Wednesday, March 13, 2002  [!]

breezy breezy breezy.

CNN: National Geographic tracks down the famous photo subject Remember that green-eyed girl with the haunted look on her face? She was about 13 at the time... married soon after. She never saw that famous photo....until she was recently located. National Geographic story about her: A Life Revealed

Bizarre six-month anniversary Mail from INS stuns flight school Your efficient government at work.

WASHINGTON -- Six months to the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a Florida flight school where two of the suicide hijackers trained received letters from the Immigration and Naturalization Service indicating that the men had been approved for student visas.

Another story: Dead 9-11 Terror Suspects Get Visas

"I am astonished that while the INS is fixated on detaining and rounding up countless Arab-Americans without any justification, it has failed to take basic steps to ensure that visas are not issued to known terrorists," said Conyers, D-Mich.

Having a cow over Enron This is from Alan Abelson's Up & Down Wall Street column in Barron's magazine (1/28/02). It tickled my funny bone, and I hope that it fits into fair use. It's one of those ways of understanding various political systems, and Alan himself got it sent to him from an email.

Under feudalism, you have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk. Under fascism, you have two cows. The government seizes both, hires you to take care of them and sells you the milk. Under communism, you have two cows. You must take care of them, but the government owns all the milk. Under capitalism, you have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies; you sell out, invest the money and retire on the income.

With Enron, you have two cows. You borrow 80% of the forward value of the two cows from your bank, then buy another cow with 5% down and the rest financed by the seller on a note, bearing interest at twice the prime, callable if the market cap of your publicly listed company, whose stock you've put up as collateral, goes below $20 billion. You sell the three cows to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at a second bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated unit, plus a tax exemption for five cows.

To continue: The milk rights of six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Islands firm secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report trumpets that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. All of the above transactions are cheerfully blessed by your independent auditors, who, of course, served as consultants on said transactions, but only after the fact.

You're all set now to disclose, via press release and conference call with analysts, that Enron, a major owner of cows, will begin trading cows over the Web. Analysts proclaim Enron the prototypical New Economy company, bull the shares to the moon, enabling you to sell huge gobs of the stock and use part of the proceeds to buy a top-of-the-line shredding machine.

Please, things ain't what they used to be, thank you very much The Decay of Manners [via MeFi]
We rush through life in such a hurry these days, that there is little or no time or thought for the refinements and courtesies that in the good old days of our grandparents were considered necessary to good manners.
From a newspaper dated 11/19/02—that's 1902