That Whole Rigamarole

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Red Letter Day

Yesterday was such a red letter day, what with Uday and Qusay getting what was coming to them, that I decided to watch Nightline just to see what the news had to say. Wouldn't you know it, ABC just had to have John Donvan rain on my parade. The story he filed is similar to this story, but honestly I think what aired was a slightly different and considerably more irritating. Consider this bit:

While President Bush declared May 1 that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended," U.S. military personnel continue to die in Iraq.

I swear that over the air this was phrased to imply that the President has been proved incorrect. In fact, major combat operations have ended, and the death rate, while infuriating and regrettable, is not high by historic standards.
Even though Vice President Dick Cheney predicted U.S. troops "will, in fact, be greeted as liberators," Iraqis have demonstrated against the American presence.

In reality, it is not all demonstrations all the time. And some Iraqis did indeed welcome the United States.

I guess that's an attempt at balance, ABC News style. It's not even close to "all demonstrations all the time," though that's what sells papers. And it would be closer to the truth to say that "some Iraqis did not welcome the United States, but for the most part, Cheney was right." I'm not sure Donvan has surveyed much of the country.
But here is a fact of life: When it's more than 110 degrees and those in charge — the U.S. military — can't seem to get the electricity running reliably, people can forget to be grateful that a dictator was toppled.

Barton said U.S. forces conducted focus groups with Iraqis to gauge their opinions. One long-time opponent of Saddam told them, "After the last war, those idiots [meaning Saddam's people and that regime] had been able to restore the water and the electricity after a couple of months. Now it's been three months. What is taking you folks so long?"

Lord knows the Army can mess up a project, but shouldn't we acknowledge that one of the reasons the electricity is spotty is that the bad guys are sabotaging the system? And shouldn't the media also let us know how reliable was the grid before the war?

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Bless You, Satellite Dish!

I was in hog heaven after our Dells vacation, because the Cardinals were on ESPN 3 times in a week, and there were also three Cards v. Cubs game on TV. So I watched portions of almost all of them, and my bathroom ceiling did not get painted after all. One of my favorite moments against was against the Cubs when Kerry Wood sent one of his famous wild pitches up and in on Albert Pujols. Albert played it cool and drilled the next pitch out of the park (Waveland Avenue?) What a sweet moment for a hitter that must be.

I think my other favorite part was watching Eric Gagne close a game. As a person who does not follow the entire league closely, I was not terribly familiar with this guy. Oh, my goodness. He threw 95-97 mph. People are batting less than .150 against him. It was very impressive. And then he goes out and blows the All-Star Game. Funny world.

I was not watching the All-Star Game very much, because I was watching the replay of Tour de France Stage 10 on OLN. I guess it was 2 years ago that OLN first showed every stage, and I was hooked on this event. I have done a fair amount of bicycle touring, and a tiny amount of bicycle racing, so I am in awe of what these men do on the Tour. I think it is the toughest mainstream sporting event in the world. The Stanley Cup playoffs are probably second. Also, OLN has Bob Roll, who is great. If you can't get OLN, go to the web site and find the Bob Roll TdF promos. There are two, and they are both hilariously self-deprecating. He exudes barely-suppressed lunatic anarchy, which I think must be his actual personality. I'm waiting for him to snap and do something memorable to perky host Kirsten Gum.

From the Home Office in Schaumburg

My very third post on this lame-ass blog had to do with Motorola and some stupid press conference they had. And sure enough today there is more bad Motorola news. My favorite bit:

Motorola also failed to provide its usual quarterly market share data, leading analysts to surmise the company is losing out to larger rival Nokia and smaller Chinese competitors.

"It's convenient that they've stopped giving guidance about total industry sales and their own market share during a quarter that looks like to us that they lost quite a bit of market share in their handset business," said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Paul Sagawa, who has an "underperform" rating on the stock and does not own any shares.

I find this hilarious, because in recent quarters Motorola has seized on the most minute positive jiggles in their market share as proof that their "straight talk" or "tough approach" or "aggressive cost cutting" or "management buzzword" was about to blast the company out of its rut. So maybe those numbers don't matter so much now? Here are my top ten reasons the Motorola market share figures are missing, as provided by the tiny Motorola spokesman in my mind:

  1. Our high-tech robotic dog ate them.
  2. We wanted Jack Welch's advice, but he won't return our calls.
  3. I was supposed to read them to you from my phone, but this damn screen is too tiny!
  4. We farmed the reporting out to the plant in China, and the whole thing's in Mandarin!
  5. We wanted Bob Galvin's advice, but he won't return our calls.
  6. We appear to have laid off all the marketing people who could add and subtract.
  7. Noisy mobs of angry shareholders make it impossible to work around here.
  8. We only want to focus on our Malcolm Baldrige awards right now.
  9. Still getting the hang of this color printer.

...and the Number One Reason for the missing Motorola market share figures:

  1. Hey, have you seen this new, cool, black StarTac?

Thursday, July 03, 2003

See America First

Got back from a short vacation Tuesday night. We visited Wisconsin Dells, and camped in our tent. A good time was had by all, though it was a lot of work for my wife. We visited the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, the Midcontinent Railroad in North Freedom, the Upper Dells Boat Tour, and Noah's Ark Water Park. The last might have been my favorite, it being a good opportunity to catch up on the fashions in tattoos and navel piercings. I guess when every third chick at a water park in Wisconsin has a navel piercing and/or a tattoo, that is no longer "cutting edge."

It was interesting to completely drop out of the news cycle and even the baseball standings. I'm just now catching up. Apparently the President hacked some people off by daring the assholes in Iraq to come and get some. I'll agree that it's macho posturing, but I think that may be necessary in dealing with recalcitrant Arabs. We'll see how that goes. Seeing Saddam killed in a Baghdad street would really help the Iraq situation out, I think. Nothing really good is liable to happen in Iraq until the Big Man's fate is resolved.