28 January 2004

A few notes around the Internet this morning…
  • Amazon has declared its first annual profit. That is, if you accept traditional accounting definitions of profit—and there is more than one GAAP in that logic. Reading between the lines, if Amazon was a "traditional" brick-and-mortar retailer, analysts would be decrying its (virtual equivalent of) poor same-store sales performance.
  • Similarly, Time-Warner has reported an operating profit, as opposed to its $45 billion loss a year ago. Some of that loss, however, was at least as illusory as any that I've seen reported, being founded on the indefensible and bizarre notion of "goodwill" as an accountable asset. There is little doubt that the merger of AOL and Time-Warner was a bad idea; it's just that the particular numbers being bandied about have about as much relationship to reality as Vietnam-era body counts.
  • Over at The Atlantic, one can see that spin control over Iraq is up to at least 45 rpm and getting faster. We've now got the administration blaming "incompetence" in the intelligence community for the decision to go into Iraq on inadequate evidence. Hogwash. The intelligence community is far from blameless; but George III and his people should take a close look at what George II did to the community in 1989 and 1990 before asserting that any "incompetence" was the community's own "fault." Clinton and Reagan didn't help, either; but let's keep this in the family. It's rather ironic that George II had served as Director of the CIA and yet hired so many policymakers who had nothing but disdain for HumInt and the providers thereof. On the other hand, the policy people didn't cause all of the problems; there's plenty of blame to go around, and we can't forget the bureaucrats.