Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Sunday, March 02, 2021

Capitalizing upon a sales volume that ranked it as the third-largest music retailer in the U.S., Apple’s iTunes finished up 2007 as the No. 2 music seller in America, right behind Wal-Mart.

And again, since iTunes sells nothing but digital downloads, this underlines the death of the shiny plastic disc:

Meanwhile, an estimated 1 million consumers did not buy CDs in 2007, and 48% of U.S. teenagers didn’t buy any CDs during the year, up from 38% in the year before, according to NPD data.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we see the same things continuing into 2008 because what our research is showing is that teens are continuing to check out on the CD,” [NPD analyst Russ] Crupnick said.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/02/2021 09:28:48 PM
Category: Business, Pop Culture, Tech
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Sunday, February 24, 2021

What do behavioral economists do, exactly?

Basically, they demonstrate how the straightforward rules of economic theory get mucked up when actual human beings enter into the mix, especially when social and market spheres overlap.

That’s what professor Dan Ariely does in his book “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”. There are several experimental examples, but basically it all boils down to this:

The fact that we live in both the social world and the market world has many implications for our personal lives. From time to time, we all need someone to help us move something, or to watch our kids for a few hours, or to take in our mail when we’re out of town. What’s the best way to motivate our friends and neighbors to help us? Would cash do it — a gift, perhaps? How much? Or nothing at all? This social dance, as I’m sure you know, isn’t easy to figure out — especially when there’s a risk of pushing a relationship into the realm of a market exchange.

To the extent that you can predict human tendencies, I’m not sure you can quantify this business-versus-pleasure dynamic. I’d guess you’d find behavior that’s deemed unacceptable in, say, St. Louis would be standard operating procedure in Mexico City.

Beyond the specific case studies, the more interesting part is probably the concept itself — economics crossed with psychology and sociology.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/24/2008 07:15:35 PM
Category: Business, Society
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Saturday, February 23, 2021

We already knew that the hedge fund concentration in Connecticut has been luring a large number of NYC residents commute out of the city on a daily basis. But now, it looks like other outlying areas are getting into the act in a big way: A combination of the suburbs’ low unemployment rates and inadequate housing/infrastructure has led to recruitment of city dwellers who endure hours-long reverse commutes via subway and train.

What amuses me most about this article is the underlying tone that these workers are living in a Bizarro World. It’s like the average New Yorkers can’t comprehend why someone would live in the City and then go to Nassau or Suffolk counties to work. It’s not like other parts of the country don’t see this same sort of long-range commuting, albeit by car. But somehow, New York is supposed to be more self-contained, with just suburbanites trekking into the five boroughs for some action.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/23/2008 04:22:10 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Society
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Thursday, February 21, 2021

Macroeconomics doesn’t get much hairier than when stagflation, that old invisible-hand smacker from the 70s, makes a comeback.

“[The Federal Reserve is] cutting rates with a bill to be paid later,” said John Ryding, chief United States economist at Bear Stearns. “The question is not, will we get inflation, but how much will it cost to stuff the genie back in the bottle. This has the feel of 1970s stagflation.”

Over the last 12 months, consumer prices are up 4.3 percent on average, according to the Labor Department. The core index of consumer price inflation, which excludes food and oil, was 2.5 percent higher in January than a year earlier, significantly above the Fed’s unofficial comfort zone of a 1 to 2 percent underlying inflation rate. That’s a far cry from the double-digit inflation rates that battered the economy at times in the 1970s, but still worrisome.

What’s next? A re-experiencing of “malaise forever”?

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/21/2008 10:43:42 PM
Category: Business, Comedy, Politics, Society
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Wednesday, February 20, 2021

I guess the well of book properties is in danger of drying up, because Hollywood is raiding the toystore for movie source material:

Universal Pictures has announced a six-year partnership with Hasbro to produce at least four feature films based on branded properties.

The properties include “Monopoly,” “Candy Land,” “Clue,” “Ouija,” “Battleship,” “Magic, The Gathering” and “Stretch Armstrong.”

Last I checked, traditional board games are on the decline, so this is something of a nostalgia play. Of course, these games are getting second lives in computer-game form, so there’s still some relevance there. And undoubtedly, the backstory behind each game’s premise brings a built-in cinematic plot synopsis. (Not sure what Stretch Armstrong is doing in that group, but a Plastic Man knockoff action figure has entertainment potential all its own.)

I’ll point out that “Clue” already got the movie treatment, more than 20 years ago. I guess it took that long for the potential of the rest of the tabletop roster to shine through.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/20/2008 11:08:18 PM
Category: Business, Movies, Pop Culture
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Thursday, February 14, 2021

permanent two
Because I can’t get enough of showing off how right I was, I’ll point to the wrap-up assessment of how little impact the writers’ strike had on the late-night talkshow competition between Letterman and Leno:

Leno’s “Tonight” show has averaged 5.17 million viewers since his return, up from the pre-strike average of 5 million. Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS increased from 3.8 million pre-strike to 4.05 million after he went back on the air after the new year. In general, viewership tends to go up for these shows during winter.

Basically, the only thing that matters for the audience is whether or not it’s a rerun. After that, they go with preferred personality. As far as Letterman-Leno, the only drama left comes next year, when Leno (supposedly) retires, and Letterman gets a chance to take the 11:30 number one spot versus Conan O’Brien.

I will say one last thing: With viewing habits being so ingrained, I’m guessing the talkshows are going to have a hard time extracting more money from the networks for writing talent. Numbers like these clearly illustrate that they don’t contribute to the bottom line.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/14/2008 05:47:05 PM
Category: Business, TV
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Wednesday, February 13, 2021

When Alphabet City resident Tamara Perez got slugged in the mouth by a cab hack that refused to take her credit card as fare payment, I figured this that that incident would be just the tip of the iceberg.

Sure enough, others have come forth with harrowing tales of cabbies who flip out when it’s card-swipe time:

Sarah Snedeker, 24, says a driver locked her in a cab in Manhattan and spit in her face.

When his maniac driver refused to use plastic, Michael Blumenthal, 28, says he ended up running away from him through a Queens alleyway.

The cabbies are avoiding taking credit and debit cards because, basically, they make less money: Not only do they have to part with 5 percent of each fare for processing fees, but card payments also leave a paper trail that, unlike cash, can’t be hidden from the taxman.

In a sense, there’s not much incentive for independent contractors like taxi drivers to go with electronic payments. The rationale for merchants to start accepting cards is that it speeds up the transaction, including eliminating the need to handle paper money by having the money directly credited to your bank account, etc. Speedier transactions means the ability to take care of more customers in less time, and that volume should offset the processing fees. So for a retail business like a bakery or a dry cleaner, it works out well because it keep the long lines moving faster.

But for cabbies? The payment transaction doesn’t affect how quickly they can do their jobs — they still can take only one fare at a time, and that’s going to take however long it takes. The only possibility for increasing volume is the ability to pick up fares who otherwise wouldn’t take a taxi because they never carry cash, in which case hacks who work airports exclusively might do well. But in New York City itself, enough people still carry cash so that there’s no advantage.

For me, I’ll be sticking with the subway. I’ll be damned if I have to get into a tussle with some fare-skimmer just to get a ride.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/13/2008 10:47:16 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin'
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Tuesday, February 12, 2021

As one of the most conservative investment tools out there, no one expects bank-issued certificates of deposit to dramatically fatten up your bank account. But you’d think they would at least keep up with inflation:

But anyone turning away from market risk could be giving a big wet kiss to purchasing-power risk — the chance that their money grows more slowly than the rate of inflation — and there is little doubt that the majority of people investing in CDs now fall into that category…

Currently, according to Bankrate.com, the average two-year CD nationwide yields 2.5%; the top two-year certificate of deposit available nationally is from InterVest National Bank and has an annual percentage rate of roughly 4.1%, or equal to the pace of inflation.

So while you’re not going to lose any money with CDs (assuming you’re smart enough to stick with an FDIC bank), they’re not going to produce enough to justify the amount of time that they’re tying up your money. Given that a lot of retirees and other groups rely upon regular CD rollovers to keep revenue flowing out of their savings, it makes for a potential disaster.

Personally, I’ve been decidedly underwhelmed while looking at CD offers lately, even before coming across this inflation-ratio measurement. Again, I realized slow-growth low-risk is the purpose, but really, such paltry yields are pretty hard to take for the length of time they require. I don’t have a ton to invest, which makes CDs that much less appealing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/12/2021 10:48:40 PM
Category: Business
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Monday, February 11, 2021

After six years of rolling with T-Mobile’s HotSpot to power in-store wi-fi Web access, Starbucks has gone another way with an agreement to go with AT&T to provide a mix of free (with purchase) and paid wireless hook-ups, starting this Spring.

My initial reaction to this was “Sonofabitch!” — not because I’m a big T-Mobile fan, but because I landed a free yearlong subscription to HotSpot as part of the One Laptop Per Child donation program. So seemingly, I get screwed by this switcheroo.

But then I read the fine print:

Current T-Mobile HotSpot customers, who pay from $6 per hour-long session to $9.99 for a day pass to $39.99 a month for unlimited access, will get Wi-Fi access at no extra charge through an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile.

So hoo-ray, I don’t get cut off, at least not until early next year. Which is good, because I’ve actually come to rely upon pitstops at random Starbucks outlets for quick checks of email and other info via my iPod Touch. Yes, T-Mobile has other HotSpot partners, but they’re nowhere near as widespread in Manhattan as Starbucks (which is why this development is a real problem for T-Mobile).

Theoretically, I shouldn’t be so dependent on the HotSpot link, given that there’s a big free wi-fi cloud over midtown called CBS Mobile Zone, which I was jazzed about upon announcement. But to date, I’ve never been able to connect to it. It’s definitely there — it comes up as an available wireless client when my iTouch is scanning an area, and I’ve seen ads promoting it. But until I’m able to actually use it, it might as well not be there.

So for the time being, I continue to be on the lookout for Starbucks shops. They’ll get my money, by design — the incidental purchase of a tea and cookie is part of the trap. But I like to stick it to the man half the time by just camping out outside the store and surreptitiously calling up the HotSpot login page.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/11/2021 06:20:19 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Wi-Fi
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Saturday, February 02, 2021

Any time $44 billion gets tossed around, it’s going to generate some noise. But amid the news-noise concerning Microsoft’s more-or-less hostile bid to buy Yahoo!, announced Friday, not an awful lot of consideration has been given to the possibility that the deal might not go through.

Yeah, Yahoo! is vulnerable, still mired in a slump that culminated in the end of the Terry Semel era. But it’s hardly on its last legs, and most of its board is determined to remain independent. Indeed, the prospects of a protracted takeover are pretty good, and even with the high premium the Big Redmond Machine is offering, it could become more struggle than benefit, even with the long-term payoff.

The extreme buzz has come about merely from the rampant speculation of what a done deal might yield: Operating systems even more tightly-integrated to online components, some sort of amalgamation of Hotmail and Y! Mail, etc. Fun exercises, but definitely putting the cart before the horse.

I’m not seeing this as a slam-dunk. My bet is that Microsoft and Yahoo! will still be standing where they are a year from now, both still attempting to catch up with Google in the online advertising business (and the Web services game, although that’s more of an MS-Google tussle).

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/02/2021 04:17:55 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Tech
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Thursday, January 31, 2021

We’re always hearing about how Europeans rush over Stateside and load up on everything with a pricetag attached. Now we know why: Continental retail is ridiculously regulated.

Not only are out-of-season sales banned in countries including Belgium, Italy, Spain, Greece and France, but a jungle of regulations also keeps European retailers in lock step: In most countries, they can’t sell below cost; in others they can’t advertise reduced prices in advance of sales or discount items until they have been on shelves more than a month.

A recent study in France explained that these bans were conceived to preserve “le jeu loyal de la concurrence,” or “the loyal game of competition.” Almost like a duel at dawn, fair competition isn’t considered possible without regulation to set a time and place for it.

Very Soviet-style. It’s a wonder EU economies are as robust as they are.

Despite the avowed nod to general welfare, there are black roots to this set of practices:

Some are said to have originated in the mid-1930s in Germany, when the Nazi Party wanted to protect the public from what it regarded as overly competitive “Jewish” practices by some shopkeepers.

Reform is afoot to liberate the sales-bonanza mechanism in France and other countries. Sweet chaos, via markdown prices!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/31/2008 11:18:56 PM
Category: Business, Political, Society
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Wednesday, January 30, 2021

As the Federal government strains to deliver an economic stimulus package that would net average taxpayers some $600 in intended extra spending money, Economy.com argues that pumping up more traditional welfare-state programs would be more effective more quickly.

In findings echoed by other economists and studies, [economist Mark Zandi] said the study shows the fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the food-stamp program. For every dollar spent on that program $1.73 is generated throughout the economy, he said…

Tracking that single dollar spent through the economic chain shows what economists call the ripple effect, Zandi said. For example, that dollar spent at the grocery store in turn helps to pay the salaries of the grocery clerks, pays the truckers who haul the food and produce cross-country, and finally goes to the farmer who grows the crops.

The report pointed to expanding unemployment benefits as the program that gets the next biggest bang for the buck. That’s because, although the unemployed are already getting checks, they need to spend the money. For every dollar spent here, the economy would see a return of $1.64, Zandi said.

These are very much bottom-up methods of juicing the economy: Spur more necessary spending among the huge mass of have-nots, and the ripple effect will be substantial. The real question is if that effect will be sustainable.

It makes more sense to me than that one-time $600 bonus, which to me is a ridiculous proposition for kickstarting a wave of economic activity. What does 600 bucks represent for middle and upper class households — a weekend or two of fun-money spending? It’s a laughable token giveback.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/30/2008 11:01:55 PM
Category: Business, Politics, Society
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Tuesday, January 29, 2021

With a recession looming, a lot of people will be going to a lot of job interviews in the coming months. So why not monetize that experience?

That’s roughly the concept at play with NotchUp.com, a job-recruiting startup that’s facilitating company payout fees to prospective job candidates, just for showing up and interviewing.

The idea is that companies should strive to snag in-demand talent, which by their nature are hard to land:

“In every job I’ve had, I’ve had to, under time pressure, build a team of engineers. I learned years ago that the best people you want to hire are the people who aren’t in the job market,” said [co-founder Jim] Ambras, who was vice president of engineering at the search engine AltaVista.

So some enterprising serial interviewee could really make a cottage industry out of cup-of-coffee chats over where they see themselves in five years, etc.

Technically, the money’s not that easy. Participating companies — which, as hinted by the quote above, include tech-engineering hungry outfits like Google and Yahoo! — put the bid fee into escrow, and don’t authorize payment until after the interview, when they decide whether or not to take the process further (second interview, offer extension, etc.). So if someone goes into this flippantly, they’ll just wind up wasting their time (unless they get some live-interview practice out of it). Even someone who garners interest would presumably start raising red flags if s/he is tracked, via NotchUp, as continually turning down deeper interviews.

Overall, it seems like a relatively low-risk proposition for larger companies. They’d spend comparable or larger amounts in that $200-$500 per candidate range in recruiting efforts, so this serves as a reciprocal filter to hone the process early. It’s still a struggle to wrest a high-demand work talent out of their current gig, but this is another way to grease the wheel.

I do question the timing, though. Like I said, a recession seems likely, so the labor market will be flooded with candidates soon enough. Potential NotchUp.com client companies will feel less compelled to ante up meet-and-greet bonuses when they’re in a buyers’ market. In which case, NotchUp.com itself might have to start looking for interview-cash opps…

Just for fun, I plugged my particulars into the NotchUp build-your-bid calculator. My current marketing consultant gig, which I’ve been doing for two years now, yielded a suggested bid amount of $230. I think that’s on the low side, but honestly, I was expecting it to come in way less. At least I know where to login if I need an extra couple of hundred bucks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/29/2008 11:39:03 PM
Category: Business, Creative
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Thursday, January 24, 2021

Joining the familiar white-collar and blue-collar labor-market designations is the eco-focused “green collar” class of jobs:

According to a report by the American Solar Energy Society, there are currently 8.5 million green collar jobs in the U.S. and by 2030, this number will likely balloon to 40 million or about one-quarter of the total workforce. And, the jobs listed are just in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors and don’t include other types of environmental employment.

No need to point out that green is the color of money.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/24/2008 11:44:26 PM
Category: Business, Science, Society
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Monday, January 21, 2021

Electronic Arts is revamping its “Battlefield” franchise as part of an attempt to shift its business model to free base-games that pay for themselves via Internet-based subscription and micropayments. (That’s a trend that’s working out well with the “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” franchises, incidentally.)

The revamp manifests itself as “Battlefield Heroes”, designed to be a more accessible gaming environment with a friendlier, cartoony look.

Looking at the sample soldier from the game, pictured here, I have to ask: Is EA also trying to appeal to the gay gamer?

I mean, come on. How else to explain the clam digger combat fatigues? Calves on display don’t exactly say “battle-hardened” to me. Although I’ll grant they seem to be in fashion in other virtual hangouts

The short pants I could dismiss, but the pose this soldier-boy is striking is suspect as well. One hand on the hip, the other… what? Up as a fist of defiance, or raised to eye-level to check the manicure?

All told, I’m thinking the most appropriate soundtrack for this videogame world would, indeed, be a selection of Pansy Division greatest hits. “Dick of Death” seems appropriately aggressive for a war game.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/21/2008 02:30:21 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Pop Culture, Videogames
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If you’re launching a Web startup, it would be prudent to toss a pitch in the direction of Reid Hoffman, co-founder and guiding light of LinkedIn. Because his current jackpot-waiting-to-happen is just the latest in a string of sure bets he’s made in the InterWeb business:

Three of his startup investments have been sold since 2005 for more than $1.1 billion combined, although Hoffman got only a sliver of that. They are the photo-sharing site Flickr, bought by Yahoo Inc.; music network Last.fm, bought by CBS Corp.; and computer security specialist IronPort Systems Inc., bought by Cisco Systems Inc.

Besides Facebook, the list of other promising prospects in Hoffman’s portfolio include blogging software maker Six Apart Ltd., blogging search engine Technorati Inc., online content-ranking site Digg Inc. and another online social networking service, Ning Inc. He also holds stakes in a variety of lesser-known startups, too.

Hoffman’s connections and investments frequently have ties to PayPal, where he accumulated stock as a director and then as a top executive. He first met PayPal’s co-founder and chief executive, Peter Thiel, while both were attending Stanford University in the 1980s.

And everyone’s waiting for a LinkedIn IPO to be like another Google — assuming someone doesn’t offer Hoffman a few trillion dollars or so to sell out first.

Hard to argue with someone who’s business acumen is proven in such giant dollars-and-cents terms. But I remain unswayed by LinkedIn’s prospects, at least in their current form. Personally, the site’s done next to nothing for me: I get no substantial contacts or leads, and every time I try to go more than one menu-level deep into the site, it asks me to cough up a subscription fee. I realize you get more out of this type of service the more you work it, but I haven’t felt compelled to work on it — and this is coming from someone who consults for a living, i.e. keeping and cultivating contacts is how I make money.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/21/2008 12:56:42 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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Sunday, January 20, 2021

Illuminating results from the world of pixels and air-guitars: The latest versions of “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” are proving to be effective cross-sell channels for digital music, with the two games selling a combined 7.5 million tracks in only two months via Web-connected gaming consoles:

By comparison, it took wireless operator Sprint four months to sell 1 million songs on its over-the-air full-song download service. While new digital music services competing with iTunes and free peer-to-peer services have struggled to convince music fans to pay $1 for a single, downloadable tracks for games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are flying off the digital shelves.

“With such a low installation base, we didn’t think that there’d be 2 million songs sold in eight weeks [for “Rock Band” alone],” MTVN Music Group/Logo/Films division President Van Toffler said. “We live in a rough time around music where our audience struggles to pay $20 for a CD but don’t hesitate to pay $50 for a game. The notion to pay 99 cents or $1.99 to have a song and repeatedly play with it apparently isn’t a big hurdle.”

I think that’s the key way to position it: If you’re already paid full-price for the main product, then the add-ons seem like peanuts. And more importantly, they enhance the gaming experience for these two titles, and are the only option for expanding the gameplay.

That’s also where the limited impact shows through. As I understand it, these songs are for use only while playing “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band”, or at most, while using an Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 as a media player. You can’t burn those songs onto a CD or load them into your iPod. Sales are sales, but this falls well short of representing a complete way of selling music.

That said, it does provide a template for packaging music in a way that makes purchases more palatable. In a way, digital music services push songs in a sort of vacuum — what can you really do with them that you can’t do with an mp3 found via P2P? But present the purchase at a point of sale for a related product/service, where it’s perceived as an added benefit, and there are possibilities.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/20/2008 08:23:46 PM
Category: Business, Pop Culture, Videogames
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Saturday, January 19, 2021

Some fascinating dynamics are emerging as the housing bubble pops. For instance, you’d think that, as mortgage lending tightens, more and more people are forced to rent, which should mean a bonanza for landlords.

But that simple supply-and-demand equation is being derailed by the existence of all that surplus housing that’s now unbought, but still needs to generate revenue:

That means that landlords are seeing what should be one of their strongest markets in years weakened by the increasing supply of unsold properties entering the rental market. “Shadow inventory is coming out and competing against us for rentals,” says Richard Campo, chief executive of Camden Property Trust, a Houston-based real-estate company that owns 70,000 apartments. That is weakening landlords’ pricing power, he says, because homeowners are less concerned about getting full market value.

Which translates into a rental market that will be at least stable for the next five years. Toss in recessionary pressures, and it might even decline in relative terms. After that time, a good chunk of that residential property could be majorly retrofitted into commercial in some form — professional office space or, more drastically, torn down to make way for retail developments.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/19/2008 07:39:15 PM
Category: Business, Society
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Friday, January 18, 2021

stricken second
Can’t say I’m surprised by this: Late-night talkshow ratings are the same as they ever were, with Jay Leno beating out Dave Letterman regardless of the lack of union writers on “Tonight Show”.

Leno has a 27 percent advantage over Letterman, compared to 33 percent prior to the writers going on strike.

Leno’s victory margin of nearly 1 million viewers comes despite Letterman actually winning last Monday, when Tom Hanks visited to watch Letterman shave the beard he grew during two months off the air.

This still qualifies as the early going. In the longer run, if A-listers stay away from Leno and go to Letterman’s show, the gap could close further. But barring a blockbuster booking by “Late Night” — i.e., some celebrity scandal hits and Letterman has that celeb on the show only days later — viewers are going to stick with who they know and like. The writing is invisible as far as the audience is concerned, while the hosts themselves are the mainstays.

And not to say that I told you so — but I did:

But ultimately, audiences have their preferred hosts, and I have a feeling the eyeballs will stick with their usual favorites. As long as the episodes are new, I doubt many viewers will switch.

From that, I’m thinking the studios will use the resultant ratings as ammo against the next round of talks with the writers. The argument will be that the scripting doesn’t have much impact on drawing audiences, and so they’ll be even less inclined to compromise with the Guild.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/18/2008 06:17:48 PM
Category: Business, TV
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Monday, January 14, 2021

In an interesting case of geopolitical cause-and-effect, alleged overfishing by European commercial fleets off northwestern Africa is collapsing the local fisherman economy, and paradoxically is spurring fresh waves of illegal migrants toward the European Union.

In Mauritania, lobsters vanished years ago. The catch of octopus — now the most valuable species — is four-fifths of what it should be if it were not overexploited. A 2002 report by the European Commission found that the most marketable fish species off the coast of Senegal were close to collapse — essentially sliding toward extinction.

“The sea is being emptied,” said Moctar Ba, a consultant who once led scientific research programs for Mauritania and West Africa.

In a region where at least 200,000 people depend on the sea for their livelihoods, local investments in fishing industries are drying up with the fish stocks. In Guinea-Bissau, fishermen who were buying more boats less than a decade ago now complain they are in debt and looking to get out of the business.

“Before, my whole family could live on what we caught in one pirogue,” said Niadye Diouf, 28, whose Senegalese family sold their pirogue for $500 to pay for an illegal — and ultimately unsuccessful — voyage to Spain. “Now even five pirogues would not be enough.”

And more mouths to feed in the EU means more fish-trawling, for a vicious cycle. No chance of a European mass conversion to vegetarianism, I’d guess…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/14/2008 11:47:37 PM
Category: Business, Political, Science, Society
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Friday, January 11, 2021

Even though it’s not by-the-numbers official just yet — only one more quarter of “negative growth” to go! — it’s pretty clear that we’re in a recession, and people are feeling the pain.

To gauge the difference between this economic slowdown and a full-fledged collapse, our 33rd President provided this aphoristic rule of thumb:

“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.” - Harry S Truman, in Observer, April 13, 2021

Which works so well because it combines severity (implying more people getting hit) with relatability (it’s less abstract when you’re getting hit personally). There’s an added undercurrent of mental anxiety, hearkening the mental definition of “depression”.

So obviously, keep your fingers crossed that you’ll merely observe a recession during 2008, instead of experiencing a depression.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/11/2021 08:17:10 AM
Category: Business, Society, Wordsmithing
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