So The Pirate Bay has executed the Web 2.0 business plan to perfection: give someone else’s stuff away for free – then find a bigger idiot to buy the company.
It’s actually not so different from the potted history of every media company that rises to popularity on the back of a new medium – take radio, for example – then sells out at the top of the market. Only in the case of Web 2.0, companies go from “pre-revenue” to “post-revenue” without any revenue in between. That’s where you need a bigger idiot.
So don’t shed too many tears for Pirate Bay. Pirate Bay failed badly at technology, being lazy and unimaginative, and it also failed at business, lacking the courage or smarts to partner with the media owners. Instead, it tried to turn itself into a political crusade. But this ersatz political “movement” depended entirely on the entertainment business not providing us with us a good choice of services – in other words, by not treating us as customers.
No wonder it can’t attract more than a handful of cranks and self-publicists. It was never going to last.
But now can we have the real P2P deal?
Top stealth-plane experts have re-created a radical, nearly forgotten Nazi aircraft: the Horten 2-29, a retro-futuristic fighter that arrived too late in World War II to make it into mass production.
Want to know why we have a zombieconomy? Because the beancounters killed the incentives to create real value.
Let’s use MJ’s tragic death as a mini case-study. $300 million over, for example, 25 years? That’s $12 million a year.
I’m deliberately leaving out ads, endorsements, concerts, etc., to focus on the the structural problems in one industry: music.
If the world’s biggest pop star only made $12 million a year from his recordings, why would anyone make serious music? Where did the rest of the money go? Why, straight into record labels’ pockets. Did they make better music with it? Nope — they made Britney and Lady GaGa. And that’s how they killed themselves: by underinvesting in quality, to rake in the take.
The world’s top hedge fund “managers” regularly pull in hundreds of millions. That’s an order of magnitude difference.
No wonder everyone wants to be a banker, investor, or [insert beancounter here]. There’s no money left in anything else.
That’s the big problem behind the zombieconomy. We don’t reward people for creating, growing, nurturing, or even remixing assets. We just reward them for allocating the same old assets.
Workers were a little red-faced after painters misspelled the word “school” on the ground in front of Goulds Elementary in Miami-Dade County, Fla. Even young students pointed out that “scohol” doesn’t make any sense.
I’m pretty sure something ending in “cohol” was involved, but it wasn’t scohol.
In the latest episode of the Canadian tech podcast Search Engine, Peter Van Loan, the new Public Safety minister, attempts to explain the Conservative government’s approach to privacy on the internet. It’s a remarkable piece of audio. It goes a little like this:
Search Engine: Here’s some audio of your predecessor promising, on behalf of your party and your government, never to ever allow the police to wiretap the Internet without a warrant.
Minister (as though he had been off on another planet): We never promised not to do that.
Search Engine: What about all the personal information that you guys are now proposing to give to the cops without a warrant?
Minister (tragically unclear on the subject): We’re not requiring ISPs to give out any personal information without a warrant, just your real name, your home address, your IP address, your home and cell number…
Search Engine: Huh. Well there’s this really critical, high profile court ruling that calls all that stuff private information?
Minister (pretending he didn’t hear): The courts have ruled that this isn’t private information. Canadians have no legitimate expectation of privacy when they use the Internet, not when it comes to your name, address, cell phone number, etc
Search Engine: Do the cops really need to get this information without a warrant?
Minister: Oh yes. There are MONSTROUS BABY-EATING CHILD PORNOGRAPHERS WHO ADVERTISE THAT THEY ARE ABOUT TO SEXUALLY ASSAULT A LIVE CHILD IN TEN MINUTES and we need to be able to run down their IPs without talking to a judge first.
Search Engine: But when a child is endangered, the law already allows you to get this information without a warrant, right?
Minister: Why are you still asking questions? Didn’t you hear me? BABY-EATING CHILD PORNOGRAPHERS! Surely that settles the matter.
The basic rules of the Ultimatum Game are simple. One person is given a stack of cash, and told to divide it between themselves and a second party. That second party is then given the chance to accept or reject the offer; if it’s rejected, neither of them get any money. Clearly, any of this free money should be better than nothing, so under assumptions of strictly rational behavior, you might expect all offers to be accepted.
They’re not. Things in the neighborhood of a 50/50 split are accepted, but as the proportions shift to where the person issuing the ultimatum tries to keep seventy percent of the total, rejections increase. By the time they hit an 80/20 split, nearly 70 percent of the offers are rejected, even though that 20 percent of the total cash would leave the recipient better off than where they started.
It’s still possible to interpret this behavior as being rational within a social context. A lot of human behavior, and that of other primates, seems to be focused on ensuring cooperative behavior within small groups. The rejection of offers within the Ultimatum Game can be viewed as a form of punishment for unfair behavior. In that light, the rejection may make sense to the degree that the immediate loss of money provides a long-term incentive for fair and cooperative behavior within a group. Rational economic behavior is restored.
The new paper pretty much blows that explanation out of the water by testing individuals using a couple of variations of the Ultimatum Game. In the first, which the authors term “the Impunity Game,” the person making the offer gets their share of the cash regardless of whether the offer is accepted or not. In this game, the only consequence is the potential for guilt caused by the knowledge that an offer was rejected. Rejection rates do drop, but they remain substantial—offers of an 80/20 split got rejected over 40 percent of the time (down from around 70 percent) despite the lack of real economic consequences.
To really nail things down, the authors conducted tests of a Private Impunity Game, in which the person who made the offer wasn’t even informed of whether it was rejected or not—they simply walked away with their share of the cash. Here, even the nebulous hope that the person making the offer would feel pangs of guilt from its rejection was removed. Rejection rates were essentially unchanged. People keep rejecting offers they perceived as unfair, even if, like the proverbial tree in the forest, no one will hear their rejection.
In another hint of the nature of this response, the authors describe how a similar study was performed in which the Impunity Game was explained to participants as a series of if/then statements: “if A chooses X and B chooses Y, then A receives $i and B receives $j.” Here, when subjects are forced to reason through the conditions to figure out that their rejections didn’t cause any sort of financial punishment on the ones making the offer, rates or rejection were about the same as they are in the Ultimatum Game. This suggests that people can’t even be bothered to perform a rational analysis when money is on the line, much less engage in rational actions.
By trying to help dolphins, groups like Greenpeace caused one of the worst marine ecological disasters of all time. Few other fisheries are as bad for groups like sharks and sea turtles as the purse seine fishery, and none are as large in scale.
General Electric, the world’s largest industrial company, has quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the government’s key rescue programs for banks.
GE was watching closely. Though GE Capital owned an FDIC-insured savings and loan and an industrial loan company, they accounted for only 3 percent of GE’s assets. Company officials concluded that GE couldn’t meet the program’s eligibility requirements.
So the company requested that the program “be broadened,” GE’s Wilkerson said. GE’s main argument was fairness: The FDIC was trying to encourage lending, and GE Capital was one of the country’s largest business lenders.
GE deployed a team of executives and outside attorneys, including Rodgin Cohen, a banking expert with the New York firm Sullivan & Cromwell.
“GE was among the parties that discussed this with the FDIC,” along with the Treasury and Fed, according to FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray. He said the details about eligibility “had not been specifically addressed” in the beginning.
Citigroup, the troubled banking giant, also was pressing for an expansion of the FDIC program. Though Citigroup was included in the debt guarantee program, its main finance arm, Citigroup Funding, appeared ineligible. Fed Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn wrote to the FDIC’s Bair on Oct. 21, arguing that debt issued by Citigroup Funding should be covered “as if it were issued directly by Citigroup, Inc.”
Two days later, the FDIC announced a new category of eligible applicants — “affiliates” of an FDIC-insured institution. Bair explained that “there may be circumstances where the program should be extended” to keep credit markets flowing. That meant “certain otherwise ineligible holding companies or affiliates that issue debt” could apply, she said.
GE Capital now was eligible.
If nothing else, it is becoming painfully obvious that the major players responsible for the economic debacle, the health insurance scam, the looming environmental disaster, and all the rest of the corporate agenda of the last 8 years have no intention of doing a damn thing different than they have been, and no apparent belief that anyone can make them.
In his homily, broadcast live on Italian television, the Pope told the faithful that the tomb had been “…subject to a scientific investigation. A small hole was drilled in the sarcophagus, unopened for centuries, and a probe was introduced. It found traces of a valuable purple fabric, in linen and gold layer-laminated, and a blue fabric with linen threads. Red incense grains and substances containing proteins and limestone were also discovered. Small fragments of bone were found and radiocarbon dated by experts who did not know their place of origin. Results indicate that they belong to someone who lived between the 1st and 2nd century A.D. This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition according to which these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul. All this fills our soul with deep emotion.”
What Pope Benedict XVI is actually saying is, “Hey! Check out these old bones that we think belong to St. Paul. We’ve scientifically shown that they could be enough to be St. Paul’s, so, of course, they must be his.”
First of all, the bones were dated to the first or second century CE, meaning any time between 1CE and 200 CE. Given that St. Paul is said to have been beheaded around 65CE, there is a greater chance than not that the person those bones belong to died after St. Paul. Secondly, unless St. Paul was the only person alive at the time, how can we be sure that the bones in the sarcophagus are definitely his?
Wishful thinking. That’s how!
Oh, and isn’t it funny how scientific evidence is soooo great when it helps, but when it doesn’t….
Over the weekend, appoximately 190,000 people made their way to Worthy Farm in western England to attend the 2009 Glastonbury Festival. Attendees came to see performances at what is billed as “Europe’s largest open-air music festival” on many stages over four days – headliners included Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and a reunited Blur. Rainy weather did little to dampen the mood, as attendees enjoyed themselves in tent cities, concert performances, dance tents, and the surrounding countryside of Somerset, England. Collected here are a handful of images from this year’s festival. (33 photos total)
An aerial view of the Glastonbury 2009 Festival, in Somerset, England, Thursday, June 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Anthony Devlin/PA) #
A festival-goer is covered in mud after wrestling with his friend at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival on Friday June 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Anthony Devlin/PA) #
Washington is to dramatically overhaul its Afghan anti-drug strategy, phasing out opium poppy eradication, the U.S. envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan told allies on Saturday.
Richard Holbrooke, attending a G8 conference on stabilizing Afghanistan, also discussed efforts to support its August 20 election. Washington has nearly doubled its troops to combat a growing Taliban insurgency and provide security for the vote.
“The Western policies against the opium crop, the poppy crop, have been a failure. They did not result in any damage to the Taliban, but they put farmers out of work,” Holbrooke told Reuters after a series of bilateral meetings in Italy.
But don’t you dare grow a few marijuana plants at home in the US!
Sold:750 million albums
Earned:$700 million (estimated)
Think back to the last Michael Jackson album you bought. What was the price, approximately?
Fuck you, Sony.
While their friends jet off to Spain or the Greek islands, the siblings will be hunting for imaginary unicorns in Somerset, while learning about moral philosophy. The Jagos, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, are among 24 children who will be taking part in Britain’s first summer camp for atheists.
The five-day retreat is being subsidised by Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist and author of The God Delusion, and is intended to provide an alternative to faith-based summer camps normally run by the Scouts and Christian groups.
Crispian Jago, an IT consultant, is hoping the experience will enrich his two children.
“I’m very keen on not indoctrinating them with religion or creeds,” he said this weekend. “I would rather equip them with the tools to learn how to think, not what to think.”
While afternoons at the camp will involve familiar activities such as canoeing and swimming, the youngsters’ mornings will be spent debunking supernatural phenomena such as the formation of crop circles and telepathy. Even Uri Geller’s apparent ability to bend spoons with his mind will come under scrutiny.
The emphasis on critical thinking is epitomised by a test called the Invisible Unicorn Challenge. Children will be told by camp leaders that the area around their tents is inhabited by two unicorns. The activities of these creatures, of which there will be no physical evidence, will be regularly discussed by organisers, yet the children will be asked to prove that the unicorns do not exist. Anyone who manages to prove this will win a £10 note – which features an image of Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory – signed by Dawkins, a former professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University.
“The unicorns are not necessarily a metaphor for God, they are to show kids that you can’t prove a negative,” said Saman-tha Stein, who is leading next month’s camp at the Mill on the Brue outdoor activity centre close to Bruton, Somerset.
State Department officials monitoring events in Iran from Dubai have relayed back to Washington that Mousavi’s Web site “Kalemah,” his last link to the outside world, is completely shut down.
They also noted reports on Iranian Web sites alleging that jailed Mousavi supporters have been tortured in an attempt to force them into TV “confessions” of a foreign-led plot against the Islamic regime.
Wait a second… that’s a Fox News website – so let me rewrite that into their usual language:
State Department officials monitoring events in Iran from Dubai have relayed back to Washington that Mousavi’s Web site “Kalemah,” his last link to the outside world, is completely shut down.
They also noted reports on Iranian Web sites alleging that jailed Mousavi supporters have been coerced in an attempt to force them into TV “confessions” of a foreign-led plot against the Islamic regime.
Bill Gates recently bought the rights to a series of lectures by legendary Caltech physicist Richard Feynman. The former Microsoft head’s purchase shows that the cultural and scientific legacy of Feynman remains strong even 21 years after his death.
The lectures, given in 1964 as part of Cornell University’s Messenger Lecture Series, were filmed by the BBC, who had retained the rights since. Gates purchased the lectures for an undisclosed amount.
But what would the former Microsoft head want with the copyright to lectures by the revered physicist? In a recent interview with the CERN Bulletin, Gates said that his only plan is to make the footage freely available to the public.
In June 2008, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh Jr. agreed to give London-based Diageo Plc billions of dollars in tax incentives to move its production of Captain Morgan rum from one U.S. island — Puerto Rico — to another, namely St. Croix.
DeJongh says he had no idea his deal would help make the world’s largest liquor distiller the most unlikely beneficiary of the emergency Troubled Asset Relief Program approved by Congress just four months later.
Today, as two 56-foot-high (17-meter-high) tanks for holding fermenting molasses will soon rise from the ground on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, the extent to which dozens of nonbank companies benefited from last October’s emergency financial rescue plan is just beginning to come to light.
The hurried legislation adopted by a Congress voting under the threat of sudden global economic collapse led to hidden tax breaks for firms in dozens of industries. They included builders of Nascar auto-racing tracks, restaurant chains such as Burger King Holdings Inc., movie and television producers — and London’s Diageo.
“It’s kind of like the magician’s sleight of hand,” says former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman William Thomas, a California Republican who ran the committee from 2001 to 2007 and oversaw all tax legislation. “They snuck these things in a bill that was focused on other things.”
Google has confirmed that the surge of Michael Jackson-related searches on Google News Thursday was first interpreted as an attack on its service.
Amid its traditional mixture of glossy celebrity and gritty reportage, the magazine Paris Match published this week a searing double-page spread on student poverty in France.
The excellent black and white photographs of students prostituting themselves or looking for food in dustbins won the magazine’s annual prize for student photojournalism. Student poverty certainly exists in France but the photos were entirely faked.
Before they received their trophy and €5,000 (£4,260) cheque at a ceremony on Wednesday, the prize-winners, Guillaume Chauvin and Rémi Hubert, read out a statement admitting to the hoax, stating that they had wanted to make a “powerful artistic gesture” attacking the “voyeurism” and gullibility of parts of the press.
The prize jury looked crestfallen but managed to applaud all the same. The two students, from the Strasbourg School of Decorative Arts, were handed their €5,000 cheque, which was later blocked by Paris Match.
You can see the pictures here.
Patent number 5255452, filed in 1992, shows how Michael Jackson and his dancers could lean at 45-degree angles during live performances of the song “Smooth Criminal”.
You can see them perform the move in the below video; watch the guy on the right, as he has trouble disengaging his loafers after the move.
Earlier this week, NASA released an amazing photograph of an eruption of Sarychev Peak Volcano, taken by astronauts aboard the orbiting International Space Station (ISS). Seeing that great photo prompted me to dig into the archives and see what other imagery I could find from recent NASA archives. Collected here are a handful of photographs of Sarychev Peak Volcano, and more, taken by astronauts aboard the ISS over the past few months. (35 photos total)
High above the Indian Ocean, astronauts captured these four images (animated here) of the Aurora Australis and surrounding airglow in the Earth’s atmosphere as the ISS orbits quickly past. (NASA/JSC) #
Just when you thought that iPhone users had exhausted all things they could get angry about AT&T
The source of the recent flurry of AT&T tweets is Adam Savage of MythBusters fame, who tweets that for “a few hours of web surfing in Canada” he was charged a whopping $11,000. AT&T is apparently claiming that Savage managed to download 9 gigabytes in Canada using his USB data connection (which he calls “frakking impossible“). What’s worse, the customer service rep Savage was dealing with was apparently a bit loose with their decimal points, telling Savage that “data is charged at .015 cents, or a penny and a half, per kb”. Read that again — there’s a couple orders of magnitude difference there.
Now Twitter is in revolt. With over 50,000 followers Savage has a pretty loud voice, and his outraged tweets certainly resonate with a broad audience. In the end, he’ll probably get a pass from AT&T — nobody wants to mess with a man who blows things up for a living. But it’s clear that AT&T needs to work on letting its customers know when they’re spending exorbitant amounts of money on data charges.
And indeed, they waived the charges:
AT&T guy on the phone with me:” apparently you’ve got enough Twitter followers to get our attention.” me: “50,000″. Him: “wow”.
And Adam knows that the average joe is still fucked:
I agree with everyone: it shouldn’t just work for me. The data carriers MUST stop thinking in kilobytes and start thinking in customers.
In the last six months, we’ve seen uploads from mobile phones to YouTube jump 1700%; just since last Friday, when the iPhone 3GS came out, uploads increased by 400% a day.
I must admit, the 3GS shoots some nice low-end video, good enough for youtube, but I hadn’t expected this…