aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Blog Against Racism
Tomorrow’s Blog Against Racism day. I have a good post in me. I hope I can get it written for tomorrow. Then again, tomorrow’s just a beginning:
December 1, 2005 - the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ heroic act of civil disobedience on that Montgomery bus - [is] “Blog Against Racism” day, in which people post something on the very broad and complex subject of racism. You don’t need to have a political blog to participate. Race, after all, affects almost every aspect of life in one way or another. Your post might be literary in nature, or historical, or concern current issues in need of political attention. You might take the opportunity to debunk scientific racism, or write poetry or essays about personal experiences, uplifting or depressing.
With luck, the discussion engendered will endure past midnight on December 2.
The new Nightline’s awful!
The problem with the new “Nightline” extends far beyond the ascendance of the news troika of Cynthia McFadden, Terry Moran and Martin Bashir, says Robert Bianco. “The fatal flaw is the destruction of the old format: one host leading us through one topic for one half-hour. Now you have three stars presenting three stories; none were given significantly more time to develop than they would have found on most any other televised newscast.”
Koppel’s last words on his last night:
Give this new anchor team for Nightline a fair break. If you don’t, I promise you the network will just put another comedy show in this time slot. And then you’ll be sorry.
I’d say that’s pretty much a done deal. And debuting in its regular time slot would not make this show any sweeter.
Dave Chappelle, say for example, would be a whole lot better than this.
On the heels of Nightline anchor Ted Koppel’s retirement, an article reveals that Koppel did not go gentle into that good night. “[H]e’s pissed,” says a friend. Now Koppel is starting up a production group with longtime Nightline producer Tom Bettag; their next project maybe a show called The F-ing Media.
Boston and DC and the holiday tree
Falwell’s fa la la la lawyers are keeping busy fighting the War on Christmas in Boston and DC. (Falwell on GMA just now, “...we’re kicking their butts and they’re unhappy.")
Boston set off a furor this week when it officially renamed a giant tree erected in a city park a “holiday tree” instead of a “Christmas tree.”
The move drew an angry response from Christian conservatives, including evangelist Jerry Falwell who heckled Boston officials and pressed the city to change the name back.
“There’s been a concerted effort to steal Christmas,” Falwell told Fox Television.
Last night John pointed out that the Speaker of the House is on the case. He wrote the Capitol architect:
If it’s a spruce tree adorned with 10,000 lights and 5,000 ornaments displayed on the Capitol grounds in December, it’s a Christmas tree and that’s what it should be called, says House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
All just as you’d expect. But somehow Fox News missed the memo!
Fox News, the media company whose hosts have staunchly defended the public use of the word “Christmas,” is raising eyebrows after posting a story on its website with the headline, “Holiday Trees Arrive at Capitol, White House.”
Via World O’Crap.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Mac Mini: the hub
Think Secret: Apple’s Mac mini will be reborn as the digital hub centerpiece it was originally conceived to be, Think Secret sources have disclosed. The new Mac mini project, code-named Kaleidoscope, will feature an Intel processor and include both Front Row 2.0 and TiVo-like DVR functionality.
While the specific model and speed of the Intel processor in the new Mac mini is unknown, sources are confident the system will be ready for roll-out at Macworld Expo San Francisco, in line with other reports Think Secret has received that Intel-based Macs will be ready some six months sooner than originally expected.
Via Thomas Hawk:
Ironically, Steve Jobs has been publically somewhat negative on using a computer as a PVR in the past:
From News.com in November 2003: “Jobs said there are several problems with the Media Center concept, in particular the wide divergence in the way people want to watch television as compared with how they use a computer. “Generally what they want to view on television has to do with turning their mind off,” he said.
Jobs said that video recording is processor intensive and is best left to a device that is not doing other things such as playing games or running spreadsheets. “When I want to record ‘The West Wing,’ I want to make damn sure it records ‘The West Wing,’” he said.”
Perhaps Jobs objections back then were more because of the fact that Microsoft had a Media Center PC and they didn’t. If in fact Apple unveils a DVR as part of their Front Row platform I’d expect him to change his tune.
Jupiter media says if they do it, the media will ignore the Media Center angle.
You know it’s true! Slate recently looked at “the Apple polishers in the press corps who salute every shiny gadget the company parades through downtown Cupertino as if they were members of the Supreme Soviet viewing the latest ICBMs at the May Day parade.”
Photography & the copyfight
[p. 33] [E]arly in the history of photography, there was a series of judicial decisions that could well have changed the course of photography substantially. Courts were asked whether the photographer, amateur or professional, required permission before he could capture and print whatever image he wanted. Their answer was no.
The arguments in favor of requiring permission will sound surprisingly familiar. The photographer was “taking” something from the person or building whose photograph he shotÃ¢â‚¬"pirating something of value. Some even thought he was taking the target’s soul. Just as Disney was not free to take the pencils that his animators used to draw Mickey, so, too, should these photographers not be free to take images that they thought valuable.
On the other side was an argument that should be familiar, as well. Sure, there may be something of value being used. But citizens should have the right to capture at least those images that stand in public view. (Louis Brandeis, who would become a Supreme Court Justice, thought the rule should be different for images from private spaces.) It may be that this means that the photographer gets something for nothing. Just as Disney could take inspiration from Steamboat Bill, Jr. or the Brothers Grimm, the photographer should be free to capture an image without compensating the source.
Fortunately for Mr. Eastman, and for photography in general, these early decisions went in favor of the pirates. In general, no permission would be required before an image could be captured and shared with others. Instead, permission was presumed. Freedom was the default. (The law would eventually craft an exception for famous people: commercial photographers who snap pictures of famous people for commercial purposes have more restrictions than the rest of us. But in the ordinary case, the image can be captured without clearing the rights to do the capturing.
We can only speculate about how photography would have developed had the law gone the other way.
Things Are Queer reminded me to go back and take another look at the Zoomquilt. Check it out, the flash version, not the html version. It may take a while to load if you have a slow connection. It’s very cool.
Things are Queer
At a lecture tonight on the history of photography, one sequence of images really caught my eye. Things Are Queer:
[In] Duane Michals’s remarkable series of photographs, things are queer, not only because the world cannot be known and all representations are fallible, but because of the transforming process of art itself. In Michals’s beautiful photographs, queerness becomes an ideal; the circularity of the series suggests that the image is inexhaustible and unknowable. But in the end, art’s pleasures, its humor and mystery, do help us know the world in all its queerness.
I have a t-shirt that says, “83% of Internet traffic is malicious!” People look at me oddly when I wear it. My experience is it’s wrong. It should read 92%!
My traffic here has increased, slowly but steadily, to a Site Meter average of 137 visits per day today. As long as it hovers around 100, I’m happy. To accommodate that traffic I’ve got 7GB a month of bandwidth; you’d think it would suffice. You’d be wrong.
Over the weekend - ironically enough at the same time a reasonable and just change was implemented in the TTLB Ecosystem knocking me from the lofty heights of a Marauding Marsupial back down to a perfectly respectable but much more lowly Flappy Bird - I got an email from my provider warning that I was approaching quota.
I checked my Webalizer stats and found that my daily average for visits there is reported to be 1,682. (4,245 PageViews!) Go figure.
Now some - not all - bloggers complain that Site Meter is often wrong. Me, I don’t think so. I watch it fairly closely - not too closely - and it never misses a single one of my visits. (I know, I know, I could fix that.)
My conclusion is that all that traffic is spammers and bots. I divide my Site Meter by my Webalizer and conclude that 92% of my traffic is malicious! Now if you know something I don’t, please clue me in. In the meantime, I bought more bandwidth.
IN OTHER NEWS: Eugene Kaspersky says the truth about anti-virus products is they have a long way to go. He got that right!
A la carte cable channels
I want them. Techdirt is skeptical:
[T]he FCC studied the issue and pointed out (probably quite accurately), that any a la carte offering would likely be prohibitively expensive for cable viewers. It would clearly drive up costs for the TV providers, who would have to create new systems for managing a huge number of programming permutations, rather than just a small number of bundles. It would also drive up the cost of acquiring content, since many networks only offer certain channels if the cable provider agrees to bundle it with a less “desirable” channel or two. All combined, it means that each channel in an a la carte bundle would likely be quite expensive, and most people would be better off just sticking with a bundle. Where this gets problematic is that if it’s mandated, a good part of those costs still need to be dealt with by the providers—even if very few people will opt for the (expensive) a la carte offerings… While many people (myself included) would love to be able to pick channels on an a la carte basis, the likely expense probably wouldn’t make it worthwhile.
I’ll be looking for the counter argument, but the Techdirt post was precipitated by this from Reuters:
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to suggest that cable companies could best serve their customers by allowing them to subscribe to individual channels instead of packages of several stations, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper said that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is expected to announce on Tuesday that the commission will soon revise the conclusion it reached in the report it issued last year on “a la carte” pricing in the cable industry.
Citing an FCC official familiar with the revised report, the Journal said the report will conclude that buying individual channels could be cheaper for consumers than bundles and that themed tiers of channels could be economically feasible.
Why the change? Techdirt:
[O]ne possibility is new FCC head Kevin Martin—who is also known for being a stringent supporter of cracking down on “indecency” (perhaps more than his predecessor). Back in March, we noted that the crackdown on indecency could reopen the debate about a la carte programming, as many of those who support cracking down on indecency believe that a la carte programming is a way to avoid the “bad” channels and just get the “good” ones. Perhaps that view is now getting more attention at the FCC. Of course, weren’t we just saying that the concept of the “channel” is increasingly outdated?
UPDATE, they did it. Sort of (we get the indecency part with only a nod to a la carte):
Declaring television coarser than ever, a top federal regulator served notice on cable and satellite programmers Tuesday to shield children from racy shows or risk coming under sharper government scrutiny.
“Parents need better and more tools to help them navigate the entertainment waters, particularly on cable and satellite TV,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin told Congress. [...]
He also said that cable and satellite providers might want to consider letting consumers pay for a bundle of channels that they could choose themselves, a variation of the so-called “a la carte” pricing system that some in Congress have backed.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Today The Philadelphia Inquirer has part 2 of Jeff Gelles’ Consumer Watch column on keeping cable from abusing its power:
[The Center for Creative Voices in Media director Jonathan] Rintels’ top priority is a rule called “network neutrality” that would bar any Internet provider from blocking or slowing down data streams from any source to give a competitive advantage to content in which it has a financial stake.
Neutrality is crucial to keep the Internet as free and open as we trust it is today. It’s also crucial if the cable-television business model - selling consumers a large bundle of content, most of it unwanted, at a high price - is ever to give way to an Internet model of unlimited choices for consumers.
Cable companies like Comcast don’t like this concept, for obvious reasons: If you can buy an individual TV show or movie from, say, “movies.com” and watch it on your TV same as you would a movie or TV show on traditional cable, the whole cable-TV business model is at risk.
In Rintels’ wish list, and mine, Congress and the FCC could simply require broadband providers to rent an open pipeline. Short of that, though, he has ideas about how smaller changes can nudge the marketplace in the right direction:
Net-neutrality rules that guarantee us access to content and applications - not just movies, but inexpensive phone service and other new Internet technologies - while barring broadband providers from discriminating in favor of affiliated sites.
Ads I want
Remember fast forward ads? Bad idea. David DeSocio, OMD’s U.S. director of strategic marketing, said he was trying to “involve the consumer even when they are in avoidance mode.”
This idea - ads when I want them - I love:
TiVo Inc. is partnering with several big ad firms to offer its users a system that lets them search for commercials centered around a specific topic. Expected to launch next spring, the feature comes as Madison Avenue is contemplating a number of ways to reach consumers who use technology to avoid traditional advertising.
TiVo is working to develop the product with three media-buying operations—Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Interpublic Media, Omnicom Group Inc.’s OMD [hopefully DeSocio’s “retired"] and Publicis Groupe SA’s Starcom MediaVest Group—along with independent Dallas ad agency Richards Group and Comcast Corp.’s Comcast Spotlight ad-sales division. [...]
TiVo users will be able to set up a profile of products on their television screens by clicking on categories such as automotive or travel or typing in keywords such as “BMW” or “cruises.” On a regular basis, TiVo will then download relevant commercials to TiVo recorders over the Internet or, for those users who don’t have broadband, send the video via traditional broadcast signals. The commercials will appear on-screen in a folder next to the list of television shows TiVo users record. [...]
TiVo’s pioneering digital video recorder, or DVR, is much beloved by consumers for its ability to easily record and pause live television shows. But it has sent Madison Avenue and broadcasters into a tizzy by allowing viewers to skip traditional commercials.
Recently, TiVo, of Alviso, Calif., has come up with a pitch for advertisers: Use the TiVo DVR itself to send new forms of interactive advertisements. Yet a big question remains: If viewers use DVRs in part to avoid advertising, will they use the devices to watch more of it? With DVR penetration expected to rise and consumers increasingly able to watch TV programs when they choose, this conundrum is one Madison Avenue has been trying to solve.
I have no problem with advertising; I have problems with advertising clutter and ads with no relevance interrupting me when I’m watching a program and so not interested in being interrupted. This addresses every one of those issues.
When I want to buy something, I want to know all about it. Give me an ad with links to more information and I’m there! HECK, I’LL EVEN WATCH SOME BECAUSE THEY’RE SLICK, WELL-PRODUCED FUN.
You’ll recall I like the Salon advertising model. I don’t mind watching an ad to read an article. The ad comes before, so does not interrupt my reading. And allows me to clickthrough for more info. Salon’s ads are honestly the only ads I click on and I have great recall. The last one I watched was for the Chevy HHR, how’s that?
Give me a folder full of ads and when I want to look at them - and, hey, coincidentally when I’m most receptive to their message - I’m there.
Credit freezes we want
In a post about how the credit industry is fighting even feeble measures to thwart identity theft, demonstrating just how seriously they take the issue, Kevin Drum discusses credit freezes:
Basically, a credit freeze prevents credit reporting agencies from revealing your credit history without first getting your express permission. This makes it nearly impossible for thieves to acquire phony credit cards in your name, since card issuers won’t issue new cards without first requesting your credit score from a credit reporting agency. If you’ve frozen your report, you’ll be notified when the request is made and can shut it down immediately.
The downside is that if you apply for new credit, you can’t get it until the credit reporting agency has contacted you first. In other words, no more same-day credit. It might take two or three days instead.
That’s not much of a downside, is it? In fact, for my money, all credit reports ought to be frozen by default. If you prefer to have your report unfrozen - that is, you’re willing to run the risk of ID theft in return for slightly faster approval of your credit applications - then you can unfreeze it.
There’s simply no reason for consumers not to have this choice, and the credit industry opposes it solely because the slight delay it introduces might make people think twice about applying for new credit - and that’s bad for business. Who cares about identity theft when there’s same-day credit to be extended?
MUST READ: Kevin’s Monthly article on identity theft, You Own You.
First4Internet programmer: “I am serious about the cash”
Cory Doctorow: Sony rootkit author asked for free code to lock up music:
First4Internet ripped off code from at least two free/open source software projects for the malicious rootkit program they supplied to Sony. Yesterday, I posted some old mailing list and newsgroup messages from First4Internet programmers where they were seeking advice on breaking peoples’ computers.
Now, Baz and Alexander have found this old newsgroup post from a First4Internet programmer offering cash if someone will do his homework for him. Later, code from the free/open source software project LAME (which does some of what this programmer was trying to do) showed up in a First4Internet product.
I know it sounds like I am just after some free code due to my laziness but I really dont have the time and I am serious about the cash - I really need this functionality!
At the end of his post are previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup.
LATER: Another email.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Grand Canyon Skywalk
UPDATE: Uh oh. Now Dean’s thinking it’s a farce. And doubting Snopes.
Congressmen ok after Iraq wreck
In a phone interview from Baghdad, Marshall explained how dignitaries are shuttled in fast-moving convoys that often take up the middle of the road to deter oncoming motorists.
Shortly after dark Saturday, Marshall’s vehicle encountered an oncoming truck that was not yielding to the convoy, he said.
“Then all of a sudden brakes get slammed on. Then we hit something and go off the side of the road and tip over,” Marshall said.
The congressional delegation was riding in a “box-like” vehicle soldiers call the “ice cream truck,” he said.
“Everybody sort of fell over to the side. There’s no cushion to it. It’s all solid metal with bolts sticking out,” Marshall said. “I feel like a fool. I didn’t put my seat belt on.”
Two other congressmen were in the vehicle. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa. was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for an MRI on his neck, and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo. was sent to a Baghdad hospital for evaluation.
This was Marshall’s sixth trip to Iraq. His is considered one of the House races to watch in the 2006 election cycle.
Graph Paper PDF
Adding on a bathroom, I needed some graph paper to draft my plan. Got it here.
Free. Easy. Totally customizable. Gotta love the net!
Now if only I could find one of these…
Via Cory at BoingBoing.
Chris Wallace has no idea
[T]hat specific quote there where you say he couldn’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, he wasn’t saying that they were linked at all. He was saying one was as bad as the other, and when he said in that same answer something about that Saddam Hussein would like to use a terrorist network, he wasn’t saying that they would like to use al Qaeda. So you’re making a link there that the President never made.
[I]t was a kind of collaborative effort. My—a fellow, an agent, Bill Adler (ph), came up—called me up and said, Have you ever thought of writing a book? And I said, yes, but I never have had an idea.
He got that right!
Matthew Yglesias, Atrios, Copyfighters!
When asked why copyright exists, a friend in New York - who once was a successful record company attorney - replied without hesitation, “to protect the copyright holder’s property.”
I argued the “Progress Clause” was to promote progress and that the expansion of “limited time” to the point where it is virtually an unlimited time and the restriction of “fair use” to the point where it is of virtually no use inhibits progress. He remained unmoved.
Today Atrios underscores the importance of this from Matt Yglesias’ Friday post:
Record companies and their movie studio allies have managed to convince a shockingly large swathe of opinion that the purpose of intellectual property law is to prevent copyright infringement. In fact, the purpose is to advance the general welfare of society.
Reacting to Yglesias’ commenters - too many of whom prove Matt’s point - Atrios quotes the constitution, Section 8, Clause 8, giving Congress the power:
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
The key phrases being “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” and “ securing for limited Times.” A lot of the commenters seem to side with Disney et al who, after having made tons of money ripping off fairy tales without paying any royalties, seem to think that copyright law should extend out to time infinity.
The business centered discussion of these and related issues often serves to obscure the point of certain institutions. For example, antitrust law exists solely for the protection of competition for the benefit of consumers, not to protect competitors. It’s a seemingly subtle distinction, but it makes a world of difference in how we think about it.
Right on Matt! Right on Atrios! Let’s move this issue up the Democratic agenda.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
The Moyers Tomlinson debate
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. [...]
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.
I forgot too. Reading this interview with Moyers in Broadcasting and Cable reminded me:
Did you get any direct pressure from Tomlinson or CPB to change the content of your show?
The people at PBS told me they were getting excruciating pressure because of our reporting, including threats to de-fund public television unless “Moyers is dealt with.” They never identified the source of that pressure.
We know now it was Tomlinson. [Tomlinson] even told some people [we have confirmed it with two people who were present] that “Moyers is a coward because he doesn’t want to talk to people who disagree with him.”
Hello? See the above list of all the conservatives who appeared on the show.
What happened to the debate idea between you two?
I asked him repeatedly. He refused. He didn’t even respond. But when all this started to unfold early last year, I asked three times to meet with the CPB board and try to find out what was going on.
I thought we could reason together and maybe agree on how to cooperate to protect Public Broadcasting’s independence. I mean, I not only read the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, I helped to create it. CPB’s job was to be a firewall between guys like them and the producers, journalists, and content of public broadcasting.
I thought at the time that I was dealing with people who cared about this institution. I didn’t realize they had gone over to the dark side.
UPDATE: NYTimes editorial, Public Broadcasting’s Enemy Within - “As chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson proved to be a disastrous zealot...”
This has got to be the year that Google officially becomes the company Sillicon Valley loves to hate and Microsoft settles into its kinder gentler giant role.
Larry Lessig on patent progress at Microsoft:
There’s been lots of interesting commentary about Microsoft’s recent decision to submit its Office Document Formats to ECMA for “open standardization.” That’s good news, depending, of course, on the details.
But this is even better news: Microsoft has also promised that “it will not seek to enforce any of its patent claims necessary to conform to the technical specifications for the Microsoft Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas.”
This shows some hope to the complex of issues around patents affecting software in the land of Microsoft. Even opponents of software and business method patents will advise companies to secure them - given others can as well. But behavior like this goes a long way to neutralizing the negative effect of such patents. No license. No agreement. Just an unequivocal promise - at least with respect to those who don’t sue Microsoft.
Meanwhile, following all the evil Google press could keep a blogger mighty busy. Wired has helpfully compiled a fun roundup of who’s worried and why. From the intro:
It seems no one is safe: Google is doing Wi-Fi; Google is searching inside books; Google has a plan for ecommerce.
Of course, Google has always wanted to be more than a search engine. Even in the early days, its ultimate goal was extravagant: to organize the world’s information. High-minded as that sounds, Google’s ever-expanding agenda has put it on a collision course with nearly every company in the information technology industry: Amazon.com, Comcast, eBay, Yahoo!, even Microsoft.
In less than a decade, Google has gone from guerrilla startup to 800-pound gorilla.
And today the Times highlights a slew of anti-Google articles for your Google-bashing pleasure.
Me, I liked Microsoft when they were the definition of evil and I still think Google’s better than Pfizer or Wal-Mart or GM or BP or Exxon or GE or AXA or Citigroup. Heck, I even enjoy the thought of a Google nation.
My next car?
The styling is fresh and modern, with more than a passing resemblance to the new and more expensive Lexus IS sport sedan. It is more fun to drive than the Camry, nearly as nice inside as the Accord and loaded with features at a highly competitive price.
Then on Wednesday:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released safety ratings for 14 vehicles. Hyundai’s Sonata and Tucson joined the Mercedes-Benz ML Class, Subaru B9 Tribeca, and Honda Odyssey as the only vehicles getting 5 stars in all of the crash tests.
And America’s best warranty. I’m sold.
In the Mercer/Baptist split over the Triangle Symposium, I think the Baptists should reconsider. It looks to me like they’re bound to be the losers.
I’ve spent the morning with Guidestar, looking at Mercer University’s tax return. Out of a fund balance of $241,840,697 last year, a total of $17,697,816 came from direct public support. There’s no line item for Baptist contribution (duh!) but The Macon Telegraph reports that “the Georgia Baptist Convention currently gives Mercer about $3.5 million a year to fund scholarships.” The AJC says the 7,000 student campus “receives about $2.4 million a year from the Georgia Baptist Convention.”
That looks like a drop in the bucket to me. (And the reporters’ discrepancies suggest they haven’t done a much better job than me at tracking down the Baptist contribution. We don’t know and probably won’t know precisely what it is, but in relative terms it ain’t that big!)
Meanwhile, protests that there is no “national movement or trend” aside, this sure reads like one:
If Southern Baptists and their Baptist-run colleges are a family, that family appears to be splintering all over.
Tuesday, the same day that the Georgia Baptist Convention moved to part ways with Mercer University, Kentucky Baptists voted to loosen their ties with, and gradually reduce their funding to, Georgetown College.
And the next day, the Tennessee Baptist Convention voted to cut off funding for Belmont University in Nashville.
In the past 20 years, several other historically Baptist universities - such as Stetson in Florida, Wake Forest in North Carolina, Furman in South Carolina, Baylor in Texas - have either cut ties to their Baptist state conventions or become more autonomous.
Those splits, observers say, have been driven by the same issues that drive most family disputes: money, faith, politics, power and sometimes sex. And they have changed the face of academia in the Southeast.
William Brackney, director of Baylor’s Baptist Studies Program, says, “One of the largest denominational empires in higher education has been disintegrating rapidly in the last decade and a half.”
The chicken/egg question here is who’s leaving whom? Or, more importantly, who loses what in the breakup?
Some Baptist schools, such as Stetson, Furman and Wake Forest, gained complete independence and receive no support from their state conventions.
Baylor’s Brackney said, “There certainly doesn’t appear to be any scarring for the schools, all of them seem to have prospered. They’ve redefined themselves and gone on, and the Baptist movement has written them off.” [...]
For those schools that cut ties altogether, said Stetson’s Reddish, “Obviously, you lose some financial support, and you feel it, but you can also recoup it through increased alumni giving.”
Stetson lost about $1 million a year, he said, revenue that was gradually replaced.
“There may have been a slight downturn in enrollment,” he said, “but not much.”
More significant, some say, is the change in a school’s self-image. [...]
“History suggests that those colleges that have loosened their ties have a more difficult time maintaining their Christian identity,” said Duke’s Freeman. “They tend to grow more and more secularized. Some say that’s a good thing; some say it’s a bad thing.”
As an advocate of gay inclusion in religious life - even as I don’t identify as a capital “C” Christian - I see this as a bad thing. I’d like to see Baptist moderation and these schools are a moderating influence.
Evidently, the Baptist Conventions see that too. So they’re severing ties, and with that, losing the disproportionate influence their 1% contribution buys them.
RELATED: It may get worse before it gets better:
In December, Mercer trustees are expected to name Bill Underwood, the current interim president at Baylor University, as the school’s new president.
The 2006 edition of the Princeton Review’s “The Best 361 Colleges” ranked Baylor third among 20 schools listed as “Colleges with a Low Acceptance of Gays.”
Friday, November 25, 2005
Pyramids and Pancakes (again)
Or fewer rich stars and more middle class musicians!
Here’s some of what Chris Anderson posted on his Thanksgiving Day:
A fascinating paper from David Blackburn, a Harvard PhD student, on the economics of P2P file-sharing concludes that it does indeed depress music sales overall. But the effect is not felt evenly. The hits at the top of the charts lose sales, but the niche artists further down the popularity curve actually benefit from file-trading.
From the report:
[p.32] Artists who are unknown, and thus most helped by file sharing, are those artists who sell relatively few albums, whereas artists who are harmed by file sharing and thus gain from its removal, the popular ones, are the artists whose sales are relatively high.
This conclusion leads to further questions regarding the impacts that file sharing has had and will have on the recorded music industry. In particular, if file sharing essentially shifts sales away from established acts toward unknown acts, this has potentially very important implications for how talent is developed and distributed in the industry. As with the simple short-run effects of file sharing on sales, the direction of the impact is not clear. While one might guess that increasing the sales of new acts would lead to more investment in developing new talent, it is also possible that the investment in new acts is done as a fishing expedition to find artists who will sell millions of records. File sharing is reducing the probability that any act is able to sell millions of records, and if the success of the mega-star artists is what drives the investment in new acts, it might reduce the incentive to invest in new talent. This is, at its heart, an empirical question which is left to future work.
Chris looks at the data and concludes:
[F]ile-trading seems to help those in the bottom three-quarters of popularity, probably for the reasons stated above… The Long Tail implications of this are pretty clear. For the majority of artists further down the tail, free distribution is good marketing, with a net positive effect on sales. Which is yet another reminder that the rules are all too often made to protect the minority of artists at the top of the curve, not most artists overall.
And a reminder that the record companies who make money at the top of the curve will never embrace a world where talent can bloom and grow and be found lower down on that curve. Why should they? They’re quite comfortable and feel entitled to stay just exactly right where they are. They built that industry, they want to keep it.
In the world I want to live in, talent is everywhere, big and small, and niche audiences spend money so that talent can make a living wage. And a thriving industry makes money with them. A third giant - a Yahoo!, a Google, a Web 2.0 Google successor - will have to bring that about. I look forward to the day.
PLEASE SEE ALSO: My first Pyramids and Pancakes post.
What I don’t miss
Thieves are sawing down aluminum light poles. Some 130 have vanished from Baltimore’s streets in the last several weeks, the authorities say, presumably sold for scrap metal. But so far the case of the pilfered poles has stumped the police, and left many local residents wondering just how someone manages to make off with what would seem to be a conspicuous street fixture. [...]
The culprits seem to have pole-snatching down to a model of precision and efficiency, city officials say. They appear to have gone so far as dressing up as utility crews, the police say, and placing orange traffic cones around the poles about to be felled, to avoid arousing suspicion among motorists.
The missing poles have become yet another measure of the desperation in one of the country’s most violent cities. Last year, Baltimore, with a population about one-twelfth that of New York City’s, had a homicide rate more than five times as high.
An illegal drug trade fuels much of the violence. Health officials say 40,000 addicts live among Baltimore’s estimated 650,000 residents.
Now I’m sure it’s a measure of desperation; less so that it’s fueled by the illegal drug trade. Where is the documentation of that? Looks like another correlation without demonstrated causation to me.
But let’s say for a moment there is causation. Is the answer treatment and decriminalization or arrest and incarceration? Clearly, whatever they’re doing - I’m betting it’s not treatment and counseliong; we know it’s not decriminalization - IS NOT WORKING!
Bit Torrent beauty
Whoa Nelly, here’s a little sumtin’ sumtin’ to get the attention of the MPAA and RIAA litigation gestapo: Dutch company LamaBox is launching today what they are claiming to be the world’s first media player with built-in peer-2-peer functionality. It plugs directly into your TV, provides search and download support for all the major P2P services you’d expect including Bittorrent and Kazaa, ships with a DVD burner and up to 400GB with 2 additional IDE connections for expansion, and is said to play “any format” of image/audio/video files found on the Internet.
In a deal aimed at reducing illegal internet traffic in pirated films, Hollywood reached an agreement Tuesday with the creator of the popular file-sharing software BitTorrent.
The agreement requires 30-year-old software designer Bram Cohen to prevent his BitTorrent website from locating pirated versions of popular movies, effectively frustrating people who search for illegal copies of films.
Don’t Confuse the Company and the Protocol… The company more or less had to do this to stay a legal enterprise, and is putting a good face on the inevitable. Presumably, few people trading, say, first-run movies are going to be stupid enough to put their torrent sites into the index of the search engine anyway. So in the end, unless Hollywood somehow figures out a way to put the protocol genie back into the bottle this is going to have just about zero impact on the trading of content via BitTorrent (the protocol).
Looking a layer deeper, this story is about whether or not the Cartel will allow companies that kowtow sufficiently to go legit, especially after showing they can smash Grokster (the company - no effect on music trading of course). As with any protocol, BitTorrent software can be used for any number of purposes. If the Cartel ever want to have a distribution protocol and network for their content they’ll have to buy or build something. if BitTorrent (the company) wants to be part of that buy/build answer - and I bet it does - then this kind of agreement is absolutely necessary table stakes.