Michael Phillips

Gods of Commerce


Reliability: Very likely is A+ ... highly doubtful is D-

I love commerce.

The marriage of commerce and technology is by definition the "modern world."

Commerce and technology thrive on three values: Meritocracy, diversity and openness.

Heroes of Commerce

Harold Geneen

Morita, Akio

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr

Sanford I. Weill

Jeffrey Bezos

Almost Heroes of Commerce

Jeffrey Bezos


Joeseph Williams

Gratuitous Advice




Daniel W. Drezner

Daniel Pipes

Catherine Campbell

Gaiko Forum

Stephan Sharkansky


March 2003

February 2003

January 2003

December 2002

04/3003 Juvenon -- commendable business

In response to the 4/26 blog entry, I got an email from CEO of Juvenon, Allan Prager, offering money back on 30 days worth of pills.

Prager patted himself on the back for being a generous person. I replied that a reasonable business person would refund all the money.

My explanation was simple: "Your own scientific claims require more than 30 days testing. As an ethical person, you cannot expect honest, sincere customers to give your product less adequate testing than you have given it." If the testing to see effects takes longer than 30 days the guarantee has to be for more than 30 days.

Fortunately, Prager took my argument and sincerity to heart and returned all my money. Congratulations Stewart Brand, Juvenon and especially congratulations Allan Prager.

04/26/03 Tomatoes

No film reviews here. Opinions about films are a matter of taste, and taste opinions are close to useless. Does anyone's opinion about the taste of tomatoes matter? Only if you know your taste is close to some other person's taste and wish to follow their lead. I love good fresh tomatoes... so? My tastes and opinions about tomatoes should only be relevant to a few sychophants, at best

I saw a movie Friday afternoon at the San Francisco Film Festival which is of a different magnitude than taste. Called Woman of Water, by Sugimori, Hidenori san, it was slow, artsy and weird. In spite of that, I stayed awake because it had suspense in the story line and kept dropping hints in flash-forwards that knit the movie and images together tightly.

A movie steps out of the tomato/opinion/taste realm when it enters the language, metaphor and imagery of history. That is what good art is and does. When Kurosawa's 1954 movie Rashomon is mentioned in a conversation, we know the speaker is referring to multiple perspectives on the same experience. Rashomon was a work of art that has entered history as a powerful metaphor.

I think Sugimori san has done the same as Kurosawa. Sugimori san has given two elements -- fire and water -- human character and allowed them to interact. It is a marvel to behold. A powerful accomplishment of film, imagination and the mind. I can't say anything more because no single element in the movie will move the description any further. I will remember this movie for a long time.

The only other writing I've done on film is an article on the role of action films in portraying life in a white collar world. That's right...films like The Fugitive are abstract tales about white collar life. That article is ten years old.

04/25/03 Suspense

Several friends have pointed out that keeping secret the name of the company that makes the Alpha Lipoic Acid & Acetyl-L-Carnitine pills doesn't make sense. If the company doesn't give me back my money, everyone needs to be warned; if the company does honor its guarantee it should be commended with public acknowledgement.

Right. The company is Juvenon. The president, Allan Prager, phoned yesterday to check on the details of my purchase. He pointed out that the guarantee is only for 30 days. I said nothing. He has a Harvard MBA.

The story gets interesting. Stay tuned.

04/22/03- 12:15 Deep throat

Take a look at the intelligence on the right about Deep Throat. This subject came up because of an announcement on CNN that the program would review their long-standing hunt for the real Deep Throat. A good friend of mine who worked in the Nixon White House wanted to hear what CNN had to say. The program doesn't appear to have gotten to the subject in the two hours my friend watched. In any case, the friend was in several different meetings where only Nixon and one other was present, and several of those three person meetings were reported by Deep Throat. Meaning Deep Throat probably wasn't one person.

My friend says that many White House people went to Svetlana for astrology. Svetlana was a genius at putting together gossip. After Nixon left office, Svetlana was hired as the "political astrologer" at the Washington Post. That is the evidence that Svetlana was the source behind the cluster of stories that became Deep Throat.

04/24/03- 12:11 Too bad it failed

I read Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Magazine recommendation for the combination of Alpha Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine HCL. The same recommendation was made in Wired 11/2002. Stewart is a friend whom I greatly admire. He based his recommendation on his own experience and the work of Bruce Ames who reported evidence that the combination of these two chemicals was beneficial. Stewart claimed that his memory was better after two months on the pills.

I devised a test for the pills.

Before taking two 800 mg tablets per day for two months, I made up a list of eight sets of proper name categories. I chose proper names because that is the memory that goes first with old age. Each category was of the following sort: list five friends in Marin County, list five former employees, list the full names of five of my grandchildren. The eight categories were randomly divided and put on two pages of paper with four categories on each page.

I then took the first page and spoke the names out loud and timed myself. It took exactly 3 minutes to remember the names and complete the four categories. I then took the pills twice a day for two months. After two months of pills I took the test again with the next page of four fresh categories. I took the test at the same time of day, noon.

Result: the second page took 4.5 minutes to complete. My memory was worse after I took the pills for two months. Stewart's pills failed and I wasted a goddamn $90 which is what 60 Bruce Ames pills cost.

I have not given you the name of the company that sells the pills. Today I wrote the company to ask them to return my $90. Within the next two two weeks I will post the outcome of my letter to the company.

04/22/03- 12:15 How weird?

San Francisco has a creative social environment. I mentioned that in a blog two days ago. In keeping with that spirit, I went to the How Weird Street Fair, which is partly a pun because it is located on Howard Street. The fair is in its fourth year. There were four dancing sites, each had techno music when I was there in mid afternoon. Less than a thousand people, with black clothing as a dominant color. Lots of fun, drugs and a healthy wild spirit. Not the beatniks, not the hippies, but certainly evidence of a lively defiant art and guerilla/gorilla underground.

Photos from the weird website by "raphael pepi, justin smith and heinz!"

04/22/03- 11:30 Quiz

What is the vital personal skill that:

* Is important to human happiness.

* Is central to each person's world view and lifetime experience.

* Can provide one of life's great rewards.

* Plays a central role in society and everyday life.


* Cannot be taught or passed on from parents to children.

* Is a skill that must be learned experimentally by each individual, by him or herself.

* Is not passed on by peers. In fact, peers often pass on erroneous information.

04/22/03- 11:15 Executive compensation

I've testified as an expert witness on Executive Compensation for a number of years and have made a few main points. The recent American Airlines scandal makes point number four for me. The three points I have made in the past about Executive Compensation are that excessive CEO compensation:

* Raises the cost of the entire executive level compensation. Second and third tier management always demand raises over the short run.

* Makes the company vulnerable to buyout by other companies -- particularly overseas companies that see easy cost savings because executive compensation can be cut after a buy-out, for immediate tangible cost savings.

* Creates a sense of injustice among employees. The injustice, as seen within the company, degrades morale, decreases the quality of goods and services produced and increases internal theft, fraud and bad behavior at all levels.

Now, thanks to American Airlines management, we have another shameful problem with excessive executive compensation. At American, executives gave themselves a hidden raise and secretly protected their pensions from bankruptcy on the same day that they received union agreement to take large pay cuts.

Of course, the unions found out about the secret within a day and threatened to rescind the union pay cuts unless the executives rescinded their secret raises and pension protections. Executives rescinded, in full view of national humiliation.

Employ confidence in American Airlines' management will not be restored for a decade.

This creates problem number 4 with excessive executive compensation:

* Employees will not cooperate with management in times of revenue decline and other hardship periods.

There can be no simple mathematical equation that sets executive compensation for all executives in all industries under a wide range of circumstances. The problem requires individual consideration and discretion.

But, there can be a much better process that we have in place now. Currently executive compensation is established by board members who are frequently friends of the executives and operate in an environment with minimal scrutiny.

A better alternative would be to have specialized, independent, executive compensation review teams that publish their evaluations. The evaluations would be a scale of 1-10 on each of the four elements I have listed above:

1-10 rating on whether the executive compensation will raise wages for the rest of the corporation.

1-10 rating on whether the executive compensation increases the likelihood of buyout by another company.

1-10 rating of whether the compensation will decrease worker morale and productivity.

and finally the review committee will rate the executive compensation on a 1-10 scale on the likely cooperation of employees in the event of hard times.

I believe shareholders and board members would read such evaluations and take them seriously.

04/20/03- 5:15 Have you seen it?

The photo is a bus that is seen in San Francisco in the Spring and Summer. A mobile tourist hotel in a bus run by a company that carries sightseeing Germans around the United States.

The tiny windows in the back are portals for transverse sleeping tubes. There are approximately 20 tubes and 20 seats in the bus. At night the passengers climb into their sleeping tubes on the side opposite the photo image. Each tube has a tiny window that opens. No obese people need join this tour.

04/20/03- 5:05 No theory

Yesterday's NYTimes had an article titled The Latest Theory Is That Theory Doesn't Matter by Emily Eakin. The article is rather confused, but I find two points. The article reports on a conference last week with several dozen scholars at the University of Chicago.

My first observation is that the city of Chicago is about to become the new intellectual center of the U.S., if it isn't already.

In the late 1980's I created and ran a national public radio program called Social Thought. I interviewed hundreds of thinkers on the subject. My finding, at the time, was that 60% of the important American thinkers were in the San Francisco Bay Area, 15% in Boston, 10% around New York and the remaining 15% scattered over the U.S. There were Social Thought thinkers in Hungary, Europe and other parts of the world, but not many.

What has changed is that the University of Chicago, which was already an innovative intellectual center, now has the symbiosis of the University of Illinois in Chicago run by Stanley Fish. The conference reported in the NYTimes is precisely the type of gravity and excitement that will bring more thinkers to Chicago. Such cooperative stimulus is lacking in the S.F. Bay Area. The only magnet here (S.F.) is the creative social climate.

The second observation about the NYTimes report is that Eakin doesn't understand the No-Theory issue. She didn't mention Feyerabend, the father of No-Theory.

The following is an excerpt from my current book project:

"No-Theory is pragmatic, it is presented in the work of the philosopher Paul Feyerabend. Feyerabend was a professor for several decades at the University of California at Berkeley; he was Swiss and died in the late 1980's. Feyerabend was noted for pointing out that we do not have a system of thought that is theoretical. We don't really have theories, he said.

"We perceive the world as a list. Or we perceive the world as dozens of lists. He gave a business example. When a mechanic sets about repairing an auto she begins with a list in her mind. When she begins she does not start with any laws of physics, does not start with a theory of the combustion engine. She starts with a list: 1) Is the battery connected? 2) Is the fuel flowing to the engine? 3) Does the ignition system connect? 4) Is the ignition system connected to the spark plugs ... etc. It is in fact a list. Feyerabend argues that lists are what we use to live by and analyze the world with. We have a whole series of lists. We do not use theories to make our analysis or attempt to understand the world around us, we are very ad hoc creatures with lists, dozens of lists. There isn't a reality to the world, there's an experiential reference package in the form of lists."

The Eakin NYTimes article reports attendee Prof. Sander Gilman saying, "I would make the argument that most criticism &emdash; and I would include Noam Chomsky in this &emdash; is a poison pill." This quote is not explained, but it suggests to me that the U. of Chicago discussion was about Ideology, not theory. This is where Eakin got confused. She was thinking that the end of ideology and no-theory were the same.

Ideology has been dead for quite sometime (Raymond Aron wrote about it in 1953 and Daniel Bell published The End of Ideology in 1959 . Ideology is definitely a poison pill, probably the greatest weapon of mass destruction in history. The reality of ideology isn't gone but the intellectual protection for it is gone.

No-theory is a new issue and the discussion about No-theory is probably just beginning.

04/16/03- 5:15 What are they looking at?

Yesterday I flew a video photographer over one of the guerilla/gorilla gang exercises.

The guerilla/gorillas were in a bus, towing three Doggie Diner heads (see earlier 4/1 entry). The bus carried the San Francisco Bicycle Rodeo and a few other fun lovers on their way across the country to be in a one-day Art Show in Manhattan.

The caravan left from the City-owned dog head opposite the Zoo and proceeded via the Great Highway to the Golden Gate Bridge, through Marin and across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Then they went off across the country via many exotic locations where the three doggie heads would be welcomed and appreciated.

Fletcher, the video photographer, and I flew slow, 70 mph circles in the sky over the caravan. Over populated areas and the Golden Gate Bridge we were at 1,400 feet, along the ocean and along the Richmond-San Rafael bridge we were at 200 feet. We flew five circles over the Golden Gate Bridge, video going while the weird entourage crossed. Nobody shot at us. No jets were scrambled!

The way we avoided the scrambled jets, during the Orange alert period, was suggested by a friend who flies traffic watch for a local radio station. The Bay Approach Radar can't actually see much below 2,000 feet over San Francisco, but they don't admit it. So I stayed in radio contact giving the Approach Radar people very precise and technical descriptions of my activities: " 82 Golf at one four thousand, making right hand orbit for photography over Lake Merced." "82 Golf approaching Golden Gate Bridge at one five thousand continuing to make right hand orbits for photography." It worked. If the Bridge phoned anyone, and the guys in the photo probably did phone, they were told, "We have the plane in sight and in radio contact."

04/16/03- 4:15 Global-gobble-ization

I met a fellow at coffee yesterday morning who screws up anybody's views of globalization. Shema is a Japanese who owns a condo in San Francisco, works at home and starts work at 2 PM going until 10 PM. He is paid in dollars. Good pay.

He is a head hunter for a Japanese firm, recruiting computer workers in Tokyo to work in Tokyo. He uses a phone, fax and email. No one ever knows that he is working in San Francisco. He likes living here and says several of his peers do the same thing.

My friend Bryan, who is self employed in Tokyo in the advertising business, does a similar thing, but Bryan works in San Francisco only during his summer semi-vacation.

Shema gave me some startling statistics that confirm other items on this blog. Shema's peak recruiting quarter was 1-2000. The following first quarter, 1-2001, was okay, and 1-2002 was bad. But this past quarter, 1-2003 was as good as 1-2001 and getting better every day.

04/14/03- 6:15 A difficult moral and anthropological question

Bruce A. Murphy has written a biography of Justice William O. Douglas, Wild Bill from Random House 2003. Murphy makes it clear that Douglas lied in his autobiography about many things, but in particular he lied about having served in the Army in 1917 . As a consequence of this lie and his service on the U.S. Supreme Court for fifty years, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery which is reserved for distinguished veterans.

Douglas conflated ten weeks of marching training in his Walla Walla college days as three months service in Europe.

The basic question is whether Douglas should be removed from Arlington. This presents three problems for me.

Justice Douglas was a very close friend of a very close friend of mine. That means I should stay out of the matter because it is not my issue, it is a national issue.

However it is slightly my issue. I am strongly concerned, as an intellectual, that America has gone down a wrong path in our self hatred. Lefty fundamentalists openly hate the cosmopolitan, commercially created modernity, individualism and freedom that is America. In my gut, I know that moving the grave of an icon of lefty fundamentalism would open many relevant issues that need to be opened to dialog.

But then again, I have some compassion in this matter. I know that during Douglas' life, lying and exaggerating about one's history were common. Douglas was a product of his times, and with my anthropologist leanings I find it hard to judge an historic person for holding values common to their own peers.

I don't know the answer.

04/14/03- 5:25 McCarthy-like purge of our universities

I see the emerging signs of a lefty fundamentalist pogrom at our Great Universities.

From my reading and discussions with friends across the country it is evident that outrageously anti-American public pronouncements, common on university campuses in the past month, have enraged fellow faculty, students, alumni and donors.

That outrage is combining with an emerging intellectual current that says: America's strongest critics around the world, and several terrorists leaders, were educated at American Universities.

Putting the outrage on campuses together with the intellectual argument that our universities generate our haters... suggests a witch hunt may be coming.

What I think will be different these days, different from the McCarthy days and the Congressional Committees that succeeded McCarthy (including HUAC), is that there will be no need for Congressional witch hunts. I foresee students using the internet to do the job.

I expect that students, worried about their schools and about the repute of their own degrees, will start posting lists of their own school faculty members who are publicly anti-American. They will create enough social pressure to get many faculty members fired and to keep foreign students away from the classes of the anti-American professors.

Just a prediction. It is not my wish nor dream to have this happen.

I just see the evidence of political excess by lefty fundamentalists creating open antagonism in America.

I live in San Francisco, so I don't get to visit America very often.

04/14/03- 4:25 The Play Chutzpah

I saw the play Chutzpah in San Francisco on Sunday. Described as: "Pauline Pfandler's smash hit tells the amazing story of the Jewish Socialist Chicken Farmers who flourished in Petaluma between 1915 - 1960."

I have a connection to the play. My great grandfather Jacob Phillips was among the first Jewish settlers in Petaluma in 1853. His family came from Holland, as did the wife he later brought over. Jacob was a tailor, had a large family and lived his whole adult life in Petaluma, where my grandfather and his siblings were born and raised. My great grand family belonged to the local synagogue, minion, congregation or whatever it was, since there were only twelve Jewish families in 1870, and they met in the Masonic Hall on Saturdays. Great gramps was in a hurry to assimilate and he and his wife Martha were called Jack and Mary. They named one child Abraham Lincoln Phillips.

I can see from congregation records in the 1870s to the 1890s that a steady stream of itinerant fund raisers came through Petaluma raising money for Jews being killed in European pogroms. It was probably that itinerant fund raising connection that brought the next generation of Bolshevik Yiddish-speaking Jews to Petaluma. The Jews who were the subject of Pauline Pfandler's play.

The play is about one member of this community who was tarred and feathered in 1935, ostensibly for his communist union organizing. The story is very sympathetic to the idea of creating unions to protect Okie farm workers. The second act carries the story into the McCarthy era and suggests that the group was persecuted into the 1950s.

The facts behind this play are irrelevant to the play. The community was tiny, under one hundred people. The community was always arguing and bitterly divided over everything. The group was no more persecuted than any other group of communists in rural America. The Jewish part was meaningless to their neighbors. Anti-Semitism was serious, but Jews who weren't communists were rarely persecuted in America.

What the playwright missed, because she is a lefty fundamentalist, is the great Jewish question of our time: How can Jews have been such prominent leaders of the socialist- Marxist-communist misadventure and at the same time have been core creators of the great commercial world of modernity in the arts, music, sciences and industrial enterprise?

No other religious, ethnic or national group has the distinction of being instrumental on both sides, in creating modernity and simultaneously organizing the people who hate it. How did it happen?

04/10/03- 4:25 Local toppling action

The local newspaper didn't have the story, but all of us 'big boys' with an anthropomorphic sense of heavy equipment are interested in the excavator that got toppled. It happened Thursday the 10th.

The freeway off-ramp into the Haight-Ashbury district is being torn down, largely due to neighborhood pressure over a twelve year period.

It looks to me like the excavator was being used with a jackhammer attachment. The big legs that hold up the freeway seem to have fallen over unexpectedly and pushed the excavator over. I don't know the fate of the driver. The cabin was bent, but not crushed.

04/12/03- 4:00 Anti-American march in San Francisco

I went to the march today. A few weeks ago I called it a pro-tyranny march. That doesn't fit any more. I estimate about 3,000 people marched to Dolores Park. Less than the 5,000 at Dolores Park which the hardcore political protesters mustered last year for a pro-homeless rally.

I wanted to see what the marchers are still marching about. There were only a few anti-semitic signs. This one says, "Stop our Israeli Controlled Government." One other said, "Don't Believe the Israeli Controlled Media."

The talks at Dolores Park had many Marxist perspectives on imperialism, class war and exploitation, but all the speakers had one common theme: "We hate the American government."

I'm reminded that this anti-government attitude has become a minority position very quickly. George Bush Ist was defeated in 1992 when a pip-squeak from Texas entered the race as an independent on an anti-government platform and got support from more than 35% of the public. That led President Bush Ist to appeal to his hardcore right-wing supporters with a Convention keynote address by Pat Buchannan. Buchannan gave such a vicious address, particularly against abortion, that Bush never again had a chance to win popular support.

The pip-squeak got great support from his anti-goverment position because Americans were anti-government in 1992. I don't remember why Amerircans were so anti-government; it has always been a deep current in America. That attitude changed in September 2001.

Much of the pro-Bush sentiment today comes from the national recoil at an Arab terrorist attack. That is also why the anti-government protesters I heard today seem so out-of-touch with the country.

04/10/03- 4:25 Armchair corporal

My highest rank in the Army was corporal. The following is my military review of Gulf War 2.

Two technologies proved themselves and the Rumsfeld doctrine demonstrated great success in five areas.

The two technologies that, for the time being, worked to change warfare against this type of enemy, were the GPS and night vision.

GPS, Global Positioning Satellites, made possible the use of accurate bombing. Ordinary bombs become accurate when dropped from a low flying plane with an exact coordinate for the plane's launch platform and the exact coordinate for the target. That was done with GPS. This was new, and it worked beautifully. Hence forth bombs will be more accurate and can be developed for more specific purposes such as the Electron Pulse bomb and the Underground Target bomb.

Night vision was used by the 101st Airborne Division to destroy the tanks and armor of three Iraqi Republican Guard divisions. The three Iraqi guard units were rendered harmless by this tactic. The tactic worked because the Iraqi's didn't have adequate use of expensive night vision and couldn't stop the 101st night teams from landing behind them, painting the armor targets (pointing lasers at the targets for guided bombs to use) and destroying the Iraqi equipment. The 101st Airborne also used GPS to mark the location of the target equipment. (Special Forces did the same).

The Rumsfeld doctrine is spelled out in Eliot A. Cohen's book Supreme Command, Simon & Schuster 2002. Cohen is in Rumsfeld's office. The over arching doctrine is that civilians must actively guide the military because war is a political act and details of war are political acts. Cohen demonstrates his point using Lincoln, Clemenceau, Churchill and Ben-Gurion. The point is best made with the symbolic toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad which was a political act.

The Rumsfeld doctrine is evident in five strategies.

One. A third of our fighting strength was used in Iraq to make sure that other nations understood that the remaining two-thirds can be used at any time. A vital message to Syria, Iran, Turkey and many other nations. Generals who complained openly will be remembered.

Two. The night vision and high mobility potential of the 101st Airborne division was used effectively in the overall war plan. (Special Forces have been using it on a smaller scale for many years.)

Three. Accurate bunker bombs were used aggressively, even on the first day of the war to decapitate the leadership.

Four. Israel was protect in every way including early incursions in Iraq and immediate destruction of H2 and H3 western Iraqi military sites.

Five. The war plan (1003 Victor) used psychological warfare aggressively with phone calls and emails directly to every Iraqi top ranked officer warning of severe individual consequences for the order to use chemical or biological weapons.

The Rumsfeld doctrine is part of the radical new government that George W. Bush has brought to the Whitehouse. The first radical government in American history.

04/10/03- 4:15 Bleak future

The more successful Israel is, the more the world hates her. She has become the most economically productive immigrant democracy in the world in the short period of fifty years. Israel ranks in the top five nations on the basis of science, technology and the arts. Israel has created a small military that has won three wars against nations fifteen times her size. Israel is the first nation to face domestic terrorism and reduce it from disastrous levels to modest levels. She has reduced Arab Islamic terrorism while living with a fifth of her population which looks like the enemy. Europeans and Arabs hate Israel now more than ever.

(I make the point that Israel lives with a fifth of her population Arab, because I believe Arab terrorism is a minor problem for Americans. Nearly every Arab is visibly different when he is in America and watched carefully wherever he goes. Arabs terrorists will have to find non-Arabs to cooperate with them in the future, when they plan and carry out terrorism. A tough job).

The same global hatred that Israel lives with is now true for America. The level of hate for America parallels the hate of Israel. Our military and economic success breed the same kind of hatred that Israel has faced for decades.

The problem with hate, is that it doesn't abate. People hate all their lives. The people I grew up with who hated America (lefty fundamentalists) still hate America. This presents a bleak future for America and for each of us. Our friends will be mostly Asians, Indians, Anglo-Saxons and the anti-lefty fundamentalists in the rest of the world.

04/9/03 Hungarian syndrome

The jailing of dissidents by Castro in Cuba and by Lukashenko in Belarus should give us all pause. These tyrants can read the handwriting on the wall. With the fall of Saddam Hussein their own people might get the idea of escaping tyranny with the help of the U.S.. So these tyrants have jailed the potential rebels in advance.

Trouble is, the Hungarians rose up against the the Soviet Union in October 1956 and expected support from the U.S. The support never came because the U.S. was interested in containing the Soviet Union not in freeing dissident nations.

I would guess that the U.S. has very few nations on its like-Iraq list and many on its like-Hungary list.

A genuine popular rebellion in Cuba would get U.S. support because it would be quick, tactically easy and popular in the U.S., but a popular rebellion in Belarus wouldn't get U.S. support because it would be none of those.

The fear of the Soviet Union and nuclear war is gone, but the fear of loss of American lives in future civil wars in Haiti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burma and Venezuela is a source of restraint. We have many reasons to avoid these quaqmires.

04/7/03- 4:15 Black power in the U.S.

The Virginia cross burning case in the U.S. Supreme Court is a foretaste of the U. of Michigan affirmative action case. In the former, I remember that Justice Clarence Thomas made it clear that burning a cross in from of his house was not going to be protected by the 1st Amendment.

Each branch of the armed forces filed an amicus brief in support of the U. of Michigan affirmative action policy making it clear that the large number of blacks serving in Iraq will expect the Supreme Court to support affirmative action in college entrance.

Blacks want their father's racial background considered by a college admissions officers just as George Bush's fathers background was consider for George's admission to Yale.

Blacks know they are black when they are on the Supreme Court (Thomas) and when they serve in the military. The Supreme Court knows it too.

04/7/03-3:55 Israeli flag in front of the house

I put up an Israeli flag in front of my house today. Today all Americans are Israelis.

Here is the list of what makes Americans Israelis. The last item on the list is what pushed me into putting up the Israeli flag:

1. The majority of member nations of the U.N. have spoken out against us.

2. The major European nations oppose us strongly and have aided our enemy.

3. The major European nations keep demanding that the U.N be in charge of the post war government.

4. Virtually every country ignores our demand to the right to negotiate with a democratic regime in the middle east.

5. Our soldiers risk their lives to save civilians who are infiltrated by enemy soldiers.

6. We are hated by the Arab world. Protecting Arab civilians is a sign of American weakness to Arabs. The Arab world exaggerates the number of civilian casualties and ignores U.S. efforts to protect them.

7. We are a truly democratic nation with open dissent in our streets and universities even during war time.

8. We are a unified people who support our government. See the LA Times survey that shows 70% of Democrats and 66% of Liberals claim to favor the war*.

9. We are the target of Arab terrorists around the world.

10. Our military is winning easily, with low casualty rates.

04/7/03-3:50 Winning the battle of ideas

* Readers who know the history of survey research are not surprised to find that Democrats have gone from 70% opposed to the war to 70% in favor of the war, in one week.

The first good public opinion surveys were done in 1938 and continued from then on. Public opinion was measured during WWII. Before the war, 70% of Americans were opposed to entering the war. After Pearl Harbor, 60% were still opposed to America entering the war. It wasn't until Normandy, when Americans turned in favor of the war.

To put it crudely, the public loves a winner.

The evidence for this "winner adage" is abundant. Many researchers have taken polls of voting districts that voted against the winner; one day after the election the majority of voters claim to have voted for the winner.

It's good we are winning in Iraq.

04/6/03 Sleep

Have I found something interesting or significant?

In a dinner conversation Friday evening, one person was amazed at the early rising schedule of three others at the table. One of the early risers is me.

I explained that when I sleep late it results in dreams, many of which I remember as discomforting. When I don't sleep late, I have no dreams that I remember.

One of the other early risers said that exactly the same thing happens to her. The friend, who never gets up early, said that she has many dreams in the period just before she gets out of bed and much of it is discomforting.

Dear reader, could you ask a sample of your friends about this observation? No one would even know it existed if we didn't compare notes.

04/5/03 The economic future

Discussing the Japanese article below, a Danish friend asked my view on the future of the U.S. economy.

I was trained as a statistician and as an economist so I have one idea of predictions: always assume a straight line from the past. Simple? Logical? Yes.

The question then becomes, 'What was driving the straight-line in the recent past?' 'What will change?'

I find five factors drove the boom in the 1990's. All of which are still with us and will continue with us for another decade.

1. Pure demographics. The percent of the total population that was working grew steadily from 1960 with the addition of women to the labor force. The baby boom population got older and more productive. A larger 45-55 year old population saved more, bought more and worked longer hours.

2. Meritocracy: Between 1950 and 1960 we went from a class based college entrance system to a merit based system. In 1950, 60% of the entrants to the top 20 colleges were from the top 5% of income cohorts. By 1960 less than 25% of the entrants to the top 20 colleges were from the top 5% of income cohorts. The effect of this played out in the 1990's and today still in the astounding U.S. productivity. In 1950, nearly all the Fortune 50 companies had CEO's from the "Blue Book Class," and they all knew each other well. In 2000, we have the Fortune 500 with virtually no "Blue Blood" CEO's and few of them know one another. In 50 years, meritocracy has triumphed in America.

3. Immigrants: America is driven by diversity and immigrants are the main source of diversity. Since 1964, the U.S. has gotten about 1 million immigrants per year; about half are legal immigrants. A casual glance at the names on the email directory of every major research center and the names of the National Merit scholars will convince anyone that immigration is our greatest source of technical and scientific innovation.

4. Globalizing: As Peter Drucker has pointed out, the world has been in a deflationary period for twenty years as more countries have entered the world market and reduced the real prices of all commodities. The U.S. has benefited greatly from this trend because commodities are a small proportion of our GDP and a high proportion of our imports.

5. End of the Cold War: The U.S. carried a disproportionate share of the free world's military costs in the War Against Communism. That cost is not totally wasteful, but it is relatively wasteful. The economic multiplier of a military dollar is less than half the multiplier of a non-military dollar. The military proportion of the U.S. output has shrunk steadily to the current 3.5% and is likely to stay there as we develop a more efficient and cheaper military with less dangerous enemies.

Straight-line forecast:

The benefits of #1 will play out over the next ten years, as our population slowly ages.

The benefits of #2 and #3 will always give us a productivity advantage in the world.

The benefits of #4 and #5 are coming to an end, even today.

04/3/03 Japan Bust?

A stunning article by Eamonn Fingleton in PrudentBear.com, reprinted from London's Prospect Magazine last November.

Fingleton argues that Japan has been getting stronger in the past decade while eagerly promoting a "Japan is in a terrible slump" story. The strengths that Fingleton finds are in the high Japanese savings rate, the deflation driven by record gains in productivity and the perennially high export surplus. Japan's primary strength comes from focused development of high tech manufacturing capital equipment. Fingleton denigrates the financial banking problems,the long dead stock market and the ostensible budget deficits.

He makes two impressive observations:

1) As a glance at Tokyo's crane filled skyline confirms, even in the hard-hit real estate sector, the pace of investment has continued at an astonishing rate. An all-time record of more than 20 million square feet of new office space will be completed in Tokyo next year (2003).

2) Hitachi's announcement earlier this year (2002) that it was buying IBM's path breaking disk drive business. The deal includes IBM's Almaden Research Center in California, which was described by the New York Times as one of America's "science and technology jewels."

The first point is one that I have been writing about for four years, based on my summer vacations in Tokyo. This has always been difficult for me to understand, especially since the tens of millions of square feet of new office space is Class A, a higher quality than most other commercial space in Tokyo.

The second point, I didn't know about but I do know how important the Almaden Research Center has been for U.S. high tech. I also know that Japan makes full use of U.S. academic and technological research. The U.S. doesn't make much use of Japan's research.

In general I agree with Fingleton. Japan has done well over the past decade by Japanese standards. Japan is stronger than ever and certainly prosperous. Japan will do even better in the coming decades because major new policies have been set in place to cope with the declining population that the European world hasn't yet confronted.

My only disagreement is Fingleton's view that Japan has an elite that is acting in a conspiratorial manner to promote the Japan is Bust story, while secretly growing stronger.

I don't see it that way. The dozens of Japanese I personally know disliked being the 1980's economic superstars of the world, and they particularly hated the vicious Japan bashing that resulted. Being the invisible, but powerful leader behind the on-stage puppet leader has always been the role the Japanese prefer. That is what Japan is now. Think Daimyo and Emperor ... power and figurehead.

04/2/03 Two petty frustrations

I get a steady stream of unsolicited faxes, sometimes at 4 AM. For fun, I sometimes phone them back to order hundreds of their products. Just before we close the deal I ask a few questions about their company and let them know "I just never do business with companies that use junk faxes."

An unsolicited fax I received this morning was a mistake for the sender. The sender gave an 800 fax number for placing orders. So I rigged up a continuous loop fax and kept it running for a long time.

I mentioned my petty fax frustration response to a friend who immediately mentioned spam. SPAM reminds me that I wrote a book with Chick Callenbach called A Citizen Legislature, which is for sale on Amazon and is also online.

The Founding Fathers talked about our Congress being a portrait of our people and a transcript of the citizens. Our Citizen Legislature book recommends a lottery, just like juries are chosen, to select legislators for three year terms. That would make Congress a real transcript of the U.S.

What brings up this tirade is the blatant fact that our Congress is unrelated to the people they serve. Congress is not a transcript of the citizens. If Congress were populated by real human beings there would be 525 members of Congress screaming at the top of their lungs about how their lives are being frustrated by spam.

Instead, we hear nothing from Congress about spam, after years of daily frustration for ordinary Americans.

04/1/03 Hippies and Lefty Fundamentalists not the same.

I went to the Saint Stupid's Day Parade today in San Francisco, which brings together three issues.

First, friends have asked what is the Doggie Diner head in my March 26th blog. The Doggie Diner head is located opposite the San Francisco Zoo. It is the last of roughly 23 remaining heads, the only one in situ. Doggie Diner was a restaurant chain located in Northern California from 1949 to 1986. The dachshund head was the icon. Bill Griffith, cartoonist of Zippy the Pinhead, made Doggie into a famous character.

Second, a truck with three doggie diner heads has become closely associated with the Bay Area guerrilla/gorilla underground. The photo shows the truck at today's St. Stupid's Day Parade. The parade had several hundred happy colorful people, singing, beating drums, walking through downtown and chanting, "Go back to work." The photo was taken on the front steps of the San Francisco Stock Exchange where everyone gathered to throw socks in the air for the Parade's sock exchange. This connects Doggie Diner to St. Stupid's Day.

For every fifty happy and ridiculous people in today's parade, dressed as variations on a clown, there was one dour lefty fundamentalist with an anti-Bush or anti-war poster. That is the third subject.

The St. Stupid's Day parade today was the 25th in San Francisco. It is organized by a loose part of the guerrilla/gorilla underground that is best known for Burning Man and is closely associated with LaughingSquid and the Cacophony Society.

While the St. Stupid's Day Parade seems to have started in Seattle, the guerrilla/gorilla underground is definitely San Francisco. It has spread around the world.

Underground guerillas/gorillas are dedicated to having fun in the city. The list of fun events is so long that I can't begin to describe it. The guerillas organize hundreds of people to dress as Santa Claus near Christmas and carouse wantonly in our downtown. There is a similar event call the Brides of March where everyone is dressed as a bride and goes shopping at Tiffany's. There are sewer tours in formal clothes and there are the current heroes: the SF Cyclecide Bike Rodeo.

I was part of the beginning of the guerilla/gorilla movement, so I know the history.

In the early 1970's Gary Warne and his friends began Communiversity. I started the Briarpatch Network at the same time and Communiversity immediately joined the Briarpatch. Communiversity was one of the earliest and wildest free universities. Just a listing of people teaching classes with the locations published. This quickly morphed into Gary Warne's and Oz Koozed's Circus of the Soul Bookstore, a few outrages of which are described in Honest Business. Circus of the Soul morphed into the Gorilla Grotto which became a front for the newly formed Suicide Club. The Suicide Club was the direct precursor of the Cacophony Society and the mother of all guerilla/gorilla underground life.

I'm still a guerilla/gorilla.

I was a good friend of Gary Warne and helped him in every way that I could. He was killed by the San Francisco Police Department while a trainee in the Police Academy, nearing graduation. The cops figured out that he was trying to infiltrate them. I paid for the Warne memorial bronze plaques that are on the top of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.

The third point I want to make is that the peace marches of the late 60's and early 70's were raucous fun because they were 80% hippy and 20% politicos as we called them in those days. The politicos wore black even then. Hippies had no political interests, they just liked the excuse to get together, party, dance, sing and get naked. A peace march was as good and outrageous a place to do all that as a music event.

The present day peace marches (pro tyranny events) are boring and drab in comparison because the only people who come are the original politicos who are always dull and morose, plus a few sentimental hippies who hope the good old days will magically return somehow. A cargo cult.

Summary: Doggie Diner is an icon for the guerilla/gorilla underground which put on St. Stupid's Day in San Francisco and which is an example of the fun part of hippiedom that has survived quietly for three decades. Hippies don't care and didn't ever care much about the peace movement.

See March Archive

04/24 B Deep Throat was not one person. But the main source for the "Deep Throat" information was: Svetlana Godillo, who wrote the astrology column for the Washington Post until she died in 1982. She had a very deep voice and smoked heavily.

04/7/03 C-Israel wants Marwan Bargouti to replace Arafat. The show trial is intended to gain Bargouti Palestinian voter support.

Turkey made a deal with the EU to oppose the U.S. in Iraq in return for membership in the EU next year. The U.S. was OK with the deal.

04/2/03 D- U.S is making war plans for attacking Syria in the event of a new terror event in U.S.

04/1/03 B+ Best source on the war is Debka.com

03/18/03 D- Planning is beginning on a future international mechanism for approving pre-emptive military action.

03/12/03 B-The U.S. will be delivering its Launch Stage Missile Defense to Japan by the end of 2003.

03/12/03 C- The two new Japanese satellites will give nearly live coverage of N.Korea with longitudinal orbits passing overhead more than four times a day.

email: mp@well.com