Balance Sheet



Linked Up. A federal judge in Los Angeles rules that so-called "deep linking"–jumping past a Web page's front door to get to content via another site–is not copyright infringement. Surfers are "automatically transferred to the particular genuine Web page of the original author. There is no deception in what is happening."

Play Ball. Baseball opening day in San Francisco means a new privately funded $345 million ballpark. Pacific Bell Park is the first privately built Major League Baseball stadium in 38 years. Other cities still try to fend off demands for public cash from sports moguls.

Weight Gain. The IRS mulls making the cost of weight-loss programs tax deductible. Anti-fat groups lobby with the message that excess weight is closely tied to disease. The IRS recently ruled that anti-smoking programs count as a medical expense. Maybe moderate alcohol consumption can be next.

Blown Out. The Supreme Court rules that the FDA can't regulate tobacco products. Justices say that Congress never explicitly gave the FDA that job, and so the bureaucrats can't claim it no matter how lofty the goals.

Voice Lessons. While the feds futz with new regulations for Web site accessibility, the private sector actually does something about it. The VoiceXML Forum, made up of Lucent, IBM, Motorola, and AT&T, creates a spec that will transform Web links to speech.

Chain Gang. A funny thing happens when big chain drugstores set out to kill Mom & Pop shops: They fail. After seeing their numbers fall by nearly a quarter since 1992, the National Association of Chain Drugstores reports that indie drugstores are again on the rise. Willingness to experiment, nimble stocking to produce bargains, and good service explain why.


Farmed Out. Government surveys show American farmers, bending to a greenie fear campaign, intend to plant 24 percent less genetically modified seed this year. Seed-makers belatedly launch a multi-million dollar effort touting the virtues of science.

Preying Hands. Alighting from the pecked-over remains of Microsoft and big tobacco, state attorneys general turn their gaze to gun makers who, unlike Smith & Wesson, refuse to cut a deal with the government. Subpoenas hit the gun industry in search of an anti-S&W "conspiracy."

New New Thing. President Bill Clinton opens the "White House Conference on the New Economy," thereby ensuring that whatever the New Economy is, it is almost over.

Dilbert Tax. High tax states like New York look to telecommuters as a potential source of revenue. Pajama-clad drones can pay income taxes if their employer has offices in a rapacious jurisdiction.

Wanking Matilda. The Australian Broadcasting Authority notifies Aussie Web sites guilty of violating standards for content that some X- and even R-rated material must be taken down. Some sites respond by moving their servers offshore, but others comply.

Problem Parts. The Federal Trade Commission frets that plans by the Big Three automakers to build an online parts bazaar violate antitrust rules. The Pep-Boys-meets-eBay venture would have $240 billion a year to spend and allow the companies to pool orders, thus saving money.