aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Farm Bill blogging
In 2005, a Kellogg Foundation-sponsored poll conducted in Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota found clear preferences for a strict $250,000 cap on farm program payments, which is the proposed cap in the Dorgan-Grassley bill reintroduced two weeks ago. All three states are considered farm states, and both farmers and non-farmers were surveyed. You can find the poll here. [...]
[V]oters in these three states strongly endorse programs that create rural jobs, conservation programs, and nutrition programs.
But what if you survey farmers only? And shouldn’t more states be surveyed, including the South, the supposed home of vast enthusiasm for unlimited farm program checks?
Every time a farm bill rolls around, the Farm Foundation surveys agricultural producers in multiple states. This time they surveyed over 15,000 farmers and ranchers in 27 states, and they group results by state and region.
In Iowa, currently a politically key state, you find the following:
On a scale of 1-5, with 5 representing the strongest support, Iowa producers ranked “targeting support to small farms” at 3.94 and “Eliminate the Three-Entity Rule” (a key loophole in payment limits ) at 4.12 - both significantly higher than support for the payments themselves. Iowa producers ranked the importance of direct payments at 3.47, counter cyclical payments at 3.65 and loan deficiency payments at 3.75.
And while the Southern cotton and rice interests supposedly favor the glaring loopholes necessary for enormous subsidy checks, we can actually see this isn’t true. For the entire Southern region surveyed (Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida) there is substantial support for eliminating the three-entity rule and eliminating unlimited commodity loan gains-two of the most-abused loopholes in farm program payment limits.
You can find the whole poll here (2MB PDF). It is a fascinating look at farmers and ranchers’ preferences. To be objective, I should say some of the positions that the Center for Rural Affairs advocates are not viewed so favorably. But the consensus is clear on farm subsidy programs- close the loopholes and enforce a strict payment limit.
SEE ALSO: Farm Bill or Food Bill?
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Jimmy Carter on Genarlow Wilson
How did I miss this? You’ll remember that Genarlow Wilson is serving 10 years in prison for consensual sex when he was 17 with a girl 2 years his Junior. Jimmy Carter is among those speaking out about this injustice:
Wilson’s case has attracted national media attention, from “Good Morning America” to “The O’Reilly Factor.” Several influential people are going to bat for him, including former President Jimmy Carter. Carter wrote Attorney General Thurbert Baker last month in support of Wilson’s petition, citing the “disproportionate nature” of his punishment. Wilson has been locked up for more than two years now.
“The racial dimension of the case is likewise hard to ignore and perhaps unfortunately has had an impact on the final outcome of the case,” Carter wrote Baker on May 24. “There is some statistical evidence reported by various non-profit agencies in Georgia, leading me to believe that white minor defendants in the same circumstances as Mr. Wilson’s receive far lesser forms of punishment.”
The state Legislature, recognizing that certain sex acts between consenting teenagers of a close age should not carry harsh penalties, changed the law in 2005 to make similar actions a misdemeanor. Wilson cites that change in his latest petition with the court.
“How can you make a law to apply to the people after 2005… and not make it apply for all? That is really not fair,” he said.
Right on Jimmy!!! The report comes on the eve of another hearing:
On Wednesday, Wilson’s legal team will again try to free Wilson as a Monroe County Court hears a claim that his constitutional rights are being violated.
“This is a good kid who doesn’t belong in prison,” Wilson’s Atlanta-based appellate lawyer B.J. Bernstein said.
Bernstein compared the case to the recent rape case involving Duke University lacrosse players. Prosecutors in both cases overreached, Bernstein said.
I agree completely. Please see also birds of a father, Mike Nifong & David McDade.
All My Babies 2
I’m off to Albany, GA (pronounced all-BEN-nee) to help out my old friend, professor and mentor, George Stoney, with a new documentary project that echoes the old:
Albany in 1952 was no place for a white director to record a black woman giving birth.
The Georgia Department of Health, however, wanted a training film to maintain standards among non-nurse midwives who continued to deliver thousands of babies each year.
Public health was strong in Albany during the early 1950s when George C. Stoney won a contract to create the instructional film, the 90-year-old filmmaker recalled last week.
In 1951, Stoney was touring Albany with health department physician William Mason when he heard about midwife Mary Francis Hill Coley. “Mary Coley knows her business,” he was told.[...]
Born in Baker County in 1900, Mary Francis Hill Coley lived at 807 Cotton Ave. in Albany. Active in the Church of the Kingdom of God, she had 11 children, and died in 1966 after delivering 2,500-plus black and white children in four counties from the mid-1930s to 1964.
Coley’s descendants live all over the United States, but her grandson, William Coley Jr., who appeared as a small child in the film, is Stoney’s new guide. They’ve spent weeks together this year, searching for facts and artifacts, such as the Albany homes where “All My Babies” was filmed, and preparing for a sequel, a reunion of Coley’s “babies.”
TB: more dots NOT connected
House and Senate hearings on the handling of Andrew Speaker’s TB travels tomorrow. Should be interesting:
The Atlanta lawyer with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis who crisscrossed the Atlantic on commercial jets last month was not added to a U.S. no-fly list until at least two hours after he reentered the country by car from Canada, according to congressional investigators.
That was only one of a series of breakdowns at the international, federal and state levels that allowed Andrew Speaker, 31, to fly to Europe on a 12-day trip for his wedding and honeymoon, setting off a transatlantic health alarm. [...]
Investigators are pursuing several tracks in the case, which exposed major gaps in controls on worldwide travel by people with dangerous infectious diseases. Bureaucratic turf fights, legal concerns over applying counterterrorism tools to public health cases, and technological problems appear to have delayed or blocked the sharing of critical information among health and security agencies, congressional and administration officials said.
Guessing that she’s going to be the designated fall guy, I’m counting down the days till Julie Gerberding is gone.
I supported the creation of the Office of Homeland Security (though I never liked that awful name). I was wrong; it’s a disastrous, ominous, and ineffective bureaucratic waste of money and resources. Then there’s the FBI, still up to its same old same old. This guy was never, ever a fleeing fugitive; this exactly the wrong way to treat people with diseases we don’t want spread. We need policies that attract them in to the system, not policies that scare them away.
Amero sentencing tomorrow
Julie Amero, the Connecticut substitute teacher convicted and awaiting sentencing for exposing children to porn on a classroom computer is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow.
I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t get off - which would hardly make up for all she’s been through. Still, for all those who have not gotten our attention, this is the plea I’ve appended to all of my Amero posts:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is not really the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
LATER: Last minute maneuvering?
The defense team for former substitute teacher Julie Amero wants another chance in the courtroom to prove she was a victim of pornographic pop-up Internet advertisements.
After months of wrangling with state prosecutors and on the eve of Amero’s sentencing, defense attorney William Dow III filed a motion Tuesday asking for a new trial.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Busting organic chops
In his review of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Reason’s Ronald Bailey puts his bona fides up front:
The steaks, chops, and roasts in our dining room deep chest freezer were often labeled with the names of the cows and pigs from which they came. About ninety percent of the food I ate growing up came from the pastures, fields, and the garden on my family's farm. The garden was fertilized with manure that I personally shoveled from the dairy barn and our house was heated with wood that I personally chopped and stacked every summer. I know from farming. So I have been some what bemused by the recent spate of pretentious back-to-the-land, eat local books including Michael Pollan's absurdly overwrought The Omnivore's Dilemma and Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon's Plenty. Pollan actually went out and killed an animal and then ate it—just imagine! How deliciously and primitively recherché! The latest of these is the New York Times bestseller, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by novelist Barbara Kingsolver with help from her daughters and husband.
If that’s what he thinks of Pollan’s killing an animal imagine how unimpressed he’d be at my party for having merely bought one. Luckily I’m not likely to put in an appearance on his RSS reader. Here’s his concluding paragraph:
At one point, Kingsolver makes fun of a vegan movie star who wants to create a safe-haven ranch where cows and chickens can live happy lives and die a natural death. Kingsolver dismissively writes: “We know she meant well, and as fantasies of the super-rich go, it’s more inspired than most. It’s just the high-mindedness that rankles; when moral superiority combines with billowing ignorance, they fill up a hot air balloon that’s awfully hard not to poke.” That pretty much sums up how I feel about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
Via The Opinionator.
Innocent on death row?
Today’s Democracy Now! radio show features an interview with Vanity Fair reporter David Rose, who has a new book out on the infamous “Stocking Stranglings” that took place in Columbus, Ga. in the late 1970s. The case involved a serial killer who raped and murdered several elderly, well-to-do white women in their beds.
In 1986, eight years after the last murder, an African-American man named Carlton Gary was convicted and sentenced to death for three of the killings—though no physical evidence was found to link him to the crimes.
Then two years ago, a new piece of evidence turned up: a long-missing bite-mark mold taken from the last victim. Gary’s attorney argued that the mold did not match his client’s teeth. But last week, U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land ruled that the new evidence is not enough to challenge Gary’s conviction. The case now goes to a federal appeals court in Atlanta.
Watch the interview and read the transcript here.
How NOT to restore America’s place in the world
Fareed Zakaria has a piece in Newsweek on how to restore Americas place in the world. He’s optimistic, “If the country can keep its cool, admit to its mistakes, cherish and strengthen its successes, it will not only recover but return with renewed strength.” But much less so about the Republican candidates:
More troubling than any of Bush’s rhetoric is that of the Republicans who wish to succeed him. “They hate you!” says Rudy Giuliani in his new role as fearmonger in chief, relentlessly reminding audiences of all the nasty people out there. “They don’t want you to be in this college!” he recently warned an audience at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. “Or you, or you, or you,” he said, reportedly jabbing his finger at students. In the first Republican debate he warned, “We are facing an enemy that is planning all over this world, and it turns out planning inside our country, to come here and kill us.” On the campaign trail, Giuliani plays a man exasperated by the inability of Americans to see the danger staring them in the face. “This is reality, ma’am,” he told a startled woman at Oglethorpe. “You’ve got to clear your head.”
The notion that the United States today is in grave danger of sitting back and going on the defensive is bizarre. In the last five and a half years, with bipartisan support, Washington has invaded two countries and sent troops around the world from Somalia to the Philippines to fight Islamic militants. It has ramped up defense spending by $187 billion-more than the combined military budgets of China, Russia, India and Britain. It has created a Department of Homeland Security that now spends more than $40 billion a year. It has set up secret prisons in Europe and a legal black hole in GuantÃƒÂ¡namo, to hold, interrogate and-by some definitions-torture prisoners. How would Giuliani really go on the offensive? Invade a couple of more countries? [...]
We will never be able to prevent a small group of misfits from planning some terrible act of terror. No matter how far-seeing and competent our intelligence and law-enforcement officials, people will always be able to slip through the cracks in a large, open and diverse country. The real test of American leadership is not whether we can make 100 percent sure we prevent the attack, but rather how we respond to it. Stephen Flynn, a homeland-security expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that our goal should be resilience-how quickly can we bounce back from a disruption? In the materials sciences, he points out, resilience is the ability of a material to recover its original shape after a deformation. If one day bombs do go off, we must ensure that they cause as little disruption-economic, social, politicalÃ¢â‚¬"as possible. This would deprive the terrorist of his main objective. If we are not terrorized, then in a crucial sense we have defeated terrorism.
The atmosphere of fear and panic we are currently engendering is likely to produce the opposite effect. Were there to be another attack, politicians would fulfill their pledges to strike back, against someone. A retaliatory strike would be appropriate and important-if you could hit the right targets. But what if the culprits were based in Hamburg or Madrid or Trenton? It is far more likely that a future attack will come from countries that are unknowingly and involuntarily sheltering terrorists. Are we going to bomb Britain and Spain because they housed terror cells?
Goodbye Julie Gerberding
I don’t know that I could possibly know how effective Julie Gerberding, Director of the CDC, has been. But after watching the parents and in-laws of Andrew Speaker on Good Morning America this morning (
no link yet), I am counting down the days till she’s gone.
I watched Friday’s Diane Sawyer interview of Andrew at least three full times over the weekend. Afterwards I thought that I would have made a different decision, but still I support and understand his decision to get home.
I was alone in that support at weekend parties. To everyone I know there is no question. Their gut reflex is so powerful as to prevent them from putting themselves in his position.
Today, after hearing the parents, I go further. I have concluded that, put in his position, it’s likely I would have made the same decision.
The parents are very strong, sitting solidly together and discussing the joint decisions, their total support for their children and the apparent fact that, protests not withstanding, the CDC did abandon Andrew Speaker. I saw Diane Sawyer ask him point blank on Friday, shouldn’t he have found the $100,000 (his mother today says it’s $140,000) to charter a plane home?
No doubt Diane could afford it, and I haven’t got one whole helluva lot of sympathy for rich lawyers, but I sympathized with Speaker as he struggled to answer that question. In the glare of global media, facing a dread disease, in quarantine aware of the world’s condemnation, he held his own:
“In hindsight you can try & say maybe I could have planned something out, maybe could have raised money,” he said. “[But] understand at this whole time everyone told me I’m not contagious and no threat to anyone.”
The parents answer was even more effective. “We’re not rich people,” they said. A school teacher, a Viet Nam vet, a researcher, they backed him up. They were told he wasn’t contagious. They believe, and I do too, that Andrew didn’t put anyone at risk on that plane. But the single thing that’s going to swing this thing, turn the media monster around and have us all biting back at the CDC and beyond, is the tape.
Andrew said Friday that his father had taped the meeting with health officials before proceeding with the wedding abroad. Today his dad confirmed that he has a tape. And he will release it. That documentation backing up what the family says will lend credence to all of the rest of what they’re saying. And what they’re saying is troubling - though it should not be surprising given the record of governance under this administration.
So I’m thinking Julie is gone; she’s toast. She can’t count on Bush to give her Gonzales-style backing. Of course the troubling thing is that this clearly identifies a big and serious problem: in the face of potentially greater health threats than ever before in the history of the world, our emergency health planning is a wreck. The plans they do have cannot realistically be be carried out.
But mostly, across America outside of the big cities that are planning to take care of themselves, there are no plans. Local people on the ground will tell you, they told me, the plan is that you’re on your own, so be prepared. And if you’re not prepared it looks like they’re prepared to say “I told you so.”
Andrew’s parents don’t believe in coincidence. They think there is a higher purpose here. We, all of us out here in America, can only hope that higher purpose is to get this government moving on preparing our medical system to handle catastrophic health emergencies, whether flu pandemic, natural disaster or terrorist attack. Because if there’s any one thing Andrew Speaker shows us, it’s that we are not ready!
LATER: Thanks for the comment Jason. I regret jumping to conclusions about the feelings and judgments of others, most particularly my friends. I’ve stricken the paragraph.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Rocketboom & YouTube flip the ad model
To our suprise...we learned that companies weren’t really interested in us having complete conviction in them anyway. Ultimately, they really were big fans of Rocketboom and they wanted us (and our audience) to know that. *They* had the conviction in *us*.
So that’s why we took that original model and flipped it. Our relationship to the sponsor now starts off with a sign of gratitude for their support.
In return, we have a great, critical audience that a sponsor can leverage to provide feedback and insight into their situation. While the system may not be right for many other environments, I think it will be extremely effective on Rocketboom. The entire program was designed to match Rocketboom as it already is.
I’m extremely proud to kick off this Monday with YouTube as our first sponsor. Regarding the broad topic of “video online”, in my personal opinion, there is not a single other group in the world that has done more to democratize the moving image. We finally got a Rocketboom YouTube account up and running as well. It’s amazing to think we have made it this far without any flash distributions. YouTube will make Rocketboom much easier to share, obviously.
This is terrific news! It’s not crystal clear to me how it will play out but I’m enthusiastic because both YouTube and Rocketboom understand that preroll ads don’t work for the format. They both want to find an ad model that does and I trust that if anyone can, they can.
Via NewTeeVee, “The show has made a number of groundbreaking distribution deals for TiVos and the like, but has done little to utilize the viral capabilities of web video.... With YouTube, Rocketboom will not only get in front of the biggest online video audience in existence, but also be much easier to share, embed, respond to, and subscribe to through the web browser.”
10 obvious things about the future of newspapers…
... that they need to get through their heads:
1. It’s not Google’s fault. Get over it, professor. Blaming search engines is like blaming the library. “Oh no, please don’t let readers actually find stories from my newspaper and then click through to my site to read them, anything but that!” Forget it.
2. It’s not Craig’s fault. Newspaper classifieds suck and they have for years. Either develop simple database applications with photos and maps to let your users actually find what they’re looking for, or partner with a good third-party vertical who can. Anything less is a waste of your time.
3. Your major metro newspaper could probably use some staff cuts. If you’re not writing about local news, your paper’s readers are probably getting what you do from somewhere else. Get over it. CNN and ESPN are not new, and nytimes.com wasn’t far behind. Write local. There are plenty of cooks and painters and poets in your neighborhood. Go out and meet them.
4. It’s time to stop handwringing and start training. If your editors are still writing navelgazers about the cataclysmic changes in the business instead of starting training programs to teach some new tricks to you and that guy in the cubicle next door, that’s a problem. Stop whining and move on.
5. You don’t get to charge people for archives and you certainly don’t want to charge people for daily news content. Pulling your copy behind walls where it can’t be seen by readers on the wider Web. Search rules. Don’t hide from it.
Via Martin Stabe.
Don’t miss this Sgt. Pepper @ 40 homage
If you missed it, listen now. And if you do listen now, listen all the way to the end. The group called Big Daddy doing Buddy Holly doing A Day in the Life is haunting, and the Beatle Barkers are indeed stunning.
Chambliss challenger: Dale Cardwell
Dale Cardwell spent the last 11 years as an investigative reporter at WSB-TV, the ABC affiliate in Atlanta. He left Friday to become the first Democratic candidate to take on Saxby Chambliss. The formal announcement is tomorrow:
No, Cardwell hasn’t ever run for public office before. But he’s got a background that lends weight to his rookie attempt. And it was pointed out to us that WSB-TV’s footprint covers 60 percent of the state.
“I don’t have any baggage. I have 5 million people - they may not know my name, but they know what I stand for,” Cardwell said. “They know I’m an equal opportunity investigative reporter. I’ve investigated as many Democrats as I have Republicans.”
He’s won six Emmys for that investigative reporting. From his official bio:
Dale’s investigations have saved taxpayers millions of dollars, and resulted in the prosecution and or resignation of numerous corrupt politicians and their appointees.
William “Dale” Cardwell was born in Greenville, Kentucky, December 31st 1962. His Father, Bill Cardwell is a retired coal miner and his mother Carolyn Cardwell is a homemaker. Dale is the second of three children. His older brother Bruce is the married father of two, and a graphic artist in Nashville, Tennessee. His sister Rebekah is a nurse, wife and mother of three in St. Augustine, Florida. [...]
Dale learned first hand about harsh economic reality while watching his Dad go on strike and fight for better health care and wages as a member of the United Mine Workers of America, and later when his Dad’s mine closed down in 1976. Pending unemployment sent the family once again to the coal fields of Western Kentucky. Dale attended Ohio County High School in Hartford Kentucky, earned co-captain honors on his football team, and graduated with the distinction of student council class president in 1981.
Dale worked his way through college, spinning records and giving the news by way of several local radio stations throughout the Western Kentucky region.
He graduated cum laude from Western Kentucky University with a double major in journalism and political science in 1981, landed his first television reporting job at WKAG in Hopkinsville, and married his high school sweetheart, Angie Saint, in Beaver Dam, Kentucky on January 18, 1986.
Ruy Teixeira comments, “ Georgia is arguably the second-reddest state, after Utah. But Chambliss has a lackluster record, to put it kindly, and has accomplished little more than serving as an errand boy for various fat cats. This race should be a marquee test of Dems’ southern prospects.”
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Porn ain’t what it used to be
Apple and YouTube
Preoccupied by sending Doug off to take students to Germany on a study abroad program (their blog tells me they’re safely and comfortably ensconced) and getting my new flat panel up and going (it arrived on time and is performing beautifully), I finally found time today to read up on YouTube coming to Apple TV.
“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ we just want to be a new DVD player for the Internet age. And that’s what we can be. So our model for the Apple TV is like a DVD player for the Internet.”
As a lifelong advocate of TV by the people, for the people and about the people, this is about the biggest step forward I could imagine, reminiscent of Apple’s embrace of free podcasts when it chose to include them prominently in the iTunes Store. I will now buy an AppleTV box when, before this announcement, I had completely and totally ignored it.
RELATED: Bill Gates & Steve Jobs on stage together (in 7 parts) at the D5 Conference. Meanwhile, TiVo says it will introduce a lower priced HD-DVR. If they allow me to transfer my lifetime service (a BIG if) I’ll likely buy one of those too. Otherwise I have to say, MythTV is calling my name.
Finally, not to be left out, Real Player announced a new version of their player that enables download and playback of nearly all embedded internet video content (Flash, WMV, QuickTime) including content from popular video sites like YouTube, Comedy Central, and CNET.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Don’t mess with Buffalo
This video is amazing on so many levels. Via Michael, “Like the Man in the Video SaysÃ¢â‚¬Â¦’I’ve never seen anything like it’ - and I watch the Discovery Channel, a lot.”
I don’t, and haven’t watched such shows since my Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom days. The voice over banter here is so much compelling than Marlin Perkins could ever be. I had absolutely no intention of watching 8 1/2 minutes. I watched twice.
2 million views in one month. See why…
Black Fraternity: Free Genarlow!
A group of African-American business owners, educators, lawyers and other influential men joined the public crusade Friday to free a Douglas County man sentenced to 10 years in prison for engaging in consensual oral sex as a teenager with a girl two years younger than him.
Several members of the Atlanta chapter of Sigma Pi Phi, the nation’s oldest African-American Greek-letter fraternity, delivered a letter to Attorney General Thurbert Baker asking him to drop his opposition to efforts by Genarlow Wilson’s lawyers to free him from prison. [...]
Wilson, a good student and athlete with no prior criminal record, was one of several teenagers partying in a Douglas County hotel room on New Year’s Eve 2003.
Wilson, then 17, received consensual oral sex from a 15-year-old girl and was convicted of aggravated child molestation, a felony.
This gross injustice is Georgia’s shame.
John Powers on Cannes & Sicko
[I]t’s about...two young college age women arranging to get an abortion in the Romania of 1987 when abortion was illegal. And it sounds so dreary, and the combination of illegal abortion and communist Romania is enough to scare off almost anybody. But the story proceeds like a combination of social drama, horror film and thriller, and as you follow these two women--in particular, the friend of the woman getting the abortion--the action is unbelievably exciting and incredibly revealing about what it was like in the days when people actually had to go to fly-by-night people to get abortions.
Powers called the whole festival a “triumph of women” in what is traditionally a boys’ club, “a huge number of the most important films of the festival were women-dominated.” He also noted the impact of four actresses as judges. “These actresses brought up the best list I’ve ever seen.”
Sicko, he said, was Micheal Moore’s best movie ever, but Moore himsef “wasn’t as big a deal this time.” And he didn’t like the Cuba bit. He gets the point - that the Cuban health care system is actually fairer and, in some ways, better than the American health care system - but says the sequence tips into propaganda:
POWERS: It’s just that, you know, he takes a very funny idea, which is to say, here are some people who were injured during 9/11, who were cleaning up after 9/11 and they can’t get care. The first thing he does is he says, `I’m going to take them to the Guantanamo prison, because in fact the health care system for the al-Qaeda suspects is better.’
POWERS: And he tries--ok? And he very wittily tries to get them in so they can get the same health care as the al-Qaeda suspects, which is a very clever thing to do. But they--you know, the government won’t let them in, so they go to Cuba, and that’s when he starts talking about the Cuban health care system, and what seems to be a reasonable point at first, you know, it just gets sentimental and has, as I say, too many grinning Cubans and it seems a little too beatific. You know, politically, I think it’s a mistake because it will allow his enemies to say, `He’s idealizing Cuba,’ and in fact, that’s only a very small part of the movie. I think almost anybody who has health care would be interested in this movie because it really is extraordinarily touching and scary, because the whole point is: No matter how much you think you have, the health care system can get you.
I take his point; Moore’s enemies have already taken advantage of the Cuba sequence. Unless, of course, it was all part of the publicity game.
Remember the Loch Ness Monster? He’s ba-ack.
EDINBURGH, Scotland - The Loch Ness monster is back - and there’s video. A man has captured what Nessie watchers say is possible footage of the supposed mythical creature beneath Scotland’s most mysterious lake.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this jet black thing, about 45 feet long, moving fairly fast in the water,” said Gordon Holmes, the 55-year-old a lab technician from Shipley, Yorkshire, who took the video Saturday.
I sat through the commercial to see the few seconds of video. Looked like a stick in the water to me. I’d wait to see it on YouTube if I were you.
CBS and Last.fm
Om Malik wonders why CBS bought Last.fm:
I have been in touch with some folks who know the media business quite well, and they believe that amongst other things Last.fm could be CBS’s hedge for its terrestrial radio operations. CBS, thanks to the Tiffany Network, is widely viewed as a television company. Many overlook the fact that it owns 144 radio stations in 50 markets, a business that brought in about $397 million in revenues in the first quarter of 2007, and an operating income of $156 million.
However, radio sales saw a decline of 9% (maybe because CBS sold off 39 radio stations) and operating income declined 4% when compared to the first quarter 2006. The terrestrial radio business has been feeling the heat, losing the attention battle to iPods and the Internet based music services.
The situation isn’t going to get any better, as music continues to be available everywhere. A whole generation is growing up and turning a deaf ear to the traditional radio. Last.fm, however, is moving in the opposite direction - growing, mostly because of its social features.
It is a community of like-minded (or same taste) music lovers that continues to grow. To distort a clichÃƒÂ©, let a billion radio stations boom. CBS could start making money with the obvious business of selling music, but the real thrill would be if CBS takes this (to use another clichÃƒÂ©) wisdom of crowds, and turned it into a tool for programming its on-the-air play lists. (Rags outlined this theme in his post, Can social tools save plain ole radio?) (Also, Internet is the Deejay.)
If people-curated news sites like Digg can find traction, why not a people-powered radio. A Last.fm Top 20? If Les Moonves and his able lieutenant Quincy Smith play their cards right, Last.fm could become the underpinning for CBS Radio sometime in the future.