08 January 2006

All Show and No Go

Few things leap off life's page to catch my attention like a gap between performance and promise. For example; that stupid wing bolted on the Asian appliance next to you at the stop light is doing nothing to make it blend any faster. Congrats on your ornamentation, idiot, too bad it's not getting you anywhere. Such is the case with a couple of items that crossed the desk in my situation room this week.

The first item comes from Venezuelan Bozo-in-Chief Hugo Chavez. You may recall Chavez' superficially magnanimous offer to supply poor populations around the world with affordable energy. One of the first "poor nations" to which he offered oil was the northeastern United States, which are still stuck on stupid by their adherence to home heating oil. It was a preposterous move, since there is nothing institutionally downtrodden about any region of the United States, but done rhetorically to try to embarrass President Bush. Well Venezuela may be able to pump some of the black gold, but it can do little else for itself:
Venezuelans are facing a growing shortage of staple foods as producers and wholesalers stop deliveries amid tightening government price controls and collapsing margins. President Hugo Chavez introduced caps on the prices of basic goods three years ago, in theory to ensure lower costs for the poor. But while prices have since been lifted periodically to offset rising output costs, suppliers say the increases have been too slow. In some cases, production costs exceed the official price. Gaetano Minuta, head of the Marida coffee producers' association, said that the new official price for coffee would lead not only to financial losses but possibly to the loss of this
year's harvest.
Maybe Bush can offer Chavez' mighty Venezuelala some Starbucks Coffee, you know, magnanimously.

The other thing that I saw was the situation with Real Madrid, who have managed to become the most valuable sports team in the world, surpassing even Manchester United. What happens when you get too fat? You think you can buy happiness. RM has become a huge global brand with its own television network, but the club has also had five managers in five years, and has not won a Spanish or European title since 2003.
"Real Madrid has no game plan" writes Santiago Segurola in El Pais. "It is the product of a commercial idea that has relegated the actual sport to a secondary role. It spends enormous sums of money signing up stars, but they do not make a team. They are, rather, a disappointing mosaic, with somplayerses in their twilight years, and others included solely for their commercial appeal."
There has been somshrewded business to build RM to such a monolith, and some clubs would be very happy with 6th place en Liga Primera, but for the money being spent, any result but the top of the table should be aembarrassmentnt to club management and to fans.

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