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Welcome to "Funny Business"

Please don’t tell anyone at CNBC about this blog. It is my underground attempt to poke fun at bizarre, money-related news. When you get right down to it, every story, no matter how wild, is usually about the money.

This blog will prowl for the most outrageous evidence of that. Plus, I’m looking for quotes from overly-handled-by-PR-people CEOs, badly written press releases, the “good marketing ideas gone bad,” people with too much money but not enough ideas, and just plain stupid stuff with a business angle.

Britney Spears
Britney Spears

We start with Britney Spears. The newly sober, young mother/divorcee has reportedly frittered away more than half her estimated $32 million fortune, according to “OK!” Magazine. OK! Now you know what I read while you’re reading the Wall Street Journal. Forbes has her wealth pegged in the neighborhood of $100 million, so she may have more cushion than we think.

In any case, rather than have another baby (oops, I did it again), or return to rehab (oops…again), or shave her head (oops…), Spears may have to actually think about recording another album. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland have offered to help, though her ex-boyfriend/mouseketeer says, “She’s just gotta be serious.”

Research That Companies Actually Pay For
Nielsen Media Research reports that while the average American has access to 104.2 channels (you read that right, we average an extra fifth of a channel), we only watch on average 15.73 of those channels (I personally block out the leftover .27 of VH1). This is actually not very heartening when one works for … one of those … channels … like, well. Me.

But my favorite bit of research comes from the University of Florida, which has miraculously discovered that women who get breast enlargement surgery have better self-esteem and feel sexier. REALLY? Why do you think they had the surgery in the first place?? Did they think the two million American women with implants just wanted to fit into larger clothes? Compensate for big hips?

I can’t wait for university funds (i.e., student tuition mixed with taxpayer-funded grants and suspicious big pharma money) to be spent on a study showing that Viagra does the same thing for men!

The tagline for the Gator report: bigger is better. The study queried patients’ self esteem using “widely accepted” scientific scales of measurement, including one called the Female Sexual Function Index, which almost sounds like a stock market metric -- “Rick Santelli joins us from the CBOT where the inflation news has really boosted the Female Sexual Function Index.”

Badly Written Press Releases
Finally, my favorite inscrutable press release so far this month comes from L-3 Communications. Here are the first two paragraphs of an honest-to-goodness release to the media that I think, THINK, says the company is being paid to provide software that lets a bunch of people fighting a war communicate with each other:

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 15, 2007--L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL) announced today that its SYColeman subsidiary has been awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) to develop an advanced intelligent software technology for Future U.S. Army warfighting elements in a network-centric environment. The value of this science and technology development contract is potentially $43 million over 5 years.

To provide "space to foxhole" information sharing, SYColeman will engineer solutions for Vertical/horizontal Integration of Space Technologies and Applications (VISTA) intelligent software technology. VISTA will demonstrate the capability to distribute integrated space products and services in a seamless network capability, supporting all levels of Army Battle Command. This initiative will address corps and theater needs as well as the specific needs of individual tactical commanders at Brigade and below.


Ok, got it. So you’re using Microsoft VISTA to fight a war, right? And I’m not sure what an “integrated space product” is. Other than that, it’s perfectly clear.

Comments? Funny Stories? E-mail FunnyBusiness@cnbc.com

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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