Friday, November 14, 2003

God Bless Rupert Murdoch

Rupert and his empire continue to push the boundaries of sleazy sensationalism. Sky TV created a reality TV show, "There's Something About Miriam," in which seven single men, including a Marine commando, a ski-instructor, and a lifeguard, vie for the affections of Miriam, a hottie that the men collectively select from a lineup.

The twist, naturally, is that after weeks of filming, complete with kissing and fondling, Miriam chooses the lucky bachelor, then lifts her skirt to reveal that she is a pre-surgical transsexual. Or, to quote Austin Powers, "She's a man, baby."

The men, who were quite upset, are suing to prevent the show from being aired. Rupert's lawyers point out that they never referred to Miriam as a woman, and thus the contestants don't have a case.

Heck, I wouldn't put it past the Murdoch organization to turn the case into a second reality television show!

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Naked Dick

In the tradition of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (two great things that go great together), I had a great money-making idea for a morally liberal novelist:

Write a detective series where the protagonist is an adult film star.

We already have every variety of amateur detective, from mystery novelist to Elvis, so why not a porn star?

It's a natural. Take one mystery novel, add generous helpings of gratuitous sexual content, and start minting money. And think of the movie rights!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

With Friends Like These...

Back in the ancient days of, oh, January of this year, friends Jonathan Abrams, Mark Pincus, and Reid Hoffman met to carve up the social networking space. Like Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill, they agreed upon spheres of influence: Friendster for dating, Tribe for classifieds, and LinkedIn for business networking.

Just like the original Yalta conference, that agreement seems to be crumbling.

Does that make Jonathan Stalin or Roosevelt?

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Power, Money, Influence, and Celebrity

I believe that these are the four basic food groups of ambition. These are not necessarily fungible, though a savvy operator can generally translate one into the other.

Power: The ability to command. The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world (with the possible exception of Dick Cheney).

Money: The ability to buy. Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.

Influence: The ability to persuade. Peter Drucker is probably the most influential thinker in the business world.

Celebrity: Michael Jordan may be the most famous person in the world.

Each of these exemplars of their particular type possesses the other factors to a lesser extent, but their ability to exercise those factors is far more limited.

Where do you stack up?
It's All About The Benjamins

CBS MarketWatch has issued an article about the Top 10 most overpaid jobs in America. Reading it was enough to make even me, a moderately well-paid Silicon Valley software executive, green with envy.

* Wedding photographers who shoot 2 weddings per weekend from May to October can make $75-100,000 for 50 days of work.

* West Coast dockworkers earn $136,000 per year for entering shipping records into computers.

* Airport skycaps can make over $100,000 per year, with 70% of that income in cash.

* Orthodontists make an average of $350,000 per year for a 35-hour workweek, and don't even have to hassle with insurance like doctors or dentists.

Anyone want to switch jobs? This link may help.

Monday, November 10, 2003

American Exceptionalism

The Economist has an exceptional (pardon the semi-pun) article on so-called "American Exceptionalism" in this week's issue.

For anyone on either side of the Atlantic or Pacific (or just north or south of the border) who has wondered, "is America different?", the article shows that Americans and their attitudes are truly different. In comparison to citizens of other nations, Americans are much more patriotic and religious, and believe far more in freedom than the welfare state.

On the other hand, Americans are also deeply divided, with Republicans representing the patriotic, conservative side, and the Democrats comprising the peace-loving, secular, socially-liberal side. A fascinating poll shows that almost all of the decline on George W. Bush's overall approval ratings can be attributed to the changing attitudes of the Democrats. Bush's approval ratings among Republicans spiked from 85% to close to 100% following 9/11, and have gradually declined to their pre-9/11 levels. In contrast, Bush's approval ratings among Democrats spiked from 30% to 85% in the wake of 9/11, but immediately began a sharp decline that has brought them down to about 18% today.

Anyone who is interested in why a seeming gulf has sprung up between America and the rest of the world should read this article.