Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rush Limbaugh's 'failure' billboard debuts

A traveling billboard with the slogan "Americans didn't vote for a RUSH to failure" made its first appearance earlier today in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Dancing Woz

Last night I tuned in to ABC’s Dancing With the Stars for the very first time, solely for the purpose of watching Steve Wozniak dance. I’m not a Woz fan or anything (although we do have a soft spot in our hearts for him here at Failure as he did one of the first-ever Failure interviews ), but I kept hearing about Dancing Woz, and finally decided to tune in.

As it turns out, what I’d been hearing seems to be true; Woz is the ultimate underdog. And it’s quite brave of him — or perhaps masochistic — to keep going out there even when it’s clear that he can’t dance worth a lick. If it was up to the judges, he’d have been booted off the show long ago.

Last week, Woz and his dance partner (who is almost an afterthought, by the way) scored just 10 out of 30 points. And last night they did only marginally better, earning 12 out of 30, prompting the judges to refer to Woz’s routine as “long — there wasn’t much going on there,” and to say, “This is an improvement from last week … but last week was so terrible almost anything would be an improvement.”

As you may know, though, the judges aren’t the sole decision makers in regard to who “wins,” as viewers get to vote too. And thanks to the efforts of Vote Woz! and his army of geek fans, Wozniak (and dance partner, I don’t even know her name) are garnering enough votes to dance another day. While I’m not quite sure how the voting process works, I believe we learn whether Woz advances again on tonight’s episode. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Destined for 'World's Worst Criminals'

We don't often comment on the personal failures of individuals - but how's this for a "bad day"? According to the Connecticut Post, on Jan. 29 of this year David Maksimik, 59, a convicted bank robber, woke up and went to a local bank (People's United in Darien, Connecticut), brandishing a gun and fake grenade. He proceeded to rob the bank and escaped with $3,745 in cash. So far, so good.

But while fleeing the scene in his '92 Toyota he rear-ended another car, forcing him to ditch the Tercel. After a bus ride, a trip in a taxi, and a ride from his sister, he finally made it home, where he found his fifty-something roomate unconscious on the floor. He called 911, but it was too late. His roomate had successfully committed suicide.

Meanwhile, Maksimik's behavior made the police suspicious, and while tending to his roomate found the stolen $3,745 in a bag on Maksimik's bed. The flustered bank robber then proceeded to waive his rights and confessed. Now he's charged with bank robbery by force, a federal charge that carries a 20-year prison sentence, along with a long list of other state charges, including reckless driving.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

20th anniversary of Exxon Valdez disaster

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster. KTUU (NBC Channel 2 in Alaska) has comprehensive 20th anniversary coverage.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Avoid wearing any AIG apparel"

Two days ago AIG issued a memo to its employees advising them to "avoid wearing any AIG apparel with the company insignia," and to "avoid public conversations concerning AIG" -- to name just two of the many security-oriented safety guidelines listed. The memo seems prudent. After all, A.I.G. employees have reportedly been receiving death threats. And Connecticut Working Families is planning a bus tour of A.I.G. executives' houses on Saturday March 21, a "field trip" designed to give passengers the chance to vent their anger.

Ironic AIG magazine ad

While researching an upcoming Failure magazine article, I stumbled upon a particularly ironic AIG magazine ad, one that presumably predates the recent "strength to be there" campaign. This particular ad states: "Opting not to buy our insurance is your right. But we'll be taking your money anyway." If nothing else, AIG proved to be prophetic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fail: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Today, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer — at 146 years old, the city’s oldest newspaper — published its last print edition, commemorating its closing with a 20-page special section. However, the paper will continue to live on — online - at least for the time being.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fail: Man goes over Niagara Falls, survives

Word out of Niagara Falls, Ontario, is that a man has survived a plunge over Niagara Falls. Prior to today, the last person known to have survived a plunge over the Horseshow (Canadian) Falls was Kirk Jones, a onetime auto parts salesman from Michigan who took the plunge on October 20, 2003.

But the story of the first person who went over Niagara Falls is perhaps most interesting. On October 24, 1901, an impoverished Annie Edson Taylor, 63, went over Horseshoe Falls in an oak barrel, believing the stunt would make her a wealthy woman. But her get-rich-scheme failed miserably as her manager stole her barrel, hired a young sexpot to play her, and took the Annie Taylor Show on the road without her. She died penniless on the streets of Niagara Falls.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maytag Repairman is going to be busy

Today Maytag Corp. announced that it is recalling 1.6 million refrigerators due to the possibility of electrical failure in the relay component that turns on the refrigerator's compressor, a flaw that poses a serious fire hazard. Maytag claims that 41 incidents have already been reported, with 16 resulting in varying degrees of fire or smoke damage. To find out if your refrigerator is included in the recall or to set up a free in-home repair call 866-533-9817 (toll-free). Information is also available at repair.maytag.com.

Or if you're just feeling nostalgic about the good ol' days when the Maytag guy had nothing to do watch the original Maytag Repairman commercial.

"AIG: Is the Risk Systemic?"

Following is a link to a pdf of AIG's February 26 report to the federal government about the potential consequences to the U.S. and global ecomony should the firm collapse:


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Connecticut School of Broadcasting fails

The 44-year-old Connecticut School of Broadcasting — a private broadcasting school with 26 campuses in 16 states — abruptly shut down yesterday and announced today that it will seek bankruptcy protection.

Furloughs better than layoffs

Last year “Bailout” (“a rescue from financial distress”) was Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year. In 2009, “furlough” (“a leave of absence from duty …”) has to be to considered the early favorite to earn that same distinction. But if there’s anything positive to be gleaned from employers’ increasingly common use of layoffs, it’s that they reflect a new orientation towards sacrificing for the collective good. In the past, employers would have favored layoffs, which disproportionally affect the few while insulating the vast majority. In the case of furloughs, everyone takes a small hit, spreading out the suffering amongst an entire group, which reflects a ‘sacrifice for the greater good’ ethos that has been missing in American society in recent years. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.