I Hate Steven Singer

Every time I travel down to Philly, I see the “I Hate Steven Singer” billboard on I95. Now I finally know what this is all about.

Note: Updated to include the new link.



After 20,109 miles, four countries, and more hours in planes than I can remember right now, I’m home. The silence is defeaning here, after 10 days of planes, cars, hotels, people, noise, construction, motorcyles, tourists, wildlife, water, and all the other noises that abound.


Crazy Comments

So, I was looking back through some of my entries from the past few years. As expected, very few have any comments.

And then there are these gems.

“I Hate Steven Singer” – 13 comments & I’m the #1 result in Google for that phrase.

HP Software Sucks – 3 comments since the beginning of January & I’m the #2 result in Google for that phrase.

Lillian Pair – 3 comments since the beginning of January & I’m the #1 result in Google.

39:4-94.2B – 1 comment, but I’m the #2 result in Google.

I’ll have to finish this retrospective later, but who would have thought?


By the way

We think we’re designing and buying the “latest” “cool” electronics back home, but what they don’t tell you is that Asia really is keeping all the good stuff for themselves. Cell phones that record and play full motion video while also getting TV and high speed internet access are common, not rare like they are back home. Full 1080 HD was everywhere along with the slickest widescreen plasma and LCD tvs. Stores were stocked with Blu Ray burners. There was an entire aisle in one of the electronics stores devoted just to mice, in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. Laptops and desktops came in design and color combinations we never see. There are whole genres of video games you’ll ever know about. Nintendo Wiis were plentiful. And Compact Flash cards were available with 8 gbs of storage, which even Bryan might have a hard time filling with his camera in a single day.


Amusement Cafe

First I read about them. Then I saw the video. Even so, I had to see for myself. So I hopped the subway line and headed to Akihabara, the electronics district, to find the maid-costume-wearing Japanese women who allegedly wander the streets on Sundays.

First, though, I headed to Asakusa, on the recommendation of the nice young Japanese woman frmo Beijing who sat next to me on the flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok. I spent about two hours wandering the area, doing some shopping in the arcade which reminded me so much of my time in Kyoto almost five years ago. Then it was on to the shrine, where I experienced Sunday “church” in typical Japanese efficiency. Toss in a coin, do a quick prayer, and on your way you go. So much for the whole standing and kneeling thing.

As it turned out, though, the maid-costume-wearing girls really do exist in Akihabara, where they are routinely followed by hentai old men easily three times their age trying to take pictures and even paying for better quality pictures that some of the girls themselves were selling. I suppose it’s commerce in action, much like the Amusement Cafe, which also tries to cash in on the trend. It would have been the quintessential quirky Japanese experience to have actually gone in, but, unfortunately there was a pretty long line and I didn’t feel like waiting to spend time solo in what is an obviously social place. A shame, really, but since I know where they are, I’ll have to find them if the trend lasts until my next trip.

And given Japan’s obsession with maid-costume-wearning girls, I doubt that will happen.


Proudest Accomplishments

The thought just struck me – my passport, with all its stamps representing the places I’ve seen, is one of my proudest accomplishments.

It doesn’t hurt that I’m nearly out of space.

Listing of Countries

  • Canada – 3

  • Mexico – 1

  • Costa Rica – 1

  • Brazil – 1

  • Argentina – 1

  • UK – 2 *

  • France – 2

  • Spain – 1

  • Japan – 5

  • South Korea – 1

  • China (Hong Kong) – 1*

  • China (Macau) – 1

  • Singapore – 2*

  • Malayasia – 2

  • Thailand – 2*

  • Cambodia – 1

* Does not count multiple entries on a single trip.

List of US States

  • Alaska

  • Hawaii

  • Washington

  • Oregon

  • California

  • Nevada

  • Arizona

  • Utah

  • Minnesota

  • Texas

  • Michigan

  • Florida

  • North Carolina

  • District of Columbia

  • Maryland

  • Delaware

  • Pennsylvania

  • New York

  • Massachuesetts

  • Connecticutt

  • Rhode Island

  • Vermont

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey (of course!)


The Problem With

I’ve discovered that there’s a problem with nice hotels and hotel rooms. When you stay in a middling place, one without too many creature comforts, you’re motivated to go out, to explore, to see the city or wherever it may be. After all, staying put doesn’t buy you anything but bordeom.

When you’re in a hotel room with plasma TVs, DVD players, satellite, Internet, and all the modern conveniences you could want, why do you even need to leave?

This becomes even more true when you’re staying in the top of the line suite.

I finally emerged from my hotel in Bangkok sometime in the mid-afternoon, heading over to, of all places, Siam Paragon, one of the trendiest upscale shopping experiences around. If you’ve ever been to the Short Hills Mall, you have an idea of what I’m speaking of. Just add in a gourmet food market, standard Asian food courts, aquariam, exhibition hall, 20+ screen movie theatre, and you’re getting closer. And don’t forget, you need to link Short Hills Mall via a courtyard to, say, the Bridgewater Commons and connect that to Menlo Park Mall.

When going to Asia, really, there’s no better thing to do than shop, so shop is what I did. I picked up a few items and souvenirs. Wandering through Asian shopping centres provides a window in to our future, where some of the mediocre technology ideas might eventually show up. For better or worse, the best ideas never seem to reach these shores, and when they do, they are usually scaled down, weaker versions of the original.

No where is that more true than cell phones.

In fairness, the rest of the day was spent making arrangements, including intiating a conversation to see condos in Bangkok on Friday.

And to catch a few hours of shut eye before heading to Cambodia early the next morning.


Feeling Like Laundry

I know what it’s like, since I’ve done it before. But no matter how good you are, traveling for 30 hours across 12 time zones is exhausting. Being trapped in a long tube in cramped space, you come to understand what your laundry must feel like, especially when there’s turbluence. Missing out on two good nights’ sleep before the trip and staying awake intentionally for most of the flights doesn’t do you any favors, either.

When I arrived in Bangkok all I could think of was sleep. Although the airport was new, we still had the same intolerable ride to the immigration line via a shuttle bus. We packed in to these busses, all the 200 or so passengers, exhausted at midnight local time. Immigration itself proceeded quickly, though not quick enough for my tired mind and body, and suddenly I was thrust out in to the 80 degree heat and humidity. The crowd in the arrivals area, even at that time of night, was loud and boisterous. There was no doubt I was back in Thailand.

Within the hour I was in the nicest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. So nice, in fact, it took an extra 45 minutes before I could figure out how to shut off the lights to head to bed and finally sleep.


From the Only in Japan Files

Only in Japan…

…will you find TV talk/game shows too bizarre to follow.

…will you see on MTV a music video with four Japanese teenagers in short, pink pleated skirts, CURLING, for Christs’ sake.

…will all the commercials be produced with oversytlized graphics that lend a “kawaii” element to even the most routine products.

Yes, it’s good to be back.



One of the side effects of traveling on these multi-country “tours” is a lot of time in airports, planes, cars, and trains. While there’s not really all that much about waiting to get somewhere that’s truly exciting, the plus side is I’ve had a chance to work off a three or four month stack of BusinessWeek magazines. Reading so much back to back gives you a funky perspective on their articles.

Take this one titled “A Little Blue Pill for Women?”, about a female version of Viagra.

Drug development is never easy, however, and flibanserin faces a tougher road than usual. There’s an ongoing controversy about whether or not a female analog to erectile dysfunction even exists. In October, the Endocrine Society issued guidelines cautioning that sexual dysfunction, if it exists at all, may have nothing to do with any “defect in the woman’s physical sexual response system.” The Society concluded that the most common current treatment, testosterone, should not be recommended. The big question: If a woman doesn’t experience physical desire, is it a medical condition, like inadequate blood flow in men, or something purely psychological? “Maybe she just doesn’t like the guy she’s with,” says Washington (D.C.) psychotherapist David Waldman.

I’ll let you read in to that paragraph what you will, but I doubt the debate about Viargra was whether erectile dysfunction was caused because “he just didn’t like the woman he’s with”.

In that same issue, the cover story was about How Business Trounced the Trial Lawyers, which gives us insight in to how Business has made significant strides in getting tort reform done throughout most of the states. However, there’s a concern in the business world that tort reform might go to far. Could it be business is concerned that individuals might have, from time to time, legitimate grounds for complaint?

Sitting in a conference room high over Houston’s Galleria neighborhood, James L. Reed Jr. and two other attorneys from Looper, Reed & McGraw contemplate the new legal landscape. Looper Reed’s 60 attorneys represent small and midsize businesses, so one would presume that their clients have only benefited from the new environment. But Reed notes that there has been a “ripple effect” from the changes that is affecting commercial cases, too. His colleagues J. Cary Gray and Jack Rains, both self-described conservative Republicans, agree.

“It’s a hell of a lot harder for one of our clients when a contract gets breached to collect all of their damages,” complains Gray, noting that conservative judges take a very narrow view of what kind of damages they will even allow a jury to consider. In general, Gray says, he thinks many Texas judges are “afraid of big verdicts coming out of their courtrooms,” even in a dispute between businesses. Citing a group of rice producers he and Gray represent and the limits they may face on their claims, Reed notes: “They’re starting to get educated about how much tort reform is too much tort reform.”

No, as it turns out, from a vantage high above Houston, in their glimmering tower, the titans of Business have decided that when they screw each other, they can’t successfully sue anymore. That they may harm individuals who no longer have recourse through the courts is irrelevant – they’ve accidentally shut off their OWN legal options as well. Boo-hoo!

The article that took the cake, in my opinion was on Steve Jobs and the backdating of options. Turns out there’s a serious question about how involved he was and how much he knew/approved, and the reports coming out haven’t really clarified the situation very much.

Jobs is a master marketer whose 30 years of experience have sharpened his skill at creating stylish, breakthrough products. He combines not just hardware and software smarts but a sense for how all that technology must fit together with the music, movies, and other content consumers want. Jobs proved that in his stewardship of Pixar Animation Studios Inc. (DIS ) before it was sold to Walt Disney & Co. (DIS ) a year ago, and in forging agreements with music companies and Hollywood studios to create the iTunes marketplace. The reward for shareholders: Apple’s stock price has climbed 1,025% since Jan. 1, 2001, just before the iPod era began, to a total market value of $72 billion.

That’s why few expect Apple’s board to push Jobs out even if the government does move against him. Some suggest that it would hang tough with him even if criminal charges were filed by the Justice Dept., which is a remote possibility for many reasons. So far, the government has found sufficient grounds to indict only five executives on backdating out of all those at the 200-plus companies involved in the scandal. It’s not easy to prove that an executive intended to deceive shareholders rather than just engaged in sloppy paperwork, say lawyers. And there would be hell to pay for going after Jobs given the damage that could be done to Apple’s investors, customers, and business partners. Says Harvard Business School management professor David B. Yoffie: “Obviously, these are inappropriate activities that anyone should be ashamed of. But it wouldn’t be in shareholders’ best interests to have Steve Jobs leave for something that happened four years ago that didn’t have a material impact on their holdings.”

In short, Steve came back to Apple. Apple made lots of money for shareholders. Steve may have been at least careless or incompetent on this matter, if not acted illegally. But Apple made lots of money for shareholders. So Steve should stay and the government should leave him alone, even if he acted illegally.

At least Jack Welch, from time to time, writes some good commentary on the last page. Take this article on corruption globally.

Now, anyone who has ever put in a new kitchen knows that renovations always cost twice what you expect, but an $11 billion overrun certainly seems to suggest that, yes, there is corruption in America.

But it’s rare?comparatively. We recently returned from a trip to Latin America where we met with hundreds of business people in Brazil and Argentina. Their stories of ubiquitous corruption, much of it at the hands of the government, were chilling. Tax evasion is widespread; enforcement is spotty. In Argentina, several CEOs told us that if you attempt to conduct business without playing by the unwritten rules imposed by layer after layer of government bureaucrats, an army of tax auditors arrives at your door, paralyzing your company and often times staying until an employee or two goes to jail.

He goes on to point out similar scenarios throughout most of the world. So, before you complain about “corruption” being a major issue in the US, keep in mind that we’re well ahead of most of the world on this front. Unless you’re talking intellectual corruption brought on by some of these BusinessWeek articles.

No one’s asking you to pay US$40,000 to be able to pick from the box that will let you miss out on being drafted in to compulsary service, afterall, like in Thailand.