Yogi Yarns – “If you come to a foot in your mouth, take it out.”

We continue our occasional series based on the sayings, real or — as in this post — imagined, of Yogi Berra. Were we to consult Yogi on veterinary problems such as Foot-and-mouth disease, I am confident his advice would be simple: “If you come to a foot in your mouth, take it out.”

Recent news reports show that two well-known folks would do well to heed this advice.

The Business Section of the New York Times for December 18 has a column by Dan Mitchell, What’s Online: The Economist on ‘Fair Trade’ . It contains a section titled “The Power of Heresy” that says

In 2004, the development chief of Microsoft Windows, Jim Allchin, wrote in an e-mail message to the chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, and the chairman, Bill Gates, that he would buy a Mac if he weren’t working for Microsoft. “In my view we’ve lost our way,” he wrote, listing areas in which the company had “lost sight” of its customers’ needs.

The message was presented as evidence in the Iowa antitrust trial Comes v. Microsoft. Groklaw.net posted it last week.

Mr. Allchin responded on his blog this week that the e-mail “is nearly 3 years old, and I was being purposefully dramatic in order to drive home a point.”

His aim was to spur the company to improve, he wrote, and improve it did: Windows new operating system, Vista, is “better than any other OS we’ve ever built and far, far better than any other software available today” windowsvistablog.com/blogs.

See Setting The Record Straight for Mr. Allchin’s referenced post.

Vista “better than any other software available today!” Mr. Allchin, give me a break. Are you saying that Vista is better than Linux? In your dreams, Mr. Allchin, not in reality.

I suggest you take your foot out of your mouth so you can reach your terminal and start writing some code to make Vista better. There’s lots to be done.

Our current VP would also do well to consult Mr. Berra. As reported in the news and in blogs, during the celebration of the retirement of Don Rumsfeld as U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mr. Cheney is reported to have said:

In his regard for our people in uniform, in his unwavering strength through unprecedented challenges, in his example of leadership and patriotic service, I believe the record speaks for itself: Don Rumsfeld is the finest Secretary of Defense this nation has ever had.

I beg to differ, and submit the name of General of the Army George Catlett Marshall. General Marshall not only served as Secretary of Defense, he was also the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army during World War II, during a global war fought on two major fronts.

General Marshall enjoyed greater success. The U.S. won wars under General Marshall’s leadership, while Mr. Rumsfeld’s record as Secretary of Defense shows little hope of yielding any meaningful victory.

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