Thursday, April 18, 2002
If a business accounts for more than 10% of your turnover or profits or employees (that last one's a stab in the dark: there is a third rule), you have to report the breakdown of it and other business lines. Looks like its bad news for Motorola that the rules have changed. As Steven implies, this disclosure's a good thing for investors, even if its a pain to write sometimes. The other disclosure required over here is a breakdown of results by geographical area. I wonder if that's needed over there too?
PS: some wierd Korean site seems to be feeding me hits. If anyone visiting from there cares to explain why, please let me know. Otherwise, I'm left to wonder at what exactly is at this site and its front page...
It's nice to know that the Private Eye moniker, "The Daily Moron", had a legitimate source.
For our US readers, the other nicknames I can remember:
The News of the Screws (News of the World)
The Torygraph (Telegraph - occassionally Hellograph as well, I think)
The Sunset Times (Sunday Times)
The Grauniad (refers back to the very first edition, IIRC, which misprinted the banner)
What's unhappy is the automatic reaction now: I haven't checked US sites, but I suspect there's lots of reaction. I got a phone call from home when they heard, asking if I was on the ground floor of wherever I was. Today I was outside central London, but any time things like this happen it will be a stressful thing for those who think or know their loved ones are in other potential targets.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
"Perhaps every six months or so we could ask journalists to describe certain basic objects, and thus assess their perspective.
I've already begun some preliminary studies, here in my Laboratory of Writerness. They involved Mr Fisk; a tabloid writer; a broadsheet writer; and a control journalist.
TEST 1. Subjects are presented with Basic Test Object A: a small rock.
TABLOID WRITER: Got yourself a rock there, pal.
BROADSHEET WRITER: I think it's a rock … an igneous rock. No, wait; sedimentary. In which case it might more properly be described as a stone.
CONTROL JOURNALIST: It's a rock.
ROBERT FISK: A tool of liberation! Take that, Israeli warpigs! (Subject hurls Basic Test Object A at wall; misses)
TEST 2. Subjects are presented with Basic Test Object B: a cigarette lighter.
TABLOID WRITER: Thanks (lights cigarette).
BROADSHEET WRITER: A personal butane igniter! My, my … look at the tiny flinting mechanism. How very interesting.
CONTROL JOURNALIST: Umm .. it's a lighter.
ROBERT FISK: Time for justice, oppressor filth! Prepare to eat lava! (Subject attempts to set fire to Basic Test Object A. Attempt proves unsuccessful)
TEST 3. Subjects are presented with Basic Test Object C: a common housecat.
TABLOID WRITER: You're kidding me, right? I'd better be getting paid for this.
BROADSHEET WRITER: It's a companion animal. Has it had its shots? These creatures, though superficially adorable, do threaten native birdlife, you know. You should probably put a bell on his collar. Or hers. Sorry.
CONTROL JOURNALIST: A cat.
ROBERT FISK: Cerberus! The helldogs of war are let loose! Aieeee!
Mr Fisk has been sent to a refugee camp in Pakistan for emergency re-calibration. "
Really, you should be reading him almost every day (I hope you are already). And buy his book when it's writ.
Tuesday, April 16, 2002
The article does make one rather good point: "What many observers have concluded more recently is that the problem with Arthur Andersen and its ilk is that they yoke accounting services to the more lucrative business of consulting. The theory is that they cut corners on the bean-counting front to protect the consulting cash cow. So, force accounting firms to get out of consulting, and the problems will recede. But this theory glosses over the point that accountants might be motivated to go easy on clients to protect their accounting businesses."
Of course, that's a very high level thing. But there is serious pressure all the way up not to miss stuff - if I offended client staff enough by arguing a point, it would affect my career. However, I'd probably get into a great deal more difficulty by missing something I should have seen or going along with their position on something with a material effect (see the links to auditing 101 and 102 for what "materiality" means). In practise, issues get passed up the chain to a senior manager or partner who makes a call on their materiality. If they really are serious, they get taken up with clients, and the risks to the partners (their house, reputation, careers) tends to provide a bit of an incentive to do things right (heavy sarcasm, please note). The people who benefit from having a large client, after all, are the same people who are at risk from their failure. The point Walker makes above is effectively reversed - since the removal of other services would not eliminate risk (and remember the Enron audit fee was $25m p.a., and would probably have been more in a focused "audit only" firm), why remove them?
"Better than X-MEN. Better than any of the BATMAN films. More successful as a whole, even, than the first SUPERMAN. This is not just a great adaptation of a comic book property. It is a enjoyably successful reinvention of a character in a new medium that will kick off a franchise that will be around for years and years to come.
Which isn't to say that it's perfect or beyond reproach. It's not. There are things that I hope Raimi and company do differently next time out. But the point is that there will be a next time out, and deservedly so. SPIDER-MAN swings, and is a perfect kick-off for what could well be a great movie summer."
Sure, paragraph one and the lead to para two don't entirely mesh. But it sounds good. Spoiler prediction alert: this guy, he gets bitten by a chemically enhanced ant, see, and becomes a super-hero...
Monday, April 15, 2002
Well, we may soon hear tell of how this "proves" the ineffectiveness of the war on terror: look, Al-Qaeda are still operative. Heck, we'll hear that even if it isn't them.
However, as evil as the attack itself is*, it's a leap back in scale and sophistication from previous attacks by al-Qaeda forces. Even the shoe-bomber had hit on a plan that would have led to greater casualties.
The lack of information about the Tunisia attack makes it hard to know what the potential casualties from the attack were (was the place full, was it a suicide attack using a truck of natural gas or "just" a bomber, etc). But it seems that run of the mill terrorist organisations have had far bigger "coups" in the past. If this was a planned action, the best that they could do in an Arab state, then this isn't much to be worried about.
* According to a letter to the Times today (available on-line, but too much hastle to view - trust me) the synagogue itself, in addition to holding purely innocent worshippers and tourists, is a historic site and possibly the oldest synagogue outside Isreal. Whether culture matters much to you when you evaluate these things is a matter of taste.
Sunday, April 14, 2002
Now, my only experience of the Ivy League was being rejected by Harvard and Princeton for doctoral programmes. But, apart from the particular issues about Cornel West's academic performance in recent years, I can see why Princeton are interested in what Princeton are interested in.
Firstly, big name academics don't do that much teaching. That's not true at Oxford or Cambridge (though we have fewer left than we used to), but elsewhere they do lecture series but don't teach one-on-one except, perhaps, among grad students. The grad students then teach the undergrads.
However, the main point is the second one: at the top, especially in the non-applied subjects, it's not really relevant how good a teacher professors are. The benefit, especially within the tutorial system, comes from exposure "up close and personal" to their ideas. Learning in the humanities is, or should be, autodidactic: a student should teach themselves. The sciences differ slightly, in that there's a higher degree of structure required. Nonetheless, they shouldn't be teaching you, you should be learning from them.
The intellectual vitality of a university with a top-flight faculty engaged in cutting edge research is the environment in which "artists", and perhaps scientists, do (or at least should) learn the most. Even if it's not, it's the justification behind the Oxbridge experience, and it seems to be the approach that underlies the Ivy League. And it's a pretty good way of going about things, IMHO.
Whether that means Princeton should have hired West is beyond me, but you can see why they'd go for talented academics...
Number six isn't a blog. Instead, it's a clearing-house for anarchist (etc) links. Number of links under the "News Blogs" category? Zero...
Number seven is Sgt Stryker. Eight, nine and ten I don't know, but the odds aren't that good.
I'm at 13, just behind a blog that does look like it's vaguely against the war. The rest of the top twenty has another very likely anti-war blog, but it's a pretty poor return for the searcher.