Media Industry Hyperbole take um…

For what seems the infinitiest time, another media industry honcho has said something which makes you wonder about his sanity. APN News & Media chief executive Brendan Hopkins said the following recently:

“To use an analogy, I see search engines as breaking into our homes, itemising the contents, walking out and listing everything for everyone to see. And they get money out of that process.”

Really? And when Jack Valenti told Congress, “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone,” that didn’t turn out to be a bit over the top and perhaps even, dare I say it, completely wrong?

If search engines are showing the table of contents of news sites, then aren’t they driving more traffic to the site?  Isn’t Google News essentially giving the New York Times and other media sites free advertising?  You can’t read the whole article on Google – you have to go to the news site. How is that in any way equated to theft? For that matter, how does one steal a good which is intangible and effectively infinite anyway?

When the media companies get a little pinch of economic hard times, they claim that people are stealing from them, that the world will come to an end if they don’t get paid what they want (rather than what the market will bear), etc. And every time throughout history, they’ve been proven wrong. Sheet music didn’t kill singing. Piano rolls didn’t destroy piano bars. Radio didn’t raid the coffers of the record companies. VCRs did not cause the complete collapse of the movie industry. MP3 players have still, after 10 years, failed to completely annihilate the recording industry, despite the music executives best efforts to jump on a sword or two. In most cases, the new technology has actually been a boon for the existing industry eventually. Stop thinking that your business involves one particular format, and think about what people actually want to buy. People don’t want records or CDs; they want music. People don’t want newspapers or magazines; they want information and pictures. Give your customers what they want in a convenient form they want, and your industry will boom. Prevent them from accessing your media and you’ll soon find you have very little media left to sell. People will read the news online, just maybe not from your company, if you make it too hard to do. It’s possible you’re just making buggy whips and everyone has moved to cars.

This is all in the context of folks like Rupert Murdoch saying he’s going to lock up his news sites behind pay walls, so that people must pay to read his NY Post articles. Hmmm… The NY Times actually took down their pay wall a while back. Their presence online suddenly became much larger, they got more traffic and I’d assume higher advertising revenue. It must be said that the Times is actually talking about rebuilding their pay wall; I’m sure it will be much more successful the second time around. /snark

Bye bye bad guys

While there was originally some controversy about the feasability of the “liquid explosive” concept, the case has been decided this week. Three of the eight men linked to the plot have been convicted of plotting to bomb airliners; a fourth was convicted of conspiracy to murder.

These men were detected using intercepted communications under a FISA warrant. They were kept in a normal jail until they went to normal court to be sentenced by a normal judge in the UK. They will soon be placed into a regular prison, where they will expect to spend many years with their fellow British prisoners, whom they plotted to kill.  I don’t expect them to have a good time there.

Somehow, there are commentators who claim this is in some way a vindication of warrantless wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons, or military tribunals. Um…no.  Every single step of this case followed existing laws, and once the men were in custody the case was in the public view. It seems this proves that our (and British) law enforcement and intelligence professionals are quite capable of catching bad guys within the law as it stands today. Good for us, bad for bad guys.

Galileo

On August 25th, four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei showed his telescopes to the Venetian lawmakers. With the Galileoscope the Boy and I assembled this weekend, we observed the four satellites of Jupiter that are called today the Galilean moons: Ganymede, Io, Europa and Callisto.  Then the clouds covered them up again.

Although a bit later in the year than I’d hoped we have received our two Galileoscopes (no, I don’t know why I bought two of them, other than they were cheap so why not?), and they’re very spiffy. We’re using the basic 25x magnification right now, although we may put together the 50x eyepiece to peer at Jupiter more closely tomorrow. We should be able to see the Great Red Spot about 10:30pm this week. Not sure about how that will go. The Boy can’t seem to avoid bumping the scope, making massive changes in view far too common. The Woman, of course, was much better and caused no problems when she looked at Jupiter and its four moons.  Very cool night.

Somehow, the Boy convinced me to get up at 6am on a non-work day, so we could peer at Venus and Mars. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Dr Shante not a doctor after all

Well, that sucks.

Remember the touching story of Roxanne Shante, former teen mother from the projects turned rap star, who got her evil record company (Warner Music) to pay for her doctorate? Not all that true. Like, pretty much none of it is true. OK, maybe it’s a bald-faced lie.

Shante, or Lolita Gooden as she’s legally named, claims to have an M.A. from Cornell, but Cornell says, “who’s that?”  She also calls herself “Dr. Shante” even though she freely admits she has no doctorate of any kind. Also, she never had a contract with Warner Music, and the companies she did have contracts with say they never put some education clause into any contract ever.

To make this more of a he said-she said thing, nobody can come up with a copy of any of these contracts. To muddy the waters further, she was listed on a page of notable Cornell alumni as of last week; her name is missing from that list now. Shante was mentioned as a Cornell alum in an article about a hiphop summit; that mention was excised this week. She still is listed as a PhD recipient in another Cornell article, as of this writing. That’s obviously in error, as she admits she never got a PhD.

Goes to show, you can’t trust anything you read.

Experience the Planets

Although my Galileoscopes (ordered in February) stubbornly refuse to arrive, I’m still digging the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Here’s a really amazing set of images – artistic, not photographic – of the planets. Consider it a graphic version of the Holst piece.

This is an artist’s concept of a cyclonic vortex on Venus. Much higher resolution available at the site.

VenusianVortex
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