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Monday, October 24, 2016

Newspaper lists same-sex spouse for Corvallis City Councilman Roen Hogg up for reelection

Corvallis City Councilman Roen Hogg lists spouse Doug Eaton Gazette-Times, Oct. 21, 2016, p. A2 PHOTO: (click on photo to enlarge) the same-sex "spouse Doug Eaton" of Roen Hogg, "Ward 2 City Councilor," City of Corvallis accessed Oct. 24, 2016, is listed in the newspaper election coverage article by James Day, "Ward 2 incumbent faces challenger," Corvallis Gazette-Times, Oct. 21, 2016, p. A2 posted online as "Incumbent Hogg, newcomer Maughan seek Ward 2 seat", which includes downtown Corvallis.

MAP: 344 SW 7th St Corvallis, OR 97333 (From Google Maps) shows the location of the "Charles and Ibby Whiteside House," accessed Oct. 24, 2016. The house is owned by Doug Eaton 344 SW 7th Street Corvallis Oregon 541-753-2946 accessed Oct. 24, 2016 and is a historic house in Corvallis, Oregon that was built from plan books in 1922 during a period of rapid growth in Corvallis. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

I was heartened that the above newspaper's listing of a City Councilman's same-sex marriage has drawn no negative reactions. I consider this lack of reaction remarkable because it was only a little over a decade ago that the majority of Oregon citizens voted for an Oregon Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriages. Likewise, some readers of the Corvallis Gazette-Times newspaper in the 1970's were writing letters to the editor threating to cancel their newspaper subscriptions over a story that ran in 1976 about gay people in Corvallis, which was a story they considered as unacceptable to be printed in a "family newspaper."

It has been remarkable to witness these changes in cultural attitudes over the last 50 years, especially in the well-educated educated College town of Corvallis, Oregon, which has been historically dominated by Oregon State University, which has historically been considered more liberal than the rest of Oregon, but never as liberal as the University of Oregon in Eugene, 40 miles south of Corvallis.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

How Hewlett-Packard layoffs were avoided by founders Bill and Dave

GT headline, 'HP cuts jobs at Corvallis Campus,' Oct. 14, 2016, p. A1

PHOTO: The Corvallis, Oregon morning newspaper headlines announced the latest layoffs by Hewlett-Packard as being the result of a structural decline in business and the last year split off of the computer printer and PC business from the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise that runs a computing services business. Both of these parts of HP had been previously split off from the medical, analytical and electronic instrument test and measurement businesses that were later split into Agilent Technologies and Keysite Technologies, which included the electronic test and instrument businesses run by HP since it was founded in 1939. (See newspaper story by Kyle Odegard, "HP cuts jobs at Corvallis Campus. Up to 4,000 workers are to be laid off across the company," Gazette-Times, Fri. Oct. 14, 2016, p. A1, A3 posted online as "HP announces job cuts" that follows up on the previous story by Nathan Bruttell, "HP to jettison up to 30,000 jobs as part of spinoff," posted Sep. 15, 2015)

Aerical view of Hewlett-Packard Corvallis Campus circa 2010

PHOTO: An aerial view of Hewlett-Packard's Corvallis, Oregon campus circa 2010, which is located near Oregon State University and next to the Willamette River. The first building was built in 1975 at the center of the site and named "Building Number 4." It addressed the business needs of the rapidly expanding handheld scientific calculator division whose first product was the famous HP-35 handheld calculator first introduced in 1972. At the Corvallis site, HP invented some of the first personal desktop and portable computers, which led to the construction of HP buildings numbers 3 and 5 being built adjacent to Building 4. HP also built the world's first handheld computer smart phone in 1982 based on Bell Labs then new cell phone technology, but the project was cancelled by HP management and Steve Jobs of Apple picked it up after being shown it. Over the next twenty years, the big growth of the site occurred after the invention of the inkjet printer for both calculators and personal computers that led to more buildings being built to house the nearly 10,000 employees who were working on the HP Corvallis site by the 1990's.

headline 'H-P executive predicts 700 new jobs' Gazette-Times Aug. 8, 1974, p. 2

PHOTO: Hewlett-Packard's plans in the 1970 to build a calculator plant and research facility in Corvallis is reported in a newspaper article by John Atkins, "H-P executive predicts 700 new jobs," Gazette-Times Aug. 8, 1974, p. 2. (See previous posts HP and Corvallis newspaper history (3/11/09) about the move of the Hewlett-Packard calculator division from Palo Alto, California to Corvallis, Oregon in 1975 and Don't Cali-fornicate Oregon and HP annexation history (6/14/12).

I've written recently about the history and influence of company founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. (See previous posts HP breakup making Bill and Dave spin in their graves (9/11/15) and HP 3-D printers praised by Jim Cramer CNBC Wall Street reporter (7/24/15))

What I've not said much about is how the Hewlett-Packard company founders William Hewlett and David Packard avoided laying off employees from the start of the company's founding in 1939 until their deaths around the turn of the 21st Century. They were both humble men who had survived the Great Depression in the 1930's and therefore did everything in their power to manage HP in a very conservative manner that would not require HP to be a hire and fire operation in order to remain profitable and in business if another Depression occurred. They also did not want to follow the stuffy and formal business practices common in Back East companies at the time, for example, both men insisted on employees dressing casually and calling them by their first names Bill and Dave instead of by the more formal conventions of addressing them as "Mister," while dressed in a business suit.

To avoid layoffs, Bill and Dave adopted a very conservative business strategy that was paradoxically based on innovation and invention, which historically had led many businesses to high risk, boom and bust ventures. To avoid layoffs, in addition to their excellent judgement in deciding what products to invest in versus not, they believed in having a diversified portfolio of businesses and products that were each managed by a dedicated team that could fail or succeed without bankrupting the company. This strategy allowed for the risk taking that often led to spectacular successes, while at the same allowing Bill and Dave to easily judge the financial results within thier larger business.

The advantage of Bill and Dave's decentralized division management business model was it allowed the company to grow by promoting the best people within the company without requiring Bill and Dave to micromanage every business for overall HP success. This business model worked great in the types of businesses HP was initially involved in, such as electronic test and measurement instruments and handheld scientific calculators, but it proved to have a problem in businesses that required a system of products from multiple divisions and other companies, such as computer systems, which need mutally exclusive business models to be competitive u the real world.

By the 1980's Bill and Dave had recognized the system management issue and reorganized their managers in a matrix with responsibilities to both their "box product business" as well as to the success of HP's system businesses. Of course, this was easier said than done because it required managers to fly all over the world to coordinate their activity with other businesses as well as HP's customers.

Despite the difficulty of managing the rapid growth and diverse businesses of HP, Bill and Dave kept the HP growing growing until they died. But after they died, Wall Street investment bankers started to impose their view of how companies should be organized and divided it up into smaller pieces that were easier to manage and easier for Wall Street to understand and judge the success or failure of the business finacially.

Of course, Wall Street investment bankers make good money by splitting up companies, but they did have a good point about the drastically different business models that were required to make HP successful and the fact that these business models were often in conflict to the detriment of all. For example, the traditional electronic instrument business could grow at ten or twenty percent per year while investing about ten percent of revenues in R & D to continuously upgrade and invent new products for their customers. In contrast, other businesses could be profitable only with a larger investment in R & D, such as software businesses that often need to spend more than 20 percent of revenues for R & D in order to remain competitive.

Another example was the business versus consumer businesses, such as HP printers, where a home user doesn't have the same expectations of reliability and speed that a business might have and be willing to pay for. Consumer printing products, such as inkjet printers successfully profit from a business model that is called by business schools a "razor vs. razor blade" strategy of virtually giving away the razor or printer product in order to gain market share, with the expectation that your profits will come from the annuity payment comprised of repeat sales for supplies, such razor blades or inkjet pens and paper supplies.

Of course, the problem created by needing to use multiple business strategies is figuring out how it can be explained to public investors, including inpatient Wall Street stock portfolio managers who can't figure out how to value your business in the public stock market.

Of course, as long as the company founders Bill and Dave were the major stockholders, it didn't matter because they understood it and as long as they grew revenue and profits, Wall Street didn't care about the details. However, shortly after their deaths, HP was pressured into a four way split of their business, along with a few acquisitions and mergers driven by Wall Street investment bankers. (HP first split into HP and Agilent Technologies, then HP split into HP Inc. and HP Enterprise plus Agilent split off Keysite Technologies, which was the original test and measurement box business of HP. Sadly, while HP is still a big company, this has led to it becoming a hire and fire operation like most companies in America.

See previous posts:

Saturday, October 8, 2016

OSU students' daily newspaper goes weekly for print edition and is inserted in local professional newspaper

Oregon State University's student newspaper "The Daily Barometer" is now being printed weekly only during the main school year, but it is now also being inserted in the local professional newspaper every week. (See About page "Barometer," accessed Sep. 6, 2016 that said, "Attention: The Barometer is no longer printed in the Summer and will only be published on Mondays starting Fall Term 2016. Please check out our online presence for daily news and updates." Also see the editorial by Riley Youngman Editor-in-Chief, "A new year, a new Baro," Barometer, Mon. Sep. 26, 2016, p. 2 and an announcement by the local profession newspaper the Gazete-Times: Mid-Valley Media, "A new partnership," posted Sep. 29, 2016. This change in publication of the print edition was hinted at in editorials at the end of by last by student editors who wanted readers to know they would be returning after summer break 2016, which was the first summer for decades that a weekly printed edition was not printed during the Summer Term.

This change of the OSU student newspaper, from daily to weekly print editions, prompted me to write the following letter to the editor of my local professional newspaper:

Those of us with nostalgia for old-fashioned newspapers printed with ink on newsprint were sad to read that the Oregon State University's daily student newspaper is now printed only every Monday during the fall to spring terms, but are happy to have the new printed version, called "The Baro," inserted into the Gazette-Times every Tuesday, albeit with a 4.5-inch shorter page height.

Forty years ago my mother, who refused to touch any computer, warned me that I might get what I wished for when I started evangelizing for the paperless publication computer technology that was being invented by people in both Silicon Valley and Corvallis.

Approximately two decades ago both the G-T and the OSU Barometer were some of the first publications on the World Wide Web, which leads to the question: When will the G-T start following the weekly print schedule adopted by OSU students?

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer,"Letter: Happy to see 'The Baro' in the G-T," Gazette-Times, Tue. Oct. 11, 2016, p. A7, posted Oct. 8, 2016)

The editor of my local newspaper, Mike McInally, told me in a personal communication that he had, "No plans yet to go weekly, but it would be interesting to try to figure out a way to do that correctly." He said the Portland Oregonian newspaper has tried, with mixed results, to alter its print schedule and it also shrunk the newspaper to an 11" wide by 15" tall tabloid-like page size.

It seems to me that the value of a large newspaper page is the ability to skim read more news curated by human editors, and shrinking page sizes just reduces the benefits, at least until artificial intelligence can truly replace these human editors in the future.

For reference, here are the old and new page sizes:

  • OSU Barometer old page size 11" x 17-1/2"
  • OSU Baro new page size 11" x 13"
  • Cazette-Times page size 11" x 23" (Note it had a wider page until a few years ago when most newspapers standardized on their curent paper width, which caused the wider paper to become too expensive to buy)
  • Oregonian page size 11" x 15" in 2016

Also of interest is an "opinion piece" run in the OSU student newspaper by Ed Ray, Oregon State University President, "Welcome back students, from President Ray," Barometer, Mon. Sep. 26, 2016, p. 3. The Oregon State University President mentions the upcoming 150th anniversary of the founding of OSU in 1868 as a land grant college. President Ray also summarizes the latest enrollment figures, including the fact that 59% of the 7,650 incoming OSU students are instate students (4,510 new instate students) who have come from all of the counties in Oregon. Ray doesn't mention the overall enrollment numbers, which this year promises to be more than 40,000 students.

Some other links to news of interest:

Finally, for my own reference, I've listed below some links to the key OSU Calendars:

Obamacare rates in Oregon hurt many voters just in time for the Presidential election

I am glad to be old enough for Medicare because it is clear, from the letters to the editor of my college town's professional local newspaper, that early retirees on Obamacare are being price gouged by health insurance companies as well as drug companies and hospitals that charge cash customers 10 times what they charge insurance providers.

For example, one letter writer (see quoted letter below) described how her or his monthly premiums increased from a little over $100 per month before Obamacare went into effect, to nearly $600 per month for 2017. It is clear to me that Republicans added changes to the Affordable Care Act in a way that they knew would blow up Obamacare just in time for the 2016 elections as a political trick to help Republicans get elected. Ironically, many Republican politicians are now upset that it might help Trump get elected because these same Republicans do not support Turmps crazy political agenda.

Below is the text of letter I mentioned above:

I recently learned how Republicans calculatedly amended Obamacare in a way that would upset many voters just before the 2016 presidential election.

Prior to Obamacare, I paid a little more than $100 per month in health insurance premiums.

I was willing to keep my grandfathered health plan, as President Obama promised, by continuing timely payments of the premiums even though they more than doubled to $264 by 2016.

However, contrary to Obama's promise, the insurer canceled my policy by exploiting a loophole amendment to Obamacare that Republicans inserted.

Consequently, right before the presidential election I must sign up, or pay a penalty under the so-called "Affordable Care Act," for an Obamacare plan costing $659 per month during 2017, or if I change doctors, $579, despite financially needing only the catastrophic coverage I had.

No presidential candidate has proposed a solution to fix the root problem with health insurance - everyone wants to stay alive at all costs and their inelastic demand for medical treatment will drive up costs toward infinity,according to the fundamental laws of economics.

Insurance companies claim the number of people receiving heroic medical treatments costing more than a million dollars per person, right before they die, makes health insurance an unprofitable business, which is believable given the premiums that individuals and employers are able to pay and also how few people are able to earn and save even a million dollars for retirement during their lifetime.

(Quoted from Kim Wilson, "Letter: The root problem with insurance," Gazette-Times, Oct. 11, 2016, p. A7 posted Oct. 8, 2016)

Below are some related links of interest:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

New Saxx underwear endorsement by Chicago Cubs baseball player Jake Arrieta reminds me of Jim Palmer's Jockey endorsement

Saxx underwear as featured in Businessweek, Sep. 26-Oct. 2, 2016, p. 76

PHOTO: New Saxx underwear for men is endorsed by the Chicago Cubs baseball player Jake Arrieta, which reminds me of the endorsement of Jockey underwear by the baseball player Jim Palmer in the 1980's, which continued for several decades. Men's underwear fashion is often set by gay designers who love men, but will use a sports figure to endorse it as a way to give straight men permission to wear underwear they know women will like, but they might worry is too gay to be seen in the locker room. Also, traditionally most of men's underwear was bought by women for their man, and so the marketing also had to appeal to women. Jockey has recently lost market share to Under Armor and others who have created the "boxer-brief" that doesn't look quite as gay as the old Jockey y-front bikini, but an emerging competitor Saxx is coming on strong according the business article by Gordy Megroz, "The Pampered Package. Guys, it's time to put the family jewels in a proper pouch," Businessweek, Sep. 26-Oct. 2, 2016, p. 76, online as "Men's Underwear Gets a Mesh Makeover," posted Sep. 21, 2016 (See previous post Jim Palmer Jockey underwear 1980s ads (7/2/09))

Jim Palmer Jockey Y-front colored underwear ad in Newsweek, Jun. 20, 1983, p. 9

PHOTO: Jim Palmer played for the Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball team (1965-1984) and posed for the above Jockey underwear ad in Newsweek, Jun. 20, 1983, p. 9. See previous posts Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris has underwear 'wardrobe failure' (2/24/15), Jim Palmer Jockey underwear 1980s ads (7/2/09), Jockey underwear 'no homo' Boondocks cartoon homophobia (8/1/10), and Alice's Restaurant, Jockey underwear, military draft 1969 (6/15/10)