February 3, 2011 - January 27, 2011
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
You got it, babe.
IP was there before it went, like, totally tits up.
IT WAS CALLED
THE PINK PALACE. I was just having a conversation with my wife. She
got impatient with me because I was being cloyingly nostalgic about my
own past corporate career. She's still in the midst of big doings,
understand, and the fate of the top execs she's dealt with every day
for years is much on her mind. Understandably, she doesn't appreciate
my long distance psychoanalysis of who's doing what why.
I get that. She's right. But it occurred to me that some of you out
there might not be getting it. That you're letting golden moments of
some kind slip through your fingers without being aware of it. So I'm
going to give you an autobiographical glimpse of success and failure,
and failure and success. You can draw your own conclusions. This isn't
a lecture. It's just a moment of InstaPunk reflection.
I spent a year and a half working for a publishing company which
launched me from beginner to competitive
analyst in the booming microcomputer industry. I worked for a year and
a half in a startup division of a Fortune 100 corporation intending to
profit from the brand new (at the time) office systems market. Then I
spent ten years as a management and communications consultant, here and
abroad, travelling over three continents and winning awards for
breakthrough implementations in the arena of "change." Then I returned
to my original and most comfortable role -- writer -- like a hobbit
returning to the Shire.
I ask you: Now that I can do what I like, take the jobs that interest
me, and decline the rest, what would you imagine I feel nostalgic
about? The place I exploded from? The stature I succeeded to, with my
own firm and some laurels to boot? No.
What I feel nostalgic about is the Office Systems Division (OSD) of NCR
Corporation in Dayton, Ohio. There were about 400 of us, doomed from
the start by a top management that wanted a new market without
understanding the first thing about that market. In fact, everything
was against us. We had an OEM product (i.e., purchased from another
manufacturer with more technological smarts than our whole company put
together), personal rivalries, hatreds, and scandals sufficient to
make an R-rated series on HBO or Showtime, and yet I have never ever
worked with a
group of people so dedicated, so determined to do whatever was
necessary to succeed.
In the end we failed. I won't leave you in suspense on that point. But
that year and a half -- no, make that a year and five months -- remains
the most intense, the heaviest
of my entire corporate life. I had five different titles during that
time, had a hand (and budget) in everything I thought I had the
remotest ability to do and even far beyond that, I had one work day
that lasted for 36 hours straight in which I got to tell my Vice
President that his product release plan would ruin his own career, got
chided for my
insolence, then saved him from his own rotten decision with a
saved him for another two
quarters. I also experienced every vicissitude of personnel issues,
including the first emergence of Shane in a corporate setting (uh, me.
Sorry), as well
as much more serious and nearly criminal conduct by people with whom I
was obliged to work each day.
In short, I had an entire career's worth
of Fortune 100 corporate experience in just 17 months. Every management
consulting proposal I made over the next ten years was drawn not from
the 17 months I spent in an Ivy League graduate business school (Sorry,
Cornell) but from the
months I had spent at NCR World Headquarters in Dayton, Ohio. Specific
gravity? It's the
anchor of everything I've ever known for sure about business. I won't
get started on the anecdotes because I'd never stop. I'm not
overstating it. I'd never stop, regardless of the subject --
megalomania, technology, sex, office politics, salespeople, software
engineers, sex, top management buffoonery, marketing sense and
nonsense, outsourcing comedies, meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings,
and meetings. And did I forget? Sex.
And one authentic genius. No. Not me. His name was (probably still is)
Frank Bogage. I didn't know anything about computers. I was a writer, a
thinker, and a doer. Frank Bogage was the real thing. He'd built chips
in his basement just like Bill Gates. But Frank never had the luck. His
position at OSD was resident genius. And marketing scapegoat. I'd heard
wondrous tales about him at my launching pad -- Datapro Corporation in
Pennsauken, NJ -- where people kept comparing me to him, unfavorably,
because I was a good writer and Frank was a genius, and then I went to
Dayton and Frank glommed onto me.
Anybody want an HBO high-tech series full of sex and sin and treachery?
Frank Bogage is your protagonist, the man who knew everything about everyone else's business as if their minds were merely microchips on his computer. Maybe that WAS the truth of it. Let me interrupt the chronology to
describe the first morning we both arrived at the OSD software facility
in Columbia, SC, where only Frank had the smarts to kick engineering
ass and make it stick. Why was I there? Only because Frank said I was
necessary. I was an eager beaver and Frank usually ran late. It
was one of those hotel lobbies with an atrium and glassed-in elevators
that descended toward sparkling fountains. I was thinking, "Where's
Bogage? We're going to be late" when I saw him descending from the
fourth floor in his blue suit and typically grim look. He was the
spitting image of Napoleon Bonaparte. Descending in a glass elevator.
To the lobby and its fountains. I'll never forget it.
Now that you can see Frank, understand what he did for me. He was a
genius and he took me under his wing because I was the only other one,
besides him, who knew who he was. Well, that's not entirely true.
Everyone at OSD
knew he was a genius. I was the one who understood how much of a genius he was.Which
is why I had been at NCR HQ less than a month when Frank and I went
over the head of the director of Marketing to tell our VP that OSD had
no marketing strategy. I'd written a memo, you see, and Frank was the
guy who had to do all the top management briefings with other Fortune
100 companies, and I didn't know that going three levels over your
boss's head was career death.
We survived that cataclysm because Frank was a genius and I was a
newbie. It would take less than a year before we repeated the exercise
in the 36 hour day mentioned above. In the interim, though, Frank
taught me about the computer industry. He foresaw most everything
that's happened since. He knew that DOS was fatally flawed, a rotten
operating system that would be perpetually assailed by security and
communication problems, even as it has been in the Windows years, where
DOS still loads its 640K before the megabytes of fixitcode loads. He
knew that the future had to do with multi-tasking, multi-threaded....
oh forget it.
Frank was absolutely a genius but he was also my friend. They
dispatched him to every Fortune account to make promises NCR had no
intention of keeping, about how they would compete with and displace
the IBM PC. I remember a week when he wasn't at work and was supposed
be. The director of marketing, who hated Frank, demanded to know where
he was. I was busy up to my eyeballs, too, but I found out. Frank had
landed in St. Louis, a switchpoint for his transfer to Fort Worth, when
airport security found him wandering under the replica of the Spirit of
St. Louis. Mr. Bogage had absolutely no idea where he was, how he had
gotten there, or where he was going.
Everyone found out. No one made a big deal of it. We all travelled a
lot. It could have happened to any of us.
It really could have. That's how hard we all worked.
uh, was there a point, chief? Yes. There was.
Some of you proclaim quite loudly that you hate your jobs. I
understand. But here's an experiment. Put a link to this post on your
Facebook pages. Suggest that an NCR OSD reunion might be in the offing.
See what kind of response you get.
I'm talking, as I was with with my wife in a much more direct and
material way, about the power of belonging. I'm the ultimate maverick
and lonely rolling stone, but I still belong to OSD. Truth. And if
turns up Bogage, let me at that puppy. Smartest man I ever knew. Which
should scare the rest of you plenty. They called the two of us the
Blues Brothers. Because we kept predicting doom if the company didn't
follow our advice. How did that turn out? This
But none of that matters. What matters is that team spirit and
solidarity are everywhere in the marketplace. If you don't have it at
your place, at least give a thought to what you might do to gain it.
Believe me, I do know it's not possible to have it everywhere. All I'm
asking is that you remember a paycheck is not the only product of a
corporate affiliation. OSD! We were smaller than the Dog Pound, but we
had all the spirit of an NFL team. OSD! OSD! OSD!
A sense of belonging is a wonderful thing. The only hole in my heart
Mrs. CP doesn't understand. Because she's a member of the ultimate
team. She takes it for granted, all those brilliant talents focused on
a mission they consistently achieve. It's like winning the Super Bowl
every year, year after year and decade after decade.
Why she hung up on me when I suggested one of her team might miss the
game really seriously if he
hung up his pads.
Like her, though, most of you know I have no insight into individual
human behavior. [Sigh of Relief.]
The Referee Network
Anthony Weiner. Make him work for that smirk.
I'm a conservative obviously. But I just spent an hour switching
back and forth between the two poles of cable news, MSNBC and Fox News.
We need something better. Not CNN, which is MSNBC Lite. Perhaps it's
more pernicious that MSNBC featured Brian Williams "reporting" from the
scene in Egypt, declaring that the Muslim Brotherhood means no harm.
Bullshit. Yet it's also depressing to see a debate between Bill
O'Reilly and Glenn Beck that never touches on reality. More bullshit.
defending FDR foreign policy while Beck decries Woodrow Wilson foreign
policy. Yelling on both sides. Fair and balanced imbecility. Did I
forget to mention that Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed Brian Williams
he moved into a protracted slam attack on Sarah Palin? Or that he also
covered the Florida Supreme Court decision that ObamaCare is
unconstitutional by interviewing two opponents of the decison and no
one else? His definitive guest was constitutional expert Anthony Weiner,
the reason I'm still
Just a word or two about Weiner before I continue. The single smartest
politician I've seen in any media interview. Ever. Anyone watching
him would simply assume that he's a lawyer, because he's so damn deadly
and deft in his attacks. Harvard Law? No. He has a bachelor of arts
from SUNY Plattsburgh. He's never worked in the private sector.
Politics has been his entire adult life.
Not to demean him. He's brilliant.
Weiner worked on the staff of
then-Congressman and current Senator Chuck Schumer (1985–91). First
working in Schumer's office in Washington, D.C., he was sent to the
District Office in Brooklyn in 1988 when Schumer encouraged him to
become involved in local politics.
In 1991, after a three-way primary and a
four-way general election, Weiner was elected to the New York City
At 27, he was the youngest person to serve on the Council to that date.
Over the next seven years on the City
Council, Weiner initiated programs to tackle quality of life concerns.
He started a program to put at-risk and troubled teens to work cleaning
up graffiti. He spearheaded development plans for historic Sheepshead
Bay that led to a revival of the area; and, when supermarkets started
leaving the neighborhood, Weiner worked to reverse the trend.
As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Public
he fought to increase federal funding, to ban dangerous dogs, and to
add more police officers to the beat. His investigation into the cause
of sudden, fatal stairwell fires made headlines; he exposed dangerous
practices that eventually led the city to replace the paint in
In 1998, Congressman Chuck Schumer opted
to try to unseat Senator D'Amato. In the Democratic primary election,
Schumer won the right to face D'Amato, whom he defeated in the General
Election; and Weiner won the Democratic nomination to succeed Schumer,
which was tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic 9th
District. He is only the fifth person to represent the District since
its creation in 1920.
Make no mistake. If I had to pick one member of Congress to have dinner
with, it would be Anthony Weiner. But only because Shane is always
looking for dangerous company.
Anthony Weiner is the true measure of what news media, cable or
otherwise, can do to twist truth. He's a superb debater in the context
of the three minute yelling matches sponsored by MSNBC and Fox. Quick,
facile, and false, yet equally adept on the riposte. He knows the facts
he's determined to cite.... he's a genius... and he's a lying creep.
I talk about Weiner because he's the socialist bogeyman the right (or new right
or tea party or whatever) has to defeat. You'll never do it. You might try to
do it with superior command of the facts, except that Weiner is a
flat-out liar and when he isn't lying
he's twisting the facts so imaginatively you'd have to run to keep up.
Which is why Steve Doocy, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and even Don Imus always start out all confident smiles with Weiner and reach
the finish line looking winded and, uh dumb. Weiner's as convincing as
any editor of the
Harvard Law Review you've ever been snubbed by at a wedding. His
biggest talent is making YOU feel small.
YOU, meaning all the Republicans from Indianapolis, Mobile, and, well,
Jesusville, er, Everywhere/Anywhere, USA.
So. My thought is of a NEW network, neither left nor right. The premise
is a series of mediators like Charley Rose, if Charley Rose weren't
such a lefty asshole, asking questions of opposing opinion makers --
without prejudice or intent but merely to elicit further explanation
and without subsequent biasing comments like "oh" or "ah," or
"smirk:"-- enabling us in the audience to learn something. "Can you
elaborate on that based on more
reference to your personal experience?" would be an excellent interview
question by a professionally trained host like...
Aye. There's the rub. Even Charley Rose is merely Christiane Ammanpour
with a smaller cock. What Islamists have managed thus far. A frightened
cock is always smaller than a hard-on planning to get laid in heavenhell.
a difference. For Islamists.
But something they should remember. Those of us who live life don't care
about virgins. We're not that needy or insecure.
Why we're talking about a television network. Cutting... finally... to
the chase. Until conservatives jettison O'Reilly and Hannity and all
the other dumb Irish reactionaries who rant without researching their opponents, they'll never beat Anthony Weiner.
Why do they keep acting like he's a run-of-the-mill dumbshit liberal guest? Why do they keep getting their clocks cleaned and inviting him back to do it again?
What the hell ails Fox News? Time for an upgrade from the programmatic yellers to actual thinkers? Ya think? I think Ailes can still think. He should think about my vision of a 'Referee Network.' Because the one he's got is turning fatally Doocy.
All right. I admit it. I could bury Anthony Weiner. Absolutely
obliterate him. But nobody's asked
me to. I'm Shane. He's Jack Palance bullying the ones who can't fight
back because they're way too intimidated by his New York arrogance:
Think I'm kidding? I'm starting to throw up blood at all the easy
interviews I've heard with Weiner by Hannity, O'Reilly, Imus, and Fox &
Friends. They sail in with smiles and preconceived truths, and he eats them for lunch while I fume at their
lack of preparation and wit. The hell with them. They deserve what they
get from the fast gun they've let into their house. MY first target is that
superior smirk. My smirk is better founded.
Because I'm so much older, more experienced about real American life, and, well, resigned to the futility of condescending liberal utopianism. Give me a long
moment with him, and a chance to meet him eye to eye, and I'll, well...
...convert his ass. Yuh.
Now don't be calling the feds on me, anyone. If you don't know what a
metaphor is. my attorneys will be asking you about numbers between nine and
eleven. And I'll be explaining to the wide American world about a life consisting entirely
of metaphor. The way things go. Artistic freedom means artists get to
imagine justice, and nobody else gets to live it.
But sometimes metaphor isn't enough. I actually want to debate Weiner
I'm sick of his triumphant appearances on Fox. They never
prepare. That's what it takes. A smirk does not make you smart and a man
who has never actually experienced capitalism cannot be an expert in it.
And, like Shane (as I told a close friend I recently slew here) I am
still holding back.
Monday, January 31, 2011
of Western Imperialism
Hawass trying to put the best possible face on the damage.
YEAH, HISTORY DOES REPEATREPEATREPEAT. Forget
the so-called big issues. Will Egypt's Mubarek survive?
Will the Muslim Brotherhood make Egypt into the new psychotically vicious post-Shah Iran?
Will Obama become the new Jimmy Carter, responsible for another mideast
catastrophe traceable to his own presumptuous naivete? Forget all the speculation
about these questions. It's all premature. We're watching a slow-motion
explosion. The nanosecond after a bomb goes off is hardly the time to begin
assessing the eventual damage, casualties, and after-effects. Which pretty much
cancels out any relevance of the Sunday morning media circuses (and the bread that fuels them). They're
the fiddling we've come to expect while Rome burns. Except that Egypt is much much older
(Reuters) - Looters have pillaged a
number of warehouses containing ancient Egyptian artifacts, stealing
and damaging some of them, archaeologists and warehouse workers said on
A group of looters attacked a warehouse at the Qantara Museum near the
city of Ismailia on the Suez Canal that contained 3,000 objects from
the Roman and Byzantine periods, a source at the tourism police said.
Many of the objects had been found in Sinai by the Israelis after they
occupied the peninsula during the 1967 war with Egypt, and had only
been recently returned to Egypt.
A worker at the warehouse said the looters had said they were searching
for gold. The worker told them there was no gold but they continued to
pillage the storehouse, smashing some items and taking others.
An archaeologist said warehouses near the pyramids of Saqqara and Abu
Sir were also looted.
"At other locations, guards and villagers were able to successfully
repel gangs of looters," the archaeologist said.
On Friday, looters broke into the Cairo museum, home to the world's
greatest collection of Pharaonic treasures, smashing several statues
and damaging two mummies, while police battled anti-government
protesters on the streets.
The culture, monuments, temples and pyramids of ancient Egypt have left
a lasting legacy on the world and are a major draw for the country's
More recent reports from Fox News suggest such damages and thefts are
even more serious, countrywide and perhaps devastating. Contrary to
government claims, the Egyptian army may not be guarding all
museums containing Egyptian cultural treasures but only a few of them,
and most may have been assaulted and looted.
Less than a month ago, I felt sympathetic toward the protests of
Egypt's curator of antiquities when he registered a protest
threat to the City of New York:
NEW YORK — An Egyptian official has
chided New York City over the condition of "Cleopatra's Needle," an
ancient column in Central Park.
Zahi Hawass (ZAH'-hee ha-WASS') of
Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities wrote a letter to New York Mayor
Michael Bloomberg complaining that his city is not taking good care of
the 3,500-year-old obelisk.
Egypt gave the stone monument to the city as a gift more than a century
ago. It now sits on a knoll near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Hawass says Cleopatra's Needle is badly weathered, with the
hieroglyphics worn away, and no effort has been made to conserve it.
He says that if the city doesn't act, Egypt may seek to have its gift
More power to him, I thought at the time. Now I'm thinking, thank God
the western colonial powers carried off as many artifacts as they did over the centuries.
Because as one of the taproots of all human civilization, Egypt belongs
not just to the Egyptians but to all of us. The pyramids weren't built
by muslims, who would, truth be told, put all the ancient followers of
Ammon, Ra, Horus, and Isis to the sword if they were alive today, And
so I'm glad that whatever happens in the reign of the currently
besieged would-be pharaoh, we will not lose all our knowledge and
ability to remember and learn more about a past all westerners share.
Maybe a reason why it's not a good idea to keep all your golden eggs in
one fragile basket.
More specifically, that means thanking historical villains like
Napoleon Bonaparte and all the many brutal Brits who had the curiosity
to dig in the desert and take away what they found interesting. Greed?
Perhaps. But if I chose to, I could drive to Philadelphia this
afternoon and behold the enigmatic grandeur of ancient Egypt, marble and mummies
included, at the museum across the street from Franklin Field.
Ponder that. I will still be able to do it a month from now, even if
Cairo is a ruin and everything Zahi Hawass has struggled so mightily to
preserve and protect in his homeland is a tragic memory. Yes, I thank
God for the hated Dead White European Males who made real Egyptian eternity possible.
Pray on that. And consider
the possibility that even Khufu, Ramses II, and Akhenaton might join me
in my prayer of thanksgiving.
The flipside of monolithic political correctness can be a real bitch. Or so say I.
: I concede I've been truculent of late. But
comments confirm what
I thought. I've had multiple computer disasters in recent years, and I
have a deerhound who consumes almost all my free time. Some of you have
texts of mine I don't have anymore. Brizoni had a quote so obscure even
I didn't remember (dementia, anyone?) until I read it a second time,
the beginning of yet another 'scripture.' Helkenberg has the Book of
Andrew and the Book of Assumptions or the former at least. No longer in
MY possession. Lake speaks as if the Zeezer Bible is easily available:
but the Zeezer Bible is as dependent on hyperlinks as the infamous
theboomerbible.com, although those links are all to specific graphics
and texts in Shuteye Town 1999. The Zeezer Bible depends on those
graphic links as much The Boomer Bible depended on its ICR. Further,
Lake speaks airily of reproducing the Pangloss Dialectics, although
these are also (somewhat) dependent on their locations inside Shuteye
Town. Not to mention the Shuteye Times, the Balow Star, Who's Who,
9/11, and dozens of other text/graphics works I did under the rubric
of "Shuteye Nation." I can find bits and pieces, but like Humpty
Dumpty I can't put all the pieces back together again. And without all
the pieces reassembled, there's no way anyone can see that I've been
commenting continuously on everything for two decades with a
combination of fiction, satire, graphics, and, uh, the whole Instapunk
mess. Millions of words, thousands of graphics and animations, and
perhaps more importantly, thousands of links to the outer world as
filtered through my own.
The sad truth. I've lost control of most of my own writings and their
links. So I'm asking. Restore them to their daddy, because they are my
lost children. Do whatever you can in HTML to bring them as close to
the form in which you originally saw them and email them to me.
Anything and everything you have.
I hate to ask. But I have to accept that this time I can't do it with
mere attitude and optimism. I need your help. Whatever you can do... to
help the dog uneat my