Friday, February 10, 2012
Thursday, February 09, 2012
When Fred Wilson, a prominent New York venture capitalist who has backed Twitter and Zynga, wanted to watch the Knicks game last month, he got an unpleasant surprise. Time Warner Cable was not showing the game because of a contract dispute.
Frustrated, he turned to the Internet for help. Within minutes he was streaming the game illegally on his big-screen TV. [...]
Seeking out an illicit stream of a game that you should be able to watch legitimately is one thing. But media companies say they are facing a relentless barrage of far less defensible thefts involving movies, television shows and music.
Now, that's true. No one wants to see piracy be the modus operandi of the Internet, except maybe those megapirates who would stand to become the media conglomerates of piracy.
And there's where the story lies: conglomeration.
See, if you frame the piracty as one of giving the artist his due return for his efforts, people are pretty sympathetic to reforming the internet to ensure that, no matter how you view a film or listen to a record, an artist can be reasonably assured he's getting his fair share for creating it.
After all, what's the incentive to make more music or movies if you aren't going to earn a living at it?
It's the corporatocracy that makes this story. The publishers and producers whose only function is to finance and distribute the works that artists create for it take an undue percentage of the "gate," so to speak.
When you frame the discussion this way, suddenly people are less sympathetic to the production end and more sympathetic to pirates.
Take that Time Warner anecdote. It's true, Time Warner, New York City's biggest cable provider, cannot show games from Madison Square Garden (which, ironically, uses Time Warner in its restaurants to show out of market games.) Cablevision, another conglomerate, owns the Garden and the teams that play in it. It was pretty much fated from the get-go that Time Warner would be barred from broadcasts, or at least charged an insane amount of money.
Which would be passed onto the consumer.
Similarly, DISH Network has opted out of its contract with Cablevision. So people resort to piracy.
But here's the thing: opting for piracy in a more legitimate dispute like this encourages the rationalization that leads to more piracy: "I'm not paying $14 to sit in a theatre! I'll Bittorrent the movie!" or "$49.95 to watch a fight? Why, when I can get it for free!"
And so on. It's a slippery slope before you're downloading albums because the CD costs $15 (and the band gets a few bucks of that).
Al Cardenas, the lead organizer for the Conservative Political Action Conference, said Thursday that attendees were arriving at the conference “angrier than [he’s] seen in some time” in part due to the Health and Human Services decision to mandate contraception coverage in employee health care plans.
That's not why they're all butthurt, Al. It's because they're looking at the dismal prospect of four more years under the Kenyan Usurper, and the best you guys can come up with in response is...Mitt Romney.
The resurgence of social and cultural issues in voters' minds poses new challenges for GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney as he reels from surprising losses Tuesday to conservative favorite Rick Santorum.
The economy remains the No. 1 issue of concern for a majority of Americans. But the recent hoopla surrounding the Obama administration's support of contraceptives, the court ruling against California's same-sex marriage ban and heated debate about abortion access has created a perfect storm that has pushed these seemingly dormant issues to the surface.
"They've never been far from the surface. A lot of people thought the social issues had disappeared but that has never been the case," said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who focuses on polling data and public opinion. "These issues are obviously very important within a conservative party, the Republican party."
Now, Romney's record indicates a conservative bend on these issues: while he has enacted legislation in Massachussetts requiring hospitals, even religious ones, to perform abortions in the case of rape victims (not an unreasonable position, but more on that in another piece,) he has vetoed bills authorizing the morning-after pill (called the "abortion pill" by the living-room gibbons on the right,) which the legislature passed over his veto.
Yet, Romney gets the blame.
Meanwhile, Santorum has publicly been outspoken on social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion (and likely, the hoopla over contraception for lay employees of the Catholic Church.)
In other words, this is a battle of right v. righty-right.
So where's the dogwhistle?
I mean, you have two candidates who have publicly worn their religion on their sleeves, one a church elder in fact. You'd think the choice would be harder.
Except....wellllllll....see, one's a Mormon. And there's where I think Santorum is striking gold, particularly in states that were part of the westward expansion of the nation.
The history of Mormonism in America is a harsh one: kicked out of New York, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and nearly every other state Mormons tried to settle in, they headed west. In fact, Mormons would end up being a major component and impetus to expand American hegemony to the west coast.
It probably didn't help that Joseph Smith was a crackpot who conned people left and right. He was a product of New York's Chautauqua "Burned-over District", which also produced the first of the apocalyptic preachers, William Miller, as well as the Fox sisters of Hydesville, who used to hold seances complete with table-rappings that were later admitted to be hoaxes.
The Mormons settled in an area they called Deseret, which actually encompassed most of the plains east of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico. The Federal government looked askance at this idea when the Mormons applied for statehood, and gave them Utah as a playground.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Host Steve Doocy, however, seemed to be fully invested in the interview. He mentioned that Eddie Van Halen used to stipulate, in his contract riders, that there should be no brown M&M’s in the dressing room.
“That’s got to make a candy feel bad,” Doocy said, feigning a frown.
“Well, he didn’t know what he was missing,” Ms. Brown replied, “and I’m the ruler of all. So…it’s his loss.”
“Take that, Eddie,” Doocy replied.
"Ms. Brown" was the M&M.
The truth of the Van Halen story is, yes, it was in their contract, no brown M&Ms. But here's the thing: it wasn't that they had anything against brown M&Ms.
They put that clause in there as a very clever way to make sure the contract was being adhrered to. It was a down-and-dirty "checksum." If they found brown M&Ms in the dressing room, they could almost be certain the promoter or arena was screwing them in other ways, too. They would then unleash the lawyers and accountants, and usually recoup bookoo bucks.
"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," states the opinion written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the court's most liberal judges.
This is the litigatory equivalent of "Ohno, you din't!"
Attorneys on both sides seem prepared to take this case to the Supreme Court, and I'd be willing to bet that at least six justices (the four liberals, Scalia and Roberts) are pawing the ground in the starting gate.
The decision applies strictly to California, even though the 9th Circuit could have extended it over all nine states in its jurisdiction.
Too, the Appeals Court relied heavily on the 1996 Supreme Court ruling which overturned a Colorado law that limited civil rights protections for homosexuals.
Taken together, these conditions may force the SCOTUS to say "Thanks, but no thanks." Not that it has a history of non-intervention (Bush v. Gore *koffkoff*) but that was a different court, almost altogether.
It's going to be an interesting year, as the kids say.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
I’ve seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life. And, times when we didn’t understand each other. It seems like we’ve lost our heart at times. When the fog of division, discord, and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead.
Given the toxic nature of rhetoric from Rove's party, particularly the Teabaggers, it's hard not to take a comment like that personally, especially since Rove himself has rattled his chains over some of the nonsense that people like Sarah Palin and Rick perry have spouted.
Rove would be on firmer ground if he critiqued the soon-to-be-released film Act of Valor which features a Navy SEAL team sent in to rescue a kidnapped ambassador, which actually features real SEALs. That seems to be a pretty blatant attempt to remind the American people about Obama's foreign policy, which has been effective and has completed steps that the Bush administration...you know, the people Rove worked for?...could only have dreamed of doing.
Still, to me, Rove's complaint about the Chrysler ad sounds more like "Why in the hell didn't I think of that?"
Monday, February 06, 2012