aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, January 22, 2007
I’ve been using Ubuntu full time since October (I know, I’m really lagging in my promise to document my switch, but it’s coming) and I’m really, really impressed with it. My new Thinkpad is rock-solid, fast as hell, and does almost everything I want it to do (I can’t get iPod synch working, but I have some expert assistance in that regard). The most amazing thing is that my OS and all the incredible programs I use every day are totally free—and when I submit bug-reports or feature requests for my favorite apps, they get fixed!
I’m pretty excited at the idea of an Ubuntu optimized for multimedia creation—the regular Ubuntu is so solid and well-thought-out, so I have a lot of hopes for Ubuntu Studio.
My furor at Intuit’s Quicken (which will be recounted here one day soon, in the meantime you can revisit last year’s anger over their sunset policy) has led me to return to Ubuntu and learn GnuCash. I’ll let you know how it goes. By the time I get that down I should be ready for Ubuntu Studio.
Keeping for-profit student lenders happy
In its report on the House passing a student loan interest rate reduction last week, the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Barmak Nassirian, an official with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers:
“It’s a significant shift ... to see that Congress is, for a change, going to think about the intended beneficiaries of the program, who are the students,” he said, adding that hasn’t always been the case.
Over the last decade, Nassirian said, congressional discussions about student lending have focused on making private mega-lenders Sallie Mae or Nelnet (National Education Loan Network) happy rather than helping students lessen their debt.
Today we learn from The Chronicle (subscription) that the practice of keeping private lenders happy is ongoing:
The U.S. Department of Education will not require the National Education Loan Network, a major for-profit student-loan provider based in Nebraska, to return hundreds of millions of dollars in excess government subsidies, but it will cut off the payments as of July 1, 2006, the department announced on Friday.
The department will also stop paying lenders at the highest subsidy rate until they can prove, via audit, that they qualify for it.
Under the terms of the settlement, Nelnet will be allowed to keep $278-million in payments that the department’s Office of Inspector General says it improperly received from January 2003 through June 2005. It could lose out on an estimated $882-million in future federal subsidies.[...]
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress have said they will step up oversight of the lending industry in the coming year. Democrats have accused the administration of being too soft on the student-loan industry, in part because it is a major donor to Republican campaigns. Among lenders, no company has been more generous than Nelnet, which gave $153,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in the first three-quarters of 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (The Chronicle, November 7, 2006).
In a statement issued on Friday, Rep. George Miller, the California Democrat who is chairman of the education committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, said his panel would review the Nelnet settlement, along with the federal student-loan programs “to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently and effectively.”
Here’s the Dept of Ed Press Release on the settlement. See if you can decipher what it’s saying.
More from the Times on mixtapes
Mixtapes and the DJ Drama raid in the Business Section of today’s Times:
last week, local authorities, working with the recording industry’s trade association, stunned fans and music executives alike by raiding DJ Drama’s studio in Atlanta and arresting him and a fellow D.J., Don Cannon, on racketeering charges. Investigators seized more than 81,000 allegedly pirated CDs and say the pair were producing unlicensed recordings and selling them without permission.
The raid sparked an outcry among many rap fans. But it also threatens to throw into public view the recording industry’s awkward relationship with mixtapes, long an integral element of rap culture and now commonly for sale on street corners, Web sites, many independent record shops and occasionally big chains.
Even as industry-financed antipiracy squads hunt for unauthorized recordings, senior executives at the major record labels privately say that they have courted - and often paid - top D.J.’s to create and distribute mixtapes featuring the labels’ rappers as part of efforts to generate buzz.
Label executives remained puzzled over the sudden arrest of DJ Drama, whose ascent through the unregulated world of compilations has largely taken place in plain sight during the last couple of years. There has been speculation that the police inquiry into his business affairs was further spurred by tips from a competitor or unhappy customer. Chief Baker of the Morrow police declined to comment on the participation of any informants.
I’m not into Rap, I don’t buy mixtapes. I did frequent clubs and know and buy them way back when:
Mixtapes have been part of rap since the genre’s earliest days in the 1970s - back then, D.J.’s who spun records at clubs or parties committed their playlists to cassettes. But the proliferation of CD burners in the last several years has made the production and wide circulation - or sale - of mixtapes easier than ever.
It has also enhanced their role in tastemaking. Particularly since formerly underground mixtape hero 50 Cent broke out as a mainstream rap superstar in 2003, the top producers of unlicensed CDs have been embraced by the industry’s biggest corporations, who wager that the D.J.’s reputations as renegades will translate into the sale of legitimate, licensed compilations, too.
The story reports that hip hop sales were down 20% last year. How the business types can think arresting DJs will help sales is beyond me.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
I’m not fond of the term “user-generated content.” I like “peer-produced/production” but I don’t see it catching on. John Batelle proposes ”Conversational Media.” I like that.
I like, too, his harrumphing at the Times today:
The approach the NYT takes, editorially, to describing “user generated content” (what I prefer to call Conversational Media) is so dismissive, so backhanded, it makes me want to scream. Here’s how Richard Siklos defines it in today’s paper (the piece is entitled “Big Media’s Crush on Social Networking").
User-generated content is basically anything someone puts on the Web that is not created for overtly commercial purposes; it is often in response to something professionally created, or is derivative of it. So, it could be a blog, a message board, a homemade video on YouTube, or a customer’s book review on Amazon.com.
Richard and his editors so deeply want to believe that conversational media is dependent on “professionally created” media. But it’s not, any more than it’s “not created for overtly commercial purposes.”
The Guy Who Danced Around the Globe. Twice.
More than you ever wanted to know about Matt: FAQ from his site, Where The Hell is Matt. Wikipedia entry (” lacks information on the notability” of Matt, help out if you can). Payscale ("a leader in online compensation data") Blogs Salary Stories video interview from a couple weeks ago.
What’s so special about it?
The flavor lasts a really long time.
Come on. How long?
Are they paying you to say this?
Did they make you chew gum on your trip?
They didn’t make me do much of anything. They are very good people.
Did they tell you where to go?
Nope. They said, and I’m quoting here:
“We like what you’re doing. We want to help you. We don’t want to mess with you.”
These words charmed me, and they stayed true to them.
Is there a post abortion syndrome?
Emily Bazelon has a piece in the Times Magazine today asking, Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome? Research tells us there’s not, though anti-abortion activists - like Intelligent Design and Ex-Gay advocates - use their own to satisfy their predisposition to believe. Among the consequences:
Eighteen states include in their materials a description of abortion’s psychological effects. According to a 2006 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, seven of these states describe only harmful effects. South Dakota’s informed-consent law requires physicians to give patients written state-approved information that supplies a link between abortion and an increased risk of suicide, though no causal connection has been found. Both the patient and the doctor must certify that the patient has read and understood the materials; failure to do so is a misdemeanor offense.
Does such a law violate a doctor’s constitutional right to free speech? Robert Post, a Yale law professor, argues that the state should not be able to force doctors to convey inaccurate or misleading information. South Dakota’s law “endangers the integrity of physician-patient communications, because it threatens to transform physicians into mouthpieces for political majorities,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he writes in a coming law-review article. [...]
Reva Siegel of Yale compares South Dakota’s use of criminal law to enforce a vision of pregnant women as weak and confused to the 19th-century diagnosis of female hysteria. These ideas can make and change laws. The claim that women lacked reliable judgment was used to deny women the vote and the right to own property. Repressed-memory stories led states to extend their statutes of limitations. Women who devote themselves to abortion recovery make up for the wrong they feel they’ve done by trying to stop other women from doing it too - by preventing them from having the same choices.
It’s an important piece. READ IT.
500 copies & the enemy is obscurity
Chris Anderson informed an audience of several hundred publishers that the average book sells 500 copies per year, “a depressing statistic” that places over a third of books squarely in the long tail.
“If [authors] are writing books to be read, how can we maximize that?,” he asked. “De-stigmatize the mid-list, de-stigmatize the long tail—999 readers is success! If you can turn that into 2,000, that’s doubling your success. Those tools typically do not require big marketing budgets from publishers. Yet if you’re expecting publishers to do it, you’ll probably be disappointed. The solution is for you [the author] to do it.” [...]
Cory Doctorow and Seth Godin have been giving their books away online for free for several years now, in some cases before the title appears in print. Doctorow, a vocal opponent of restrictive copyright protection, goaded the audience. Alluding to the file sharing endemic in music, film, and video, he asked, “Why don’t people care enough about literature to steal it? I think that’s genuinely alarming. It’s because books are Web-invisible. The Web is all about serendipity. When you’re on the Web searching for food, you should find books about food. Book search should work like Web searchÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Free e-books make commercial sense.”
“The enemy is not piracy. The enemy is obscurity. If books are invisible, that’s a really good recipe for not getting stolen from—but not for selling. The Web is the greatest distributor for the frictionless sale of books in history,” chimed in Godin.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Oh well, she’s in. I’m sure I’ll support her.
Brownback got in today too. Jeff Jarvis:
On the same day, polar political opposites Hillary Clinton and Sam Brownback announced their campaigns for the White House on internet video. Compare and contrast.
Sticks & stones will break my bones
The news is full of stories wondering can Grey’s Anatomy heal the rift?
Epithets hurt. They should be dealt with. But let’s not forget that stones hurt worse. Kevin Naff of the Washington Blade:
This story seems to resonate much more among straight people, who forget that homophobia remains one of the last legally protected forms of discrimination around. [...]
The whole dustup is overblown and yet another example of misplaced outrage. Where was the public’s indignation when gay men, including Michael Sandy, Kevin Aviance and Dick Jefferson were violently assaulted last year? Where was the anger when self-appointed moral guardians like James Dobson used the Foley scandal to call us all pedophiles? Where was the outrage when President Bush and Karl Rove were winning elections by demonizing us? Why weren’t people upset when state after state voted to single us out for second-class status in their constitutions?
Sorry, but those things piss me off much more than a small-minded actor calling someone a faggot. Get over it.
Watching CNet TV via TiVoCast I came across this story from the Consumer Electronics Show about a future in which you can wirelessly recharge all of your electronic devices. Called “Powercast,” it won “Best of Show for Emerging Technology” at the Consumer Electronics Show. Ars Technica has more:
Use of the Powercast system involves a transmitter and a receiver chip embedded into the user’s devices. The company emphasizes that the system is for smaller, less juice-sucking devices such as cell phones, PDAs, game controllers, and hearing aids, indicating that it might be something like a lower-powered, shorter-range version of MIT’s wireless power model model announced last November. The Powercast’s transmitter broadcasts a certain radio frequency over a short distance (the company says about 3 feet, compared to MIT’s 3 to 5 meters) and the receivers are programmed to sync up to that frequency and draw power from it.
In order for Powercast to work, the device it’s charging must have a receiver built in. Powercast expects “multiple manufacturers” to ship Powercast-enabled technology later this year.
Atlanta minister on trial this weekend
You’ll recall his grave sin was entering into a committed relationship. All was fine when he was gay and single. WaPo:
Members of the oldest Lutheran congregation in Atlanta washed their pastor’s feet—and he washed theirs—in a gesture of mutual support as he prepared to go before a tribunal that may defrock him for living with another man.
The church trial of the Rev. Bradley E. Schmeling, 44, began yesterday behind closed doors at a downtown Atlanta hotel and was scheduled to continue through the weekend.
It is the latest in a series of similar trials in several mainline Protestant denominations, where growing numbers of congregations are installing gay men and lesbians as pastors despite rules against non-celibate homosexuals in the pulpit.
Emphasis mine. The tide won’t stop until it turns.
TUESDAY UPDATE: Hearing’s over. Could be up to two weeks before we know the verdict.
“Guy Love” from Scrubs: My Musical
A patient suffers head trauma and Scrubs: My Musical is born. The whole episode is terrific:
LIFE IS BUT A SONG AS THE CAST OF “SCRUBS” STAR IN A MUSICAL EPISODE WITH SONGS WRITTEN BY THE TONY AWARD-WINNING COMPOSERS OF “AVENUE Q,” ROBERT LOPEZ AND JEFF MARX —STEPHANIE D’ABRUZZO (AN ORIGINAL CAST MEMBER OF “AVENUE Q") GUEST STARS
Guy love, “When I say I love you...it’s not what it implies… there’s nothing gay about it:”
See also, Guy Love (cat version).
The opening number, Welcome to Sacred Heart, is also a highlight. Alas, I can’t find it.
Colbert & O’Reilly
If you’re like me, you saw O’Reilly on Colbert (highlight: Colbert to O’Reilly, “If you’re an act, then what am I?") but missed Colbert on O’Reilly. Neither lived up to its billing. Troy Patterson in Slate:
“O’Reilly vs. Colbert"-a crossover media stunt that transpired Thursday night on two cable networks and at least as many planes of reality-was an unsatisfying trudge down a hall of mirrors… The thing fizzled.
According to FNC spokeswoman Irena Briganti, Colbert told O’Reilly off-camera of his plan to take the microwave from the Green Room. “We were well aware of it and entirely amused - it was all in good fun,” said Briganti in an email earlier today. “We honestly just thought the whole thing was hysterical.”
Friday, January 19, 2007
Rudy & Hillary
Neither should run. I like Hillary too much and Rudy too little.
Giuliani’s strong showing in GOP polling reflects his celebrity status and the reputation he earned after the terrorist attacks. But if and when he becomes a candidate, that will change. He will be evaluated on the basis of different things, including his past and current positions and behavior, and he’ll be attacked by critics and opponents. A Giuliani nomination would also generate a conservative third-party candidate in the general election and tear the GOP apart, thereby undercutting Giuliani’s electability argument.
Via TPM, “The idea of Giuliani as the GOP nominee generating a third-party challenge from the right is an intriguing one, and does seem like it would be awfully likely, now that Rothenberg brings it up.”
On Hillary, I think she’d be great, she’s earned it, and she can win. But it would be so hard and ugly and the presidency is ultimately a short-term gig. She can accomplish more as majority leader and I’d like to see her on the Supreme Court. Anyway, Kos says Hillary’s sliding. Already. Jerome Armstrong agrees she’s trending down:
Looking back, do you remember when Hillary Clinton was in the 40’s nationally in 2005? Or when she was in the high 30’s in 2006? Not anymore, as she continues to trend lower. Welcome to 2007 and Clinton in the 20’s:
Rasmussen Zogby SV-Georgia Gallup Hillary Clinton 22 29 27 29
But Chris Bowers says the slide is an illusion:
The first thing I noticed during this exercise is that most of Hillary Clinton’s supposed slide is actually an illusion. Most of the polls showing her over 40% in 2005 and early 2006 did not include Al Gore in the question and / or only polled Democrats. Since Gore typically gets around 12% in these polls, it stands to reason that Clinton would poll higher with Gore out of the question. Further, since Hillary Clinton also polls better among Democrats than she does among Democratic leaners, it stands to reason that she would do better when only Democrats were included in the sample. Overall, Clinton’s poll mean is only down 5.8% since Obama entered the polling picture, and her polling median is only down 2.0%. Not only is that not a major drop-off, it might actually be less than many would expect given that Obama regularly polls in the high teens. In other words, Obama is either eating into Clinton’s lead at the level one would expect, or less than one would expect. [...]
I expect the Clinton-Edwards-Obama competition will be quite competitive for a long time.
A long time.
Google may be coming to your town too
I live in South Carolina, a state that I can argue qualifies as a technology backwater despite being the shrimp and grits capital of the world. Why, then, are the local business pages filled with stories about Google preparing to build massive data centers here? Google is apparently negotiating to build data centers in Goose Creek, a town not far from Charleston, where I live, in Columbia, the state capital, and a third location across the border in Georgia. To read the papers, Google might choose one or another of these locations, but according to people I have spoken with who are fairly close to the action, Google actually seems intent on building in all three locations… Google is building a LOT of data centers. The company appears to be as attracted to cheap and reliable electric power as it is to population proximity.
Here’s where it gets interesting; Cringely answers why:
The answer is pretty simple. Google intends to take over most of the functions of existing fixed networks in our lives, notably telephone and cable television. [...]
It is becoming very obvious what will happen over the next two to three years. More and more of us will be downloading movies and television shows over the net and with that our usage patterns will change. Instead of using 1-3 gigabytes per month, as most broadband Internet users have in recent years, we’ll go to 1-3 gigabytes per DAY—a 30X increase that will place a huge backbone burden on ISPs. Those ISPs will be faced with the option of increasing their backbone connections by 30X, which would kill all profits, OR they could accept a peering arrangement with the local Google data center.
Seeing Google as their only alternative to bankruptcy, the ISPs will all sign on, and in doing so will transfer most of their subscriber value to Google, which will act as a huge proxy server for the Internet. We won’t know if we’re accessing the Internet or Google and for all practical purposes it won’t matter. Google will become our phone company, our cable company, our stereo system and our digital video recorder. Soon we won’t be able to live without Google, which will have marginalized the ISPs and assumed most of the market capitalization of all the service providers it has undermined—about $1 trillion in all—which places today’s $500 Google share price about eight times too low.
It’s a grand plan, but can Google pull it off? Yes they can.
I shouldn’t be surprised that Robert’s predicting this. Just two weeks ago he posted his 2007 predictions. I highlighted his #10: “Video overwhelms the net and we all learn that the broadband ISPs have been selling us something they can’t really deliver.”
Lots more in the whole post.
Don’t be a snitch
WBAI’s Jay Smooth looks at Atlanta’s Fox 5 coverage of the SWAT team arrest of DJ Drama and Don Cannon for piracy. He concludes with this challenge:
“All of y’all artists who been tellin’ us on all your records that you don’t associate with snitches, if you keep working with the big 5 record labels right now - if you don’t stand up against them and what they’re doing to DJ Drama right now - we’re going to know that you were lying on all of those records”
Some thoughts on the RIAA’s persecution of mixtape kings DJ Drama and Don Cannon
The Fox 5 story illustrates everything that’s wrong with local news. Sensationalist. Breathless. Unsourced. All statements, interviews and research comes from “authorities.” Completely uncritical. Parroting what they are told. The single other source, “neighbors” quoted as saying “that DJ Drama and DJ Cannon are DJs at a local radio station on weekends.” Clueless.
Via New TeeVee.
The RIAA’s seeing red
soulxtc at Zeropaid has been reading the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s 2007 Digital Music Report. Look at what he found:
...actions against individual uploaders are onerous and expensive and we shouldn’t have to be taking them. That job should not be ours - it should be done by the gatekeepers of the web, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who unquestionably have the technical means to deal with copyright infringement, if only they would take responsibility for doing so.
At one time you were considered a new media philistine if you wanted to regulate the internet. But then Google promised the Chinese government that censorship was possible. Then Google blacklisted BMW in the internet world for anti-social behaviour. It seems policing is acceptable for all sorts of things but not intellectual property!
With cooperation from ISPs, we could make huge strides in tackling content piracy globally. Disconnection of service for serious infringers should become the speeding fine or the parking ticket of ISP networks. We need government help to make it clear that ISPs must face up to their responsibilities and cut off copyright infringing users. To be fair, at the end of 2006 the UK government signalled that it may be prepared to play a facilitating role in this and set a deadline of December 2007 for tangible progress.
Emphasis mine. Comments soulxtc:
I wonder how they will go about selling that one to the public.
Even further, it wants to invade our privacy as customers of a service by having our own ISPs keep an eye us. A corporate interest wants the privacy protections of individuals undone on a global scale merely because their business model is at stake. Rather than change their own distorted and antiquated method of doing business they’d rather have people give up their personal rights and freedoms. It’s no wonder they cite a page from China’s playbook to try and justify this action. Is it really incumbent upon the consumer to give up their right to privacy everytime a business cries foul?
Via Boing Boing.
“They signed releases”
We’ve got to do something to get our legal system in synch with the reality of how people actually behave in relation to agreements they unwittingly enter into.
I don’t like “End User license Agreements” - better known as “clickthrough agreements” - and don’t believe they should be legally binding. I believe the Borat releases intentionally obscured what was going on and as a consequence they should not be legally binding. And I think the cocky shock jocks hosting a water drinking contest that killed a woman last Friday illustrate the attitude of most of those in the media industry.
Listener: “I want to say that those people drinking all that water can get sick and die from water intoxication.”
DJ: “Yeah, we’re aware of that.”
DJ: “Yeah, they signed releases so, we’re not responsible, it’s OK. (laughter) If they get to the point where they have to throw up, then they’re going to throw up and then they’re out of the contest before they die, so that’s good, right?”
Obviously not. ABC News:
“This is nothing new,” said fellow disc jockey Bruce Maiman from KFBK-FM, another station in Sacramento. “I can empathize with what they didÃ¢â‚¬Â¦because it’s been done hundreds of times.”
Obviously true. I expect those DJs will be prosecuted. But all of us must learn what we’re giving up when we sign a release, negotiate the terms, and hold those accountable responsible for the abuse of their media power.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Colbert is hot. Right now he’s got Bill O’Reilly on. Rich Little? I forget who he is. But the White House Correspondents Association has asked him to be the featured entertainer at their annual dinner coming up April 21. Wonder why?
Little said organizers of the event made it clear they don’t want a repeat of last year’s controversial appearance by Stephen Colbert, whose searing satire of President Bush and the White House press corps fell flat and apparently touched too many nerves.
“They got a lot of letters,” Little said Tuesday. “I won’t even mention the word ‘Iraq.’”
Little, who hasn’t been to the White House since he was a favorite of the Reagan administration, said he’ll stick with his usual schtick—the impersonations of the past six presidents.
“They don’t want anyone knocking the president. He’s really over the coals right now, and he’s worried about his legacy,” added Little, a longtime Las Vegas resident.
C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said he came up with the idea of inviting Little as the featured entertainer after seeing him during impersonators’ week on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in November.
They said Colbert wasn’t funny last year. Here’s Little on Letterman.
DJ Drama bust in the Times
The Times says yet another symbol of the music industry’s turmoil and confusion:
As of yesterday DJ Drama was sitting in jail, but dozens of his unlicensed compilations were still available at the iTunes shop.
Brad A. Buckles, executive vice president for anti-piracy at the Recording Industry Association of America, said, “A sound recording is either copyrighted or it’s not.” And he said the DJ Drama case, like most piracy cases, began with illegal product, which was then traced back to the distributor. Chief Baker said that before the raid, DJ Drama and Mr. Cannon were sent cease-and-desist letters from a local lawyer.
There have been mixtape busts before: in 2005, five employees of Mondo Kim’s, in the East Village in New York, were jailed after the store was found to be selling unlicensed mixtapes. But the arrest of a figure as prominent as DJ Drama is unprecedented. Record companies usually portray the fight against piracy as a fight for artists’ rights, but this case complicates that argument: most of DJ Drama’s mixtapes begin with enthusiastic endorsements from the artists themselves.
It also seems clear that mixtapes can actually bolster an artist’s sales. The most recent Lil Wayne solo album, “Tha Carter II” (Cash Money/Universal), sold more than a million copies, though none of its singles climbed any higher than No. 32 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. That’s an impressive feat, and it’s hard to imagine how he would have done it without help from a friendly pirate.
The RIAA has been locking up fans for years, now they’re locking up promotes too.
The pilot of a TV news helicopter used the wind from the aircraft’s rotor to push a stranded deer to safety after it lost its footing on a frozen lake and could not get up.
A small crowd had gathered to watch the deer struggling, its hooves repeatedly slipping, near the shore of Lake Thunderbird around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
With the helicopter’s camera rolling, KWTV pilot Mason Dunn used the wind from the rotor to push the deer, initially sending it into a break in the ice where the animal managed to hold onto the ice with its front legs.
Dunn then lowered the helicopter and the wind sent the deer sliding on its belly across the ice until it reached shore and scampered into a nearby wooded area.
It sure beats this one where a couple South Florida anchorpeople get a kick out of a deer stuck in an Iowa Target store. But it would be better if we did something real to help out the entire deer population rather than just pat ourselves on the back for the individual exceptional incident and be done with it.
MTV buys RateMyProfessors.com
Today’s Chronicle (subscription) reports:
MTVu, the campus closed-circuit outlet of the music-television network MTV, announced on Wednesday that it planned to buy RateMyProfessors.com, one of the largest online forums for students to anonymously review the teaching abilities of faculty members.
The move, to be made early this year, is part of an expansion of MTVu, which also owns College Publisher, a network that hosts the Web sites of more than 500 student newspapers.
Stephen Friedman, executive vice president of MTVu, would not say how much it would pay for the popular rating site.
“It seemed like a nice fit for our audience where we want to connect,” he said, adding that RateMyProfessors.com was “a site almost all our students recognized and used.”
They say they may expand it to includes students rating restaurants, music and “anything else they think is important.” I’m with the cynics:
Jeff Chester, executive director of the advocacy group Center for Digital Democracy and author of the recent book Digital Destiny, is more skeptical of MTVu’s motives.
“What most people don’t recognize is that the dominant media shaping digital culture is advertising,” he said. The most valuable part of the latest deal for MTVu, he added, would be access to the personal information of the site’s users.
Advertisers are desperate to win the loyalty of 18- to 34-year-olds, Mr. Chester said, and owning RateMyProfessors.com will give MTVu and its parent company, Viacom Inc., access to valuable data.
“It’s all about monetizing these college eyeballs,” he said. “You’re going to see it change over time to push Viacom brands.”
There’s no easy fix to our industrial food production system - and it does need fixing - but there’s reason for optimism. The organic movement grew to $23 billion in sales by 2002 with no government or industry support. We care about what we eat. And we care about where it comes from.
Today Salon looks at The Challenge Facing Local Food:
In the past year, the “local” ethos has overtaken even organics as the gourmet cause célèbre—And eat-local challenges have begun sprouting up all over the place. Large food service providers like Sodexho and Aramark, having already introduced organic products, are now experimenting with local sourcing. At Yale, Stanford, Berkeley and other universities, students can eat meals prepared with fresh local produce grown on or just off campus.
The eat-local movement owes no small measure of its success to recent exposés of the organic industry. As huge corporate farms have moved into the sector, the media has been abuzz with the transformation of organics into business as usual—with Whole Foods catering to the upscale consumer and Wal-Mart aiming for the fat middle demographic. The question is: will big business’s discovery of “local” food eventually undercut the positive effects the movement may have on the environment, small farmers and taste? Advocates of eating local say no. Their singular hope is to foment a revolution that starts on the farm and ends on our plates.
The article looks at Bon AppÃƒÂ©tit Management Co. (BAMCO) - “BAMCO believes even lowly college mess halls can be brought into the culinary vanguard” - a food services company for the upper-crust; Georgetown Law, Oracle and Yahoo, the Guthrie and the Getty. Sit through the ad and read it.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
The Georgia Florida game, until May 2006, was known as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Following the 2006 season, Georgia held a 46-37-2 advantage in the all-time series. Still, yesterday:
The House passed a resolution praising the Florida Gators on their recent National Championship. These things are usually passed unanimously and give said honoree something official to recognize whatever they accomplished.
Not so fast my friend on this one, it passed 414-1. Who in their right mind would go on record against Florida winning the championship? A misplaced Ohio State fan? Steve Spurrier’s sister? Some Auburn booster?
None of the above. Ladies and gentleman, meet Jack Kingston, Georgia’s representative from their first district. For this, his party doesn’t matter.
Jack Kingston, whose website is designed in Bulldog red and [black] (I goofed), could not let his personal feelings go for 15 seconds to honor 83 kids for a long, hard, season. Mind you he voted for a resolution FOR Boise State, passing 415-0, but could not bear to vote for the Gators.
Way to show your young people about sportsmanship, sir. Go Gators.
RIAA on Atlanta DJ raid
Brad Buckles, executive vice president of the RIAA’s Anti-Piracy Division in Washington, DC, said the case was developed in Atlanta. For more than a year, police have been investigating the manufacturing and distribution of pirated material in the city and “during that time, we’ve been working with police and picking up pirated product, going back and forth with local law enforcement to figure out where it’s coming from,” Buckles said. “[Tuesday’s raid] was just one of the many series of raids that have occurred.”
Many retail outlets have been raided for selling mixtapes in recent years - the RIAA press release cited four in the Atlanta area in 2005, and claimed 1 million pirated CDs were seized in the city that year - but Tuesday’s raid was the first involving a figure of DJ Drama’s stature.
Buckles was vague when asked about the product that had been seized, saying that he only knew what he had read in the report: that “the product violated state law” and that “I’m given to understand that the CDs also contained a variety of works and different artists” that weren’t licensed or cleared, and were being sold illegally.
When asked if Tuesday’s raid was part of a larger series of raids targeting mixtapes, Buckles said, “We don’t consider this being against mixtapes as some sort of class of product. We enforce our rights civilly or work with police against those who violate state law. Whether it’s a mixtape or a compilation or whatever it’s called, it doesn’t really matter: If it’s a product that’s violating the law, it becomes a target.”
More background here.