"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 26 February 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CXX


[what i'm listening to this week- ]

For some IBM employees, the

promise of a lifetime job may be

back - but it may be the length

of the lifetime that needs

adjustment. Big Blue is being

sued by the families of nine

former clean room workers who

have contracted or have died

from melanoma, non-Hodgkin's

lymphoma, renal cell cancer,

breast cancer, and cancer of the

salivary glands. IBM probably

isn't the first name that

springs to mind when you think

of OSHA trouble (though the

topic of toxicity might bring to

mind nature bunnies like Shell

Oil and Union Carbide, also

named in the suit). But this

suit follows a pending class

action filed by nearly 100

employees at IBM's Fishkill, New

York, plant, who have come down

with testicular, cervical,

uterine, brain, colon, rectal,

bladder, and other forms of

cancer. Cause-and-effect in

these cases is famously hard to

prove, and it's one of those

inflexible laws of comedy that

cancer isn't very funny. Still,

is it too much to ask that

Intel's next Bunny People

mystery might involve a

Silkwood-style whodunnit?


[the biggest lie - e. smith]

War is hell, especially if your

nose is shiny or you get that

shadowy thing under your chin

that makes you look fat. As a

battle-hardened combat veteran,

CBS newsman Dan Rather knows the

kinds of problems that crop up

when men take to killing. On 20

February, following the lead of

the troops who would have had to

fight it, Rather ran through a

series of war games to get ready

for an anticipated US attack on

Iraq. Wearing pancake makeup and

referring to a series of

informative graphics, the edgy

anchor spent 20 minutes

detailing an imagined bombing

strike on Baghdad, warning mock

viewers that the number of

casualties was not yet known.

Just one problem: The rehearsal

was broadcast live and without

explanation over a network

satellite, leaving engineers at

affiliate stations - not to

mention people who just happen

to own satellite dishes - with

the mistaken notion that their

country had really gone to war.

A CBS spokeswoman would later

explain that the network had

wanted to test new theme music

before the shooting began. Since

every major news organization

would obviously have to station

reporters in the actual war

zone, one needling question

lingers: Did they figure out

where the swoosh would go on the

gas masks?


[wish the worst - Old 97s]

Bill Gross replaced Adam Smith's

invisible hand with an

outstretched palm this week with

the launch of GoTo.com, a search

engine which sells top result

rankings to the highest bidder.

Although Open Text, the Canadian

Search Engine That Couldn't,

introduced its pay-for Preferred

Listings in the summer of '96,

GoTo one-ups the defunct

directory by proudly displaying

the cost-per-click for each

listing, in an apparent homage

to Minnie Pearl's hats. Gross

claims that supply-and-demand is

"better than any algorithm" for

sorting search results (ignoring

collaborative approaches like

Alexa, which ranks sites by

popularity) - giving a whole new

meaning to "index fund," as yet

another aspect of culture turns

toward the stock markets for its

friction-free future.


[seventeen -carlos!]

At the moment, NBC hopes to

collect as much as US$75 million

from advertisers who want to

purchase time on either the

hour-long Seinfeld finale or the

retrospective that will precede

it. While many ad industry

pundits believe NBC has

overestimated the value of its

event, we think they're not

capitalizing on it enough.

Indeed, given the amount of

attention the rest of the media

has paid to every related development

regarding the final show, $2

million per 30-second commercial

seems like a bargain: In

addition to the exposure on the

show, you're also all but

guaranteed to get excellent

placement in The New York Times,

The Wall Street Journal, the LA

Times, and every other newspaper

and TV news program in the

country. Comparisons to the

Super Bowl are misguided - the

death of Seinfeld is shaping up

to be a media spectacle on par

with the death of Diana. If

MSNBC doesn't offer at least a

week's worth of round-the-clock

coverage leading up to the last

goodbye, we'll be disappointed.

courtesy of the Sucksters