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October 30th, 2003:

Another one bites the dust

Yet another Enron exec has copped a plea.

Former Enron executive David Delainey, a close business associate of former CEO Jeff Skilling, pleaded guilty today to one count of insider trading and agreed to cooperate in the government’s Enron investigations.

Delainey agreed to pay the government $4.2 million, and he also entered into an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to hand over an additional $3.7 million. As part of that deal, he has agreed not to serve as an officer or director of any traded company.

Delainey, a 37-year-old Canadian citizen, left Enron in March 2002 as the chief executive officer of Enron Energy Services, the retail contracting business arm of the company. He’s also been CEO of Enron North America.

Delainey was said to have been a favorite of Skilling in the company. He took over EES in 2001 and was one of the names bandied about on Wall Street in the late summer of 2001, just before the company’s fall, for a top position at the company after Skilling left and Lay was looking to groom someone new.


Attorneys watching the Enron cases believe Delainey could help the government get to Skilling.

One can damn well only hope. The Frog March Orchestra is awaiting its cue. Don’t let them down.

Hogwarts Headaches

I can see a future Surgeon General’s warning: Reading too much Harry Potter may be hazardous to your health.

A Washington doctor warned that he has seen three children complain of headaches caused by the physical stress of relentlessly plowing through the epic 870-page adventure.

Call them Hogwarts headaches, named after the wizard school that Harry attends.

Dr. Howard Bennett of George Washington University Medical Center wrote in a letter to this week’s New England Journal of Medicine that the three children, ages 8 to 10, experienced a dull headache for two or three days.

Each had spent many hours reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

After ruling out other potential causes, Bennett told his patients to give their eyes a rest. But the spell cast by the book was clearly too powerful.

“The obvious cure for this malady — that is, taking a break from reading — was rejected by two of the patients,” Bennett said, adding that the children took acetaminophen instead.

In each case, the headache went away only after the patient turned the final page.

Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series, has nearly three times as many pages as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book, and J.K. Rowling still plans two more tomes.

“If this escalation continues as Rowling concludes the saga, there may be an epidemic of Hogwarts headaches in the years to come,” Bennett predicted.

And you thought video gamer’s thumb was a big deal.

Now, I may not be a doctor, but I bet I can diagnose the real problem here.

[voice of every woman I’m related to, wife and any future daughters included]

“How can you read in the dark like that? You’re going to hurt your eyes!”


Someone tell the NEJM they can expect my monograph real soon now.

And still nastier

In the final televised debate before the election (and may I say that with all the debates and candidate fora we’ve had, no one can legitimately claim to be unfamiliar with the three hopefuls), Bill White and Orlando Sanchez stepped up their attacks on each other.

White, CEO of a large investment firm, questioned whether Sanchez would be capable of running City Hall with its staff of 20,000, asking how many employees he has had in his work history.

Sanchez responded with an attack of his own.

“You’re running to represent big business, Enron-size business,” Sanchez said. “I’m a small-business person.”

White pointed out that Sanchez did not answer the question.

“I’ve built many small businesses, and I know how many people report to me,” he said.

The runoff will be such fun if this is the lineup for it. While Sylvester Turner threw jabs of his own, the other two mostly let him be.

Given an opportunity to question each other, White and Sanchez acted more like runoff opponents, attacking each other instead of Turner. White even complimented Turner’s commitment to after-school programs.

The most recent polls show a fairly close race, with White leading the field and Sanchez in second place. If the two do make it into a runoff, neither would want to alienate Turner’s supporters.

Some time ago in a world championship bridge tournament, a highly regarded team from Poland seemed to try to throw a round-robin match against an overmatched opponent. Their apparent strategy was to alter where they finished among the top four qualifiers so that they would face a squad from Iceland in the semifinals instead of a Brazilian team that was considered to be stronger. The Poles wound up winning that match anyway, so their gambit failed. As it happened, Poland beat Brazil, and faced Iceland in the finals, where the team they thought they’d handle easily in the semifinals clobbered them.

I was reminded of that story as I read about how Turner, currently running third in the polls, is being allowed to be above the fray while White and Sanchez attack each other. It would be pretty ironic if the negativity turned off enough voters to allow Turner to get into the runoff. White has more to lose from this in the general election, since Turner seems to be likelier to pick up disaffected White supporters, but if he makes it to the runoff he should be in good shape. I can’t see Sanchez successfully wooing too many Turner voters, not after his orgy of using the Clintons as a club against White. As noted before, Kevin sees it differently.

It’s almost jarring after reading that article to peruse this Houston Press cover story on Bill White. No one in this piece, and that includes White’s ex-wife and a former boss who lost a million bucks investing in a business White set up a few years back, had anything negative to say about him. That’s pretty amazing, and quite the contrast to this earlier profile of Michael Berry, in which there was no shortage of naysayers.

UPDATE: Christine comments on a Sanchez TV ad that has stuck in her mind.

The Pearl brewery

Here’s a great story about the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, which was purchased last July (not longer after I’d noted that it was having difficulty finding a buyer) by a San Antonio-baed company that appears to be committed to preserving and restoring the historic site. That’s excellent news. Check it out.