Archive for the ‘Schadenfreude’ Category

In Birmingham they love the football (woo woo woo)…

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Previously on WCD: the University of Alabama-Birmingham shut down their football program.


In the turbulent weeks since the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced that it would shutter its Division I football program, rallies and protests have erupted on campus, powerful donors have threatened to withhold their support, and the faculty senate approved a resolution of no confidence in President Ray L. Watts’s ability to lead the university.

The university has appointed a task force to review both the finances of the athletic department and the consulting firm’s report that led to the decision.

And in other news:

Kent State recently paid $35,000 to an outside consultant to review the fiscal viability of its $26 million athletic department and its football program, which has had only one winning season since 2006.

There once was a man from Nantucket.

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

The storm may not have lived up to its billing in New York City, but it more than delivered in New England. It cut off Nantucket, where almost all 12,000 year-round residents lost power and telephone service, and it flooded the Atlantic coastal town of Scituate, where a car floated downtown.

My phone tells me it is currently 81 degrees here. I may have to turn on the AC when I get home.

Yo, dawg.

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

The bankruptcy of SkyMall and their parent company, Xhibit, has been well covered in many places.

But I wanted to link, again, to this Priceonomics article from 2013 about SkyMall, Xhibit, and their questionable dealings, just in case folks forgot about it.

Skymall is by all accounts a reasonably successful company with $130 million in annual revenue, a differentiated offering, a well known brand, and at least some happy customers. Xhibit on the other hand, appears to be a company with dubious sources of revenue, a very thin competitive advantage, and more hype than substance.

God and man don’t believe in modern farmer.

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

A while back, I briefly touched on the “Modern Farmer” situation. Briefly, “Modern Farmer” was a promising and National Magazine Award winning magazine:

From its start in an airy office above a Swedish cosmetics store in Hudson, N.Y., the magazine was both admired and skewered. Intended as a media and lifestyle brand for what Ms. Gardner, a former Manhattan magazine editor, liked to refer to as people who want a little more back story to their food, its initial Spring 2013 edition had a stylish rooster on the cover, an alarming feature on the problems of wild pigs and a column called Ask an Ag Minister.

I never actually read it – I’m not sure I ever saw a copy for sale, and it sounded a little pretentious – but I was interested in what was happening with the magazine, especially after the editor resigned.

Well, the other goat has fainted:

Modern Farmer, the 100,000-circulation quarterly and website that tried to link effete urban farmers’ market culture with the practicalities of actual farming, became a magazine without an editorial staff on Friday, when its remaining paid editors walked out its doors. The future of what remains of the Modern Farmer brand is uncertain.


By Friday, when the remaining two paid editorial staff members departed, the sales manager had already left after having told advertisers like Dodge and the Detroit watchmaker Shinola that they weren’t going to publish a spring issue. Reached at her home in Hudson, Ms. Gardner said she could not speak about the matter and feared legal action. She remained unsure about her next move in the media world.

I’d actually never heard of Shinola, the watchmaker. I guess this goes to show how effective advertising in “Modern Farmer” was.

(Hattip: Jimbo.)

Look for the label, the union label…

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Heh. Heh. Heh.

PHILADELPHIA — A former union leader was found guilty on Tuesday of extortion, racketeering and conspiracy for overseeing a campaign of violence and vandalism intended to force nonunion contractors to hire union members.

The Taste of Schadenfreude.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

From the Austin Chronicle‘s runoff endorsements for District 8:

In October, when we endorsed Scruggs, we noted his bulldog efforts to create a Demo­cratic outpost in Circle C, his attention to thorny issues like global warming and gun control, and his affable leadership style.

Ed Scruggs was also one of the people who lobbied the Travis County Commissioners not to renew the contract for gun shows at the Expo Center.

How did that work out for you, Ed?


Oooooooh. Not so well.

By way of Overlawyered, here’s an Orange County Register article on the Costa Mesa PI case, which I wrote about a few days ago.

I was not aware that the law firm had shut down; that’s a good first start, but nothing in the article indicates that any of the lawyers involved have been forced to surrender their licenses.

Even after the phony DUI report, as the union attempted to distance itself form its former law firm – Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir – and the P.I.’s records show that money continued to flow from the union to the law firm to investigators.
The affidavit shows that even after the union said it fired its law firm, after word of the DUI setup got out, the union continued to pay its elevated retainer rate of $4,500 per quarter to the firm as late as January 2013. Lanzillo and Impola were paid by the law firm through January, as well.

Another thing I’m curious about: why does the Costa Mesa Police Department continue to exist? At this point, given that the department is clearly out of control to the point where they’re threatening politicians, wouldn’t it be better to disband them, fire everyone, and let the county sheriff’s department patrol Costa Mesa until they can build a new department from the ground up?

(Of course, this being California, many of the crooked cops from Costa Mesa will probably end up with jobs in the sheriff’s department or other cities in the area.)

Be careful what you promise.

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a couple of weeks now, but have had trouble finding a way into it.

Earlier this century, some researchers working with Boston College came up with what became “The Belfast Project”. The idea was simple; do an oral history of the conflict in Northern Ireland by interviewing people on both sides of the conflict.

This was probably a worthwhile idea. But could you convince these people to talk? Sure, if you promised them that what they said would remain confidential until they died.

In the end, “The Belfast Project” interviewed 46 people; 26 former IRA members, and 20 former members of the UVF. Since they were promised confidentiality, many of them spoke freely. Perhaps a bit too freely.

Because BC apparently didn’t think through all of the legal implications. The United States has a “mutual legal assistance treaty” with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Law enforcement in UKOGBAI became aware of the existence of “The Belfast Project” and decided to subpoena some of the interviews. The US government, under the terms of the treaty, had to cooperate with the request. There was a long legal battle, which BC lost; they surrendered 11 interviews with former IRA members.

As a result of this, Gerry Adams, the former head of Sinn Féin, was arrested as part of the investigation into a 1972 murder. The last I heard, Adams was questioned and released, and so far has not been actually charged with the murder.

Of course, people are upset. Confidentiality was breached! And BC has promised to return the interviews to the participants.

That may be “too little, too late”. Because now the government of Northern Ireland is asking for everything: all the interviews in “The Belfast Project”.

I’m not a lawyer, but I wonder what BC’s chances are at this point. If they return the tapes and burn the transcripts now, after a subpoena has been filed, will they be destroying evidence? Could BC wind up facing obstruction of justice charges?

And it seems that there are a fair number of people, on and off the BC campus, who think BC did a crap job with the project:

“The question that is unanswered is, why was the process not followed with this project?” said Susan Michalczyk, assistant director of BC’s Arts and Sciences honors program and president of the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors. “There should have been direct faculty oversight. Academic freedom can only be maintained when people adhere to the policies that preserve ethical practices.”


Many faculty remain stunned that a project with so many potential ethical and legal pitfalls could be run with so little supervision. Given the risks involved, the project might never have moved forward if other scholars had been given a chance to weigh in, many said.

Random notes: April 14, 2014.

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Don’t forget: tomorrow is National Buy a Gun Day. I’m not sure I’ll be observing it on the 15th this year, but we’ll see how things go…

I see Lawrence’s killer paramedic, and raise: 77 arson fires in a Virgina county over five months. Serial arsons are kind of interesting on their own, but who did it and (allegedly) why, is the twist here.

In the past four days, the NYT has run two stories bemoaning the closing of J&R Music World. Just saying.


“There is a place for using apps and all kinds of technology to prepare for the holiday, but I would prefer to do that beforehand so that when you’re actually at the Seder you’re actually speaking to one another,” said Rabbi Daniel Nevins, the dean of the rabbinical school of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, which ordains rabbis in the Conservative movement.

I think Rabbi Nevins is on the mark with this. But:

The use of the electronic Haggadot comes just as Conservative rabbis are embroiled in a debate over whether to make e-readers permissible on the Sabbath. Rabbi Nevins wrote a paper last year saying that such devices violated the spirit of the Sabbath and the holidays, traditionally viewed as a sanctuary from the workaday world.

If it is okay to read books on the Sabbath, why is it not okay to use e-readers? (Please note: while I have a great admiration for the Jewish religion and people, I am not Jewish, nor am I a Torah scholar.)

Lawrence also suggested at dinner the other night that I do a comprehensive prison personæ for the city of Bell: basically, a quick reference guide to who’s been convicted of what, and how much time they’ll serve. I may do that in the next few days, but I want to hold off a bit: Robert “Ratso” Rizzo is supposed to be sentenced on his tax charges later today, and sentenced on the other charges related to his role as Bell city manager on Wednesday. I will update here once Rizzo’s sentences are announced.

By way of Popehat on the Twitter: NYC’s Brecht Forum is closing. No, this wasn’t a place where folks sat around and sang “Mack the Knife” and other songs: that would actually have been kind of cool.

The center’s mission, according to its website, is to “create, within existing society, a counter-hegemonic culture of working people and their allies, who are capable of challenging the capitalist agenda, prefiguring new ways of thinking and of self-organization, as well as creating new ways of relating to each other and nature.”
Figures like Noam Chomsky, William Greider, Lewis H. Lapham and Naomi Klein have spoken at events at the forum. Affiliated groups include the Institute for Popular Education, the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory and the Strike Anywhere Theater Ensemble.

Yeah, Donnie, they’re Marxists.

“Rising Manhattan rents forced us to Brooklyn, but we have incurred debts and costs that are insurmountable,” the board members wrote, saying that they had decided to close the forum “with dignity” and the hope that “the larger project we all care so deeply about may survive in a different form.”

Awwwww. But where will they go now?

Plenty of serious discussion about politics and philosophy took place in the brick building on West Street, but the activists who gathered there had a lighter side, too, sometimes playing foosball or a Marxist version of Monopoly, called Class Struggle.

I was hoping to be able to provide an Amazon link for “Class Struggle”, just in case you have any children in your life that you hate. Sadly, it appears that “Class Struggle”, produced by Avalon Hill (!), is out of print and used copies are pricy. Here’s BoardGameGeek’s page.

Millions and millions of dollars.

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Sixty million dollars. At least, that’s the estimate according to the NYT:

Investors and executives with the Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” said on Tuesday that the show will have historic losses of up to $60 million when it closes on Jan. 4. The closing follows a sharp decline in ticket sales because of competition from hotter musicals and a lack of star attractions in the cast.


Several investors said they were reeling from the closing announcement, made on Monday night. Three said they have not been paid back anything during the three-year run of “Spider-Man,” which cost twice as much as any other Broadway show, and said they planned to write off their investments. While Broadway flops usually lose $5 million to $15 million, “Spider-Man” will lose far more, given the show’s record-setting $75 million capitalization; the enormous weekly costs of running this special effects-laden production; and its operating losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars a week this fall, as the box office faltered.


“We will see nothing back, not a cent,” said Terry Allen Kramer, a veteran Broadway producer who put about $1 million into “Spider-Man.” “A lot of us feel that it’s an extraordinary show with lousy music, but the main problem is that the budget numbers were a disaster — just a disaster.”

“an extraordinary show with lousy music”. I love that quote.

As the paper of record notes, the show cost somewhere between $1 million and $1.3 million a week to run; weekly grosses went below $1 million in August.

By the end of September, the musical was heavily discounting tickets and its weekly gross had fallen to $621,960.


And the show was also saddled with payments on multimillion-dollar priority loans from a crucial investor, Norton Herrick, and from the show’s lead producers, Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris. (Priority loans made by lead producers and others, and repayment schedules that favor them over regular investors, are standard on Broadway shows that need quick capital to deal with cost overruns.)

That’s…interesting. The producers got their loans repaid up front, and the regular investors will apparently get…nothing. (According to the NYT, those priority loans were at least partially repaid.)

Also: Gene Simmons is the Green Goblin!

Spider-Man, Spider-Man…

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

closing on Broadway in January.

While the musical emerged to become an audience favorite, grossing roughly $1.5 million a week in ticket sales for a time, “Spider-Man” eventually lost popularity. It grossed only $742,595 last week, or 48 percent of the maximum possible amount, with about three-quarters of its seats filled at the Foxwoods Theater.


While “Spider-Man” has grossed $203 million since performances began in November 2010, the musical is still a long way from paying back investors who contributed to the $75 million capitalization. Mr. Harris said he did not know how close “Spider-Man” was to recouping the money. But ticket sales sometimes barely covered the show’s weekly running costs, which exceeded $1 million, so there was relatively little profit to share with investors. Some loans also had to be paid back first.

But don’t worry: the producers are planning to move the show to Las Vegas.

In other news: “King Kong“, the musical?

Important safety tip (#18 in a series)

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

A while back, I suggested the words ‘f–king” and “b-tch”, along with the conjugate “f–king b-tch”, do not belong in a professional email.

To that list, I now suggest that the word “whore” be added.

Also: pay the writer! But that’s not really a “safety” tip…

You spin me right round baby right round…

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

The Astros have broken their team record, and are now at 108 losses.

The team is off tonight, and starts their final series against the Yankees on Friday. Remember, the Astros have to win 2 out of 3 in order to avoid 110 losses.

And by the way, the Yankees won’t be playing in the post-season. I note this here just because it will make this guy unhappy.