re constantly bombarding their brains with radiation. In fact,
when one considers how many hours our nation’s kids collectively use their cell
phones each day, one can appreciate why the S.F. board acted the way it did.

Unless,
of course, one works for the telecommunications trade group, the CTIA.

Not
wanting to be painted as yet another big, uncaring industry a la Wall Street,
oil or tobacco, the CTIA warned San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom they’d invoke
‘the nuclear option’ and come down on him and his city ‘like a ton of bricks’
if the legislation were passed.  How? Months before the bill passed,
Newsom says he received a disturbing letter forwarded by the local Marriott
hotel that had been selected to host the CTIA convention in October. In the
note, the CTIA warned Marriott they would cancel the event if the legislation
was passed. Nice. They also told Marriott that they’d been in contact with
Apple, Cisco, Oracle and other big, SF-area companies who are involved with the
trade group, and urged them to yank their events from San Francisco as well.
Yikes! Since when did telecommunications companies start acting like the Mafia?

Sure
enough, once the legislation was passed, the CTIA said it would relocate all
future exhibitions to another venue. In one fell swoop, the City by the Bay
lost an event that annually attracted 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and generated
$80 million in business. Talk about
not doing good in order to do well.

The
big loser isn’t San Francisco, it’s America’s youth. The telecommunications
industry doesn’t want Americans to know about the radiation levels in its cell
phones, so it’s punishing anyone who tries to raise a caution flag.

I’m
amazed the CTIA’s heavy-handed scare tactics haven’t generated more adverse
publicity. To say their Tony Soprano-like strong-arming reflects poorly on the trade
group (and its member companies) is like saying the pedophilia scandals have
negatively impacted the Church’s reputation. It’s a no-brainer (sorry). So, how
come no one is speaking up and condemning the action?

Is
it just me or is big business becoming ever more ruthless in putting profits
before ethics. I just hope our kids’ addiction to cell phones doesn’t produce a
simultaneous rise in brain cancer. If it does, though, watch for the CTIA to
turn to the Big Tobacco play book for best practices in delaying, denying and
obfuscating. The industry has deep pockets and will spend what it must to
protect its profit margins. And, as the San Francisco fracas shows, the
industry is willing to hurt anyone who dares get in the way of profits.

What’s
become of doing good by doing well?

Jun 02

Is that a smile on your face or are you just happy to be 50-plus?


June 2
A new Gallup survey of more than 340,000 Americans ranging in age from 18 to 85
has found overwhelming evidence that, by almost any measure, people get happier
as they get older
. No one knows exactly why, but people seem to
get happier as they pass the age of 50. Arthur A. Stone, the lead researcher of
the Gallup study thinks there are several reasons why. ‘It could be that there
are environmental changes or it could be psychological changes about the way we
view the world, or it could even be biological – for example brain chemistry or
endocrine changes.’ In other words, Dr. Stone has about as much insight on this
strange phenomenon as, say, BP does in figuring out to cap that damn oil well
in the Gulf of Mexico.

Worry,
says the researchers, stays fairly steady through life and then sharply drops
off after age 50 (hmmmm…). Anger decreases steadily from age 18 on (I know quite
a few Millennials who don’t fit that descriptor). Sadness rises to a peak at
50, declines at age 73 and then rises again at 85 (perhaps coinciding with an
impending sense of one’s own mortality?). Enjoyment and happiness have similar
curves: they both decrease until we hit 50, rise steadily for the next quarter
century and take a final nose dive towards oblivion.

I’m
ambivalent about the 50-plus equals happiness thing.

I’m
certainly happier now than I was as a struggling high school adolescent. And,
while there were some world-class highs in my 20s and 30s, I don’t think I was
as consistently happy as I am now. I think that coincides with a simultaneous
sense of accomplishment and lessening of uncertainty (i.e. I always panicked
about future career choices, about whether to remain single or get married,
about whether to have children, about whether to continue rooting for the
hapless Mets, etc.). Now, lots of those figurative Rubicon’s have been crossed.
And, I can focus on doing more of what makes even happier: rock, ice and
mountain climbing, stand-up comedy, brainstorming innovative, if half-baked,
innovations for Peppercom and bashing NJ Transit, my former CEO at Brouillard
and a certain
Fortune 500 client that put a whipping on us up worse than
what Muhammad Ali did to  Sonny Liston
.

Still,
I wanted to test the 50-plus theory with people I see in the media everyday to
see if it holds true:

1) BP
CEO Tony Hayward is 52 and sure seems unhappy to me. He even lamented yesterday
that he ‘…wanted his life back.’ Poor thing. The oil spill seems to have
disrupted his life. Wonder if it’s had a similar effect on others? Either way,
I’ll bet we’ll see Hayward’s pearly whites again once we start seeing clear
blue seas in the Gulf.

2) Betty
White is positively ecstatic in the midst of her personal renaissance. She’s
living what I’d call the George Burns syndrome. Burns enjoyed a similar late
career rebirth about 20 years ago (think: the ‘Oh God’ movies, Tonight Show
appearances and countless comedy tours). Burns said of his sudden popularity,
‘I’m so old that I’m young.’ That captures the Betty White phenomenon for me.

3) Sally
Field seems quite happy now that she’s shilling for Boniva and taking care of
the one body that’s been given to her.

4) Andy
Rooney never seems happy. I’ll bet he was a grumpy 12-year-old. Maybe it’s
because his eyebrows have always partially obscured his vision.

5) Donald
Trump’s permanently pissed off. I guess the combination of the comb-over and
firing people keeps him angry.

6) Clint
Eastwood just turned 80 and still seems ready to empty the chambers of his 9mm
Glock into some bad guy’s head.

7) Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem any happier now than the rock star who
burst onto the public scene in 1992 as part of the Billary ticket. She seems
more resigned than contented.

8) Mets
Manager Jerry Manuel is always happy, even when his team implodes and loses by
a score of 18-6. He’s either programmed that way or is ingesting some serious
mood-altering drugs.

9) Osama
bin Laden doesn’t seem particularly happy whenever he resurfaces to issue the
latest Jihad warning. Turning 50 a few years back doesn’t seem to have mellowed
this particular terrorist. And, do the Gallup findings apply to terrorists as
well? One would think most never live to see 50, so it’s probably a moot issue.

10)  For
someone who pulls down $18mm a year, Katie Couric doesn’t seem very happy.
Pert, yes. Happy? I’m not so sure.

Do
you buy into the 50-plus makes one happy findings? I remain skeptical. I think
a combination of genetics and the environment do factor into one’s happiness.
In the final analysis, though, we determine our own happiness. I can be
miserable working for a 65-year-old CEO who second-guesses my every move or
reporting into a corporate PR director who says nice things to my face but
backstabs my agency behind my back. Or, I can choose to pursue the things in
life that put a smile on my face. The sooner one learns what those ‘things’
are, the sooner one finds happiness. Sorry, Gallup, but age has nothing to do
with it.