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Monthly Archives: August 2006

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been feeling the pressure pulling at him ever since he decided to bankroll his own campaign for mayor in 2001.

The tension is entirely understandable, since New York is a bastion of liberal democrats and a scourge for republicans. Maybe, if things had turned out differently, a democrat might have won, but they were thrown off by something, and Mayor Giuliani ended up becoming a half-man, half-God, and the mantle was passed.

But some people remember when Bloomberg was a democrat, switching over to the red side only when it made the most sense to avoid a crowded democratic field in the 2001 election. And ever since he won, he’s been the model of a democrat’s republican.

The only way in which Bloomberg has even grudgingly toed the republican line has been through his fund raising activities, through which he has raised a gazillion dollars for various republican candidates around the country.

In this way, the republicans have been able to allow him the indiscretions he publicly craves — swimming against the current everywhere they look — while profiting mightily where it really counts — behind the scenes.

But as election season finally rolls around, there’s renewed pressure on Bloomberg to make his endorsements. Will he straighten up and endorse a republican candidate for anything? Or will he go with his gut, which knows, and endorse a democrat?

Bloomberg has decided to stay mum on the topic of endorsements for governor, but he has gone out on a limb to endorse Shakira for best video or something.

Long live the Hizzoner.

Apparently, George Bush will be marking the anniversary of an event that continues to haunt him and the good people of the Gulf Coast, though for very different reasons.

The AP has the story, but headline cries out for a little more information… (“Bush to mark first anniversary of Katrina by closing his eyes and waiting for it all to go away.”)

If you watched Conan hosting the Emmy Awards last night, you might have seen him sing and dance about NBC and all the troubles they’ve seen (and then, incidentally, you might have seen NBC clean up at the awards, with shows nobody I know watches winning lots and lots of stuff, but let’s not fan the flames any further…)

You might also have heard Conan allude to a changing world, in which kids are watching cats peeing in toilets on YouTube (instead of watching that footage where it rightfully belongs — on Fox). The notion of a changing world is on their minds over in Hollywood, and the future is probably grim for them, so it was nice to see some comforting faces like Bob Newhart and others who come from a time before content delivery systems eclipsed comedy. But this is where we’re at, and it’s Monday, a brand new newsday, and here’s some of what’s out there:

Former Sun Microsystems guru Bill Joy, who explained our fear of change better than anyone, before most people even knew change was coming, has a new venture to talk about. It’s eco-stuff, and it’s not the only story along those lines you might come across today.

Slashdot points out that Greenpeace has ranked electronics firms on their friendliness. This may be the warning before they start crashing their Rainbow Warrior into Bill Joy’s boat (or firing Greenpeace missiles into Mountain View… would they do that?). Anyway, the point is, if Bill Joy, who is always right (and now also represents “smart money,” as a VC himself…), and Greenpeace are both talking about green things, then it’s probably good news for someone like Al Gore, who invented environmental awareness (Honestly, once again, he could legitimately make that claim, as far as mass public consciousness goes. Let’s just hope he doesn’t…).

Anyway, if you’re a billionaire and green isn’t your color (evidently more and more folks with bundles of money are buying boats, green or not), there is a faster mode of transportation for you, if you want it. It’s a good way to get there faster, and to help deplete the quality of air and water on the planet faster, too. Check it out.

In late August, news organizations are determined to observe their annual ritual of declaring the days to be slow, news-wise, that is. Sometimes, they’re right. Other times, they are being willful in their neglect of important stories.

But, while the FDA’s ruling about the morning after pill, or the one-year anniversary of the worst calamity in human rights in the U.S. since slavery may not quite break into our placid, late-summer news reading, some stories simply cannot be ignored.

News of interplanetary significance — news about our stars — is at the top of the list today. If you know the names of the planets, then you know Pluto. Well, planets, like stars, aren’t always able to hold their own against extreme popular pressure. So this week has seen two powerful demotions. Pluto is no longer a planet, and Tom Cruise is no longer a star.

On the Pluto front, the impact is huge. For instance, you have to adjust to the new list of planets, which doesn’t include Pluto anymore. But it goes beyond that. Some web pages will have to change. Even the trajectory of some spaceships might have to be reconsidered: For example, evidently some of the ashes of Pluto’s discoverer are bound for the former planet this very moment. Will they have to turn back?

Demotions are not the only news the media is all over this week, though. There are promotions to be reported, too. For example, Paris Hilton, a big ball of gas preparing to implode into a bright supernova, is being promoted to universal status. Also in the news, the United Kingdom has seen its population top 60 million. Thanks to an interesting but hard-to-understand loophole in the new definition of planets, that means that the UK is now a planet, taking the place of Pluto on maps around the world.

News of significance that doesn’t involve Pluto or Paris might include buying train tickets on cellphones (and in English), and Apple’s stunning imitation of Dell.

The fact is, slow news days or not, you didn’t see much this week about Spike Lee’s documentary on Hurricane Katrina. Wynton Marsalis might say that’s because it’s like looking in the mirror at your fat ass. Even after a year, though, Katrina and the poverty in New Orleans’ lower ninth ward are still the most compelling story any day of the week. Except, of course, any day this week.

It seems NASA was hoping to surprise us all later this month by (A) making any kind of announcement at all, (B) giving a secret new name to the vehicle that will take astronauts to the moon and (C) shocking us all with the creativity and brilliance of that name.

But Astronaut Jeff Williams, who doesn’t understand the first thing about what causes a new craft to suffer a bad end, blew it.

Now we know the name of the craft, which until now had been called “the crew exploration vehicle.” The question is, is the name they’re actually giving it any better than that?

You decide.

There’s nothing to worry about. The kids are happy over there in the factory, and they work under the same conditions as you and me. Your iPod was made by happy kids. There’s practically no truth at all to the rumors.

President Bush criticized everyone who disagrees with him as naive today.

The president believes that, on his say-so, the powers of his office should expand to the degree that he deems necessary. Like when you’re a kid and you change the rules of kickball for what counts as an automatic double based on what benefits you. That is reasonable. Anyone who says that the rules are the rules — that is naive.

The issue of the Bush administration’s method of collecting intelligence without warrants — particularly through wiretapping — snuck back into our news (and into our hearts) with yesterday’s federal court ruling that those warrantless wiretaps were not, strictly speaking, legal.

The ruling has inspired people with Internet access everywhere to weigh in on the topic, as if anyone cared what anyone else thought about it. The only opinion that matters belongs to Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, who, for fulfilling her obligations to the country and the constitution, is now a target of much vitriol.

To Wit: A BusinessWeek.com reader named “blackhawk” writes: “Great job Carter judge. Buy a steel collar for your neck. You’ll need it when the terrorists slice off our necks. What a sham.”

Well, “blackhawk” is absolutely right. A steel collar for the judge’s neck will absolutely provide the kind of protection necessary to the judge when the terrorists come to “slice off our necks,” because the collar around the neck prevents necks from being sliced off. Bravo, blackhawk! And yes, if a sham could do that, it would be “quite a sham,” as blackhawk — again correctly — notes.

The thing is, while so many of the people who are frustrated by this rogue justice’s ruling believe that the president of the United States should, under certain circumstances, have the right to tap wires or whatever, the judge basically agrees with that.

The issue has to do with whether or not the president gets a warrant first.

Because we all know that bad people are saying bad things on the phone. It’s just a question of using the protocols that have already been set in place, and, if they don’t work, revising them so that they do.

The judge is just trying to remind the president that, just because he may not like to get warrants because they take so very long (72 hours, but you can also get one retroactively in emergency cases — it’s paperwork), that doesn’t mean he can just claim “executive privilege” and do it Rove style, without wearing a warrant.

At least until the laws change.

Om Malik and I came up with the same post name, but I have to point out that I saw the bright side of no internet connectivity aloft, whereas Malik and many others are seeing the down side to retracting new services.

We all love their packaging, the cute devices, the “intuitive feel” they all have. The good people at Apple wereshocked, shocked to learn that some allegations suggested less-than-ideal working conditions at one of their production facilities in China.

Luckily, the investigation they conducted into those allegations has found that there are no problems. You may go back to your iPod with no guilty feelings of exploitation.