Jim

Archive for the ‘Unfettered stupidity’ Category

Why Smartnews, why now?

In Freelance, Publishing, smartnews, The news biz, Unfettered stupidity on March 13, 2009 at 5:01 pm

AP’s feelin’ the hate.

And then we were talking about the high cost of the Associated Press and we were all upset. The Blade, for an example, which is a medium-sized paper, was paying $550,000 a year for the Associated Press. And the Associated Press was forcing us to buy new services that we didn’t need or didn’t use, becouse everything was in the package.

Medium-size paper drops half a mill a year on wire, folks. That’s a lotta moolah if you multiply it by the number of medium-size papers in the United States. Big, fat ocean of market out there.

… we wrote a letter to Tom Curley, who’s the chief executive for the Associated Press, and said that “You’re too expensive, your structure is wrong. The newspaper industry created you, you have an obligation to help us through this crisis now, and instead you continously raise our rates and charge us for pictures — if we call the AP and want a photograph of Ronald Reagan in Cleveland in the 1980s, they would charge us fees for that to get it out of their archive. And there were many other complaints we had.

Would you treat a cllient that way? This is why we’re doing Smartnews. Publishers need better options. Writers, photographers, artists need a better deal.

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Here’s my white paper for Barack

In Politics, Smartness, Unfettered stupidity on November 19, 2008 at 1:43 am

I wrote this in response to a friend’s rant about weak-kneed Democrats threatening to bring precious little actual change to Washington. This screed manifesto dissertation document has been, as you may well imagine, vetted by a panel of internationally recognized drunks lay-abouts experts.

Here’s a thought. Eliminate the Department of Homeland Security. We didn’t need it then, we don’t need it now.

Here’s another cost-saver: Combine NSA with CIA or State. Exactly how many spy agencies do we need working at cross-purposes, anyway? No more than three or four, I’d think ….

If all that feels too “soft on terrorism” (though I’d argue less bureaucracy squatting on our spy and police networks would be tougher on terrorists), throw the conservatives a bone and eliminate the Department of Education. What have federal bureaucrats done for our kids, lately? Make them take tests? Guess what — American kids were dumb as sacks full of hammers 20 years ago, they’re dumb as sacks full of hammers today. Not all of em; but the average hasn’t improved. Time to burn down the school and start over.

These things are drops in the bucket compared to a war without end or Social Security without a future or the stay-out-of-jail-free cards we keep giving to the kleptomaniacs of Wall Street, but they’d at least make me feel like someone was doing something.

Change, motherfucker!

So you can’t afford to buy your own home

In Biz, Politics, Unfettered stupidity on November 18, 2008 at 12:55 am

Turns out, it’s not that great of an investment, after all.

Suppose you had put $100,000 into the U.S. property market back in the first quarter of 1987. According to the Case-Shiller national home-price index, you would have nearly tripled your money by the first quarter of 2007, to $299,000. On the other hand, if you had put the same money into the S&P 500, and had continued to re-invest the dividend income in that index, you would have ended up with $772,000 to play with—more than double what you would have made on bricks and mortar.

The linked article’s really about the collapse of the whole system of finance. Every once in a rare while, I say something smart. The other day, I had one of those moments: “Money is entirely too important to leave in the hands of bankers.”

Some more tidbits from the linked article, if you don’t feel like plowing through the whole thing:

• The financial history of the past 800 years is a litany of debt defaults, banking crises, currency crises, and inflationary spikes. Moreover, financial crises seldom happen without inflicting pain on the wider economy.

• In 1980, bank indebtedness was equivalent to 21 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. In 2007 the figure was 116 percent.

• The motto “In God we trust” was added to the dollar bill in 1957. Since then its purchasing power, relative to the consumer price index, has declined by a staggering 87 percent.

• (Upon signing S&L deregulation) President Reagan declared, “All in all, I think we hit the jackpot.” … When the ensuing bubble burst, nearly 300 S&Ls collapsed, while another 747 were closed or reorganized …. The final cost of the crisis was $153 billion (around 3 percent of the 1989 G.D.P.), of which taxpayers had to pay $124 billion.

• One might assume that, after the catastrophic failure of L.T.C.M., quantitative hedge funds would have vanished from the financial scene, and derivatives such as options would be sold a good deal more circumspectly. Yet the very reverse happened. Far from declining, in the past 10 years hedge funds of every type have exploded in number and in the volume of assets they manage ….

• But what about the rest of us, the rank-and-file members of the deluded crowd? Well, we shall now have to question some of our most deeply rooted assumptions—not only about the benefits of paper money but also about the rationale of the property-owning democracy itself.

Thanks to Kristin Lenz of the Washington Post for posting the link on Facebook.

Bluffton Today’s gonna make you pay

In The news biz, Unfettered stupidity on November 7, 2008 at 6:56 pm

I’m very sorry to see my previous employer, Bluffton Today, will soon go from a freebie to a paid-subscription model. Many’s the time we told readers — looked ’em in the eye — that we had no plans to charge them for the paper. We meant it, and the owners, Morris Communications backed us up. 

No longer. 

Coverage on freedailies.com here

Read some of the local reaction here

BT was a helluvan experiment — an all-local daily paper delivered to every home and business in town for free. A “total market coverage product” with actual news. People loved it; they still do. I loved working there. Usually, when you work at a newspaper, you are loath to tell people what you do for a living; so many folks are happy to tell you how much you and your paper suck, right to your face. It gets old fast. In Bluffton, people would tell me instead how much they loved my paper and what a great job we were doing. That never gets old. 

The Web site was (and is) remarkable, too — a free-for-all public forum, basically, with a virtual version of the newspaper tacked on. Early on, we started printing some of the commentary; between that and the “Vox” phone commentary, BT really features a LOT of local (albeit anonymous) voices in the paper. It’s a democratizing influence a lot of newspapers could benefit from. The virtual edition of BT will go behind the subscription wall. 

But the advertising never really caught up with the cost of putting it out, I guess, even with a fair amount of bootstrapping (read: layoffs) over the past year or so. (The tanking economy can’t help. Thanks, Wall Street and White House!)

What’s wrong with this bailout picture?

In Politics, Unfettered stupidity on October 10, 2008 at 12:31 am

Sen. John McCain, the conservative. free-market-worshipping Republican, is proposing a government subsidy to homeowners who face foreclosure.

Democrats and liberal media, such as MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, are tearing his proposal a new one. 

Uh. What? 

Honestly, if we must bail people out, I’d love to end up with help on my mortgage, as opposed to only bailing out the rich scumfuckers who bet the firm — and national prosperity — on really bad paper. After all, I had at least some reason to believe my mortgage was a good bet, and the main reason it went sour has to do with others’ machinations. And I (ooh, so clever) didn’t sign up for one of these ridiculous ARMs with a huge balloon payment after a year or two — the little guy’s derivative. (Yeah, that’s a shitty analogy.) 

What’s surprising, even to me, is this through-the-looking-glass moment. 

Here’s what a whiplash-inducing move this is for McCain. Seven months ago, he said “It is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.”

That was right after Hillary Clinton had proposed a $30 billion bailout for homeowners. Now, McCain is talking about a $300 billion bailout.

Fake fireworks in China?

In Culture, Politics, Sports, The news biz, Unfettered stupidity on August 13, 2008 at 5:45 pm

So now it’s being reported that some of the exceptional Olympic opening ceremonies, which really were impressive, were faked. When I watch the Olympics, I realize some of the stuff I see isn’t going to be live — NBC, et al., show the popular stuff during prime time, regardless of when it really took place halfway ’round the world. I understand about the scheduling. 

But I don’t expect computer-generated fireworks. WTF, NBC? You don’t have your own cameras? You just blandly let the Chinese pop a tape in the machine? Those overhead shots really brought to us by the Politburo, not Goodyear, as advertised? It’ll be interesting to see how this happened; haven’t seen the reporting on that. 

Now, the little girl lip-synching, I can understand. The networks have no control over that. But it does seem like they’d have control over their video feeds. Makes you wonder about some of the other cool visuals. Were those thousands of tai chi practitioners really in sync that closely? Or did they use the same CGI software that movie directors use to create huge battle scenes? 

What’s next: CGI balloons at the Democratic convention, inserted by special agreement with the networks? Will we be able to see unretouched coverage on C-SPAN?

Update: Better reporting here from Bloomberg.

“You’re looking at a cinematic device employed by Zhang Yimou here. This is actually almost animation. A footstep a second, 29 in all, to signify the 29 Olympiads,” (Matt) Lauer said, according to a transcript ….

(Bob) Costas replied: “We said earlier that aspects of this opening ceremony are almost like cinema in real time. Well this is quite literally cinematic.”

I missed that part of the broadcast. Did Lauer and Costas admit that some of the broadcast was faked?

At least it wasn’t the patient who fell off the ‘copter

In Fayetteville, N.C., Unfettered stupidity on May 16, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Medical supplies are missing after they fell out of a Lifeflight helicopter, an official in Fayetteville, N.C., said Thursday. Police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating the supplies, which fell as a helicopter left Cape Fear Valley Hospital Saturday at about 3:20 p.m.

Higher car tax AND higher bus fare. Everybody wins!

In Fayetteville, N.C., Politics, Unfettered stupidity on April 8, 2008 at 6:15 am

City Council members voted Monday night to raise bus fares and vehicle taxes to fund extending bus routes and expanding the fleet.

So I get to pay a little more in taxes so that people who can no longer afford to ride the bus can not ride them on more routes. Rawk. 

Hey, anyone want a tax hike?

In Fayetteville, N.C., Politics, Unfettered stupidity on April 7, 2008 at 5:34 am

This should go over well with gas at $4 a gallon. 

Spitzer’s alleged hooker: the North Carolina connection

In Ashley Alexandra Dupré, client 9, N.C., Politics, spitzer, Unfettered stupidity on March 19, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Finally found out where Ashley Alexandra Dupré lived when she was in North Carolina: Manteo, which is on the Outer Banks. No surprise she was a beach hottie, I guess. Here’s what People Magazine has to say about Ashley Youmans’ (pre-name changes) N.C. time:

But once in high school, something changed. In her sophomore year, she abruptly left home to move in with her dad and his new wife, attending Manteo High School in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. “It was my decision,” Ashley wrote on her MySpace page. “And I’ve never looked back.”

“She was a normal cool girl,” says former boyfriend Wayne Hunter, who dated Ashley until 2003. “She wasn’t a saint, but I would put her better than a lot of girls that I’ve known. [The recent scandal] has surprised me because she wasn’t really like that.”

While Ashley was popular with the boys, she had trouble making female friends while there. “She was the hottest girl in town when she was here and all the other girls gave her hell,” says Hunter. “They were jealous. The girls wouldn’t hang out with her. It was ridiculous. The girls here were really mean to her.”

Apparently, it was while she resided in N.C. that Dupre (then Youmans) got her first taste of naughtiness for pay:

According to a press release, Dupre visited Miami in 2003 to celebrate her 18th birthday. After fighting with a friend and getting thrown out of her hotel, Dupre found a nearby “Girls Gone Wild” bus, the company said. She signed legal papers and spent a full week on the bus, filming seven full-length tapes which included nudity and same-sex encounters, according to the company.

“I personally ended up buying her a Greyhound bus ticket back home to North Carolina,” said Girls Gone Wild founder and known douche, Joe Francis. After the footage turned up in the GGW archives, Francis rescinded a $1 million offer to Dupre to pose for his new magazine.