Enron smiles & 2 announcements


Jan Slakov

Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 10:21:14 -0800
From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Two announcements and a few Enron thoughts

Dear friends,

Here are (1) an announcement of major improvements in my website, with
links to some new articles, (2) an announcement of Vicki Robin being on
radio this Valentines Day and (3) three thought-provoking articles about
Enron.  Enjoy.

NOTE FROM JAN: I changed the order.
3)  I can't spare the time at the moment to do a proper writeup on my
thoughts on the Enron situation, but the following items provide unique
perspectives on it:  The first [THIRD] is a factual account of the role women
played.  The next two are humorous descriptions of "Enron Economics".
These two humorous pieces on Enron Economics came from Michael Dowd:

A concrete-truck driver moved to Texas and bought a donkey from an old
farmer for $100.  The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.

The next day, the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry, but I have some bad
news.  The donkey died."

"Well, then, just give me my money back."

"Can't do that. I went and spent it already."

"OK, then. Just unload the donkey."

"What ya gonna do with him?"

"I'm going to raffle him off."

"You can't raffle off a dead donkey!"

"Sure I can.  Watch me.  I just won't tell anybody he's dead."

A month later the farmer met up with the readi-mix driver and asked, "What
happened with that dead donkey?"

"I raffled him off.  I sold five hundred tickets at two dollars apiece and
made a profit of $898."

"Didn't anyone complain?"

"Just the guy who won.  So I gave him his two dollars back."
In case you were wondering how Enron came into so much trouble, here is an
explanation reputedly given by an Aggie professor to explain it in terms his
students could understand:


You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the

Enron Venture Capitalism:

You have two cows.

You sell three of them to your publicly traded company, using letters of
credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity
swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back,
with a tax exemption for five cows.

The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a
Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells
the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report
says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.

Repeat as necessary until you have $62 billion in assets, then declare
Barbie Loves Math
Commentary by Maureen Dowd

Hollywood is trying to figure out how to turn Enron into a TV movie.

How do they take all the stuff about "the contingent nature of existing
restricted forward contracts" and "share-settled costless collar
arrangements," jettison it like the math in "A Beautiful Mind," and juice
it up?

Enron is such a mind-numbing black hole, even for financial analysts, that
if you tried to explain all the perfidious permutations, you'd never come
out the other end.

A movie executive asked Lowell Bergman, the former "60 Minutes" producer
who is now an investigative reporter for The Times and "Frontline," for the
most cinematic way to frame the story. (Mr. Bergman had the ultimate
Hollywood experience of being played by Al Pacino in another corporate
greed-and-corruption saga, "The Insider.")

"It's about the women up against the men," he replied.

Before you know it, Enron will be Erined, as in Brockovich. Texas good ol'
girl, fast-talking, salt-of-the-earth whistle-blower Sherron Watkins will
be Renee Zellweger in a Shoshanna Lonstein bustier. The adorable and
intrepid Fortune reporter Bethany McLean, the first journalist to sound an
alarm about Enron's accounting practices, will be look-alike Alicia
Silverstone. And Loretta Lynch, the tough California utilities czarina and
Yale-trained litigator who questioned a year ago what Enron did that was of
any value to consumers, will be look- nothing-alike Angelina Jolie,
sporting power plant tattoos.

"From the beginning of the California energy meltdown, women were not
afraid to point a finger at the seventh-largest corporation in the U.S. and
say `You can't do this,' " Mr. Bergman told me. "And the electric cowboys
at Enron, where the culture had a take-no-prisoners, get-rid-of-
any-regulation, macho perspective on the marketplace, was aggressive when
it came to shutting them up."

As a Texas writer says: "This was Jeff Skilling's club and there weren't a
lot of women in his club."

At first, the slicked-back Gordon Gekko C.E.O. and his arrogant coterie in
the Houston skyscraper - where men were wont to mess around and leave wives
for secretaries - dismissed female critics.

Some privately trashed Ms. Lynch as "an idiot" and coveted Ms. McLean,
calling her "a looker who doesn't know anything." But when they realized
the women were on to them, the company that intimidated competitors,
suppliers and utilities tried to oust Ms. Lynch from her job and discredit
Ms. McLean and kill her article.

When Ms. Watkins confronted Kenneth Lay with her fears last August, he knew
the cat was spilling out of the beans, as Carmen Miranda used to say.
Within two months he had to 'fess up to $600 million in spurious profits.

(In Houston's testosterone-fueled energy circles, many men watched Linda
Lay crying on TV and muttered that in Texas, there is nothing lower than
sending your wife out to fight your battle.)

As a feminine fillip, there's Maureen Castaneda, a former Enron executive
who revealed the shredding shindigs there. Ms. Castaneda realized something
was wrong when she took some shreds home to use as packing material and saw
they were marked with the galactic names Chewco and Jedi, which turned out
to be quasi-legal partnerships.

Only 10 years after Mattel put out Teen Talk Barbie whining "Math class is
tough," we have women unearthing the Rosetta stone of this indecipherable

What does this gender schism mean? That men care more about inflating their
assets? That women are more caring about colleagues getting shafted?

It is men's worst fear, personally and professionally, that women will pin
the sin on them, come "out of the night like a missile and destroy a man,"
as Alan Simpson said during the Hill-Thomas hearings.

There has been speculation that women are more likely to be whistleblowers
- or tattletales when they are little - because they are less likely to be
members of the club.

Some men suggest that women, with their vast experience with male blarney,
are experts at calling guys on it.

At Enron, it was men who came up with complex scams showing there was no
limit to the question "How much is enough?" And it was women who raised the
simple question, "Why?"

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
1)  I have good news for those of you who've had trouble dealing with the
Co-Inteligence Institute's overwhelming and confusing website (especially
the homepage).  With the help of my friend Kenoli Oleari, I've managed to
reorganize and simplify the initial layers of that site (including the
homepage) and make it more attractive.  While the whole site could still
use many more improvements, I think you'll find the new format much more
fun and useful to work with for now.  (For those more comfortable with the
old format, the new home page provides a link to the old home page.)

I posted several new articles on the site during the remake, that I wanted
to alert you to, since I'm not sending the full texts out to my list:

a) "Intelligence" http://www.co-intelligence.org/I-intelligence.html which
I pieced together from some other writings after discovering there wasn't
any place on my website where I actually discussed what intelligence is!
Associated with this is a more complete writeup of "Multi-Modal
Intelligence and Multiple

b) "A Cycle of Dynamic Coherence"
http://www.co-intelligence.org/I-CycleOfDynCoherence.html an evolutionary
model of wholeness that existed in diagram form but wasn't written up until

c) "Using Co-Intelligence In Your Own Life"
http://www.co-intelligence.org/usingCIinLife.html which is a chapter from
an earlier book manuscript, written at the insistence of my friend Jeff

d) "Using Synergy, Diversity and Wholeness to Create a Wisdom Culture"
http://www.co-intelligence.org/I-SynDivWhol.html written late last year,
and one of my favorites.  I was thinking of sending this to my whole list,
but thought it a bit long and theoretical for some folks.  It describes the
theory underlying my approach to holistic politics. It explores the "more
than" in the common phrase "the whole is more than the sum of its parts" --
especially analyzing different types synergy and the ways in which the
whole and part embody, contain or connect with each other. The resulting
lessons are explicitly applied to the challenge of evoking the wisdom of
the whole on behalf of the whole.

I've also created a new donations page
http://www.co-intelligence.org/donations.html which includes a quick and
simple way to donate online by credit card in amounts as small as $1.  You
can imagine how much I'd love you to visit it!


2)  My friend Vicki Robin, co-author of "Your Money Or Your Life" and
organizer of many recent community "conversation cafes" on 911 and other
subjects is going to be on the National Public Radio lunchtime program Talk
of the Nation on Valentine's day Thursday Feb 14.  Talk of the Nation goes
from 11 am to 1 pm.  She'll be talking about the 911 conversation cafes she
organized recently in Seattle.  You can find your nearest NPR station at
http://www.npr.org/members/ .  Note that not all NPR stations carry Talk of
the Nation so, if you're not sure, give them a call beforehand.

Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * PO Box 493 * Eugene, OR 97440
http://www.co-intelligence.org *  http://www.democracyinnovations.org
Please support our work.  *  Your donations are fully tax-deductible.