Archive for January, 2007

Biden Blunders

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Did you giggle at Senator Joe Biden’s expense yet? I did. It’s O-V-E-R before it even started. That man is a motor mouth that is stunning in it’s inexhaustibleness. Ha!

Here’s the New York Time’s take.

But later in the day, with Mr. Biden coming under fire from some black leaders, Mr. Obama issued a statement that approached a condemnation. “I didn’t take Senator Biden’s comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate,” he said. “African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate.”

Or unclean, but whatever.

Glenn Reynolds is funnier:

Yep. Calling Obama the first “articulate and bright and clean” black candidate for President is unfair. Say what you will about Al Sharpton, but his personal hygiene appears to be excellent.

Silly, silly Joe Biden.



Making Money Blogging

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

I haven’t been approached by political candidate to blog for him/her. I haven’t been given free bling from Microsoft (if you can call their products, blingy). I haven’t been approached by a super-agent so enamored with my brilliant prose that she feels compelled to write me a million dollar advance to write the next American self-help book. In short, my blogging has been a high-satisfaction, low-value-added enterprise.

Until now.

For the first time in my year of blogging, I received a check from Amazon Associates–for $31.26. It is a quarterly check and my take is roughly 5% of their haul. So that means readers bought roughly $600 worth of merchandise through my website. That sounds like a lot right?

Let’s break it down:

  • That’s $150.00/month.
  • That’s approximately $35.o0/week.
  • That’s approximately $5.00/day.
  • That’s approximately $1.50/hour of work (that’s being generous).
  • But wait! I only receive 5% of that $1.50. So I make approximately 7 cents an hour.

No wonder I have self-esteem issues. Click through, people! Buy, buy, buy!! As always, you can make a direct donation, too. I know, shameless.



Iran Involved in Karbala Attack, Iran is Fighting U.S. in Iraq–UPDATE

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

UPDATE: Amir Taheri of the New York Post says Iran’s back is against the wall. Hmmmm….. I’m not so sure about that, but the crude oil price drop has caused a serious economic crunch. Taheri asks:

What should the United States and its allies do when, and if, the Khomeinist regime offers a partial retreat?

The temptation to make a deal – as well as the pressure in its favor – would be immense. The Bush administration would face a crucial question: Allow a dangerous but wounded enemy to recover, or go for the kill?

If it is found that Iranian agents have been training Iraqis and killing Americans, there can be no other answer than harsh, unequivocal action against Iran. There should be more economic sanctions. There should be threats tinged with actions. A guided bomb on this mullah, for example. Remember Libya? While these leaders profess death in Allah’s name, they seem averse to actually dying themselves.

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As soon as I read about the Karbala attack, I thought, “something stinks”. We have a traitor in our midst if this report is true, was my next thought. Well, it looks like Iraq has Iran in it’s midst. From Captain Ed:

Earlier on Tuesday, Time Magazine reported that Iran has a motive to attack Americans in Iraq. The Revolutionary Guard wants some measure of revenge for the capture of five Iranians in Irbil, at least some of whom belong to the IRGC. Time speculates that the IRGC wanted to send a message, and that the number of casualties were specifically selected to make sure that no one misunderstood it.

What happens if the US concludes that Iran did indeed conduct this mission against American servicemen? It would be an act of war, although the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers in support of insurgents also qualifies. The Bush administration might be tempted to retaliate with some air strikes, perhaps selected especially for the nuclear program Iran seems keen to pursue at all costs. However, one can imagine the outcry that would cause, not just among our European allies but also leading Democrats in Congress. It would not take long for at least a few of them — Maurice Hinchey springs to mind — to accuse the Bush administration of manufacturing the evidence pointing to Iran in order to justify an attack on that nation.

Does this remind anyone of Hezbollah’s actions against Israel this summer? Iran is testing their enemies. Like a toddler, with very dangerous weapons, they keep escalating until someone tells them, “NO!” in no uncertain terms. They have yet to be deterred.

More here.

Meanwhile, February 5th is the date that Baghdad will start operations. Is it just me or should military operations be a secret, so, you know, the enemy gets killed? Sheesh. IraqtheModel says this:

We talked earlier about insurgents and terrorists fleeing Baghdad to Diyala, and today there’s another report about a similar migration, from al-Sabah:

Eyewitnesses in some volatile areas said that large numbers of militants have fled to Syria to avoid being trapped in the incoming security operations. According to those witnesses, residents and shopkeepers are no longer concerned about militants whose existence in public used to bring on clashes that put the lives of civilians in danger.

Well, that’s good. I feel sorry for the outlying cities now. Like I said before, Iraq is like one big game of Donkey Kong.

Pulling the root of the weed is going to involve dealing directly with Iran and Syria. And by dealing directly, I don’t mean sitting down for tea to have a chat.



Are Illiberal Jews Anti-Semitic?–UPDATE Palestinian Failure

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

UPDATE: I note below the differences between Israel and the Palestinians. Siggy has a post so excellent you simply must go read it all. He says this:

An essay written by Carolyn Glick that appeared on the Jerusalem Post opinion page (given her presentation of the facts, it is hard to understand why her piece is opinion), that meshed well with our own post. Ms Glick notes that in the State of Palestine- replete with peace loving Palestinians fighting the dysfunctional Israelis- , a full

…88 percent of the public feels insecure. Perhaps the other 12 percent are members of the multitude of regular and irregular militias. For in the State of Palestine the ratio of police/militiamen/men-under-arms to civilians is higher than in any other country on earth.

In the State of Palestine, two-year-olds are killed and no one cares. Children are woken up in the middle of the night and murdered in front of their parents. Worshipers in mosques are gunned down by terrorists who attend competing mosques. And no one cares. No international human rights groups publish reports calling for an end to the slaughter. No UN body condemns anyone or sends a fact-finding mission to investigate the murders.

In the State of Palestine, women are stripped naked and forced to march in the streets to humiliate their husbands. Ambulances are stopped on the way to hospitals and wounded are shot in cold blood. Terrorists enter operating rooms in hospitals and unplug patients from life-support machines.

In the State of Palestine, people are kidnapped from their homes in broad daylight and in front of the television cameras. This is the case because the kidnappers themselves are cameramen. Indeed, their commanders often run television stations. And because terror commanders run television stations in the State of Palestine, it should not be surprising that they bomb the competition’s television stations.

Welcome to the real world of Palestine, where simple racism, bigotry and hate no longer provide enough dysfunction. Whereas once only rabid anti semitism was the only world class achievement in which Palestinian and Arab societies and cultures excelled, it is clear that the Palestinians are now looking for yet another gold medal in dysfunctional behavior.

The Left has coddled this corrupt wretched excuse for humanity. Meanwhile, they condemn Israel? Yes they do. I, for one, am just glad we have a President who sees this degenerate group for who they are–nary a handshake from President Bush. At least that’s something to be happy about.

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From the New York Times today:

An essay the committee features on its Web site, ajc.org, titled “ ‘Progressive’ Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism,” says a number of Jews, through their speaking and writing, are feeding a rise in virulent anti-Semitism by questioning whether Israel should even exist.

Some Jews on the Left will insist that their criticism of Israel and Israeli policies are not anti-Semitic and fratricidal. Though not a Jew myself, I’m a person with great affection for all people who stand for freedom and Democracy wherever they live, and to me, much of the Jewish Leftist rhetoric seems anti-Semitic. I guess it’s the asymmetrically applied moral strictures, that give it away.

Let’s see:

  • Israel is condemned for oppressing Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, while Palestinians are giving a free pass for murdering Israelis.
  • Israel gives away pieces of it’s little bit of land and every time, violence by Palestinians increases.
  • Israel obeys the rule of law, Palestinians use terrorism to coerce.
  • Israel allows those who enable murderers to live, while Palestinians have made it absolutely clear that they want Israel destroyed (meaning all the Jews who live there) if they are given the chance.

When I read about Jews who want Israel abolished or the softer, gentler “shared state” solution, I can’t help but to wonder what kind of self-loathing pathology has taken hold. It is very easy for an American Jew to opine about final solutions to the Israel problem. It sounds sophisticated and open-minded to be Jew and Israel-critical. It especially wins big points with white supremacists and Iran’s mullahs.

Why do Jews espouse extreme anti-Israel views? Do they think it makes them smarter? Do they believe they will be spared hate and/or death? While it is difficult to imagine whole populations intend to kill all Jews, especially after it happened only sixty years ago, the fact is that whole populations do want Jews dead. Israel’s existence is not fomenting these genocidal fantasies. Ahmadinejad and much of the radical Islamic world entertain murderous fantasies and they have a land to call their own. It is demented. It is soulless. It is irrational.

It is equally irrational to be Jewish and ignore this existential threat. Worse, it is irrational to believe there is anything rational about Iran’s criticism of Israel. And Jews who believe that nearly all the critics aren’t motivated by anti-Semitism choose to ignore that truth at their own peril.

Jewish progressives might profess love for Jews and still criticize Israel, those other elites and common people spouting anti-Israel rhetoric? There is no love for Jews in their hearts. They are anti-Semitic. By reinforcing their message, the progressives reinforce nefarious actions (like Iran acquiring nuclear bombs) while revealing their own anti-Semitism.



The Personal is Political–"Cutting Our Losses"

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

I’ve noticed a trend in my writing tone lately. It’s harsh and I don’t like it. Sarcasm is a form of anger and I’ve been angry.

It started with the mid-term elections. You might think that the Republican loss has me peeved, but it really doesn’t. In fact, I kind-of expected it and they more than kind-of deserved it, so I became resigned to the situation fairly quickly. In fact, my political perspective has been one of watchful curiosity. The Democrats promised many good things pre-election. I was hopeful that they’d actually follow through. Clean up the culture of corruption? I’m all for that! Demonstrate fiscal restraint? That sounds great, too! More government transparency? It’s about dang time! The end of pork? I can’t wait! Send troops over to Iraq to “get the job done”? We should have done that from the beginning!

So, you could say, that while I had hoped the Republicans would seize their historic opportunities over the last years that they controlled both the legislative and executive branches of the government, since they didn’t and since the Democrats made typically Republican promises, I figured I’d give them a shot. Why not? It was better than sulking.

Are you laughing at me yet? My personality assessments say that I’m a preternatural optimist who can turn to despondency with “a high risk of suicide” when greatly disappointed. Well, my watchful curiosity wasn’t all that optimistic, so don’t fear for my life. I’m not surprised the Democrats are lying liars as a certain Leftist likes to say, I just hoped they wouldn’t be or that they would choose differently this time. Alas, no.

What have I been angry about, if the un-kept promises fail to surprise or even were to be expected? It’s a cultural thing, I’ve decided. My anger is pervasive and aimed at society at large. We are a nation of quitters and it disturbs me to my core. I’ll get to this in a minute.

The Democrats are nothing if not beasts of expedience. If they are scurrying around like berated help, it’s because the Master Is Not Happy and the Master is the American People. And we, according to focus groups and opinion polls and every other measure the Dems take confirms this notion. To keep Master happy, and more importantly to keep their jobs in the next two years, the Democrats will be craven creatures of cowardice even if that doesn’t serve America in the long run. Serving themselves is ultimately their specialty and they are very good at it.

Americans want Iraq over. I’ve disputed this assertion, myself, saying that just because 60% of Americans are unhappy with the President and the War, doesn’t mean they want out now. People like me could want a change in strategy–to become more aggressive and win the thing once and for all. I could be one of the 60% unhappy people, right? Well, this poll indicates that I’m dreaming. Only 35% of Americans think like me. The rest want it over.

I can muse about why this is so:

  • The MSM has succeeded in painting Iraq as a losing proposition. True.
  • The Democrats want Bush to fail more than they want America to win. True.
  • The President hasn’t been an effective enough communicator about the rightness of the War on Terror front in Iraq. True.
  • The strategy and rules of engagement in Iraq have hamstrung the military’s effort thus making the war look like a stalemate. True.

But none of these reasons explain why Americans would be so willing to leave a populace to their own devices where they face certain extermination. None of these reasons explain how a people who witnessed the horror of Vietnam’s abandonment could so easily do the same thing again in Iraq. None of these reasons explain why the messages the MSM, the Democrats send resonate so powerfully.

When did America accept “losing” as a method and message?

As others have rightly noted, the current attitude of Americans, pundits and the Left would have been unthinkable fifty years ago. Losing was simply unacceptable. If America chose a fight, she fought to the death or to victory and often to both.

I think our language is telling. One favorite line “cutting our losses” gets used all the time these days, not just about Iraq. I’ll give you a minute. Can you think of how this is used most?

That’s right. Divorce.

Not so long ago, divorce equaled shame. It was a moral failure, an acceptance of defeat. Quitting. Look at this chart. See any trends? Here’s some explanation. It’s both better and worse than it looks.

As the overall divorce rates shot up from the early 1960’s through the late 1970’s, Dr. Martin found, the divorce rate for women with college degrees and those without moved in lockstep, with graduates consistently having about one-third to one-fourth the divorce rate of nongraduates.

But since 1980, the two groups have taken diverging paths. Women without undergraduate degrees have remained at about the same rate, their risk of divorce or separation within the first 10 years of marriage hovering at around 35 percent. But for college graduates, the divorce rate in the first 10 years of marriage has plummeted to just over 16 percent of those married between 1990 and 1994 from 27 percent of those married between 1975 and 1979.

About 60 percent of all marriages that eventually end in divorce do so within the first 10 years, researchers say. If that continues to hold true, the divorce rate for college graduates who married between 1990 and 1994 would end up at only about 25 percent, compared to well over 50 percent for those without a four-year college degree.

Where is another place in society where people literally “cut their losses”? Imagine a life ruined, a future interrupted permanently, the difficulty of two lives, not just one ruined?

Abortion.

There was a time when abortion was illegal. When a woman and man were forced into “shotgun” commitments and kept them–lest they meet the wrong end of said shotgun. Commitment was sewn into the fabric of society. When contraception and then abortion became a norm, the view of sex, child-bearing and commitment irrevocably changed. Look at this chart. Again, see the trends?

In addition to those who are “cutting their losses” there are those too timid or cynical to even try to commit to begin with. Instead of marriage: cohabitation. This is a euphemism for uncommitted. The New York Times:

The census survey estimated that 5.2 million couples, a little more than 5 percent of households, were unmarried opposite-sex partners. An additional 413,000 households were male couples, and 363,000 were female couples. In all, nearly one in 10 couples were unmarried. (More than one in four households consisted of people living alone).

And the numbers of unmarried couples are growing. Since 2000, those identifying themselves as unmarried opposite-sex couples rose by about 14 percent, male couples by 24 percent and female couples by 12 percent.

A telling statement:

A number of couples interviewed agreed that cohabiting was akin to taking a test drive and, given the scarcity of affordable apartments and homes, also a matter of convenience.

A “test drive” and “convenience” define these relationships.

How much of Americans’ politics is driven by the personal? Have Americans “tried out” the War on Terror, found it “inconvenient” and have decided to “cut their losses”? I think so. And why not? When America wed itself to fighting evil, the marriage was “forced”.

9/11 struck us, and though we shouldn’t have been, we were surprised and shocked. In the emotion, the first blush of the moment, Americans were swept away. Rage and fear and a momentary existential clarity ruled.

The Democrats, always sensitive to the fickle feelings meter, forgot their Bush animus for a moment to fight a common enemy. Almost immediately after, some woke up and like a trapped wolf tried to gnaw their limb free. The War on Terror would be a really great one night stand for most Democrats. Intense, exciting, and definitely feel-good for the moment.

Americans, most anyway, let the relationship take it’s course for a while, but when the nasty underbelly of the War inevitably showed itself, they decided that the War should be over. It’s complicated. It’s difficult. Bad things happen. People make big mistakes. It’s sometimes embarrassing when talking to friends–especially sophisticated overseas friends.

And the military feels like a jilted lover. Doing its best. Confused and just wanting love and wondering what it was all for. (via Instapundit)

I do believe the personal is political. I believe that as a country, enough of us have lost our ability to commit and/or have as first instinct to bail when times get tough to cause a societal trend of discomfort with committed military actions. I believe that too many of our people have had it too easy for too long. I believe that Americans think commitment is for suckers. When times get tough, the tough don’t get going, they cut their losses.

Getting out is a sign of sophistication, of staying “true to self”, of some idealistic pursuit of perfection. Divorce, abortion, living together leave empty souls, disenchantment and disillusionment, but in an attempt to justify the carnage that these choices cost, people dress the failure up in platitudes. My life is so much better now. Lives have been saved. Imagine how bad it would be if we’d have stayed together? We were so unhappy. There just wasn’t any love anymore. We’re happier now.

“Getting out was hard, but it was the right thing to do.” If you tell yourself a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. The Western world is awash in regret and denial and delusion.

Cutting our losses in Iraq will be just be the latest example of the political reflecting the personal. It will cause great harm, not only to Iraq, but to the very soul of our nation. Americans, so used to rationalizing their personal failures, will deny and delude themselves about their political failures. And American, like her families, will be in worse shape than before.

And that’s why I’m angry. Well, writing about it helps. And it is comforting to know that there is a Master of all and even the hubris of the American populace can’t stand in the way of His grand plan. So I’m letting this go. I’ll try to adopt a kinder tone, too.



Scariest Scientific Ideas

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

In Popular Science. The scariest to me? Reanimating the Spanish Flu. Insane.

Via Conservative Grapevine



Duke Rape: The Real Losers

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Beyond the three young accused, there is a whole community of losers in this thing. Thomas Sowell spells it out:

The biggest losers from getting sucked into these frauds are blacks, especially young blacks who go off on an emotional tangent that leads nowhere, at a time when there are so many opportunities in other directions, if they will direct their time and efforts in those directions through education and other serious interests.

The current self-destructive misdirection of energies in black ghettoes cannot be explained by a “legacy of slavery” or “racism.” For one thing, this level of self-destruction in black communities did not exist half a century ago, when racism was worse and the black population was generations closer to the era of slavery.

What the two self-destructive communities on opposite sides of the Atlantic have in common is hearing a steady diet of propaganda blaming all their problems on others, and depicting “society” as determined to keep them down, regardless of anything they might do to try to lift themselves up.

That same deadly message has produced the same tragic results among very different people. The Duke “rape” fraud is yet another sign that the time is long overdue for all of us to start thinking.

Being a perpetual victim is the most helpless, hopeless position. If it is someone else’s fault, how are you able to respond? Black leaders (and feminists) and the Left in general keep their own constituencies externalizing blame and waiting for a savior, when the answer is within.



Doctor Talk

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

The New York Times Jane Brody writes today about “health literacy”. Most people are health illiterate and leave their doctor’s office with more questions than answers.

National studies have found that “health literacy” is remarkably low, with more than 90 million Americans unable to adequately understand basic health information. The studies show that this obstacle “affects people of all ages, races, income and education levels,” Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the United States surgeon general, wrote in the August issue of The Journal of General Internal Medicine, which was devoted to health literacy.

The fallout is anything but trivial. Researchers have found that poor health literacy, which is especially prevalent among the elderly, results in poor adherence to prescription instructions, infrequent use of preventive medical services, increased hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room and worse control of chronic diseases.

The consequences are poorer health and greater medical costs. All because doctors fail to speak to patients in plain English (or Spanish or Chinese or any other language) and fail to make sure that patients understand what they are told and what they are supposed to do and why.

This is a major problem. In our office, one solution is a monthly health night conducted at the local library. It is free and patients are welcome to bring friends and family. People may ask any question–we don’t necessarily have all the answers but we can help patients get them. The atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. It actually saves in-office time, because more than one person is being educated and patients know they have a forum to bring up questions if they don’t “get it” the first time.

But what if your doctor doesn’t conduct an information night? What can a patient do to help themselves? Here are some tips:

  1. Bring a friend/family member to the appointment. This is especially important if you fear what the doctor is going to say. Is this a potential cancer/diabetes/heart disease/stroke/Alzheimer’s, etc. conversation? You need someone with you. First, under stress, you won’t hear all the information. Your friend will. Second, you need someone to drive you home, while you process the information. And make sure the companion takes notes. This person might have questions you won’t think of, when you’re on the spot.
  2. Ask clarifying questions. Most people won’t ask, “what does ‘hematoma‘ mean?” They’re too afraid to look stupid. By the time they get home they’ve forgotten the word and can’t look it up on the internet and they can’t call the doctor because they’ll look doubly stupid–they don’t know the word and they don’t know what it means. But if they ask, they’ll know the answer. Is this scary bad or just a little bad? And if the patient doesn’t know the problem, how can they know how to interpret the solution? It is imperative that the patient ask lots of questions. (By the way, hematoma is just a dressed up word for bruise, but it can have serious implications depending on where it is in the body.)
  3. Ask again. I remember when my son was in the NICU and the nurses gave me information about all the monitors and medications. At that point, I was still numb and in la-la land from just giving birth to 24 week, premature babies. About three days later, I started coming to and asked them to repeat everything they told me before, except slowly this time. They happily did just that. Even with fresh medical training, I just couldn’t process during the stress. Any doctor will tell you that it’s a whole different bunch of bananas when you’re the patient. Sometimes knowledge can inhibit even doctors from asking–they, of all people, don’t want to be viewed as stupid. Here’s the thing though, the medical field is changing so fast, with so many specialties, that no one doctor can stay on top of it all. So doctors ask questions, too.
  4. Ask these questions:
    1. Are there alternatives to this treatment?
    2. How often do you perform this procedure? When my husband got cancer and his doctor told him that he “saw this about once a year”, guess what? We found a doctor who saw this every day. You want an expert.
    3. What if I don’t take this medication/do this procedure? Sometimes not doing anything has an almost equal success rate. You need to know that. Sometimes not doing anything is deadly. You need to know that, too.
    4. Would you do this treatment?
    5. How long will I have to take this medication? If the answer is “forever”, go to question #1.
    6. How does this medicine interact with these (your other meds)? He might not know. To follow up, ask the pharmacist.
  5. Tape-record the conversation. If that freaks the doc out, just say, “I’m afraid I’ll forget what you say and I know it’s important.”

The article goes on to give doctors advice about how to communicate with patients, but don’t count on doctors doing it. Your health is most important to YOU and no one has to live with the consequences but you. Don’t be a human New Orleans, waiting for someone to rescue you from your health.

Take charge. Communicate. It could be a matter of life or death.



Stopping Up Stink Holes South & North of the Border

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Captain Ed:

In a war on terrorism in which we have already suffered thousands of deaths from infiltrators into the US, one might think that border security might take a leading position among issues faced the federal government. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that sophisticated tunnels literally undermining our southern border still remain in use even after their discovery, thanks to half-hearted efforts to plug the holes created by smugglers:

Why are we even debating who should shut them and how tunnels should be shut from Mexico to the U.S.? Remember my rant over letting that corpulent little gnome al Sadr run around making mischief in Iraq? I feel the same way about the border.

Just shut it already!

This is not complicated. It will work. Israel is proof that a nice fence makes much nicer neighbors. Here is Dr. Melissa’s two part plan:

  1. Shut the border.
  2. Increase legal immigration.

There. Simple.

When Mexico turns into Canada–a lovely, relatively corruption-free, happy place and people born there actually decide to stay there to make a living, the wall can come down. It doesn’t have to be permanent.

If any leader of the U.S. wants to be taken seriously on terrorism, she/he/it must get serious about the border. I really feel that this has undermined Bush’s Iraq stance–at least those who care about American security, anyway.



Unions Do Drive Up Car Costs

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

But so do tariffs and unfair taxation on American car companies. One way to even the playing field is to invoke tariffs equivalent to the exporting country. U.S. vehicles would look appealing in comparison. An 8% tariff on a $25,000 car is $2,000. That seems only fair, doesn’t it, especially when you consider some countries like Vietnam have 80% tariffs on foreign vehicles (and that’s “liberalized” from 90%).

John Hawkins cites how Unions drive up costs of cars and cut into profits.

Imagine the auto industry with an even economic playing field. They wouldn’t be dying, they’d be thriving. It’s also important to know that the upper-management teams at car companies are always top-heavy. I’m not sure these companies understand the notion of “nimble”.