Monday, April 13, 2009


Friends and Readers,
As you have already noticed, I have not blogged in a while and was getting pretty inconsistent. I find that my heart isn't into blogging of late and the guilt I feel over not blogging only makes me feel worse. Additionally, this administration is proving far more rotten and vile than I had imagined, thank you George Bush for setting this up, and my anger and outrage can only last so long before it exhausts me. Finally, I have taken on some personal responsibilities that I find challenging.

As a consequence, I am going to give blogging a break. If and when I feel ready to start again, I will ask KT and Dean to let you know via their blogs. Thank you to those who have been reading and commenting, I hope my attitude improves soon.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weekend Music Chill

For no particular reason, other than I have been listening to exceptionally "smooth" music lately, I wanted to put up Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music doing "More Than This." And hey, who doesn't like 80's music, except Pops of course. If anybody understands the Christian iconography at the start of the video, please comment.

Saving Newspapers

Dean has been commenting about the demise of newspapers here and here. I must admit, I share Dean's fondness for them. It's easier to read them while eating breakfast (and less sloppy) than sitting in front of my computer or scrolling the Blackberry. Government cash is only going to kill the newspaper industry, so I thought I would present a different business model, so they can be saved.

Newspapers have some strengths they should play to. First, they have an unparalleled knowledge of the local community. Second, if they haven't squandered it, they have a reputation for even-handedness in reporting. Finally, and much overlooked, they have a low cost distribution network.

So what's to be done? First, to cut costs, they need to jettison the foreign bureaus and anything else where they can't be be number one or two. Second, they can't compete with the free ads offered by Craigslist and The Reader online, so don't try. Instead they should offer their ads for free on line.

I know what you're thinking, where does the money come from? First, if classified advertisers also want their ad in print, then they get charged, but it is going to be the same ad as offered on line to keep costs down. Second, their traditional source of print ads from businesses will remain, but probably continue to decline. But the key to further revenue streams is to emulate Google and Facebook.

I think that newspapers can successfully compete with Craigslist because Craigslist has failed to monetize their operation, so a monetized operation can probably deliver a better product. Craigslist only charges for a few categories of ads. Newspapers could offer targeted ads based on viewer searches and page views of other ads, advertising on top of advertising, but it already works. Just like Google delivers ads targeted based on user search so can the newspapers. They will probably even want to outsource the technology provisioning to Google, at least initially. Although I would be personally wary of Google's business practices, their failure to prevent click fraud being my chief concern.

Next, subscribers would get online accounts, to go with home delivery, that will allow them to receive coupons or other bargains they can't get anywhere else, to incentivize on line use. Developing a knowledge of consumer preferences from the subscriber base will allow the newspapers to deliver targeted free samples or coupons to their readership. This is intended to emulate the way Facebook delivers ads based on your interests and seems to make good money doing so. This is also something no else can do as cheaply as newspapers and plays to one of their strengths, in distribution. To my knowledge, the only targeted physical advertising today goes through the mail system. Seems like competing with post office shouldn't be too tough, especially with more in depth customer knowledge.

This plan is just a broad outline, and as simple as it appears, I doubt that most newspapers will do anything about it. For some reason, practitioners in dying industries tend to stop innovating and circle the wagons. I hope for a better outcome, so that's my two cents.

Friday, April 3, 2009

More Spending, More Debt

The Senate passed Obama's budget 55-43 today. After eight years of spending excess under Bush, the Democrats are going piling in for seconds thirds and fourths. This will certainly solve our long term problems:
The Obama budget would borrow an estimated $9.3 trillion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, doubling the public debt as a share of the nation's output from 41 percent to 82 percent. The budget calls for nearly $4 trillion in deficits over the next five years.

So where will all this cash come from? KT has been all over this. There are really only two sources left, the Chinese and printing it. The Chinese have indicated they aren't happy with us debasing their investment, so count them out.

As America's biggest creditor, Beijing is now worried about its over-investment in U.S. Treasury debts. "We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S.," Premier Wen Jiabao said last month. "Of course, we are concerned about the safety of our assets." He called on the Obama administration to "maintain its good credit, honor its promises and guarantee the safety of China's assets."

Stand by for inflation, hopefully sooner than later, so we can turn out Obama like a one term Carter type Presidency that we deserved for electing such an unprepared fool.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Punkin' Europe

The fabulous (or not) sculpture, titled Entropa, pictured at right was commissioned by the Czech Republic to commemorate the occasion of taking over the rotating Presidency of the EU. Since my readership is probably not comprised of trendy hipsters of the art scene, this requires some explanation. The sculptor, David Černý, created this 8 ton masterpiece as a sort of unassembled model kit, with each piece representing a member state of the EU. He purportedly brought together 27 artists, one from each member state, to assemble this erection, unveiled in January of this year.

Some of my favorite representations:
The Netherlands - submerged in the sea, with minarets poking up out of the water.
France - with a sign that tranlates "strike" (GRÈVE) is blank because "as a result of the global and local politicial, economic and cultural situation" the artist is on strike.
Romania is a Dracula style theme park.
Bulgaria is depicted as a Turkish style toilet.
And for Dean, Sweden is a large Ikea style furniture self assembly box containing Gripen fighter planes.

Later, Černý admitted that there were no other artists and returned the $50,000 commission he had received. He also covered up the Turkish toilet.

H/T Reason magazine.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Anti-Capitalist Protesters at G20 Summit?

The headline from the Daily Mail reads "Protesters storm RBS office as thousands of anti-capitalists ransack the City in G20 riot." My question: What makes them so sure? And I mean both the protesters and The Mail. I defy you to show me a capitalist at the G20 summit. So what are these a**hats protesting?

On the subject of who is the capitalist, see the G20 web site for membership and let me know if you find a capitalist country listed.

I'd much prefer to hang with protesters with a sense of humor. At least those guys know they are anti-socialist. Which begs the question, if anti-socialist and anti-capitalist protesters have the same object of their ire, who is right?