There have been a zillion start-ups and dot-coms and new-economy companies, so I don’t blame you if you only remember the ones that succeeded. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter you know, of course, and you might even remember some near-misses like Friendster and MySpace. But you probably never heard of Orkut or QQ or Fubar or CherryTap or Cyworld or Daum or the thousands of others of social-networking sites. You’ve heard of Amazon.com, but probably not its less successful competitors Pet.com and Tiger and CD-Now and WebVan. Only fans of business disaster remember them.
There was even a website called Fucked Company, which maintained a gleefully mean-spirited list of start-ups that were dying or dead, for the entertainment of gleefully mean-spirited people like me. In 2007, the website itself went bankrupt, dying in an abrupt and memorable burst of irony.
But only the true connoisseurs of failure remember Keedoozle. Continue reading
I did an incredibly stupid thing for an incredibly stupid reason.
I was at a point in my life when I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I was restless and distracted and not finding joy in anything. I went to see a terrible movie called Torque, a rip-off of the also-terrible, but far more successful The Fast and The Furious, with motorcycles in place of cars.
Dana Millbank, political columnist for the Washington Post had this commonplace observation:
The administration announced last week that only 1.08 million people ages 18 to 34 had signed up for Obamacare by the end of February, or about 25 percent of total enrollees. If the proportion doesn’t improve significantly, the result likely will be fatal for the Affordable Care Act.
Yeah, Obamacare is circling the bowl. Tell me something I don’t know.
Do you remember the movie Bedazzled, the 1967 satire with Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, or the more recent remake with Brendon Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley?
The movies are retellings of the Faust story, with a little bit of “The Monkey’s Paw” thrown in. A depressed loser (Stanley, played by Moore in original, then Elliot, played Fraser in the remake) sells his soul to the Devil (Cook/Hurley) in return for seven wishes. The Damned, as he is known in the agreement, intends to use the wishes to attract the woman he is in love with. The Devil deliberately misinterprets each wish, granting it literally but frustrating its intent.
“A woman alone in Indochina” – that would make a good title for a novel, but the idea scares actual women.
I have talked to several women who said they were considered traveling in Southeast Asia, but were afraid to go alone. Literally afraid, for their safety. I spoke with a Brazilian woman who expressed a great deal of concern over visiting Vietnam. Exasperated, I finally had to point out that Brazil has 20 times the murder rate of Vietnam, and that an armed policeman on a busy corner in São Paulo was in more danger than a woman walking down a dark alley in Hanoi.
Pan Am put the first 747 into service in January of 1970, inaugurating more-or-less officially the modern travel era. Unless you’re, well, old, you’ve lived your whole life in a world where flying overseas is routine. So packing to go overseas should also be routine.
But no, whenever I get on the plane to Jakarta or Rome or Hong Kong, there are always hundreds of other people aboard who haven’t a clue how to pack the right way. Or at least, they don’t how to pack my way, but that’s a very minor distinction. Continue reading
There was an economist named Henry George who pointed out that all government taxes really “ought” to be paid for by taxes on real estate. That plan has a lot of advantages. Continue reading