Archive for ‘Money’

March 7, 2013

Payola

payola

Payola [pey-oh-luh], in the American music industry, is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on music radio in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day’s broadcast. A radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money, but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that play of the song should not be counted as a ‘regular airplay.’ The term has come to refer to any secret payment made to cast a product in a favorable light (such as obtaining positive reviews). Some radio stations report spins of the newest and most popular songs to industry publications. The number of times the songs are played can influence the perceived popularity of a song.

‘Payola, in one form or another, is as old as the music business.’ In earlier eras there was not much public scrutiny of the reasons songs became hits. The ad agencies which had labored for the NBC radio and TV show ‘Your Hit Parade’ for 20 years refused to reveal the specific methods that were used to determine top hits, only stating generally that they were based on ‘readings of radio requests, sheet music sales, dance-hall favorites and jukebox tabulations.’ Attempts to create a code to stop payola were met with lukewarm appreciation by publishers. However, in the 1950’s prosecution for payola arose as a reaction of the traditional music establishment against newcomers. Hit radio was a threat to the wages of song-pluggers. Radio hits also threatened old revenue streams; for example, by the middle of the 1940s, three-quarters of the records produced in the USA went into jukeboxes.

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March 6, 2013

Thomas Frank

one market under god

the wrecking crew

Thomas Frank (b. 1965) is an American author, journalist and columnist for ‘Harper’s Magazine.’ He is a former columnist for the ‘Wall Street Journal,’ authoring ‘The Tilting Yard’ from 2008 to 2010. Frank is a historian of culture and ideas and analyzes trends in American electoral politics and propaganda, advertising, popular culture, mainstream journalism and economics. With his writing, he explores the rhetoric and impact of the ‘Culture Wars’ in American political life, and the relationship between politics and culture in the United States. Frank started his political journey as a College Republican, but has come to be highly critical of conservatism, especially the presidency of George W. Bush. Frank summarized the thesis of his book ‘The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule’ as ‘Bad government is the natural product of rule by those who believe government is bad.’

Frank was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1965. He grew up in a local suburb, Mission Hills, Kansas. Frank graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School. He later attended the University of Kansas. He also attended the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago, where he received a Ph.D. in history in 1994. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Wendy, and their children.

March 6, 2013

Native American Gaming

native gaming

The impact of Native American Gaming varies by tribe and location. In the 1970s, various tribes took unprecedented action to initiate gaming enterprises. In doing so, they created not only a series of legal struggles between the federal, state, and tribal governments but also a groundbreaking way to revitalize the Native American economy.

Native American gaming has grown from bingo parlors to high stakes gaming and is surrounded by controversy on many different levels. There are disputes concerning tribal sovereignty, negative effects of gaming, and a loss of Native American culture. In the US the ‘Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’ (IGRA) was passed in 1988 in order to secure collaboration between the states and tribes and also in order for the federal government to oversee gaming operations.

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March 4, 2013

Robert Cialdini

Influence by winston noronha

persuasion

Robert Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. He is best known for his book on persuasion and marketing, ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.’ The book has been translated into 26 languages has also been published as a textbook under the title ‘Influence: Science and Practice.’ In writing the book, he spent three years going ‘undercover’ applying for jobs and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion. The book also reviews many of the most important theories and experiments in social psychology. Cialdini distills his theory down to six key principles: Reciprocity, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking, and Scarcity.

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March 4, 2013

Charlie Munger

charlie munger by randy glass

Charlie Munger (b. 1924) is an American business magnate, lawyer, investor, and philanthropist. He is Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, the diversified investment corporation chaired by Warren Buffett; in that capacity, Buffett describes Munger as ‘my partner.’ Munger served as chairman of Wesco Financial Corporation from 1984 through 2011 (Wesco was approximately 80%-owned by Berkshire-Hathaway during that time). He is also the chairman of the Daily Journal Corporation, based in Los Angeles, and a director of Costco Wholesale Corporation.

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March 4, 2013

Berkshire Hathaway

warren buffett

charlie munger by Charlie Powell

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska that oversees and manages a number of partially and wholly owned subsidiary companies. The company owns Geico, Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, Helzberg Diamonds, NetJets, and Heinz and has significant minority holdings in American Express, M&T Bank, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Proctor & Gamble, and IBM. Berkshire Hathaway averaged an annual growth in book value of 20.3% to its shareholders for the last 44 years, while employing large amounts of capital, and minimal debt.

Berkshire Hathaway stock produced a total return of 76% from 2000–2010 versus a negative 11.3% return for the S&P 500. Warren Buffett owns 32.4% aggregate voting power of Berkshire’s shares outstanding, and vice-chairman Charlie Munger holds a stake big enough to make him a billionaire (early investments in Berkshire by David Gottesman and Franklin Otis Booth, Jr. resulted in their becoming billionaires as well). Bill Gates’ Cascade Investments LLC is the second largest shareholder of Berkshire and owns more than 5% of class B shares.

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March 2, 2013

Eddie Huang

eddie the octopus

bao bao by Sophia Chang

Eddie Huang (b. 1982) is an Asian American restaurateur, food personality and former lawyer. He is the owner of Baohaus. Huang was born in Washington, D.C., to immigrant parents from Taiwan. He was raised in Orlando, where his father managed a successful group of steak and seafood restaurants. Huang identified with African-American culture, especially hip-hop, at a young age. He recieved a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, Rollins College and a J.D. from Cardozo School of Law. Not long after graduating from law school, Huang decided for a career change. After being laid off from a New York law firm, he worked as a stand-up comic and as a marijuana dealer. He was interested in food as he had grown up watching his mother cook at home and had learned many skills in the kitchen. He learned management from his father.

In 2009, he opened BaoHaus, a Taiwanese bun shop, on the Lower East Side of New York. His straightforward menu consists of steamed buns filled with a protein, cilantro, crushed peanuts and Taiwanese red bean paste, and sweet bao fries (julienned bun). In 2011, he relocated his first shop to the East Village with an expanded menu. Another restaurant, Xiao Ye, was less successful and closed after controversy over serving four loko. He created a blog called ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ and later published a memoir by the same name in 2013. He hosted ‘Cheap Bites’ on the Cooking Channel at the end of 2011 and also appeared on several episodes of ‘Unique Eats’ before leaving the Cooking Channel for ‘Vice’ where he hosts a recurring segment, also called ‘Fresh Off the Boat.’

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February 27, 2013

The Sound Princess

sound princess

Many Japanese women are embarrassed at the thought of being heard by others during urination. To cover the sound of bodily functions, many women used to flush public toilets continuously while using them, wasting a large amount of water in the process. As education campaigns did not stop this practice, a device was introduced in the 1980s that, after activation, produces the sound of flushing water without the need for actual flushing. A Toto brand name commonly found is the ‘Otohime’ (literally ‘Sound Princess‘ also homophone with a legendary goddess Otohime). This device is now routinely placed in most new public women’s rooms, and many older public women’s rooms have been upgraded.

The Otohime may be either a separate battery-operated device attached to the wall of the toilet, or included in an existing washlet (electronic toilet). The device is activated by pressing a button, or by the wave of a hand in front of a motion sensor. When activated, the device creates a loud flushing sound similar to a toilet being flushed. This sound either stops after a preset time or can be halted through a second press on the button. It is estimated that this saves up to 20 liters of water per use. However, some women believe that the Otohime sounds artificial and prefer to use a continuous flushing of the toilet instead of the recorded flush of the Otohime.

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February 26, 2013

Flutter

Flutter

Flutter is a start-up based in San Francisco, founded by Navneet Dalal and Mehul Nariyawala. Their first product utilizes gesture recognition technology over a built-in webcam in one’s computer, that allows a user to control iTunes, Spotify, VLC, and QuickTime using hand gestures. The company received early-stage funding from Y Combinator (an American seed accelerator). Instead of requiring separate hardware, such as Microsoft’s Kinect, Flutter makes use of the Mac’s built-in webcam to recognize the simple gestures of a person’s hands between one and six feet away. It can control navigation for iTunes, Spotify, Windows Media Player, and Winamp, with Netflix and YouTube support due next. Flutter is not designed for large movements that could be used in playing games, which limits it to navigational duties. The company says it plans to make money by licensing the technology to software companies that want to integrate Flutter into their apps.

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February 26, 2013

Lit Motors

lit motors

Lit Motors Inc. is a San Francisco-based start-up that designs fully electric, gyroscopically stabilized two-wheeler vehicles. The company plans its first small production run in 2014, and intends to sell the vehicle for $24,000. Founded by Daniel K. Kim in 2010, Lit Motors’ stated goal is to create a new class of personal transportation. The company is currently developing two products, code-named the C-1 and the Cargo Scooter. The original inspiration for Lit Motors came to Kim in 2003, when he was nearly crushed by a chassis while manufacturing a bio-diesel Land Rover Defender 90. Kim’s near-death experience inspired him to ‘chop a car in half’ to create what is now the C-1, as a reaction to what he considered massive waste in the transportation industry.

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February 25, 2013

Growth Fetish

Clive Hamilton

conspicuous consumption

Growth Fetish is a 2003 book about economics and politics by the Australian liberal political theorist Clive Hamilton. The book argues that the policies of unfettered capitalism pursued by the west for the last 50 years has largely failed, since the underlying purpose of the creation of wealth is happiness, and Hamilton contends that people in general are no happier now than 50 years ago, despite the huge increase in personal wealth. In fact, he suggests that the reverse is true. He states that the pursuit of growth has become a fetish, in that it is seen as a universal magic cure for all of society’s ills. Hamilton also proposes that the pursuit of growth has been at a tremendous cost in terms of the environment, erosion of democracy, and the values of society as a whole. One result is that we, as a society, have become obsessed with materialism and consumerism. Hamilton’s catchphrase ‘People buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t like’ neatly sums up his philosophy on consumerism.

Hamilton proposes that where a society has developed to the point at which the majority of people live reasonably comfortably, the pursuit of growth is pointless and should be curtailed. The surplus wealth could then be diverted into the essential infrastructure and to other nations that have not reached this level of wealth. Hamilton adapted the term Eudemonism to denote a political and economic model that does not depend on ever increasing and ultimately unsustainable levels of growth, but instead ‘promotes the full realization of human potential through … proper appreciation of the sources of wellbeing,’ among which he identifies social relationships, job satisfaction, religious belief for some, and above all a sense of meaning and purpose. Hamilton relates the fetish for growth to a ‘development mentality,’ and to a neoliberal ‘instrumental value theory [which] maintains that, while humans are valuable in and of themselves, the non-human world is valuable only insofar as it contributes to the well-being of humans.’ To this he contrasts the stance of the ‘transpersonal ecology’ described by Warwick Fox: this is ‘centered on the notion that only the ego-involved, contracted self can imagine itself to be distinct from the natural world and that expansion of the self beyond the boundaries of the personal necessarily means that one’s awareness, and ground of concern, extends to the natural world.’

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February 25, 2013

Animal Spirits

animal spirits by David Gothard

Animal spirits‘ is the term economist John Maynard Keynes used in his 1936 book ‘The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’ to describe emotions which influence human behavior and can be measured in terms of consumer confidence. It has since been argued that trust is also included or produced by ‘animal spirits.’ Several articles and at least two books with a focus on “animal spirits” were published in 2008 and 2009 as a part of the Keynesian resurgence.

According to Keynes: ‘Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits – a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities.’

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