Monthly Archives: October 2005


I like Harold Pinter‘s plays and, over the years, I’ve generally put myself on the same side of the political spectrum as him. But recently, his anti-Americanism has gotten completely out of control even for a Bush opponent like me.

That said, his Nobel speech will be one to hear, whether the content is palatable or not. I suspect it won’t be particularly literary.

Put out the bunting: Amity Shlaes is no longer writing for the FT

Sometimes you do get what you wish for. On September 6 I reached the end of my tether with Amity Shlaes in the Financial Times (not that I ever had much tolerance for her). Now Jurek Martin, a long-time FT mensch (and former cricket teammate of mine), writes in to say she’s gone.

My faith in the FT is restored. Now, about those tired op-ed columnists in The New York Times…

Hope, at long last

Mathew Gross: “Suddenly, with just a few more people putting it together, I can see the other side — the light at the end of the tunnel — and I start to think we might make it out of this alive. All the problems still stand, but if we could have someone, anyone other than this guy at the helm, we might make it.”

The different way of US politics

Tom Runnacles: “I see nothing in the faux-populist moralism of the GOP that would fly at all in the UK. It’s evident that amongst very many Tories, this pretty basic message has still not been fully assimilated. Blimpishness amongst the Conservatives is an important part of their problem; blimpishness with a Texan swagger is highly unlikely to be any kind of solution.”

Whatever happened to the customer is always right?

One of the unheralded problems with moving to the US after many years abroad is that I don’t exist as far as credit rating agencies are concerned. I may have 25 years of a perfect credit history in Britain, but in the US that doesn’t mean squat.

That hasn’t mattered since I moved back. Until today.

My wife is flying to London on Sunday to have her long-awaited visa interview at the US consulate. Obviously we hope it goes smoothly, and there’s not reason to think it won’t. I phoned T-Mobile today to arrange for her recently acquired phone to have international roaming.

Guess what? I can’t. Apparently the “plan” I have from T-Mobile (the phone account is in my name since Tracey still doesn’t exist officially in the US, except as a visitor) requires 12 months use before it can be authorized for international roaming. Why? When they did the credit check on me, it came up blank. So I have the same credit rating as an 18-year old getting his first credit card.

“I understand the problem,” I told the calm-voiced T-Mobile agent on the phone. “I’m happy to put a deposit in my account to ensure you have no risk that I’ll run away with my phone in Europe.” No dice. “Can I speak to someone who has the authority to do that?” No. I’ll be able to get international roaming on July 17, 2006, I was not-so-helpfully told.

So T-Mobile doesn’t want me to ring up lucrative international roaming charges. It doesn’t want me to deposit a significant positive balance in my account, on which they can earn interest, to guard against any risk.

I slammed down my phone in anger. Two of my co-colleagues (see Martin Lukes passim) were jolted out of their seats, startled by my behavior. I’m among the calmest persons most people know. But not when I encounter such astonishing corporate stupidity.

T-Mobile: aaargh!

T-Mobile is a dumb, dumb company.

Grumpy Microsoft?

Grant McCracken on Microsoft: “Geez, we may not have a ‘singularity’ to look forward to, but grumpy, what’s-in-it-for-us small mindedness is not the stuff out of which great brands ever come.”

I’ve pretty much abandoned Office for OpenOffice, and Gmail has taken over for Outlook. I’m testing my Linux laptop, but that might be a step too far. We’ll see.

Judging Miers

Jack Balkin: “When the chips are down in his Administration, Bush has shown his true colors as a business conservative who above all wants a smooth ride for capital. That is what Miers offers.”

Balkin provides the best analysis of the Miers nomination I’ve read. But I’m not sure about the “smooth ride for capital” that Balkin describes. Robert Rubin provided a smooth ride for capital. A steadily worsening fiscal position isn’t so smooth.