Australia is looking to fill six dream jobs, from outback adventurer to chief funster. What sort of qualifications do you need to be the CHIEF funster? Read on.» Read More
Last week I told you I got one of those international emails asking for help in dealing with money. You know, “I live in Nigeria and I’m looking for someone to help me locate $10 million my father left in a bank account.” The writing is usually contorted and only the most stupidly greedy among us would respond. The email I most recently received offered me a job helping a Malaysian company (selling something vague) make deposits in the U.S.
I was given the assignment of covering David Beckham’s official introduction to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Major League Soccer team that has invested millions in him. His base salary is $5.5 million a year, about 50 times the norm. But that salary could balloon to as much as $50 million a year, based on performance bonuses, new sponsorships, and revenue sharing. Galaxy ticket sales have already soared $20 million since announcing Beckham would join the team.
Today I am reporting on how beef and dairy prices are being affected by the drought, the heat, the price of gas, the price of corn (thanks, ethanol), the global markets, the alignment of Jupiter, the itch under my right foot, blah blah blah. Mostly I wanted an excuse to get out of the office and go meet some real people on the farm. Most of you probably don't realize that California is farm country--it leads the nation in just about every crop. For this story I went up to the Central Valley (think "Grapes of Wrath") to talk to some ranchers.
OMG! After writing my previous blog, I received the following email. No lie! (ok, I've edited it down because it runs on...) So, please email me with suggested responses at firstname.lastname@example.org.Here's the email: "Dear Sir/Madam! Would you like to work online from home/temporarily and get paid weekly? We are glad to offer you a job position in our company, Prisma Desiran Sdn. Bhd.
Have you been the lucky recipient of one of those overseas emails seeking "help" in locating some missing millions or "advice" in investing a bazillion dollar windfall? The writer is always looking for a nice, honest American--like me. They clog my inbox at work no matter how many filters I put up. Now someone is writing back. Tony Phillips is doing via email what some of us used to do on the phone in the pre-"do not call" days--talk a telemarketer to death in a fiendishly circular conversation.
Do you ever notice those clever "banners" which flash on screen during stories? How can you not? They're omnipresent, even oppressive. You know, "Hilton's Check-Out Time" when Paris leaves jail, or "iMania!" for the iPhone buildup. Often the banners end with question marks, which is a feeble attempt to push the envelope: "Is Bill Gates Evil?" "Steve Jobs a Jerk?" (translation: we think so, but we have to be "objective" so let's just pose the question).
Someone at Cadbury Schweppes has been into the sauce. The beverage giant is teaming up with Vita Food Products this week to introduce three new BBQ sauces and marinades at the Fancy Food Show. The sauces are based on--get ready--Dr. Pepper, A&W Root Beer, and 7UP (7UP on ribs? Not right).
In a scientific tie-in to the new Picture film "Ratatouille" (do scientists do this on purpose?) lab humans observing lab rats have determined that rats who've been helped in the past "pay it forward." This is, they claim, the first proof of "indirect reciprocity" in non-humans. In other words, rats that were helped in the past are more likely to help a stranger in the future. The report was published in Los Biology, an online open access journal (the same place I found the stuff about fruitflies having free will--what a gold mine that site is).
Hard to believe, but not everyone is buying an iPhone. In fact, 290 million Americans are probably going to take a pass. People like, well, you? Certainly people like LA commodities trader Ed Frank, who jokes, "What's an iPhone?" Frank's own cell phone gets stares, not because it's new, but because it's OLD. Really old. It's a Motorola StarTAC, which he bought nine years ago! In the last century.
Thankfully, sometime in the next couple of days, the first Apple iPhone will be sold and the 290 million Americans not buying one can go back to their normal, boring lives. Look, the thing looks absolutely iFabulous, but can it clean my bathrooms? No. Next! A firm called M:Metrics says it's been trying to gauge actual, honest-to-goodness-minus-the-media-hype interest in the device, and has found..
You have to admit, Canada is the best neighbor on the planet. But now Canada wants Americans to know she will no longer be taken for granted as the girl next door! The Canadian Tourism Council says Canada is "tired of hearing that it's too nice, too pretty, too pristine and too safe." Gee, I bet Iraqis would love to have that rep. WE'D love that rep. But the Canucks are touting the country's "new personality and make-over," like some sort of silicone implant, with a new slogan "Keep Exploring."
Hilton's check out time: She is free at last. Now we'll see if Paris Hilton has truly changed. Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime. She checked into jail as the most reviled woman in America. While there, her silence bought her some sympathy. What now? Will the "new Paris" become more like Princess Di, less like Anna Nicole? More Angelina, less Britney? Personally, I hope she surprises us all. Meantime, we have not changed, readers. And part of me thanks you for that.
Paris The Thought: It all starts anew this week. With Ms. Hilton leaving jail, email me with suggestions on how she might effectively rebrand herself. Seeking big money from networks has backfired--especially since she doesn't actually need money. Perhaps she should have said the dough would be donated to programs that help inmates. Yes, it's easy to crack wise (and feel free to!), but, seriously, what should she do now? There's a CNBC coffee mug in it for the most thoughtful reply.
Citigroup Chairman Sandy Weill told our Mary Thompson this week that people should start giving their money away even before they have a lot of it. Ok, that's a great idea, though it's a bit easy for him to say. Weill and his wife have generously donated $250 million to Weill Cornell Medical College, and he feels passionate about it. Now we have the scientific proof behind that passion.
On Friday I poked some fun at Shirley Jones for sending out a press release when Florence Henderson reportedly called her a nasty name. Well, I got an earful on the phone from Jones’ husband, comedian Marty Ingels, who wanted to know if I’d be willing to print a rebuttal. I said, “Absolutely! Every word!” Oops! Last night in the ol’ email inbox I got a four-page scanned hand-written letter from Ingels. Here it is, the whole thing...
CIO.com is an online resource for Chief Information Officers, you know, the head IT guys. And whether they live here or in India, they share a common fate: doomed to a maze of pipelines, processes, and Bluetooth earphones. The site recently did a survey over which wireless devices create the most "buzz" around speakers (BlackBerry Pearl is the buzziest). But my favorite recent column (yes, it's true, I occasionally read something called CIO.com) is titled "Dairy of a Tired CTO."
'm a cynical person. But it's hard to be cynical at Disneyland. Today I covered the relaunching of the famed submarine ride after nine years, now rechristened the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I first went on this ride when I was a preschooler, so I went in knowing I would be nostalgic, but I had to keep up my journalistic guard! Still, I've gotta hand it to the Disneyland folks. They don't miss a beat.
The “PC versus Mac” ads are THE BEST. And they have now been recognized as such, given the top prize at the 41st Annual Belding Awards, a Tinseltown nod to the marketing industry. The ads were created by TBWA/Media Arts Lab, based in Los Angeles. Ellen Gray of the Philadelphia Daily News wonders if the Geico Cavemen can get their own TV show, why not Mac and PC? Apple could underwrite the whole show! Except, of course, people like me love PC more than Mac.
Good news! A guy suing a Washington, DC area dry cleaner for $67 million over a pair of pants gone missing two years ago has reduced his damages demand to only $54 million! The guy is a judge. A JUDGE! Administration law judge Roy Pearson is suing under the local Consumer Protection Act (that must be some act), claiming signs posted inside Custom Cleaners were fraudulent by promising "Satisfaction Guaranteed." Pearson wants $54 million to make it right. Talk about being taken to the cleaners.
Remember Ben Curtis? He's the actor who played Steven, the "Dell Dude," the only memorable Dell ad campaign ever. Curtis was eventually phased out--he wanted to move on, and there was also the little matter of getting arrested for trying to buy marijuana. Since then, Curtis has done a little of this, a little of that. He was hired to promote Gameznflix, an online game and DVD rental company.