Friday’s Odds and Ends

Getting a late start in my office this morning. The burn bans that have been in effect all summer and into fall here in East Texas have been lifted, and I had piles of dead brush and other things that needed to be burned, so I played with fire this morning. Felt good to get at least one big brush pile burned. Didn’t roast marshmallows or hot dogs, though. Too early for that. Maybe next time I’ll burn closer to evening and have supper, while I’m out there enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

According to a column I read about three weeks ago by Joe Nocera of the New York Times, Jon Corzine, CEO of MF Global Holdings, is primarily responsible for “running the firm into the ground.” Yet Corzine stood to get  up to $12 million in severance if he managed to sell the firm before it went bankrupt. The sale never happened, and MF did go under on October 31, laying off nearly half its staff, including more than 1,000 employees of the company’s broker-dealer unit.

For a while it looked like Corzine and J. Randy MacDonald, head of global retail for MF Global Holdings, might still get nice severance packages, but the latest report from Nick Brown and Jonathan Stempel states that the two have left the company without severance in hand. That is one bright spot in this mess that seems to be repeated endlessly in big business. 

In another bright spot, yesterday, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of assests for MF Global won court permission to distribute $520 million of cash to customers.  Customers won, top executives lost. Finally someone is getting it right. 

I’m all for safety, and I know we have had this discussion about airport screening before, but the process of protecting us from possible terrorist threats can get absurd at times. In a recent trip from New Orleans to Dallas, Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd set off alarms at the screening. She was wearing a skirt that had a series of snaps down the front and around the waistband that trigered the alarm. “The screener said, “I can’t clear this. You’ll need a full body search.”

When Floyd tried to show the snaps, which could hardly be large enough to contain explosives, the lady  simply repeated her statement. That’s when Floyd admittedly “lost it.” Rather than go through the indignity of a body search, and in a moment of pique, she decided to drop her skirt and send it through the conveyor belt to be X-rayed. She figured standing there in her tights and long shirt was less humiliating than having a full body pat down that includes someone touching her breasts to check around her bra.

That was a good plan until something went wrong with the conveyer belt, and Floyd ended up having to stand in the screening area without her skirt for much too long until the problem got solved and her skirt came through.

This is a good example of why I have not been on a plane in almost ten years, and may never get on one again. That, and the absurd fees for everything that used to be part of the ticket price..

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