The New Gilded Age

All Hail the Mega Media Monopolies

The book industry is getting comfortable with the m-word: They are beginning to like the way it feels when it leaves their lips, the way it reads in interviews, the way it sounds in public conversation. Popular airport storyteller James Patterson recently told BookExpo: "If Amazon’s not a monopoly, it’s the beginning of one."

Amazon's pointedly cold conflict with Hachette, a company with a major part in Amazon's past and little obvious role in its future, at first felt personal—like, there must have been some bad blood, or a grudge, for Amazon to effectively de-list one of the largest publishers in the world, right? But the reality is [...]


'Repo Games': Turning Poverty Into A Game Show

The insider term for the goal of those who produce reality television shows, those who assemble the footage into episodes, is a profane one. I learned this from a reality television producer (who wished not to be named so as to continue being a reality TV producer). "We in reality TV talk about 'shit to gold,'" RTP said. This is the mechanism by which some soul is given an opportunity to overcome an obstacle. "The audience loves seeing shit turn into gold." Objectively speaking, they certainly do.

I was talking to RTP about this peculiar little program called "Repo Games." The show is, naturally, about repos. Home foreclosures [...]


The Great Nobel Prize Cash-In Begins With A Big Bang

What is the current market value of a Nobel Prize? Until yesterday, that question would have been virtually impossible to answer, which proved to be advantageous to the family of Francis Crick. Heritage Auctions, the entity that conducted the sale of Crick’s 23-carat gold medal in New York this week, declared it a "historic moment."

As such, bidding started at $250,000.

1 Niels Bohr offered his own Nobel Prize to benefit the Finland Relief in 1940. It was purchased by an anonymous bidder who donated it to the Frederiksborg Museum. Son Aage Niels Bohr, a nuclear physicist, also won the prize. The younger Bohr died in 2009, and whoever [...]

Liberty Tax Service: Your Huddled Masses Yearning To Be Franchisees

It's as sure a sign of the arrival of Spring as the tulips peeking and the peepers peeping and the open-toed shoes. We've all seen them. People, dressed in powder-blue frocks and Styrofoam hats, frolicking at the strip mall turn-in and at the high-traffic urban business district. And they're cheery, genuinely cheery, like children on Christmas morning, or an I-banker reckoning his bonus. They are dressed like the Statue of Liberty. Sometimes they have boomboxes, the kind that you can change the batteries yourself, and they jam tunes.

Meet the new working class: seasonal temps paid to gambol like dystopic Care Bears in cheap national monument costumes.

We're [...]


Olsen Caught With Handbag! What Does It Mean?

You may or may not have heard about this, but last month one of the Olsen twins was photographed with a handbag. I'm not making this up. And this is not like those other times that one of the Olsen twins was photographed with a handbag. No, forget about all those Yves Saint Laurents, Balenciagas and Chanels (as shown here). This specific handbag on this specific Olsen (Ashley) was an as-yet unreleased handbag from The Row, the Olsens' own fashion line. Additionally, this specific handbag retails at $39,000.

No, I'm not lying. Not only was it on the Internet, it was all over the Internet: [...]