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Showing posts from September 23, 2001
Remora The news that Excite@home filed for bankruptcy should surprise nobody who watched them in the late nineties, taking on debt as if they were a real company. But it struck a nostalgic chord in my heart, so I went back to the ante-diluvian era and dug up this article on VC star John Doerr. Those who rely on biz journalism to tell a straight story should check it out: The Best VCs Especially pause and linger on these two grafs, balancing the usual flattery of the wealthy with, in the next paragraph, that devastating list of companies. Each one either gone belly up or seriously damaged by the way they were initially financed: "It is no longer possible to write simply about this veteran venture capitalist named John Doerr, so wrapped is he now in the mantle of myth and fable. He has become both the sign and the signifier of high tech venture capitalism, a metaphor for success, the synecdoche of the entire e-commerce era. That's a lot of freight to
A story in the Times Biz section today piqued my interest. Headlined Cellular Pioneer Puts Up 'For Sale' Signs and written by GERALDINE FABRIKANT and the ever insightful GRETCHEN MORGENSON, the article inventoried strange doings in the Craig McCaw kingdom -- the guy is selling his wine collection, his island, and his planes, no less. Second and third graf: "A believer in telecommunications who has been called a visionary, Mr. McCaw continued to invest heavily in the industry even after he sold his cellular network, McCaw Cellular Communications, to AT&T in 1994. For a while the strategy worked. When technology stocks peaked in March of last year, Mr. McCaw's biggest investments in two public companies, Nextel Communications Inc. (news/quote) and XO Communications Inc. (news/quote), were worth $8.8 billion. Today, after selling some stock, his holdings are worth about $1 billion. Mr. McCaw declined to be interviewed about his sales. But his spokesman,
Remora Lionel Tiger is one of the pioneers of evolutionary psychology. You know evolutionary psychology, don't you? (he said in his best Henny Youngman voice.) That's the science where you imagine a theory and then walk your fingers through any sort of evidence or analogy or just things you make up on the spot to prove it. It's much like, well, being a presidential speechwriter. Anyway, today in Slate he used the WCT assault to support his imperial male theory, which he has kicked around for years without ever making it very convincing. Lionel's theory, in a nutshell, takes various old wives' tales about male aggression, peppers them with his own over-emphasis on sexual selection in evolutionary theory, and matches them to mix and match facts culled from cultures Tiger knows very little about. Osama Bin Laden's Man Trouble - Why his young men in groups are so scary. by Lionel Tiger Here's a paragraph indicative of Tiger's usual insanit
Dope. Okay. Forward to our next tableau. �The earthquake began at 9:30 on November 1st, 1755, and was centered in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 km WSW of Cape St. Vincent.� Geologists call it a slip � there was a slip between two tectonic plates. It might have been the greatest earthquake in recorded history. Immanuel Kant , writing about it latter, believed that atmospheric phenomena prophesied that something was up: I look upon the prelude of the subterranean inflammation, that after- wards grew so amazing, to be the atmospheric phenomenon which was perceived at Locarno in Switzerland on the 14th October last year at 8 o'clock in the morning. A warm vapour, as if coming out of an oven, dif- fused itself and in two hours turned into a red fog, which towards evening occasioned a rain red as blood, that, when it was caught, deposited 1/9 of a reddish gluey sediment. The snow six feet deep was likewise tinged red. This purple rain was perceived [at] 40 hours, [t
Dope For those of you worried that I am neglecting my promised, straggly essay on the Earthquake in Lisbon and its effects on the Enlightenment - a hot button issue, right? Hollywood fodder -- well, I'm not. My plan, on this site, is to experiment with free form essays - ex cathedra riffs that are visibly assembled out of the lumber in my head. So if that lumber doesn't feel like getting up and making itself into an essay, I'm not going to make it. But I do remember my promises, and will try to get around to my original intentions. -- The Randalls Grocery store I go to has a large red white and blue ribbon stuck to the stuccoed pillar in front of the entrance; the Goodwill store on 5th and Lamar has tacked up a goodly sized flag, maybe two and a half feet by five, on the side of their building; the GSD and M advertising agency on 6th has a huge flag on a pole and a banner stretched out on their front lawn area which contains some pithy patriotic apothegm; ny neighbor
Remora 'Smokin em out' - the definition. We don't know what the Bush's international coon hunt is going to look like - neither does he. But for a combat ready wet dream, look to this interview with Rear Admiral Stephen Baker, who is creaking in his joints with excitement. Q & A with Rear Adm. (Ret.) Stephen H. Baker, USN, Senior Fellow, CDI - Terrorism Project - Center for Defense Information Most frightening exchange is this one: "Q. Will this "war on terrorism" be just focused only on Afghanistan? A. No, but the initial focus is to bring to justice the individual terrorists behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and all current leads point to those regions. The Taliban regime and all the leaders and cells of al Qaeda are definitely on the hit list. It will not end there, however. The campaign being planned is global, and it will be a long, many-tiered, world-wide effort. The terrorist training camps that we kno
Remora Talking about folly and evil -- here's a story from the NYT: Bush Urges Afghans to Rid Their Country of Taliban in which Bush 2 has apparently decided to make the same mistakes as Bush 1. You'll remember -- or you won't -- that Bush 1 urged the people of Iraq to "take matters into their own hands -- to force Saddam Hussein the dictator aside..." back in the heady Gulf War days. The Iraqui people, unluckily for them, actually took Bush 1 at his word, and were promptly abandoned by the American military, who calmly watched them being slaughtered by the 'dictator Saddam Hussein's" Republican guard. Bush 2's people have learned nothing. Once again the president makes an appeal that is promptly denied by his spokesman, Ari Fleischer. Once again a mass of refugees who would like nothing better than to be rid of the Taliban are being given televised assurances by the President of the US that we will support a rebellion, and once again this
Remora Mike Kelly's column in the WP is, as usual, as stuffed with nonsense as my mama's pecan pie used to be stuffed with nuts (hey, I'm practicing making homegrown comparisons, in an effort to show my Americanism): . . . Pacifist Claptrap ( The column considers pacifism and, in the concluding graf, concludes it is evil. What Kelly means by evil, I think, is that it is bad. Kelly goes to Orwell's controversy with pacifists in World War II. At that time, Orwell contended, the pacifists were objectively pro-fascist. Kelly wants to transfer this logic to today's pacifists, and say they are objectively pro-terrorist. Here, for what it is worth, is his argument graf. He begins with reasons for engaging with pacifists at all. I'll skip his first reason and go to the second: "Second, it is worth it because the reactionary left-liberal crowd in America and in Europe has already staked out its ground here: What happened to America i
Dope. In 1725, Voltaire was thirty one years old. He'd established himself at the great houses by this time, where the Names could enjoy the dangerous turn of his epigrams. His wildly successful plays were thought to be the successor of Racine's (although now they are considered the last clunk of classic theater, heading for the garbage chute). He had, it was true, spent time in the Bastille in 1717 for writing verses that satirized the Regent. It was also true that he was the prematurely wizened child of a conseiller de roi, a bourgeois, and that his father did not count his poet son among his worldly successes - in the Arouet family the ornament was the older son, Armand, a lawyer like papa. Voltaire, however, considered himself the peer of his titled friends -- ennobled, so to speak, by his brain. It is a sign of the times that Voltaire could so easily allow himself this presumption. In the seventeenth century, a Moliere could see a king, but couldn't sup with
Remora I recommend reading the Far Eastern Economic Review this week -- a lot of the articles are on line, and the magazine, which is owned by Dow Jones, is pretty on spot about Asian issues. And the war or non-war or shadow war or whatever thing looming and lurching towards us like the as yet unseen serial killer in a teen slasher flick is definitely a classic, Kipling style East of the Suez deal. There's a piece by Enzio von Pfeil which inadvertantly shows how tightly superstition and art are intertwined in economics: THE 5TH COLUMN -- September 27, 2001 Economics, for the past two weeks, has publicly put on its consolatory face, while underneath the investors, the electronic herd once lauded by Tom Friedman, have been running off various cliffs. Like almost all post-Keynsian econ-masters, von Pfeil actually seems to believe in the hoary chestnuts of monetary theory, and retails such bogus analogies as the following: "Policy mixes involve monetary and fiscal me
Remora: Since the market Humpty-Dumptied last week, I thought readers might like a cheerful article from 1998 about the Asian collapse by Murray Sayle, a veteran journalist now settling into his bungalow years in Japan. It is from a Japanese English mag. OutsideR Online -Nonember 1998 Sample grafs: "Can it possibly be 1929 again, out East? Where are the suiciding stockbrokers, the criminal scandals uncovered by the falling markets? Well, six officials connected with the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Japan have hanged themselves (traditional swords having become scarce and expensive, like most Japanese objets de vertu) and so has a Japanese MP of Korean origin, not a good thing to be in Japan when trouble strikes. Two small-fry finance officials are out on bail for allowing themselves to be entertained by overlent bankers at something called a No Pants shabu-shabu, a raunchy restaurant whose waitresses serve at table minus underwear (in the Shoguns days, silk-robed offi
Remora. The US has finally decided to abandon the extremely dumb position it took last week. You'll remember, when the Taliban demanded evidence that bin Laden was involved in the assault on the WTC, the administration refused, saying it 'wasn't going to negotiate.' The refusal was puzzling and stupid. Puzzling, because presumably it wouldn't be hard to provide evidence linking bin Laden to terrorism. Stupid, because, once again, an American government was treating a non-European people like second class humans. If France or Germany or Lithuania had demanded evidence before turning over a wanted individual, the US would have done it unhesitatingly. That is what extradition procedures are all about. Since if we attack Afghanistan, whether to extract bin Laden from his camp or to overrun the country extensively, we are going to have to rely on Pakistan, this was not a good way to start that kind of tricky operation. Back in America, where any mindless display of def
Comments Alan recommends this link to the New Republic today, with this comment: I have no sympathy with this guy's attack on "the left and its candlelight vigils," or for the jingoism that the New Republic has displayed in the last couple of issues. Robert Fisk is a journalist who has my particular admiration for having once picked up the pieces of an exploded shell that had killed two Palestinian women, noting the serial number and manufacturer's name, and taking it back to the engineer who had designed it. I'm just curious about what you guys think about what he has to say about the embargo on Iraq & its effects on the civilian population thereof. What he says sounds plausible to someone like me who is shamefully uninformed about the issue. BTW, Roger, great post today. Lorin wrote, re the tears post: "That is wonderful. You know Jean Starobinski has a big chapter on Rousseau and the political meaning of tears in HmmHmm and Tran
Remora This story is going to come out in pieces, and the alert reader will have to do the cut and paste. The intelligence failure that allowed the successful hijacking of four planes has a backstory, but we haven't heard it yet. So like some jigsaw puzzle, we will have to look around for the odd news item to piece it together. This article. FBI Knew Terrorists Were Using Flight Schools ( in the WP is extremely noteworthy. Graf two: "Three days after the attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III described reports that several of the hijackers had received flight training in the United States as "news, quite obviously," adding, "If we had understood that to be the case, we would have -- perhaps one could have averted this." Graf three: "A senior government official yesterday acknowledged law enforcement officials were aware that fewer than a dozen people with links to bin Laden had
Dope. I have a review out this week in the Austin Chronicle . My editor there, Clay Smith, is undoubtedly the best editor I work with, and I'm happy with the work we've done in the last three years - has it been three years? Jesus. But the Chronicle is going through the pain shooting through the print media since advertising money took a hike at the beginning of the year. The obvious place to cut out the fat is books -- I've posted about this before. In consequence, my review this week was intolerably squeezed. So I'm doing something I should, perhaps, not do -- I'm pasting in my full review of The Corrections. I wouldn't do this if I thought this site was attracting thousands, but it attracts tens, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe. In Slate this week, Christopher Caldwell and Judith Shulevitz wrote about The Corrections, too. I love Slate's Book Club -- it is, I think, a brilliant use of the Net. And this week's dialogue was fascinating to me b