Just Another Blog
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
We Knew This Would Happen When We Signed Up

Grocery stores are turning your shopping habits over to the FBI so that they can use the information to further their knowledge of how you live your life. I remember commenting on this type of situation when I signed up for my King Soopers and Safeway cards a few years back. It's one thing to use the information to effectively market new products to me. It's quite another to tell the FBI when I'm dieting, how many condoms I'm buying, what brand of cheese I eat, etc. My plan now is to see about getting new cards with a bunch of bogus information filled in. If you don't have to use the card for some sort of check cashing priviliedges, I encourage you to do the same. Here is the feedback that I sent to Kroger.

Regarding the privacy of Kroger's database of customer purchasing habits.

In a story by Fox News today (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,59262,00.html), it is reported that a major grocery chain voluntarily turned over database information to the FBI following the events of September 11. In the story, Safeway clearly denies that it was their chain. As a (very minor) shareholder, and frequent shopper at King Soopers, I am interested to know whether you are willing to similarly deny that my information along with that of millions of other shoppers was turned over to the FBI. A clear explanation of how, when, under what circumstances, and with whom you share information contained in or garnered from the database would also be appreciated.

I will let you know what sort of response I get.

Ted Nugent Rocks!

I had no idea what to expect when I went to see Ted Nugent at the Fillmore last night. What I got was one hell of a rock 'n' roll show by one bad-ass guitar playin' motherfucker. The show started with a rousing edition of the Star Spangled Banner. Then came the Pledge of Allegiance. Under god was emphasized and - in the biggest political statement of the night that not many people caught - indivisible was skipped. I guess the idea is that it's god's country, but that god would prefer two nations.

I didn't recognize as many of the songs as I thought I would. The big ones were played: Cat Scratch Fever; Wang, Dang, Sweet Poontang; Stormtroopin'; and Kiss My Ass. Kiss My Ass was fun because he had everyone singing along but changed the lyrics to Kiss My Glock. I was glad that I could sing along and mean it. To quote: Janet Reno, you dirty whore, can kiss my Glock.

At two times during the show he brought out his compound bow. He took out Saddam and, with a flaming arrow, a guitar. There were props on the speakers including an AR-15, AK-47, and an Uzi-type looking gun. And of course American flags.

I had a lot of funny and/or interesting thoughts to myself during the show:
-- Here I am, 6' and 225#, and I'm bigger than most of the men, but smaller than most of the women in the crowd.
-- Braun should have had a convention there judging from the prolific amount of facial hair.
-- No surprise that they gave everyone a good frisking at this show.
-- Why aren't the Republicans at the show with some sort of get out the vote table?
-- How come the NRA isn't here trying to sign folks up? (though, perhaps that was because there may have only been 5 or 10 folks there who weren't already members)
-- If you think that Denver is too White of a town (not that any of you do), then you should see the crowd at the Ted Nugent show.
-- What if they do a tatoo check and one isn't enough to stay at the show?
-- To quote Vince, "No shrieking."
-- If you thought rock 'n' roll was dead you haven't seen the Nuge.

Ted just ripped Denver and really rubbed the Red Wings' Stanley Cup Championship in our faces. His comment to the boisterous booing was something along the lines of, "Ok, ok, we're all adults here. You can just suck my dick!" The guy was awesome. He played what he called "a new, pretty song" the lyrics of which mainly consisted of him screaming "who wants to fuck me." Musically, I was really impressed by the show. It's the sort of brutal, American, rock 'n' roll that I suspect can only be achieved with a three piece band. The drummer, Tommy, can't be any older than about 25 or so, and he is awesome. He looks a bit like that guy from That 70's Show and Dude, Where's My Car who Dan Savage is always talking about blowing a load across his face. We had aftershow passes to hang around and meet the band. We didn't talk to any of them, but it was cool to hang out for a few minutes and see Ted and Tommy just kind of be normal people. Ted was collecting business cards from guys who said they would take him hunting. Good show. Fun time.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Rambling Update

I haven't posted anything in a few days, and there's a pretty good chance that I won't post much for another few days, so I wanted to take a second and throw out a few rambling and unconnected bits.

I'm going to see The 'Nuge tonight. That should be interesting. He's in town doing book signings and a show tonight at the Fillmore. My brother wants me to go see the Grateful Dead with him on Saturday in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. He's sure it will be better than The 'Nuge. I tried to explian that while I'm not necessarily a fan of either band, I at least think Ted would be interesting to see from a cultural perspective. The 'Dead hold no such interest for me - even if it is their first show since Jerry died. I think my brother said he had seen the last show before Jerry died. I think that perhaps he is looking for some sense of closure. Or maybe he's just looking to get really fucked up.

The whole reason that the Dead show is a possibility is that we are headed home for my Grandfather's funeral. He died Sunday apparently after catching a cold for the first time in his life. He would have been 95 Thursday. He was on the losing end of a battle with Alzheimer's that left him unable to recognize my Grandmother for a good portion of the last year. The last time I saw him, he had no idea who I was though I seemed to remind him of someone as he kept asking if I was related to so-and-so from somewhere in Minnesota. He died in Illinois where my mother convinced the two to move about 2 or 3 years ago so that she would be able to spend more time with them and to be more of a help in their final years. But Grandpa lived his whole life (when he wasn't fighting Japs in WWII) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, so he is flying up there today and will be buried at Fort Snelling on Friday. He was the healthiest person any of my family ever knew. It's a real shame that his body outlasted his mind.

Went hiking again this weekend with Vince and Avery. Had the Sierra Club been around, we surely would have been shot at for not staying to the trail which we couldn't find after about the first quarter mile and until the last half mile. I wore a pair of old hiking boots that I hadn't worn in probably a year. Who knew they would need to be re-broken-in? I have some nasty, paniful blisters on my heels. I may post the picture later. It was a good hike though from the top of Guenella pass. At one point the sun went behind the clouds and the wind from the valley came blowing through, and I went from sweating to being quite cold. At that point we decided it would be best for the baby (and my heels at that point) to turn back down the mountain. Took a couple of great pictures too. We then stopped at Tommyknockers in Idaho Springs for lunch. Avery tried her first Spaghettios, and spent a lot of time trying to talk to us and anyone else around.

I'm off now to get ready for an interview with Grand Vin, a wine distributor. They are the one company I would most like to work for if given my choice. That feeling is based on their book and the awesome level of service they always provided me while I was running the wine bar. The job is part sales and part vendor liason. I have a bad feeling that I may be over-qualified and that the pay may be too low, but I am very hopeful that something will work out. I'll take a pay cut to get out of finance/customer service and back into wine, but it needs to be within reason, and there needs to be room for advancement. I'm excited just to be interviewing. It's now been a little over three months since my last day of work.

The trip to Minnesota will be via Sun Country, but coming home will be via Uhaul. Mom has been hoarding furniture from estate sales and neighbors moving away and redecorating La Casa Harrington that my brother and I need to haul out here. Plus, my sister has now confirmed that she'll be moving out here in two or three weeks, so we're going to haul a bunch of her stuff too. Depending on the route, we may stop for a brief visit with the Hyena on the way back to Denver. We'll ses how it all works out. Either way, I'm about to become the proud owner of a kick-ass, super-sweet, big ol' leather couch.

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll do some posting between now and next Friday when I expect to Denver, but I can make no promises.

Friday, July 26, 2002
Timothy McVeigh Was Al-Qaeda

Or at least that is the impression that I came away with after reading this story about Mohammed Atta, Zacarias Moussaoui, and Timothy McVeigh all staying at the same hotel at the same time. Combine this story with the striking similarities (more in-depth discussion and evidence here) between the shoe bomber, Jose Padilla, and John Doe #2 from the early days of the OKC investigation, and it looks very much like the attack on the World Trade Center was not the first successful and devastating attack by Al-Qaeda on US soil.

I guess this could be used as an argument against the death penalty: if we hadn't killed McVeigh, then we would be able to further interrogate him now. But, from what I remember, he kept pretty tight-lipped about the whole thing anyway.

On the Expensing of Stock Options

If you are at all interested in the movement afoot to change how corporations account for executive stock options in their books, you should be reading More Than Zero Sum. Here on the problem of using Black-Scholes for extrinsic valuations of executive options. Here on the discussion of how Coca-Cola will try to circumvent that problem. Here rebuking a part of Warren Buffet's ideas on the issue.

Glad I'm Not a Teacher

Before I matriculated at George Washington University, I considered going to Boston University where I had been offered a scholarship to their School of Education. After reading this lengthy article in the Washington Post on adjunct professors and the difficulties surrounding getting a good professorship, I am glad that I didn't pursue that career path. It's an interesting article that paints universities in a pretty poor light. It certainly appears that universities are more interested in saving money than in employing good professors who can best educate their students. Now I have nothing against running an efficient business, but it strikes me that not paying for and hiring and ensuring the retention of top professors is counter-productive to excelling in the field of education.

It's a Dry Heat

So dry in fact that Denver Water is begging people to cut back on consumption. Mandatory watering restrictions have not been successful at reaching the city's goal of a 30% reduction in usage. As part of the marketing plan, Denver Water is spending money on tee shirts and coasters for various Denver establishments to promote conservation, and the slogans are great!

Chipotle: Save Water. Order the Mild.
Rock Bottom Brewery: Real Men Dry Shave.
The Wynkoop: No Water. No Beer.
Wells Fargo: Brush Every Other Tooth and Instead of a Dishwasher, Get a Dog.
Ocean Journey: Only Wash the Stinky Parts.

Great slogans all. And I bet there will be a big demand by the public for the clever shirts. This will help spread the message, but it will be interesting to see if there is any real effect.

Good Call Indy

It's been apparent for some time that the Indianapolis Colts made the right call when they selected Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf with the number one pick in the 1998 draft. Now it is even more clear than ever as Manning is the best quarterback in the league, and Leaf has retired. Yep, retired - with a lifetime QB rating of 50 (compared to Manning's 85.1 so far). The guy was nothing but a jackass during his brief career. I don't think there are many folks who are not related to Leaf who will be sorry to see him out of the league.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Well, What Did You Expect

The headline on Drudge reads Bill Clinton Says Fighting AIDS As Important As Fighting Terrorism... I don't even need to bother reading this story. Of course this guy wants to fight AIDS - he has a vested interest. As much questionable pussy as the ex-president chases, it would certainly behoove him to have a vaccine or a cure - or better judgement.

Suffer the Fools

Via InstaPundit, Jaceonline rips the Motley Fool for making a foray into politics from their traditional world of personal finance. The Fool apparently had a story on the changes coming down the line from the California Air Resources Board and about how everyone should naturally support their reccomendations and that anyone who doesn't is a big, dumb, irresponsible corporate jerk. Jaceonline takes 'em apart and hammers their use of statistics. Well done.

There seems to me to be a lot going on in the news recently that suggests that politics and politicians do not mix well with finance and financiers and vice versa. Steel tariffs may (or may not) make good political sense, but financially, they are a bad idea. The privatization of Social Security may be dangerous politically, but financially it is a sound move. Sleight-of-hand accounting practices are bad financially, but legislating thousands of pages of new laws, regulations, and guides and introducing new rules of oversight and accountability may also be bad financially.

I am not sure that the vast majority of our law school educated politicians have a very good overall handle on things financial. At the same time, I am not sure that all of the financiers have been willing to play by the rules legislated by the politicians. Stuck in the middle are a bunch of regular Joes and Janes who in general know less about the finance side of things and care less about the political side of things. How do we stop the folks in the middle from being screwed from both sides? Well, one good suggestion was electing a President with an MBA. So far, though, his emphasis has been all politics.

But I am getting a bit out of my own range here. My skills in the realm of corporate finance and macro-economics are lacking compared to some others in the blogosphere, and certainly my disinterest in politics makes it almost odd that I should even have a web log. Go read Megan McArdle and More than Zero Sum for better political/financial commentary. But go check out the Jaceonline article first; he did a fine job.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Pat Buchanan Wants To Know

Pat Buchanan is against a war with Iraq.
Why, when Iraq was not involved in 9-11 and has never attacked us nor used biological or gas weapons on U.S. troops, are we launching this war on Iraq? Has deterrence failed us? How so? And who is the aggressor here?


What are the anticipated economic consequences of the war? Meltdown of the equity markets of the West since Y2K has wiped out $5.6 trillion here and over $11 trillion worldwide. An interruption of oil supplies could send the economies of Europe and Japan reeling.

What will be the strategic consequences? Will China use U.S. preoccupation with Iraq to press Taiwan? Will a desperate North Korea take the opportunity to re-ignite hostilities with the South? What will be the impact on NATO Europe – and Russia?
He asks some questions that I hope at least a few other people are asking.

The View from Iraq

Interesting speculation on how Iraq views the current state of affairs in the United States. Eric Margolis of the Toronto Sun writes Saddam's speech on why it is time for a regime change in the US.

Friday, July 19, 2002
Beware the Guy with the Dynamite

Via Fark, there is a pretty good ripping of the proposed civilian spy program over at Yellow Times. I'm not sure what I think of this site. They tend to the ultra-paranoid and conspiracy side of things as far as I can tell. But, like the old saying goes, just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean that they really aren't out to get you. And I think that this story on the TIPS plan makes a lot of good points. I know that if I found out that a neighbor was a government spy, I would shun them. Of course, I've lived in my house for seven years and don't really know any of my neighbors anyway, so I doubt that they would give a damn.

Lance Armstrong

The 2002 Tour de France has entered the mountains, and Lance Armstrong is starting to pull away in a bid for his fourth consecutive victory. This is a guy who only a few years back was within probably 4 to 6 weeks of death. If you think that this is just a long bike ride through scenic France, I encourage you to read Mr. Armstrong's autobiography: It's Not About the Bike, My Journey Back to Life. It's a hell of a story about his battle with cancer. It also provides insight into the particularly grueling nature of the Tour de France. It was also interesting to learn how these bike races really are team events. I can't recommend the book highly enough. Though, I've been recommending the book for ages to family members, and they don't listen to me or take my suggestions, so I have no real reason to believe that you will either.

Good Cop Saves Bad Dog

Here's a story from a couple days back about a cop in Massachusetts who did mouth-to-mouth and CPR on a pit bull that had been hit by a car and revived it. It's certainly a good thing that the cop was able to keep his head in the face of the hysterical owner. Why couldn't she have done this herself? Wouldn't you do everything that you could to save your dog? Aren't these types of stories common enough that most people realize that CPR and artificial respiration work on all matters of critters? I fear that there are certain folks out there who would say that they would have been all to happy to see a bit pull lying dead in the road. It's a good thing that the cop was better than that. I hope he and his bosses get plenty of public support for his work. Maybe Procter and Gamble could show some corporate appreciation by sending the guy some Scope.

AIDS in the UK

Via Andrew Sullivan, here is a good story about how the British government has been inflating statistics concerning HIV infection rates among heterosexual populations. We've known all along that if you aren't having sex with gay men or shooting drugs with used needles or having sex with Africans then your risk of acquiring HIV is extremely low. Propaganda, err state health policy, would have you believe that HIV is something that you get from not having sex with a condom - that it has no relation to with whom you choose to copulate. I would be interested to see someone take on the official US infection rates to see if similar overstatements are as prevalent. I'm sure they are.

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Real Advice

Are you sick of biased advice from financial companies that have a lot to gain by giving you bad advice? Are you tired of the poor advice that your horoscope provides? Do you feel like no one understands you and no one gives you good advice?

Well, you're in luck. The good folks over at Freak Farm have real advice from real retards for you.

The War on Drugs

Here is a great article that my brother sent me regarding the war on drugs. It's a fascinating look at how the cartels manage their supply chain using the tools and lessons of business and management combined with a complete disregard for the lives of anyone who gets in the way.

On Diets and Dying

The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The Italians drink large amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
The Germans drink a lot of beers and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is what kills you.

Thanks Mom for the words of inspiration for my diet.

Fake Coupons Fool Starbucks

Across the country yesterday, Starbucks was giving out free coffees to folks with bogus coupons. Well, they were actually legitimate coupons, but they were only intended for Washington DC. I think that this is a great corporate "prank." If the hippy, anti-globalization crowd really wants to hurt MDC's, they should commit more time and energy to these types of pranks - that way I could get some free stuff.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
A Funny Thought

As I surf German news websites for my fabulous work from home opportunity, I am struck by a funny thought. Imagine playing Scrabble in German. I don't think you get enough letters per turn to put together most of their vocabulary. And the scores me be just off the charts. Globalisierungskritiker: what is that with a triple word score? Like 500?

Monday, July 15, 2002
On Economics

I know that I should read more about economics and economic theory than I do. Usually when I read a Megan McArdle rant on the economic policies or justifications of this or that, my eyes begin to glaze over after about two paragraphs. But I made it all the way through this lengthy interview with the 1992 Nobel Prize winner for economics, Gary Becker. It's an interesting discussion on where some of the excitement in economics is today. The discussion of the economics of crime at the beginning is really quite interesting, and it is an area that I had no idea was receiving serious study by economists.

Whoa, that was weird. I started writing this post over two hours ago, but when I went to get the link for Ms. McArdle's site, I started reading down and then followed some links and then read some comments and then ended up over at the Bleat and now finally realized that I was intending to post something.

Well, having completely lost my train of thought, I will just tell you that if you want to read an interesting interview with a Nobel Prize winner on some of the tangents of economics and current study trends, then go read this.

The Job Search

I've been really lax about looking for a job. Now that the money from Merrill has run out, it's about time I do something about that. I've just started this data entry/internet research job promoting the interests and reach of Zog. While having the money coming in will be nice and somewhat better than unemployment, the job itself sucks. I feel like a monkey could probably do the work. You might argue that a monkey can't read English well enough off the web to be productive. Well, a lot of my work so far has entailed surfing Danish and Spanish websites looking for addresses, email, and telephone numbers. And my Danish is no better than most monkeys' English.

At any rate, I went to the big ol' job fair down at the Pepsi center today. I would guess there were maybe 50 to 60 employers there and a crowd that was easily twice what the Nuggets usually draw. Very depressing. There are a lot of unemployed people in Denver right now and not a lot of good jobs or even hope for good jobs in the near future. I spoke to about 10 different companies. Most seemed to be looking for sales personnel though none would actually call them sales jobs. The lackey at Wells Fargo actually went so far as to say - and this is almost verbatim - "This isn't a sales job. About 99.9% of what you'll be doing is sales, but we don't really consider it a sales job. And once you get in the door, there are all kinds of other opportunities that you can pursue within the company." Uhh, no thanks.

There were a couple of promising positions, but I'll have to wait and see. Afterwards, Pam (my former boss) and I had lunch over at Dxon's. I had a really bad experience there about 4 years ago shortly after they had opened up and had been avoiding the place. I've now eaten there twice in two weeks and had really good food. I'll keep going back. I had the opportunity to try the new Smirnoff Ice at lunch too. Pam has become a fan and I tried a bit of hers. Deliciously refreshing, that stuff. I was drinking a Tom Collins and was rather surprised by how similar the tastes are. It's much more like Squirt than it is like Zima - good refreshment for a hot, summer day.

As we finished lunch, we ran into Matt Tixier also formerly of Merrill. He's going to sell me some car insurance. Good. Everyone tells me I'm getting screwed paying what I'm paying, and I'm sure you're all probably right. Matt'll fix it.

Now I'm home and should be surfing Spanish websites, but it's too hot to think in my house, so I sit here rambling on instead.

p.s. I guess I'd better say that the Zog comment was a joke. It's actually a very worthwhile project that will help mobilize the Jewish community to be a more powerful and effective lobbying voice. And if anyone needs the home phone numbers or email addresses or pagers or fax numbers to any media member stationed in Israel, let me know.

From the Mouths of Babes

A great Michael Lewis story on Slate this morning. I seem to be knowing more and more parents lately. This weekend, I found out that my first girlfriend from high school just had her first baby; I went hiking with Vince and his baby Avery; and I met Keva's 5 week old daughter, Kaylie - lots of babies. This story is a great example of some of the kinds of things that the parents can look forward to in the coming years. Hillarious!

Friday, July 12, 2002
Punk Rock Aerobics

While the idea of skanking and pogoing for exercise strikes me as a strange form of organized workout, I will say that I did a whole lot of this routine while I was an undergrad, and I was in a lot better shape then than now. Heck, I remember walking home from the 9:30 Club (back when it was actually at 930 F St) drenched in sweat after spending a night in the pit listening to GBH or some other punk legends. Ahh, those were the good old days. The story says the workouts are $7 a session. Man what a deal. Who's running that, Ian MacKaye?

Thursday, July 11, 2002
Fark Jokes

Fark has a list of people's all time favorite jokes. As I turn in for the evening over 600 have already been posted. I'm only a third of the way through. If you want something to make you smile, go just start reading them. Here's one to get you started that I don't ever remember hearing.

There were twin sisters just celebrating their one hundreth birthday in a nursing home. The editor of the local newspaper, tells his photographer to get over there and take the pictures of these 100 year-old twins. Now, one of the twins still had her hearing, but the other was nearly deaf.

The photographer asked them to sit together on the sofa. The deaf one said to her twin, “WHAT DID HE SAY?”


“Now move a little closer together”, said the cameraman.



So the two sisters wiggled and scooted up next to each other and began to smile for the camera.

“Just hold those smiles a bit longer, I’ve got to focus the camera”, said the photographer.

Yet again, “WHAT DID HE SAY?”


With a big grin the deaf twin shouted out, “OH DEAR - BOTH OF US?"

There Will Be Plenty of Time to Sleep When Your 40

I originially got all excited about Provigil back in April after reading an LA Times story about it. Now Joel Garreau at the Washington Post has gotten his hands on some and written a fascinating article about both the implications of sleeplessness and the actual effects of the drug. He kicks out two or three days worth of work in a drug-induced - what's the opposite of stupor yet not a frenzy? Surprisingly (at least to me), at the end, he does not look forward to using the drug again.

The juxtaposition of Provigil and caffeine really helps you see the possibilities of the future. The implications of such a drug truly are mind-boggling. At one point in the article, someone wonders about the day when a drug is perfected that allows humans to forgo sleep all together without any risk or danger. I wonder, would that speed up evolution? I mean we would me living more in the same time. Would sleep become a strange drug - almost the opposite of cocaine today? I think it is fascinating to ponder the possibilities. And more fascinating still is the fact that we will probably live to see the day. Awesome!

note: Modafinil is simply the generic name of the drug Provigil which is marketed by Cephalon.

Work in a Call Center?

What in the world did phone reps used to do before nearly unfettered access to the internet? Thank the fucking lord I didn't work in a call center that long so I don't have personal experience with the then, but I think the now is right on. Check out the differences.

Music Locks-up Your Windows XP?

Ever since I got Windows XP 13 months ago, I've had this strange problem. Any time I play music on WinAmp or any other device, I can't effectively run any other aplication. Things constantly freeze for anywhere from 15 seconds to 5 minutes at a time. Today I figured it out. Strangely enough, Windows XP is listening to what I'm playing. Apparently most computer manufacturers set the default XP setting to turn voice recognition on. It doesn't matter that I don't have a microphone plugged in, the computer has a default mic, and it wants to type the lyrics. Any place there is a text field, XP wants to fill in something that is coming through the voice recognition.

The fix is simply to turn off the voice recognition. You can see if it's running by going to the task manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete). Click the processes tab, and look for Sapisvr.exe. That's the culprit. Instead of explaining the whole fix, I'll just point you here. I did this this morning and was able to work at my computer, share music on Kazaa, and listen to tunes all the day long.

This has been the only problem that I have had with XP. It's fixed, and I'm happy. I finally suspected the voice recognition when the database I was trying to fill with phone numbers kept populating with they...were...they...were... Heck, that wasn't even the lyrics to the song - though my output is well removed from the input.

Time to Move to Vegas?

Nevada will vote in November to liberalize (libertarianize?) some of the states marijuana laws. The proposed change would essentially decriminalize posession of less than three ounces. The story says that such carriers would no longer risk arrest, but it is unclear whether there would still be fines involved.

Thanks to the Hyena for the link.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002
What's Wrong with the NBA

Here is a great interview with Kareem Abdul Jabar. While Kareem is never asked directly about the current state of the NBA, the laundry list of problems facing the league comes out at a number of points. One thing in particular that I noticed about the interview is how well-spoken Kareem is. I find it hard to imagine most of today's big name players being as eloquent.

Sexual Harassment

Via InstaPundit: There is a very good editorial piece in the Detroit News today arguing against the constitutionality of Michigan's sexual harassment laws. I think that the day-to-day work environment at many large corporations has realy gotten out of hand. Men avoid women out of fear that a glance, a look, a comment, or a turn-of-phrase could be taken the wrong way. You can't talk too much about the NFL because there are no women in the league and all of this talk about football leads to a hostile work environment.

I have been through formal sexual harassment training with three different companies. The clear intention of each session was to scare the shit out of every male employee in the room. "If you even think about using the phrase dangling modifier you will be terminated immediately." I'm not going to suggest that there aren't real cases out there; I know there are. But I think the article makes a very good point in regards to protected speech being muted at too high a cost.

More Problems for Merrill Lynch

My former employer is facing a new class action law suit, and this time I may get to get in on the action. I found the story on a Merrill Lynch page that requires a login, but I can't find it out on the net yet. The suit is on behalf of purchasers of Merrill Lynch stock based on the fact that they really screwed things up by not following industry Chinese Wall rules or their own rules regarding the ratings of securities. There have been multiple suits already by people who bought stocks that were pumped by the firm without a fundamental basis for doing so. That of course has brought the firm lots of bad publicity and hurt the stock. This suit is essentially saying that if they hadn't lied to begin with, then the stock wouldnt be getting hammered right now.

This seems like a gimmie. The firm essentially admitted they screwed up when they settled with the New York Attorney General's office. I only hope that my standing as a former employee and the fact that the shares were purchased in my 401(k) account doesn't affect my standing. Heck, I still know lots of folks who work there. I hope that being employed by the firm doesn't affect their standing in the suit. Employee stock owners got screwed just as much as public and institutional owners.

If any of you Merrill folks would be willing to forward me the official company line on this newest lawsuit, I'd sure appreciate it. I wonder, are they going to fire more folks because investment banking and research apparently collaborated to screw the public? The only reason I have my money still at Merrill is that I know how the system works, and if I ever have a problem I know the strings to pull and the people to turn to for help. You should not have your money there.

Here is the full text of the press release:
Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. Announces Class Action Lawsuit Against Merrill Lynch
07/09 1:58 pm (BW)
Story 1591 (MER)


Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. Client Sues Merrill Lynch On Behalf of Persons Who Purchased Merrill Lynch Common Stock and Other Securities Between July 3, 1999 and April 8, 2002

On July 2, 2002, an investor represented by the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. (www.cmht.com) filed a class action suit against Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MER) ("Merrill Lynch"), Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. and Henry Blodget (collectively, the "Defendants") in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Civil Action No. 02 Civ. 5097, on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased Merrill Lynch securities between July 3, 1999, through April 8, 2002, (the "Class Period").

The complaint alleges that the Defendants violated sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and SEC Rule 10b-5, by employing improper business practices which artificially inflated the prices of Merrill Lynch common stock and other securities during the Class Period. More specifically, the complaint alleges that Defendants' improper business practices included issuing a series of false, inflated and/or biased securities analyst research reports concerning the common stocks of several Internet companies for whom Merrill Lynch provided or sought to provide investment banking services, in complete derogation of the "Chinese Wall" that was supposed to separate the firm's research analysis from its investment bankers; failing to adhere to the published securities ratings criteria Merrill Lynch distributed to its clients and other investors; and publicly recommending certain Internet stocks to investors in their research reports despite private misgivings and negative opinions about those stock as reflected in internal e-mails and communications. The complaint further alleges that Defendants manipulated their securities research as part of a larger scheme whereby Merrill Lynch wrongfully linked the compensation of Defendant Blodget and other Merrill Lynch securities analysts to the amount of investment banking business the analysts generated. The complaint also alleges that Merrill Lynch issued several misstatements to investors concerning, inter alia, the integrity of the firm's securities research and analyst practices in reports the firm filed with the SEC and in other public statements. A copy of the complaint can be obtained from the clerk's office of the court or Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C.

Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. has significant experience in prosecuting investor class actions and actions involving financial fraud. The firm has offices in Washington, D.C., Seattle and New York and is active in major litigation pending in federal and state courts throughout the nation. You may visit the firm's website at www.cmht.com.

The firm's reputation for excellence has been recognized on repeated occasions by courts which have appointed the firm to lead positions in complex multi-district or consolidated litigation. Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. has taken a lead role in numerous important cases on behalf of defrauded investors, and has been responsible for a number of outstanding recoveries which, in the aggregate, total over a billion dollars. In addition to Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C., two other laws firms, Berger & Montague, P.C. (215/875 -3000) and Shapiro Haber & Urmy LLP (617/439 -3939), are also serving as counsel for the plaintiff. The persons from Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. identified below are available to answer questions regarding this case.

If you purchased Merrill Lynch common stock during the Class Period, you may move for appointment as Lead Plaintiff on or before Aug. 30, 2002.

If you have any questions with regard to this notice or otherwise, please contact:

Steven J. Toll, Esq.
Katrina Jurgill
Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C.
1100 New York Avenue, N.W.
West Tower, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005 -3964
Telephone: 888/240 -7775 or 202/408 -4600
E-mail: stoll@cmht.com or kjurgill@cmht.com

CONTACT: Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C.

Steven J. Toll / Katrina Jurgill
888/240 -7775 or 202/408 -4600
stoll@cmht.com / kjurgill@cmht.com
13:58 EDT JULY 9, 2002
Update: Here is the response that I received from Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld, & Toll, P.L.L.C.
Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your email regarding our case against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., and Henry Blodget. If you bought MER securities between 7/3/99 and 4/8/02, you will automatically be included as a class member in this action, and need take no further action at this time. You are
eligible to participate in this action even if you were not a client of Merrill Lynch.

Be sure to keep track of your documentary proof of purchase of MER securities for this time frame. If you still own MER securities, you can continue to hold or sell it as you see fit - it won't affect your ability to participate as a member of the class.

As a class member, no action on your part is required and there are no out of pocket expenses or costs. If class counsel is successful in making a recovery on behalf of the class, class members will be notified by mail and would then need to complete a proof of claim form to receive a pro rata share of the recovery. Class counsel would at that time petition the court for a recovery of fees and expenses, to be paid from the fund created on behalf of the class.

Please note that all of this may occur after the settlement of the case, which normally happens 1-3 years from the filing of the lawsuit, and only if the case is successful.

If you estimate your losses to be over $100,000 and you would like to be contacted with information about the possibility of being a lead plaintiff for the class, please e-mail me and I can send you the certification form you would need to complete in order to seek lead plaintiff status.

Thanks again for contacting me and please feel free to be in touch with any additional questions. Additional information about this case and other Merrill Lynch cases, including the complaints and specific allegations, can be found at our website: www.cmht.com.

Best regards,

Katrina M. Jurgill


Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld, and Toll, P.L.L.C.


Monday, July 08, 2002
Rocky Mountain Blog Bash

While I may not have made it into any of the main pictures, I did in fact attend the Rocky Mountain Blog Bash. Well, I was at least at the same bar. Most of you know that I used to work at one of the wine bars (yeah there are two now (check out the newest here)) on the same block as the Wynkoop. The 'koop was one of my old stomping grounds and is a place that I don't get to nearly enough. Upon arriving at the upstairs bar, it was clear to me that I would rather spend the time with old friends than new acquaintances.

Mick was behind the newly redesigned upstairs bar and I hadn't really talked with him in about a year. The bash was going on around the farthest pool table in the back corner near the fooseball tables. I did wander back there for a little while. I got to see Helen taking pictures of folks. When I asked her about where I might see the pictures online, I was firmly rebuked for a) not picking up the information sheet, b) not signing in on the sign up sheet, and c) not wearing a nametag.

There was no way in hell I was putting on a nametag in the Wynkoop. I don't know nearly as many folks there now as I did five years ago, but still...

I did chat briefly with John Tabin and young Ben Fischer (I don't know how he managed to get upstairs on a Saturday night). There was quite a crowd around the well-coifed Stephen Green (seriously, the thing I struck me most about that guy was the perfect hair). It seemed clear that he was the celebrity that everyone had come to meet. I saw his fiance Melissa and thought that she looked more attractive in person than in a picture or two of her that the VP had previously posted.

Surely I could have met an mingled with a lot more folks had I wanted to. I think most of you realize though that I am not the most social of animals. Hanging out at the bar with Vince and Mick talking about all the changes at the Wynkoop and Mick's new house and Avery was a good time. So all in all I enjoyed the RMBB.

There Goes My Supply

Christine Vetter is facing possible prosecution for using the US Postal Service to mail "indecent and filthy substances." Who knew that it was against the law to send filth through the mail? Well, I guess I'll have to find another hot, young coed to risk sending me my monthly fix.

Pat Tillman Leads the Way

Here, apparently, were the choices available to Arizona Cardinals' safety Pat Tillman: take $9 million and go play for the St. Louis Rams, take $3.6 million for a three year contract with the Cardinals, go to law school, join the army. He turned it all down in hopes of becoming an Army Ranger and for a salary of about $18,000 a year. This guy gets bored by the off season conditioning programs of the NFL so instead runs marathons and triathlons. I'm glad he will be fighting for us.

Sunday, July 07, 2002
It Could Happen To You

Here is an interesting story about a man who was robbed after being drugged and bamboozled by a pair of women. I'm curious as to the nature of the drug that could knock a guy out so quickly but not be a threat transdermally. Boy, I hope this type of crime doesn't spread to these parts, as I am sure that I would make an easy mark.

More Fun: Jonathan is ...

Jonathan is not currently on tour.
Jonathan is set to star in director Mike Hodges new film.
Jonathan is a hot tramp!
Jonathan is musical director of two large adult choruses. (uhh, large choruses with adults or choruses with large adults?)
Jonathan is led on a quixotic search.
Jonathan is accused of 3 sex offences.
Jonathan is a hunk! (also contains Jonathan is a dork!)
Jonathan is in his fourth year of solitary confinement.
Jonathan is also known around the Labs as 'The Cleaner'.

Thursday, July 04, 2002
Independence Day

It's late, and I am too tired to type much or comment on the day's fun activities. But I must point you to Megan McArdle's website. She has posted a semester's worth of history for the holiday. When was the last time you read the Declaration of Independence? Have you ever read the other verses of the Star Spangled Banner? Wanna read some 18th, 19th, and 20th century poems about how great this nation of ours is? Go check it out, but don't expect to get through the whole thing in under an hour or so.

Monday, July 01, 2002
Strong Bad

Lately, I've been following the Fark links to the Strong Bad Email series. This week's was very funny. I sent an email to Dan Savage with the link as it is completely his kind of thing.

Broadband Looming

If the folks at Qwest are to be believed, and I hope that they are, I should have deluxe, i.e. 640k, DSL within 24-36 hours. I ordered it last Tuesday and was told that I would receive everything I need by this Tuesday, tomorrow. I can't wait. For one, I will lose the excuse to not be job hunting because firms can't reach me since I'm online all of the time. But most of all, I resolve to start hoarding mp3's. I blew it by not getting cable or DSL when Napster was alive. I am going to do my damnedest to make sure I exploit Kazaa at least as much as Kazaa exploits me. Vince has something like 1500 mp3's from Napster. Graeme nearly ruined a computer from his hoarding days. With a huge hard drive and a burner, I now have no excuse but to load up on all the music I can grab. I see now that with Palladium and other technologies on the rise, that the days of free music may be numbered. Hopefully, I've learned from my earlier mistakes in this arena.

Google, Advertising, and Sunglasses

My brother just sent me this great article from Fortune all about Google. It talks about how they have become profitable and why they are in no hurry to go public. I have the Google Toolbar on my browser and use Google exclusively for any searches that I do. And I can tell you that their advertising model works.

Last week I was at the mall shopping for sunglasses. After the kids at the Sunglasses Hut refused to give me a discount on a pair of sunglasses that had an imperfection on the lens, I went home and did my shopping online. I Googled (is this not the true sign of online success - when your .com becomes not only a household name but also a verb?) for +"Bolle Vanadium" and got a bunch of hits. After initially checking out the first four or five search results, I noticed the sponsered links at the top and to the right. I then went through and checked those out. I ended up buying the glasses I wanted from a sponsored link for more than 42% less than I had seen the identical pair of glasses in the mall. Yeah, I had to may for shipping and handling, but the amount was less than I would have paid in tax. Everybody wins - except the snotty little kids at Sunglasses Hut.

Bullshit in Brooklyn

The Los Angeles Times (login and password = 456123) has this story on the plight of terrorist cells operating in the United States.
Days like last Wednesday are designed to make the rest of the nation feel safer. Starting at 6 a.m., armed, body armor-clad officers of the FBI, Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service swarmed the neighborhood, knocked down doors and arrested 19 people, mostly of Yemeni extraction. Sixteen were accused of money laundering, one was charged with fraud and two with forging identity documents.
This does make me feel safer. I am glad that we are raiding the operations centers of the people related by blood to those who would attack America.
"It's odd," said Emira Habiby Browne, executive director of the Arab-American Family Support Center in Brooklyn. "While the rest of the country seems to slowly forget the impact of Sept. 11, people here feel more and more under siege."
You don't like it? Then get the hell out of here. Take your fake Yemeni visas and get the hell out of our country!
Earlier last month, on different occasions, an FBI agent wired with a recording device bought a Yemeni divorce decree and birth certificates stamped with Yemeni government seals from each place. He wasn't asked for any identification, and the kiosk proprietor, Ali Hamdi, simply made up the fictional mother's name, according to the agent's affidavits for arrest and search warrants. Each document cost $70 and took less than an hour to make.

The agent also stated that the Saba Travel office had counterfeit seals from federal and state agencies that could be used to make fake U.S. documents.
Send these folks back to the desert! We have enough productive, law-abiding illegal immigrants as it is. We do not need criminals who would do all they can to support factions that would destroy this country. Send them back to the desert! If they jaywalk, if they make a turn without using their turn signal, if they bounce a check, if they do not have the proper documentation, send them back to the desert!
"This is a delicate time, and if you're doing something wrong, you should pay for it," said Ismail Hassan, a real estate agent and notary who lives next door to Saba Travel. "But I know this man. He may have documents to facilitate immigration to America, but he is not engaged in criminal activity to aid and abet terrorism." Hassan waved his arm toward the sidewalk filled with shoppers and baby strollers. "There are no terrorists in this neighborhood."
Creating and possessing documents which facilitate immigration to America from the Middle East IS a criminal activity and DOES aid terrorists. Yeah, and there are no terrorists in Hebron or Nablus either.
People avoid banks because they don't know enough English to fill out the forms, or their home villages are too far from a bank branch, he said. Western Union charges a hefty commission on both ends.

Almontaser would put people in touch with others who were going back to Yemen and could carry cash or checks to families, or arrange for someone to make a payment here to be collected in a remote Yemeni village the next day.
People avoid banks and other legitimate forms of money transfer because the sender and recipient can be tracked. Terrorists do want law enforcement to be able to follow their money. Law-abiding immigrants should care little if their funds are moved through a legal, regulated system.
"Sept. 11 hurt everybody, but we have been hurt three times over," he said. "As Americans, as part of the Muslim community and as Yemenis."
September 11, hurt America in many ways many time over. It hurt us because America and our standards were attacked. It hurt because we were attacked by members of the Muslim immigrant community. It hurt because the attackers were supported - were aided and abetted - by members of the Yemeni immigrant community. And now you think we should let bygones be bygones? You think we should let the Muslim and the Yemeni and the Muslim-Yemeni immigrant communities continue to plot and scheme as if September 11 never occurred?

I think we should send them back to the desert.

Theo Fleury

It appears that Theo Fleury may be headed for San Jose. It's early in the negotiations now, and it may be interesting to see how things develop once the folks with the Sharks organization have a chance to really sit down with Fleury. He's a fun guy to watch in that he's quick and wiley, but I can't help but wonder if he's not a little crazy and if his time in the league may be winding down. If the Sharks decide they're not interested after Fleury has already professed his desire to play in San Jose, it might make it tough for him to find another team. In other hockey news it looks like Teemu Selanne is a free agent going to the highest bidder. I think it's time for me to quit reading hockey headlines and start looking for NFL news...