Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Grumpiest Blog that ever ever was

David Lazarus
Great name, huh? He covers money for the San Francisco Chronicle, and wrote an article last week about the fate of newspapers in the digital age. This week, he visited the topic again.

“I wasn't surprised that my recent column on the need for newspapers to charge for online content drew heated reaction from cyberreaders and bloggers. What did surprise me was the sense of entitlement many of these people exhibited when it came to benefiting from other people's work, and the dismissive attitude shown toward the importance of reporting-based journalism.”

One reader wrote: "Content is no longer worth paying for. Going forward, it will not be possible to charge for content ... and any industry which relies on trying to make people pay for content will collapse."

To which Mr. Lazarus responded: “Content that's not worth paying for -- nice paradigm.”

Tim Goodman
He covers television for the San Francisco Chronicle. He weighed in last week on the Viacom/YouTube dust up.

He begins: “Figuring out whom to root for in the battle between Viacom and YouTube is pretty simple, particularly if you own a computer: Turn it on and play. YouTube, with its library of archival television and music clips and its array of user-generated video oddities, is one of the truly great gifts of an invigorated, inventive Internet. That Viacom is suing -- for a chilling $1 billion -- the former startup now owned by Google is likely to give YouTube devotees the willies. All those cool clips -- potentially gone.”

But…?

“And yet, figuring out who is right in this lawsuit is also a no-brainer: Viacom. Is there even a gray area here? YouTube is profiting (or, theoretically could profit) from artistic content that it didn't create. It's taking something that was developed by Viacom, namely a number of popular television shows, and offering them free to YouTube users. Call it what you want -- say, an infringement on our mindless fun and viewing pleasure -- but it's essentially stealing. Fair use? Uh, no. Stealing.”

My two cents…
It pisses me off that I can no longer make a living at being a pissed-off guy, because everybody and his dog is a pissed-off guy these days, and are willing to vent for free on the Web. Where can this lead? A world without newspapers, a world without television, a world without movies, a world without books or magazines, a world where the only things being read are the semi-literate ramblings of smug boneheads. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Anna Nicole Smith’s Diaries
Two of them have been sold on eBay for over half a million dollars. Can I move to a different planet now? For free?

Shocking revelations.
Ms. Smith didn’t like sex.

Kevin Federline
Remember him? No? Well, he has a search engine that offers prizes, including an autographed picture of him, his latest CD, and a tee-shirt with his face on it. Knock yourselves out.

Outsourcing subtitlers!
People who write subtitles for movies are rising in protest! According to the Times (London), “Subtitler Kenn Nakata Steffensen, of London, said that in one film, translated from English to Danish, the line ‘Jim is a Vietnam vet’ became ‘Jim is veterinarian from Vietnam’. In another film, ‘flying into an asteroid field’ became "flying into a steroid field", and in a television program, ‘she died in a freak rugby accident’ was translated into ‘she died in a rugby match for people with deformities’. He said: ‘Experienced subtitlers are being replaced by inexperienced and unqualified translators who produce poor work for incredibly low pay.’”

Craigslist job offer
“Quick! Who is Pete Doherty and what's his f'in problem? How many times did Britney check in and out of rehab in a 72-hour period? What's the latest American Idol scandal and have you seen the photos? How many washed-up rock acts are stepping back into spandex for reunions in 2007?

I need a pop music junkie. Yes, I said *music*... but as we all know, pop music is the sort of carnival that demands a good sideshow. So you gotta be on top of the gossip, too.

The job is 20 hours a week at minimum wage. You'll work from home, reposting juicy news tidbits with occasional commentary. It's easy and fun, and only has one requirement: you=fabulous.

If you're interested, send me (1) a resume, (2) a writeup of NO MORE THAN 200 WORDS on why you're the one I should hire, and (3) the name and phone number of a reference who can vouch for your reliability.

By the way, do not apply if you're not reliable. I fire people over missed shifts. Thank you, xox.”

Dear xox
So you’re offering minimum wage for the opportunity to pay attention to Britney Spears? You want a fucking reference? And an essay? You’ll fire the writer if he or she happens to sleep through AMERICAN IDOL? Can I move to a different planet now? With free cable?

Cuba
Faced with declining tourism, Cuba is thinking of building a theme park.

Cricket
I know nothing about cricket, except when I see it featured in British mysteries. It’s a sport that seems to require a great deal of commitment from spectators (matches can last up to seven hours); on the plus side, it also seems to require crust-free sandwiches and wine. Apparently, however, cricket is very scandal-ridden, with bookmaking, doping, and game-throwing. And now: murder. Where’s Miss Marple when we need her? This sort of thing just isn’t cricket.

Content is king?
NYT: “MySpace, the Web’s largest social network, has gradually been imposing limits on the software tools that users can embed in their pages, like music and video players that also deliver advertising or enable transactions.”


“MySpace says that it will block these pieces of third-party software — also called widgets — when they lend themselves to violations of its terms of service, like the spread of pornography or copyrighted material. But it also objects to widgets that enable users to sell items or advertise without authorization, or without entering into a direct partnership with the company.”

MySpace is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

We’re idiots
Anne Appelbaum, writing for AEI (for free?): “The Daily Telegraph, normally the most pro-American newspaper in Britain, wrote that it hardly mattered whether Mohammed was guilty, since whatever conclusion is drawn by the military tribunal that will try him, ‘the world will condemn the procedures by which the verdicts were reached.’ Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung concluded that ‘the Bush administration has nobody but itself to blame for the fact that the actions and motives of the perpetrator are now playing second fiddle to the practices used by the Americans in fighting terrorism.’ In many places, the confessions, which took place nearly a week ago, still have hardly attracted attention.”

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