Occasional reader – WSJ, GPS, food orgies, tax rebates

Some interesting reads from the last few weeks:

  • Wall St. Journal Makes Politics Its Business (Washington Post) – Media critic Howard Kurtz takes an in-depth look at changes at the Wall Street Journal since its takeover by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The biggest change is the increase in political coverage amid one of the most interesting political campaigns in recent history. The Journal, a rarity among newspapers, is increasing its news hole thanks to its new benefactor. via Howard Kurtz
  • Steered Wrong: Drivers Trust GPS Even to a Fault (WSJ) – For all their convenience, portable navigation devices and online mapping still have one big problem: the world’s road network is constantly changing and digital mappers can’t keep pace. Some countries in Europe even have signs at tricky intersections telling drivers to ignore their GPS’ instructions. Yet many drivers put their faith in technology and blindly follow their GPS’ instructions. Perhaps this is because their accuracy is oversold; a TomTom TV ad (see below) shows a couple driving across a bridge during the ribbon cutting ceremony. The typical map on a PND is a year old the day you take it out of the box. via Doris Truong
  • Eating away the innings in baseball’s cheap seat (USA Today) – What’s more American than baseball and Cracker Jacks? Possibly stuffing yourself silly. Faced with anemic attendance, some teams have come up with a new way to generate revenue: all-you-can-eat sections where you can eat all the hot dogs, french fries and soda you can stomach. At the Braves’ Turner field, the “typical all-you-can-eat customer downed: 3.35 hot dogs; one 20-ounce soda; one 7.9-ounce bag of peanuts; one 3-ounce order of nachos and 32 ounces of popcorn.” In unrelated news, the average seat at the Mets’ new Citi Field is 21 inches wide, 2 inches wider than those at Shea.
  • IRS making sure your rebate gets spent (Marketplace) – One of the big concerns about the “economic stimulus” package is that people will do something silly with it — like save it or use it to pay down debt. I suggested that the rebates be issued as VISA debit cards. Apparently the IRS is using lifestyle analysis to determine what taxpayers want and spending their $600 rebate checks for them. One couple received an air conditioner instead of the check they were expecting.

About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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