laurence turner

the random musings of a fool

The New Feudalism

Elizabeth Warren: America Without a Middle Class, huffingtonpost.com.

Serf ‘s up…

Filed under: economics + finance, politics

earworms

the songs stuck in our heads, baltimoresun.com / Not Funny: Reporter detained in Iran for ties to the Daily Show, harpers.org / Harry Reid, and What Happened to the Public Option, talkingpointsmemo.com / Before I Vote, Let Me Check My Portfolio, harpers.org / Microsoft Offers To Pay News Publishers To Pull Content From Google, paidcontent.org / Demons and beefcake – the other side of Francis Bacon, guardian.co.uk / the internet as playground and factory, digitallabor.org / ABA President’s Curious Means of “Advancing Rule of Law”, harpers.org / Homeless on the Home Front, nybooks.com

Filed under: economics + finance, music, news, politics, science, stupidity, tech

déjà vu all over again

“Our private, for-profit health insurance system, designed to fatten the profits of private health insurers and Big Pharma, is about to be turned over to … our private, for-profit health care system. Except that now private health insurers and Big Pharma will be getting some 30 million additional customers, paid for by the rest of us.” – Robert Reich via talkingpointsmemo.com

Whoa! Little bait-and-switch from El Congresso?! That’s Gnarly, dude! Gnarly! Congress rocks, dude… Congress totally rocks!

Filed under: economics + finance, politics

the shifting landscape

I just finished reading The Price of Free, by Nicholas Carr, published in this week’s New York Times Magazine. The article discusses the end of the era of the electronic hearth; video content is now being disassociated from major networks, affecting the studios and networks much in the same fashion as newspapers have seen in recent times, and our home lives are no longer centered around the TV set as we view more and more content online or on personal electronic devices.

Like Carr, I got fed up with high bills for content I do not consume. My combined cable, internet and phone package from Verizon recently doubled in price to $216 per month ($2592/year!), and I thought to myself, why am I submitting to this closed system that I barely use? I cancelled my service, bought an HDTV converter and antenna for $89 at Radio Shack so we get local channels, signed up for NetFlix ($15/month), and got Clear’s 4G wireless broadband service ($55/month for two wireless accounts, one for home and one for the road). My costs are now $828/year. That’s some major savings. Do I miss out on some stuff? Sure, but not enough to cry about – or to go back to the Verizon setup.

It’s not like the studios and networks didn’t see this coming. People have been calling for a la carte programming for ages. Now that bandwidth and speed have increased dramatically, people are choosing to view content via cheaper means. Is that surprising? Carr worries that quality may suffer if the studios don’t get enough money to produce programming. I doubt this. Production costs have dropped dramatically in the digital age. What may in fact happen is that the money will go to many smaller outfits producing only one show rather than 50. It’s a more artisinal approach to making content, and I think consumers will adjust to it readily – and pay for it, only in smaller, more easily digestible chunks.

This shift is not over. What comes after major studios, big networks, major record labels and newspapers nobody knows. As long as it means I can block out Kate Couric and Dancing with the Stars and watch things that truly interest me, I’ll be happy. Now, if I could only switch carriers on my iPhone…

Filed under: economics + finance, media, tech

He’s picked up his marbles…

and he’s going to play elsewhereHmmph!

Cory Doctorow over at boingboing on Rupery Murdoch’s avowal to remove all his News Corp. sites from the view of Google, and other such hoary threats.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to a Sky News interview with Murdoch by some sycophantic douchebag who works for him (just listen to that introduction!). Oddly enough, the interview can be found on YouTube, which is owned by Google, the company he supposedly hates.

Why all the bluster? For those of you inclined to think that Murdoch wants to save newspapers, think again. I’d guess Rupert has looked into his crystal ball (spreadsheet) and seen that his empire will decline over time unless he does something radical to save it or repurpose it. Of course, if he’d really played his cards right in the internet space in the first place, we wouldn’t have to be subjected to his rants. Murdoch may still be “the world’s most powerful media owner”, but Google owns the field his team is playing on.

Filed under: economics + finance, news

it’s a strange house we live in…

Welcome to Wall Street, guardian.co.uk / Done Deal, talkingpointsmemo.com / Colin Meloy via Twitter”: Last I checked, abortion was legal. Why can’t a public insurance plan fund a legal procedure? Baffling.”

Filed under: economics + finance, news, politics

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