Today in particular was a really interesting day for business news but again a bad day for writing full posts so here's another bulleted list of the good stuff.
- Paul LaMonica of CNNMoney's The Buzz writes about why merger mania is back. He goes to the familiar explanation that company's finally had to do something with all that cash, getting his usual mix of insightful interviews, broad-based market analysis and arched eyebrow.
- Chris Isidore of CNNMoney is surprised that manufacturing is coming back, in a Halley's Comet of a story. The reality is that it never really went away so whenever a reporter wants to write about it coming back, there it is. The Wall Street Journal tried to start a series on this last year but got bored after about four installments.
- Jayne O'Donnell of USA Today writes on a scandal that's hardly surprising. It turns out that if you spend $10 to see famous people give you motivational speeches, they will try to sell you something more expensive at the same time. Is anyone really surprised by this? This is a scoop right up there with exploding the lid off high-pressure sales tactics at time share presentations.
- On the other hand, kudos to Larry Copeland of USA Today for being among the first to report that the Institute for Highway Safety has found that bans on texting while driving actually increase accidents where they are in effect. Personally, I can't imagine ever doing that but apparently it's more dangerous to make people afraid to be caught.
- Felix Gillette of BusinessWeek reports on comedians who found fame after their TV show was cancelled by doing videos on YouTube instead. They've turned it into a profitable business they control, rather than the networks. It's too heartwarming to be considered unemployment porn - but even mentioning porn out of context raises my hit count so there it is. Read this one.
- Finally, another great story by JP Mangalindan of Fortune, this time on TimeLife Books and how they are still selling expensive media collections on late night TV delivered on archaic disks and tapes. It was a story just sitting there begging to be written. I had so much fun reading it, I'm going to give it an excerpt.
- Care for that Patsy Cline box collection in your iTunes? Too bad. There are no digital downloads -- only CD and DVD sets sent via snail mail. There are no alternative methods of payment like BillMeLater or even PayPal, either -- just credit cards. It's as if all the technological advancements of the past decade never happened.
- Mangalindan interviews the folks who own the company now (sold by Time Inc. to PE investors in 2003) and they respond that they selling aging products to an aging demographic that still prefers its stuff on hard media. It's a really funny, but also interesting story about the last holdout in a business that has largely transitioned away from its model. Very interesting stuff.