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Archive for January, 2003

Traffic does grow on trees…

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, January 21st, 2003

Nick Denton notes that gadget blog Gizmodo is now pulling 50,000+ page views a week, just five months after launch. Marketing consisted of “an email to a few webloggers and reporters.” In addition to NY-gossip blog Gawker, Nick is looking to launch an “erotic blog.” With New York, tech and sex covered, has Nick exhausted the genre? Naw, I think 10,000 angles can dance from this pixel.

(That was my attempt to play off the phrase “angels dancing on the head of a pin”… I didn’t succeed, did I?)

Bowling, Dot.con, LA weekly

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 20th, 2003

I escorted my son to Diego’s bowling birthday party yesterday. The ten kids loved it. I haven’t been in a bowling alley since 1991. In a stroke a genius, the bowling industry has added kid-friendly gutter guards that steer the ball out of the gutter and into the pins. In this gutterless world, velocity wins: the high scorers (avg 72) threw a little harder than the laggards (avg 65) and also finished earlier.

I also finished Ken Layne’s Dot.con this weekend. Layne has concocted a unique cocktail of Ian Fleming’s suave and bruised hero, John Kennedy Toole‘s conspiring idiots and Evelyn Waugh’s disgust for mediocre sycophantic journalists. The roast of San Fran culture also excels.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait to read the book in e-book format, since Ken is all sold out and US publishers haven’t bitten. As I said the other day — why hasn’t this been made into a movie? Yes, the book probably is mistaken as “another dot.com bubble” book. Too few publishers understand that Jesus Ramirez is the future of journalism and not a confused millennial blip. It also may be that Ken’s book will get “rediscovered” in ten years. Books like The Sun Also Rises and The Great Gatsby that were published ten years after the era they chronicle a) look like the result of lots of hard work and b) benefit from mild nostalgia.

Speaking of secret agents, now the LA newpaper plot is public!

Expat bloggers, etc…

by henrycopeland
Thursday, January 16th, 2003

Steve Carlson has posted an interview with yours truly on his new Digital Entrepreneur site. My favorite question was about post-expat bloggers. I argue: “So perhaps the meta characteristic for great bloggers is ‘outsiderness.’ Because they don’t have big career or conceptual investments in the status quo, outsiders can better imagine trajectories in blogging. And because they are outsiders, they’ve got a grudge and are more motivated to put blogging’s unique features to revolutionary use.”

Ready for Potter

by henrycopeland
Thursday, January 16th, 2003

Having read the Harry Potter books three times now (once myself, once to each of our kids), I’m glad to hear that the Order of the Pheonix will finally be out in June. Some coverage, incredibly, doesn’t include this excerpt: “Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his half-moon glasses. ‘It is time,’ he said, ‘for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything.'”

Raise taxes or ‘your neighbor gets laid off’

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

Massachuessetts, like a lot of states, is running a nasty budget deficit as tax revenues decline from the roaring nineties. The projected shortfall for next year is $3 billion. In November, voters nearly passed a resolution killing the state’s 5.8% income tax, so raising taxes doesn’t appear to be an option.

Unfortunately, state and local officials don’t make a very compelling case for their services as they argue against budget cuts. They talk vaguely about “horrible scenarios,” but we get very little concrete argument. An article in yesterday’s local paper, the Hampshire Gazette, offers a case in point.

“Area officials said they believe the general public does not realize the full implications of the cuts to come, and that some people would not be so opposed to a tax increase if they did. ‘It’s hard for me to understand why we can’t make an argument to support a moderate increase in the income tax, because the alternative is your neighbor gets laid off,’ said Robin Crosbie, administrator for Hadley.” Ahh, so that’s why we pay taxes.

Deflation accelerates…

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

Core prices for businesses fell 0.4% last year, with a particular sag in the fourth quarter, reports CNN. “Excluding volatile food and energy prices, ‘core’ PPI fell 0.3 percent [in December] after falling a revised 0.3 percent in November.”

To beat my old drum: Pop historians usually start a new decade a few years after the calendar. If The Sixties started in 1963 with the Beatles and the Pill, will the 00s open in 2003 with closed wallets and free 64 MB memory cards? If the nineties roared like the twenties, will the 00s now sink, tumble, flounder, flush and drizzle like the thirties? If so, nothing but cash will be worth more tomorrow.

Reportage a la Gawker

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, January 14th, 2003

Elizabeth Spiers does a mirror-true interview with a coke buyer about her dream of “the perfect dealer.” Blog reportage at its best.

Bang a gong

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 13th, 2003

We went to a friend’s house last night for pizza. In her studio, there were nine 15-30 inch Piaste gongs she’d been given after hanging out a decade ago at the factory in Germany. I’ve always thought of gongs as things that go “boom” or “bong.” Turns out that if you mallet a good big gong repeatedly, a series of harmonic permutations emerge. It’s a kind of layer cake of sound; it’s like you are peeling peals off an orchestral onion. I swear that her big gong gave a twenty second French horn tone and later produced a clear trumpet peal and then a flute… all while roaring and groaning and sizzling and screaming. I’ll add a big Piaste gong to my “list of things to splurge on if I ever win the lottery.”

The too trite Two Towers

by henrycopeland
Thursday, January 9th, 2003

Am I the only person who saw the Two Towers without first seeing the Fellowship of the Ring? (I was marooned in France, and babysitters were expensive and… )

Gee, I was appalled by TT. I was a bonefide Tolkeinite in my teens but have to say that TT, seen in a vacuum, was trite, juvenile and plastic. I’ve seen more believable characters and gripping action in a dubbed Godzilla movie.

So I rented Fellowship of the Ring on video and saw where TT was coming from. But let this be said, oh mortal moviegoers, the second act does not hold water on its own.

Capital gains taxes to shrink too?

by henrycopeland
Thursday, January 9th, 2003

While everyone focuses on the elimination of the dividend tax, it seems that capital gains taxes will also fall under Bush’s plan. The WSJ explains: “Say a share is bought for $100 and the company has $6.50 a share in fully taxed profits that year. The company will notify the shareholder of this. Then, suppose the share is sold for $110, for a $10 profit. The capital-gains tax will apply only to $3.50 of the gains ($10 minus $6.50.) Each year, a holder will be able to increase his “basis” — the cost for figuring out his gain on shares held, for tax purposes — by the amount of the company’s taxed profits.” This will be a bookkeeping nightmare for shareholders, but I guess their pain will be well compensated.

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