by Max Brantley
Things slow where you are? Deadly dull around downtown. Your thoughts are still welcome. Final notes:
* MERIT PAY DOESN'T WORK: That's the conclusion of a writer in the Harvard Business Review. He's not talking about teachers, but CEOs, but the general theories apply. Variable pay schemes encourage people to manipulate the system, for one thing. (Cheat on tests, for example.) Anyway, this struck me:
Thanks mainly to provisions linked to performance, CEO compensation has skyrocketed in recent decades, while its correlation with actual corporate performance has remained as weak as ever. This has been most true in the U.S., where among the S&P 500 the ratio of average CEO pay to average employee salary went from about 40:1 in the 1970s to 325:1 in 2010.
* RON PAUL CAN RUN, BUT HE CAN'T HIDE: Ron Paul has been busy disavowing extremist statements he's sanctioned in the past. What about today? His campaign is touting his endorsement by a fine fellow who endorses the death penalty for homosexuality. Another indication of candidates' perceptions about the mainstream voters in the Iowa Republican caucus.
* NAKED BAPTIST BASKETBALL: Surely KTHV wouldn't — couldn't — make this up: Youthful members of a basketball team associated with a Baptist college (simmer down, Rex, not from OBU, but Champion Baptist in Hot Springs) were seen playing naked "freeze-out" on Interstate 30 while their coaches changed a tire Dec. 9. Coaches disclaimed knowledge of their nekkid charges, aged 11 to 17, who were headed to a tourney in Rogers. Coaches reportedly charged with contributing to delinquency of minors. Here's the State Police report.
* ON FIRE ABOUT SPORTS: Somebody torched an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL pressbox in Rogers. I don't know if that's media commentary, elementary athletics commentary or what.
* TYSON DISCRIMINATION VERDICT REVERSED: The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals today reversed a $700,000 judgment awarded Retha Weems agains Tyson Foods in an Arkansas gender discrimination case over her firing as a Noel, Mo., plant manager. The court said a jury shouldn't have been allowed to hear about a proposed agreement to settle her complaint out of court.
* BREAD TRUCK ROBBERY: The Little Rock Downtown Neighborhood Association says it confirmed with police that a man with a club beat two Boulevard Bread Co. employees behind the bakery on South Main early this morning and stole a bakery van. The van was recovered about 3 p.m., an employee tells me. A sack of bread fell out of the van as the robber drove off and delivery employees don't carry money, so the robber didn't have much bread to show for the effort. The robber first hit driver Jeff Bollinger, 35, and then hit Josh Phillips, 32, another bakery worker, when he came outside to help.