Even I’m convinced!

According to this article, police in Garland, Texas arrested 34 people and charged them with “riot participation/aggravated assault/serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.” The fight was organized on the internet and subsequently videotaped.

I obviously haven’t seen the fight, so I don’t care about the details. My focus of entertainment here is two-fold. First, criminals are stupid. It’s almost universally understood that when two or more suspects commit a crime, they will videotape it. Note to criminals: your ego is not your best friend.

Second, I could not pass up this gem. I had to read it more than once to fully comprehend the essence of the statement.

Diana Rodriguez said her husband, Garland High senior Daniel Moncilla, didn’t hit anyone.

No explanation needed, that’s outstanding.

The future’s so bright, I have to wear blinders

In interesting technology/business news today, Yahoo announced that it plans to increase to 100 megabytes the amount of free e-mail storage it offers to its consumers. This comes at a time of great strategic advances by Yahoo in the face of competition. From Yesterday’s meeting with Wall Street analysts:

And throughout the daylong meeting, set a self-assured Yahoo CEO Terry Semel tone by insisting the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company feeds on competitive threats.

Without mentioning names, Semel made veiled references to longtime rivals Microsoft and AOL, as well as “one or two” upcoming companies.

After acknowledging that these companies have become major players in some Internet segments, Semel cautioned Yahoo’s foes.

“My advice is to beware,” Semel said. “All we want to do is win. It’s the only thing that excites us.”

Define winning. Is it offering extra e-mail storage? Is it having the most consumers? I know… perhaps it’s STEALING THE MOST MONEY FROM IT’S CONSUMERS! I’ve said “consumer” throughout this post because Yahoo does not treat people as customers. If it did, then it wouldn’t have stolen $14.85 from me. If it did, it would have returned more than $4.95 when I proved that it stole from me. If it did, its consumers wouldn’t have to call three times to have only one-third of the heist returned.

Focusing on the main point that Yahoo had to offer, this is the fact that should be highlighted:

The change, which will become effective this summer, is being made six weeks after Google unveiled an e-mail service that will offer each account 1,000 megabytes of free storage.

Now consider this statement:

“We will continue to lead and not follow,” said Dan Rosensweig, Yahoo’s chief operating officer. “We know where the Internet is going.”

I love that new definition of leading. Provide 10% of your competitor’s offer six weeks later and the industry will cower. “Bow before us, oh ye gods of competition, we are leaders! We are Yahoo!”

A Pacifist’s War Principles

  1. I hate war.
  2. War is rarely justified.
  3. When justified, it must be undertaken.
  4. When undertaken, it is a necessary evil.
  5. Because it’s a necessary evil, only victory will suffice.
  6. Victory is measured by permanently stopping the instigators.
  7. Stopping the instigators must be viewed through the eyes of justice.
  8. The eyes of justice do not seek vengeance.
  9. Vengeance creates mistakes.
  10. Mistakes transform victory into failure.
  11. Failure is unacceptable.

Fire up the engine, the train is leaving

Over the last week, I’ve been trying to sort out my thoughts on the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. It clearly hurts our self-imposed image as “the good guys”. While I don’t feel obliged to discuss the abuse directly, since the evidence speaks for itself, it’s abhorrent to our national values and ideals. No “moral” society would allow this to happen. But I’m realistic enough to understand that no society will proceed in any significant endeavor without mistakes. The true nature of a society is its response to its mistakes. In this we’re failing miserably.

Specifically, our president is failing. He’s reacting to this situation as if we should be content that the abuse was uncovered and the guilty will be prosecuted. That is part of the solution, but pretending like this isn’t a big issue is wrong.

If President Bush or others in his administration permitted the abuse, they are responsible and vile. If no one in President Bush’s administration knew of the abuse, they are responsible and incompetent. Neither truth is comforting. While President Bush will continue to push the war on terror forward, we have no evidence to believe that he can change his style of governing.

Despite this scandal, we should not capitulate to terrorists. Some will say we are no better than the terrorists we claim to fight. They are wrong. Terrorists will continue to use any reason available, no matter how twisted, to justify their agenda. However, until we prove that we are willing to admit and correct our mistakes, we make it more difficult for our allies to support us unconditionally. This is a pivotal moment in our fight for the world’s freedom. We must act honorably.

Based on this need, I do not believe that this administration is the right one to lead us into the future. I don’t base my opinion on the Republican vs. Democrat difference because it is beyond party differences. This is a leadership issue. President Bush and officials in his administration are demonstrating their fundamental lack of leadership skills in the world of 2004. Sometimes forceful, unilateral action is appropriate. When it’s not, that leaves diplomacy. This administration has shown that it lacks diplomacy, which is why the Republican Party must rid itself of the Bush-Cheney re-election ticket.

I’m intelligent enough to know that such a reversal will never happen. After the 13 nanoseconds it took me to come to that conclusion, I shifted to what might be a workable solution. As I’ve written before, the best possibility for America is a Kerry-McCain ticket for the presidency.

My opinion hasn’t changed, I still think this is a brilliant solution. Yet, I know my ideas do not usually gel with everyone else. Much to my surprise, though, Andrew Sullivan reiterated this same idea in an article for The National Review. I’m not sure I agree with the loss of confidence in the Kerry candidacy that Mr. Sullivan claims, but he’s following the campaign closer than I am, so I’m willing to give him some slack on this for now. Rather than try to write my own version of why this is a great idea, I’ll offer a few highlights from the article. He clarifies everything I’ve been thinking, but haven’t put into words. Rather than waste time re-writing what’s already written, I’ll let the idea stand in place of my originality.

Mr. Sullivan’s main argument:

Here’s why. There is no one better suited in the country to tackle a difficult war where the United States is credibly accused of abusing prisoners than John McCain. He was, after all, a victim of the worst kind of prisoner torture imaginable in the Hanoi Hilton. His military credentials are impeccable but so are his moral scruples and backbone; that’s a rare combination. As a vice-presidential candidate, he would allow Kerry to criticize the conduct of the war and occupation, but also to pursue them credibly. He would give Kerry credibility on national defense, removing the taint of an “antiwar” candidacy headed by a man who helped pioneer the antiwar forces during Vietnam. He would ensure that a Kerry victory would not be interpreted by America’s allies or enemies as a decision to cut and run from Iraq.

In office, McCain could be given real authority as a war-manager, providing a counterweight to Kerry’s penchant for U.N.-style non-solutions. There’s a precedent for such a powerful vice-president who could not credibly be believed to have designs on the Oval Office himself: Dick Cheney. Why no credible ambitions for the presidency himself? If McCain agreed to run with Kerry, he would also have to agree to support Kerry for possible reelection. There’s no way that McCain could credibly run for president in eight years’ time–as a Democrat or as a Republican. So he could become for Kerry what Cheney has been for Bush: a confidant, a manager, a strategic mind, a guide through the thicket of war-management. But he could also be more for Kerry: He could be a unifying force in the country in the dark days ahead.

Whatever your opinion, read the article in its entirety. Mr. Sullivan offers an interesting perspective on the “national government” idea, commonly found in times of crisis in parliamentary democracies. It’s an important, unique approach to our election at this critical moment and worth your consideration.

A game is just a game

Saturday afternoon, I attended my 11-year-old brother’s baseball game. Few people knew at the time, but the first base umpire experienced chest pains during the game. He chose to continue in spite of the pain. In the bottom of the second inning, he had a heart attack.

I did not see him collapse. I’d walked away from my seat for a few moments, since my brother had already batted in the top of the second. I walked no more than 15 feet to join my mom in conversation. Looking back at the field, I noticed the umpire on the ground. At the same time, the coaches were beginning to recognize the situation. Several people rushed to his side and immediately realized the grave nature of his condition. Frantic attempts to reach 911 began. One parent in the crowd is a cardiac nurse, so she ran to his aide. Everyone else stood, dazed and frozen.

Not being near him, the rest of the crowd didn’t know what was happening. Within moments, the nurse began CPR on him.

One of the parents and I ran to the field. As he raced to the umpire’s side to help, I gathered the remaining kids still on the field and instructed them to go to the dugout. A few walked slowly, still gazing in mortified curiosity. I turned them toward the dugout and ordered them to go. I followed behind them. Once they were in, I blocked the entrance to the field. Later, when the ambulance arrived, some of the kids wanted to look and started for the dugout exit. I blocked their exit.

I don’t tell this story to gain admiration. I don’t have CPR skills, so I was no direct help to the umpire. I regret my one failure to act. I had the notion that we should get the kids out of the dugout and away from the scene. They didn’t need to see what was happening, but I didn’t act quickly enough and those kids saw what they didn’t need to see. My brother was one of those kids, so that regret will linger with me.

I tell this story because I want to highlight something wonderful. In the midst of tragedy, regular people stepped up to help a man in trouble. No one overstepped their skills because a man’s life was involved, but everyone did what they could to give him his best chance to live. No one wasted time delegating authority. No one asked permission to help. People saw a need and did what was necessary. Even when some in the crowd exhibited callous behavior during the crisis, the greater will stopped it with a stern look of intent.

Before the paramedics could take him from the field to a hospital, he died.

I’ve accepted the reality that I watched a man die. Though the change is small, I will never be the same.

Legitimate “Must See TV”

A month ago, I wrote about Lemonade Stories, a new documentary airing at 9pm tonight on CNNfn. Thanks to a generous gift from Ms. Mazzio, I watched the film last night. My original anticipation was rewarded.

The film is broken into segments with each entrepreneur and his or her mother spotlighted. I expected to sit through the early segments, hoping the film would get to Richard Branson quicker. During the opening segment with Arthur Blank, the co-founder of The Home Depot, I forgot that Richard Branson was in the film.

The concept is simple, straightforward, and worthwhile. Ultimately, the lesson each of these entrepreneurs has learned from mom is the inner spark we should all yearn to grasp: the unyielding longing to be themselves and the willingness to accept nothing else. But here’s the shocking revelation that I think defines why they’re successful. They’re willing to fight through the times when they don’t know who they are. And who is there to support them? You guessed it… mom.

This is particularly true of the stories of Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic and Tom Scott, co-founder of Nantucket Nectars. I’m not going to tell those stories here because you should watch the film. But there is an important lesson for every would-be and budding entrepreneur, offered by Mr. Scott. From the film, here is the lesson in his words:

“We do our case study at Harvard Business School and by the end they’ll say, ‘Well, these guys are really smart because they didn’t focus on supermarkets, they flew under the radar of Coke and Pepsi’. But it’s all B.S. cause I was there and I know what happened. Everything that they said that we did intelligently, we tried the other way and failed.”

My guess is that there are very few entrepreneurs who willingly strike out to break every rule. Entrepreneurs don’t try new businesses if they don’t intend to break some rules. That’s the nature of entrepreneurship. But it’s the rare lunatic who sets out to make the task as hard as possible.

Success seems logical in hindsight, but in the moment, the decisions aren’t easy. Mr. Scott and Mr. First knew that distribution would be the key to their business. The obvious answer is to sell to supermarkets and let them worry about distribution to the final location. Safeway, Piggly Wiggly, and Kroger are the experts, so that’s the way to go. But Nantucket Nectars isn’t Coke and Pepsi. This next quote from Paul Hawken’s book Growing a Business describes what I suspect Nantucket Nectars discovered when they couldn’t get into supermarkets:

The unpredicted is the gap between perception and reality. The unpredicted is your best toehold on reality because it is from these events that don’t “go right” that you can discover what is really happening with your business.

Coke and Pepsi are commodity beverages. Nantucket Nectars’ products aren’t commodity beverages now. They would only discover this through actions and mistakes. And the company is wildy successful because of their persistence in the face of failure. As the film shows, every featured entrepreneur’s persistence comes from mom.

As a teenager, my first business venture was delivering newspapers. I shared a route with my brother for the now-defunct evening paper in Richmond, Va. We continued this sharing until a second route opened in our neighborhood. I took this route, while my brother maintened the original. We shared expenses and profits, treating the two routes as a single entity to achieve economies of scale. We couldn’t have defined economies of scale if we’d heard the term, but we’d focused on our experience to understand the concept.

After we worked out delivery efficiency on the combined routes, we absorbed a third route. After a few months, we “divested” ourselves of the third route. We had customers who refused to pay, in addition to juvenile harassment from some of the neighborhood kids. (I’m a redhead… harassment is a fact of life.) Our initial analysis had told us that we’d build our empire further, but we were wrong.

Who was behind us, supporting this venture? Mom. (You thought I’d lost my focus, didn’t you?) On a day-to-day basis, my brother and I had it under control. We never had to borrow money to keep going, since a newspaper route isn’t capital intensive, but at 13, we couldn’t do everything.

When it rained, newspapers had to be bagged. This doesn’t seem too tedious since we got out of school at 3pm, but in the rain, our supply of newspapers usually arrived late. The newspapers had to be delivered by a set time, which I don’t remember. If they weren’t delivered on time, our customers could call the newspaper to complain. Each complaint cost us 25 cents. We only made pennies per day for each newspaper, so we couldn’t afford complaints. A few would destroy our profits for the month and that would mean fewer Garbage Pail Kids. (We were 13. Reinvesting was a foreign concept.) Guess who was there to help bag the papers? If the delivery was especially late, guess who was there to drive us on our routes? I even remember a few instances of riding in the back of her station wagon, tossing papers onto porches in the snow.

My mom never asked for anything in return. She never complained that she’d already worked a full day. She let us know we could get the job done, but on the occasions when we needed help, she’d be there. I can never repay that. My only response is gratitude.

At a time when there is significant discussion about family values, I can think of no better way to celebrate a mother’s impact than Lemonade Stories. The stories in the film are riveting and diverse, but the common theme is the same. Family values aren’t defined by Disney movies, Chutes and Ladders, and freshly-baked cookies. Family values can come in the form of a swearing mother who teaches her children to believe in themselves and to strive for self-defined success. That’s a lesson I can live with.

With the Covenant, who needs SD-6?

I dreamed last night that I saw David Anders at a rest area in Delaware.

Anyone who reads RollingDoughnut.com knows that I would love this if it actually happened. Why? Because David Anders portrays Sark on THE GREATEST TELEVISION SHOW EVER. Besides being completely random, this would be a spectacular opportunity to let him know how much Sark rules. That would be awesome!

But the dream became a nightmare when I realized that I drove off without speaking to him. Thankfully, I would never let that happen in real life. If only this would happen…

Mary Jane Watson will coach third base

After an unexpected break in the action, I now return you to my regularly scheduled outrage. Thank you for being patient.


This news article from ESPN.com disturbs me. I’ve written about my love of baseball. Enough so that I suspect everyone can decipher how I’m going to feel about this prospect: (I’m a level-headed person, so I’m not reacting just to react. Seriously. Stop laughing.)

As part of a marketing alliance between Major League Baseball Properties, Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios, webbed logos of the upcoming film “Spider-Man 2” will appear on bases and on-deck circles in 15 stadiums of teams playing host to interleague games June 11-13.

I enjoyed Spider-Man. I’ve seen previews of Spider-Man 2 and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy it. However, I’ve also been to baseball games and I know I enjoy that without advertisements on the bases.

There are ads all around stadiums. Stadium names are ads. Every empty space in the stadium has a logo slapped on it. There are even ads on the outfield walls. It’s no secret that sports fans are saturated with information overload to the point of ignoring the advertising. That doesn’t mean Major League Baseball should inundate us with more logos so that we “participate” as consumers.

The announcement Wednesday comes a day after presidential candidate Ralph Nader called the placement of Ricoh logos on the uniform and helmets of players during the season-opening series between the Yankees and Devil Rays in Tokyo “a greedy new low.”

I thought the same thing when I watched the season-opening series from Tokyo. I didn’t wake up at 5am to see logos on the players’ uniforms. I don’t want to see logos when I watch Jim Thome touch second base on a home run trot. Major League Baseabll isn’t Nascar. There has to be some sanctity to the history of the game. But all is not lost… Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball’s president and chief operating officer, attempted to ease my fears.

“This is not a step toward wallpapering the ballpark.”

I don’t believe that. This is just the next step and any reasonable person has to assume that.

Never fret, though, because Mr. DuPuy has the perfect response to the purists:

“This does nothing to impact the play of the game,” DuPuy said. “The base doesn’t know that it has a corporate name on it, nor does the foot that hits the base.”

But the dollar wins every vote between purity and prosperity. It’s easiest to think short-term, with no thought given to respecting the game, respecting the players, and respecting the fans. This makes sense, thanks to the $100,000+ that teams like the Yankees and Red Sox will receive. They buy Alex Rodriquez, so I have to see Spider-Man 2 while eating my $4.50 fries and $3.50 bottle of water.

Finally, consider this logical quote from Geoffrey Ammer, president of worldwide marketing for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group:

“This is the perfect alliance between two quintessential national pastimes — baseball and movie-going.”

I know whenever I think of the Phillies, my next thought is “Holy crap! I can’t wait to go to the movies!” If the “perfect alliance” really wants to do something interesting, put video screens in the back of seats and show movies during the game. Wait, nix that idea. With seatback video screens, we’ll just get 3 hours of commercials. Instead, I think I’ll just watch the game.

Looking out for the customer

Here at RollingDoughnut.com, I take great pride in being open 24 hours-a-day. It’s a great service I provide, because I’m nice that way. But it’s made possible by the Internet. The Internet rules.

Despite my generosity, I don’t follow the 24 hours-a-day policy. As much as I’d like to bill clients for 24 hours each day, they wouldn’t like it. Besides… it would be highly unprofessional to sleep at my desk. So, out of my sense of decency, I work 8 hours per day, Monday thru Friday, totaling the standard 40 hours per week.

Since it’s not a brilliant selling point, I leave my work hours out of my marketing literature. I don’t even post my hours anywhere. I have no storefront, no office building, no anything. I could post a sign in the grass, I guess, but that would be littering.

What’s the point of this? It’s ok, I know you’re asking yourself that very question right now. Allow me to continue.

As a busy person, like most people, I like the arrival of weekends, since I can relax a little. No early bedtime. No work preparation. No worries. It’s great to have a change of pace. The best part is, since it’s not a “school night”, some businesses keep different hours on Friday and Saturday than the rest of the week. Specifically, restaurants keep different hours. For the working man.

This past weekend, wanting to revel in sleeping late on Saturday, Danielle and I got a late dinner at Chicken Out. I was so overjoyed at their hours of operation, I took a picture of the door:

Brilliant! I can’t believe I didn’t think of it! On Friday and Saturday, let’s get a little crazy and close at 9 PM instead of 9:00 PM. As a service to all the night owls! Wowwee!

New policy in effect for my business, effective this week: Monday – Thursday, I go home at 5:30 PM, but on Fridays, I’m not outta here until Threeve O’Clock. You’re welcome.