Aug 15, 2009

Steve Forbes' Desperation For Bestseller Credibility: Having Employees Expense His Book [Forbes]

You'd think Steve Forbes would be content having his name slathered all over his various properties. You'd be wrong, because Forbes wants to be the author of a bestseller, too. Badly. Badly enough to spend company money buying his book.

Forbes recently authored a book on the megalomaniacs who proceeded him historically, called Power, Ambition, Glory. The book aims to teach CEOs (or CEOs-in-training) lessons drawn from history: basically, it aspires to be The Art of War For Dummies. From the tipline, Forbes is so desperate to win wars on behalf of his own ego, he had employees buy his new book en masse in order to get it on the bestseller list:

It's very important to Steve that he be considered a successful author and a serious scholar. So he (or someone that works for him) instructed the Forbes sales staff to buy the book - every day, several times a day, in different stores, especially when they travel, so that it will help inflate the book's sales figures. They can expense these purchases and the company will presumably write off the cost. Using this technique, they successfully got the book into the top 100 on Amazon during the first week of release, but it's flatlined since then.

Ah, yes: maybe Steve can take a cue from his own book, and remember that time Napoleon Bonaparte failed when he tried to move in on Russia in the winter, and then later, when Hitler did the same thing. Both attempts miserably failed, because they didn't know what Russia in the winter was actually like. Hopefully Forbes - while trying to move in on bestseller lists with a shitty book - won't try too hard to make the same mistake. Seeing as how his company's hitting tough times, spending the last year laying off and consolidating staffs, Forbes shouldn't any his ammo fighting battles he can't win. As we all know, the Ruskie-esque menace that is James Patterson's The Angel Experiment pulls no punches.

Aug 14, 2009

Designer Impostors [Pic Of The Day]

[Fake Sean Connery, fake Johnny Depp, fake Rod Stewart, and fake Elton John mingle at the Sunburst Convention of Celebrity Tribute Artists in Orlando. Image via Getty]

Twitter Inc.'s Not-So-Private Moments [Lifecasting]

Barely two months ago, Twitter staff were said to barely use their own service. Now they're in danger of turning into a bunch of Julia Allisons.

Earlier this week, co-founder Evan Williams and his wife live-tweeted a labor, as well as the first moments of their baby son's life. Plus his naming. It was all very sweet.

Now Alex Payne, who heads up Twitter's API team, has announced the news of his engagement, and posted a picture of the ring. So did his fiancée, with the caption, "LOOK WHO'S ENGAGED, BITCHES!!"

It's all very w00t worthy, but what's with the wave of private moments from Twitter staff? When the third one hits, we're just going to come out and ask whether there's some kind of internal bonus program or something. In the meantime, we'll just congratulate them, both on their moments and their candor.

Krepie Kats in: "Kentucky Fried Fallopian Tubes Wrestle You to the Ground Until You Promise to Watch "Glee" This Fall!!" [Kreepie Kats]

[The Kreepie Kats are not happy about Victoria Beckham or the new Melrose Place. But being gay is cool!]

"I Get It. Florida. Flo Rida." [Open Caption]

[Inglorious Basterds director Quentin Tarantino gets blown away by the rapper during his performance outside the Today show. Image via Getty]

Beware the Ides of August [Journalismism]

Tomorrow is August 15, when we wade into the thickest weeds of summer, sleepy and slow. Everyone's on vacation (or sad they're still working), media B-teams helm the control rooms and Page One meetings, and bullshit stories blossom like gladiolas.

August is so dead it's not even suitable for ginning up a war, as former White House chief of staff Andy Card famously noted. Everything's in reruns, and without even an Olympics to distract us in an odd-numbered year, the most specious, pointless, specious stories expand to fill the empty afternoons and turn into cable-news wallpaper. Only in August could the preposterous notion of "Obama's death panels" get a full week to be chewed over, analyzed, rebutted, and generally taken seriously. Absent a dead white girl, we can look forward to at least two more weeks of faux-stories and false outrage as desperate cable-news producers cast about to find something for their fill-in talking-heads to scream about.

We decided to revisit some stories from Augusts past, using the Drudge Report Archives as our guide, to remind ourselves that it was ever thus and always will be. August is the time when the nuts come out to play.

2008: Well, Russia had just invaded Georgia, and the presidential campaigns were largely quiet leading up to their conventions at the end of the month. But it was on the Ides of August that we learned that bigfoot had been found:

Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, a pair of Bigfoot-hunting hobbyists from north Georgia, say they found the creature's body in a wooded area and spotted several similar creatures that were still alive.

2007: Drudge saw fit to link to, and Fox News saw fit to actually run a story about, a South Carolina prison inmate who filed a handwritten lawsuit against Michael Vick for $63 billion, claiming that Vick stole his pit bulls, sold them on eBay, and used the money to buy missiles to give to Iran because Vick had "pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in February of this year."

"Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes," Riches writes in the complaint.

2006: It was actually an uncharacteristically newsy month, and the lamest story we could find that Drudge linked to on the Ides of that month was about woolly mammoth sperm:

BODIES of extinct Ice Age mammals, such as woolly mammoths, that have been frozen in permafrost for thousands of years may contain viable sperm that could be used to bring them back from the dead, scientists said yesterday.

2005: We learned that you could grow meat in a test tube, a story that crops up every few years (here's the same story last year) and proves to go no where, but which was wacky enough to entertain Drudge readers for a minute or two:

Once the cells have grown enough, they could be scraped off and packaged. If edible sheets or beads are used, all of it could be eaten.

2004: the Ides fell on a weekend, so the nearest weekday gave us this twofer of perennial Drudge favorites: Weird crime and robots. The links are sadly dead.

2003: We learned on August 15 that Judge Roy Moore's Ten Commandments, which were illegally placed in a state judicial building, were not going anywhere, g-dammit:

"I have no intention of removing the monument," he said at a press conference in Montgomery. "This I cannot and will not do."

The tradition goes back ages. It was on August 15, 1912, that the New York Times published this letter, which can imagine even as we write flashing across Sean Hannity's teleprompter tonight:

We can't wait for our vacation.

[Photo via Flickr by Chaval Brasil.]