aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Call me paranoid
I just don’t believe this is true:
Although some senior intelligence and law enforcement officials said they began to recognize the mutating threat at the time of the train bombings in Madrid in March 2004, the London bombings have reinforced the lesson that, by all accounts, the centrally controlled Al Qaeda of 9/11 is no more.
I think it’s the old 9/11 Al Qaeda and the “terrorist threat that keeps changing.” Let’s just hope I’m wrong.
Eliot Cohen on Q&A
Johns Hopkins University Strategic Studies Program Director Eliot Cohen is on Q&A right now discussing his Washington Post OpEd, A Hawk Questions Himself as His Son Goes to War. (The program will be repeated at 6 a.m. tomorrow or you can watch it on the web.)
Brian Lamb is walking him piece by piece through his article, asking him to elaborate on each. I am picking this answer somewhat at random, before finishing the program, which is very, very good:
It seems pretty clear to me that we messed up quite badly in the first year, the 18 months in Iraq.
But beyond the normal range of errors that one expects in war. And one of the responses I’ve gotten, they’ve said, well, people always make mistakes in war, which is true. But you have to have some sort of reasonable standards for what’s a reasonable amount of error and mistakes.
As I talk about in the article, one of the things I have found particularly offensive is just the—you know, initially at any rate, a complete denial that we had made any mistakes or that there were things happening that we hadn’t foreseen, or there was even denial that we faced an insurgency.
There was for way, way too long this absurd notion that, well, there’s only 5,000 bad guys out there that are bitter enders and they’re just the remnants of the regime. It’s clearly something else.
And the thing that—I mean, I’m angered as a father who is about to send his son off to war, but the—if you will, the pundit in me, or the commentator in public affairs is also angry about that because it got in the way of making good judgment.
So I think—I’m not looking for a mea culpa, but I’m looking for something, say, much more detailed I think than we got out of the president at Fort Bragg. A much more detailed accounting of where this is going to be, I think we have to be quite honest about how long this is likely to go on. This is going to be a very long process, how costly it might be.
And I think I would also—and this comes into the category of seriousness, I would like to see a call for some sort of sacrifice. Not a draft. A draft is not workable. But I wish I saw more senior administration officials out there trying to persuade young people to enlist.
I wish we had a tax increase to help pay for this. Even if, you know, you could construct and economic theory that says you don’t need a tax increase to pay for this, some sort of sense that when you go to war you’re asking people to give.
His experience, as a father reflecting only because his son is going off to war, underscores the legitimacy of the point being made by Operation Yellow Elephant.
Regular readers know I’m no fan of copyright as practiced today. So it won’t surprise you to learn I don’t like the patent practice (copyright on steroids) much either, most particularly as manifested in the software patent.
Today Randall Stross writing in the Times looks at how Microsoft is going about achieving its goal of 3,000 patents. He includes this background:
All software published in the United States is protected by strong copyright and trademark protection. Microsoft Excel, for example, cannot be copied, nor can its association with Microsoft be removed. But a patent goes well beyond this. It protects even the underlying concepts from being used by others - for 20 years.
As recently as the 1970’s, software developers relied solely upon copyrights and trademarks to protect their work. This turned out rather well for Microsoft. Had Dan Bricklin, the creator of VisiCalc, the spreadsheet that gave people a reason to buy a personal computer, obtained a patent covering the program in 1979, Microsoft would not have been able to bring out Excel until 1999. Nor would Word or PowerPoint have appeared if the companies that had brought out predecessors obtained patent protection for their programs.
The legal environment changed not because of new legislation, but by accident. One important ruling here and another there, and without anyone fully realizing it, a new intellectual-property reality had evolved by the end of the 1980’s. Now software could enjoy the extraordinary protection of a patent, protection so powerful that Thomas Jefferson believed that it should be granted in only a few select cases.
So where did Microsoft get the number 3,000?
“We realized we were underpatenting,” Mr. Smith [the company’s senior vice president and general counsel] explained. The company had seen studies showing that other information technology companies filed about two patents for every $1 million spent on research and development. If Microsoft was spending $6 billion to $7.5 billion annually on its R&D, it would need to file at least 3,000 applications to keep up with the Joneses.
That sounds perfectly innocuous. The really interesting comparisons, though, are found not among software companies, but between software companies and pharmaceutical companies. Pharma is lucky to land a single patent after placing a multihundred-million-dollar bet and waiting patiently 10 years for it to play out. Mark H. Webbink, the deputy general counsel of Red Hat, a Linux and open-source distributor, said it was ridiculous for a software company to grab identical protection for work entailing relatively minuscule investment and trivial claims. He said of current software patents, “To give 20 years of protection does not help innovation.”
If Congress passed legislation that strengthened and expanded copyright protection to include design elements as well as software’s source code, formalizing the way the courts interpreted the law in the 1970’s, we could bring an end to software patents and this short, unhappy blip in our patent system’s time line.
Somehow that scares me too.
Wolcott on Arianna and Judith
I had my doubts about the Huffington Post at the start. A friend in NY was more optimistic, noting the promise of its celebrity lineup posting sans editor. Good point.
If leaks from a certain newspaper HQ in Times Square are reaching flood stage, it means that years of resentment and frustration over Judith Miller’s untouchable diva status and inside gamesmanship are producing major payback. Arianna suggests that the united front being presented by editor Bill Keller and publisher Arthur Sulzberger may crack under the force of further revelations. Yes, indeed, “a lot hinges on how much of what Judy knows Bill Keller and Arthur Sulzberger also know.”
A lot more hinges on what she knows that they don’t.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Nothing but shattered lives, depression and suicide
A gay man and a straight preacher started Love in Action in California in 1973. The gay man left. He’s speaking out:
NEW YORK - Author Wayne Besen released an explosive letter today by Love In Action’s co-Founder and former ex-gay John Evans, which rebukes gay conversion groups saying that they “shattered lives”. The group he started has recently made headlines because it runs a boot camp for gay teens called “Refuge” that tries to turn adolescents heterosexual, often against their will.
“In the past 30 years since leaving the ‘ex-gay’ ministry I have seen nothing but shattered lives, depression and even suicide among those connected with the ‘ex-gay’ movement,” Evans writes in his letter to John Smid, Love In Action’s current director. “I challenge Christians to investigate all sides of the issue of being gay and Christian. The Church has been wrong in the past regarding moral issues and I’m sure there will be more before Christ returns.”
Via John at AMERICAblog: “This is a big deal...”
Very, very funny
So says my friend John about Joe Queenan’s review of “Edward Klein’s stupendously controversial book ‘The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She’ll Go to Become President:’”
Granted, it is a very bad book. Granted, it is a lazy, cut-and-paste recycling of other people’s work. Granted, it relies too much on nasty personal comments about Senator Clinton provided by anonymous sources. Granted, it sleazily intimates that Hillary Clinton is a lying, scheming, smelly, left-leaning lesbian and a non-maternal parent who consorts with lawyers who defend mobbed-up unions and bears a striking character resemblance to both Richard Nixon and Madonna, and who tacitly approved of her husband’s rape of a young woman at a time when Mrs. Clinton may or may not have been bathing, washing her hair or shaving her underarms, while hanging out with short-haired women from the sapphic charnel house Wellesley College. But to suggest, as the talented John Podhoretz did in The New York Post, that this is ‘’one of the most sordid volumes I have ever waded through’’ is to raise serious questions about Podhoretz’s sordid wading experiences.
Go read it. I laughed out loud.
Blogging at its best
Barbara O’Brien at The American Street on the Right’s excited allegations that Air America is stealing money from poor children and old sick people is an example of blogging at its very best.
In How To Fake News: A Primer she recounts the whole tale, tracks down all the links, and concludes:
But if you follow the links, what you find is that they’re all just linking to each others’ allegations, and the allegations are ultimately all based on the one, single, lamely substantiated source-Michael Horowitz of the Bronx News. [He got his information from “informed sources” of undetermined origin.]
The whole post is a must read. I hope the conservative bloggers are successful and they get the MSM to tune in.
She’s no left-winger
One facile argument, often voiced by Hillary-loathers on the right, is that she’s too far to the left. The “real” Hillary is closer to Howard Dean than Bill Clinton, a recent piece in the National Review asserted. Wrong! An unhedged supporter of the war in Iraq, Sen. Clinton stands at the hawkish, interventionist extreme of her party on foreign policy. Despite her pandering vote against CAFTA [Jacob, that was a gratuitous swipe! her argument reads well to me], she’s a confirmed free-trader and deficit hawk. On the cultural issues that often undermine Democrats, she seeks common ground, sometimes with flat-earth conservatives like Rick Santorum, and has been nattering about the “tragedy” of abortion. Even Hillary’s notorious government takeover of health care was misconstrued as an ultra-lib stance. In opting for a mixed, private-public managed-competition plan, the then-first lady was repudiating the single-payer model long favored by paleo-liberals. Her plan was flawed in many ways, but it wasn’t what Ted Kennedy wanted.
In fact, Sen. Clinton’s political positioning couldn’t be better for 2008. Despite being a shrewdly triangulating centrist on the model of her husband, she remains wildly popular with the party’s liberal core: It seems to share the right’s erroneous view of her as a closet lefty and draws closer to her with every inane conservative attack. There’s no other possible candidate in either party so well poised to claim the center without losing the base.
I think Clinton’s move is more one of perception than content--she’s now focusing on her more centrist positions (like a hawkish defense policy and social moderation) rather than the liberal ones. I’ve seen no evidence that she’s changed the material substance of these positions--much less that it was done for the sake of pure politics… nowhere in this is there any proof that Clinton is changing from any previously held position.
To be clear, I do think Hillary is a liberal. My kind of liberal. A winning liberal.
Rhymes with witch
Give me a break! Jacob Weisberg writing in Slate on Why Hillary Clinton Can’t Win the ‘08 nomination:
Plainly put, it’s her personality. In her four years in the Senate, Hillary has proven herself to be capable, diligent, formidable, effective, and shrewd. She can make Republican colleagues sound like star-struck teenagers. But she still lacks a key quality that a politician can’t achieve through hard work: likability. As hard as she tries, Hillary has little facility for connecting with ordinary folk, for making them feel that she understands, identifies, and is at some level one of them. You may admire and respect her. But it’s hard not to find Hillary a bit inhuman. Whatever she may be like in private, her public persona is calculating, clenched, relentless-and a little robotic.
That’s it. That’s his reason. He grants that she “isn’t as obnoxious as Gore or as off-putting as Kerry,” but I have to wonder has he fallen prey to the old “if it’s a man he’s ambitious, a woman she’s just pushy” dichotomy.
Weisberg offers no justification beyond what’s quoted here. That she’s unlikable is just a given. But the people of New York, no easy sell for a politician called a carpetbagger, apparently liked her. They still do. And I think America may one day too.
Friday, July 29, 2005
The future of television will be on television
Andrew Kantor: CyberSpeak, “Music is released. Television is scheduled. That’s going to change:”
The future isn’t video on the Internet in a little window on your computer. The future is full-quality video over the Internet to your television.
The steps are being taken. There’s IPTV that I just mentioned; so the technology exists to use the Internet infrastructure to carry television. There are faster and faster data pipes coming into your home. There’s incredibly cheap storage; a $200 TiVo can hold more than 80 hours of DVD-quality television. There are services such as MovieLink, MovieFlix, and even Netflix that will (or in Netflix’s case, will soon) let you download movies to watch on your PC.
There are Media Center PCs, sold by big names like Gateway and HP, that let you watch and record television shows on your computer.
Those are small steps to the on-demand finish line. A larger one is Microsoft’s Media Center Extender Set-top Box. It connects to your television to your PC, so you can not only watch the networks, you can also access the music, photos, and video that are on your computer.
Now imagine that CBS decided to archive all its shows at cbs.com a month after they aired on traditional television. You could access these shows through your PC, which was connected to your TV.
Or imagine that a company produced a show or movie that they couldn’t get a network interested in, so it they post the video on its Web site. You could watch it not by changing TV channels, but by telling your TV to go to that site.
This is where we’re headed - away from the notion of channels.
All of which bodes well for we TV. His conclusion:
So just as the World Wide Web lets an individual have as much of a presence as a big corporation, Internet-based television will allow anyone with a digital camcorder and a good script get as much attention as NBC.
And that will change everything.
Via Thomas Hawk.
Meanwhile a New York Blade report out today from inside Exodus’ Annual meeting includes this gem:
During a news conference Thursday evening, [Rev. Jerry] Falwell, who was speaking for the first time at an Exodus conference, took issue with claims by other ex-gay advocates that even teens must at least consent to ex-gay “reorientation” for it to be successful.
Falwell said parents must intervene. Allowing a teen to be gay is as dangerous as allowing a son or daughter to play on the interstate, he said.
Via Gay Orbit.
High housing prices
Instead of the traditional formula “housing price equals land price + construction costs + reasonable profit,” we seem to be seeing something more like “housing price equals land price + constructions costs plus reasonable profit + mystery component.” And, most interestingly, the mystery component varies a lot from city to city.
Edward Glaeser of Harvard and Joe Gyourko of the University of Pennsylvania have computed these mystery components for about two dozen American cities. They speculate that the mystery component is essentially a “zoning tax.” That is, zoning and other restrictions put a brake on competitive forces and keep housing prices up.
That sounds right to me. And I don’t see it as a problem. Rather, it’s information to be considered and factored in.
Brew, get your camera
In February I posted on the amateur photographer stopped from snapping pictures in Chicago’s Millennium Park because he didn’t have a permit.
My bet is the claim here will be about preventing terrorism.
I’m an architecture buff, so much so that I once had my own walking tours of Manhattan. Post 9/11 I wouldn’t be allowed to do it.
Back then you could walk in and around buildings and security guards would talk with you about them. We’re in a different time. It’s sad, unnecessary and not likely to be effective.
UPDATE: Thomas reports that “shooting One Bush Street was a complete piece of cake.”
LIARs on TV
Michael in NY at AMERICAblog posts on the recent spate of Love In Action/Refuge ("yes, as numerous threaders pointed out, this makes them LIARs") stories on TV.
GMA failed to provide context about conversion therapy, how it was founded by two men who ultimately declared their love for each other, admitted it was all a fraud and are now married and campaign against it. GMA failed to note how the rare “success stories” trumpeted by the far right have proven to be failures time and time again… GMA failed to emphasize how these groups have already admitted defeat—they used to claim they could turn people straight; now apparently everyone admits they’re still gay and struggle with desire but just try not to act on it. That’s a far cry from what they used to believe—it admits the fundamental point that being gay is not a choice, something they used to deny heatedly. GMA also failed to tie the hatred these parents have for their own children to the trial of a man in Florida who killed his three year old son because he feared the boy was gay and literally tried to beat it out of him.
On Paula Zahn “Now” last night:
Zahn was polite but pretty darn on target. She emphasized how he is and always will be gay and that the best the program can hope is to get Wellman and others to SUPPRESS themselves. She emphasized how it’s one thing for an adult like Wellman to choose to go through this and a very different thing for a minor to be forced into it. LIAR’s line is that the parents have the right to raise their children any way they choose. But the response is that you have no right to assist a parent in shaming and emotionally damaging a child by telling them to be ashamed of their skin color or gender or sexual orientation. Zahn talked a lot about the vulnerability of the children being pushed through LIARs. When Wellman tried to compare this program to a parent’s right to have their children take music lessons, Zahn shot him down and said that music lessons never lead to suicide attempts.
My favorite moment:
Zahn: But in a way, aren’t you denying who you are?
Wellman: Aren’t we all?
Uh, no. We’re not.
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the Paula Zahn video.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Why can birds sit on power lines?
Most of the hundreds of thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines in this country are made solely of metal-either aluminum or aluminum wrapped around a steel core. Adding a layer of insulation to every line would be pricey and has been deemed unnecessary given how high the lines are off the ground.
So what about birds?
Electricity will stray from a power line only if it has a direct path to the ground. If you hang from a power line with both feet in the air, you won’t get shocked-that’s why birds can sit on a line with no insulation. (Birds do get zapped when they touch two lines at the same time or one line and the grounded wooden pole that supports it; power companies try to prevent bird deaths by increasing the space between the wires.)
Just stay away:
The air around a power line isn’t a good conductor, but very high voltages do create a significant electrical field. For large-scale transmission lines, this field can have a radius of a foot or more. That means electricity could arc out of the wire to any crane or pole that gets close enough, even if it never makes contact.
Most power companies warn workers to stay 10 feet away from power lines and up to 25 feet away from the highest-voltage lines. Even regular folks trimming trees near a power line need to take care-wood isn’t as conductive as metal, but a stray branch can still transmit a deadly shock down the trunk.
Arianna on Judith
I’ve been ambivalent about Judith Miller for a number of reasons. Arianna Huffington has some intriguing speculation that sounds plausible to me:
Not everyone in the Times building is on the same page when it comes to Judy Miller. The official story the paper is sticking to is that Miller is a heroic martyr, sacrificing her freedom in the name of journalistic integrity.
But a very different scenario is being floated in the halls. Here it is: It’s July 6, 2003, and Joe Wilson’s now famous op-ed piece appears in the Times, raising the idea that the Bush administration has “manipulate[d]” and “twisted” intelligence “to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” Miller, who has been pushing this manipulated, twisted, and exaggerated intel in the Times for months, goes ballistic. Someone is using the pages of her own paper to call into question the justification for the war—and, indirectly, much of her reporting. The idea that intelligence was being fixed goes to the heart of Miller’s credibility. So she calls her friends in the intelligence community and asks, Who is this guy? She finds out he’s married to a CIA agent. She then passes on the info about Mrs. Wilson to Scooter Libby (Newsday has identified a meeting Miller had on July 8 in Washington with an “unnamed government official"). Maybe Miller tells Rove too—or Libby does. The White House hatchet men turn around and tell Novak and Cooper. The story gets out.
This is why Miller doesn’t want to reveal her “source” at the White House—because she was the source. Sure, she first got the info from someone else, and the odds are she wasn’t the only one who clued in Libby and/or Rove (the State Dept. memo likely played a role too)Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ but, in this scenario, Miller certainly wasn’t an innocent writer caught up in the whirl of history. She had a starring role in it. This also explains why Miller never wrote a story about Plame, because her goal wasn’t to write a story, but to get out the story that cast doubts on Wilson’s motives. Which Novak did.
Via Kevin Drum.
UPDATE, from Salon:
This theory has been floated before, but Huffington colors it all the way in, making it into a coherent narrative… Miller is innocent of any collusion until proven guilty, but such proof would send Miller’s liberal detractors, who already want to see her laid out on the rack like Mel Gibson at the end of “Braveheart,” into a cataclysmic spasm of rage.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Apple makes podcasting mainstream
So says the Times:
So far, Apple has worked this kind of magic on digital video editing, wireless networking, online music selling, R.S.S. feeds (a kind of Web site subscription) and other technologies. Its latest attempt, however, will be music to an awful lot of ears. With its release of the free iTunes 4.9 software for Mac and Windows, Apple has just mainstreamed podcasting.
No David Coursey, the Times isn’t part of a tired technology press hungry for the next big thing. Apple says that within 48 hours of its release, Pod people had subscribed to more than a million podcasts. Something real is happening here.
The big question is, why is Apple working so hard to claim the podcast phenomenon as its own? After all, the company doesn’t make any money when you listen to or subscribe to a podcast. The Price column in iTunes says Free for every single podcast, and Apple says it has no intention of changing that.
Clearly, the motivation behind Apple’s podcasting program is selling more iPods. You can certainly get podcasts onto other music players, but not with the effortless, automated flow of the iTunes-iPod system.
In other words, these free podcasts are just another feather in the iPod’s cap. As an editorial at daringfireball.net astutely observed, Apple is flipping the traditional business plan on its head. It’s giving away the razor blades, but selling a staggering number of razors.
Those razors play iMusic and the iMusic Store is where you go to subscribe to podcasts. They’re not just selling razors, they’re selling blades. The free offer that gets folks in your store is as tried and true as they come. I’m just glad it’s podcasts.
The new iTunes makes my job easy. I can focus more on the content. We start our campus podcasts in September.
Watch for it
Ken Tomlinson was the guest on Sunday’s Q&A. He seemed very prepared and careful, right on message; Brian Lamb was a perfect place for him to do this. But he promises something I expect will be much more interesting:
LAMB: At the hearing that we covered recently, you were challenged to debate Bill Moyers. And you said yes.
TOMLINSON: I would be happy to debate Bill Moyers. It’s not going to be good for public broadcasting because the more Tomlinson and Moyers talk about what has happened in public broadcasting, the more people are going to say, wait just a second, something is not right in public broadcasting.
There should have been balance through the years. You know, balance is something—C-SPAN proves that balance is something that is achievable if you put it as a priority. And I don’t demand a tape measure be applied to every show or every night, but you can feel the balance of C-SPAN.
And in recent years you felt unbalanced in sections of programming in public broadcasting.
LAMB: Did anybody follow up and suggest that that actual debate be held?
TOMLINSON: Oh, if Mr. Moyers wants to do it, then we’ll have lunch and we’ll plan something. As I said, I don’t think it’s good for public broadcasting but I’m certainly willing to do it.
LAMB: Will it be in a public forum?
LAMB: Coverable by this network and others?
TOMLINSON: I assume so.
LAMB: And do you think it will be soon?
TOMLINSON: I think it will probably be in the fall, in September.
Now that will be worth watching. Of course, by then he’ll no longer be chair and we’ll have instead his close ally, New Jersey lawyer and real-estate developer (and major GOP donor) Cheryl F. Halpern, who believes journalists should be penalized for biased programs.
As it becomes increasingly politicized (it’s never been good on that score) my antipathy to public broadcasting continues to build.
Media Matters has more on the C-SPAN interview.
Information viruses refuted
What really sticks in the craw of conventional journalists is that although individual blogs have no warrant of accuracy, the blogosphere as a whole has a better error-correction machinery than the conventional media do. The rapidity with which vast masses of information are pooled and sifted leaves the conventional media in the dust. Not only are there millions of blogs, and thousands of bloggers who specialize, but, what is more, readers post comments that augment the blogs, and the information in those comments, as in the blogs themselves, zips around blogland at the speed of electronic transmission.
This means that corrections in blogs are also disseminated virtually instantaneously, whereas when a member of the mainstream media catches a mistake, it may take weeks to communicate a retraction to the public… The charge by mainstream journalists that blogging lacks checks and balances is obtuse. The blogosphere has more checks and balances than the conventional media; only they are different. The model is Friedrich Hayek’s classic analysis of how the economic market pools enormous quantities of information efficiently despite its decentralized character, its lack of a master coordinator or regulator, and the very limited knowledge possessed by each of its participants.
In effect, the blogosphere is a collective enterprise - not 12 million separate enterprises, but one enterprise with 12 million reporters, feature writers and editorialists, yet with almost no costs. It’s as if The Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising.
Yes! Read the whole thing. I’ve put more highlights in the extended entry.
I had a student spend hours and several phone calls to Apple trying to get the two songs he had lawfully purchased from the iTunes Music Store onto his new iPod. The iPod was a gift, he doesn’t have a computer, so he came to the lab to load it.
The 2 songs he bought were on the iPod, but wouldn’t play. We updated the iPod and the computer’s operating system. Still no luck. Tech support told him to erase his iPod and start over. He didn’t.
CLARIFICATION: I’m generally favorable toward the iPod, iTunes and the iMusic Store, and I am not an anti-DRM absolutist. Reasonably priced easily accessible consumer friendly digital media is fine by me. Still, I think a healthy Free Culture movement will only improve iPod usability.
Pooh poohing blogging and podcasting: a rebuttal
I just listened to David Coursey on Web Talk via IT Conversations. He jokes that virtually no place he’s worked is in business anymore and, after listening, I think maybe that should have told me something.
Wowee, does he NOT get it.
He prefers email to RSS which he considers “just another way to subscribe to something,” apparently missing how it makes surfing for news a joy. The iPod is an over-praised overnight sensation three years in the making. And on blogs he says people will “realize the limitations both of the medium and of the people who create it.” He considers all of it hype from a tired technology press hungry for the next big thing.
Pretty much, in general and in particular, I don’t think the guy gets any of it at all. He’s sooo stuck in the twentieth century.
His major summary point is that there’s no business model to make any of this grassroots media work. It takes a long time and a lot of work to do it well and there simply isn’t the money to make it worth it:
[my transcription @ 38:43] I’m sure there’s a lot of egos out there that feel much better until the amount of work for the amount of ego gratification received starts, you know, sliding in the wrong direction… some people will build a business doing podcasts but as a hobby I think it’s going to be awful time consuming to do it well and a lot of the content is going to be highly suspect… Information viruses spread by podcast… what people seem to be excited about is, you know, real sort of low end personality driven and I don’t think that that will last.
Hm. Where to begin. The elitism of high-end v low-end always bugged me. Broadcasters set the production standard and want to hold us all to it, not the other way around.
I love high production values and will always appreciate them. I love high-end photography and will always appreciate it. But a huge percentage of the photos I look at come from amateurs. And I don’t judge them by the professional photography standard. I’m able to appreciate them despite, even because of, the difference in production values.
I like them precisely for what they are and where they come from. I don’t judge the local church choir by the standard set by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Instead, I appreciate the joy of my community coming together to raise its voice in song. That thrill is real and legitimate all by itself.
But more, I don’t think our current system finds the best talent. I bet there’s some great talent right here in my little town that our star/studio system hasn’t figured out how to find. I think talent is distributed everywhere and these technologies can set it free. I really do.
Now here’s the romance I’d like to associate with blogging: At the time of our nation’s founding, a time before movies and television and professional sports or any of the other modern leisure time diversions, at that time politics was sport. Civic engagement was recreation. Politics and civic life were engaging.
Citizens then were engaged in not just the consumption of culture, but the production of culture. And their motivation was cultural, not commercial. I like to think that because of the new and emerging technologies we’re seeing a return to that today. And that return is good and valuable and inevitable. Many in the business of content creation don’t tend to like it, but it can’t be stopped. And I will do everything I can to help speed it along.
Sex v torture & guns v Grokster
In Clinton’s time, the issue was the definition of sex.
In Bush’s, the issue is the definition of torture.
Shoot someone? Not Smith & Wesson’s fault.
Copy a movie? Grokster’s fault.
SEE ALSO: my post Grokster and Guns.
What’s missing today
There is no doubt that Lance Armstrong’s seventh straight victory in the Tour de France, which has prompted sportswriters to rename the whole race the Tour de Lance, makes him one of the greatest U.S. athletes of all time. What I find most impressive about Armstrong, besides his sheer willpower to triumph over cancer, is the strategic focus he brings to his work, from his prerace training regimen to the meticulous way he and his cycling team plot out every leg of the race. It is a sight to behold. I have been thinking about them lately because their abilities to meld strength and strategy - to thoughtfully plan ahead and to sacrifice today for a big gain tomorrow - seem to be such fading virtues in American life.
Sadly, those are the virtues we now associate with China, Chinese athletes and Chinese leaders. Talk to U.S. business executives and they’ll often comment on how many of China’s leaders are engineers, people who can talk to you about numbers, long-term problem-solving and the national interest - not a bunch of lawyers looking for a sound bite to get through the evening news. America’s most serious deficit today is a deficit of such leaders in politics and business.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Salon & TNR wrong on Stewart & Santorum
There is no nice way to describe Santorum; he’s a homophobe, he’s a demagogue, he’s a legislative extremist, and he’s got bad hair. Consequently Santorum is the most vulnerable incumbent in the Senate, trailing his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in current polls. Yet in Stewart’s soft hands Santorum came out looking reasonable, just a normal conservative guy who, even if you disagree with him, will respect your point of view.
The truth, as Stewart knows, is that “The Daily Show” isn’t just comedy. What gives his show heft--what makes it true satire--is that the program brings actual conviction to the stories it covers. Sure, it’s willing to digress into sheer silliness, but it just as often finds an ingenious way to make a serious point. The mystery, then, is why the sharpness vanishes as soon as a guest arrives on the set… With most political guests, Stewart sticks to harmless questions and gentle quips, and he seems unable to pursue an argument. Rarely have such flaws been more pronounced than last night, when Senator Rick Santorum appeared on the set.
I gather all of us would have preferred had Santorum experienced something similar to what Ed Klein went through on the Al Franken Show last month. But would it have changed any minds? Or just made partisans on both sides happy to post transcripts?
Apparently what we liked was the fight. Because last night, with Santorum, he was true to the message he espoused then. I went back and read the transcript. It’s worth another look. This is how it starts:
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, he’s been called the most trusted name in fake news. Next, we’re joined by Jon Stewart for his one-of-a-kind take on politics, the press and America.
PAUL BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
STEWART: Thank you very much. That was very kind of you to say. Can I say something very quickly? Why do we have to fight?
STEWART: The two of you? Can’t we just—say something nice about John Kerry right now.
CARLSON: I like John. I care about John Kerry.
STEWART: And something about President Bush.
BEGALA: He’ll be unemployed soon?
STEWART: Why do you argue, the two of you?
STEWART: I hate to see it.
I stand by my post, and Jon Stewart, for a better America.
Daylight Savings Time
I’m glad to have it, but I don’t buy it:
Congress is on the verge of passing a new energy bill this week that would make daylight-saving time last from mid-March to early November. (It now runs from April through October.) The sponsors of the daylight amendment say it will save the country at least $180 million in energy costs.
Springing forward has its trade-offs. When you set your clocks forward, you exchange morning daylight for a later sunset. Later sunsets tend to get people out of the house more in the evenings, which could lead to an increase in driving (and gasoline use) and a reduction in the use of household appliances. And if daylight time extended too far into the winter, more people would wake up before sunrise and turn on the lights. Government research from the 1970s suggests that extended daylight-saving time produces a modest but significant energy savings of about 1 percent. A British experiment with extended daylight time in the late 1960s failed to produce much corroborating evidence.
It’s good for business:
Under Reagan, an extra month was added again at the urging of business groups (like sports equipment and barbecue grill manufacturers) who expected increased profits with longer days.