Yesterday I gave a pretty rosy, contrarian view of the markets. I’m not saying that everything will be all better on Thursday– but they will be better on Thursday. The Government will pass the bail-out– and it won’t be a Patriot Act of Constitutional mega-destruction but a much needed check of our financial systems. I don’t subscribe to the lefty media conspiracy theory propagated by the right (I prefer the media-wants-money theory).
I do think the ratings go up when people are really scared, so it pays to make things sound really scary.
All the sound and fury around the credit collapse brings on the idea of the herd mentality in the markets and yet another opportunity for hype (from Chapter 6–written way before the bear attack–btw):
Calling the stock market’s ups and downs sounds like it would be a fairly bloodless undertaking, as devoid of emotion as an IRS auditor. But market gadfly/guru Robert Prechter’s Wave Principle shows otherwise. In 1978, in his book, The Elliott Wave Principle: Key to Stock Market Behavior, Prechter interrupted the naysayers who were bummed out by rampant double-digit inflation with his assurance that a raging bull market would dominate the ’80s. Then, in 1995, contrarian that he was, Prechter warned the dotcommers that the market would tank big time very soon. Both times, he was essentially right, give or take a few years. (Who’s counting?)
Prechter based his conclusions on his appreciation of mass behavior. He identified investor psychology as the market’s driver and said it swings back and forth between optimism and pessimism in predictable and measurable pendulum movements. Unlike a pendulum, though, these swings aren’t identical in duration. The timing is linked to price shifts that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few centuries. The trick is determining the price patterns and where the market is in that spectrum. Having a nose for timing is everything in forecasting cycles.
So are we at the bottom? Lots of reasons to think so–but don’t look for them from the media (yes, that is a link from AP but did you see that info anywhere prior?). Spreading calm doesn’t pay so well and with the ad model under fire– well, you gotta do something to keep ‘em watching.
Douglas Adams wrote Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. A masterpiece of satire wrapped in some absurdist Science Fiction and, in my humble opinion very much a modern version of Voltaire’s classic “Candide“– on acid.
In Hitchhiker’s, the reader is given two critical pieces of advice. The first: always bring a towel. More important however is the second: Don’t panic
The summer of 9/11 the market was teetering on the brink. I had just finished Candide and was thinking about Voltaire’s assertion that optimists were kind of batty if not outright stupid. Rationality and optimism make strange bedfellows. Then the planes hit, and I felt like an idiot for arguing a week prior that the economy would be fine. Remarkably the markets recovered anyway–despite Bush’s Iraq shenanigans and my vain hurt feelings.
Well the markets are in a panic again. Why? Essentially because financiers bought bad insurance from people who had no money to cover losses. That’s fraud–and will be rooted out quickly. Those who think this downturn will last a long time would do well spend just a minute to understand the velocity of money and the real size of the economy. It’s unlikely that folks on the sideline paid much attention to the fall in oil prices and commodities. As long as this fiasco isn’t hyper-inflationary it’s not worth pulling out your 401K and stuffing it in the mattress. It’s too late for that– even if it was.
Settle down Beavis.
The market will likely capitulate tomorrow as investors discover there is a “pony in there somewhere“. That pony is the value of the American economy and the new engine of demand in China and India. Will the economy dip? Sure it will. It always does. Is it the end of the world? Probably not.
Ah the punditry. You can almost smell the pretense. The left and the right fall into place. When reviewing the scoring over the course of the debate (CNN had the live polling data) you could actually watch the confirmation bias falling into place.
The Debates reminded me of the Simpson’s season 8 From Tree House Of Horror VII Citizen Kang. Kodos or Kang: Who are you voting for? Somebody loaded the Episode up on Youtube, so have a look –before they pull it for copyright infringement–
“More and conflicting information threatens to rob us of our most precious resource: time. The information/documentation onslaught will be a stern test for how individuals and institutions manage their own confirmation bias. When confronted with tremendous and often overwhelming amounts of data, much of it conflicting, it is easier to see only that which confirms one’s opinion. So confirmation bias becomes a commonly used coping tool. Media outlets succeed where they can aggregate audience around common confirmation bias.” From Chapter 1
The Washington Post quoted a brand new study from Pew that essentially declared the patriarchy dead. So, in keeping with the current book hyping theme, a chunk from Chapter One for your reading pleasure.
BTW–Don’t miss the tip of the day and song of the day below the aforementioned chunk–T
“It’s been pointedly said that women who seek only equality with men lack ambition. But women are ascendant, and brainpower, not gender, will determine who’s in charge. Reproduction, too, will change, and forecasters know that once semen becomes trivial, the patriarchal party will be over. Of course, along the way there will be a number of political cycles driven by the fear and empowerment that such a reality will engender, but taken to its logical conclusion, traditional reproduction and the nuclear family will become more and more marginalized, no matter how people think God feels about it. Reactionary efforts will be as inevitable as they will be futile, but they will serve to stall the future in a way that will allow people to manage and absorb the change. Those reactionary efforts will likely become more violent and extreme because power is not transferred easily.
Recognition of the power shift from male to female isn’t new. Recall lawyer and poet William Ross Wallace’s Civil War adage, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world,” a prescient observation that is now more overt than covert. Not all women will be happy about the responsibility this shift in power requires, nor will this shift address the inequities that stem from the cultural currency associated with beauty and youth. These things will continue to hold sway. The influence of beauty and youth will likely be greater in the female-dominated future than in the male-dominated past. An ironic result: The objectification of women, once the purview of male media titans, will be thought of more as idol worship than porn, while its protesters blindly blame the falling patriarchy and continue to miss the point.
Indeed, University of Southern California film professor Constance Penley has observed, “Porn is the only sector of the film industry in which women make more money than men…There is a higher percentage of female directors, producers and stars in the adult film industry than in the ‘traditional’ film sector.”
Likewise, in the winter 2006 issue of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, Clay Calvert and Robert D. Richard quoted Joy King, the management executive behind the Jenna Jameson phenomenon, on the subject. In it she said, “The biggest misconception [about the porn business] is that men run the industry.”
All which gives me an awesome new excuse to hype my book by including a relevant exerpt!
But first a quote of the day:
“A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.” Edith Wharton, American writer and designer, 1862–1937
Now back to our regularly scheduled hype–
From Chapter 8– The Authenticity Trap
Artesianal revivals happen quickly and are ultimately defined by their lack of scale; the very thing businesses need to be profitable. This is the spark that ignites trends: The approval of the highly-involved confirming value on a trend or object by virtue of its aesthetics —not its profit potential or its ability to scale. Still the hard truth remains: market innovations must scale despite the aesthetics that established them, or they die– taking the credibility of their adopters with them. So utility –in production and adoption– is essential
Hold that word, utility. It’s not sexy, like authenticity (or artesianal, but it’s a prime reason why innovations take hold in a culture. Love those cute little rows of unique boutique-y shops? Sure we do. They remind us of the bedrock integrity of Main Street merchants who had what you couldn’t get anyplace else. There are few strip centers or super-regional malls plunked down onto acres of suburban asphalt parking space that can equal or better that charm. But none of these boutique merchants match the ingeniously utilitarian shopping mall, which provides convenient access to brands, breadth of selection, and value pricing under one roof. Some of them even become ersatz Main Streets where adolescents gather for their cruising rituals and oldsters come to power-walk the mall corridor “sidewalks.”
8.2 Keeping it Real
This is not to say that authenticity isn’t a legitimate selling proposition. But authenticity as a selling proposition is only legitimate when it can be sourced back to an artesianal source. There are times when authenticity has such an attraction to the culture as a whole that it comes back into vogue. Authenticity reigned in the early ’90s as Grunge (rooted in the artesianal garage band aesthetic) killed “hair bands” dead, and at the same time Gangsta rap dominated hip-hop. Warrant’s lead singer-songwriter, Jani Lane, tells the story of walking into Columbia Records’ then chief Don Ienner’s office to find not his band’s album cover behind the receptionist’s desk as he had expected, but new labelmate’s Alice In Chains. Lane famously recalled, “We were no longer a priority for the label because there was a new movement coming, and we just didn’t fit in.” The market had spoken. Party-rock utility had been replaced by a stripped-down artesianal, more personal grunge aesthetic.
Mediapost reports that the much anticipated g-phone is hitting the market. T–Mobile is the first with sprint/nextel following behind. Burried in the hoopla is the fact that T-mobiles 3G network is woefully shy of what is required for a good browsing experience. And while the new g-phone has an open platform so will Verison’s Linux platform coming soon. The space is just emerging with this news confirming Apple even further outfront than many might have imagined– given the limitations of the current competitive networks’ capacities.
Meanwhile, readers at Boy Genius were in a tizzy regarding the Blackberry Touch. I can tell you firsthand the testing done in Atlanta was no joke. This device is potentially a much greater threat to iPhone’s dominance but still needs to go to market in a big way. Wierd research leaks like the one in Peachtree Center aren’t going to help.
Lest anyone think Apple is perfect
So here it starts little pieces of my book in the blog so you can have tastes– we’ll have some advanced copies for friends and family. Just ask. Look out though. Might just ask you for a review on Amazon.
From the first chapter…
Let’s assume for a sec that Shaw, Hegel, Shakespeare, Santayana, Gibson, and Porter are correct—that history repeats with trivial differences that cloak its repetition, keeping the uneducated blissfully unaware. We see this in events, movements, and actions that are happening or already have happened. Just knowing about the repetitive nature of the world has little value, however. Knowing why lets you sketch your own vision of tomorrow. As time passes, details form and depth emerges as you test and retest potential scenarios against emerging relevant events.
Today our culture is in a new phase that has permanently reconfigured the balance of power between the purveyors and the creators of things that society embraces. As the global playing field gets more level, or “flat” as columnist and author Thomas Friedman has written, individuals will expand their power to produce as well as consume things to buy, concepts to absorb, and trends to adopt and by which to live.
Hey kids they did it. A new royalty program that might just work.
Terms of the agreement call for interactive streaming and limited downloading to pay a mechanical royalty of 10.5% of revenue, “less any amounts owed for performance royalties.”
Royalty-free promotional streaming is allowed in some instances; non-interactive and non-downloadable streaming “do not require reproduction or distribution licenses from copyright owners,” announcement said.
Pretty good news for the little guys. We’ll see.
So off I went to new york city to see two of my very favorite bands and in doing so saw the new music biz landscape in high-def.
First was Sigur Rós in at the gorgeous United Palace in Harlem.
I’ve loved Sigur Rós since the second album. They may be the first band to really legitimize using the orchestra in rock music. Something I’ve waited for since the 70’s. Yea, sorry, the The Moody Blues, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica didn’t quite cut it.
Except at the United on Wednesday, Sigur Ros had no orchestra.
“Bully!” you might say. “Rock bands are better with out them.”
Perhaps. But orchestral post-rock bands are not. Worse, apparently the drooling and fawning that Sigur Rós has enjoyed from the press over the past 7-8 years has apparently gone to their heads. The lead singer wore a Sgt. Pepper’s jacket and red glitter under his eyes–causing a guy behind me to comment sardonically
“well they’re rock stars now”.
Yes. Yes they are. Rock stars without repertoire. By that I mean rock stars without an independent sense of their work and its effect on their audience. Back in the bad-old-days record companies helped artists figure out what to play when. That’s gone now. And we are all better for it–mostly. Sure I wanted to hear the new songs but i wanted to hear the hits. Sigur Rós opened “Svefn-g-Englar” and played “Viorar Ver Til Loftararsa” but that was essentially it. No “Agaetis Byrjun”, no “Glosoli”, no “Untitled 2″.
The following night I saw Mogwai at Terminal 5. I LOVE Mogwai too. But damn it, Beavis, I wanted to hear “Take Me Somewhere Nice” . Granted I was late and could have missed it. But I wanted to hear the hits. Listen Tony badassmofo Bennett still sings “The Good Life”. Go ahead. Dis Tony. I dare you.
So Mogwai could have played more hits –and Sigur Ros could have played more hits. While this debate between playing the audience’s favorites and the last album are ancient, the debate is over. The artists have won. At the same time, I need more motivation to go out and see bands, not less. Bands make more money touring now than they do recording, so they better get the message or audiences will slowly–imperceptibly–loose interest as shows become intolerably self-indulgent.
No. Neither Mogwai or Sigur Ros was “intolerably self-indulgent”– but they were dangerously close. Way too close. Of course my expectation was way too high and I was way too excited to see these bands–especially in Capital City.
Still despite my geeky–doomed- to-be-disapointed over enthusiasm Sigur ros’s stage show was outstanding. The audio was phenomenal. The drums sounded better than any I have ever heard. Ever. And well, I learned more about the bass that Wednesday night than I have 10 years prior.
Further, Mogwai proved that you can use three guitars and not be Molly Hatchet. Their tones were so great I could have listened to them for another hour. i just wanted to hear “Take Me Somewhere Nice”, “Kappa”, “Glasgow Mega-Snake” and ‘Summer’. Regardless of the economic changes in the record business, I still say there’s room to consider your whole audience and not just your boredom when playing the Big Apple. Come on guys, sell out a little. I mean after all, you’re wearing eye make up and you left your string sections back at home.