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Published Feb. 13, 2008

Biz tidbits from the Internet,blogs and podcasts

Tongue planted firmly in cheek - or maybe not, it's a bit hard to tell - Fion MacCloud of the British site Finance Markets ( recently offered "10 Ways the Recession Can Help the Environment." A recession, he noted, means less waste dumped into landfills, fewer SUVs sold and fewer people taking vacations, in that way using less fuel. In response, Michael Graham Richard of noted ways the environment is hurt. Companies "will reduce their investments into research and development and green programs," he wrote. Also, when consumers seek bargains, "that usually means that greener products won't make it." If governments "start taxing 'bads' instead of 'goods' (pollution, carbon, toxins instead of labor, income, capital gains)," he added, "the least expensive products will also be the greenest." And with less access to capital, "start-ups working on the breakthrough green technologies of tomorrow can have trouble getting funds." Finally, politicians may redirect their attention from environmental initiatives toward the economy. "Massive corn subsidies anyone?" Richard wrote.

File this bit of gossip under 'unlikely'

Has Silicon Valley become a hotbed of drug abuse, with hopelessly addicted venture capitalists demanding that would-be entrepreneurs supply them with OxyContin before they will agree to finance startups? Probably not, but that has not stopped Valleywag (, the Silicon Valley gossip blog, from posting such allegations over the past few months. It began in December, when the blog flatly claimed, based on an e-mail message from a single anonymous "tipster," that OC-80, a type of OxyContin, was becoming "the Valley's next big drug." This week, Valleywag published the supposed account of an employee at a startup who was fired because he could not secure OxyContin for his boss to give to a venture capitalist. The boss purportedly wrote an e-mail message to the employee saying: "I told these investors we can get them OC. But just a couple days before I meet with them, you tell me you can't get it. They were counting on it, Joe. We are not going to get funded. You are fired." The stilted language aside, would a boss in this situation really fire "Joe" via e-mail, spelling out the reasons so frankly? Many Valleywag commenters thought not. "OK," wrote one, "I'm changing Valleywag's tag from 'News' to 'Fiction.'"

Site offers tips on secret store sales

According to Linsey Knerl of the personal finance site Wisebread, Target stores are often filled with bargains, but they can be hard to find. For instance, a product may be marked down, but there is no hint of its real price. "The only way to really know if an item is on 'secret clearance' is to scan it, made handy by the self-scanning stations." These and other hints are available at