Weekend Digest: The Home Brew Edition

by Larry Brannan (ltbrannan@aol.com) 3 views 

For our weekend business and political readers:

The National Journal reports that home-brewing beer is now legal in every state.

For some, it was the struggle of their generation. “I don’t want to compare this to the civil-rights movement,” an Alabama man told National Journal’s Ben Terris earlier this year, “but there is a parallel there.” And now, that arc of history has finally bent fully toward justice: After years of painful battles, home-brewing your own beer is legal in every state in America. Micro-Boozehounds, you have won.

Find out which state was the last to allow home-brewing and reaction from the American Homebrewers Association at this link.

The U.S. Census bureau says there were 22.5 million “non-employer” firms in 2011 with average revenues of $44,000.

But for some of these one-man or one-woman shops, running a micro-business is very lucrative, and there was a significant bump in those breaking the $1 million mark.

Forbes breaks down the numbers in groups starting with those making $100,000 to $249,999 all the way up to earnings of more than $5 million.

The folks who are really raking it in – in the $5 million or more category – work in 3 categories, according to the new report: Almost all of them (317) run finance and insurance firms. There’s also a small subset (45 people) who work in arts and entertainment. And four of them work in retail.

Find out the career paths of the other micro-business income groups and learn what is helping some of those entrepreneurs to rack in big sales by clicking this link.

Despite all the training on how to conduct effective meetings, Harvard Business Review says there is a “hidden side” of meetings that often make them go awry.

Managers at every level almost universally complain that many of their meetings are a waste of time. It’s an old story, repeated over and over: “We didn’t have an agenda.” “We didn’t manage the time well.” “We didn’t have the right people to actually make any decisions.” It’s a long list of dysfunctional behaviors that are familiar to just about anyone who has worked in an organization.

Of course the really dysfunctional thing about this litany of misbehavior is that everyone knows these activities impede progress — and everyone knows what’s needed to do things right. The “secret tips” to effective meeting management are not very secret. So why is it so difficult for organizations to develop and sustain more effective meeting patterns?

The Review says besides unexpected business items that can take meetings askew, there is a distinct path of social and emotional issues that come in to play as well. Learn what they are so you can better handle your meetings by going to this link.

Marketplace reports that lumber mills shuttered because of the recession are now reopening with the happy sound of saws buzzing away and some towns in Louisiana are especially reaping the benefits. (FYI, this is a trend Talk Business reported on a few months ago.)

Louisiana is half-forest and in the heart of it is the tiny town of Urania. Its elders are affectionately called “knotheads.” The town lost its plywood mill in 2002. Now, a German wood pellet maker is moving in and promising hundreds of new jobs.

One of those knotheads, Mayor Terri Corley, says residents had to move away to find work. Many went to offshore oil rigs. It nearly killed the town.

Click on this link to learn more about this good news story and a massive expansion in Chopin, La., home of the world’s largest plywood plant.

The GOP is testing a new message on the “Hillary for President” circuit, reports The New York Times.

At a conservative conference earlier in the year, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, ridiculed the 2016 Democratic field as “a rerun of ‘The Golden Girls,’ ” referring to Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 70.

And Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, seizing on the Fleetwood Mac song that became a Clinton family anthem, quipped to an audience in Washington, “If you want to keep thinking about tomorrow, maybe it’s time to put somebody new in.”

Despite her immense popularity, the Times says portraying Clinton as a “has-been” and exploiting her age will be key ways the GOP hopes to attract voters, especially younger ones – assuming she runs for President. Read the entire story at this link.

It will be a “mad scramble” reports POLITICO.

Democrats openly describe their surprise at seeing such consensus around a candidate so early. The hope of retaining the White House in an open-seat election is very real — and the letdown that will set in among Democratic activists and operatives will be very deep if Clinton takes a pass on a campaign, as she may well do.

Even though she hasn’t made a decision, POLITICO says “few in the party believe that.”

But if they’re wrong, there is no obvious replacement.

“We would be at sea in a lifeboat with no food, no water and no land in sight,” said one veteran Democratic operative who has worked on presidential campaigns, and who, like most people interviewed for this story, asked for anonymity to speak candidly about the former first lady. “There is no Plan B.”

For more on the story go to this link.

National Journal reports that after President Obama’s climate change initiative speech last week, Republican campaign committee members “blasted inboxes and airwaves with ‘War on Coal’ talking points, now aimed squarely at Democrats running in Senate and House races in 2014.”

It’s true that President Obama’s plan takes direct aim at the U.S. coal industry. At the heart of the plan are new regulations slashing carbon pollution from new and existing coal-fired power plants. It could well put thousands of coal miners out of work.

But will this cost Democrats politically?  The Journal says it hasn’t in the past and may not in the future.  Click on this link to find out why.

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) re-election campaign has released a commercial “welcoming” Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) into the Kentucky U.S. Senate race.

It’s theme is “What Rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes?” The bizarre techno-rap song may do more for Grimes’ name recognition than it does in taking a shot at her candidacy.

Click on this link from Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire to learn more.

You’ve probably seen the commercial countless times. A guy in a suit is sitting in a classroom talking to kids about simple subjects like “Faster is better than slower,” and “Bigger is Better than smaller.” He’s done almost two dozen commercials in all with different sets of kids.

How ubiquitous are those AT&T commercials with the inquisitive guy talking earnestly with the cute, lippy children? So ubiquitous that the guy — a comedian, actor and writer named Beck Bennett — sometimes finds himself, despite his best intentions, watching himself on television.

“They catch me by surprise,” Mr. Bennett said of the spots. “I’ll be at a bar with friends on a Friday or Saturday, and they come on.”

“It’s pretty surreal,” he added.

All of those commercials are aimed at AT&T’s top rival Verizon Wireless. The campaign has become “wildly successful” and Bennett has become a national celebrity spokesperson.

The New York Times has more on the campaign and Bennett’s rising star at this link.

Pew Research Center in a recent post points out the iPhone is now six-years-old.

The pioneering smartphone has carved out a solid market position, and a demographically distinctive user base, within the ever-expanding world of smartphones which, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, more than half of Americans now own.

25% of all U.S. cellphone owners – and 43% of smartphone owners — own an iPhone.

How does this compare to the Android platform and other smartphones and what are the demographics for iPhone users? Pew Research has the “smart” answers plus charts and graphs at this link.

They do indeed, according to the web site, Mental Floss. Yes, there are actual lyrics to the famous whistling opening of the Andy Griffith Show and to other such memorable programs like Star Trek and Bonanza, which used music-only theme songs.

Click on this link to listen to the lyric versions of 11 classic TV shows and find out how who wrote them. It may change how you listen to the actual theme song the next time you catch one of these classics on the tube or online.