Little league baseball, Barbie, Ken, GM and other dreams


Dreams don’t lend themselves to easy explanations, but sometimes they will not leave a person alone and will not be denied.  Last night I woke up in the midst of writing a story, I mean in the nitty-gritty of writing sentences, testing words for their feel and sound and trying to find just the right metaphor.  I did not like the story, its theme or even the conclusion – I wasn’t interested in it at all, but it would not go away.

The story was about little league baseball; in the story a “super” kid dominates at every level, humiliating and intimidating all of the other boys doing everything right and attracting the attention of the media, high school and colleges coaches and eventually the major league scouts.  But as things would have it, when he quickly moves up to the major leagues he has the ability and skills to be a star, but not the strength to play at that level – his career becomes a downward spiral of injury, recovery and disappointing returns to the rooster.  His career crashes and he has no fall back position.  He had prepared for only possible outcome in life – baseball – treating everything and everyone, including academics, along the way with the same contempt he had felt for his inept fellow little leaguers.

It took a concentrated effort to let that story go – actually it was done and by then so was my sleep.  Then an angry letter to a newspaper replaced one dimensional baseball players.  By this time I was not dreaming or sleeping, I couldn’t shut the stuff off long enough to go back to sleep, one annoying topic followed another in an uninterrupted stream.  Once the letter was done, sent to the editors with its accompanying humiliating effect on them – righteous does feel good, doesn’t it?; then I moved on to General Motors, Ken and Barbie and old Tom Watson’s latest protege, appropriately called Watson. Only this time I was not writing a story or a letter, but a blog post – as I said some things demand their day and will not be denied.

IBM, General Motors and Barbie are totally unrelated, except they are business stories about changes in direction.  It was less that two years ago that with federal assistance GM emerged from bankruptcy a brand new, pared down private company – and only four months ago in November it went public again, a pretty quick turnaround by any measure.  As if to demonstrate the degree of its reversal of fortunes, yesterday GM announced it was paying a $4000 bonus to most of its hourly employees – $189 million bonus.  One of the causes of its new found profit, China – GM sales in China were up 66 percent.  What the Japanese took away in the 20th century, the Chinese are giving back in the 21st century.

Sales at Matel must have been a little flat lately, what other way could one explain the company’s major change in direction?  Could it have been inspired it would seem by the events in Egypt?  How so you ask?  Ken and Barbie were an item for 40 years, but then Barbie decided Ken was a bit dull and ran off to Australia with a surfing hunk in 2004.  Poor Ken, like the little league-major league baseballer, Ken had no backup plan.  He moped, he pined, he even joined an e-harmony look alike seeking romance – but, sadly his profile information indicated that Barbie was his perfect mate – no other would do.  With renewed enthusiasm (Ken had pursued her unsuccessfully in the past) and hoping that social media might be the answer, he started using facebook (they both have a page), twittering and texting the reluctant buxom lass (if you can call a 50-year old a lass); well guess what?  The day before  Valentine’s Day, she declared that she too had realized Ken was her soul mate.  Ain’t love grand?  Barbie says it is better that the biggest mansion, wow!  No one will ever release the number of visitors to Mattel websites were generated with the campaign, nor how many new doll sales it generated – if the campaign is successful we can expect others like it.  Ken and Barbie have both been retooled over the ages in much the same way Detroit used to roll out new models yearly to stimulate sales, but Mattel seems to have discovered exactly what GM did, it take more than that in the 21st century.

And one more retooling, IBM, dear old Big Blue wants to reposition itself as the go-to-guy.  The smaller faster and easier to use personal computers long ago out distanced and outmoded IBM, but Big Blue is fighting back.  As you probably have heard, Watson – a game playing computer –  is taking on Jeopardy and winning against human competitors.  Now why would that matter?  IBM says that in time its  “smart computers” will be used to answer all kinds of problems and just play checkers, chess of Jeopardy.  Doctors with a challenging case can dial up Watson, or one of his later generation offspring, to get a diagnosis, so can the CIA with terrorist troubles and who knows, maybe even the federal government with budget problems.  And with that I was able to go back to sleep and get in a Valentine’s Day argument with my ex-wife – as my mother used to say: “there is no rest for the wicked.”


1 Response to “Little league baseball, Barbie, Ken, GM and other dreams”

  1. 1 Allseasons Scooters October 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Wonderful blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics talked about
    here? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get
    comments from other experienced people that share the
    same interest. If you have any recommendations, please
    let me know. Thank you!

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