decibels by NANCY EINHARTMore after the jump.
Sweet Sibling Rivalry
I can only imagine what would happen if I tried to write music with my brother. The process would include lots of bickering, and the results would likely be both bizarre and very bad. Matt and Eleanor Friedberger, the brother-sister duo known as the Fiery Furnaces, manage to avoid the bad while delivering a really good kind of bizarre. The band's most recent album, Blueberry Boat -- a playful, proggy journey spread over 76 disorienting minutes -- was one of last year's more polarizing records. Each track unfolds like a long childhood car ride with your siblings in the backseat, passing over unsmooth pavement into a new landscape every few minutes. There are moments of shining cuteness, followed by tugs-of-war over toys or pillows or who has to sit on the sunny side, eventually escalating into a frantic free-for-all that finally prompts your parents to pull over. But with the Furnaces, just when you think you can't take any more runaway percussion and violent tempo shifts and bashing piano bouts, Matt will lay down some sweet guitar riff that coos like a pigeon, or Eleanor will ooze some adorable little lyric about dogs or lockets, and suddenly the world seems calm again. Business types who choose to attend the Music Hall gig should be sure to request "Straight Street," which gives shout-outs to Nokia and hands-free devices!
The Fiery Furnaces with Dios Malos and Bunky Friday, April 29, at 9 p.m.
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell St.
Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door
Here's something you may not know. The advertising on BoingBoing.net
brings in about could be bringing in almost $500,000 a year. That little factoid pops up in an online column (a free column) on the Business 2.0 Website, "Can Blogging Ever Become Big Business?" Greg Lindsay quotes Jason Calcanis:
Calacanis, who is definitely a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats type, offered, via e-mail, this rosy summary of Battelle's accomplishments there: "John did an amazing job over the past six months taking BoingBoing from ad/revenue-free to ad/revenue-filled without upsetting the user base or the four bloggers. I understand it makes $40k a month and is growing ... so $500,000 a year across five folks is a nice living ... if John can do that 10 more times he has a very powerful business." (Battelle says, "We don't talk about numbers, but they are in the right range, if a bit high.")
Update: John Battelle writes to tell us that the number is inflated (though why he didn't read the post before writing, we won't ask. But why are these blog moguls sooooo ashamed of making money? It isn't dirty, you know):
Thanks for covering Boing Boing, but I feel obliged to correct an error. In your blog posting, you state as fact that "Boing Boing makes $40,000 a month." But in the story you linked to as your source, I disputed this figure, calling it inflated. It is indeed inflated - I'm not really sure where it came from. While we don't discuss our finances, we did want to set the record straight. Thanks.
What especially set Denton off were my pointed questions about equity -- Denton doesn't believe in giving away any. When the original editor of his gadget blog, Gizmodo, insisted that Denton share, Denton's answer was a two-parter: 1) Blog equity isn't worth anything (because no one's buying), and 2) no, you still can't have any. That editor, Peter Rojas, promptly quit and leaped into the waiting arms of Weblogs Inc.' s Jason Calacanis, the closest thing to a rival Denton has. Calacanis gave Rojas his own blog, Engadget, and the equity he was looking for.
What's interesting about Battelle's approach is his stated intention to keep his mitts off everyone's intellectual property. "I am definitely not saying 'Turn everything over to me,'" he says. Bloggers keep their sites. What's even more interesting is that Battelle -- who is blogging the entire prelaunch experience for public consumption at fmpub.net -- is looking for seed funding from strategic investors, and that he's open to the idea of selling out someday. Taken together, Battelle's philosophy and his business plan signal that 1) blogs are valuable enough to be worth owning, and 2) he's inviting the mainstream media to decide what "enough" means in the case of ventures as small as his own.Read the rest here.
During a visit to lobby personally for changes in federal policy, the world's richest executive said the government should eliminate the limit of 65,000 for overseas workers who can be hired each year by U.S. firms under specialty H-1B visas aimed at drawing engineers, scientists, architects and doctors to the United States. ``The whole idea of the H-1B visa thing is, don't let too many smart people come into the country,'' Gates said during an invitation-only panel discussion at the Library of Congress. ``The thing basically doesn't make sense.''It's got to happen. The power of the coming job shortage will make it happen, says Paul Kaihla in a recent (free) column on this topic called, Xenophobia Could Get You a Raise.
The Bush administration has been doing a huge favor to creative-class workers who are already inside the United States. Even without political interference, those employees are going to be in a seller's market the second half of this decade, thanks to the economic expansion we're now enjoying, the baby-boom-retirement time bomb, and a dearth of American creative-class children who can replace their parents in the skilled workforce. The Bush policies have simply strengthened their salary-negotiating positions by making the coming shortage even more acute. As a result, skilled-worker immigration will emerge as one of the top five issues in the United States by the time this president leaves office. And because of screaming from industry lobbyists, Congress will launch a sudden and dramatic change, of course, by raising the quotas for skilled workers and hanging out a welcome sign for foreign talent.
Brotman envisioned a chain that would offer high-end products such as Dom Perignon champagne and J.A. Henckels International cutlery at rock-bottom prices. The target customer? "We're focused solely on the small-business owner," Brotman says. But he's not really interested in selling that customer office supplies. The Costco founders realized that small-business owners are often among the wealthiest people in a community. Their struggles in building their companies often imbue them with a certain, shall we say, frugality. "They want high-quality merchandise that reflects their status -- but they'd prefer it cheap," Brotman says. While the typical Costco warehouse carries just 4,000 different products, about 50 percent fewer than a typical Sam's Club, each item, from Godiva chocolate to Waterford crystal, is chosen to "wow" shoppers with a brand name at a bargain-bin price. For instance, a Cartier watch that costs $2,000 at a department store costs just $1,300 at Costco. That kind of deal explains why the average Costco customer has a household income of $74,000; Sam's Club doesn't provide that metric, but analysts say the figure is nowhere close to Costco's level. (The typical U.S. household brings in $43,500.) "Anyone can sell Cheerios on pallets," says Jim Sinegal, Costco's CEO. "Once you get past commodity, it's all about the merchandise."We also tell you what Shawn Fanning is up to and there's a fascinating story on hard drives, I kid you not, you'll care. There's a lot more here.
There's another wrinkle in the complex interest-rate climate that may hurt credit card companies. Interest rates on credit cards tend to respond to moves in short-term interest rates, which means they are rising. But mortgage rates respond to moves in long-term interest rates. And those rates remain remarkably low. Since long-term rates are steady, it now makes more sense for people who need cash to turn to a home-equity line of credit rather than to an MBNA card.
At the margins, some Americans seem to be using their slowly growing incomes to reduce credit card debt rather than to buy new stuff. (That could be one factor behind March's weak retail spending report.) Of course, MBNA and Capital One shouldn't fret too much. Credit cards are so beloved in American homes they are practically family. It will take a lot more than higher interest rates to wean us from them.
Netscape pioneers Mike Homer and Marc Andreessen are back on the start-up scene, launching a TiVo-like online network for distributing and viewing public TV, radio and grassroots media.Cnet calls the Open Media Network part Tivo, part BitTorrent. The article also notes:
Peer-to-peer activists Downhill Battle recently released software called "BlogTorrent," aimed at helping people to post large files on their blogs or Web sites using the BitTorrent technology to help distribute files. A Canadian student has developed a program called Videora that lets people find and subscribe to video content online, including television shows.Greg Lindsay, an online columnist for B2, noted the trend the other day in The Smart Money Behind Video Blogging and looked at the possibility of success for Al Gore's Current network and Google's video blogging initiative.