Thursday, August 01, 2002
Quote of the day
"Since when did the al Qaeda become our role model for labor-management relations? I thought we were out to destroy al Qaeda--not emulate them."
--Robert Byrd (as reported in the Wall Street Journal), in response to Budget Director Mitchell Daniels Jr., who tried to defend the administration's union-busting Homeland Security provisions by noting that "al Qaeda doesn't have a three-foot-thick" book of labor regulations.
Secure at undisclosed fundraisers
Dick Cheney isn't going to talk to reporters any more until the Halliburton investigation has concluded--because he doesn't want to unduly influence the SEC.
(Story here, via Cursor, which now features a "Where's Cheney Now?" link. I've also been informed that Cursor linked to the Palm Beach Post story concerning the actual number of al Qaeda members on Monday--proving once again that if websites had weight, they'd be worth theirs in gold, and are not to be skimmed over lightly, as I apparently did this week.)
Lawyers for victims of human rights abuses committed by the military regime in Burma claim that the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee was involved in a company that assisted in energy projects in Burma associated with violent human rights abuses.
Until he was selected as vice presidential candidate for the Republican ticket, Dick Cheney headed the energy giant Halliburton, which activists say owned a subsidiary which helped construct two pipelines that involved the forcible relocation of villages, forced labour, rape and murder.
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Danger, Will Robinson
I'm getting some strange returned emails--it looks like someone has hijacked an address I don't use very often anymore, email@example.com, to either send out spam or to send out a virus disguised as spam (it's hard to tell from what gets bounced back to me, but looking at page source info, there appears to have been an exe. attatchment in the original messages).
The text usually seems to be something in clumsy English such as "Here is a website I wish you would like."
I'm looking into this, but if you get email from firstname.lastname@example.org, my advice would be to trash it immediately. It's not a return address I'm using these days.
Rapid response update, thanks to the TMW.com brain trust: Tom Davidson and Andrew Preston both write to inform me that this sounds like the Klez virus. Tom's description:
The way Klez works, while not technically brilliant, is rather ingenious.
Since E-mail addresses change all the time -- faster than address books,
I'm willing to bet, therefore, that someone has been accidentally sending
It's just another reason to install anti-virus software.
Or to switch to Mac, I might add. Andrew provides a link with more info in case you have been unwittingly infected.
In the meantime, do not open any mail from "email@example.com."
More advertising wackiness
From Stephen Bates:
Remember when Microsoft ran a commercial with some really cool background
According to one web site, this translates as, "When the damned are sent to
All I know is that it cracked me up to hear this in conjunction with
* * *
Be sure not to miss the post below this one. In fact, you might want to email the link at the bottom of that post to your friends, the editor of your local paper, and anyone else you can think of. It's an astonishing allegation, and deserves far more attention than it seems to be receiving. (If it has, in fact, been widely reported, I'm sure I'll hear about it before the day is out, and will of course update accordingly.)
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
For what it's worth
According to this article from Saturday's Contra Costa Times (via the Baltimore Sun), Bin Laden is probably dead. Unfortunately, as the California reader who forwarded the link reports, the truly interesting part of the story is in a sidebar which doesn't appear online in either paper:
Far fewer al-Qaida than reported, FBI officials say:
Senior FBI officials believe there are now no more than 200 hard-core
"Al-Qaida itself, we know, is less than 200," said an FBI official,
That figure, far less than recent press reports suggested were in the
"Everyone tries to tie everything into Sept. 11 and al-Qaida," said one of
If anyone in California can send me a scan of the sidebar, I'll post it--since without it, I understand, this is JADIR (Just Another Damn Internet Rumor).
Update: better still, here's a link to the story as it appeared in the Palm Beach Post. One more thought, and I haven't had any coffee yet and I'm probably going to articulate this poorly, so bear with me, but--given the extent to which the war on terror has come to define the administration's policies, foreign and domestic, why isn't this on every front page in the country?
Music, but not what you think
The Clash's London Calling is now being used as the soundtrack for...wait for it...a Jaguar commercial.
The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Certainly says luxury automobile to me!
More about you-know-what
A whole lotta damn opinions, so I'm letting the readers take this one and run with it. (This should not be taken as a sign that this blog has turned into a message board devoted to the ethics of music downloading--I'm declaring a moratorium after tonight. And since I've already read enough email on the subject to make my eyes bleed, fair warning: the time you spend explaining your unique perspective on the issue will probably not be the most productive use to which it could have been put.)
From Tim Wayne:
You shouldn't make assumptions about which you know little, and you shouldn't say things which are blatantly false. I go to your website for your version of the truth. If I wanted to see distortions or other falsehoods, I'd go to whitehouse.gov.
Further, in regards to your poorly informed opinion on "stealing MP3s", let me offer this bit of actual real information: the artist makes less than ten cents per CD sold in the store, the label and the store get the rest. If I steal a song, I'm stealing less than a penny from the artist and stealing about a buck from the label. You know how much guilt I feel stealing a buck from one of the big five record labels? Less than zero. In fact, I enjoy contributing to the destruction of what I feel is an evil, unethical, selfish and greedy industry, who's sins against society in general and music in particular are many, varied, and egregious. They've recently killed internet radio and are not going to be happy until we all pay for every song we want to hear, each time we hear it.
(Tim also informs me that MP3 ripping has nothing to do with "ripping off," as I had erroneously assumed, but is rather an acronym for a technical term, Raster Image Processing. My mistake, duly noted.)
From Jason Kothman:
I have to represent the broke-ass working class musician contingent and say that music should continue to be allowed to proliferate freely. i have explained this in detail on my latest blog and would appreciate it if you would read it when you have a few minutes.
basically, i'm not giving up my rights to give my music away for free so that somebody who's scared of getting a day job can continue to make overpriced records to support an industry that should have died a decade ago. limiting bandwidth and the size of downloads and streams is really kicking the little girl/ guy in the ovaries/ nuts. i don't consider someone who had a major label front them cash for recording and touring to be independent. for the love of god, that type of recoupment loan sharking shit needs to stop, and what better than the internet to kill it once and for all?
From Robert Stansfield:
File "sharing" is theft, but it's not wrong; it's a symptom, not the
Of course file "sharing" is stealing. Anyone who says it's not risks being
The two pro-"sharing" arguments I hear most are 1) record companies are evil and 2) peer-to-peer "sharing" doesn't actually negatively impact record
I think the unspoken problem is that people don't really think popular
Record companies need to change to make people feel that their music is
Most people I know don't go to big concerts because they're crowded and
Music is information, and networked computers transfer information quickly, efficiently, and cheaply. The process of burning files onto plastic disks, wrapping these disks in plastic and cardboard, loading them onto trucks, shipping them around the country, and selling them in stores is wasteful, inefficient, and really silly. Charging $15 or so for each of those disks is even sillier. As more and more people learn how to use networking to replace their floppy disk use, more and more people realize how silly it all is.
Record companies should stop making "albums." Record a few songs of each artist, and give them to the file sharing community. Track where the files go and set the artists up with managable (i.e. smaller than a civic center) venues in those places. If I heard of a new artist, found recordings of a couple of his songs freely available on the internet, and liked them, I'd
Of course some musicians will lose their jobs in the transition. Video
I think the hardest-hit (no pun intended) musicians would be the "one-hit-wonders." Overpromotion and market saturation would be a thing of the past.
From Michael Metevier:
Thanks for braving the waters of the pro-ripping legions. I couldn't agree more. As a 23 year old just starting to dip his toes into the music business, I can attest to artists' concerns over getting ripped off--not only by major labels, but by fans stealing music and distributing it to whomever they choose. I don't think people realize how hard it is to make a living from music, which should be a reward for hard-working people: to be able to support themselves doing something they love.
For musicians who are already famous and mega wealthy (probably something like 2%), file sharing music isn't going to cause that much of a problem, but for anyone else--it is stealing. I don't go around to architecture firms, steal their plans, and distribute them to whomever I want. I can't walk into Coca-Cola headquarters, swipe their secret formula recipe and e-mail it to the masses--I'd be rightfully sued. Neither should be people be allowed to take the product of my love and labor.
Thanks for sticking up for us.
From John Tibbets:
CDs cost nothing to produce. $18 is unthinkable as a price; prices were
In-for-a-dime-in-for-a-dollar update: one more, from my friend Barry, who knows a lot about the music industry and about programming:
* About the meaning of the verb "ripping": As a graphics and video
* It is not unusual for artists to make $1-2 per store-sold CD,
Composing music costs money: it usually takes days, weeks or months
Given these costs, it's not surprising that some musicians ask their
Because it can be hard to get listeners to pay, some recording
Whether you refuse to pay a struggling independent musician or a
If you want to harm musicians or record companies, your legal options
But of course
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Halliburton Co. has been awarded a $9.7 million contract to build an additional 204-cell detention camp at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to hold additional suspected al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, the Pentagon said on Friday.
I'm not worthy
Tom Toles once again proves that he is the true master of the medium.
The copyright wars
I also mentioned the fact that Congress is on the verge of making it legal for the entertainment industry to hack into the computers of possible copyright violators last week. This is, of course, appalling, but in response to some of the email I got welcoming me to the war against the "copyright nazis," I do want to make it clear that this is not an endorsement of ripping off artists. Sure, the record companies are major greedheads and the big bands have plenty of money anyway--but what about the mid-level bands who have to spend half their lives touring because they can no longer live off their music alone--because of all you music-wants-to-be-free types?
Don't get me wrong: the entertainment industry is going way overboard, on this, and on their efforts to restrict your ability to transfer music you've paid for from one medium to another. I have an iPod with ten gigs, and I have filled it to the brim--with music I've transferred from CDs I've paid for. If the industry had its way, I would not be allowed to do this, and that's self-evident bullshit.
But I was talking to John McCrae of the band Cake last week, and he summarized the artist's perspective well (and I'm quoting from memory here, of course): "They say music wants to be free. Well, I say rent wants to be free, bills want to be free--but until they are, I need some way to pay them."
Second update: well, my suggestion that Music May Want to be Free, but Musicians Also Want to be Paid has already made many of you highly indignant. So let me clarify this by adding: the musicians I know agree with you--the record companies are Big and Evil. Point conceded. Actually, point was never in dispute. But so what? Because these small bands are getting screwed by the music industry, it's okay to then add insult to injury by stealing their work?
Last update (I hope): Lord, some of you people are like children who've snuck into the candy store warehouse, and now think that free gummi bears are your god-given right. Obviously the business model of music distribution must adapt to changing times, but the fact that technology has made it easier to steal does not make it right to steal. (Why do you think they call it "ripping"?) This isn't analagous to making a copy of a CD for a buddy; it's more like making copies of a CD and handing them out to everyone on the face of the planet who wants one. You're ripping artists off, and then you argue that it is their responsibility to develop ancillary revenue sources, so that they can continue to produce music for you to rip off. That's lovely and self serving; I just wonder if there are any musicians out there who agree?
Really-final-this-time-I-mean-it update: Well, of course there are. There's always another point of view somewhere online.
Crikey, part two
Last week, I noted Michiko Kakutani's unfortunate decision to review Shawn Levy's Ready, Steady Go: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London in the voice of Austin Powers:
Hello, hello, hello. Powers, here, Austin Powers. You know, Powers by name, Powers by reputation.
And so on.
This is painful enough, in that Maureen-Dowd-finger-on-the-pulse-of popular-culture-except-not-really kind of way. But an alert though nameless reader has pointed out that this is actually a retread--Kakutani first donned the shagadelic Powers persona in a 1999 review of a Jackie Collins novel.
Hel-lo, Hel-lo: Austin Powers here. First up, baby, let me tell you why I dig Jackie Collins's Hollywood. You know how they say Hollywood is just high school with money? Well, to me, Jackie's Hollywood is the 60's with money. Free love still reigns in Jackie Land: people are still having promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection, while at the same time experimenting with mind-expanding drugs in a consequence-free environment. My bag exactly! And the babes are all so groovy: they've all got big hair and tiny frocks, and they all shag like minxes. None of this P.C. bull: what these chicks all want is a good-looking cat with a nice set of twig and berries.
My advice to novelists and historians writing about the sixties: don't let the publication of your book coincide with the release of the next Austin Powers movie.
* * *
Speaking of the Times, I'm starting to notice a certain recurrent theme of "New York sure is..." summer puff pieces. In the past month, for instance, we've been treated to entire articles which inform us that New York sidewalks sure are crowded. (The former article is now walled off in the Premium section, but the teaser they provide probably tells you all you want to know: On the sidewalks of New York there are jaywalkers, baby walkers, dog walkers, night walkers, cellphone talker-walkers, slow walkers, fast walkers, group walkers, drunken walkers, walkers with walkers and, of course, tourist walkers. Unfortunately, all of these walkers are walking into one another. )
This morning's entry tells us that New York sure smells bad in the heat, and then recites a litany of offending summer odors: trash, bus fumes, other New Yorkers, and--of course--the Fulton Fish Market.
Perhaps even as we speak, intrepid New York Times reporters are working on even more groundbreaking coverage: New York sure is dirty, New York sure is expensive...much like the city itself, the possibilities are endless.
Update: New York sure is full of tall buildings!