Friday, December 21, 2007

Bad Times Ahead In 2008

Based on my Sreet Economics Index, 2008 is looking as dark as Dick Cheney's soul. The evidence -- all of it true:
  • My house cleaner came into an inheritance but still shows up every week.
  • The Popov Vodka bottles at A-1 Liquor are dusty.
  • Panhandlers are asking for quarters again.
  • My eHow article "How to Prepare For Being Fired" got 82 hits in three days.
  • I wrote it for $15.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Forget the Illegals - Deport The New Yorkers

So I'm having a quiet drink at a bar and a couple of guys from New York sit down and launch into the "you can't get a decent bagel/pizza/pastrami sandwich in California" thing, including the worn out "surfer dude" imitation.

Typical New Yorker - walks into a place full of drunks and announces, "I'm a jerk and I hate everyone here."

These same bozos headline their online personal ads "New York City Native Here." Sorry homes, you've just labeled yourself as loud, obnoxious, patronizing and dumb. Why dumb? Only other people from New York will respond so you just eliminated 99.99 percent of the California dating pool. (Almost as bad are the ones who post "East Coast Native," which translates into, "I'm as annoying as a New Yorker, but not remotely as interesting.")

Instead of deporting hard-working hotel maids trying to feed their families, the homeland security people should round up all the New Yorkers in California and drop them off on Ellis Island for redistribution.

Maybe then I could finish my organic, artichoke-infused martini in peace.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Argument Against Steroids in Sports

The Mitchell report today nuked about 80 baseball players for using steroids, human growth hormones and all that other nastiness, save for amphetamines, the "greenies" Mitchell and the MLB know virtually every player takes or took.

Flaws and all, the report makes one salient point: the use of drugs like steroids and human growth hormones gives athletes an unfair advantage over competitors who worry about testicular shrinkage or whether they might fly into a rage and murder their families.

So what's to do?

Random blood tests for an ever-expanding list of performance-enhancing substances conducted by an independent agency. If, as so often said, the majority of players don't use them, the players' union could easily vote to change its position. And if the penalties are severe enough, at least some measure of compliance with reasonable rules would result.

Absent that, how could anyone ever bet a game?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Federal Judges Fight Back

The U.S. Supreme Court today took a well-aimed shot at congress' attempt to decide who should go to prison for how long.

In a 7-2 decision, the court said federal trial judges can depart from mandatory sentencing rules that require longer prison terms for bad guys who are convicted of dealing crack cocaine rather than the powder version.

In essence, the rule said a crack dealer who sold less than 2 ounces of evil must do the same time as a a different dealer who sold almost 1.5 pounds of evil. This dubious distinction has angered judges, lawyers and civil libertarians for years.

More important than the specific issue at hand is the majority decision's declaration that sentencing guidelines should be "advisory" rather than mandatory. When "advisory' is better defined based on future cases, trial judges just might be able to avoid sending nuns to prison for five years if they try to sneak across the border from Mexico.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Barry Bonds And The CIA

Barry Bonds today pleaded not guilty to perjury charges stemming from his denial of using steroids and so forth during testimony before a federal Grand Jury. His plea came a day after the CIA disclosed it had destroyed tapes showing its interrogation of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Same thing going on in both.

If Bonds goes to trial, his only defense will be that all the other witnesses are lying or misguided. During the inevitable congressional hearings, the CIA will have to persuade lawmakers and the American people it never tortured people so the destruction of the recordings was simply an oopsie.

Neither will prevail and for the same reason: an utter lack of respect for the average person's innate intelligence and common sense.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Natural Order of Things

Could humankind’s assault on the global environment represent the natural order of things?

For eons, species have taken from the world what they need to meet their perceived needs without regard to the future. Just as voracious elephants (family: elephantidae) denude wide swaths of range and then move on, homo s. sapiens similarly addresses the opportunities presented to it.

The difference between the actions of elephantidae and homo s. sapiens is the innate human ability to understand the results of its nature and actions. Using the same thinking innovation that drives the destruction of the environment, humans attempt to alter harmful behavior to extend the life of the species. That creates a direct conflict between two natural impulses.

Unfortunately, the evolution of homo s. sapiens is unbalanced. While it can alter atoms and genes – the building blocks of life itself -- the species lacks the purpose to use the knowledge for good. Releasing the inherent power of the atom was first used to kill; even using fission to create electricity results in waste products that remain dangerous to every living thing for thousands of years. The genetic manipulation of food plants can feed millions of starving people yet is uncontrollable once introduced in the natural world. In that way, homo s. sapiens is little different than homo erectus, which learned to control fire about 2 million years ago without understanding how best to use it.

Perhaps homo s. sapiens will eventually work out the details and find a balance between what is possible and what is best for its future. But it is more likely the species won’t evolve fast enough to prevent it from creating a global disaster. If so, the species will disappear and others will emerge from what is left behind. That being the natural order of things.

December News Preview

Here is all the news we'll read and watch for the rest of 2007. Read the list quickly and then go to the library and check out a book.

Needy Families
Holiday Retail Sales
Top 10 Stories of 2007
Top Issues for 2008
Best of (Whatever) in 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Boomers and Technology

I grow tired of the lazy, stale cartoon about the parent who must turn to a 5-year-old to solve a problem on a personal computer. So, let's take a look at just some of the technology created by the Baby Boomers:

Personal computers, the mouse, GUIs, DOS, Windows, Macs, RAM, ROM, LEDs, LCDs, FLASH, computerized design and animation. Not to mention wireless telephony, GPS and broadband.

Anyone heard of email? And let's not forget the Internet and the Web. (Know the name of the boomer in the photo and what he contributed to your life?)

Boomers were using solid state computer technology at work and home before some Gen Xers popped out of the womb. And Boomers set off the explosion in the tech industrial sector before Gen Xers were physically capable of spawning Gen Y.

Boomers created and have lived with digital technology for more than half their lives. Generation X benefited from the first wave of tech's popularization. Generation Y knows nothing else. And so on, and so on.

The next digital generations will get slapped like all before them. The children of Gen Y will demand an implanted wireless voice communication device because all the other kids have one -- at age five. Gen Y's grandchildren will stand wide-eyed at the fact their elders once used keyboards to input data.

Given changes in generational demographics and tech-based medicine, I might even be around to see some of that.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mes Vacances Fran├žaises

I'm in the elevator at the apartment building in Paris. A kid, maybe 12, jumps in and says, "Five, please."
Me: Do I look that American?
Him: Oh, yes.
Me: Would it help if I purchased some French clothes?
Him: Yes, but not today. The best stores are closed.

I grew to hate croissants.

The gay quarter in Paris is also the traditional orthodox Jewish quarter.

A 400-square-foot apartment in a decent area costs about $900K.

Some French cigarette packages warn that smoking reduces sperm count.

A dog died on the train to Giverny.

The WC in the apartment was 1 meter square.

Monet and his pals were party animals.

Baby pig prepared bain marie is flavorful yet retains its uncooked texture.

I purchased six gallons of diesel fuel for $60.

Lawyers Gone Mad

I send someone an email and I get a 402-word (pre-redaction) boilerplate at the end of his out-of-office reply.

This message contains information from XXX, or from one of its affiliates, that may be confidential and privileged. If you are not an intended recipient, please refrain from any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this information and note that such actions are prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately by telephone or by replying to this transmission.

This message may include indicative rate information relating to one or more products offered through XXX, or affiliated broker-dealer, XXX. Rates and yields shown are provided for informational purposes only, are not guaranteed, and are subject to market conditions and availability. Nothing in this communication shall constitute a solicitation or
recommendation to buy or sell a particular security.

XXX (sic).

Shares are offered through XXX, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of XXX.

Investments in these products require the involvement of a licensed representative of XXX. Investment products offered through XXX are not insured by the FDIC or any other Federal Government Agency, are not deposits of or guaranteed by XXX or its affiliates, and may lose value.

Notice: The federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, age (provided the applicant has the capacity to enter into a binding contract); because all or part of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program; or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The federal agency that administer compliance with this law concerning this creditor is the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 101 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105.

Notice: On October 26, 2001, President Bush signed into law the USA PATRIOT Act, which was designed to help the government fight the funding of terrorism and international money laundering activities. To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account; an account includes deposit, transaction, or credit accounts. To review XXX's New Account Disclosure please visit its website at ....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Listen To The Gipper

"A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at the New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.

-- Ronald Reagan in his recently published diaries, May 17, 1986.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Google Spam Wins

I go to empty my Gmail spam folder and see this ad right above the delete box:

Spam Hashbrown Bake - Serves 8

I checked it out and it looks great.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Better Stuff Sold At Better Prices

DETROIT, Aug. 1 — Detroit auto companies lost their leadership of the American car market for the first time ever in July, when import nameplates outsold the three American companies in a dismal month for auto sales.
-- New York Times

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dumb Corporate Email No. 1,256

How many times do I have to tell you senior execs to stay away from emails doing something shady? When will you start to listen?

The latest alleged miscreant to ignore my advice is Greg Reyes, former CEO of Brocade Communications, whose options backdating case goes to a federal jury tomorrow. If he goes down, it will be due to the fact he, like so many others, decided it was less work to use email than dial the phone.

Evidence of my wisdom, and his folly, is this from The Wall Street Journal’s reportage of closing arguments. Note that Reyes is accused of illegally backdating options 2000-2004.

“In summarizing the government's case, Mr. Reeves ran through evidence for 10 reasons why prosecutors allege Mr. Reyes knew full well that backdating was illegal. As the prosecutor spoke, he left a large whiteboard on an easel facing the jury, displaying the government's Reason No. 1: An October 2004 email that Mr. Reyes sent to another company's board member in which the Brocade CEO wrote, in capital letters: "IT IS ILLEGAL TO BACK-DATE OPTIONS GRANTS.''

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Take This Job And .....

I recently asked LinkedIn members if they had ever walked into a boss' office and declared, "You can take this job and shove it." The best answer came from Bob Fornal of Columbus, Ohio.

" I have. It was pretty depressing how few people actually cared."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Free Agent Generations

I recently interviewed Bruce Tulgan, a researcher, author and speaker who focuses on how to understand Gen X and Gen Y. Like the insightful Dan Pink, he sees the workplace becoming a collection of free agents -- something he believes fits perfectly with the thinking of tomorrow's leaders. A few exceprts follow.

For example, the old-fashioned workplace was filled with onsite, long-term, uninterrupted, exclusive employees. The future of the workforce is shorter-term, non-exclusive people who might even leave and come back later.

I think . . . that it is the future of work, whether someone is on a payroll or or under a contract.

In some cases jobs are positioned as old-style – onsite, ongoing and so on. But even people in those roles over the span of their careers are experiencing work they way contingent workers do. That’s clearly the trend.

In addition, the distincition between an old-fashioned employee and a contingent is becoming less significant. Frankly contingent workers are getting more respect, more benefits and doing more significant work and those in traditional employee roles will probably say they have less and less security.

But the biggest mistake a manager can make is looking at someone and say, “we've got them.” It’s like if you got married, said "I've got you," and then started acting like a jerk. That’s not a formula for a long relationship, even among people who stood up before family, friends and God to swear loyalty unto death. So why should your employees tolerate that? After all, it’s just a job.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Executive Privilege Not

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Loyal even after leaving the White House, President Bush's former political director Sara M. Taylor obeyed his instructions and declined to answer most of Congress' questions Wednesday about her role in the firings of federal prosecutors.

I don't understand why ex-White House employees think they get a pass on this kind of thing. Under this scenario, a floral arranger could refuse to discuss presidential flower preferences if George told him to keep his mouth shut.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tough Love for Laid Off Newspaper Journos

Having resigned from and been fired from newspaper jobs, having done corporate and tech PR, having run my own consulting business, I offer this advice.

Do not take a break and decompress. Your severance is your lifeline, not a bonus. Start now to look for your next role in the marketplace because it will be more difficult than you think. Kudos if you began working on it before the ax neared your neck.

Park your ego. Every journalist invests a big chunk of ego in what they do. Despite the value of your last job, it's over and you need to be realistic when you knock on potential employers' doors.

Look hard at your skills. A friend once said to me, "Hey, I can write about anything, I'm a newspaper reporter." A year out of the business he said, "Don't tell anyone I said that." Today, the writers most eagerly sought are in marketing and advertising. And they tend to specialize in sub-categories such as direct mail, online and so on. If you don't believe me, check out the job boards.

A bright spot: If your skills apply to the farther end of the editorial process -- copy editing, pagination, production editing -- your job hunt will be shorter than faced by your colleagues who got to leave the building to earn their paycheck. But understand you're more likely to guide a catalog or a brochure onto the press than anything sexy.

The freelance thing. You know it's a tough grind. But if you want to give it a go, understand it's all about niches -- and, sometimes, niches within niches. Your reporting and writing skills will be invaluable. But most publications need people who are knowledgeable about their specialty. Sure, you covered Cisco, but what the bleep do you know about networking technology and products?

Also, think about the vast space between daily journalism and hacking out news releases. Alumni magazines, Web content and trade publications focused on things you know. Big bucks? Probably not. But if you can balance what they pay against the time you need to put in, you could create a regular income stream.

PR? -- Most companies and agencies today want experienced PR people. (Again, look at the job boards.) Your newspaper credentials will be recognized, but only as they apply to what you covered. Business writer? Great. But are you current on the issues and trends affecting my company/client? Think PR is beneath you? Go get a paper route.

Teach? -- ESL, yes. Journalism, no. People are lined up out the door for journalism gigs and they usually pay less than the cost of the gas it takes to drive to work.

Try something completely different --
You know how to interview people, paw through databases, grasp what details are important and recognize what questions must be answered before the final product is released. Those are excellent skills that can be applied to almost any venture in life.

Required reading: Dan Pink's books. I know him and he understands the future of work.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Scooter's Commuted Sentence

He doesn't have to go to prison.

But he remains a convicted felon, which means his law license is toast, his right to vote is gone and he can't go quail hunting with his former boss because he can't be in possession of a firearm.

Sounds like enough for now. For a guy like him.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is Nothing Sacred?

NEW YORK -- Colgate-Palmolive Co. said counterfeit toothpaste falsely packaged with a Colgate label is being recalled because it may contain a poisonous chemical.
-- The Wall Street Journal

Monday, June 11, 2007

End of the Sopranos

It wasn't a hit. No way.

First, you only send one guy in a controlled situation like that. Second, a hitter doesn't sit around drinking coffee so a dozen citizens can get a look at him. Third, Tony scoped them all and didn't blink.

It wasn't an FBI bust. No way.

First, they wouldn't have to use undercover because Tony had no bodyguards. Second, there was no hint of media coverage. Third, it would have been more dramatic to bust him at home -- as in the past.

What was it? To quote Tony's most repeated line: "Who the hell knows?"

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wars And The Calendar

Since the United States launched itself under a ratified constitution on March 4, 1789 it has never been victorious in a foreign war that it fought for more than four years.

That's why, in the fifth year of the Iraq War, I worry when I hear our government and military leaders argue for more time to "get the job done."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Felons Among Us

I'm beginning to wonder if anyone today can say they have never known a convicted felon.

The number of successful business people, political leaders, moral paragons, neighbors and acquaintances among us who have done time seems to expand so rapidly that, soon, we'll be friendless if we exclude them from our circles.

My personal count is nine, two in the last six years. Their crimes included burglary, drug dealing, armed robbery, fraud and murder. One awaits a surrender date to the federal Bureau of Prisons. Four built decent lives after their release. The fate of the other four, including the murderer, are unknown to me.

A friend wrote me recently about a former colleague police say is a "person of interest" in a murder: "I sure hope he was not involved, but I've have had a bunch of shocking discoveries recently about people I know turning out to be child molesters and such, so who knows."

How many people among the political and media elite can say they've never done business with someone later convicted of a felony? How many degrees of separation are there between dozens of Fortune 500 CEOs and people currently wearing khaki or orange jumpsuits?

Either the moral fabric of our society is fraying badly, or prosecutors and judges are putting far too many people behind bars. Set aside the underlying reason and the fact remains many people are beging forced to re-think their opinions about people who commit crimes.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Who's In Charge Here? George W. Bush

Mike Allen at reports President Bush is interviewing potential replacements for Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General of the United States who placed political loyalty above his duties.

The current scandal over the firing of local federal prosecutors who displeased GOP powerhouses is the best evidence that Bush's entire tenure is based on politics and nothing else. That's because politics is the only arena in which he has ever succeeded. It doesn't matter that his advisors provided the thinking; Bush took the credit and came to believe it really was all about him.

Most Democrats and a growing number of Republicans are toting up the gruesome toll of the administration's failures and asking, "who's in charge here?"

The only possible answer is George W. Bush.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Take That, Delta Zeta

News arrives that the president of DePauw University has kicked Delta Zeta sorority off campus because of the social group's recent purge of the less-than-pretty-and-popular-and-nonwhite members.

University President Robert G. Bottoms told a news conference, "I came to the conclusion that our approaches to these issues are just incompatible." He did not elaborate.

Delta Zeta national kicked out 23 of its 35 DePauw sisters, including all who were overweight as well as the only black, Korean and Vietnamese members. Six others resigned in disgust.

Delta Zeta HQ issued a statement saying it was "disappointed."

You go, Bob.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Supreme Court Stops The Iraq War

Congress passes a defense appropriation bill that effectively requires the withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq. Bush vetoes it. Congress overrides the veto.

The Supreme Court gets involved because the administration claims congress is usurping Bush's constitutional powers to prosecute a war as he sees fit.

Congress argues the Constitution makes clear it alone holds the federal purse strings, something that has never been contested during any of the nation's wars, declared or not.

The nine justices conclude they don't care to rewrite the Constitution to suit the current president's needs, reaffirm the separation of powers and tell the litigants to deal with the situation amongst themselves.

Utterly defeated politically and constitutionally, Bush lunches with congressional leaders at Nancy Pelosi's home and they work out a reasonable, but prompt, troop withdrawl.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Free Scooter: Vote Democratic

The White House says there is no talk on the Bush team of a pardon for convicted perjurer I. Lewis Libby.

Any kind of pardon is out of the question before the 2008 election. And a full pardon at any time by Bush, something that would wipe out the conviction itself, would confirm the White House threw Scooter to the wolves.

But a Democratic president could pardon Libby and come out ahead.

It would be impossible for anyone to claim self-interest or campaign money were involved in the decision, contentions that played heck with Bill Clinton’s image after his pardon of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich., half-brother Roger and pal Susan McDougal.

And by describing Libby as guilty, but also a victim of his evil bosses’ machinations, a Democratic president would appear statesman-like and compassionate.

Sure, the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal would argue the pardon was granted solely to keep the stench of a GOP-bred scandal fresh in the nostrils of voters for as long as possible. But most people would see that factor as nothing more than an unfortunate side of effect of making sure justice prevailed.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dumb Delta Zeta

Omigod, Delta Zeta national swept out the undesirables at the DePauw University chapter. The ostensible reason was a lack of commitment to recruiting. However, as the New York Times reported:

"The 23 members included every woman who was overweight. They also included the only black, Korean and Vietnamese members. The dozen students allowed to stay were slender and popular with fraternity men — conventionally pretty women the sorority hoped could attract new recruits. Six of the 12 were so infuriated they quit."

A spokesman for DZ headquarters said the organization's overarching concern was the “enrichment of student life at DePauw.”

Does anyone have Elle's phone number?

Friday, February 16, 2007

More Corporate Miscreants

Most Americans believe in capitalism because they know it offers the most opportunity and individual freedom. That, not class anger, is why regular folks hate corporate leaders who lie, cheat and steal.

I'm no different. But what really drives me nuts is the arrogance and stupidity of the corpo-thieves, something I noted in an earlier post.

Now, I come across the story of Gary Min who pleaded guilty to stealing an estimated $400 million in DuPont technology. There's no evidence that Min tried to transfer the information to anyone, but he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. In contrast, pioneer corporate thief Michael Miliken emerged from two years in prison with $500 million in the bank. That's the dumb part.

Then there's the arrogance factor. According to The Wall Street Journal, prosecutors are considering filing criminal charges against former Broadcom CFO William Ruehle (photo above) who emailed a colleague:

"I VERY strongly recommend that these options be priced as of December 24."

As the newspaper noted: "Broadcom's share price rose 23% between the two dates. The pretense that the options had been granted on the earlier date made them extra valuable."

If nothing else, Ruehle should be convicted of being too lazy to pick up the phone.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack Obama and Foreign Policy

The news media should stop using foreign policy experience as a factor when judging Barack Obama's viability as a presidential candidate.

The last president with any pre-election credentials in that arena was George H.W. Bush, who earned them as the director of central intelligence, UN ambassador and chief of the liason office to the Peoples Republic of China. And it was domestic issues, not foreign relations, that saw him out of office after one term.

Prior to Bush's election in 1989, the last president with important international political experience was Dwight D. Eisenhower, first elected in 1952 and the former supreme commander of allied armies in Europe during World War II.

While increasingly important in today's world, expertise in foreign relations has always been a secondary consideration for American voters when choosing a president. None of the other candidates on the political stage today have meaningful international experience so raising it as an issue in Obama's case is unfair.

Friday, February 02, 2007

My Thought Crimes

I am acquainted with more than one Saudi citizen who (to put it mildly) questions the U.S. government’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

I once shared a meal with two members of the Chinese Communist Party.

I have attended social events alongside drug addicts, Iranians, illegal immigrants and people carrying guns.

I believe it is wrong for my Internet service provider to cooperate with the National Security Agency in monitoring calls, emails, and anything else that travels along phone lines.

I believe it is unconstitutional to throw people into prison simply to coerce them into giving up information. That includes news reporters.

Now that I’ve posted this and the tags below, I wonder who might knock on my door.

This could be interesting.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Truth and Consequences for Joe Biden

Joseph Biden was correct when he said Barack Obama is the first viable African-American presidential candidate. It is equally correct to say that his mush-mouthed way of making that point demonstrates Joseph Biden is not a viable presidential candidate.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mary Cheney Speaks the Truth

“This is a baby. This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate, on either side of a political issue. It is my child.”

-- Vice presidential daughter Mary Cheney, a lesbian, responding to comments on her decision to become pregnant.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hillary's Contribution to History

Will Hillary Rodham Clinton will be elected president of the United States? I'm on the fence.

Here's Why Not:
The women's vote will go against her because she is hanging in there with Bill and the visceral notion that a woman won't be strong enough.

Here's Why:
She is brilliant, seasoned, tough and credentialed. The other announced Democratic candidates are just trying to position themselves as players and voters see that. She also has one of the most popular presidents in American history on her side.

The Republicans? McCain is too old so it's a Bob Dole election for the GOP.

Hillary's Contribution:
She will be noted as the first credible female candidate for the presidency. And that's just a start.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wookie's Gotta Get Out More

"I couldn't believe that anyone could do that to a Yale student."

-- Wookie Kim commenting about the assault on fellow Elis travelling in San Francisco. (SF Chronicle.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Agree With Rocco

“What I don’t understand is who the president is listening to. If vets, military brass, the Baker Committee, the international community and now most voters say it’s time to get out, then in my view it’s time to get out.”

-- Rocco Polidoro, a Republican from Clifton, Penn., on Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq. (New York Times)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Enough With The Execution Debate

The Iraqi government says its decision to hang two of Saddam's convicted cronies is irrevocable. The pundits will once again decry what they believe is an injustice. I don't get it.

1. Yes, the death penalty is wrong, stupid, and accomplishes nothing. Why anyone would expect the Iraqis to agree with that statement is beyond me.

2. Yes, their trial was a sham. So were the Nuremburg and Tokyo trials after World War II.

3. Yes, Saddam's execution was undignified. By definition, all executions are undignified.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Man On The Street Economics

The gurus say economic growth will slow in 2007 but not so dramatically that a recession will bite. I am more optimistic.

Of couse, my way of measuring economic health is less sophisticated than the methods used by the pros.

First, I navigate to craigslist and check out postings for jobs highly sensitive to economic ups and downs, such as those in PR and advertising. The number of offered positions is growing, so companies are confident.

Then, I walk down the main drag near my home in Palo Alto to see if fast-food restaurants and carwashes sport "now hiring" signs. The banners are flying, so folks with only basic job skills can find jobs paying more than $10 an hour.

About a mile later, I drop into my favorite hangout, La Bodeguita del Medio. Difficulty finding a spot at the bar before 6 p.m. on Friday means people have plenty of discretionary income and are willing to spend it. There was a big crowd last night.

A couple of minutes online, a brisk walk and a comforting cocktail. It usually works.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Women in Power

The most interesting facet of Nancy Pelosi's election as Speaker of the House of Representatives is that she is now second in line of succession to the presidency.

If Hillary Clinton is elected the 44th president, the two most powerful elected officials in the most powerful nation in the world will be women.