(yes, I know it’s not a film. It’s a poem. By Browning. About Wordsworth. And incidentally, well worth reading – Ed)
You may have noticed that Facebook (which I am informed is one of these app-thingies on the Interweb – Ed) has been involved in a little local difficulty this week, with the news that the company allowed data from 50 million of its customers to be manipulated and used without their knowledge by Cambridge Analytica (a firm of young hopefuls from the Fens) (one hopes that Oxford Analytica are behaving with more decorum – unbiased Ed).
Facebook has got previous – there have been a series of bad news stories about it over the last couple of years, and Mr Mark Zuckerberg declared at the beginning of 2018 that his New Year’s Resolution was to “fix Facebook” by doing a better job of “enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools”.
Back to the drawing board, perhaps…. but the point (for this week’s Business Lesson, at least) is not so much about the company, but its leader. The brown stuff hit the air conditioning on Saturday, when the story broke in the meejah, but it was four days (four days!!) before Mr Z could be found, during which time billions were wiped off the share value, and a company-wide meeting on Tuesday for employeers to ask questions came and went without the Chief Executive putting in an appearance. Even when he did appear, his “apology” was rather less than fully expressed.
Mr Z has previous, too. Rather like Mr Geoffrey Boycott (the Yorkshire caricaturist über-bore) (both as batsman and commentator), on whom Mr Tony Greig memorably observed “his ability to be where fast bowlers aren’t has long been a talking point among cricketers”, Mr Z has been conspicuous by his absence from various past public hearings at which his counterparts from Google and Amazon have shown up.
One of the clues to “leadership” is in the name – it’s easy to be at the front of the troops when things are going well – it’s when the going gets tough that the true leader steps up to the plate (as Ms Nancy Reagan observed, “a woman is like a teabag – it’s only when she gets into hot water that you find out how strong she is”).
So it’s the same old lesson this week – when there’s a crisis, swallow hard and face the music – and if you have to apologise, apologise promptly… properly… and mean it!
(and if you’re wise enough to be a member of a TAB Board, and you’re in any doubt, ask your fellow Board members – they may give uncomfortable advice at times, but it’s goodadvice!)
Enough serious stuff already – let’s turn (as eventually we always must) to the slings and arrows of this week’s outrageous news:
- At the risk of incurring the wrath of Mr Putin (always a dodgy thing to do), the Kremlin has continued to give a masterclass on the (ig)noble art of being economical with the truth – but (as the adverts used to say) “kids, don’t try this at home”. Two research findings this week illustrate the potential pitfalls (and no, we’re not talking about the potholes on Blighty’s roads – about 24,500 miles of them, according to a report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance) (a body which is clearly unbiased on this subject) –
- Prof Aleix [sic] Martinez, of Ohio State Uni, warns that the old adage that your emotions are written on your face is literally true – the blood vessels in your cheeks give the game away
- And if you’re in the habit of telling little porkies to your GP/nutritionist hem hem/spouse about the quantity of little porky pies/burgers ect you’re shovelling down the hatch, beware – boffins from Tufts Uni (in Massachusetts) have developed a “tooth-mounted sensor” that monitors in real time what you eat and drink. So now, even if you lie throughyour teeth, you can’t lie to your teeth….
- Further unwelcome news from (other) boffins — Mr Anton Gollwitzer, a graduate student at Yale, tells us that older is not always wiser (or as he snappily phrased it, “the number of experiences one has had in the world does not seem to heighten one’s ability to infer how most people think and behave in social contexts”). Huh – young whippersnapper – he’ll learn when he gets a bit older….
- Maybe Mr G should listen to the wisdom of the Duke of Wellington. It emerged this week that the Iron Duke (then a 67-year-old widower) commissioned a silver-gilt coronet to give to Ms Mary Ann Jervis, a “19th Century socialite” half his age. His Grace was teased about his relationship at the time, and replied “what is the point of being 67 if one cannot speak to a young lady?” (quite right – Ed) (aged 67)
- Royal Ascot has warned that men who wear shoes without socks will not be admitted entry this summer (hurrah), and nor will “Bardot necklines” or fascinators (even for women, it appears) (shame)….
- While in great news for those rapidly surpassing the Iron Duke in age (though not, alas, in strategic ability), a Japanese company has stolen a march on those who are perfecting a self-driven car – they are introducing self-parking slippers, which can “move into position of their own accord at the push of a button” (Mrs Ed will be pleased)
From the saleroom
- Have a good look before you throw out old photos too hastily – a black and white picture of a 14-year-old boy in formal late-19th Century clothes, which was bought by Mr Justin Whiting (of Spalding) for £7 on eBay last year, is now reckoned to be worth £1million (it’s a picture of Jesse James). Mr W has been “obsessed with American outlaws for years”, apparently – must be those long Lincolnshire fen winters….
- And an export ban has been placed on a
truly awfulremarkable piece of surrealist art (a telephone designed by Salvador Dali, with the hand-held bit shaped like a lobster) – it is hoped (though not by the Ed hem hem) that a British bidder can be found to buy it for…. £880,000 (maybe they could ask Mr Whiting to sell his Jesse James photo and buy a lobster telephone instead? Sure to be a talking point in Spalding society….)
And finally, from the Odds and Sods Dept
- Another boffin study tells us that babies can think logically from the age of 1 (damn sight more than most adults can hem hem)
- A sub-tropical coastline has been discovered in Ruislip – though this isn’t down to climate change – or at least, not recently – it dates back 56 million years
- Her Maj has settled one of the most pressing issues de nos jours — when preparing scones and cream, does one spread the cream on before the jam (as maintained by Devon folk), or jam first, a la Cornwall? Mr Darren McGrady (who cooked at Buck House from 1982 to 1993) has revealed that HM is in the Cornish camp (quite right — Ed). The ancient row revived recently, when Lanhydrock (a National Trust property near Bodmin) advertised an event with a poster showing a scone with the cream on first – locals were “disgusted”
- And residents of Aylesbury, a town which has connexions with the late Mr David Bowie (apparently a popular music singer of some notoriety – Ed), have radical plans – or at least, one of them does – Mr David Stopps (manager at the Friars Aylesbury music club) (and, one assumes, a self-publicist of some skill) wishes to change the name of the town to Aylesbowie….
Only one item in Columbo’s Treasure Chest this week – and it’s a heart-warming tale. Mr Peter Hurst, a retired VAT Inspector, spent 40 years building a miniature village and model railway in his attic, including a collection of 40 model locomotives. When he died (aged 88) in January, his sons Simon (53) and Paul (58) wanted to honour his passion. Every so often they go up to the attic to set the trains going – and they put Dad’s ashes in a toy coal truck and send it round the track. All together now – Awwww….
Have a great weekend – and if you fancy Aylesbowie Duck for dinner, don’t tell your teeth….
Cheers for now
I presently run three Boards –
Dark Blue (for people who run large businesses) – one spare seat
Light Blue (for people who run large businesses) — two spare seats
White Board (for people who run fast-growing businesses) — two spare seats
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years” (Mark Twain)
By Tom Morton – TAB Harrogate