Why We’ll Be a Bit Distracted Until Monday Arrives: Opening Line

Well, at least Tiger shot under par.

Heading into the weekend we find ourselves wondering once again what things are going to look like on Monday. It’s stunning how quickly things can unspool, and when you’re in the news business on a day like yesterday, it’s kind of like being a first responder. You watch the world coming undone in real time and it’s something you can’t ever unsee.

You guys are on the ride with us on these kinds of days. You make the world go around, or at least help to spin the wheel, and we watch it all with you -- plus what you do -- and feed it back to you. It’s why you, like us, are always just a bit somewhere else in whatever room you’re in, because The Others -- our family and friends -- they don’t see the world turning in the ways we see it. They don’t understand.

How do we explain our distraction during the kids’ pool party tomorrow, or when those friends stop by for the long-planned cocktail party, that there’s someone either in Russia or Ukraine with a rocket launcher capable of reaching 30,000 feet and that they know how to use it? Or that in the next 48 hours or so either side there is going to be so convinced that the other shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 -- God, poor Malaysia Air -- that all gloves will be off in the region by the Sunday morning conference call? Sure, they’ve heard the news. Do they feel it?

If it’s not full metal jacket in Donetsk by Monday it will be in Gaza, which is a topic we have scrupulously avoided because it’s pretty much the third rail. The ground war has started there, and without getting on either side’s case about the crap each is pulling, we would like to hear NBC News explain why it pulled its correspondent in Gaza, Ayman Mohyeldin.

Was the network concerned about his mental health after he witnessed the death of four Palestinian boys cut down in front of him moments after he had been playing soccer with them on a beach? Or was his reporting so even that it offended those with a different set of principles in journalism? NBC poached him from Al Jazeera for a reason after his coverage of Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008, so what changed? His social media postings?

Then, just as all this stuff was screaming around the newswires, and the markets/you were telling us you’ve have enough, there’s a lockdown at the White House and you begin to start thinking things to yourself -- weird things, the same kinds of things that were swirling in your head around 9:37 a.m. EDT on Sept. 11, 2001: What exactly might we have going on here?

Maybe you think that’s a little extreme, but it isn’t to us. We have to be ready for this kind of thing now, probably forever.

So once again we find that while there’s a mostly sunny weekend to come, there are clouds in the forecast.


Friday’s economic indicators are the University of Michigan consumer confidence survey at 9:55 a.m. EDT and LEI at 10 a.m.

Earnings releases are due from Honeywell, Johnson Controls, GE, Bank of New York Mellon, Interpublic Group and ITT Educational Services.


- AbbVie and Shire have a deal at about 32 billion pounds, or $54.8 billion. - The threatened LIRR strike has been averted with a tentative deal, so it’s game on in the Hamptons this weekend. - Talks in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear ambitions head into the weekend and may be extended past the deadline on Sunday, July

20. - The insider-trading probe circling the House Ways and Means Committee extends to dozens of hedge funds, investment advisers and others. - Meg Whitman was named Hewlett-Packard’s chairman as Ralph Whitworth steps down to fight cancer. Wasn’t sure which one of those to lead with. - Jamie Dimon is $37 million richer, on paper. - Christie killed in Iowa. - Berlusconi’s verdict in his appeal of convictions for abuse of power and engaging a minor in prostitution is expected today. - Typhoon Rammasun has moved on to China after killing 54 in the Philippines. - The body of Harry Devert, a stock broker from Pelham, New York, was found in Mexico following his disappearance during a motorcycle trip to the World Cup. - Get a good look at the Manhattan skyline now. It will be different soon. - Richard Florida and researchers from the University of California find that states with pro-business policies have the widest wealth gaps. - New York City has formed a task force to deal with the Central American child migrants who are arriving to the city. - Seven are dead in Poland after they all fell into a septic tank. - Happy Nelson Mandela Day.


The TV people have a potent guest roster today to discuss the downed Malaysian airliner and events in Gaza, including Representative Mike Turner, the Ohio Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee, at 8 a.m. EDT; Roman Popadiuk, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, at 10 a.m.; Grover Norquist, just for levity, at 10:30 a.m.; Daniel Baker, CEO of Flight Aware, at 1 p.m., Ido Aharoni, general consul of Israel at 3 p.m.; and Representative Peter King, the New York Republican, at 3:30.


It’s an easy line to draw between the U.S. coal industry and commercial fishing. The analogy is thin, admittedly, but both are based on a finite resource. Granted, you’re not disfiguring nature as much or as visibly in large-scale commercial fishing, and we don’t rely on fish for powering homes and industry, but the same lamentations arise from the boat captains that come from the coal miners when you try to tell them that what they’re doing isn’t sustainable.

It’s a hard lesson they’ve learned in eastern Kentucky, Mark Drajem shows us, and it’s a lesson that’s likely to come in time in Wyoming, where the living is easy as it used to be in Kentucky’s coal heyday (well, sort of).

They’re almost making fracking money in Wyoming, and the civic leaders have the enviable task of figuring how to spend it all, or spend it most wisely. But it all just can’t go on forever, and like the fishermen, the short-sightedness of clinging to what amounts to a 19th century technology makes little sense.

However, sense can be in short supply in places like these. Have you gotten wind of “rolling coal” yet? (For the record, there’s no coal involved. Or sense.)

“We’re going to have to rely on something else,” Harry Gibson, a former miner, told Drajem. “But we’ve gotten so dependent on coal, it’s like we’re on drugs.”

Just say no.


Why do people do some of the things they do?

Running marathons, climbing mountains, deep-frying their Thanksgiving turkeys -- what are you all trying to prove? Isn’t life difficult enough?

We’re only half-serious. The other half is in awe of people who do those things or, in the case of the turkeys, attempt them.

Add swimming the English Channel to the list and meet our London-based sports editor Sara Marley, who turned 39 again yesterday and who will celebrate by making the swim sometime in the next several days, depending on conditions.

Marley was a water rat growing up and, reading her story today, you get the sense there are few places she feels more comfortable, but come on -- more comfortable than in front of the television?

We told her it was difficult to comprehend what she’s undertaking.

“Sometimes I can’t either,” she said with a laugh yesterday. Marley has a happiness and brightness in her voice that’s reassuring. It leaves you feeling she’s going to be just fine.

In fact, this is not her first rodeo. Her longest swim up to now was a 15.1-mile (24.3 kilometers) tour around Cape May at the southern tip of New Jersey that took her 8 hours and 11 minutes. Like runners, once you do that, you want to go a little farther. She’s estimating 12 to 14 hours to make it the 21 miles to France.

“In some ways you know what it’s going to be like -- because I’ve done long swims, I’ve done sea swims, I’ve done eight-hour swims -- so on the one hand I kind of have an idea, and on the other hand I can’t imagine what it’ll be like either.”

So, Sara? Why?

“That’s the hardest one to answer, and it’s not ‘because it’s there.’ It’s because...”

She drifts for a moment.

The reasons “all sound really conceited.” She drifts for another second or two.

“Because I think I can do it.”


This is almost like shooting fish in a barrel, but it turns out that You Guys -- our customers, whom we just surveyed recently -- are far less conflicted morally about investing in weed and weaponry than your counterparts in Europe and Asia.

It pretty much comes down to one thing, Oliver Renick reports, and we think you know what that one thing is since you’re the people who replied: money.

If there’s money to be made, a certain moral flexibility is justified.

Look: Guns are legal. They are legal. They’re legal like knives and bricks and lawn darts and -- what? Screw it, we’re on a roll. -- and not lawn darts but cigarettes and alcohol and cattle prods and we could go on forever.

Is there a discussion to be had about all the various models of that legal product, and whether we need the models that escape detection at security points or those that could mow down a platoon of law enforcement officers before needing to reload? Probably, yeah. But that’s a different column, and besides we have Bloomberg View for that.

As for the weed, everyone reading this who hasn’t inhaled or at least had a contact high a minimum of twice your life, raise your hand. (Not you, Jeff Green.)

Thought so.

Americans are changing their minds about marijuana and gay marriage and expectations of privacy and “America’s Got Talent” and a hundred other things.


The Bloomberg Global Poll of You Guys also has a bad read on bitcoins, with more than half of you saying prices are at bubble level and 14 percent saying it’s close to one.

Given that bitcoins opened 2013 at $13 and were trading this week at $625, it’s a logical attitude. You could buy stock in Cynk with that. (Not really.)

But while titans of finance like Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett express doubt about the digital currency’s continued existence, the payment system continues to gather acceptance at companies, Olga Kharif reports. A total of 63,000 businesses now take bitcoins as payment, including Expedia, Dish Network and Overstock.com. Starting tomorrow in Denmark, you’ll be able to buy the digital-currency NXT with dollars or euros and buy the krone and other Nordic money with NXT.

If only you could buy weed and guns with bitcoins. Won’t be long now.


We’ll start out the weekend box office preview with “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” a Disney animation that continues its practice of giving voice to inanimate objects (toys, cars, etc.), this time airplanes and helicopters and earth-moving vehicles, and drops them into the middle of what’s becoming (in real life) a summer ritual: wildfires.

The script (in the trailer, at least) follows the trusted vehicles of a “Top Gun” movie (See what we did there? Vehicles?), with cocky alpha males, uncertain underdogs, and peripheral characters for contour, coming together to overcome adversity, backed by a soaring soundtrack.

This is one of those movies that parents dread, the kind of movie your moppets will want you to play for them over and over and over and over -- every damn day -- until you know every line by heart and it starts infecting your dreams.

Next is “The Purge: Anarchy,” this weekend’s dystopian movie. It’s a sequel to “The Purge,” which took a $3 million budget and turned it into a $34 million take on its opening weekend last year.

The allegory bleeds through the trailer, helped by the red, white and blue of the title screens, indicating themes of class warfare in a plot about a government-sanctioned night of lawlessness that ends with ragtag group of average Americans captured and brought for slaughter before a select group of wealthy. Think 1 Percenters meets “The Hunger Games.”

Last, there’s the comedy “Sex Tape.” Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are a couple who make that ultimate mistake, which you can surmise from the title, and their frantic efforts to prevent friends, coworkers and relatives from seeing it.

But in a modern twist, it’s not on tape.

“How do you forget to erase your sex tape?!” Diaz shrieks at Segel.

“It went up to the cloud!”

“And you can’t get it down from the cloud?”

“Nobody understands the cloud!”


Hey, Tiger. Look at you! Sorry, Rory, but c’mon, it’s Tiger, on the prowl.

Three shots back and 3-under after the first round at the British Open will put a charge in everyone, Woods especially. There’s probably nothing that could take a little bit of the edge off the English-speaking world this weekend more than watching the old man start making the scene -- short of people ceasing to shoot at things and each other, that is.

This might be just the golf course for Woods to mount some kind of comeback. You can roll the stupid ball for hundreds of yards with a bump-and-run game on these links courses, which might take a little pressure and pain off his ailing back. Dude can just crank it for 300 yards and play miniature golf the rest of the way.

But there’s a nice storyline also behind Rory McIlroy, who leads the field at Royal Liverpool with a 6-under-par 66, because he, too, has foundered lately. And we have a soft spot for Jim Furyk, who was born just a few miles from the Opening Line bureau and who sits two strokes back with Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott.

Could be a good tournament. We’ll see by Monday.


But Monday will just be the start of another miserable week at the office for the boys on their bicycles in France. At least they’ll be in the mountains by the end of the day; it’s more difficult to crash going up mountains. Not so going down them, however.

Yesterday, it was the Norwegian sprinter Alexander Kristoff who outlasted Peter Sagan for his first stage win at the Tour de France while handing Sagan his fourth second-place finish.

Today the men meet the Alps, running 197.5 kilometers (123 miles) from Saint-Étienne to Chamrousse, and a hard and cruel tour so far now officially gets harder and crueler.

Vincenzo Nibali of Astana remains in yellow with a lead of 2 minutes, 23 seconds over Team Sky’s Richie Porte.

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