How the Soviets invented the internet and why it didn't work - "Soviet scientists tried for decades to network their nation. What stalemated them is now fracturing the global internet." [more inside]
As the (northern hemisphere) summer rapidly disappears, the nights draw in and temperatures plummet, so the English are Christmas shopping. Seasonal foods appear on shelves, while the Selfridges Christmas store is now open and big supermarkets flag the approaching holiday. At Harrods, the Christmas range has been launched, while in Derbyshire Christmas pudding production is ramping up, and inns and hotels in towns such as Durham compete for Christmas Day meal bookings. For shoppers too impatient to wait, the 2014 British video game "Christmas Shopper Simulator" (play through). Days to go.
Consumerist: The U.S. has a giant cheese surplus and unfortunately, this is a bad thing. Bloomberg graph: Welcome to Cheese Mountain. (n.b. not a real, visitable, place) nymag: "Our great nation apparently had an inventory of 1.2 billion pounds at the end of March, the highest in 30 years." FoodDive: "Startups may see an opportunity to create marketable products out of inexpensive ingredients, and more cheese-based product startups could pop up and generate interest from investors and major manufacturers." Mashable: "Do your part. Eat more cheese."
At the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, Danielle Paquette explains “why you should always buy the men’s version of almost anything”
BBC: "Huang's new project is based on a similar idea - this time, he asked people to display everything they've ever bought online. The results are a testament to the overwhelming popularity of online shopping, particularly China's most popular internet shopping platform, Taobao." [more inside]
JetBlue is adding luggage charges and packing more seats on its planes, and customers are freaking out. Is contemporary airline service so bad because the airlines are colluding to make you suffer, as Tim Wu writes in the New Yorker? Or because low-price, a la carte service is what fliers actually want, as Alison Griswold writes in Slate? For a data-rich deep dive into what passengers really hate about air travel, see "The Unfriendly Skies" (.pdf), a report on five years worth of air travelers' complaints to the US Department of Transportation.
The video of a photographer and is crew trying to get images of Kate Upton in zero gravity is pretty great and hilarious.
Brian Finkelstein got all of his receipts from 2003 following a credit card dispute. He is reposting them every day with commentary about what he was doing at the time.
"After two decades online, I'm perplexed. It's not that I haven't had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I've met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth [is] no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works." A view of the Internet's future from February 26, 1995 at 7:00 PM
Why People Mistake Good Deals for Rip-Offs. In another experiment, the ventral putamen, a region of the brain that processes reward, was more active when people drank Pepsi than when they drank Coke—except when they were told that they were drinking Pepsi. Coke’s brand appeal is so powerful, and our ability to determine the value of cola so fickle, that our brains respond differently as soon as we learn that what we’re drinking isn’t Coke. The physical experience doesn’t change at all, but we’re unable to peg the value of a brown, caffeinated soda until we know where its life began.
Raveena Aulakh of The Star got hired at a sweatshop in Bangladesh. Her boss was a 9 year old girl named Meem.
Launching my first product :
Brand, Make, Sell Sell, Make, Brand
Does giving gifts to strangers make you happier? The people behind redditgifts think so, and are trying to monetize it.
Steve Lovelace created a map that shows the corporation that best represents each state of the US.
The Cleveland Memory Project is an archive of photos, postcards, videos, recordings, clippings, ebooks, personal papers, maps and other historical "goodies" about the city. "It's a collaborative endeavor of many local historical societies, public libraries and government agencies who have mounted their own local history." On Flickr. [more inside]
Twitter is experimenting with online shopping: "American Express card holders who connect their card numbers to their Twitter accounts can post on Twitter to trigger a purchase of select products, including discounted American Express gift cards, Kindle Fire tablets from Amazon.com Inc. and jewelry from designer Donna Karan. The program will roll out over the next few days." [more inside]
"'Personally, I think it’s slightly sad how easy it was to get,' Jessica says, referring to the building. She brightens. 'But everyone at Chipotle was really excited to get this spot because of the history, the chance to be a part of Boston’s history. This is the oldest retail location in Boston.'" (via)
Fan fiction has, arguably, existed in some form since 1614, and it has certainly been in existence since the Star Trek fanzine, Spockanalia was published in 1967, while derivative works and unofficial adaptations have long existed (such as Edison's Frankenstein) in the mass market, most obviously Nosferatu (unofficial trailer, whole film) and the infamous Tijuana bibles, but in the modern world of extended copyright and Internet commerce are fan fiction and fan art legal?
Patton Oswalt’s Letters to Both Sides - Oswalt addresses "all of the comedians in the room" and "all of the gatekeepers" at Montreal’s Just For Laughs 2012 about living in a living in a "post-Louie world".
Economies of Scale is a free, web-based multiplayer business/commerce simulation game under development by Scott Rubyton (aka Ratan Joyce). Players use starting capital to build production/wholesale/retail businesses from the ground up in a basic economic model, competing for market share while collaborating through business-to-business trading of goods and materials. It's more fun than getting an MBA! Also much less expensive. [more inside]
Neil deGrasse Tyson gives testimony on March 7, 2012 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (Majority member page) (Minority member page) Eight minutes of speech followed by questioning and response. [more inside]
Glengarry Glen Ross endures mainly as a spectacular display of verbal warfare and alpha-male gamesmanship. There’s a musical quality to it, with a great composer and a great chorus hitting the complicated runs of broken dialogue and solos that weave into profane poetry and nuggets of philosophical wisdom. Perhaps the greatest sign of the movie’s success, owed equally to Mamet’s script and this cast, is that it does a great sales job in itself, convincing us that there’s nobility to men who lie for a living — a bill of goods we’re all too happy to buy. [more inside]
‘Everyone is a worker.’ That is a powerful statement, if you think about it. Richard Scarry wasn’t afraid to paint contemporary American society in such bold strokes. Nor was he afraid to explain commerce and capitalism to children. - What Do People Do All Day.
The poor in Ethiopia are often unable to buy newspapers, so they 'rent' papers for 20-30 minutes at a time from local entrepreneurs.
With the crackdown on smoking and higher cigarette taxes in New York City, people who sell individual cigarettes, also known as loosies, are rapidly gaining new customers.
Over the course of 45 years in the film business, Francis Ford Coppola has refined a singular code of ethics that govern his filmmaking. There are three rules: 1) Write and direct original screenplays, 2) make them with the most modern technology available, and 3) self-finance them. [more inside]
How much money do you make with that webcomic internet thing? Dorthy Gambrell of Cat And Girl Answers.
São Paulo Fashion Week, the nation’s most important fashion event, has been forced by local prosecutors to ensure that at least 10 percent of its models are of African or indigenous descent. The model scouts see it differently - it's all about what sells. "The goal" Brazilian model scouts say, "is to find the right genetic cocktail of German and Italian ancestry, perhaps with some Russian or other Slavic blood thrown in. Such a mix, they say, helps produce the tall, thin girls with straight hair, fair skin and light eyes that Brazil exports to the runways of New York, Milan and Paris with stunning success." Yet, "on the pages of its magazines, Brazil’s beauty spectrum is clearer. Nonwhite women, including celebrities of varying body types, are interspersed with white models. But on the runways, the proving ground for models hoping to go abroad, the diversity drops off precipitously." [more inside]
Fundable.com is closed permanently. According to the site's current index, there is bad blood between the two founders of the site, Louis Helm and John Pratt. The recent story of Mary Robinette Kowal being ripped off was apparently the final straw. [more inside]
The New York Review of Ideas is a web magazine reporting about New York commerce, literature and politics. The Manzine is actually £2 for the print version, but some of the its best is also online.
Scientists are now revising earlier projections about the speed at which global warming will impact the arctic ice sheet. By 2013 it could very well disappear in the summer months, opening up new sea lanes for commerce and, potentially, "a quarter of the earths oil and natural gas resources". Several arctic countries are thinking ahead, while it appears others have been for quite some time.
Better World Books - Recently recognized by Fast Company as one of the best for-profit social enterprises of 2008, they offer a wide selection of new and used books with free shipping in the US and less than $3 shipping elsewhere. A portion of the profits go to fund literacy organizations such as Room to Read and WorldFund, and their shipping is carbon-neutral. The only thing missing is the ability to import Amazon wishlists.
“Our intentions are to be as sustainable a city as possible,” said Mr. Adams, Portland's city commissioner in charge of transportation. “That means socially, that means environmentally and that means economically. The bike is great on all three of those factors. You just can’t get a better transportation return on your investment than you get with promoting bicycling.” Many city planners agree that bikes make sense, but after two riders recently lost their lives in Portland one must wonder, is there a better way?
Whole Foods takes London. This South Kensington flagship store is the "quasi-messianic" company's biggest ever, comprising 80,000 square feet spread out over three floors offering 10,000 grocery items. In true American style, shoppers can choose from 1,000 different wines, 425 cheeses, 40 types of sausage, 55 in-store chefs, a pub called The Bramley, a sushi bar, a champagne and oyster bar and a DJ-booth to play music for late-night shoppers. The locals seem overwhelmed by it all.
Busted! In one of the biggest counterfeit busts in years, a 19-month investigation reached its climax on Tuesday as federal officials conducted early-morning raids throughout the NY metropolitan area, arresting 29 people, seizing more than $230 million in merchandise and ultimately dismantling three operations believed to have imported more than $700 million in fake products over the last 24 months.
Fifty years ago, I suspect that along with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax, most Americans could have named, at the very least, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Arthur Miller, Thornton Wilder, Georgia O'Keeffe, Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Not to mention scientists and thinkers like Linus Pauling, Jonas Salk, Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead, and especially Dr. Alfred Kinsey.The prepared text of the speech delivered by Dana Gioia at Stanford University Commencement on June 17, 2007.
'In defense of film critics' posits that 'Film critics [unlike food critics, etc] are expected to be cheerleaders.' I guess we're not supposed to think it's odd that the piece was written by paper's resident film critic. He does ask at least one good question, though: why have so many truly awful [and poorly reviewed ] films done so well at the the box office this year?
Fairy Tale Weddings for all -- Disney, under fire for discriminating at its parks, opens up its popular (and expensive!) Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons to same-sex couples.
A Mall Divided (youtube) - a musical tale of commerce, employment and electrical distribution for our times.
You are the stock of the corporation known as the U.S.A. Following the recent discussion of a Jordan Maxwell video, colourfully dismissed as "new age sewage", I thought Mefites would like (and/or rather, I would like Mefites) to apply their knowledge and insight to a far more topical example of Mr. Maxwell's work. A jumping off point: The law administered in the courts is maritime law. (Google video @ 1 Hr)
" Jim's ghost was in my ear, and I felt terrible". Like all top classic-rock franchises, The Doors can exploit a lucrative afterlife in television commercials. Offers keep coming in, such as the $15 million dangled by Cadillac last year to lease the song "Break On Through (to the Other Side)" to hawk its luxury SUVs. To the surprise of the corporation and the chagrin of his former bandmates, drummer John Densmore vetoed the idea. He said he did the same when Apple Computer called with a $4-million offer, and every time "some deodorant company wants to use 'Light My Fire.' "
Could any of us really score a photo scoop? Scoopt is an on-line photo agency that purports to help us amateur photographers sell photos to news outlets. You join for free, but they take a 50% cut of the profit. Is it worth that to have an on-call agent? Just in case I happen across a major news event some day? On the other hand, I like being a part of the Creative Commons world of Flickr, where my "artsy" shots are available for further artistic use.
Will Currency Wars Effect You? Oldman gives a quick run-through of the geopolitics of America's budget deficit, with some likely scenarios for the next 2-5 years.
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