May 2003


Lawyer's disclaimer:"the opinions expressed in Microwaves101 are those of His Excellency the Unknown Editor, which are known to be correct, and must be accepted by all".

Wazzup? Thanks for asking! I'm sick of hearing friends and colleagues beat up on the nation's newspaper, USA TODAY, that's what!

We've all heard this one hundred times…

Read the "McPaper" and hour later you're hungry for real news…

Guess what? I happen to like the McPaper. Especially when almost every national hotel leaves one outside my door for free. Traveling gets old when you're away every other week, but waking up to a familiar paper is one way to keep it together. Who wants to read local news while visiting a city that no one gives a crap about? Examples: Dallas news. Atlanta news. Pittsburg news. Who cares? Point well taken. Let's face it, the average hometown paper sucks. How much advertising do you need? Half of the print on a city paper is ads these days. Great if you a training a puppy, but of limited value otherwise.

People get a superior feeling when they bash USA TODAY by claiming that its news coverage is "not in-depth". These are the same clowns that reach for the comics first when they pull their hometown paper out of the mailbox. The truth is, the average Schmo doesn't need in-depth news coverage for every freaking story that goes down. What are you, writing a term paper on Iraqi POW dental flossing habits, you phony intellectual? Next time you want to kill a few hours, read your favorite newspaper, then compare it to USA TODAY to see which paper is missing any major stories.

You wanna learn how to write concise? Just read USA TODAY. See how good writers take complicated stories, form them into salient paragraphs, then distill the paragraphs down to the shortest possible size while getting the message across. You work with anyone that can do that every day? Even the all-knowing Unknown Editor is not in this league.

What gets me is the average FI (stands for phony intellectual but allows them to feel superior because we have misspelled it!) likes to make Power Point presentations with bullets that contain no verbs. Do you know what a verb is? A verb tells the audience that you actually did something! How many times do you see a slide that says something like this:

Gallium Nitride Roadmap
Band gap 2.3 to 4 millivolts
Something about gate length
Cost: $240K

I sit through crap like that all the time and it is all I can do not to shoot the dork presenter in the eye with a laser pointer. What is the takeaway message? Were your results good or not? What about the band gap? Are we getting our money's worth? Whenever you make presentation charts, make them so that someone can figure out what your point is, even if you get run over by a car driven by an irate editor (like My Excellency). Click here to learn more writing skills!

Know this about USA TODAY: it was founded due to one newsman's vision. The smart money said that a national newspaper could not be a profitable enterprise… color print on newspapers was impractical and foolish waste of money… distribution across four time zones was impossible… basically it was a fool's errand.

USA TODAY is a huge success for Gannett. And it became profitable in less time than the initial business plan suggested. How did this happen? Most importantly, through a lot of hard work, long hours, and making deadlines. Al Neuharth was a slave-driver, but he got the job done. Being a good boss sometimes involves kicking ass and taking names, not kissing your lazy employees' asses while you lay them off and raid the pension plan.

USA TODAY was not just one great idea, it was a pile of great ideas. National news, color on every page, controlled placement of advertising… who thought of selling the newspaper by backing up the truck to major hotels every morning? This distribution plan is a piece of cake! Maybe one half of the hotel papers get read, that's why the hotel pays significantly less than the $0.50 cover price. And every time you look at color in your hometown rag, you can thank Al Neuharth, who wouldn't take no for an answer on this issue and shamed everyone else into it. The paper goes through four separate sets of rollers, and maintains registration within a few thousands of an inch, at speeds like 60 miles an hour, at hundreds of print shops all over the country that use many different types of equipment. Too bad we can't make microwave thin-film networks this efficiently.

Where am I going with this? Microwaves101 is a great idea… the Unknown Editor has a vision for the web site, big time… and good writing is not always an intellectual big deal. But don't look for a daily comics page any time soon on Microwaves101, you cretin. If you're not down with this concept, go pretend to read the New York Times, and say hello to a picture of your girlfriend Hillary C. for me.

By the way, Microwaves101 is not in any way affiliated with USA TODAY, so if you thought this was a puff piece for revenue, you be wrong! Now go study the new Microwaves101 chapter on FETs.

Klaatu, Nickto, Barrada!


Want more info about USA TODAY, or simply want to read today's news without paying fifty cents? Check them out at And as always, check out the Unknown Editor Archives for previous diatribes.