A Stones Throw 10-9-14


I have a few questions.

I use to think I was able to understand the business world, the sports world, and the world of common sense.

No more.

It seems not a day goes by where there isn’t a new report on the latest General Motors safety recall. As of this week, GM has recalled over 30 million vehicles this year alone. Thirty million General Motors vehicles were placed in the hands of American drivers even though those vehicles contained potential safety problems serious enough to justify a recall.

Each time I read of yet another General Motors recall I wonder how GM will ever regain the confidence of the American buying public.

Then I read the following General Motors report to its investors concerning August sales of GM vehicles:

• GM has industry’s best-selling pickups for second month in a row.

• Chevrolet Cruze sales up 45 percent.

• GMC sales increase 28 percent.

• Buick Encore is the industry’s best-selling small crossover.

• Cadillac Escalade sales more than double

So, I decided GM must be doing something right. After all, 30 million vehicles with safety problems apparently have not stopped people from buying GM.

Then, I read the latest GM strategy designed to increase Cadillac sales. In a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine, an article discussing GM’s concern over lagging Cadillac sales stated: “General Motors plans to move the managers of its Cadillac brand from Michigan to New York, in a move to ‘woo’ well-heeled buyers. Although the Caddy was named after the Frenchman who founded Detroit, its new center will be in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.”

After reading that GM sales are up throughout its line, including an overall increase of 19-percent compared to the same month last year, I decided safety problems in the past don’t concern today’s buyers.

I don’t understand.

Then, after reading about the planned move of Cadillac executives to New York in order to “woo” well-heeled buyers, I decided GM has come to the same conclusion. In fact its conclusion seems to be that the location of a desk is more important than the safety of the car.

I don’t understand that thinking either.


I also don’t understand why we have a developing Ebola crisis in Texas. I am not in the medical field, but I have heard enough about the dangers of Ebola to know that even the slightest risk must be dealt with immediately.

That is, unless you are in Texas.

Much of the growing Ebola crisis in Texas has been attributed to the fact that an individual who was already showing signs of Ebola, and who admitted he had just returned from Africa where he had contact with Ebola patients, was sent home from the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Emergency Room.

It seems the emergency room had a long waiting list so patients not considered seriously ill or seriously injured were sent home – even though every Texas hospital had received guidelines on how to determine the potential of Ebola and what must be done to contain it.

I don’t know exactly what the instructions say, but I don’t think they say “give the patient an aspirin and send him home.”

But then, it probably takes a little bit of common sense to consider a patient who has the symptoms of Ebola and who has indicated he has had contact with Ebola while in Africa as being an Ebola Risk.

I think common sense would immediately take that patient to isolation and begin the task of determining who else might be at risk. I think common sense would keep that person in isolation until it was absolutely determined he did not have Ebola and was no longer a risk.

But then, maybe not – at least not if it involves the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Common sense might have contained the Ebola problem. The lack of common sense has taken things to the level of a serious Ebola crisis.


While automobile safety problems and the spread of Ebola are serious issues, I can’t leave without at least a couple of comments – and questions – about sports.

I thought “replay review” in football was going to eliminate “wrong” calls or validate “right” calls.

So, my question is – why have I watched so many “replay review” calls that have gone against every available camera view of the play in question? After all, the game announcers supposedly have the same camera views that are used in determining “right” and “wrong.”

In today’s televised football, the “flavor of the day” seems to include a former top level football official as a part of each game-time television crew. Whenever a controversial play is being reviewed, the former official gives his view of the play.

This past weekend, I saw four different “reviews” that affected the final outcome of major college football games. Unfortunately, each of the decisions went against what was obvious to the casual viewer, what was obvious to the sports announcers, and what was obvious to the former officials.

But, apparently not obvious to the “replay officials.”

After one of the replay calls that went against all visible evidence, Iowa State University (Yes, I am somewhat prejudiced since both Jade and I graduated from Iowa State.) Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said he is tired of having wrong “replay” decisions that cost Iowa State the opportunity to win a game – and then have the conference apologize for the wrong decision during the following week.

Pollard said he didn’t want any more apologies (He has already received three this year) – he wants correct calls.

Based on what I saw last weekend, there are several coaches and athletic directors who will be getting apologies for wrong “replay” decisions.

I thought “replay review” was going to correct the wrongs – not add to them.

Maybe next year.

Finally, I have to comment on National Football League (NFL) games.

After watching several games last weekend I am proposing a name change – to the National Penalty League (NPL). I watched one game where there was a penalty flag thrown on five consecutive plays. The instant replay of those five plays showed one obvious penalty, one probable penalty, and three “where did that come from” penalties.

Even worse, while the number of penalties per game has increased overall, the inconsistency of penalty calls seems to have increased even more. It is becoming impossible for a player, let alone a fan, to know what is – and what is not – a penalty.

The new officiating policy in the NPL seems to be “right or wrong – just throw the flag.”

And throw it often.

Don’t worry about how the play was called last time – or how it will be called next time. Just throw the flag.

It appears to me that NPL officials either think they are the reason people watch professional football – or, that they will be criticized for allowing players to play – or, maybe they just don’t understand the rules.

Whatever the reason, I wonder why it seems more games are determined by the penalties called by officials than by the plays called by the quarterback.

If it gets any worse, I am going back to watching ‘Matlock’ – I at least understand him.

– Mike Cooney