Apr 292005

I just heard that a friend of my wife — a woman with a most varied career, having appeared as a chorus girl on Broadway before giving up theatre to get her Masters in International Studies — is going to work in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Holy smokes but I admire her courage and enthusiasm, and I hope she comes back safe.

Apr 292005

In this age of 500 cable channels, streaming online media, and on-demand transcripts of anything anybody says in front of a live microphone, who really gives a ripe fig if the four “main” networks bump President Bush for their own programming?

If ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox had skipped airing Bush entirely, do you seriously think there is a person anywhere in this country who would be unable to get the speech some other way? Or, at a bare minimum, get a complete transcript within the hour?

The hooraw over the extent to which the main networks will cover the president is one of the last vestiges of an era when the networks were important news sources. Now they are laughable: It’s become utterly clear that they can’t cover anything with any degree of depth in their paltry allotted half-hour. And in fact, they never could. Now those of us who want to know things have a thousand other places to go for information. It’s just a matter of time before the networks figure all this out and kill their silly little half-hour national newscasts.

Apr 292005

The evolution of news and blogs continues apace. Some blogs are taking themselves quite seriously, calling people up, asking questions, and doing things one normally attributes to professional journalists. News organizations, on the other hand, are increasingly reading a few blogs, writing about what they see, and calling it a day.

Check out this story from Reuters on how, according to assorted wackos out there, the ascension of Pope Benedict is a sign that the world is coming to an end. The entire story, which briefly made it to the front page of Yahoo.com, is based entirely on things the author read on three (3) Web sites, including a Wikipedia.com article that’s probably been changed five times over by now.

Isn’t this exactly the kind of crappy 30-second reporting that naysaying Professional Journalists are constantly accusing bloggers of proliferating?

Apr 292005

Typos can be fun: From a newsletter I read on children’s entertainment, regarding Marvel Comics’s plan to produce its own movies: “The agreement with Paramount allows for Marvel to deliver up to 10 movies over eight years and specifies that the first movie titles will include Captain America and Nick Furry.”

Apr 292005

The Bonehead Businessman of the Day Award must surely go to John Kanas, CEO of North Fork Bank on Long Island.

One of his employees, Larry Blatt, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Rather than surrender to it, Blatt redoubled his efforts as a part-time salesman for North Fork. Indeed, he earned an award as the bank’s top-performing salesman. To quote the story in Newsday, “When he was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer a year before he died… he told family, friends and colleagues that he continued to work at North Fork to earn commissions and bonuses, “to better protect the financial well-being of his family upon his death.”

Kanas, however, decided that Blatt’s death in January triggered the following clause in the commission agreement: “If a Business Concierge ceases to participate in the program at any time, payment of the full incentive and the trail incentive will cease immediately.”

He’s dead, right? Isn’t that the same as “ceasing to participate?” You bet it is! So because Blatt died, Kanas isn’t paying up on nearly a full year’s worth of commissions — hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I wonder if he did a calculation, weighing those stolen commissions against all the business he’s going to lose. My guess is probably not. Somehow, greedy companies never seem to remember that bonehead moves like this one have consequences. I’m pretty sure they’re going to be reminded.