Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Snippets from Forbes

The April 11, 2001 issue of Forbes had worthwhile comments concerning copyright.  Lewis DVorkin in the article "The soul of media: For Forbes, it’s editing" observed that "On the Web today, knowledgeable people can publish content for next to nothing. With the tools of social media, those same people can build followings for next to nothing."

In recognition of this trend, Mr. DVorkin goes on to say "Forbes is adapting to this world while still adhering to what made us a trusted business news provider. Our full-time staff of experienced editors and reporters is now both covering the news and recruiting hundreds of qualified contributors — in effect, curators — to create the content our voracious audience requires. Forbes is “editing” these curators by hand picking them (just as we do our full-time staff) based on their credentials." A refreshing acknowledgement that it is better to adapt to a changing market by soliciting content from those willing to contribute.

 Jon Bruner in the interview "Steal This E-Book"  asks tech publisher Tim O'Reillly "On all your titles you've dropped digital-rights management (DRM), which limits file sharing and copying. Aren't you worried about piracy?"

Mr. Reilly responds with "No. And so what? Let's say my goal is to sell 10,000 copies of something. And let's say that if by putting DRM in it I sell 10,000 copies and I make my money, and if by having no DRM 100,000 copies go into circulation and I still sell 10,000 copies. Which of those is the better outcome? I think having 100,000 in circulation and selling 10,000 is way better than having just the 10,000 that are paid for and nobody else benefits. ... People who don't pay you generally wouldn't have paid you anyway. We're delighted when people who can't afford our books don't pay us for them, if they go out and do something useful with that information. ... I think having faith in that basic logic of the market is important. Besides, DRM interferes with the user experience. It makes it much harder to have people adopt your product."  Again, another refreshing acknowledgement that adaption to a changing market is a superior approach.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today's Passing Casual Scene

Two cartoons caught my attention today. One by Nina Paley below, concerning the growing absurdity of lawsuits today.

Scott Adams cartoon below is indicative of the "mad rush" by companies to go "green".  I have a sneaky suspicion that many of our "green" products are simply the old product with new labeling.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rude Re-Awaking

This morning Fox News jolted me awake with the remembrance that Obama had undeservedly received the Noble Peace Prize before actually accomplishing anything positive. Back in December 2009 I wrote about Obama's  Nobel Peace Prize Travesty, which had since faded from my memory.  Tom Tooles also had an excellent cartoon concerning the granting of the award.

Since receiving the Noble Peace Prize, Obama has continued our military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He still has not closed GITMO. Now he has initiated new military actions in Libya.  Of course, Fox News gleefully reviewed all of Obama's broken campaign promises. Even more amusing, Fox News actually gave Micheal Moore of all people an ata-boy for condemning our new military involvement in Libya.  The Toronto Sun writes: "Taking to his Twitter page, Moore rages, "We have neither the troops, stomach, or $$ (dollars) to fight a ground war for months/years to defeat (Moammar Gadhafi)... May I suggest a 50-mile evacuation zone around Obama's Nobel Peace Prize?"" (Emphasis added).  Amazing to see Fox News and Moore on the "same" page.

Well, thanks Fox News for reminding me that Obama was undeservedly granted the Nobel Peace prize. Unfortunately, Toles hope that Obama would run a good race has not panned out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Balanced Budget Amendment Circus

Festering in the background of our unimaginable deficit spending orgy is the resurrection of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. On the surface this sounds reasonable, but in realty it is nothing more than pure political theater.  It is a distraction from the fact that our congress people are simply not doing their job of being fiscally responsible.

Logically, if Congress cannot balance the budget now; how would a piece of paper with some ink on it motivate them to implement a balanced budget.  It won't.

Congress has a propensity to pass laws that appear strict but turnout to be toothless.  Should any balanced budget amendment pass I predict that it would contain an "escape" clause of some form that would allow Congress to declare some sort of "emergency" so that they can continue spending without restraint. 

The answer is electing Congressional people who will do their job of running the country in a fiscally responsible manner. A piece of paper will not magically transform irresponsible politicians into responsible decision makers.

Fiscal Insanity Continues

Washington Post article: CBO: Obama budget underestimates deficits by $2.3 trillion over upcoming decade

The Post writes:
"The estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that if Obama’s February budget submission is enacted into law it would produce deficits totaling $9.5 trillion over 10 years — an average of almost $1 trillion a year."
Tooles Cartoon below.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Disigenous Business Practices

In the scheme of things this is a really really small issue. But then this blog is about casual observations. In the scheme of things this is another example of disingenuous business practices used to make a sale. Basically, businesses seem to be under the assumption that it is acceptable to lie and cheat in order to make a sale. Ok, lets be a bit nicer and say "stretch the truth".

Of course, to toss in the so-called "intellectual property" angle, if you do something equally disingenuous, you are considered a criminal.  Logically, if a business feels they can mislead you, you should have an "equal' right to mislead them.  Anarchy will result.  If businesses want a business friendly environment that protects them with minimal regulation, they shouldn't do misleading actions.  Remember free-will.  They don't have to do it. There is something known as self-restraint. If they don't feel obligated to be responsible, they deserve the "oppressive business damaging" regulations that they so anguishly whine about.

What is particularly galling in this situation is that a University is sending you something on their letterhead that they present to you as an "official" communication that turns out to be nothing more than a sleazy sales pitch. Since we have had our kids in college for over the past six years we have received numerous such examples. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jack Daniels Explains The Deficit

A very appropriate and humorous analysis concerning our ever increasingly irresponsible spending. From Les Jones.  All the talk concerning "deficit reduction" is simply hot air based on psychedelic accounting. The deficit is continuing to increase.

Oppresive Evil Government Regulations

One of the outfalls of the populist Tea Party movement is the demand for smaller government, less taxes, the elimination of regulations, and that government stay out of our personal lives.  I'm not going to go into too much detail at this point, but the devastating earthquake in Japan points out one of the benefits of strong government regulations. Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives.

After  reviewing the New York Times article, I did some internet slumming to find out how Christchurch's  saved lives and I ran across this article: "Proper Building Codes Save Lives" that referred to an earlier (September 2010) earthquake in Christchurch. The article notes that: "The quake was about the same magnitude as the one in Haiti, yet they had a vastly different outcome – due to proper building codes."  Another article: "Building codes saves lives – main message on anniversary of Chile earthquake and lesson learned from NZ"

Compare that to China's 2008 Sichuan earthquake where (according to Wikipedia) 69,197 were confirmed dead, including 68,636 in Sichuan province, and 374,176 injured, with 18,222 listed as missing. Of particular concern was the substandard construction of schoolhouses that collapsed. The earthquake left about 4.8 million people homeless.  Of course the full extent of the devastation in Japan is unknown, so it is too early for a valid comparison with the current Japanese earthquake.

So before demanding the wholesale abolition of government in the name of promoting "liberty" and eliminating "oppression", be careful of what you ask for in terms of a small castrated government.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mimi and Eunice Can't Buy Love

Great cartoon from Nina Paley illustrating what is wrong with copyright (and all so-called "intellectual property") today.