Saturday, April 21, 2007

Success is unattainable, let's just smoke pot.

I've long suspected the most popular music is less about talent than it is about collective whim.

Now there's a study to prove it.

Seems likely this extends to other areas as well.


(nod to EconLog, Overcoming Bias, the Sunday New York Times, and everyone else who knew this before me)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Your Internet Radio Just Got Worse

Tim Westergren of Pandora fame has been trying to get anyone to notice the recent Copyright Royalty Board rate hike for streamed music.

(Full disclosure: I am currently a DJ on KJHK.)

UPDATE: some of my previous comments in this post were lies. This place has facts!

Monday, April 16, 2007


I want to pass along recommendations for two upcoming PBS series:

America at a Crossroads: broad program about America's challenges and role in the world
Buying the War: the role of the press in the lead up to the war in Iraq

Seems to go along with a lot of what we talk about.

(Nod to Michael Wizniak, of the KC Bohemians [facebook link]).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Post of Plenty

I had three completely unrelated ideas I wanted to post on this morning, so rather than flood the blog with posts, I decided to post once with a brief comment on each. First, I want to weigh in on the Imus controversy. Primarily I wanted to show the group Meet the Press from April 15 (direct link to transcript was unavailable at time of post). Gwen Ifill and David Brooks, two people I respect immensely as journalists (even though Ifill's delivery is typically more fit for print), act like they don't even want to speak to each other at the end of the discussion.

Next, page 2 of the Kansas City Star, noted that there is a growing group of academics who wish to rebuild the internet. The basic challenge facing this project is "balancing the interests of various constituencies" namely, the public, the providers and business. The main programs:

Stanford program

Carnegie Mellon program

Rutgers program

National Science Foundation's GENI program

Finally, the Kansas City Star also speculated upon the possible demise of No Child Left Behind, the education legislation mandating increased testing of students. Apparently much of the Republican support for the bill in 2001 has melted away. Sam Brownback and Roy Blunt have stated support for a clause allowing states to opt of federally mandating testing. Unfortunately, the demise is not a certainty because Ted Kennedy is among other high ranking Democrats in stating his opposition that repealing the initiative would "turn back the clock on reform". My family's problem with the law has always been consistent: there is no accountability for the primary entities, the students. Students are neither rewarded nor penalized for their scores. The schools and districts are the only entities being held accountable.

Up for debate, a fix for the NCLB initiative I have devised (though I will not claim that it has not been produced before, only that the thought came to me this morning over waffles through no prior research on the concept). Give tax credits to families whose students perform at 'proficient' or 'exemplary'. This avoids direct bribing of students but advances the idea that students that come from high achieving and involved families should be rewarded. There can be a strict state standard, or a sliding scale based off of income. The primary point is that families are not rewarded solely for producing children (current child tax credit), but are rewarded for having children who achieve at high levels (have a greater propensity to produce towards the greater good).


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Search for DVD RAM and other Arthurian tales of conquest!

Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I still find shopping at a store convenient. Check that. I found shopping at stores convenient. Due to my own ignorance it took me about a week to purchase a medium called 'DVD RAM'. My trips to OfficeMax and back, and Best Buy and back were met with the increasing frustration of not being able to find this apparent grail of data storage.

What is the benefit of having a big box store like a Best Buy or OfficeMax? Initially, I thought the stores would have the lowest prices based off of their ability to squeeze wholesalers via the 'Wal-Mart effect'. No, webfronts are cheaper. Well, certainly, the customer service would be better. No and no. I had to flag down a woman in OfficeMax after she looked at me twice and passed me by. Best Buy consisted of three separate clerks passing me as I was the only person waiting in line at... Customer Service. Flexibility with inventory? Also a no. The DVD RAM that were waiting to be purchased at the Lee's Summit and Independence Mall locations were not able to be moved to any of the Kansas locations. So they remained unpurchased by me. What if I had wanted a $10,000 plasma television? Would I had encountered the same problems? Wouldn't that be considered a flaw in the business plan?

With increased internet security for credit use, shopping on the web will become even more prominent than it already is, and will relegate the retail industry into two types: apparel and customer service. People's time has become more valuable than ever and the idea of driving 25 miles to pick up data storage that should be accessible within a mile will become heretical in the very near future.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Easter Bunny looked like a pothead

At first, the thought of visiting the Easter Bunny with my 372 day old seemed like an excellent idea. The collection of parents and children did nothing to dispel that thought (both were well behaved). But as I stood alone (my wife was walking our daughter around because she tends to be impatient) in line somewhere around the 35th minute I began to ask myself 'Why exactly am I here?' It wasn't just the commercialization of THE Christian holiday that annoyed me, it was the irony of the fact that I was attending this function to be with my family, and was standing in line alone. I was going to gain absolutely no value from these overpriced photo sets as we have more photos of my dear daughter than we could possibly use.

So why was I there? Are the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus necessary benchmarks in measuring normalcy? Do fables like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus still have value in the raising of children? Should I be asking any of the readers of this blog?

These are the questions...