We live in infantile times

Mothers increasingly look like their daughters, and they, mothers and daughters, both behave like little girls. Fathers compete with their sons. We all try to stay young until we die. Nobody wants to be lumped in the “old jerks” category anymore. That’s why the world, or the richest and “luckiest” part of it, resembles a kindergarten.

Popular culture, TV shows, movies, books, games, the Internet, media, technology—these are our favorite toys. Vladimir Putin miserably singing “Blueberry Hill,” accompanied by the best American musicians and applauded by the best American actors, is one of the most grotesque recent images of life in our kindergarten.

via These Infantile Times.

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The greening of Wal-Mart

Recently, Wal-Mart has been rolling out plans for what it calls a sustainability index — a measure of how green the products it sells really are. It is asking each of its suppliers, an enormous list of businesses, 15 questions about the life of their products from manufacturing through disposal: questions about greenhouse gas emissions, social responsibility, waste reduction initiatives and water use. (via Can Wal-Mart Be Sustainable?)

As “green” and “sustainability” become shared values and norms in the external environment, businesses must adjust.

Benefits?

  • Micro: “It is a sound idea. And probably a very good marketing tool.”
  • Macro: “Given Wal-Mart’s huge purchasing power, if it is done right it could promote both much-needed transparency and more environmentally sensitive practices.”

Where people go in difficult economic times

Books fly off shelves as library use soars
http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090108/NEWS0107/901080426/1001/NEWS01&nav_category=NEWS01

The Santa Barbara Independent Libraries Busy in Faltering Economy
http://www.independent.com/news/2009/jan/08/libraries-busy-faltering-economy/

The Public Library Renaissance
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/the-public-library-renaissance/

Judge orders libraries to stay open
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/pa/20090106_Judge_orders_libraries_to_stay_open.html

Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries
http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/

via Internet scout project

A bi-cultural executive

She might have three selves, but she also has two different styles. The French one, which loves these abstract ideas of freedom and the future. And the American one, with its management clichés of teamwork and listening. The two make an odd mixture.

Perhaps she herself is a miniature version of GE in France, which she says takes 20 per cent of its culture from the US and 80 per cent from France.

via FT.com

I.O.U.S.A. or Don’t buy stuff you cannot afford

I.O.U.S.A. is a documentary that explains the national debt. It has been called the Inconvenient Truth of fiscal realities:

The CEPR disagrees with the documentary’s numbers.

David Walker, the former US Comptroller General, on 60 Minutes:

Walker is currently the President of a foundation.

Ben Bernanke and the financial crisis

A long article at The New Yorker

Print media: driving forces meet business model

The Christian Science Monitor will cease publishing a weekday paper. Time Inc. is was cutting 600 jobs and reorganizing its staff. The largest newspaper publisher in the country is laying off up to 3,000 people. The Los Angeles Times‘ newsroom is half the size it was just seven years ago. The 15th-largest paper in the country is reducing its editorial staff by 40 percent.

The paradox of all these announcements is that newspapers and magazines do not have an audience problem — newspaper Web sites are a vital source of news, and growing — but they do have a consumer problem.

Stop and think about where you are reading this column. If you are one of the million or so people who are reading it in a newspaper that landed on your doorstop or that you picked up at the corner, you are in the minority. This same information is available to many more millions on this paper’s Web site, in RSS feeds, on hand-held devices, linked and summarized all over the Web.

Historically, people took an interest in the daily paper about the time they bought a home. Now they are checking their BlackBerrys for alerts about mortgage rates.

“The auto industry and the print industry have essentially the same problem,” said Clay Shirky, the author of “Here Comes Everybody.” “The older customers like the older products and the new customers like the new ones.”

For readers, the drastic diminishment of print raises an obvious question: if more people are reading newspapers and magazines, why should we care whether they are printed on paper?

The answer is that paper is not just how news is delivered; it is how it is paid for.

More than 90 percent of the newspaper industry’s revenue still derives from the print product, a legacy technology that attracts fewer consumers and advertisers every single day. A single newspaper ad might cost many thousands of dollars while an online ad might only bring in $20 for each 1,000 customers who see it.