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Just a bit of weekend miscellany:

  • As of this writing, my Friday post about Glenn Beck has gotten 466 comments. This is — by far — the most comments I’ve ever gotten on a post since I moved to Mother Jones. So I dived in to see why. Answer: a Beckian true believer named Suzanne somehow discovered the post and wrote the very first comment. As near as I can tell, the entire rest of the comment thread is either directly or indirectly a response to Suzanne, not a comment on the blog post per se. There’s no real moral here, just a demonstration of the power of the first mover.
     
  • The Egyptian government released Wael Ghonim from detention on February 7. Four days later Hosni Mubarak was toast. I wonder how many Arab regimes are drawing the obvious lesson from this?
     
  • Maybe Michael Hiltzik is just an old codger who doesn’t know a good thing when it smacks him in the face. Maybe I am too. But the valuations of any site that can somehow pass itself off as “social networking” have gotten awfully eye-popping lately, and that sure brings back memories. Plus this: “It’s not just the numbers that transport one to bygone times; it’s the familiar trappings of frenzy. There are the same explanations that what’s important isn’t actual revenues, but eyeballs, and the lionization of venture investors who thus far have proved themselves wholly capable of shoveling the money out, not yet of shoveling it back in….Maybe one of these hot companies is the next Google. But it’s more likely that these prices are insane.”
     
  • I hate loyalty cards. A few days ago I was buying some books at Borders (gotta use up my gift cards before they go bust!) and dropped into a nearby Petco to buy some litter and cat food. Do you want to join our loyalty program? asked the cashier. Nope. Are you sure? You’ll save mumble mumble dollars. No. Just ring me up. Thanks.

    I wasn’t really paying attention, and it was only when I was halfway home that I realized he had said “nine dollars.” Nine dollars? Sure enough, a pair of items that would cost about $28 even at my expensive local grocery store had set me back $35. So we’ve gotten to the point, at Petco at least, where you can’t simply drop in casually to buy something if you happen to be in the area. Unless you’re willing to sign up for their loyalty program, you’re going to pay fantastically more than the ordinary retail price for stuff. This really pisses me off. And needless to say, I’ll never drop into a Petco again.

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AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

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