January 31, 2006

Business is business

I’ve been wrestling with this for a couple days, and I think it may just be a part of my maturation process. Then again, it could just be me becoming more of a disestablishmentarian as the days go by.

Businesses are in place to make a profit, and their success is largely measured by how much profit they can make. That’s great, and I understand that. Businesses exist to make money, and the more you can make the better -- OK. More and more, though, companies are being rewarded for exceeding the previous year’s sales and profits. This I can also understand – it’s important for businesses to grow each year, and the more the better. It’s a lot like calculus – if you plot out your yearly profits on a graph, you want a) the numbers to be high, and b) the slope of the line to be positive (look like this / ) rather than negative (like this \ ). You can take the derivative of the line to see how large the slope, and, as mentioned earlier, the higher the points on THAT graph, the better.

It seems to me, though, that this creates somewhat of a vicious cycle. Let’s say I have to buy raw steel from a large steel manufacturer to make I-beams. Along the thought that businesses need to increase sales dollars and profits each year (and businesses can only make so many expense cuts), I’m probably going to paying more for my steel this year than I did last year. On that same line of thinking, I’m going to need to increase the price of my I-Beams this to compensate for the increased cost as well as to ensure that my own profits can increase this year, essentially creating two separate (but not necessarily equal) price increases. Now the building makers that buy my I-beams have to raise their price in order to compensate for my price increase and for their own profit goals as well, making three price increases passed on to customers that need to buy buildings, one of whom just could be (you guessed it) the steel company who raised their price in the first place. The increased cost in building manufacturing must then be factored in when deciding the next year’s steel price, and we all get back on the ride. (Yes, this is a very, VERY basic example – I know there are deals and contracts that companies can draw up that can circumvent part of this, but you get my jist).

This just strikes me as odd – not quite “the tail wagging the dog”, but more like the dog chasing its tail. Also, when does the analysis end? Should we further scrutinize the numbers and dissect the growth of a company’s profit growth? Or even the growth of that growth? I don’t know if there’s anything to be done – we can’t tell businesses to stop striving to be successful, but the whole process strikes me as odd. I guess spending money to make money seems only to cost more money in the long run....

Am I just crazy, just young, or just liberal?

January 23, 2006

I love Adult Swim.

This post has nothing to do with Adult Swim -- I just thought it needed to be said.

This post has everything to do with the difficulties in blogging for me lately. My wife, who I love very much, gave me Dragon Quest VIII (complete with Final Fantasy XII demo!) and the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for PS2. Meagan and I also got an Amazon gift certificate, my half of which went to purchase World Championship Poker 2 for PS2 and Riviera for GameCube. I think this was a grand plan by Meagan -- it's kept me quite out of Meagan's hair, leaving her free to study without interuption (aside from the occasional four-letter word after my main character dies).

However, if you've ever played a role-playing video game, you know what kind of time they can eat up (I've logged 33 hours on Dragon Quest VIII and I doubt I'm halfway through), so I've been neglecting my blogging. Shame, shame. Let's hit the high points of the past month, shall we?

The NFL!! Can't complain about the NFL playoffs this year. Crap, wait. Gosh, honey, I hate the the Colts lost. The sorrow I feel for that completely overshadows THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE REDEMPTION OF HAVING THE SEAHAWKS FINALLY MAKE IT TO THE SUPER BOWL!!! Great run all around, and I picked a little over half of the games correctly, even against the spread. I'm picking the 'Hawks to win the Big One over the Steelers -- it'll basically be a home game for the Steelers, and they'll be the favorite. That's completely against the strategy they've used to win the past 3 playoff games, and I think the Seahawks come out on fire to take a quick lead that Shaun Alexander won't relinquish.

Vandy sports!! Basketball teams are doin all right, each with ony 4 or 5 losses. I've started to co-host the VandyChat room during men's basketball games with Jay, which should be a lot of fun. I'm also going to start writing stories for the site, which I'm hoping could further any future I may have in sports journalism, as well as further appreciate the home team.

Pop culture!! Watched the Golden Globes, and came away one thought: RYAN PHILLIPE NEEDS MORE FACE TIME!!! Good God, man. Every time Reese Witherspoon was being shown on camera, Ryan decided it was his time to shine (after all, the only significant role he'll ever get is being Reese's husband -- if Reese has any brains, it'll be a short-lived one). When Witherspoon won for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy, Ryan gave her a mighty SMACK on the back as if she were choking. As Family Guy would tell us, "Nothing says 'Good job' like a firm, open-handed smack to the back, knocking over the woman you love in front of a national television audience." Or something like that.

In other Globe news, Brokeback Mountain won the big award and looks to sweep awards season. As movies seem to copy each other in cycles (remember the unfortunate rash of Russell Crowe movies we had a few years ago?), we can look forward to the revival of the western genre. As I've always felt that Westerns are the Limberger cheese of the Movie Spectrum, I'm thrilled. Here are President Bush's " thoughts " on the movie.

Books! Still trudging through Robert Jordan (in Book Nine of Eleven (so far)), though video games are taking a chunk of time away with that. Oy.

God! Meagan and I are joining a church -- fun! We met with a couple that are already members there for dinner tonight and had a fantastic time. It's a very progressive church (even for Methodists), open to most lifestyles (though Satan-worshipping is generally frowned upon) and focused on community service. Meagan is very excited about the hospital in Kenya that was founded by a member of the congregation, and is planning on doing a rotation there in her fourth year. Right now, I'm just excited about joining the choir and brass group and hopefully gathering the courage to join her on a medical mission at some point. She's a much braver woman than I in that respect, and I'm very proud of her for helping out the people who are suffering in so many ways from the HIV/AIDS epidemic that is currently devestating Africa.

I'm not sure I can end on better note than sucking up to my wife, so I won't!