Tag: politics

Something Thoreau wrote on August 9, 1858

“The editors of newspapers, the popular clergy, politicians and orators of the day and office-holders, though they may be thought to be of very different politics and religion, are essentially one and homogeneous, inasmuch as they are only the various ingredients of the froth which ever floats on the surface of society.”

As true now as it was back then, only the ingredients are blander than ever.

MG signing off (to seek out exotic seasoning)

News I missed while I was intermittently visiting hell

Hell = golf course

    From betting on the game when the other team doesn’t show…

  • Bridgewater Associates say financial losses from the credit meltdown will hit $1.6 trillion. That means we’re just a few pitches into the second inning in this mess. (h/t Paul Kedrosky)
  • In 2008, autumn seems to be coming early (and looking a lot like 1987). I’ve mentioned this already.
  • Retailers won’t be able to hide rising prices in the revenue line forever – consumer spending is invariably linked to the housing market. (h/t Calculated Risk)
  • From pointing fingers is old hat, and old hats fit nicer than new ones…

  • European politicians are conflicted over how to deal with bloggers. Might I suggest they send a patsy to quiet them down?
  • Some social networks are having trouble monetizing their traffic. Forget the problem of short attention spans amongst teenagers – blame Google.
  • Global warming hysteria has a new friend, the plasma TVs everyone bought with their second mortgage loan.
  • And from technology is my oyster, now give it a sniff before you eat it…

  • How does a thriving technology company morph itself into General Motors? Become extremely bureaucratic about minutia. ADDED: Make sure that minutia is completely irrelevant too.
  • Voicemail is dead. I agree, not because of fabulous web services, but something much simpler – caller id and internal phone contact lists.
  • Email is in trouble too? I’ll agree with that as well, but not because of the newfangled services that exist today. Too few people are ever going to want their communication publicized, and too many are shifting platforms for Outlook to be a long term handicap. Someone is going to rise to the occasion for the mainstream user.

“I didn’t open my browser all weekend” Monday

Cycled and fished instead – not regretting it either

  • Sam Zell “bought a terrible business” – newspapers. I think Zell has it right when he says newspapers have to give customers what they want, not what some internal agenda prescribes. As a result, I admire the man, and hope he doesn’t wind up paying a terrible price.
  • Is Yahoo! manipulating bloggers? Doubtful – such action would create even more of a black purple eye. If anything, it’s more likely a renegade faction within. Then again, blog manipulation (i.e. shutting them down) seems to have found its way into the political process. Quelling discontent, or just one more way of saying blogs are really starting to matter?
  • Should Congress let home prices fall? You’ll get a resounding “yes” out of me – propping up asset classes, particularly right before elections, is a way for politicians to feign working for the better good. Unfortunately, situations generally wind up worse as a result, and history has a way of repeating itself. You’ve been hearing about government’s plans for saving the housing market going on a year now – nothing seems to be sticking, and maybe that is the best possible outcome.
  • And my prediction for the week…

  • Citadel Investment Group will soon make an offer to purchase the country of Iceland. Citadel bought multi-strategy fund Amaranth Advisors when it made bad bets on natural gas. It bought Sowood and portions of E*Trade after their sub-prime dice rolls. Now banking is melting down, and the volcanic island of Iceland is going with it. Why not?

UPDATE: Via Steven Pearlstein

Since last June, we’ve seen a fairly consistent pattern to the economic mood swings. Every three months or so, there’s a round of bad news about housing, followed by warnings of more bank write-offs and then a string of disappointing corporate earnings reports.

Let’s not forget the government announcements of salvation immediately thereafter. Me thinks Mr. Pearlstein is spot on, and you should read the whole thing.

AP Fight: Protecting Content Or Temporarily Quelling Discontent?

boycott-apThe Associated Press vs. The Blogosphere

There’s a battle brewing between the Associated Press and the Internet. The gist…the AP sent DMCA notices to one Drudge Retort, a community news website that was republishing one-liners from their news stories. The AP is apparently opposed to websites quoting their stories – they’d rather just have a link, despite the fact that using short excerpts of news stories is well within the bounds of presently defined “fair use.” The AP says this move is all about protecting content, and they are going to set up “new standards” for the use of their stuff.

But let’s face the fact – the AP has long been THE source of printed news in the US. Once strictly controlled via agreement and paper-based distribution, the traditional media is now losing it’s stranglehold on the mindset of America. News is now sliced and diced, consented to and criticized. The AP knows newsprint has one foot in the grave, and they are pushing their way to the web, syndicating content with traditional news outlets’ websites as well as with the Yahoos and Googles of the world.

Their thought process is likely as follows… if we allow websites to directly republish content, there is both control over the substance of said content as well as a potential revenue stream. Stories are posted and directly attributed to the author/source. And even if we lose those languishing newspapers, we’ve still got Yahoo! and Google, who have assured us that there is plenty of traffic to keep us busy. By controlling each and every word, we can ensure our partners that they have (exclusive or semi-exclusive) rights to those words. [Fair enough]. And if a blogger wants to link to those stories, great. That’s just a bit more traffic for our partners and ourselves.

On the other hand… having some person in their pajamas pick your writers’ work to pieces, calling them out on either their glaring errors or blatant bias doesn’t lend to the AP’s credibility. It is difficult for a blogger to make a point about a story without an excerpt – bloggers know too few people will click through a link and parse out the relevant passages to which they refer – without quotation, blogging becomes much less effective as an argumentative mechanism. Influential political and technology bloggers are already boycotting links to any and all AP stories, as well as links to anyone who links to AP stories. Frankly, it’s the political part I’d be worried about.

Curiously, this kerfuffle comes at a time when we have critical elections right around the corner, and more Americans than ever using the internet to validate prevailing opinion. The AP’s move seems unmanageable – they may be able to make a point by bullying a few low-tier bloggers, and they may also get a few larger players to cease and desist under the guise of protecting their fiefdoms. But over the long haul, it would be virtually impossible to police the entire internet for suspected “infringement” – the AP and its partners would have to create an entirely new budget line items solely for sending out DMCA notices (although I doubt the lawyers would care).

It makes me wonder if this move is a tactical ploy – attempting to scare the internet into submission. It’s a vain attempt, but those pissed off bloggers will boycott our content for a while, essentially playing right into our hands.

UPDATE: I’m giving the AP credit for potentially being extremely shrewd. Others are not.

UPDATE 2: It isn’t a first for these folks. Simon Owens gets into the details.

The Race For The White House Goes Through The Valley

Fake Steve Jobs pointed this out long ago.

Tis’ election season, and now spam season

Yep, with primaries over, we get to watch politicians kick into high gear. There will be mudslinging, dogfighting, barnbashing, and if this post from brainstorms is any indication, spambombing.

Ok, that “spambombing” thing is a new term. Even the master of spam terms, Ed Falk, doesn’t know that one. Why? Because I just made it up, dammit. The true definition is:

adj. – the flooding of email boxes with unsolicited mail, courtesy of politicians, between the second week of August and the first week of November, during election years.

It might also mean being the big loser of the world’s most expensive brand of popularity contest, and then selling your email list to a bunch of “email direct marketers.”

Politicos to preach online civility

A lot of folks are talking Web 2.0 bubble. Internet bubble rumors usually arise when a hoard of projects sprout up without well thought out business models, and get enormous amounts of venture capital which usually winds up in the founders’ pockets as compensation for their grand importance to “the space.” That frenzy has now hit the online political scene.

A web venture is being launched with the mission of facilitating rational political debate. Right. I am wondering how HotSoup.com is going to get those heavy-hitting bloggers to shut down their sites so HotSoup can get their traffic. That is where the supposed debate is going on right now, and it isn’t too pretty; getting it to migrate is going to be one hell of a task.

Of course, now that HuffingtonPost.com is rumored to be getting a load of funding, I’d say the bubble talk may be right on. For goodness sakes, even HuffPo had a hard time keeping heavyweights around.

I wish those VCs good luck.

Ready your inbox for some political mudslinging

Loopholes in CAN-SPAM, along with various legislative tweaks, make it easy for politicos to spam the daylights out of you this election season. Laws or no laws, they’d probably do it anyway. Since political advertisement in election seasons usually involves a whole lotta mudslinging, that is what you should expect. Techdirt thinks it will get downright ugly, and with shadow 527s, net anonymity, and general stupidity, don’t be shocked at what is coming your way.

Energy probe may yield few answers

Senator Charles Shumer (D-NY) is calling for a probe on purported gasoline price fixing.

“The bottom line is they are producing at 85 percent capacity when they should be producing over 90 percent. Are they scaling back production? Only by subpoenaing the companies and looking in their books will we get that answer.”

I wonder what anyone is going to get from a pile of corporate books and records, other than smoke and mirrors. Chances are, even if you get straight talk, it isn’t going to be of much help.

You want to find answers? Look here instead. If you are lazy, let me clue you in – all you are going to find is free markets at work. You want a 400 horsepower V-8 in that 7,000 pound vehicle that you drive 100 miles round trip to work each day, back and forth from your sprawling suburban home?

Well then. You are going to have to pay the price.

A review of Crashing The Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics

I picked up Crashing The Gate – Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics from the DailyKos website, albeit apprehensively. The Kos community has a “reputation,” and some would suspect that any printed material associated with the site would parallel what is said there. Nevertheless, I was curious to hear what Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga would say, knowing they wouldn’t have to deal with the instant (and often aggressive) feedback the “Kossacks” dispense. For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised.