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Opening Bell: 8.22.06

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Booming Market for Doom Lot (New York Daily News)
It’s certainly an opportunity that doesn’t show up all too often—a vacant lot on the Upper East Side zoned for residential use. So it’s not exactly surprising that buyers are flooding the phone lines of the brokers charged with selling it. The property is listed for $8 million, about twice what it was thought to be worth when it had a 124-year old townhouse on it. That was back before Dr. Nicholas Bartha destroyed himself and his home by rigging the gas meter to explode. There is apparently no discount for grisly death or haunting by the ghosts of madmen.
Crude Oil Trades Near Four-Day High as Iran Defies UN Demand (Bloomberg)
If you are reading this then you are still alive, which means that Iran’s response to the UN’s demand that it cease its nuclear program was something less than some Islam watchers feared and some Shiite militants hoped. Doomsday has been postponed and so it seems you will still have to go to work, pay your bills, fight with your girlfriend about whether or not you really promised to go to opera in the park tonight and worry about whether your bonus will be higher or lower than the guy at the next desk. Remember—life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly a mortal splendor. Meteors are not needed less than mountains.
Bayer biotech rice found in U.S. grain (Toronto Star)
The only thing scary about genetically engineered food is the potential for it to spread beyond where it is planted—trespassing on the crops of those who prefer natural crops or crops engineered in different ways. You can just imagine the novel lawsuits bound to, ahem, crop up. The engineers suing farmers for patent violations—“All your rice are belong to us.” The farmers suing the engineers for trespass. Environmentalists suing everyone with two legs and not four. It will be a good era for the lawyers.

YouTube hopes to cash in on Paris Hilton (Hollywood Reporter)
There is quite some debate among the YouTube community—and yes, there is something of a myspace, social networking community developing on YouTube, complete with its own mores, tastes and celebrities—about whether certain popular videos are a “hoax.” The issue is whether the videos—for instance those featuring someone named Bree (aka lonelygirl15) and her would-be boyfriend Daniel (aka danielbeast)—are really created by teenagers and depicting their real life adolescent struggles or whether they are put together by professionals marketing, well, something. No one has figured out what they are selling yet. Sometimes it seems they may just be selling the quality of their videos, sometimes that they may be selling a Satanic cult and sometimes that they be be a marketing device for YouTube itself. This last idea—that YouTube is creating the popular videos to demonstrate the ability of certain channels to draw consistently draw an audience—is boosted by news that YouTube plans to make money by selling “brand channels” to advertisers. The first up is a channel from Warner Brothers promoting Paris Hilton’s new albumn.