Single Page

SINGLE PAGE....With a slowdown in advertising prompting online sites to cut back on their ad inventory, Felix Salmon suggests one easy way to do it:

In the early days of the web, in an attempt to goose pageviews, publishers started asking readers to click through two or three or sometimes even a dozen different pages to get through one story. It's annoying and self-defeating, and I devoutly wish that a move to reduce inventory will kill off this miserable habit.

....Every time I go to a website like the NYT or The Big Money, the need to hunt around for the "single page" button and click on it and wait for the page to reload makes me hate the site just a tiny bit. For really gruesome offenders like Time, I simply don't read a lot of their listicles, no matter how good they are, because the multiple-page format makes them all but unreadable. Now that the need to maximize inventory has disappeared, maybe this whole annoying thing will go away.

Sign me up! The multiple page format is both stupid and obsolete, and it's long past time to get rid of it. The worst offenders are sites that break stories up into three or four (or more) chunks and sites whose only option for single-page reading is a "printer format" that's clunkily formatted and annoying to read. I'm with Felix on this: time to knock it off, folks.

Kindle 2.0

KINDLE 2.0....Brad Stone is liveblogging the release of the Kindle 2.0 book reader:

10:21 a.m. | The Reveal: Mr. Bezos is showcasing the device: The Kindle2 has resdesigned page-turning buttons along its sides, a thinner profile, a metal back, and standard round keys — none of the angular weirdness of the original model. It has 16 shades of gray, crisper photos, clear text, 25 percent faster page turns and 25 percent more battery life. “You can read for 2 weeks on a single charge,” says Mr. Bezos.

....10:26 a.m. | Interface Updates: Mr. Bezos is demonstrating the new Kindle and the joystick-like controller. The old version of the Kindle had an awkward scroll wheel and a separate vertical screen that helped users maneuver a cursor up and down its screen. Kindle users can use the five-way controller to highlight a word and automatically look it up.

That certainly sounds nice. Does this mean I should go out and buy one? Or would it be yet another electronic gadget that I use a few times and then set aside to collect dust? Consider this an open thread to persuade me one way or the other.

The Problem With the Senate's Stimulus Package

A bottom-line issue in this recession is whether the government will help provide the unemployed with the most basic necessities of life: food, shelter, and health care. The ranks of jobless Americans have swelled by more than 50 percent in the last year, to 11.6 million. The official rate of 7.6 percent accounts only for the recently unemployed; by a broader measure that includes people who have stopped looking for work or can’t find full-time jobs, it jumps to a sobering 13.9 percent. Job losses have plunged millions of families into economic insecurity–where they join the working poor and the elderly and disabled poor, whose incomes are already lower than the unemployment benefits of many middle-class people. Beyond these essential stop-gap measures, of course, what these people really need are jobs.

Will they get them? Read James Ridgeway's new piece.

You really want to stimulate the economy? Quit whining and start partying. Need inspiration in these dark and gloomy economic times? Join the Krewe du Vieux, New Orleans satirical marching organization, as they jump start the Mardi Gras season with floats themes such as the “Salute to Trickle Down Economics” and “Investments in Stocks & Bondage.” The rest are just are just too titillating to mention. The group is known for raunchy floats: think giant sperms and lady parts. Mardi Gras season officially starts with the Krewe du Vieux parade today and climaxes (yes, I said it) February 24.

And keep this in mind: Louisiana is one of three states in the country that recorded job gains, not losses, in December, so they must be doing something right.

JFK's Press Conference Humor (Video)

In honor of Barack Obama's first primetime press conference as president, scheduled for 8 pm tonight, have a look at this collection of John F. Kennedy's press conference quips and one-liners. As Walter Shapiro points out in TNR today, JFK used humor masterfully to disarm the press. Obama's first attempt at emulating him fell flat; we'll see tonight if he can improve.

Quote of the Day, 02.09.09

Dean Baker in TPM, via Ben Smith:
Trying to save money on stimulus, is like finding a short cut for your jogging route. We can do it, but it undermines the whole point of the effort.
In the words of Barack Obama, "What do you think a stimulus is? It's spending — that's the whole point! Seriously."

Rolling Stone has it on good authority that Bay Area pop-punkers Green Day will be releasing their eighth album, 21st Century Breakdown, this May. If you thought that perhaps they'd realized that despite the commercial success of 2004's American Idiot, it was actually a bit of an overreach, relying on copycat grandiosity, and maybe it's time to get back to basics, you'd be so, so wrong. The new album appears to ratchet the high-concept gobbledygook up to 11, featuring 16 songs separated into three "acts," including "Heroes and Cons," "Charlatans and Saints" and "Horseshoes and Handgrenades." Huh? They also appear to be turning the tables on alleged plagiarizers Coldplay with the reported song title "Viva La Gloria." Or Mrs. Estefan and All Her Friends? The band also showcased their exciting new high-concept hairdos at last night's Grammys (see photo above)—hey guys, ever heard of the Pet Shop Boys? Legendary producer and Garbage-man Butch Vig will be at the controls, which means at least it'll sound pretty. You can pre-order the album already over here. However, the inevitable Dean Gray mashup album will probably be special order only.
Last week, I asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs if President Obama would be mobilizing his millions of supporters to apply pressure on Congress to pass the stimulus legislation. Gibbs did not give a direct answer. And it has seemed that Obama and his aides have not been eager to use their list of 13 million supporters to flex their political muscle. This past weekend, Organizing for America, the Obama campaign's spin-off, held house meetings across the country regarding the stimulus package, and it sent a video of Obama to these sessions and to everyone on its mega-mailing list. Here's the full video: The presentation began with Obama saying, "Hi everybody." He then thanked the viewers for all the "hard work" they did during the campaign and for "staying involved in the task of remaking this nation." Referring to recent job loss numbers, he noted that "sometimes Washington is slow to get the news." He touted the stimulus bill moving through Congress and said, "If we fail to pass it promptly, our economy will fall oone trillion dollars short of what it is capable of producing this year." He maintained that the stimulus measure would lead to the upgrading of schools and laboratories, the modernization of the health care system, the development of a smart grid, and the rebuilding of roads and levees. He sold the bill well, noting that there will be plenty of transparency and accountability provisions in the legislation: "This is your democracy. And as I said throughout the campaign, change never begins from the top down. It begins from the bottom up. It begins with each and every one of you." But what did Obama want each and every one his video-viewers to do to bring about this change? Not much, really. He said:

What the Cuts to the Stimulus Mean, In Real Terms

Everyone is still trying to get a handle on what got cut from the stimulus bill as a small group of centrist senators worked toward the compromise bill that will likely be voted on this evening. CNN has a pretty good list supplied by a Democratic staffer, but while some of it is specific ("$1 billion for Head Start/Early Start," "$200 million for National Science Foundation"), some of it is laughably not so ("$100 million for science"). What is clear is that emergency funding for states that are seeing looming budget crises got cut big time, a development that Paul Krugman calls "really, really bad." Krugman estimates that the Senate compromise bill will create 600,000 fewer jobs than the House version. Firedoglake runs the numbers and comes up with their own estimate here. Ryan Grim, writing in the Huffington Post, checks win with a bunch of economists and figures out why the danger of not spending enough is far, far greater than the danger of spending too much.

As for that cut in state funding, I want to make sure everyone knows what it means in concrete terms. Here is the LA Times:

Plant/Krauss, Coldplay Big Winners at Grammys

Oh, the many ironies of life on the West Coast: we're mocked as hippies even though we all have cars, people imagine us frolicking on the beach when it's actually 45 degrees and raining, and awards ceremonies, even though they're taking place in our time zone, are tape-delayed three hours for us, so we can finish our dinners. This does mean that we can look on the interwebs and see the winners before they even start, though, which is nice. Of course, it turns out that my predictions were pretty much wrong: I apparently had a brief moment of naïve optimism that the Grammys would suddenly start honoring what are truly the best songs of the year, and not whatever artist has the greatest name recognition amongst a bunch of 60-year-olds. Silly me. While I held out 50% of my hope that M.I.A. might pull out an upset in the record of the year category, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won for "Please Read the Letter." Live-blogging the ceremony, the New York Times' Jon Caramanica had an amusing observation: perhaps, in 30 years, Animal Collective might arouse the same nostalgic feelings that Led Zeppelin do now, but somehow I doubt it. Krauss and Plant also picked up album of the year, over my pick of Radiohead—I guess my thinking was that Grammy voters would acknowledge both In Rainbows' sheer musical triumph and its status as an industry-changing event, but nope, they did not.