Peter Kafka

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Sony CEO Howard Stringer at CES: “I Wish I Could Tell You That I’m Recession-Proof”

Just a few years after Sony went through a painful reorg, the company is at it again, cutting thousands of jobs and dumping deadweight divisions. But CEO Howard Stringer didn’t get on stage today to talk about any of that.

Introduced by an entertainingly giddy and sardonic Tom Hanks, who happens to star in a new Sony (SNE) movie (“Angels and Demons,” a prequel to “The Da Vinci Code”), but still made fun of his employer (“They write the lies, but I tell the truth”), Stringer showed up to show off cool stuff.

Highlights included a superthin and flexible OLED screen, a Chumby-like Internet-connected TV screen, and a series of 3-D clips. (We’ll be seeing a lot of 3-D this week).

We also got appearances from dueling animation kingpins. Disney (DIS) animation guru John Lasseter showed up to sing the praises of Blu-ray and show off a clip of “Up,” the next Pixar movie. And so did Dreamworks Animation’s (DWA) Jeffrey Katzenberg, who came to talk up the possibilities of 3-D (See? Told you. More to come.) and show off a clip of “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

The oddest Sony product: Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Oprah Winfrey-endorsed doctor who is about to have his own Sony-produced TV show. He offered health tips and measured Stringer’s waist–40 inches, or 39 if Stringer really sucked in his gut.

But to his credit, Stringer didn’t promise a cure-all for the consumer electronic industry ills: “I wish I could tell you that I’m recession-proof.”

(By the way, the image here is from Stringer’s 2008 appearance at The D Conference, but from what I can see, he’s dropped a few pounds since then. I’ll update with something more current if possible.)

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik