business news in context, analysis with attitude

On Friday I did a FaceTime video about a new federal program that will train people to drive tractor trailers at age 18, a move that is designed to address a national trucker shortage.

To be honest, I was always a little nervous when my kids were that age and I let them drive my car;  this solution strikes me as a solution that is potentially ingenious.  Or scary.  Maybe both.

One MNB reader responded:

If the US military allows 18 year old men and women to operate expensive, technical machinery, these same young people can certainly be trained to drive trucks.  Besides, they will be provided with extensive training and monitoring that will insure that these drivers are far more competent than your average teenage driver. 

And, from MNB reader Dale Tillotson:

I agree with everything thing you say on this subject, then my inner self tells me about this same age group building roads driving big rig equipment and getting shot  or blown up in Afghanistan (pick the war).

Fair point.

Not to digress, but doesn't this logic also mean that maybe we should make it legal for these folks to drink a beer?

The other day we took note of a New York Times piece about how "the pandemic has led to price spikes in everything from pizza slices in Manhattan to sides of beef in Colorado. And it has led to more expensive items on the menus at fast-food chains, traditionally establishments where people are used to grabbing a quick bite that doesn’t hurt their wallet."

I commented, in part:

For supermarkets, the word for this is "opportunity" - certainly they are having their own supply and pricing issues, but in the end, food bought in the supermarket is almost always going to be less expensive than restaurant food.  It is going to last longer, since leftovers can be one of the great pleasures in life.

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

Thinking your list of greatest pleasures needs to be tightened up a bit.

On the contrary, I've rather happy with the idea that I take great pleasure in some many things - it makes life a lot more interesting sand fulfilling.

Though, to be honest, a little more frustrating over the past two years, when a number of those things were canceled out by the pandemic.  Which is when great leftovers come in - like leftover meatloaf turned into a sandwich … leftover potatoes and chorizo sausage mixed into a frittata … leftover risotto … leftover pizza … shall I go on?

Finally, I got several emails about my choice of old movies that I referenced in Friday's OffBeat…

MNB reader Stacy McCoy wrote:

If you’re a Cary Grant fan, have you ever seen him in Father Goose? It’s a great movie showcasing him in a very non-typical Cary Grant role.

If you haven’t seen it, you MUST.

And, from another reader:

You mentioned Cary Grant today but it was the serious / acclaimed / great movies that seemed to capture your attention.  However,  I recommend Father Goose and Operation Petticoat to understand the comedic side of his acting range.  Silly, fun and great for the family.

I've seen both … and as a matter of interest, I have a special affection for Operation Petticoat.  The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and one of the writers was a fellow named Joseph Stone.  Joe wasn't just a screenwriter  — before World War II, he won the California state amateur lightweight boxing championship. Then, after serving in the Navy during the war, he became a boxing referee and judge, and refereed some 5,000 fights and judged about 2,000.  He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994.

While he was doing all that, he also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at Loyola University and USC … and after that, for some four decades taught English and writing for the screen and television at Loyola and Loyola Marymount University.

Which is where I met him.  Joe, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 87, was my television writing teacher while I was at LMU, and was one of the best teachers I had there.  He was fit as can be - he looked like a former lightweight champion - and I can remember him telling me at one point, "The only things I regret are the things I didn't do." 

Which, as it ends up, wasn't all that much.

(It was not  an entirely original sentiment, but I can hear his voice saying it like it was yesterday.  Which is something, since it was almost 50 years ago.)

And that's my Operation Petticoat story.