*Well, almost daily
Parade down Bourbon Street in a dress
What: Longtime New Orleans sports commentator Bernard “Buddy” Diliberto, frustrated by his team’s endless failures, made the promise to radio listeners back in 1994. Alas, Diliberto passed away in 2005 before he could have the pleasure of fulfilling his pledge. So last Sunday, some of his biggest fans did it for him — Buddy’s son Chris Diliberto donned a knee-length black zip dress and marched through the Big Easy, as did former Saints quarterback Bobby Herbert and an army of dress-wearing men calling themselves “Buddy’s Broads.”
Get This: Buddy anointed the Saints’ with their long-cursed nickname, the “Aints,” after the team’s 1-15 season in 1980. He also started the tradition of Saints fans wearing paper bags over their head, to hide the shame of rooting for a failing franchise.
It’s a big weekend for The Big Easy. The Saints play in the Super Bowl and there’s a mayoral election. New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter David Hammer talks with Kai Ryssdal about how it’s the Saints vs. candidates in today’s Marketplace.
Special thanks to Darlene Bolesny of the Public Insight Network for this idea!
Michigan, California, Oregon
What: The official unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent, but it doesn’t include people who are working part time and would like to be working full time, or people who have given up looking for jobs. When the so-called underemployed are included, these three states have the highest 2009 rates according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Michigan - 21.5%
California - 21.1%
Oregon - 20.7%
Why: The figures show how difficult it is to find a full-time job in this economic climate. Michigan was hit particularly hard because of the woes of its auto industry. It also has the nation’s highest unemployment rate. Close to one in five people cannot find work in the aforementioned three states and these six:
South Carolina - 19.6%
Nevada - 19.2%
Rhode Island - 19.1%
Arizona - 18.1%
Florida - 18.4%
Tennessee - 18.6%
Get this: The least underemployed state? North Dakota at 8%. Find out how many people in your state are underemployed by visiting the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site.
Nearly nine million Americans are underemployed. Dan Bobkoff has the story of one woman on today’s Marketplace.
What: In 1998, when he was 44 years old, Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela. He was reelected in 2000 and then again in 2006.
Why: Beginning in 2007, Chavez advocated for an end to presidential term limits. The measure failed that year, but in 2009 Venezuelan voters passed a referendum eliminating term limits. The door is now open for Chavez to run again in 2012, which he plans to do. Yesterday, on the 11th anniversary of his 1998 inauguration, he indicated he’s up for 11 more years in office, saying “in 11 years I’ll be 66 and that would make 22 (years) as president, and if you want it and God wants it, then it shall be.”
One thing that Chavez may continue if he’s elected to more terms is his weekly talk show, “Aló Presidente” (AKA “Hello, President”). The show airs every Sunday on Venezuelan state TV and radio stations, and Chavez has hosted it throughout his tenure in office. It features him discussing a broad range of issues. And just like his presidency — there is no time limit! Yup, “Aló Presidente” has no official end time. The show has lasted as long as eight hours!
Get this: Chavez’ detractors have attempted to remove him from the presidency just as many times as he’s been elected to the office: a coup attempt in 2002, an oil strike in 2002-2003, and a recall referendum in 2004.
Commentator David Frum recently visited Venezuela. He offers his thoughts on its curious economic state in this Marketplace commentary.
What: The League of American Bicyclists produced a study on bicycle and commuter trends, analyzing data from 70 of the largest U.S. cities over a period of eight years. Portland, Oregon, ranked number 1 for the league’s list of bicycle-friendly community criteria, which included data on population and percentage increase of bikers over time. Other bicycle-friendly communities designated in the top ranks by the league include Davis CA, Boulder CO, San Francisco, and Seattle. Being recognized as a bicycle-friendly community isn’t easy; only 124 of 318 applicant cities received the league’s four-year BFC designation.
Get This: According to the latest American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, just 0.55 percent of Americans use a bicycle as their primary means of getting to work (released Sept. 22, 2009). That number is up 17 percent since the 2007 survey, 36 percent since the 2005 survey and 43 percent since the ACS in 2005.
Find more information on bicycling trends in the United States at the League of American Bicyclists’ Web site.
Don’t own a bike? Maybe you can rent one. Some major cities are trying out bike-share programs. Check out today’s story by Andrea Bernstein on Marketplace to find out more.
An automated loom
What: Sakichi Toyoda, one of the most celebrated inventors in Japanese history (Forbes magazine once named him one of the most influential businessmen ever), started out as a weaver. His breakthrough invention — circa 1924 — was a loom which shut itself down whenever it detected imperfections in the fabric.
Some of the money from the sale of this invention went to Toyoda’s son Kiichiro, who used it to start a little car company called Toyota. And the principle behind the loom became a foundation for Toyota’s revolutionary manufacturing process.
Why: Like Toyoda’s loom, each machine in Toyota’s assembly line is designed to shut down if there’s a problem. The entire production process pauses while a worker examines and repairs the malfunctioning machine. So instead of inspecting a finished car to see if there are any flaws, problems are detected before they can “infect” a car in the first place. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Get this: Sakichi Toyoda is also credited with inventing “The Five Whys” — a widely-taught troubleshooting system. The idea is that, to determine the root cause of any given problem, employees need to ask “why?” at least five times. The Toyota recall would seem to indicate someone stopped at four.
Female CEOs in the Fortune 500
What: In 2007, there were 12 women CEOs running Fortune 500 companies. By the end of 2009, that number had risen to 15.
Why: It may not sound like a lot, but it is a record: 2.6% of top CEOs. And the number’s grown fast: at the beginning of the decade there were just three. Today’s headcount includes three women of color, Indra Nooyi (Pepsi), Ursula Burns (Xerox) and Andrea Jung (Avon).
Get this: Thanks to layoffs in this recession, women are expected to outnumber men in the U.S. workforce in 2010. Will that lead to more women on the Fortune 500 list? Hard to say, but a recent USA Today report suggests that in 2009, large companies led by women had better-than-average performances.
Indra Nooyi talks with Kai Ryssdal about business’ responsibilities to their stakeholders. Catch the interview on Marketplace today.
Just more than half
What: About 45 percent of the stuff in your car is designed, engineered, tested and built by parts suppliers. And experts say that number could go as high as 60 percent in the next couple of years.
Why: As the various components of vehicles have gotten more complex — think fancy computer and electrical systems — the cost of R&D has gone up. And even before the economic crisis, car companies couldn’t afford to invest all the money they needed to develop just one system. Plus, union workers on the assembly lines at carmakers get paid a lot. And it just wasn’t economical to pay them the big bucks to build a simple part.
Suppliers have responded by getting more and more specialized — so there are go-to companies for seats and interiors and power trains, etc. They recoup their R&D costs by selling to more than one carmaker.
Get this: There are somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 suppliers in North America — and an automaker may use as many 3,000-4,000 suppliers. That number has dropped in the last several years, and the industry has been hit badly by the downturn in the auto industry overall. The industry association for suppliers says more than 50 suppliers filed for bankruptcy last year.
Learn more about parts suppliers’ role in Toyota’s recall of millions of vehicles this week. Alisa Roth has the story.
The Carlyle Hotel
What: The private equity firm was named for the luxury hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where founders Stephen Norris and David Rubenstein frequently met to discuss the investment group’s business plans in the late 80s. In the spring of 1987, they decided upon the name.
Why: The Carlyle Hotel was a favorite of one of the group’s first investors. And Stephen Norris also loved the hotel, which had been the home of André Mayer, one of his heroes. The French-born Mayer was once the head of the investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co., and is known as the “Picasso of Banking” due to his financial innovations and contributions to American business. Mayer was instrumental in revitalizing U.S. business after World War II.
Get this: In 2007, David Rubenstein paid $21.32 million at Sotheby’s auction house in New York to buy the only privately-owned copy of the Magna Carta. It can be seen at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
David Rubenstein is a regular at Davos. What’s he got to say about this year’s summit? Find out on Marketplace.
What: In the mid-19th century the small, mountainous town of 1,500 residents became known for its unique microclimate. Europe’s rich and famous started heading toward the Swiss city in hopes of cures for respiratory complaints. (Library of Congress image shows Davos ca. 1895)
Why: Doctors at the time believed that Davos’ high altitude and relatively dry climate (just 39 inches of rain per year) was especially beneficial for patients with lung disease. Author Robert Louis Stevenson suffered from tuberculosis, and spent the winter of 1880 in the mountain resort town, where he is said to have completed his famous adventure novel, “Treasure Island.”
Get this: Davos’ healing propensities didn’t have much to do with why it was first chosen to host what eventually became known as the World Economic Forum. Its isolated location and privacy were the main draws.
A little more: While researching this Nugget, we even found a pamphlet from 1907 explaining the wonders of the mountain town.
There’s a lot at stake at the 40th World Economic Forum. Check out Stephen Beard’s report on Marketplace.
What: Each clown has his or her own unique face, which is considered their trademark. While clown faces are the same in many ways, each clown’s distinctive variation makes him or her one of a kind.
Why: The unwritten rule may have grown out of a U.K. tradition of decorating… eggs. In the mid-1940’s Stan Bult helped establish the International Circus Clowns Club (now called Clowns International), the first global organization for clowns in the world. Around that time, he began recording clown images on blown-out chicken eggs. It was his hobby that first recorded specific clowns’ facial makeup. Though many of the original eggs Bult painted were destroyed in an accident after being lent out for exhibition, a collection of reproduced and new eggs can be seen at the Clowns International Clown Museum. Today’s eggs are painted by a professional artist, and China-pot eggs have replaced the fragile chicken kind.
Get this: There’s a U.S. version too, starting in the 1980s. Leon “Buttons” McBryde, a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and his wife heard about the U.K. tradition, and started a similar unofficial registry for American clowns - using goose eggs.
A little more: Check out these clown egg photos from Luke Stephenson on Flickr, showing a few of the many painted faces.
There’s some clowning around going on in Paris. Check out John Laurenson’s story on Marketplace to see why these French clowns are so “risky.”
295 million pounds
What: It takes a whole lot of meat to make those tacos, nachos and burritos that Taco Bell serves to more than 2 billion consumers each year. ¡Ay caramba! Taco Bell consumers also eat 3.8 billion corn and flour tortillas, 62 million pounds of pinto beans, and 106 million pounds of cheese in an average year.
Why: Taco Bell is the leading Mexican-style fast-food chain in the U.S., and more than 2 billion tacos and 1 billion burritos are served in its restaurants yearly.
Get this: If “think outside the bun” comes to mind every now and again, it’s because nearly 150 million people see a Taco Bell commercial each week — nearly half the U.S. population. As for the fast food chain’s newest “diet” ad campaign, we’re left scratching our heads: satire, or for real?
Was Taco Bell the gateway for Americans to accept Mexicans? Commentator Gustavo Arellano says yes in his Marketplace commentary.
What: Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton wasn’t trying to create a fizzy soft drink, though. His interest was in making French Wine Coca, a cure-all tonic sold mostly to upper-class customers. French Wine Coca’s main ingredients were Bordeaux wine and coca leaves. That’s right, coca leaves — AKA where cocaine comes from.
Why: In 1885, Atlanta passed new prohibition laws, and Pemberton set about creating a non-alcoholic alternative to his popular tonic. The first glass was sold at a nearby pharmacy, where Pemberton’s syrup was combined with carbonated water — known to be good for one’s health. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, coined the Coca-Cola name and the logo still bears his distinctive, flowing script. Despite the temperance rules in Atlanta — and until his death in 1888 — Pemberton’s original French Wine Coca continued to be much more popular than the new, carbonated and non-alcoholic Coca-Cola product.
Get this: Pemberton’s original recipe called for 5 ounces of coca leaf for every gallon of Coca-Cola syrup. Six years later, under a different owner, the coca amount dropped by 90%. By the early 1900s, all traces of cocaine had been removed from the recipe. Today, the coca flavoring comes from a cocaine-free extract of the coca leaf, manufactured by just one processing plant in New Jersey that is specially licensed by the U.S. government. Stimulating!
A little more: The first glass of Coca-Cola sold for just 5 cents. If you want to learn more about the beverage’s history, take a look at its heritage timeline.
Learn about a small Coca-Cola innovation being tested in select markets. Sally Herships reports for Marketplace.
ARKANSAS, GEORGIA, COLORADO, MINNESOTA and WYOMING
What: According to the Department of Labor, the federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. Of the 45 states that have enacted minimum wage laws, these five have state wages below the federal wage:
Minnesota: $6.15 for large employer; $5.25 for small employer
Why: Some states set minimum wage laws above or below the federal minimum. In some states, like Minnesota, most employees are entitled to receive the higher wage. But some occupations - like domestic workers, babysitters, seasonal employees, or workers from a local business that doesn’t qualify as participating in interstate commerce - are exempt from federal wage laws. In some of these cases, workers are paid the state’s minimum wage.
Get this: On July 24, 2009, the federal government raised the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. That move helped an estimated 4.5 million workers. But according to the Economic Policy Institute, an individual earning $7.25 an hour in a standard work year would earn an annual income of $14,500. That’s below the 2009 federal poverty level of $14,570 for a family of two.
Learn more about the difficulties involved with climbing out of poverty by listening to today’s story on Marketplace.
What: San Francisco inventor Charles Fey invented the “Liberty Bell” in 1895, a machine with five symbols and a simple mechanism for making automatic payments.
Why: Depicting horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a Liberty Bell — and with a major pay-off of 50 cents — the machine was a huge success, with demand eventually exceeding Fey’s ability to supply (even after the machines were banned in California). When the inventor refused to sell his idea to bigger manufacturers, knock-offs proliferated and an industry was born.
Get this: Local regulation determines the minimum percentage of monies wagered at slot machines that must be paid out as winnings to players. Nevada’s minimum is 75%, and New Jersey’s is 83%. Jersey shore, here we come!
Learn more about casino gambling on the East Coast by checking out today’s story on Marketplace Morning Report.
What Frank J. Zamboni created the first self-propelled ice resurfacing machine in 1949. Within five years, he was selling them commercially. He wanted to call the company Paramount Engineering Co., but found the name was already taken.
Why Zamboni was in the ice business—making ice that was used in home iceboxes (precursors to refrigerators) and to keep produce cool as it was shipped by rail from Southern California. When refrigeration made ice blocks obsolete, Zamboni, along with his brother and cousin, looked for ways to keep making money. They built Iceland, a skating rink that still operates today. The Zamboni was developed to keep the surface of the ice fresh.
Bonus The name Zamboni is trade-marked, as is the machine’s familiar blocky shape, and the company prefers the name not be used as a verb or as a noun. There is, however, a band called The Zambonis—which has a licensing agreement with the company—and Sarah Palin has said she always wanted to name a son Zamboni. (No licensing agreement has yet been struck.)
Next month at the winter Olympics you’ll get to see zambonis in action. And we’re already looking forward to it. Marketplace Morning Report has this on figure skating’s popularity — and what it means for sponsors.
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