Posts from June 2002

Salad: The crisis in confidence

: The crisis in confidence in American business management only gets worse.

Now Worldcom says it has uncovered massive fraud: costs that should have counted as operating expenses — coming out of the current P&L — were instead counted as capital expenditures, which can be depreciated in the future. Thus the bottom line was inflated by $3.8 billion over five quarters.

As a result, Worldcom is expected to declare bankruptcy.

Worldcom runs most of the Internet.

Meanwhile, Martha Stewart kept trying to change the subject when she was quizzed about her stock trading scandal on CBS this morning. “I want to focus on my salad,” she snipped as she snipped her lettuce.

And the stock market tanked. Again.

Enron… Anderson… Qwest… Adelphia… Global Crossing…

Meanwhile, consumer confidence tanked. Again.

And airlines went begging for federal loans while Amtrak damned near died.

And terrorism fears continue.

And war fears continue.

What a frigging mess.

I hate to give all you libertarians the heebie-jeebies but… It is time for some GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION. We need regulation; the last few months are the proof that a completely unfettered marketplace will be up to no good. We need government reassurances that they will clean up business; we cannot rely on business to police itself. We need help.

Thanks to Osama bin Laden and a bunch of crooked CEOs, the American economy is sinking into the sewer.


: The wise Andrew Sullivan is running a survey to find out the demographics of his audience because sponsors want to know.

This would be a wise move for a larger group of bloggers to do. The more we know about you (aka us), the readers, the more we can make the case for our business.

Any volunteers?

Please, folks, remember: Amy Langfield

Please, folks, remember
: Amy Langfield remembers to remember what happened in September.

The blog blog
: Hylton Jolliffe of the wonderful Corante media and technology site now has a blog on blogging. I hope he can keep up this level of energy: very impressive.

The blog biz
: John Hiler, whose Microcontent News is also associated with Corante, writes that blogging software is disruptive technology — disruptive to content management systems. He’s onto something. Blogging software could not run lots of sites. But for certain sites, it does pretty amazing things: publishing current and archived content to multiple templates from multiple authors. It could do wonders for workflow and some other things I’ve been thinking about, too….

Blog blather
: Watch for another blogging story, this time from a certain great British magazine; was interviewed today.

Body v. brain
: I was feeling inferior tonight watching Dog Eat Dog, the latest alleged-reality show on NBC. The bodies were amazing; the strength impressive; just looking at them, I was reminded of all those times I was picked last for the team in school. But then we came to the final question that determined the winner of the night: Who served as both president and vice-president of the United States but was not elected to either office? The lady with the body as hard as the rocks in her head answers, after much thinking, “Colin Powell.”

I no longer felt inferior.

But I did fear for the news business. Is anybody paying attention out there?

Ken Layne is a fool
: And so am I. He tells us why we should all be writing TV scripts.

Rossi reads: Rossi will read

Rossi reads
: Rossi will read from her memoirs — “Days of Awe,” cooking for rescue workers at Ground Zero — on WNYE FM (91.5) on July 3 at 6p.

: I am a centrist leaning toward left-liberal.

I know because I took the test. [via Jim Henley]

It’s so good to know that there is no recessive libertarian gene in my DNA. Such a relief.

Is it me?
: Tonight on This Old House, the homeowners hugged their contractor, Tom Silva.

I sued mine.

Not fair.

Oy Oz
: Jewsweek has lots of good stories. This week: Jews in prison.

Journalism: I picked up William

: I picked up William L. Shirer’s This is Berlin: Radio Broadcasts from Nazi Germany — a new, paperback edition — today and as I leafed through it, I was surprised to witness a different form of journalism. In his daily radio reports from Berlin, Shirer told us what was happening there. He did not — probably could not — depend on lots of taped snippets and quotes; there were none of those obnoxious moments of atmospheric sound that you hear on NPR; there was just Shirer talking, observing, reporting. Take this from Sept. 2, 1939, two days after Germany invaded Poland and a day after England declared war on Germany:


The world war is on. The newsboys have ceased shouting it. The radio, too, because now the radio is playing a stirring piece from the Fourth Symphony of Beethovan….

There is no excitement here in Berlin. There was, we are told, in 1914, and it was tremendous. No, there is no excitement here today, no hurrahs, no wild cheering, no throwing of flowers — no war fever, no war hysteria.

But make no mistake, it is a far grimmer German people that we see here tonight than we saw last night or the day before. Until today, the people of this city had gone about their business pretty much as always. There were food cards and soap cards and all that, and you couldn’t get any gasoline, and at night there was a complete blackout, but the military operations on the East seemed a bit far away — two moonlit nights and not a single Polish plane arriving over Berlin to bring destruction….

Few here believed that Britain and France would move. They had been accomodating before. Munich was only a year ago….

But today it’s different. A world war is different. The people here are also different. They’re grim….

The papers tonight explain to their readers why it is advisable during air-riad alamrs to keep their windows not shut but open. The instructions are to open wide all your windows before you hurry to the cellar. It’s explained that in case of an explosion, the glass in the windows is much more liable to fly in bits in all directions, and thus cause considerable damage, when the windows are left closed. It’s also pointed out to those who might think that by leaving the windows open you, so to speak, invite the gas — if there is gas — to come into your house — it’s explained that gas is heavier than air, and therefore will not enter your house.

With every report, I feel as if I am in Berlin; I know what’s happening there; I feel well-informed.

I wish we had more of this form of journalism today: The journalism of witness.

More Newspeak
: Driving today, I heard a Blockbuster commercial refer to “extended viewing fees.”

That used to be called “late fees.”

But they clearly know how much consumers hate those late fees and the draconian enforcement of them. They also clearly know that there’s a new mail service out there with no late fees that is hurting them.

If you feel the need to invent a euphemism for the way you treat your customers — if even you know it’s a problem — you may want to think about a new way to treat those customers.

: I’m slightly shocked at Glenn Reynolds for dabbling in his own anti-PC version of PC talk when talking about his weapons:

EUGENE VOLOKH notes yet another poll showing widespread (73%) support for the Justice Department’s pro-individual-right position on the Second Amendment.

“Pro-individual-right position,” Professor? How about “pro-gun”? Call a Glock a Glock, man.

: Steve MacLaughlin says the latest trend on TV metastasizing: “Television execs seem to have fallen in love with a new program concept these days: Really real reality shows.”

Identity theft: Somebody somehow managed

Identity theft
: Somebody somehow managed to steal my old Blogspot address — — and that matters, since I still get traffic forwarded from that address. Or I used to. Whoever did it has an abandoned Spanish site about an “identity crisis.” I’m unamused. I tried to publish to it; I’m now told I can’t — even though it is myaddress.

Any suggestions?