My Archives: January 2003

Friday, January 31, 2003

Here's an inspiring story about how a summer movie on cable changed the life of a salesperson with cerebral palsy. Hint: It wasn't bad for his sales numbers.

Posted by Chris @ 07:16 PM EST [Link]

The U.S. Postal Service is looking to shed 58,000 jobs. It appears the going postal portion of the program may have already begun.

Posted by Chris @ 12:28 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

It's nice to know the post-9/11 federal funds meant to help the unemployed have gone to other purposes, according to this study. Meanwhile, the West Coast, once the hotbed of the new economy, seems destined to remain the hardest hit in this recession. And how exactly does one lose $100 million in a single year, anyway?

Posted by Chris @ 10:52 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Now this is pretty darn weird. Go Kentucky!!

Posted by Chris @ 09:36 PM EST [Link]

Monday, January 27, 2003

I spent the day trying to think of fascinating, trendy story ideas to pose to editors. In between bouts of inspired research and frenetic frustration, I found myself pondering a few of life's many questions, most of which have nothing to do with business journalism. For example:

* Why do more that half of Shania Twain's song titles end with exclamation points? Is this a targeted marketing strategy, or is Shania a big fan of this overused form of expression?
* Why does Nightly News on NBC host Tom Brokaw seem to say "tonight" in every sentence, sometimes more than once? Is it to add a sense of urgency and timeliness, or do his producers think we don't know what time it is? I mean, you could play a drinking game to his newscast.
* Why do all the songs I've heard by The Strokes sounds like Tom Petty's "American Girl"? Do they have a thing for this Tom Petty classic, or are they just untalented?
Okay, I'll stop before I turn into Andy "Have you ever wondered why...?" Rooney. Maybe that's my destiny, though; to annoy people with my many questions. But I guess I already do that. I'm just getting better at it. Scary.

Posted by Chris @ 05:55 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 23, 2003

FCC Chairman Michael Powell (son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, BTW) wants desperately to make it easier for media moguls to own more and more TV and radio stations, particularly in smaller media markets. Maybe while he's at it, he can tell Clear Channel (and the record companies, for that matter) to stop putting so much crappy music into heavy rotation.
While I'm here, I should mention a few new assignments. I'm working on (1) a piece about the perils of promoting a talented employee into management too quickly; and (2) a story about how entrepreneurs are hanging on in this recession. Economic forecasters predicted the economy would improve last summer, but things are getting worse instead of better. Things are dicotimous at best: Housing starts increased in December, but jobless numbers increased in January. This is a story about how small business owners are keeping afloat -- and holding their hope intact -- as this downturn drags on and threatens to turn into a double dip recession. I'm looking for experts as well as entrepreneurs to interview for both stories by Feb. 8. Best, Chris

Posted by Chris @ 03:13 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

The record industry is fast setting the record for stupidity. Instead of working with consumers and creating more benefit to buying CDs, it's now decided to go after individuals, relying on reluctant Internet service providers to help it put the cuffs on music listeners. The record industry's own customers are the enemy; not the best business model, if you ask me. If the record industry doesn't wake up this year and figure out the power of value-add and price deflation ($22 for a 15-year-old album when I can buy a new movie release for $14?), it'll be gone within two years. Poof, just like that. But given that the record industry can't seem to figure out its head from its you-know-what and wants to believe it's still 1973, maybe this will be a good thing.

Posted by Chris @ 03:02 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

In Portland, Oregon, the police chief has a penchant for searching through people's garbage. This practice has been condoned by the mayor as well as the city's district attorney as a way to catch drug dealers and other less-desirables. When a local independent weekly turned the tables, however, the garbage really hit the fan.

Posted by Chris @ 08:59 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, January 19, 2003

The West Coast (of the United States) is well known for its ballot initiatives process. It's debatable, however, whether or not this is a good way to create legislation. This effort against a Washington state fellow who pushes anti-tax ballot initiatives certainly makes a statement of its own.

Posted by Chris @ 09:48 AM EST [Link]

Friday, January 17, 2003

While much of the U.S. news industry circles the drain of news coverage, it's good to know that the fine folks at the FCC are working hard to make sure our media stay diversified. Meanwhile, CNN is quickly morphing into the Fox News Channel, 20/20 has become a weekly one-hour promotional video for Disney projects, and rumor has it that CBS execs are desperate to push 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt out the door so they can ruin this show, too. Edward R. Murrow, where are you?? Thank God for the BBC.

Posted by Chris @ 06:12 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 16, 2003

I never, ever thought I'd say this, but I agree with Arianna Huffington on something. Huffington is a formerly ultra-conservative pundit who has become a leader in the Detroit Project, an effort to turn Americans away from gas-guzzling SUVs. Her site is simply intriguing, especially if you remember her appearances on CNN in the 1990s. Check out the excepts of TV commercials DP is running in Detroit, NY and LA. Exxon and Shell cannot be happy about it.

Posted by Chris @ 05:18 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

In its war on terror, the Bush administration has appointed John Poindexter -- who, by the way, was implicated in the Iran-Contra affair back in 1987 -- to spy on Americans living inside the United States. This means accessing our emails, and I guess, anything else he feels like doing. Evidently, this has raised the hackles of hackers everywhere, who are coming on-line with sites that spy on Poindexter, revealing pictures of his home including his Maryland address, addresses and phone numbers of his neighbors and friends, purchases he's made, as well as requests for other hackers to track his movements. Message here: be very careful about pissing off hackers.

Posted by Chris @ 08:37 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is known for saying exactly what he thinks. While speaking before Congress on Jan. 7, Rumsfeld remarked that the United States doesn't need to reinstate the draft because the soldiers who served in Vietnam were "people without choices" who only brought "disadvantages" to the armed services, presumably because they couldn't get deferred. Rumsfeld's take on the typical Vietnam soldier: "What was left [after exemptions] was sucked into the intake, trained for a period of months, and then went out, adding no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services over any sustained period of time." Read the Congressional transcript here. The Washington Times covered it, too.

Posted by Chris @ 04:46 PM EST [Link]

Friday, January 10, 2003

When you're using your debit cards this weekend, pause to think about Visa/MasterCard and WalMart, corporate titans on opposite ends of an antitrust lawsuit over this little piece of seemingly harmless plastic. I'll think of this battle of the Goliaths tonight as we cough up our debit card at one of the Triangle's many fine dining establishments.

Posted by Chris @ 05:44 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 9, 2003

I've seen many cars since 9/11/01 that have a U.S. flag sticker on the bumper and a tattered American flag flapping in the breeze above the passenger-side window. I'm sure these patriotic Americans don't realize that they're actually breaking U.S. flag code, where etiquette deems that torn or frayed flags must be discarded immediately, and bumper stickers depicting the U.S. flag shouldn't be displayed on vehicles of any kind. Check out the U.S. flag code. Who would have thought there are so many rules for flags, eh? And that American drivers everywhere are breaking the rules.

Posted by Chris @ 12:14 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

One of the first things the new Congress did yesterday was to weaken its own ethics rules so it can take more free stuff from lobbyists. Let's get the pizza, fried chicken and free trips to fancy Caribbean resorts comin'!

Posted by Chris @ 09:10 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Now this is worth posting. A Californian named Christopher Todd Brown is fighting in court to have a disacknowledgements section kept in his graduate thesis that disparages everyone from his advisor to campus librarians to former state governors. As someone who spent a year and a half writing a 170-page quantitative thesis, I can understand some of the bitterness and angst that comes with wrapping up a master's degree. It's been seven years, and I still can't look at my master's thesis without breaking out in hives.

Posted by Chris @ 10:49 AM EST [Link]

Monday, January 6, 2003

Ah, just one more reason to dislike paying the phone bill every month. It reminds me of the time I called Bell South a few months ago and the customer service representative told me, "Thanks for choosing Bell South!" And I replied, "Do I have a choice?" Utter silence on the other end of the phone. Perhaps the Baby Bells ought to re-consider the phrases their employees are tossing off so blithely!

Posted by Chris @ 09:23 AM EST [Link]

Friday, January 3, 2003

I just came across some articles about how the U.S. Air Force is requiring its pilots to crank up on dexadrine (an amphetamine) before they fly. The Air Force creatively calls dexadrine "go pills." When pilots return, they're given a sedative (referred to as "no-go pills") to pull them back down so they can get some sleep. Evidently, U.S. fighter pilots have no choice but to live on this phamaceutical see-saw or risk being declared unfit to fly. I dunno...this doesn't seem like the best thing for the body or the mind. No wonder we're having all kinds of mistaken bombings in Afghanistan lately. I like this article, particularly the way he ends the piece. Is it a war on drugs, or a war on drugs? Hmmm...

Posted by Chris @ 04:43 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, January 2, 2003

I'm working through my post-holiday malaise, trying to figure out where I left off. It's a good time to post new assignments. Well, here they are. I'm looking for experts and entrepreneurs to interview for the following stories:
* A piece about the rise of virtual internships (i.e., where college students telecommute the whole time)...what the pros and cons for both employers and employees? A basic overview of what's going on out there;
* A story about the pros and cons for small businesses when it comes to cash-balance pension plans vs. traditional pension plans;
* A story about the perils of promoting employees too quickly into management positions.
Drop me an e-mail and I'd be happy to tell you more.
Looks like the stock market had a good day; it's up about 265 points. Today's rise is seen as a sign that the economy is finally taking off, but I suspect it's just the result of people who sold their stock in December to avoid April tax penalties buying back in to the market. The latest unemployment figures aren't very promising, and the government's official unemployment figures don't include Americans who have been unemployed for more than one year. I can't help but wonder how including job seekers who are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits would change the U.S. unemployment rate! Anyway, let's hope 2003 is better all the way around. As Pink sings, let's "get the party started."

Posted by Chris @ 03:29 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

It's a new year, and the frustrated grammar police are making their move. Having said this (he, he!), I'll wish y'all a happy, healthy and very grammatical 2003. May no one use "good" as an adverb, and may many a well-trodden cliche suffer (snort!) an untimely death. Happy New Year, everyone!

Posted by Chris @ 10:17 AM EST [Link]

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