aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Big Media and the new architecture of control
Big media have always lobbied for more control over how people use culture, but until now, it’s largely been through changes to the copyright statutes. The distribution apparatus—record stores, booksellers, movie theaters etc.—was not a concern since it was secure and pretty much by definition “read-only.” But when we’re dealing with digital media, the distribution apparatus becomes a central concern, and that’s because the apparatus is the internet, which at present, no single entity controls.
Which is where the issue of regulation comes in. The cable and phone companies believe that since it’s through their physical infrastructure that the culture flows, that they should be able to control how it flows. They want the right to shape the flow of culture to best fit their ideal architecture of revenue. You can see, then, how if they had it their way, the internet would come to look much more like an on-demand broadcast service than the vibrant two-way medium we have today: simply because it’s easier to make money from read-only than from read/write—from broadcast than from public access.
SEE ALSO my post: An architecture of freedom.
Apple using DMCA to censor?
Apple Computer appears to have invoked the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to stop the dissemination of methods allowing Mac OS X to run on chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.
The chatter at the OSx86 Project was stifled Friday after the forum was served with a notice under the DMCA, according to a posting on the site.
“We’re sorry to report that despite our best efforts, the OSx86 Project has been served with a DMCA violation notice. The forum will be unavailable while we evaluate its contents to remove any violations present. We thank you for your patience in this matter,” the posting read.
Dan Gillmor: “The company has a long history of challenging speech. This looks like yet another unsavory example.”
Endgadget: “Doubtful this move will do much more than create a temporary delay in efforts as either the forum or hacking community en masse find respite beyond the gnarled fingers of the DMCA’s reach.”
UPDATE: They’re back, “Apple doesn’t “have it in” for our site; they were simply concerned with a few links posted by our members. Those links have been removed and we’re back.”
For a year now I have been writing that Apple is aiming to build a video distribution empire to match its existing music distribution empire. We’ve seen some of this take place, too, with Apple claiming to have distributed more than 12 million music videos, TV episodes, and motion pictures through the iTunes Music Store. Down the line we’ll see Video iPods with larger screens, the Video Express wireless access point-cum-H.264 decoder, faster Mac Minis with larger disk drives, and whole new versions of Apple’s seminal Front Row home theater application. As soon as Steve Jobs can sort out his legal problem with little Burst.com and finish signing every movie and TV studio to an electronic distribution deal, we’ll see lots more announcements from Apple.
But what about Blockbuster?
Apple’s Blockbuster product strategy is simple. Start with a new iPod that has video- and audio-out capability. This iPod—which will be just as good at playing songs as any iPod that preceded it - will be more than just a video storage device. It will be a video player. No make that plural - players - a whole family of video-out iPods, some with flash storage and others with little disk drives.
Take your Video-out iPod to Blockbuster, drop it in a kiosk dock then download from the local xServe your choice of 50,000 movies. You can rent the movie or buy it and you can even choose the resolution, which may or may not affect the final price. Take the iPod home, drop it in the dock attached to your TV and watch the movie. H.264 decoding takes place in the iPod in hardware.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Sleep on it
To build a bathroom or not to build a bathroom? I’ll decide in the morning:
When it comes to making tough decisions - don’t sweat it, sleep on it - or so a team of scientists recommends.
A Dutch study suggests complex decisions like buying a car can be better made when the unconscious mind is left to churn through the options.
This is because people can only focus on a limited amount of information, the study in the journal Science suggests.
The conscious brain should be reserved for simple choices like picking between towels and shampoos, the team said.
Ari says it’s news
Cheney may be unrepentant on that score. But former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says he should have anticipated this week’s media furor and released the information publicly to all media at once.
“It’s news if the vice president of the United States accidentally shoots somebody on a hunting trip,” Fleischer says. “My sense is that the vice president felt this was part of his private life and therefore he didn’t feel that obligation to tell the White House press corps.”
Via Romenesko, who also has this:
Corpus Christi Caller-Times reporters Kathryn Garcia and Jaime Powell, who broke the Cheney hunting accident story, don’t believe facts are being withheld by law enforcement officials. Both say they’ve been able to get information on the incident with few problems. “I feel like they’ve been awfully helpful here,” Garcia tells Joe Strupp. She says of Washington reporters: “Sometimes it seems that they think we can’t handle it, but we can and we did everything right.”
Oprah & Justin
I believe Kurt Eichenwald’s article on the boy looking for friends who became an online porn star is of critical important for all of us to contemplate. So when I happened to see that Oprah had the “Exclusive” of “The Young Boy Lured Into Pornography Online” I made sure to catch it.
I’m glad this show was on and there is no doubt that it had an impact on its audience, but because it was an Oprah show it shared some aspects of the Frey programs. From the transcript:
WINFREY: Pedophiles don’t want you to hear what Justin Berry is brave enough to expose today. Despite death threats, he agreed to be here today because he wanted to give his first television interview to the OPRAH show.
And I honor you for doing that. Thank you very much for having the courage to step out when a lot of people didn’t want you to do it. We’re going to ask Justin about the death threats in a moment. We were also told that Justin was just offered a big book deal worth a lot of money on the condition that he does not appear on our show, because what they wanted to do was to have you sell the book, and you said what?
Mr. BERRY: Well, I thought about it. And I put the numbers together and, well, it was enough to purchase a Diablo Lamborghini. And you know, that’s not something that’s more important than children’s lives here in America. And I just--I couldn’t bring myself to--money over children’s lives. So we’re here.
WINFREY: That’s the kind of kid he is. True. Thank you for that.
Frey’s was a tale of redemption; Justin’s is that too and more: a victim, a hero and he turned down a book deal. (We can bet that one day he will write a book, and that book will be an Oprah Book Club selection.) To complete her narrative Oprah sets him up as “just an ordinary kid.” Justin’s “the boy next-door, class president, an honor student.”
I am not saying he may not have been, but there’s plenty to indicate trouble. We’re told that “at 14, Justin’s mother Karen began noticing a change in his personality.” Karen is depicted as an innocent who “had no idea” even as she tells us that “what I actually did for a living was work with kids that have been molested.”
So she’s a professional and she noticed something yet this went on for four more years? During those years, as any reader of the Times’ account already knew, “Justin had 1500 people who were paying him money.” And what of Justin’s father?
WINFREY: Justin says he was about to be betrayed by another adult after he arrived in Mexico. His father asked why he always had so much money. That’s when Justin confessed he had been running a Web cam cyber porn site.
Mr. BERRY: He offered to help. He said, `Well, how can we maximize the earning potential here?’ Kind of disappointing that my dad did that.
WINFREY: Justin says, with his father by his side, he created his most sophisticated Web site yet.
So mom’s oblivious and dad’s unspeakably evil but still, Oprah’s narrative lovingly mentions Justin’s “parents” 19 times. I gather their was a step-father; he had no place in the narrative.
Kurt Eichenwald of the Times says, “When I first saw Justin, he was emaciated. He was a drug addict. He looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks. He was probably in the worst shape of any teenager I’ve ever had a conversation with.” That and 1,500 cyber-Johns suggest that Justin is in need of some serious care. I don’t see how Oprah’s “exclusive” furthers that.
Justin’s story is a horrific one, and I don’t accept that it must be shaped in this way in order to wake up parents and save America’s children. Yes it should be told, it must be told. But I think a more honest telling, one shorn of television conventions, would be equally effective in getting America’s attention.
Those television conventions have an element of dishonesty to them. Not only that, they are their own kind of exploitation. I don’t see how they help Justin; I even wonder if they don’t compound his problems.
Oprah & Frey, epilogue
The best explanation of my gut reaction to Oprah’s apology in the Frey affair was articulated on the Newshour by cultural historian Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Center for the Study of Popular Television:
The fact was, she changed her mind about this. She did more than leave an impression.
And I think then she turned around and some people, myself included, kind of saw that she was kind of a sanctimonious bully on that show. [...]
If she would have come out as soon as this story broke loaded for bear and said, you know, you betrayed your readers, you betrayed us, we showed this, we talked all about how it was helping people, and now I find out this is “say it ain’t so James Frey, why did you do this,” I think that would have been—she would have been fine.
The fact that she made that impulsive call to Larry King first and, in fact, gave him a pass on this, was completely against everything that she seems to stand for in her program which is shedding the light of truth on things, getting people to confess and be open about their relationships, their child abuse, whatever.
By giving him a pass on that, she had to backtrack and that looked kind of bad. I mean this would be like if you crashed the car on Saturday night, and your parents say well, you’ve been a good kid, we’re going to let this one go. And then suddenly on Wednesday they say we’ve changed our minds; you’re grounded for the rest of the year and give us back all your Christmas presents.
That tends to make the person doing that seem like a bully and the person who did the original sin actually seem kind of pathetic.
And I got to admit, that guy on the stage with his homina, homina, homina, and everything, you had to kind of feel a little sympathy for him.
RELATED Oprah & Bill via Romenesko:
Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates visited San Diego High School on Wednesday, but reporters—even from the school’s paper—weren’t allowed to talk to them. A student journalist complains: “This is the biggest story that’s ever happened at San Diego High and they won’t let us do the interviews. We’re expected to keep people up to date on news and we can’t even get access.”
Hume & Cheney
I’m no fan of Hume but Frank says he did a good job:
To be sure, not all of Hume’s questions were winners. For example, the query “[A]nd I take it, you missed the bird,” while detail-oriented, didn’t get quite to the heart of Americans’ concerns about the incident. For the most part, however, Hume squeezed out an account of the accident for which local law enforcement officials will undoubtedly be grateful. Hume was persistent and specific: “You had pulled the trigger and you saw him?” “What was he wearing?” “How far away from you was he?” “What did you think when you saw the injuries? How serious did they appear to you to be?” “Did you get up and did you go with him, or did you go to the hospital?” “His eyes were open when you found him, then, right?”
Cheney took responsibity - “Well, ultimately, I’m the man who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry.” Riffs Frank, “I fired the round, which hit the man, who saved the quail, who’d managed to fly. I don’t know why it happened to fly. That’s my reply.” - but:
[T]he vice president made little sense. Hume questioned the overnight delay: “[T]he one thing that we’ve all kind of learned over the last several decades is that if something like this happens, as a rule sooner is better.” Cheney’s response: “Well, if it’s accurate. If it’s accurate. And this is a complicated story.” Hume seemed unsatisfied: “But there were some things you knew. I mean, you knew a man had been shot, you knew he was injured, you knew he was in the hospital, and you knew you’d shot him.” Well, yeah, Cheney conceded, but no reason to get all hasty: “[I]t was also important, I thought, to get the story out as accurately as possible.” But if Cheney wanted the story to be as authoritative as possible, why didn’t he put out a statement himself, instead of elevating a ranch owner to the position of impromptu vice presidential spokeswoman? “[S]he was the most credible one to do it,” Cheney said, “because she was a witness.” And why wouldn’t he go directly to the national media rather than relying on the Corpus Christi Caller-Times? Cheney’s response: “[A]s the media outlets have proliferated, speed has become sort of a driving force, lots of times at the expense of accuracy. And I wanted to make sure we got it as accurate as possible.”
Yes, that all makes sense. I think. Why do I feel a sudden urge to drill for oil?
If Cheney had explained the delay by saying, “You know, I was distressed at the time and didn’t really think things through,” it’s hard to imagine that anyone would have blamed him.
I feel sorry for the guy, but he and his gang bungled it.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Keep webcams from kids
Justin Berry was 13 when he hooked up his Web cam. New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald told the story of how this boy looking for friends became an online porn star in Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World. If you haven’t read it, you should.
They were on Oprah yesterday. Eichenwald ended the show with this important message:
Mr. EICHENWALD: There is absolutely no reason for a child to have a Web cam. Every Web cam in every child’s room in America should be thrown out today.
WINFREY: You--you agree?
Mr. BERRY: I totally agree. I can’t think of one use besides sexual that a kid needs a Web cam for.
Mr. EICHENWALD: You know, actually, in preparation for this show, Justin and I went to a store to see about purchasing one. And he was just playing a game, and he said to the salesperson, `Well, what do people use Web cams for?’ And he said, `Well, Web cam chatting, porn’ in the store.
WINFREY: Really? In the store.
Mr. EICHENWALD: But he was a teenager, so he knew… And what’s interesting is, in the course of the reporting, I went on a lot of teen bulletin boards, teen chat rooms, to see what they’re saying about Web cams. They know what they are. They’re not saying, `I want to talk to someone in England,’ they say, `I want to get on a Web cam, and when I do, will you get on, too, and we can both strip naked?’ That’s what they’re about.
Eichenwald was visibly moved as he said these words. He is informed by his experience reporting this story. He knows what he’s talking about.
If I were a Simpson…
Simpsomaker Via: Siva. The long-delayed Daily Show segment was on last night. My review: terrific! I wish I could see Dimitri do his standup. Siva, if you’re an old person, I’m a geezer. BTW, I’m coming around slowly on libraries.
Avenue Q coming to Atlanta?
The puppets are folding.
After five lackluster months on the Las Vegas Strip, and nearly two years after rejecting a national tour, the producers of “Avenue Q,” the 2004 Tony Award winner for best musical, said they would close the Vegas version of the ribald, puppet-happy musical in late May. The show, which is playing to only about 65 percent of capacity in a 1,200-seat theater at the Wynn Las Vegas, will be replaced by “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” which won last year’s Tony for best musical.
It’s still booming in NY and now may come to your town:
The closing brings to an end a saga that began at the 2004 Tony Awards when “Avenue Q” shocked Broadway by winning best musical over the favored “Wicked.” Days later, the producers surprised Broadway again - and angered many on the road - when they announced that they would forgo a national tour in favor of an exclusive run in Las Vegas.
Yesterday, however, the producers of “Q” were already pursuing options in other major American cities - Mr. Wynn dropped the exclusivity deal as part of ending the Vegas run - and had gone so far as to send a series of Valentine’s Day cards to presenters suggesting that they “have a deeply satisfying moment of schadenfreude” and then consider booking the show.
The fabulous Fox is even bigger than the Vegas theater (which was half again as big as the 796 seat Golden where the show’s playing in NY) but if it comes I’ll go.
The path to same-sex marriage: VT, MA, NJ?
Same-sex marriage advocates took their fight to New Jersey’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, arguing that gay and lesbian couples should have the same legal marriage rights as heterosexual couples.
The case could make New Jersey the second state where gay marriage is legal. The issue leaped to the spotlight during the 2004 presidential election after Massachusetts legalized it in response to a ruling by its state Supreme Court.
The case in New Jersey will be closely watched in six other states where similar cases are pending. [...]
A February poll by the Zogby organization, commissioned by the pro-gay marriage group Garden State Equality, found 56 percent of respondents favored allowing same-sex couples to get married, against 39 percent who were opposed. The same poll found 67 percent against a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
RELATED: New Hampshire constitutional amendment rejected.
The new kinder gentler Boot Camp
Steve Gillard quotes the (subscription only) Wall Street Journal on how recruiting woes have forced changes:
For most of its existence, boot camp was a place where drill sergeants would weed out the weak and turn psychologically soft civilians into hardened soldiers. But the Army, fighting through one of its biggest recruiting droughts, now is shifting tactics. Boot camp—that iconic American experience—may never be the same.
Once-feared drill sergeants have been ordered to yell less and mentor more. “Before, our drill sergeants’ attitude was ‘you better meet my standard or else.’ Now it’s ‘I am going to do all I can to assist you in meeting the Army standard,’ “ says Command Sgt. Maj. William McDaniel, the senior enlisted soldier here.
New privates are getting more sleep and personal time. Even the way soldiers eat has changed. Drill sergeants long ordered overweight soldiers to stay away from soda and desserts. Today, soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood fill out a survey about their boot-camp experience that asks, among other questions, if they liked the food, whether they were “allowed to eat everything on the menu, including dessert,” and whether there was enough for seconds. [...]
The dining hall still is far from relaxing. But drill sergeants no longer shout at recruits. They aren’t allowed to order overweight privates to skip dessert. At first, some drill sergeants refused to embrace the new directive. “There was a lot of balking on the dessert rule,” says Capt. Meng, who oversees 11 drill sergeants. “I have had to say, ‘Don’t even mention it.’ “
The Army also has cut the amount of running troops do in boot camp by more than 60% in the past three years. “A lot of these kids have never done P.E. or sports. We were injuring too many by running too much,” says Col. Greg Jolissaint, an Army physician with the command that sets baseline standards for boot camp.
Winter Passing: Will it make it here?
Will Ferrell was in this movie, and if it weren’t pretty good on its own terms he’d be worth the price of admission by himself. Corbit has a special-ed haircut and some poorly applied eye shadow, and he tends to say “right on” a lot, whether it’s appropriate in context or not. But he’s a sympathetic figure, not an object of derision, and he reminds you that Ferrell treats all his overly sincere and hypercommitted characters with compassion, even in the most trivial comic vehicle. (Not that comedy isn’t important and stuff.) Plus he performs a version of the Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why” that nearly tops his cover of “Dust in the Wind” from ”Old School.”
So “Winter Passing,” a promising directing debut from New York playwright Adam Rapp, is getting a low-rent release from a small distributor because—well, why, exactly? Because it’s conventionally structured, and you mostly know what’s going to happen? No, that’s not it. It must be because people in Hollywood are idiots who can’t tell their asses from a hole in the ground. I don’t know for a fact that no major studio wanted a movie that sounded, in a vague and general way, too much like ”The Squid and the Whale.” But that’s plausible, and if so it’s approximately the dumbest thing ever. Deschanel is great, with her feral eyes and Joey Ramone shag haircut, and Ferrell is fantastic. This one’s worth the effort to find.
I saw The Squid and the Whale in New York. Its New York sensibility was so thick that I don’t imagine it succeeding here.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
A new “study” of Megachurches - Georgia has 73 (fourth behind California, Texas and Florida) - finds:
[V]irtually all megachurches share common traits of a dynamic senior pastor, emphasis on conservative values, and building small groups to offset its size.
They also know how to make worship entertaining. Roughly 80 percent use electric guitars and drums while nearly all use visual projection equipment for sermons and song aids.
The Rev. Randy Mickler, senior minister of Mount Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, said his church offers a full orchestra and a praise band and uses everything from dance and dramatic skits to movie clips to bolster worship. His church has 8,000 members.
“You name any instrument and it’ll be here,” Mickler said. “The churches that are growing are the ones using every technique available.”
Among the megachurch myths that the study “debunks,” Thumma said, are:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ All megachurches are nondenominational. Reality: Most are affiliated with a denomination.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Megachurches water down theology. Reality: Most have high spiritual expectations.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ They are extensions of the Republican Party. Reality: The majority are not politically active.
The survey also says megachurches don’t dwell on raising money, except when engaged in a building or capital campaign.
Their conservative values play out as Republican politics: abortion, gays, evolution. The Rev. Mickler’s band underscores the coddle-your-flock attitude. Where once one’s preacher was aware, now the pastor’s not watching. Not only that, you can wear shorts and there are no crosses! So how exactly do those “high spiritual expectations” manifest themselves?
I suspect a methodological flaw:
The conclusions were based on an eight-month survey of 400 megachurches undertaken by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research - a research arm of the seminary - and the Leadership Network, a church growth consulting firm based in Dallas. The findings are based on answers supplied by the churches themselves.
Variable pricing for movies is coming
So says the New York Times today:
Soon...you will pay more for a ticket on the weekends and less on weekdays. You’ll be able to buy a reserved seat in the center of the theater for a few extra dollars. One of these days, you may even have to pay more for a hit movie than for a bomb. The changes are under way, and they are long overdue. [...]
The theater industry’s attempt to ignore the laws of supply and demand is as good an example of corporate inertia as you will find. For decades, going to the movies was one of the rituals of American life, and competition among theaters revolved mainly around trying to land more hot films than the theater down the street.
But now theaters face a very different competitive landscape, thanks to DVD’s, high-definition TV’s, Netflix and TiVo. Family night at the movies, meanwhile, can cost $60. It’s no wonder that the share of disposable income spent on moviegoing has fallen a stunning 17 percent in just the last three years.
There is no easy fix for industry. But it’s clear that it can’t afford to leave easy money sitting on the table any longer, which is why executives are finally thinking about a more sensible business model. It is called variable pricing, and the first step is likely to be extending the old matinee discount to weeknights. “I predict we will see it within a year,” said Peter C. Brown, who runs the nation’s second-biggest theater chain, AMC Entertainment, which invented the multiplex in the 1960’s and the armchair cup holder in 1981. “There are people looking at it. I’ll leave it at that.”
Not all variable pricing ideas are popular. I missed this one:
But this is a tricky game, which is why so many companies are still struggling with it. You may recall that Coca-Cola announced in 1999 that it was thinking about installing thermometers in its vending machines and charging more on a hot day. Economically, it makes perfect sense that a cold soda is worth more when the temperature hits 90. But consumers thought they were being gouged, and the ensuing uproar caused Coke’s executives to insist that the plan was never serious.
Willie’s gay cowboy song
Country music outlaw Willie Nelson sang “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” more than 25 years ago. He released a very different sort of cowboy anthem this Valentine’s Day.
“Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)” may be the first gay cowboy song by a major recording artist. But it was written long before this year’s Oscar-nominated “Brokeback Mountain” made gay cowboys a hot topic.
Available only via iTunes, do you think it will enable the country crooner to breakout into Blue State success? Nah, just another meme.
Lyrics & links at Boing Boing.
The cost of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
The Army is accepting more recruits with criminal and drug histories, the number of waivers issued is up 25%. Still it missed its recruiting target. But even worse, it’s spending millions of dollars to enforce Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:
It cost the federal government just under $364 million to discharge and replace about 9,500 gay service members during the first decade of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The figure is 91 percent more than previously estimated, according to a study conducted by a panel of military experts assembled by the University of California.
The 12-member Blue Ribbon Commission that conducted the study was scheduled to release a report Feb. 14 saying it was unable to obtain certain information from the Pentagon that likely would have indicated still higher costs.
More from the Washington Post.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
MA Wal-Mart required to carry morning after pill
BOSTON (AP) - The state board that oversees pharmacies voted Tuesday to require Wal-Mart to stock emergency contraception pills at its Massachusetts pharmacies, a spokeswoman at the Department of Public Health said.
The unanimous decision by the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy comes two weeks after three women sued Wal-Mart in state court for failing to carry the so called “morning after” pill in its Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores in the state.
The women argue state policy requires pharmacies to provide all “commonly prescribed medicines.”
The board has sent a letter to Wal-Mart lawyers informing them of the decision, said health department spokeswoman Donna Rheaume. Wal-Mart has until Thursday to provide written compliance.
RELATED: In Pill of Rights the Daily Show’s Jason Jones wonders how one can make a moral judgment over someone making a moral judgment for women.
Google DRM: not so kind and gentle after all
Today Cory Doctorow voices a starkly different view in a long post that asks, why is Hollywood more important than Google’s users? A brief snippet:
Google’s DRM has the potential to drastically re-shape the contours of copyright law, turning a few entertainment companies’ wishful thinking about the way that copyright would work if they were running the show into de facto laws.
Some examples of user-rights that Google Video DRM takes away:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Under US copyright law, once you buy a video, you acquire a number of rights to it, including the right to re-sell it, loan it to a friend, donate it to your kid’s school and so on. But with Google Video DRM, none of this is possible: your video is locked to your account and player.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Educators, archivists, academics, parodists and others have the right to excerpt, copy, archive and use any video in their work, under the US doctrine of fair use. However, Google’s DRM tool stops them from doing this, and Google’s video can’t be played on anyone else’s tool.
Your ongoing enjoyment of the property you buy from Google is dependent on their ongoing relationship with their suppliers. If you buy a Warner Brothers DVD from Tower Records, it doesn’t affect you in the least if Tower and Warners have an ugly dispute. You’ve bought it, it’s yours. But with Google DRM, auto-update means that it’s never really yours. Third parties always have the possibility of taking away the rights you bought, after you bought them.
Quit your day job?
Two years ago, David Hauslaib was a junior at Syracuse University who was, as he confesses, “totally obsessed with who Paris Hilton was sleeping with.” So he did what any college student would do these days: He blogged about it. Hauslaib began scouring the Web for paparazzi photos of Hilton and news items about her, then posting them on his Website, Jossip.com. (Sample headline: PARIS HILTON SPREADS IT IN THE HAMPTONS.) “My friends got a chuckle out of it, but it didn’t get really big or anything-maybe a few hundred visitors a day,” he says.
Then one day Hauslaib took a good look at Gawker, a gossip site owned by the high-tech publisher Nick Denton. Gawker’s founding writer, Elizabeth Spiers, had pioneered a distinctive online literary style and earned a large following in the Manhattan media world. What really got Hauslaib’s attention, though, was Gawker’s advertising-rate sheet. According to Denton, the site received about 200,000 “page views” a day from readers. The site ran roughly two big ads on each page, and Gawker said that it charged advertisers $6 to $10 for every 1,000 page views-almost the same as a midsize newspaper. There was also a smattering of smaller, one-line text ads bringing in a few hundred bucks daily. Doing a quick bit of math, he figured that the income from Gawker’s ads could top $4,000 a day. The upshot? Nick Denton’s revenues from Gawker were probably at least $1 million a year and might well be cracking $2 million.
Not bad, considering the blog had no serious expenses other than its writersÃ¢â‚¬"first Spiers and now Jessica Coen and Jesse Oxfeld, all working for journalist wages-and Webhosting fees of maybe a few thousand bucks a year. “The rest of it,” Hauslaib points out, “just goes into Nick’s pockets.”
“And I was like, I can do that,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he says, laughing.
So in June 2005, Hauslaib packed his bags and moved to a sparsely furnished sixth-floor walk-up in the East Village, where he parked his massive Dell laptop on his kitchenette counter, installed a flat-screen LCD TV to catch breaking celebrity news, and began working on Jossip in earnest.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Red State cities, gay tourists
A reader who e-mailed me this USA Today story, on cities in red states vying for gay tourist dollars, suggested calling it “Just shuddup and give us your money.” I’d be more charitable. Most of these cities-Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, Phoenix, maybe even Dallas-are to varying degrees far more gay-friendly than their states’ typical smallvilles and rural areas. It’s a positive sign that these cities are marketing to gays, and not so surprising that the religious conservatives are not making a fuss about it.
Actually, I wish they would-if social conservatives demanded that states start forfeiting income in order to placate their prejudices, local business interests would turn against them. And that would be a good thing.
Comparing gay & black integration in the military
Reader E. ... says I:
underestimate the difficulties in integrating the races back in the day. Racial riots in the military were not uncommon in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I remember being trained as a junior officer back in the 1990s how to deal with and respond to racial riots, should one occur.
I seriously doubt there would be nearly as many anti-homosexual riots in today’s military, should it be openly integrated (remember it is de facto integrated in many units already). To that extent, integrating homosexuals would actually be easier than integrating the races in the military.
Seeing Brokeback in Manhattan and Macon
OR why I believe the Brokeback breakout meme
I saw Brokeback Mountain the first time in New York, the second this past weekend in Macon. My Macon matinee audience was proportionally as large (and proportionally as late in the run) as my Chelsea matinee audience, and they seemed to enjoy it just as much.
So my anecdotal evidence is that the Red State Brokeback meme has some truth behind it. But sitting in that Macon theater next to my straight male friend - who had read my post about Brokeback audiences in Montana - I felt full-disclosure culpable for not having written about Mickey Kaus’s dismissal of it.
Today, in his 43rd post on the topic, Mickey gives me another shot:
I hadn’t realized, until someone tipped me off, that Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 had exactly the same marketing strategy as Brokeback Mountain, the gist of which was “Hey, a film sticks it to the conservatives but it’s playing in the red states!” This is the now-familiar Heartland Breakout meme.
I do believe the Brokeback marketing strategy is a savvy one, but it’s not substantially different from that of many other challenging films that try to breakout to a wider audience. I don’t take seriously his notion that it’s based on sticking it to the conservatives - if I did, wouldn’t I also have to believe that the very act of my moving here is sticking it to conservatives? - but I do feel compelled to answer his three point explanation of why his belief that Red State audiences aren’t really going to see Brokeback - it’s all just a media ploy - merits 43 posts.
A dog’s life
The 130th Westminster Dog Show starts in New York today. Ted Kerasote, author of the forthcoming “Merle’s Door: How Dogs Might Live if They Were Free,” marks the occasion with an OpEd in the Times. After a discussion of the consequences of breeding purebred dogs he concludes:
[I]f the pageantry of Westminster moves you to bring a new pup into the household, here’s a few tips that can save you some heartache and vet bills, particularly if the dog you have in mind is purebred. Investigate the track records of breeders. Meet both parents of the prospective pup. Talk with people who have bought from the breeder. And learn about the idiosyncrasies of one’s chosen breed.
If every dog buyer did such research, it would also help shut down the 5,000 puppy mills that, according to the Humane Society, provide most of the half-million purebred dogs sold through pet stores and the Internet. Poorly regulated, unsanitary factories in which females are imprisoned their entire lives, puppy mills survive because people get charmed by that puppy in the window.
Unlike the wrong computer or an automobile, however, faulty dogs can’t be readily exchanged or resold. They can be “given up” to an animal shelter, and they are, at the rate of about four million dogs each year, this soothing phrase disguising the end of 50 percent of them - a gas chamber or a lethal injection.
We owe our dogs more than this. After all, it is we who have shaped them. Even when we err, they continue to put their trust and their lives in our hands.