Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Civic Pride

James Capozzola over at The Rittenhouse Review is not impressed with Philadelphia's new slogan:

In case you didn’t notice, and for that you cannot be blamed, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce last month adopted a new slogan, catch phrase, or tag line, what have you, to promote business and development in “Greater Philadelphia,” which, keeping in line with the city -- and region’s -- perpetual state of misguidance, apparently is a place and not an aspiration.

It goes like this, if you can believe it: “Select Greater Philadelphia: The Place to Prosper.”

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, that smart, sprite, snappy, rolls-right-off-your-tongue slogan will be the center of “a $16[-]million, four-year branding effort designed to bring businesses to the region.”
All I can say is that over in the eastern reaches of the Commonwealth, they're just a little slow. Here in Pittsburgh for the last six monhts we don't just have a slogan, we have a core theme:
Accomplishment through connected individuality -- linking vital individuals, vital communities and vital resources.
and we have a brand promise
We will connect you to the people, resources and communities you need to accomplish your goals.
But whatever we do, we aren't supposed to call it a "slogan".

Monday, November 24, 2003

The End of Summer

The last few days have been gorgeous. Temperatures in the mid-60's, cloudless skies, all sorts of good weather stuff. Even this morning, I was standing outside the car dealer waiting for my ride home thinking what a nice day it appeared to be. Now, it's snowing hard enough to settle on the neighbour's roof, and I assume ours. I guess the Indian summer has past.

Do they get it yet?

Today is wireless number portability day, being hailed by one and all as a one of the few occasions when the Bush Administration will actually do something for consumers. Today, the threat of mass switching is supposed to make the cell phone companies see the light and finally start providing customer service.

In the spirit of contrarianism, I decided to change my phone number today! Actually, my last financial tie to Austin has ended, and I no longer feel the need keep a local number there, so I wanted to get a Pittsburgh number since it is easier to give to businesses here.

So I called Sprint, and after two voice mail systems and about five minutes on hold, I find myself talking to a person. Who tells me that my wife needs to call them since our mobile service account is held in her name rather than mine. Oh, but she needs my phone when she calls so that she can reprogram it. OK, so she can't easily call during business hours, since I have my phone and she is in her office.

She calls anyway, and that old customer service really kicks in. What it boils down to is that the best date for us to change my phone number is the fourteenth of any month. If we don't change it then we are going to incur a raft of fees and prorated charges and so forth because we will be off our billing cycle and they don't like that. Oh, and to get a new phone number on our second phone on the account, we need to sign a new contract locking us in for another year, because we will need to get a new account. Customer service of this caliber really makes me start looking over at Verizon and thinking that we can just carry her number over there, and get me a new one with no more hassle than we are experiencing trying to stick with our current provider.

Political update

South Knox Bubba has a nice roundup of recent GOP political efforts to appear liberal -- make that "compassionate" -- while doing the opposite of what they say. Curiously he avoids using the word "liar".

On Again, Off Again

The French Grand Prix has been saved for 2005 and beyond, and will "take a break" in 2004. I still think that the teams were beinding Bernie Ecclestone's ears about the strain on personnel that would result from having four races in five weeks on two continents. This saves them that for next year, and in 2005 the FIA will have a chance to rework the schedule to avoid such problems.

This also drops the total number of races next year to seventeen, which is rumored to be the total mandated by the Concorde agreement (the governing document of Formula 1). It still isn't clear how the FIA is going to continue to add new venues and not drop any existing ones. This year Bahrain and China are both hosting their inaugural Grands Prix, and the last few years have seen the (re-)additions of the United States and Malaysia.

The obvious solution would be to consider dropping one of the two races that Italy and Germany each have, but the FIA and Ferrari have a special relationship, and BMW and Mercedes are both wielding a lot of power at the moment, so I suppose that it will be somewhere like Hungary that gets the chop next.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Silly Season Continues

Traditionally the motorsports silly season starts in August and peters out some time in September. That's when most of the decisions regarding teams and venues for the next year ar set, and the rumors fly about who's going where and when.

This year, well into November odd bits of news are coming out. First McLaren announces that Juan Pablo Montoya, formerly of CART and currently of Williams-BMW has a contract to drive for McLaren-Mercedes in 2005. That's got to adversely affect two of the three top teams on the grid this year -- with JPM racing for Williams as a lame duck and the McLaren drivers knowing that one of them is in the same boat, but officially not knowing which. Ferrari's gotta be loving it.

In the meantime, there is all the weirdness about the Canadian Grand Prix and whether or not in can happen without tobacco money. This still isn't certain, but it's looking probable now. Now, suddenly, new sources are reporting that the French GP is also in trouble, and will likely be removed from the schedule for next year. This is probably going to be a relief to the teams. It looks the schedule had two sets of back to back races only separated by one week off, and pulling out France will give them three weeks to recover from doing three races (Canada, US, Britain) in four weeks.

There are suggestions that this isn't going to be the last of the upheavals before the end of this year. Given how much turmoil has occurred so far, that seems to be a safe prediction!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Poor, poor CBS

Sometimes a network just can't get a break. First the right wing fringe goes nuts over a biography of Ronald Reagan, leading to CBS's "independent" decision to pull the show off the air. Oops, there goes four hours of sweeps month programming to be replaced by reruns of whatever cop shows they have lying around. Now Michael Jackson is about to be arrested on charges of pedophilia, and boom, another planned blockbuster is lost.

Still, don't feel too sorry for CBS. The second linked article does point out that

Despite the two cancellations, CBS is dominating the November ratings period.
which reflects rather badly on the efforts of ABC, NBC, and Fox.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The Liberal Media in Action

Today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette has two major stories above the fold -- the Massachusetts Court Decision in favor of gay marriage, and the President's state visit to London. But I think somebody must have been having some fun. In the top left corner of the paper is a large headline "Victory for Gay Couples in Mass." In the top center of the page (basically next to it) is a picture of George Bush and Charles Windsor, looking for all the world as if they are walking arm in arm. The effect is quite amusing. For the next week or so, a pdf version of the front page can be seen here, although the separation between the two stories seems a little more obvious in pdf than in the paper that landed on my driveway this morning.

Clark on Fox

From Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, I see this clip of Wesley Clark vigorously defending himself from one of Fox's talking heads. In general I think that Kerry would make the best president among the Democrats running for office, and have thought so since the early days of the campaign, but I do like to see candidates actually stand up for themselves instead of folding, and this six or seven minute clip is pretty cool.

Ugh

It is pissing down at the moment -- we have flood warnings out, although I don't suppose we'll look anything like Houston did this week. Unfortunately the dog is busy telling me [1] that it would be a good idea to take him for a walk in the next few minutes. The sad thing is that he doesn't like the rain either, so he probably won't actually use the walk in the manner which it is intended.


[1] Not Son of Sam stuff, but of course the dogs talk to me. They just have a limited vocabulary. About four phrases: "I gotta go out", "I see a school bus/delivery truck", "I see another dog", and "I see a squirrel." The last three are actually fairly distinct, and I normally know what they're seeing.

GP Saved

I've been quiet lately on the F1 front, but this news is just too good. After much back room wheeling and dealing, the Canadian GP has apparently been saved and will be back on the calendar next season. This is great news, and not just because it happens to be the closest GP to Pittsburgh, and the one where we can get free babysitting!

As a result of these factors, Montreal is the only GP I have attended live. It is astonishingly easy to do this. The race itself is on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, and the only access for ordinary punters is via subway. This, combined with the massive downtown party all GP weekend, means that it is very feasible to just get a hotel room in the city and enjoy yourself.

One interesting thing to watch, however, will be the effect that scheduling will have on the North American races. Traditionally the Canadian GP has been in June and the USGP (in Indianapolis) at the end of September. Next season, however, the two races will be one week apart, both in June. Given the cost of tickets -- several hundred dollars for a full weekend -- it seems that the two races may end up cannibalizing each other's spectator base. While the Canadian GP has regularly filled its stands, the USGP often seems to have empty seats. If I were Tony George, I'd be a little bothered by this turnaround in the schedule, and what it will mean for my revenue.

Dissed for Infrequency

If I thought that everything was about me, I'd consider this post from Chuck to be a direct attack on the infrequency with which I add new entries here. For the record, however, not only did I go to Trinity, but I shared a bathroom with Chuck. And what a bathroom it was...

Monday, November 17, 2003

Who is Laura?

I don't know who Laura is, but she appears to have replaced every entry in my blogroll with a linkt to Laura's Blog. A quick reading of the site suggests that I'm not the only person who's lost a blogroll, and she's taking some abuse for it, despite being blameless. It seems rather a shame that blogrolling doesn't have a prominent statement about the problem on their new page, since it looks like the fault lies somewhere on their end.

Now I just have to hope that they haven't lost my blogroll, since I don't have a personal backup and it will probably take a while to rebuild. In the meantime, I guess today will be more productive than usual!

Update:Good. It looks like nothing was lost, just a little glitch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Late to the Party

Via the Sideshow, I discovered and read this essay by the improbably named Kim du Toit, first posted about a week ago. I can only hope that it is satire, but I rather suspect it isn't. If it isn't satire, however, then it is unintentionally hilarious.

Also, via TBogg, I see that du Toit has had some response to the original piece.