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May 26, 2006

god on lay: goodbye, shitbird

I'm a day late on the Lay/Skilling conviction.  I was "away from the computer", as they say -- actually, mostly behind the wheel of a car, where I learned that a) the dude who won "American Idol" said, "Come on, America!" right after winning, and b) winger radio talk show hosts are spooked by Al Gore and global warming, and they can't decide which of Gore and global warming is more ridiculous and/or Micheal Moore-like.  But that's all neither here nor there.

So, yes, I'm as happy as anyone else that Lay and Skilling were found guilty, as the argument against their guilt was pretty cavalier, something like, "Billionaires can't be bothered by anything as pedestrian as actually running a company."  In lieu of heel-clicking, I offer a quote from Kenneth Lay on the steps of the courthouse yesterday:

We belive that God in fact is in control and indeed He does work all things for good for those who love the Lord.

Dude, you just let God hoist you by your own petard!

Posted by mrbrent at 11:02 AM

come on, 7:45 is early

I wonder how many of the kajillions of blogs post something about being woken up by jack-hammering at 7:45a on any given day?  Surely it must be more than one, yes?

Or is that a little too 2003?

[Later that day.]  Ice cream truck outside my office window!  Uhhrrrrr!

See?  It's like I'm "liveblogging".

Posted by mrbrent at 10:16 AM

May 24, 2006

WAMU wants your business in the Philippines

Remember a bank called Washington Mutual?  A few years ago they announced to the world that they were going to stop charging ATM fees.  Yes, no matter what institution you were withdrawing from, WAMU would not charge you the $1.50 or $2.00 that any other bank would.  And then they rolled out an advertising campaign publicizing the promotion.

I fell for it, sure.  Outrageous ATM fees have long been one of my favorite diatribes, and if one bank was finally going to waive them, then I'm going to vote with my wallet.  I was even thinking about changing banks, to further reward WAMU.

Unfortunately, it was not just a promotion -- it was a bait and switch.  Last autumn, after a year or two of no-fee ATMs, WAMU quietly announced that it was pulling the plug.  In the future, a $2 charge for third party use of WAMU's machines (which is actually the high end of fees, yes?).

My aggregated good will pretty much evaporated.  Thankfully I hadn't switched my checking account, or I would've had to switched it back.

So here it is, a half year later.  Yahoo! Headline Box, tell WAMU what they've won:

• Washington Mutual lays off 1,400 workers

I guess business looks down for WAMU.  Or does it?  From the story:

[Spokesman Darcy] Donahoe-Wilmot said the layoffs were "part of our strategy announced last year to move back-office jobs to lower-cost locations."  In November, the company said it planned to increase the number of offshore jobs from about 1,600 then to about 6,000 by the end of 2007, she said.

So it is not so much the case that WAMU's bungled promotions have hurt the bottom line.  Instead, not satisfied with only screwing consumers, WAMU decided to also screw with some of its employees.

No worries.  I'm sure that shareholder value is being increased, and capitalism is safe.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:35 AM

May 23, 2006

i can't stop linking roy edreso

Maybe you've heard of the small cultural backlash against Hollywood.  Well, I haven't heard about it so much -- I guess I've read about it, or read other people writing about it.  Apparently, the Michael Medveds (and the other crazies who aren't so single issue as Medved) of the world are all up in the arms about the motion picture industry's war against all that is moral in America.  Funny enough, all the conservative-trending people in my life (hello, extended family!) don't seem to have quite the same problem.  They get pretty annoyed when some whippersnappers get chatty onna cell during the Saturday matinee, but that's about the extent of it.  Really, who can say?  If the wordy guys get all wordy about it, then let's call it a backlash.

Anyhoo, if you, like me, don't have the time or the stomach to read the source texts of this (outraged!) cultural backlash, then please go again to Roy Edreso for his spelunking of the winger hangouts and resulting evisceration.

If you click through, you will discover the terrible secret first draft of the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice".

Posted by mrbrent at 5:26 PM

i love 'immigration debates'

I have some questions.  I understand that there is this debate -- some even call it a great debate -- concerning immigration that's all the rage in the news organizations and talk shows that constitute what some designate hopefully as "The National Conversation".  I haven't paid much attention to it, but I have it on good authority.  I'm not sure why it's known as an "immigration" debate, as a) it doesn't seem to much affect the ebb and flow of immigrants from Western Europe, or even, say, India, and b) it seems much more a debate about how much hate can we expend on the brown people and still have enough hate left over to remain hateful.

I don't pay attention to it much because I don't believe in it.  I actually don't believe it exists.  I think it's a hoax.  I think there are some that are predisposed to not like people who don't look or act like them, and then there are some who are cheesed off that market forces have squeezed them out of a specific career because market forces really don't give a shit about you.  These people are very vocal supporters of "immigration reform" (i.e., interment camps, giant walls, etc.), but I really don't think there are that many of them.  And yet the "debate" rages -- how tall should the wall be?  In which language should we sing "Freebird"?

So, yeah, here are the questions I have.  First of all, whose freaking idea was it that the "immigration debate" would become the central debate of our limited current-events bandwidth?  Forget our economy, the evisceration of the middle class and our meaningless nation-building misadventures -- aren't there some white women missing on some tropical islands somewhere?

Follow-up: this hypothetical person who is steering our national debate -- how are they doing it?  Is it a really big phone tree?  Some kind of collective subsconcious (from some world where immigration is actually a pressing issue)?  A powerful psychic?  Encoded behavior control through the fluoride in the water?  Whichever.  It must be some external mechanism.  No one beyond the crazified 20% cares about this with or without Lou Dobbs screaming his block head off.  And I want this technology.  I work in an office.  Too much spare time for mischief not to have this tech.

Finally, is it really that hard to snap out of it?  Come on, we all had that one bad relationship with the freakshow we initially got ga-ga over, that one Hollywood bomb we dragged our friends to because we fell for it, that one CD that was gonna rock hell-hard and instead schnocked.  Sometimes we make mistakes.  That's what makes the cheese more binding.  So can we just put this Great Immigration Debate to bed?  Sensible people can move on to something more vital to the fibre of our nation (like haterizing on gays!) and the crypto-racist border hawks can find some other bedsheet to wrap themselves in as they murder Mexicans.

Momentary lapses of reason exist yet, citizens, and there is no shame in them.  Claim dim-cap, apologize sheepishly, but please for the sake of all that is holy can we focus on something else now?

Posted by mrbrent at 9:36 AM

May 22, 2006

ray nagin is the ray nagin of my heart

I'd like to congratulate Ray Nagin.  And not for purposes of sarcasm, neither.  I am very comfortable with the fact that Ray Nagin remains the mayor of New Orleans, and I wish that he could be mayor of any number of cities, simultaneously.

I got the news in a Circle K in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, Saturday night, as a lady in front of me asked the teen behind the counter if they had any whipped cream.  The TV in the store was tuned to CNN, and they were liveblogging Nagin's victory speech -- er, broadcasting, of course.  Outside, it was Cuyahoga Falls, OH.  The Circle K did not have any whipped cream.  The news of Mayor Nagin's reelection really took the sting out of the whole situation.

I like Mayor Nagin.  I am not afraid of a Chocolate City, nor am I embarrassed for of a man who invokes a Chocolate City.  He presided over the destruction of a major American city with sincerity and frustration and grace.  In the intervening days between the Hurricane and FEMA's rediscovery of its mission statement, Nagin was human and angry and reassuring.

Of course, there are others that do not like Mayor Nagin.  Some thought that New Orleans needed more a Mayor Giuliani than a Mayor Nagin.  Nope, sorry.  True, Guiliani would've had more peoples of color to push around, but his Winston Churchill act wouldn't have saved New Orleans any more than it allowed him to postpone NYC mayoral elections in late 2001.  Mayor Nagin is now the public face of New Orleans, and I hope he has some luck.

For extra bonus fun, go read Roy Edreso musing on the winger reaction to Nagin's reelection -- namely, accusations of NOLA "squandering" national goodwill, and threats to the people of NOLA to "get their act together".  I would like my writing to bring "feckless pissant thug" too, I really would.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:49 AM