The Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters has temporarily moved about four meters:
Actually, some of the office simply moved into the International Data Center:
(The IDTIDC is behind the dressing screen in the corner of the room.)
All of this comes about because of the 95-year-old windows that the guys can finally replace today. I say "finally" because I ordered them in October. It took six months because (a) they new ones had to be custom-made to match the rest of the 95-year-old building; (b) that took three months; and (c) one typically does not want to replace windows in Chicago during the coldest February in 25 years.
Today it's 9°C, it isn't (yet) raining, and it's about time.
Obligatory photos of ripped-out windows to follow.
Now that the press have had a couple of days to digest the Bush Administration's anti-terror legal memos, a consensus of sorts is emerging:
Yale law professor Jack Balkin called [the memos] a "theory of presidential dictatorship. They say the battlefield is everywhere. And the president can do anything he wants, so long as it involves the military and the enemy."
The criticism was not limited to liberals. "I agree with the left on this one," said Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. The approach in the memos "was simply not a plausible reading of the case law. The Bush [Office of Legal Counsel] eventually rejected [the] memos because they were wrong on the law, and they were right to do so."
In a similarly outrageous bit of memorandizing, the Tribune on its Metromix site completely failed to include Duke of Perth in its list of the best fish and chips in Chicago. I mean, "skate crusted in panko with fries tossed in garlic oil, Pecorino-Romano and chives"? I'd bet it wouldn't even stain a paper towel.
All right, that's not in the same league as asserting dictatorial powers and destroying American democracy, but then again, all politics is local.
Yes, he's shrill, and often offensive, but today I think Mark Morford gets it right:
You are fuming in disbelief. How can I not see it? How can the vast majority of the country not see it? How is it that no one but you and a few manic fringe writers seem to notice that President Obama is either A) a thinly veiled socialist commie instigator hell-bent on destroying America from the inside out, or B) nothing more than a cleverly disguised corporate-loving Bush clone because, oh my God, haven't you seen his policy on H1Bs and faith-based initiatives and his nefarious plan to take over the banks and, um, something else you can't quite remember right now but you're sure is really, really damning?
... Oh, you poor dear. What utter, crushing frustration you must feel. Especially since the other side, the conservative side—maybe it was your side?—had its grand shot at running the show. It ran every sour idea, pushed every extreme right-wing economic scenario, wasted trillions on a failed war, spit on gays and kowtowed to the fundamentalists and shoved the country so far to the right we fell off Ted Haggard's massage table.
... [T]he fact that his extraordinary, nation-altering agenda is right now infuriating the hard right and the hard left, exasperating the Wall Street sycophants and confounding armies of TV pundits and prognosticators, even as he inspires millions of "regular" Americans to get off their butts and do more with their lives, well, this is perhaps the truest sign of all.
Then there's Thomas Friedman today:
Two signs of the times: First, a banker friend remarked to me that you know your bank is in trouble when its share price is less than the cost of taking money out of one of its A.T.M.s.
Second, go to Google and type in these four letters: m-e-r-e. Before you go any further, Google will list the possible things or people you’re searching for, and at the top of that list will be the name "Meredith Whitney."
Finally, a question I have: can we blame the Chinese for successfully cursing us to live in interesting times?
Economist business-travel blogger Gulliver reports on British airline Ryanair's customer-service standards:
Jason Roe is an Irish blogger who noticed what he thought was a bug on Ryanair's website. The price of the flights he was trying to book changed when he accidentally went into the voucher section. Thinking he had found a way to beat the budget airline's credit-card fee, he duly blogged about it—and in so doing unleashed hell. The tenth commenter on his blog was "Ryanair Staff #1"...
As Travolution, another blog, noted, "We have seen the IP addresses of the commenters and they all trace back to Ryanair HQ". It seems Ryanair's employees are referring to a blogger, on his blog and in their company's name, as an idiot, a liar and a man with a "pathetic life".
Travolution followed the matter up with Ryanair and got this confirmation from a spokesman:
"Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion.
"It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won't be happening again.
"Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel."
Ryanair's CEO then went on to suggest adding pay-to-go coin boxes on his airplanes' lavatory doors.
I'll just keep flying oneworld carriers, thanks.
Update: Lots more over at Travolution.
Crain's Chicago Business reports today that the pension liabilities of several prominent employers have exploded just as their assets have imploded:
Boeing Co.'s shareholder equity is now $1.2 billion in the hole thanks to an $8.4-billion gap between its pension assets and the projected cost of its obligations for 2008. At the end of 2007, Boeing had a $4.7-billion pension surplus. If its investments don't turn around, the Chicago-based aerospace giant will have to quadruple annual contributions to its plan to about $2 billion by 2011.
... At Peoria-based Caterpillar, shareholder equity dropped more than 25% from the previous year after the company booked a $5.8-billion pension shortfall and its plan went from 93% funded to 61% funded.
That means Cat has to pay an additional 1.5 percentage points of interest to keep its untapped credit lines intact, according to SEC filings. Its pension assets sank 30% last year, and this year's contribution will more than double to about $1 billion. A Cat spokesman declines to comment.
In many cases these pension deficits will hurt exactly the people who need them most.
It's good to know who wears the pants in the Republican Party. This from Democratic Party chair Tim Kaine will clarify:
I was briefly encouraged by the courageous comments made my counterpart in the Republican Party over the weekend challenging Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the Republican Party and referring to his show as 'incendiary' and 'ugly.' However, Chairman Steele's reversal this evening and his apology to Limbaugh proves the unfortunate point that Limbaugh is the leading force behind the Republican Party....
Intellectual consistency is important.
By the way, I do think the Republican Party will return to being a force of moral and political authority someday, as they were in the 1850s and 1860s. And when that happens, I'll be happy to explain the historical irony to my great-grandchildren.
Two (probably related) items via Talking Points Memo: a reversal in a San Francisco death-penalty case, and a release of nine Bush Administration memoranda.
In the first case, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey had overruled the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco and pressed for the death penalty in a murder case. New AG Eric Holder has reversed the DOJ's position:
The Down Below prosecution has been a searing episode for the local U.S. attorney's office. The original prosecutor on the case, Richard Cutler, opposed seeking the death penalty against [defendant Emile] Fort and co-defendant Edgar Diaz. After the Justice Department took the opposite stance, the administration sent an investigator to San Francisco to question Cutler about the case. Cutler left the office soon thereafter.
... Fort's new deal will be much the same as the one Mukasey rejected....
The DOJ's document release sheds some light on the last eight years. Not much light, but it's an improvement over total darkness. Titles include:
- Memorandum Regarding Constitutionality of Amending Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to Change the "Purpose" Standard for Searches (09-25-2001)
- Memorandum Regarding Determination of Enemy Belligerency and Military Detention (06-08-2002)
- Memorandum Regarding Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities within the United States (10-23-2001)
That last one, by John Yoo, should scare anyone who's ever read Orwell or Huxley.
Who else is glad we have a new President?
From the New York Times the last few days, three articles worth reading. First, the story of AIG:
When you start asking around about how A.I.G. made money during the housing bubble, you hear the same two phrases again and again: “regulatory arbitrage” and “ratings arbitrage.” The word “arbitrage” usually means taking advantage of a price differential between two securities — a bond and stock of the same company, for instance — that are related in some way. When the word is used to describe A.I.G.’s actions, however, it means something entirely different. It means taking advantage of a loophole in the rules. A less polite but perhaps more accurate term would be “scam.”
Second, "In Letter, Warren Buffet Concedes a Tough Year:"
In language that was by turns blunt and witty, he decried what he called “a series of life-threatening problems within many of the world’s great financial institutions.” An inveterate optimist about the American economy, Mr. Buffett also forecast an eventual recovery, asserting that the country has faced even more severe economic travails in the past.
Finally, a Canadian journalist points out that her country's banking system is fine:
Canadian banks are known to be risk-averse, and this has served them well. While their American counterparts were loading up their books with risky mortgages, Canadian banks maintained their lending requirements, largely avoiding subprime mortgages. The buttoned-down banks in Canada also tended to keep these types of securities on their books, rather than packaging them and selling them to investors. This meant that the exposures they did have to weak mortgages were more visible to the marketplace.