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. Coheartedly, Tom 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: Capitalism: 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 income. 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 bankruptcy. ************************************************************* Barbie Loves Math Commentary by Maureen Dowd http://www.nytimes.com/partners/aol/homepage/index.html 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 scandal. 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 Intelligenceshttp://www.co-intelligence.org/multiIntelligence.html 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 recently. 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 Schwartz. 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.