Killer of Most Wanted Doesn’t Get the Extra Point: Opening Line

“Robert O’Neill, ex-SEAL who says he killed bin Laden, gives Redskins pep talk” -- Washington Times, Nov. 16

Greetings, fellow warriors. As you no doubt know by now, my name is Rob O’Neill. As a huge Skins fan, this is a thrill for me. And as Americans, this is a huge thrill for you, I’m sure.

The most important thing I can share with you is the value of teamwork.

We had an expression we liked to repeat while in transit to a mission: “There’s no ‘I’ in Seal Team 6, unless you spell out the 6.” That expression is highly classified, by the way, so please don’t repeat it unless you’re me.

If you beat the Buccaneers, as I fully expect, you won’t do so as 53 individuals. You’ll do it as a team.

Which means if there’s one person who makes the big play, whether it’s an amazing catch that everybody sees, or a key block that nobody notices, or a perfect shot that kills the most wanted man in the world -- just kidding, that was me -- you don’t seek headlines, you don’t grasp for glory, you don’t talk down your teammates by talking up yourself.

At least, not right away. Wait a while and then grab whatever glory you think you deserve. Because while there’s no “I” in team, there are three in “I did it.” And believe me, next to “God Bless America” and maybe “Hail to the Redskins,” there’s no better saying than that.

Now go make me proud.

***

Today’s U.S. economic indicators include Empire Manufacturing at 8:30 a.m. EST and industrial production and capacity utilization at 9:15 a.m.

Earnings are reported by Tyson Foods, the always unpredictable Urban Outfitters and Agilent.

***

- Japan enters surprise recession as sales-tax boost gets blame. - Buyers flock to Chinese stocks on first day of Hong Kong-Shanghai exchange link. - Halliburton and Baker Hughes resume negotiations on merger. - Actavis nears deal to buy Allergan in potential rebuff to Valeant. - Putin warns Ukraine could become “neo-Nazi state.” - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Muslim sailors beat Christopher Columbus to the Americas by 300 years. - Forty-eight members of Congress have personal or family money invested in Apple. - Vice is hiring former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco as chief operating officer. - Federal drug agents surprised NFL teams with inspections of medical teams. - Jennifer Lawrence describes paparazzi torment. - Napoleon’s hat sold at auction for $2.4 million.

***

We’ve joined the club.

A few days ago we watched the clock tick toward 10 a.m., when tickets went on (American Express pre-) sale for a Taylor Swift concert at Nationals Park in Washington next July, a splurge to allow Mrs. Opening Line to take Little Miss Opening Line to her first concert. (Don’t give us that look. At least it’s not Justin Bieber.)

Following a few tense minutes stuck in a “virtual waiting room,” where every 30 seconds prospective ticket-buyers are randomly selected to proceed, we advanced to the buying screen and chose two field seats for $269.

Then came the fees: $65.20 (including, amazingly, a couple bucks each to print out the tickets on our home computer), plus a few more dollars for “order processing,” for a total of $339, with fees and surcharges representing a 26 percent markup.

We did this transaction through Tickets.com, a unit of Major League Baseball. On its frequently asked questions page, the company deals with the fee question with a “don’t-blame-us” explanation:

“Our technologies allow –- and we actually encourage -– the teams, venues and event presenters to charge a simple, single price for tickets,” the company says, but “for some reason the industry has gotten into the habit of charging ‘processing fees’ above the price of the ticket.”

But then why do so many of the fees go to Tickets.com? Because “our systems have costs, but most of clients don’t want to purchase or license our systems outright.”

The website’s terms-of-use page is less apologetic: “The fees and charges we assess may be greater than our actual cost of providing those services, and we may retain a portion of all such fees and charges as profit.”

Since we’re such latecomers to the debate over fees driving up the cost of concert tickets, we can’t really defend our surprise and outrage. All we can do is quote Ms. Swift to the whole ticket-selling industry:

I knew you were trouble.

***

“Flash Boys,” Michael Lewis’s case for why high-frequency trading has rendered the stock market rigged, kicked off an impassioned debate that played out publicly on television and in newspaper columns.

The on-the-ground impact has been both more gradual and more interesting.

Saleha Mohsin reports today that Norway’s $860 billion sovereign wealth fund now takes care to erase its footprints when trading in U.S. markets, to avoid the sketchy practice known as front-running.

“We’re trading less using algorithmic trading now than we did some years ago and are doing much more trading in large block sizes to avoid pattern-reading,” Oeyvind Schanke, the fund’s head of asset strategies, tells Mohsin.

The Norway fund’s views on high-frequency trading aren’t new. In June, it said it uses IEX Group, the ever-so-slightly delayed exchange lauded in Lewis’s book, to avoid predatory front-running.

What’s interesting to learn is that such a large investor has had had to alter its investing techniques to avert the hazards of the U.S market.

“What the fund needs is a way to make large trades without impacting the markets, something that Schanke said is easier to do in Europe, where rules are more relaxed,” Mohsin reported.

Something else to keep in mind as we come to grips with the metamorphosis of the U.S. stock market.

***

Dead-celeb superagent.

We’d be hard-pressed to find a more curious job description than this one, in Anthony Effinger and Katherine Burton’s story on the lucrative field of representing dead celebrities’ estates.

The superagent in question is Mark Roesler, whose website modestly calls him “the paramount authority on celebrity representation and valuation.” His company, CMG Worldwide, boasts a can’t-talk-back clientele that includes Bette Davis, James Dean, John Belushi, Dizzy Gillespie, Lou Gehrig, Amelia Earhart, Frank Lloyd Wright and Malcolm X. (That is one office holiday party we’d enjoy attending.)

Hologram technology has enabled these posthumous promotion specialists to offer something akin to “live” performances (by Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and burlesque queen Bettie Page, among others) in addition to licensed merchandise, from books and posters to cuff links and luggage.

After all, what says “I love you, my wife” more than a swimsuit licensed by a dead pinup star?

***

We’re not sure this is the kind of progress that Gloria Steinem had in mind.

A federal judge has ruled that Rick’s Cabaret, a Manhattan strip club, owes at least $10.8 million in back pay to about 1,900 dancers, the New York Times reported. The judge, Paul Engelmayer of the Southern District, had previously ruled that the women should have been paid at least the minimum wage, since they were treated as employees.

Next comes a trial, in which the dancers will seek to boost their cumulative payout to $18.8 million or more.

As a non-patron of such places -- really, you could polygraph us on that -- we found the financial details enlightening.

According to the Times, “Dancers charged $20 for a ‘lap dance’ or ‘table dance,’ the judge’s order said. If the fee was paid in cash, the dancer kept it all. But if the customer bought a $24 voucher with a credit card, the club would give the dancer only $18 for it and, without telling the customer, keep the rest.”

Those credit cards, always causing trouble.

RCI Hospitality Holdings, the Houston company that runs Rick’s, said it would appeal the ruling once a final judgment is in. It says the dancers were independent contractors, not employees, and were paid accordingly.

We remarked a few months back about the similar complaints of National Football League cheerleaders, who have made some headway in their push for retroactive minimum wages.

This nascent field of scantily clad labor law is, we acknowledge, not the most obvious venue for advances in gender equality. Still, with so much else in this country seemingly stalled, it’s something -- right?

***

A quick word about the Oakland Raiders, since it might be many months until they’re mentioned again.

Almost two weeks before Thanksgiving, the boys in black and silver stand as the first team to be mathematically eliminated from National Football League playoff contention, the earliest such failure since the Miami Dolphins in 2004. Their 13-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers -- in what sounds like a real barn burner of a game -- dropped the Raiders’ record to 0-10.

We’re old enough to remember when the Raiders, reflecting the image of their owner, Al Davis, were an intimidating force when they arrived on the field. Now Davis is gone, the swagger is long gone, and if the franchise finds a stadium deal better than it has in Oakland, it could eventually be gone, too.

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