In what has to be the least surprising announcement of the year, John McCain (R, AZ) has announced he is running for president.  It's just like 2000 again, only McCain is seven years older. This is from CNN:
McCain, a top-tier candidate, has been a staunch supporter of Bush's deployment of 25000 additional combat troops to Iraq.
No surprise then that he finds himself trailing Rudy Giuliani.

Possible Radar Detector Ban

Well, this just chaps my hide. Florida State Senator Steve Oelrich is sponsoring a bill that would outlaw radar detectors in Florida. Senate Bill 2228:
A driver may not operate a motor vehicle on a street or highway in this state if the vehicle is equipped with a device that is in operating condition and readily accessible for use by the driver or any passenger and that detects, jams, or otherwise interferes with the operation of a radar, as defined in s. 316.1906, operated by a law enforcement officer.
This guy has confused the use of radar detectors with traffic fatalities. This from the Orlando Sentinel:
"Many of the crashes I worked on in my years of law enforcement would not have been as devastating if the driver had not been speeding," said Oelrich, R-Cross Creek. "Radar detectors give motorists a false sense of security that they can break the law and get away with it."
This is a call to contact your representatives and tell them this is a bad law.   I'll be contacting the major radar detector companies.Florida Legislators How to make your voice be heard.


Liz Taylor is 75

Elizabeth Taylor, star of such films as Butterfield 8, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, is 75 years old. This story is from Yahoo:
The Hollywood icon came down the red carpet at a Las Vegas-area resort in a wheelchair.  She was escorted by her 52-year-old son Christopher Wilding, who shares the same birthday.
If you know about her constant battle with a variety of health problems over the years, she's either the luckiest or unluckiest person in the world. The biggest news from this story: Michael Jackson is now living in Las Vegas.


Grasp of the Obvious

This headline from LiveScience.com says it all: Americans Hate Their Jobs More than Ever
Overall, dissatisfaction has spread among all workers, regardless of age, income or residence. Twenty years ago, the first time the survey was conducted, 61 percent of all Americans said they were satisfied with their jobs, according to the representative survey of 5,000 U.S. households, said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center.
I could have told you that.  All I ever wanted was a decent job.

The Academy Awards

I could only stay up until 10:30 last night while watching the Oscars.  Ellen seemed to do an adequate job of hosting.  She was really inoffensive but somewhat boring.   Maybe that's what the producers wanted.

Is it me or are these big epic events becoming bland, mundane and uninteresting?  First the Super Bowl wasn't so super and now the Academy Awards didn't seem to have any glamour.  Why am I not impressed by the Academy Awards ceremony. I did see the Last King of Scotland Saturday night. Forest Whitaker did such a good job as Idi Amin. I thought the story was a little too realistic to have been adapted from a novel. Whitaker had one good eye and one funky, slightly closed eye which brought a whole new level of evil to the character.

Surprising they snubbed Clint Eastwood for Best Director. I thought he was a lock. It only won for best sound editing. What the F?

I must see the winner of Best Live Action Short Film:"West Bank Story". It looks hilarious.

Here's a look at all the winners. The following is just some of the top categories.

Best Picture: The Departed
Best Leading Actor: Forest Whitaker
Best Director: Martin Scorsese
Best Actress: Helen Mirren
Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson


Chrysler Will Go Out of Business

In ten years we will be lucky to have GM and Ford still making cars.  I really hate to say this but Chrysler will go out of business. Ford might go out of business too, but Chrysler will be first. The US auto industry has been sleepwalking for 30 years.  Chrysler should have been allowed to die in 1980 rather then brought back to life with a federal bailout.  American Motors, the redheaded stepchild of the auto industry, effectively died in 1987 when it's best products were sold to Chrysler. Oldsmobile and Plymouth have died.

Toyota and Honda have grown stronger every year. Nissan has also grown but not as much. Other Asian car makers like Mitsubishi, Isuzu, and Hyundai continue to sell cars. The only US automotive success story from the past twenty years is Saturn. And that success is marginal. Saturn is basically a U.S. car patterned after the Japanese car making model.  The Big Three U.S. automakers are whistling past the graveyard. Consider this from the New York Times:
But now, Chrysler is fighting for its survival again, a situation that lays bare the failure of previous generations of managers to resolve, or even fully address, its many fundamental problems. Rather than using crises as opportunities to remake Chrysler in the model of its Japanese competitors, say analysts conversant with the company's trajectory, a revolving cast of corporate stewards repeatedly relied on silver bullets to revive the automaker. Over and over, they introduced a single hot-selling model here or tightened the screws on suppliers there, instead of doing the tougher work that real transformation required.
The marketplace, automotive or otherwise, is brutal. Survival of the fittest is the rule. Chrysler cannot count on Mercedes or the federal government this time.  If you buy a Jeep or Dodge Charger or a Viper today, the car may very well out last the company that makes them.


Only American Driver in F1 Confirmed

Scott Speed, the only American driver in Formula One racing, was confirmed to be back at Team Toro Rosso for the 2007 season. This quote from Motorsports.com:
Team co-owner Gerhard Berger had reportedly raised doubts about Speed's commitment but it seems whatever the concerns were, they are now put to rest. Speed was back behind the wheel on the last day of testing at Bahrain.
I certainly thought they would not renew Speed for this year.  Will he be a better driver in 2007?



The United States had finally found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This is from the NY Times:
Iraqi and American officials said the use of chlorine seemed aimed at bringing a new level of fear and havoc to Iraq as a new security plan for Baghdad takes shape.
Don't forget, both Iraq and Iran used chemical weapons on themselves and each other in the 1980's.


F1 is Coming

The Formula One racing season is just around the corner so it's time to catch up and write a little bit about the greatest racing in the world. My wife is a bit more dubious. She says she just can't get excited about F1 in a post-Schumacher world. Oh, well. It looks like Williams has posted the best time in pre-season testing yesterday in Valencia, Spain. This is from Motorsports.com:
On the second day of testing at Valencia there were again two teams and five drivers at work and it was Williams at the top of the time sheet once more Race drivers Alex Wurz and Nico Rosberg were first and second fastest respectively, Wurz clocking 1:11.614 and Rosberg just under three tenths off.
Is this going to be the year of Red Bull?

What Is It For?

What is the purpose of the annual performance review? This is from the Harvard Business School's blog Working Knowledge for Business Leaders.
Perhaps a more important issue is the objective of the review itself. Is it to weed out poor performers? To recognize the so-called A players? To provide the basis for compensation decisions? To provide clues to future opportunity within the organization? To map out an individual plan for personal development? All of these? Too often this is unclear. Is it any wonder then that managers, many of whom receive little or no training in how to do it, conduct the task of reviewing performance so poorly?
Too many companies pay lip service to the performance review. Managers avoid conducting the review because it's distasteful. Many times employees don't know the purpose of the review. Managers don't have time to properly council the employee throughout the year to improve performance.


Performance Review

I just got my annual performance review.   I could go on and on about how wrong it is for one person to judge another.

Let me just quote 21 Reasons Why Performance Reviews Fail
  1. The reviewer and employee have a personal friendship outside of work and both individuals can't differentiate their manager-employee role from their friend-friend relationship.
  2. The reviewer and the employee see themselves as part of a team. Team members are supposed to encourage one another, be supportive in good and bad times. But when the manager has to provide negative feedback or discipline the employee, these actions are viewed as divisive.
  3. When not provided regularly, annual (or even less periodic) reviews can be based on most recent performance, not performance over the course of the year. The results go both ways. Employees who put on their best behavior around review time get favorable ratings and the employee who has a bad couple of weeks gets punished.
  4. Performance reviews are only scheduled when an employee is not performing up to expectations or a company needs to terminate/lay-off the employee.
  5. You know nobody's perfect and there is always room for improvement.  The manager  doesn't believe in rewarding an employee with a 10 out of 10 even when he/she deserves it.  Some employers actually use a rating scale of 1 to 9 because no employee deserves a 10 in their minds.
  6.  Annual reviews are really justification for salary freezes or smaller than expected salary increases. The manager might downgrade an employee's performance feeling that with a high rating comes a demand for more money. Likewise, with a high rating, the employee might feel justified in requesting more salary or benefits.
  7. Inconsistency in reviews and multiple standards. One manager might rate an employee  a 7 because he/she doesn't believe anyone deserves a 10 while another manager rates an employee higher than he/she deserves hoping this might boost the employee's confidence and subsequently his/her performance.  If performance ratings are directly tied to salary, this many times creates tension, conflict and low morale.
  8.  A manager doesn't distinguish between personality and competence or effort verses results. The manager rewards the employee who is easier to manage even if he/she misses performance expectations and/or can't do the job.
  9. A manager doesn't provide the rating an under-performer deserves because if the employee quits, this will make more work for the manager that is, more interviewing and training (and who knows if the next employee might even be worse!).
  10.  "Hey, when you have a minute, I'd like to talk to you." Performance reviews are sprung on the employee.
  11.  "I really hate doing reviews but HR says I have to so let's just get it  over with" Performance reviews are scheduled because you've been told you have to do them.
  12.  The criterion for performance is not prioritized. Attendance and positive attitude gets the same weight as the quality and quantity of work and safety. So the employee who shows up everyday on time with a smile on his/her face gets an equal or higher rating than the individual who is occasionally late and is more introverted but exceeds all productivity goals.
  13.  Performance reviews are only scheduled when the manager has "had enough" or complaints are received from co-workers or customers.
  14.  Supervisors and managers have never been trained to evaluate an employee's performance.
  15. Supervisors and managers never wanted to be in the job of supervising and managing other employees and it shows. It was just that it was the only way for them to stay with the company or get more money.
  16. Employees were promoted to be a supervisor or manager because they really like helping people or were well liked but find it excruciatingly painful to hold people accountable. They really want to be your friend, not your boss.
  17. Performance reviews are required to be completed annually but this policy is not enforced. Some employees are reviewed and others are not. The employees who are reviewed might feel singled out and the non-reviewed employees feel ignored.
  18.  Performance reviews are required for documentation just in case the organization  ever needs to terminate or layoff the employee.
  19. Performance reviews are the safety valve for a poor selection process.
  20. The manager and employee differ on how goals are set - one manager/employee feels that stretch goals are set to motivate employees to work harder while another manager/employee sees goals as just unrealistic expectations that you try hard to achieve but no one really believes you will reach them.
  21. Performance reviews are all about protecting the company from litigation and complying with employment laws and not about evaluating performance for improvements in individual productivity and growing the company's collective talent pool.


A question for the ages...

Is your boss an asshole? This question is posed and an answer is attempted on Guy Kawasaki's blog entitled "How to Change the World".  This entry exposed ten sure signs that your boss has an ego problem.  My favorite and the one I've come up against is --

Thinks that the rules are different for him. For example, a parking space for handicapped people is really for handicapped people plus him because his time is so valuable that he can't walk fifty additional feet.  Or, the carpool lane is for cars with multiple people, hybrids, and her because she's late for a meeting.

Villeneuve/Raikkonen Dust-Up

There's nothing like an F1 driver feud to get the the blood pumping and generate some interest in the new season.  Here Villeneuve bad mouths Raikkonen.  This from ESPN:
"Kimi's overrated as a driver package, because apart from jumping in a car and going fast, he really doesn't care about the rest," Villeneuve said. "A complete driver will spend time with the engineers, setting up the car and pushing the team." In a way it's good for F1 to have a driver like that -- you can't just have robots.  But you never know how dedicated he is."
Ferrari driver Fillipe Massa says Kimi has a "different" personality than Michael Schumacher.  I would agree!


No Television Coverage of the World Rally Championship

This is the second year without television coverage of the World Rally Championship in the United States. I've heard that our Canadian friends can't get rally coverage on TV either.

This is a crime. Hey Ford, Subaru and Mitsubishi! If you want to sell us some cars, show us how well they are build and how powerful they are by airing the WRC.  I haven't dug into the details so I don't really know why this important series isn't on my TV.  I'm guessing that everyone is pointing the finger at each other and that it's got to be over money. These type of petty disputes are always over money.

Here are some people to write to complain about the situation --

Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., PO Box 6014, Cypress, CA 90630-0014


Ford Motor Company:https://secure.ford.com/en/support/emailUs.htm

World Rally:feedback@wrc.comSpeed TV: http://www.speedtv.com/feedback/


Coulthard the F1 Driver

Say what you will about David Coulthard, he has certainly lasted in a sport where many don't last more than a season.  He started his F1 career in 1994, and at 35 he is still a very competitive driver and not about to retire. With hard charging Aussie Mark Webber and design genius Adrian Newey on the Red Bull squad this year, the team may have a podium or two in its future. Coulthard may have gray in his beard but retirement is the furthest thing from him mind. This incredible quote from ESPN:
"I just don't think about not racing," DC said. "I don't think about not racing today, and I didn't think about it when I was 3 and I didn't think about it when I was 24 any more than any of you think about the day you die. "You don't live your life worrying about that day. It is inevitable.  It is inevitable that I will stop racing.
Coulthard's last win came in 2003 with McLaren.


Ferrari is Favored

Ferrari is favored over Renault and McLaren. So says Nikki Reynolds at motorports.com.
While McLaren's competitiveness is doubted by some, so is Raikkonen's dedication to the job at hand. Kimi, inevitably, is compared to Schumacher and it's been said many times that the Finn can't match Michael's commitment both on and off the track. If I were Raikkonen that would annoy the hell out of me. Those who make judgments seem to ignore the fact that Kimi and Michael are completely different people.
The first race of 2007, the Australian Grand Prix, is March 18th.