aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, August 27, 2007
Google’s Vint Cerf: let viewers decide what ads to look at
Vint Cerf, Internet legend and Vice President & Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, is warning about security vulnerabilities and the loss of information that is only written in bits.
Within that worry is this optimistic advertising vision:
The internet allows all sorts of ancillary information to be downloaded with video - from subtitles to adverts - meaning that in the future, users could click on a bottle of wine they like the look of and find out where to buy it nearby.
“Google has discovered letting consumers decide what advertising to look at has been a very important part of our business model,” Mr Cerf said.
South Park: Matt & Trey get sweet new ad deal
I hope they come up with something good:
Because of the slow entry into the digital realm of Viacom, Comedy Central’s parent, and an almost crippling deal point in Mr. Stone’s and Mr. Parker’s contract, the lewd, rude, crudely animated and mordantly funny series - one that began with a viral video before the term even existed - has barely had a presence as an avalanche of user-generated entertainment hit the Web. Meanwhile, sites like YouTube met the demand for free “South Park” clips without paying for the privilege.
Now, however, Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker and their bosses at Comedy Central, a unit of Viacom’s MTV Networks, are attempting to leapfrog to the vanguard of Hollywood’s transition into Web. In a joint venture that involves millions in up-front cash and a 50-50 split of ad revenues, the network and the two creative partners have agreed to create a hub to spread “South Park"-related material across the Net, mobile platforms, and video games.
The deal, signed Friday, begins with a three-year extension of the show and its creators’ contracts through a 15th season, in the year 2011, and gives Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker sizable raises, both in their salaries and in their guaranteed advances against back-end profits from DVDs, merchandising, syndication and international sales.
It also creates an entity called SouthParkStudios.com, to be housed in the show’s animation studio in Culver City, Calif., that is intended to be an incubator not only for new applications for characters the likes of Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny, but for new comedy concepts that could one day mature into TV series of their own.
But the real headline is that they get a 50-50 share of the digital ad revenue:
[E]ven Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone would most likely not have been able to negotiate their new joint venture had they not years ago inserted into their contract what has proved to be a killer deal point. Comedy Central’s boilerplate reserved to the network any income generated by the show through other network divisions. But the pair’s lawyer, Kevin Morris, insisted that any “South Park” revenue not derived specifically from broadcast on the cable channel would go into the pot for calculating the men’s share of back-end profits.
This was meaningless at first, but it has taken on huge significance of late, Mr. Morris said. As Viacom struggled to change into a digitally nimble media company - making a failed bid for MySpace in 2005, suing Google and YouTube this year, and striking a retaliatory deal with Joost - the exploitation of “South Park” was subject to this nettlesome requirement. It was thus no coincidence that “South Park” was not part of the Joost deal.
Both the show’s creators and the network, therefore, stood to gain if it became easier to sell the show digitally. The brainstorming that led to Friday’s deal began a year ago in Mr. Morris’s office when Mr. Herzog proposed creating a digital animation studio led by Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker along the lines of a similar one at Nickelodeon.
Last year when it was reported that Tom Cruise got Comedy Central to cancel the Scientology episode by saying that he’d refuse to promote Mission Impossible 3, I wanted South Park to kiss-off Viacom:
My advice to Matt and Trey? Announce they’re leaving Comedy Central unless they get, say, the same kind of total control that huge Hollywood directors and stars like Cruise get over the content and distribution of their movies.
Good for them!
AT&T censors Pearl Jam Bush lyrics
AT&T Plays Gatekeeper. Censors Pearl Jam. SavetheInternet.com:
Over the [August 5] weekend AT&T gave us a glimpse of their plans for the Web when they censored a Pearl Jam performance that didn’t meet their standard of ‘Internet freedom.’
During the live Lollapalooza Webcast of a concert by the Seattle-based super-group, the telco giant muted lead singer Eddie Vedder just as he launched into a lyric against President George Bush. The lines - ‘George Bush, leave this world alone’ and ‘George Bush find yourself another home’ were somehow lost in the mix.
‘What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call, and it’s about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band,’ Pearl Jam stated in a release following the incident.
Indeed. AT&T routinely rails against Net Neutrality as a “solution without a problem.” They say Net Neutrality regulations aren’t necessary because they wouldn’t dare interfere with online content. At the same time they tout plans to become gatekeepers to the Web with public relations bromides about ”shaping” Web traffic to better serve the needs of an evolving Internet.
Such spin needs to be held up to the light of experience. AT&T’s history of breaking trust with their customers includes handing over private phone records to the government, promising to deliver services to underserved communities and then skipping town, pledging never to interfere with the free flow of information online while hatching plans with the likes of Cisco, Viacom, RIAA and MPA to build and deploy technology that will spy on user traffic.
AT&T says the missing lyrics audio was a mistake.
SEE ALSO: I’m wondering, would they have censored Nugent?
Georgia Beats Japan to take little league title
Middle Georgia’s in the news today because the Warner Robins team beat Japan to become the Little League World Series champions over the weekend. This is the second year in a row the champs are from Georgia (Columbus won last year) and the third year from the U.S. (Hawaii won two years ago).
King Kaufman didn’t watch. He says it’s just no fun anymore:
This is the first time I can remember not watching a single pitch of the annual tournament… [A]fter growing increasingly uncomfortable with the LLWS over the years, at long last I can’t stand it. There’s such a lack of fun emanating from these little mini-professional ballplayers, the whole thing’s just depressing. I’m with Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel: They should pay those kids. They’re seriously, stoically, providing a service.
The LLWS has become massively commercialized, with everybody raking in dough except the kids. It’s like a miniature version of college sports, without the quality of play or the lip service to education.
Of course, paying the kids, even through some kind of trust-fund arrangement, is never going to happen, not least because the NCAA would fight it with every cannon in the arsenal. Giving a stipend to kids on account of how much revenue they bring in? Way too slippery a slope for the barons of college sport.
Cal Ripken Jr. runs a competing youth baseball organization. In an Ask Cal column in Sunday’s Baltimore Sun, a reader asked Ripken about ties in tournament games, which have to happen sometimes to keep to the schedule.
“Participation in tournaments should be as much about the baseball experience as winning and losing,” Ripken wrote. “Sometimes in life there are no winners or losers in a situation despite the hard work that goes into a project. It is the responsibility of coaches to emphasize this and make sure that lessons are learned—even in the event of a tie.
“Instead of focusing on the scoreboard, let’s concentrate on stepping up to a new level of competition, competing against new teams that aren’t in our league, playing on new fields and seeing where we stand among other teams in our age group.”
Right, Cal. Lessons. Focusing on the positives. Next you’ll be talking about kids having fun. The sponsors and TV networks will go for that, sure.
As long as they get a winner.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Mother Teresa’s doubt
A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever - or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”
It only makes her more of a saint to me. I imagine my mother is, on the other hand, having a conniption.
Nugent to Obama: “suck on my machine gun”
A twenty-something kid was arrested here Friday for “possessing firearms on school grounds;” his Facebook profile is filled with photos of him flaunting his guns.
Just one of the ironies is that this young man comes from a Georgia town with a law that actually requires gun ownership. There’s a state university in that town, too.
What are we teaching our young people?
Here’s Ted Nugent onstage last week. Brandishing two machine guns, he says:
I was in Chicago last week, I said, “Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these, you punk!” Obama, he’s a piece of sh*t and I told him to suck on my machine gun! Let’s hear it for them. I was in New York and I said, “Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. And since I’m in California, how about Barbara Boxer? She might want to suck on my machine gun! Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these, you worthless whore!”
Our local gun-boy was a proud conservative Baptist. Nugent is known for his proud conservative political views and his vocal pro-hunting and Second Amendment activism.
hilzoy points out that Nugent’s no marginalized rock star. The Wall Street Journal has run columns by him on several occasions in which he has complained about hippies and their “cowardly, irresponsible lifestyle of random sex.”
Says hilzoy, “I’ll be interested to see whether they continue to publish him after his rant...”
Saxby’s “Fair Tax” is fanciful tax
For those who never heard about it, the FairTax is a national retail sales tax that would replace the entire current federal tax system. It was originally devised by the Church of Scientology in the early 1990s as a way to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, with which the church was then at war (at the time the IRS refused to recognize it as a legitimate religion). The Scientologists’ idea was that since almost all states have sales taxes, replacing federal taxes with the same sort of tax would allow them to collect the federal government’s revenue and thereby get rid of their hated enemy, the IRS.
Rep. John Linder (R., Ga.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) have introduced legislation (H.R. 25/S. 1025) to implement the FairTax. They assert that a rate of 23% would be sufficient to replace federal individual and corporate income taxes as well as payroll and estate taxes. Mr. Linder’s Web site claims that U.S. gross domestic product will rise 10.5% the first year after enactment, exports will grow by 26%, and real investment spending will increase an astonishing 76%.
In reality, the FairTax rate is not 23%. Messrs. Linder and Chambliss get this figure by calculating the tax as if it were already incorporated into the price of goods and services. (This is known as the tax-inclusive rate.) Calculating it the conventional way that every other sales tax is calculated, with the tax on top of the price, yields a rate of 30%. (This is called the tax-exclusive rate.) [...]
Rejecting all the tricks of FairTax supporters and calculating the tax rate honestly—by including the higher spending that it mandates and by being realistic about what could actually be taxed—professional revenue estimators have always concluded that a national retail sales tax would have to be much, much higher than 23%.
A 2000 estimate by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation found the tax-inclusive rate would have to be 36% and the tax-exclusive rate would be 57%. In 2005, the U.S. Treasury Department calculated that a tax-exclusive rate of 34% would be needed just to replace the income tax, leaving the payroll tax in place. But if evasion were high then the rate might have to rise to 49%. If the FairTax were only able to cover the limited sales tax base of a typical state, then a rate of 64% would be required (89% with high evasion).
Via PGL at Angry Bear, “Is Saxby Chambliss trying to make Zell Miller look good by comparison?”
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Bush Dog a foolish analog of the Fleischer organization?
UPDATE: I’ve yet to write my definitive retort, but two weeks later I’m still steamed.
As a very liberal gay man living in John Barrow’s district - and someone who has respected you, your writing and your thinking for a long time - I think your Bush Dog initiative is wrong headed. Most ironically, I note that both you and Ari Fleischer’s “Freedom’s Watch” have targeted MY blue dog Democratic congressman, John Barrow, nicely illustrating what we’re up against here. Ari’s campaign will hurt Barrow more than yours, but what yours does is continue a destructive stereotyping abandonment of the South by the rest of the country.
Kos was most articulate on Meet the Press when he said:“We started pushing Democrats to be proud to be Democrats. This had nothing to do with being centrist or liberal or conservative. It had to do with standing tall for core progressive principles. In fact, one of the first people we, we supported was Stephanie Herseth in South Dakota, who is now a Blue Dog. Ben Chandler in, in, in Kentucky. So we, we work with, with politicians that really fit the people in their states and in their districts, and help them sort of get over this hump. [...] So it doesn’t matter who I think is liberal enough or conservative enough. I don’t make those value judgments. I don’t--I’m not there--arrogant to think that I should be making those decisions.”
The longer I live here the more liberal opportunity I see. And the more opportunity I see the more liberal failing I find. Democrats should come down here, show up, and do something positive rather than complaining that WE are holding YOU back.
Barrow won this year by the slimmest of margins after a slimy partisan redistricting plan that moved his lifelong home out of his district. Where were the national Democrats who could have helped in that fight? We liberals down here need support from outside; what we get instead is targeted from outside?
I am a gay man subject to those “socially restrictive” blue dog policies. I believe I am making a difference in the red, red, heart of my conservative rural Georgia district. I’m telling you that your campaign does not help or support my efforts. And if you succeed, the man who WILL win will be far worse.
Later i read Matt more closely, with the comments and on multiple sites. Where Ari’s group is top down and spending $15 million, Matt’s group is bottom up and volunteer-driven. But key is that what Joyner calls a “revolution to purify” is instead a call for volunteers to do research and provide profiles for criticism. Criticism with this important caveat:
Remember, this is not an attack, it’s a profile so we can get to know these people and eventually persuade them to do the right thing. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive or long, just enough to get a sense of who this person is and how they do their politics. [...]
You can defend your member, if you think the criticism is unfair. [...]
When we’re done doing these profiles, we can begin to track these members, engage in online advertising to let their constituents know their record, and/or help local activists in their districts. This is going to be a completely open process, and as votes come up this fall, we won’t hesitate to add new Bush Dogs or honorary Bush Dog titles based on political games played by leadership. I’ve had conversations with sources in the House who think that this wasn’t the fault of the Bush Dogs, even though they were the ones who voted for FISA. So fine. There’s more than enough wankery to go around. [...]
This is going to be uncomfortable for many of us. Criticizing the people we just elected, people who may even be nice to us personally, is never easy. And shifting away from raw partisanship, which was necessary from 2002-2006, towards the idea that we need good Democrats and not Bush Dog Democrats, is going to take some slight adjustments. We’re going to be told that we are jeopardizing candidates in swing districts, that we are hurting the possibility of retaining the majority. We’re going to be told we’re bad Democrats.
I wrote Matt back telling him that “I reread and reconsidered. Conversation is important. I’ll find a way to voice my concerns productively.” I’ll be following the profiles and comments about my Blue Dogs, and I’ll try to contribute to the conversation. I’ll let those dogs know I’m on their liberal side. And think twice before reacting so quickly to a Joyner post again.
Katrina as Democratic Party failure
Last week on Bill Moyers Journal, Princeton’s Melissa Harris-Lacewell explained that up until Katrina the Democratic Party and the traditional media were “quite timid” in critiquing the Bush administration for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. The bungling of Katrina opened the door to criticism, but with that opening the Democratic Party chose to go after the president on Iraq.
Democrats could have used the opportunity to stand up for New Orleans and hold our government accountable for the “urbanism, race, class, environmentalism which were the true core issues that made Katrina possible.”
Instead we know, as Mike Tidwell tells us in the same program, that “the city of New Orleans is effectively being abandoned. It really is. And we’re not doing what we know we can do to save it.”
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL: If someone had looked at that coverage and instead of saying, oh, my God, look at all these refugees on the roof of their home. If someone had said look at all those Democratic voters trapped out there in the water because that’s what they are. There a bunch of Democratic voters. Then maybe the party would have thought, okay, if George Bush isn’t here every day, then we should be. We should be standing in Jackson Square every day and holding accountable. I don’t allow or accept that simply because it was a party in power, even more so therefore that the Democrats who were in local power there. Not just at the city level, but the state level and even at the national level, could have started to provide leadership.
BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that the response to Katrina on the part of the democratic party should have been we can win the election in 2008 if we exploit this?
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL: No. It should have been, here, standing here at this moment is the questions of why the Democratic Party, from its own understandings of itself as a progressive liberal institution, should be able to do better. That this was a moment where you had national outrage. Where you had southerners together in solidarity from the experience that they had just had. Where you had environmentalism which is Al Gore’s central key issue, where you had urban issues coming-- all of the things that the Democrats say that they’re good at, this is the moment to provide leadership. I won’t talk-- I’m not talking about exploitation. I’m saying, you claim this is what you’re good at. Let’s see you do it. Let’s see you talk about how we build a progressive coalition of working people in the South.
Emphasis mine. I note that she emphasizes “the South” and take the opportunity to complain again that the Democratic Party bears some responsibility for our southern heritage and should be redoubling its efforts here.
After the jump, why handing out checks to Katrina victims is wrong…
Friday, August 24, 2007
Google, the nearly $13.5 billion search engine major, is believed to be a fortnight away from the worldwide launch of its much-awaited Google Phone (Gphone) and has started talks with service providers in India for an exclusive launch on one of their networks. [...]
Sources close to the development said a simultaneous launch across the US and Europe is expected, and announcements would be sent to media firms in India and other parts of the world. US regulatory approval, which is expected soon, is the only hurdle that Google is waiting to cross, they added. Google plans to invest $7-8 billion for its global telephony foray.
I’ve heard this non-denial so many times that I now read it as confirmation:
A Google spokesperson said, “We don’t comment on market rumour or speculation. However, Google is committed to providing users with access to the world’s information, and mobile becomes more important to those efforts every day. We’re collaborating with partners worldwide to bring Google search and applications to mobile users everywhere. However, we have nothing to announce at this time.”
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Rumormonger: Newmark quit? Nope.
The AJC article about Mayor Shirley Franklin singling out Craigslist for promoting child prostitution in Atlanta quoted Susan MacTavish Best, Craigslist spokeswoman and girlfriend of CEO Jim Buckmaster, as saying that Craig Newmark “is no longer is involved in the company’s daily affairs.”
I read that and thought nothing of it.
In a couple of conversations on phone and Facebook, Newmark said he was still working at the company as a “customer service representative.” He had no explanation for Best’s comments about his lack of involvement in the company’s “daily affairs”—“customer service” seeming to be one of those “daily affairs” companies must deal with—save to say that she told him she didn’t make the comments attributed to her by the Journal-Constitution, and that he’s still engaged in “heavy customer service” every day. As to his disappearance from the Craigslist management page, Newmark didn’t know why it had been recently changed to remove him, but pointed out that the updated page now matched his claims, put forward for years, not to be involved in the company’s management.
Wal-Mart offers 94Ã‚Â¢ DRM-free songs
Wal-Mart’s online music store started selling songs free of copy-protection technology Tuesday for 94 cents per tune.
The songs from the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Maroon 5, among others, will play on most portable media devices, including Apple Inc.’s iPod.
Via Cory Doctorow, “a marked contrast from Wal-Mart’s downloadable video store, which sucks so hard it practically implodes...”
Barrow targeted for insufficient war support
Our own Blue Dog John Barrow has been added to the list of Republicans targeted in a $15 million advertising campaign funded by an organization called “Freedom’s Watch.” It looks like we’ll see the ads on our local stations.
“For those who believe in peace through strength, the cavalry is coming,” said former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who is a founding board member of the group.
The big ad buy, funded by high-profile Republicans who were aides and supporters of President Bush, reflects a furious public relations battle that will unfold as Congress debates the crucial progress report by Gen. David Petraeus, which is due Sept. 15.
MoveOn.org’s Washington Political Action Director and campaign manager for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq Tom Matzzie croons:
Our researchers tell us your ads are targeting 90% Republicans (37 out of 41). We’ve had strong fundraising but we never thought a $15 million TV buy was in the works. Every extra minute of TV time talking about Iraq is another drip, drip, drip of bad news for politicians who won’t break with Bush. So, thanks.
Pandering pols or protecting minors?
We’re pretty well aware these days of the problem of predator priests in the Catholic church. Now the Southern Baptists stand accused of ignoring the sex predator pastor problem in its rank; just yesterday Pam pointed to this example.
...to pressure MySpace, Facebook Inc. and other Internet social-networking sites to put in place greater parental controls and age-verification tools so minors can’t access the sites so easily.
Led by Richard Blumenthal and Roy Cooper, the attorneys general of Connecticut and North Carolina, respectively, the group is working together to pressure the social-networking sites for changes and push for new laws.
The facts about online youth victimization are clear. It’s politics - a politics of fear - that is dragging us down this road and keeping us from more effectively assessing and addressing the very real problems. On Boing Boing danah boyd reacts to the WSJ piece:
The AGs have been perpetuating a culture of fear around SNSs for a long time now, but most of their fears are ungrounded. Research by Ybarra, et al. has shown that safety efforts have focused on the wrong things. (A broader roundup of research in this area is discussed at the Internet Caucus’ seminar on the topic; video, audio, and transcripts can be found here.) The AGs have also been screaming danger since they learned that 29K people on MySpace are on the sex offenders list. BBC reports that there are over 600K people registered in the States (meaning that less than 5% of sex offenders have profiles, indicating that sex offenders are far less likely to have profiles than average adults). On top of that, most sex offenders on the list have nothing to do with children. (Stephanie Booth does a great job of discussing who all is on these lists and why.) Combine this with the National School Boards Association report that less than .08% of teens meet someone offline without parental permission and you realize that very few teens are at risk. MySpace and Facebook are far far far safer than most places that teens hang out (including their own homes, schools, churches, etc.), but the AGs gain a lot more public credibility by screaming “danger!” when talking about social network sites than they do when talking about homes, schools, churches, etc.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Holy Mackerel: sushi as global good
I guess, since I don’t go to Wharton, I just don’t get it, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless. From a Knowledge@Wharton review of Sasha Issenberg’s ode to globalization, The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy:
For Issenberg, the story of the sushi economy is the story of tuna. Originally reviled in Japan (so greasy it was only good for cat food), the bluefin was the beneficiary of a post-World War II shift in the Japanese diet toward heavier, fatty meats. The overwhelming popularity of the bluefin’s buttery flesh meant that by the early 1970s, the Japanese had overfished their waters and were on the lookout for new sources of their favorite dish. The moment coincided with the rise of Japan Airlines (JAL), which was doing a tidy export business but needed to find something to fill its freight cabin on return flights. In an inspiration that would change the culinary profile of the planet, a JAL executive partnered with the fishermen of Prince Edward Island, Canada, who caught plenty of bluefin, but who had no use for it. Devising a means of gently freezing bluefin to preserve it during the long journey back to Japan, JAL inaugurated the era of global sushi.
Issenberg devotes considerable time to charting Japan’s internal sushi economy, with special emphasis on Toyko’s Tsukiji market, where fish imported from around the world are auctioned daily to bidders well versed in the arcane science of evaluating meat they have not tasted. At Tsukiji, we learn, a single bluefin regularly goes for $30,000 or more at auction; once all but worthless, bluefin has become one of the world’s hottest and most wholesome commodities. Detailing how Tokyo’s Narita International Airport has become—paradoxically—Japan’s most important fishing harbor, Issenberg explains how even in Japan, sushi is a jet-age commodity. While sushi’s roots go back hundreds of years to an era when fish was packed in rice to ferment and preserve it, the nigiri and maki that signify sushi today are only as old as the technological means of transporting highly perishable fish swiftly and efficiently from one end of the world to the other.
In the end it’s acknowledged that “the growing global passion for sushi has led to massive overfishing of bluefin” but there’s not word one on how flying all these fish around is sustainable or good for the environment.
Through detailed, highly localized accounts of restaurants and chefs, fishermen and middlemen, markets and appetites, Issenberg casts sushi as an enormously positive example of globalization. An exceptionally unusual ethnic food that has kept its integrity while spreading its appeal, sushi melds the hunter-gatherer purity of long-line fishing; the sophistication of state-of-the-art transport; the hands-on, humane exchange of the auction; and the immense act of international trust undertaken by the millions who are willing to eat raw fish without knowing its origins or history. An index to a nation’s worldliness, sushi expresses not only the sophistication of a country’s taste, but also an equally sophisticated confidence in the procedural purity of an industry with great potential for corruption and adulteration. [...]
Issenberg is at his most fascinating when he outlines how sushi is at once preserved and reinvented in every new market it meets: Crab and avocado found their way into rolls in California, because that’s what was available. In Brazil, California rolls are made with mango rather than avocado, again because that’s what’s available. In Singapore, one can find California rolls with both avocado and mango—and one can also find curry rolls and halal sushi bars. Hawaiians retain a World War II-era taste for sushi made with Spam. In Marrakech, one can eat maki made with couscous.
Contradicting the scare stories proffered by other recent chroniclers of global foodways (think Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma), Issenberg serves up a singularly appealing picture of how our almost insatiable globalized hunger for new experiences, new things, new services—and, crucially, new foods—might be able to co-exist with our increasingly urgent desire to preserve local traditions and protect the environment. Combining a hunter-gatherer purity with a sophisticated international market organized around swift transit and state-of-the-art refrigeration, wealthy consumers and artisan chefs who continually reinvent sushi according to local tastes and ingredients, sushi seems to reconcile the conflict between [Thomas Friedman’s] Lexus and the olive tree. Sushi extends the possibility that we might actually be able to have our globalization and eat it, too.
I do have to admit I’m glad to have it here in landlocked rural Georgia. Catfish sushi anyone?
Embeddable Google maps now live
View Larger Map
Cool! Google Maps now come with copy-paste code to embed (or email) anywhere you’d like. Click “link this” on any map to get the code.
Via Lost Remote where a commenter wonders, “For news sites, and even LR, wouldn’t the embed violate the Google Maps term and conditions?”
I don’t know near enough. I want to learn more:
Once upon a time lived a young woman from a St. Louis suburb. She was an honor roll student, she played the violin, she donated blood and volunteered for American Heart Association walks. She elected to put off college for a while and joined the Army once out of school. At Fort Campbell, KY, she was assigned as a weapons supply manager to the 129th Corps Support Battalion.
She was LaVena Johnson, private first class, and she died near Balad, Iraq, on July 19, 2005, just eight days shy of her twentieth birthday. She was the first woman soldier from Missouri to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The tragedy of her story begins there.
After an investigation, the Army declared LaVena’s death a suicide, a finding refuted by the soldier’s family. In an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lavena’s father pointed to indications that his daughter had endured a physical struggle before she died - two loose front teeth, a “busted lip” that had to be reconstructed by the funeral home - suggesting that “someone might have punched her in the mouth.”
The military said that the matter was closed.
- Indications of physical abuse that went unremarked by the autopsy
- The absence of psychological indicators of suicidal thoughts; indeed, testimony that LaVena was happy and healthy prior to her death
- Indications, via residue tests, that LaVena may not even have handled the weapon that killed her
- A blood trail outside the tent where Lavena’s body was found
- Indications that someone attenpted to set LaVena’s body on fire
And yet, the Army continues to resist calls by LaVena’s family and by local media to reopen its investigation.
SEE ALSO: The Lavena Johnson Petition blog.
YouTube’s answer to video ads
The three things I hate about ads: irrelevance, interruption, and clutter. The YouTube answer doesn’t violate even one.
It’s totally terrific:
Finally, in a long-anticipated move, YouTube is debuting its solution to video ads — and no, they’re not pre-rolls. The new ads are semi-transparent overlays that cover the bottom fifth of the screen and then disappear after 10 seconds. If you click it, a video ad will play in the same player, only a slightly smaller size. At the end of the ad — or when you click the close icon — the original clip will resume playing. So far, the ads only apply to partner videos (and as of this writing, only a handful of them), and they’re selling for $20 CPMs. Take it for a test drive with the clip here (notice the yellow marker in the timeline when you play the clip). Also, the ads do not play on embedded clips — just when you play them on YouTube. Smart.
More impressions: I’d like to see advertisers pay out for BOTH branding impressions and clicks. And a link to the ad should be included at the end of the clip. I won’t be clicking mid-clip, and when I navigate back, I don’t easily find the ad. I want a direct (graphic?) link to the ad somewhere easy.
Craigslist and Atlanta prostitution
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has called on a popular Web site to take responsibility for what she said is the company’s role in promoting child prostitution.
“Children are being marketed through craigslist,” Franklin said Tuesday during an update on the mayor’s “Dear John” campaign, a crackdown on the city’s child prostitution industry.
Craigslist, found on the Web at craigslist.org, may be best known as a bulletin board for people who want to sell a car, buy a home or meet people. But Atlanta vice officer Kelleita Thurman said Tuesday that craigslist and similar sites account for 85 percent of the sexual liaisons men arrange in Atlanta with boys and girls.
I’d like to see a parsing of that 85% figure. And if they’re going to claim that Craigslist is “promoting child prostitution” you’d think they might have some proof.
You’d be wrong. Maggie at Of Counsel:
The evidence? Photos of a woman requesting money for sex who claims to be 21. They don’t think she’s really 21. But they don’t know who she is or how old she is.
I look forward to a more thorough discussion with better research data to address the issues. Such a difficult and complex problem should be handled with more care and thought by the city. I don’t know what this kind of announcement is supposed to accomplish.
Franklin’s savvy; I’m guessing good old pandering pol PR is her goal. Maggie suggests The Juvenile Justice Fund as a source for better information about the problem.
Today that same market is telling rappers to please shut up. While music-industry sales have plummeted, no genre has fallen harder than rap. According to the music trade publication Billboard, rap sales have dropped 44% since 2000 and declined from 13% of all music sales to 10%. Artists who were once the tent poles at rap labels are posting disappointing numbers. Jay-Z’s return album, Kingdom Come, for instance, sold a gaudy 680,000 units in its first week, according to Billboard. But by the second week, its sales had declined some 80%. This year rap sales are down 33% so far.
Longtime rap fans are doing the math and coming to the same conclusions as the music’s voluminous critics. In February, the filmmaker Byron Hurt released Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a documentary notable not just for its hard critique but for the fact that most of the people doing the criticizing were not dowdy church ladies but members of the hip-hop generation who deplore rap’s recent fixation on the sensational.
Both rappers and music execs are clamoring for solutions. Russell Simmons recently made a tepid call for rappers to self-censor the words nigger and bitch from their albums. But most insiders believe that a debate about profanity and misogyny obscures a much deeper problem: an artistic vacuum at major labels. [...]
Hip-hop now faces a generation that takes gangsta rap as just another mundane marker in the cultural scenery. “It’s collapsing because they can no longer fool the white kids,” says Nickels. “There’s only so much redundancy anyone can take.”
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Some hail Augustus Bush
Here I thought I was being all pithy when I compared Giuliani to Nero. Hell, I can’t hold a stick to Family Security Matters, which boasts such right wing luminaries as Barbara Comstock, Monica Crowley, Frank Gaffney, Laura Ingraham and James Woolsey among others on its board of directors.
They, quite literally, want George Bush to emulate Augustus Caesar and become ruler of the world for life:
Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome - thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.
If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.
He could then follow Caesar’s example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.
President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.
Via Kos, “And now that people know they exist, they’ve been desperately scrubbing their pages clean. Too bad Google cache exists.”
Sam Nunn won’t run & I’m not buying that Cory story
I should have posted this the moment I saw it. My 2Ã‚Â¢ is he won’t run and it ain’t gonna happen. But he made some sense and would be a whole heckuva lot better than still-testing-the-waters [wink, wink. nudge, nudge.] Fred Thompson.
And so long as I’m casting aspersions at wild rumors, I’m not buying this one either:
Tough-minded pundit Arianna Huffington may have found a politician she approves of. Word is that the Huffington Post founder has been quietly dating Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Huffington didn’t respond to several e-mails. Hizzoner’s spokeswoman told us, “We don’t comment on his personal life.” Huffington was an early supporter of Booker in the Rhodes scholar’s battle to unseat longtime Newark boss Sharpe James. Booker has contributed several posts to her blog.
RIAA “deterence” continues
The RIAA has targeted 503 additional college students at 58 colleges and universities in the seventh wave of its latest ”deterrence program” aimed at eliminating piracy on college campuses. That’s 2,926 students targeted to date.
The pre-litigation "settlement" letters, as it refers to them as, once again target those with the fewest resources and ability to fight the charges in an actual courtroom before a judge and jury. As usual, the RIAA offers a convenient method to bypass the legal system altogether and "...resolve copyright infringement claims against them at a discounted rate before a formal lawsuit is filed." What nice guys right?
Maybe somebody should remind them that you can’t definitively identify somebody by an IP address, that "Many computers can be connected to the Internet with identical IP addresses as long as they remain behind control points such as routers, firewalls, proxy servers, or similar technologies."
In the seventh wave of this new initiative, the RIAA this week sent letters to 58 schools including: [full list]
How long to finish school?
Around here we have a lot of “fifth year seniors.” I have been inclined to think that a side effect of the HOPE scholarship; with free tuition, why hurry? But maybe four years to get through college is a one-size-fits-all approach not well-suited to the wide variety of learning styles individuals might reasonably exhibit. Who picked four years anyway?
The question arises out of the experience of New York City high-schoolers. There they find that more students finish school, given the time:
Faced with 70,000 students or more who are years behind in obtaining the credits needed to graduate from high school, New York City is at the forefront of a movement to recognize that for a significant number, high school might stretch into five, six, even seven years.
In an effort that has expanded across Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s second term, the city has spent nearly $37 million to identify and cater to students who are at the biggest risk of dropping out and has already contracted for $31 million more in programs. [...]
For students past the traditional graduation age, the city has established special centers to provide counseling, night classes and an environment designed to avoid the stigma of being college age but in class with 14-year-olds. Some students also earn credits through summer school and community college classes.
When the programs began in 2004, they were serving roughly 2,000 students. That number has since ballooned to more than 7,000. Many students will graduate this week, after spending the summer earning final credits.
The article says that NYC “officials acknowledge that students should complete high school in four years.” I answer that there should be no poverty or discrimination.
Journalism pot calls blogger kettle black
Josh Marshall was named in LATimes opinion column yesterday penned by journalism professor Michael Skube. The column is subtitled, “The hard-line opinions on weblogs are no substitute for the patient fact-finding of reporters.”
Not long after I wrote I got a reply: “I didn’t put your name into the piece and haven’t spent any time on your site. So to that extent I’m happy to give you benefit of the doubt ...”
This seemed more than a little odd since, as I said, he certainly does use me as an example—along with Sullivan, Matt Yglesias and Kos. So I followed up noting my surprise that he didn’t seem to remember what he’d written in his own opinion column on the very day it appeared and that in any case it cut against his credibility somewhat that he wrote about sites he admits he’d never read.
To which I got this response: “I said I did not refer to you in the original. Your name was inserted late by an editor who perhaps thought I needed to cite more examples ... “
And this is from someone who teaches journalism?
Perhaps I’m naive. But it surprises me a great deal that a professor of journalism freely admits that he allows to appear under his own name claims about a publication he concedes he’s never read.
Actually, if you look at what he says, it seems Skube’s editor at the Times oped page didn’t think he had enough specific examples in his article decrying our culture of free-wheeling assertion bereft of factual backing. Or perhaps any examples. So the editor came up with a few blogs to mention and Skube signed off. And Skube was happy to sign off on the addition even though he didn’t know anything about them.
I grant you that the blogosphere needs better bloggers. But, as usual, the need for better critics seems even more acute.