Thursday, June 29, 2006

Swedish Piracy Insurance!

Boing Boing: P2P insurer will pay your fines if RIAA sues: $19/year!

Not that anyone I know would ever pirate music, I still thought it would be interesting to discuss this Boing Boing post. It links to a Swedish language website, which claims to offer "insurance" against any and all RIAA levied fines and court costs for P2P file sharing for the bargain price of 19 bucks a year. You even get a t-shirt if the RIAA sues you (hopefully a t-shirt in Swedish).

Sweet deal for all involved right? If all of the 7-10 million people on the p2p networks at a given moment ante up, that's beaucoup bucks for the entrepreneurial Swedes. Plus, the RIAA simply can't sue everyone who pirates music. Stretching their legal department to it's limits they are only managing a couple thousand suits a year. Paying 19 bucks to some Swedish people beats paying the record industry 3-5000 dollars right?

For the sake of this post, I am going to assume that it is possible to insure people for fines and lawsuits caused by their illegal activities (not entirely sure about that) and that the Swedes in question are noble Swedes, forthright and true, and not a bunch of clever Swedish teenagers out to scam a bunch of stupid American teenagers out of 20 bucks (which is almost unquestionably the case). Let's assume these people really want to set this up as a business model and fully intend to stand behind each duly filed insurance claim for everyone sued by the RIAA who anted up.

I love this idea because it is an interesting way to illustrate the pervasiveness of file sharing and the problems with trying to regulate or stop it from occurring. Insurance only works if you have an enormous number of people paying in and
a relatively low risk of the insured circumstances occurring. If one in every 5 houses burnt down every year, Fire Insurance would not work. Isn't it amazing to realize that p2p piracy, an "illegal" "criminal" act, fits perfectly into the parameters of insurability? Millions upon millions of people do it, and at most only a few thousand of them (far less than 1%) are going to get dinged by the RIAA in a given year.

I do not claim to have all the answers w/r/t the piracy issue, I don't think there should be unchecked piracy of any and all media (I would however, support a MASSIVELY reduced copyright term and a healthy, growing, public domain). If enough people engage in an activity that it makes sense for said people to buy insurance against lawsuits, maybe lawsuits aren't the best way to go about curtailing said activity.

Personally I think nothing is going to change over the next 5-10 years, people will use p2p and torrent networks with increasing regularity, sharing music, films and all other media. The RIAA/MPAA will continue to sue their own customers in what amounts to a futile gesture (and a lucrative little side business: spend 400 dollars in legal fees, collect 5K in fines, gotta love those margins) and sue the pants off of any company stupid enough to try and make money from P2P software under the "inducement" theory of liability codified in the Grokster decision handed down last year. They will also continue to lobby Congress and use their pet senators to try and pass ridiculous, unenforceable, occasionally unconstitutional statutes that make it a felony for anyone to possess or view any media without paying a large corporation for the privilege. One or two of these laws will probably pass, and one or two extremely unlucky people will be sent to jail under them. Token convictions, but try telling them that.

Eventually, those in charge of media companies will accept the realities of the world in which they operate, and try and treat P2P, YouTube and the rest as necessary evils, and maybe some of them will be clever enough to use them to their advantage. I think there's plenty of money to go around for these companies without perverting IP law and trying to turn the internet into a crippled television with a keyboard attached to it. In the meantime though, there's always Swedish Piracy Insurance. If anyone buys in, please let us know in the comments.


Madonna Sucks At Guitar

From Kelefa Sanneh's review of last night's Madonna concert in the New York Times:

The most indigestible moments are still the ones in which Madonna is burdened with something more inhibiting than a saddle: a guitar. Madonna with a guitar is generally the concert equivalent of cholesterol: it clogs the aisles with otherwise faithful fans who suddenly remember they have to buy
a T-shirt, or use the rest room, or track down one of those beer mugs with the pretzel rod in the handle.

Daaaaag, yo. You gotta be quite the shitty guitarist to be compared to CHOLESTEROL. Even I haven't been compared to cholesterol. (I was compared to The Diabetes.)

I now present, for your amusement, pictures of Madonna trying to play guitar and look badass at the same time, and, in the process, achieving neither.

Keith Moon and Steve Martin

I've only seen a few clips of this before, from the amazing Who documentary The Kids Are Alright. This is the first time I've seen the whole thing. The quality's not great, but you get the point.

From the 1977 TV special Ten Years of Rolling Stone. The ending definitely takes Steve Martin by surprise.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

All Hail Ken Jennings...

...both smarter and funnier than you.

Based on recommendations from a few blogs (Kottke, Waxy), I checked out Jeopardy Mega-Winner Ken Jenning's website. And, like Waxy says, he's funny! I suggest starting with the FAQ and working your way out from there. And get a job, hippie.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Reason #7,342 to Love The Internet

A blog dedicated to cats that look like Hitler

A little sauna after the slopes

Note: I've removed the embedded player as it seems to start automatically, even with Brian changing some of the settings. The clip Brian mentions is here. - JH

I've been fortunate to go to Finland the origin of the sauna. Please note that when you go to a sauna with a Finn, you are expected to be there sans clothing and no towel.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Stevie Nicks Tortures American Troops

From Contact Music:

Singer STEVE NICKS is doing her part to support US troops by donating hundreds of iPods to soldiers wounded in Iraq. The former FLEETWOOD MAC star regularly visits soldiers at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. She explains, "I refuse to be pulled into the politics of war. But once these soldiers sign up, go to war and come back to a hospital, I will do whatever it takes to make them better." Nicks has provided iPods loaded with her music, along with fellow artists AEROSMITH and ELVIS PRESLEY.
Let me ask you this: if you were a wounded soldier, would hearing Stevie Nicks' voice make you feel better? Or make you long for the swift hand of death?


Close but no guitar!

US Air Guitar finalist goes on to Finland for the World Championship!

The competition proved stiff as last year's US Champion didn't even make this year's finals. In the finals, the competitors played to Metallica's "Enter Sandman," a song that didn't prove to be as easy as it seemed. In the end, it those with insane stage antics proved to score higher with the judges as Hot Lixx Hulahan (aka Craig Billmeier) from San Francisco win the competition by climbing onto the balcony and performed on the balcony's railing. The results were contested by the judges, who thought that William Ocean (aka Andrew Litz) from New York should have also won or at least been awarded an "air off". In the end though, Hot Lixx was given the crown of the 2006 US Air Guitar Champion.

Welcome him to the Jungle!


David Lee Roth on the Tonight Show

I don't know what to say about this. The bluegrass version of "Jump" isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and David Lee Roth's voice actually sounds pretty good. But there's something about his performance that's making me cringe. Is it his smile?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Family Guy Take on Me

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sweatin' To The Showtunes

So although you probably would never guess it by looking at me, I am, indeed, a regular visitor to the gym. I am the one with the bad hair (because I'm usually there at 6 AM), the sweaty t-shirt, and a lame-ass fanny pack that holds my ghetto old-school, 7 pound iPod. But I don't care because I'm working out and listening to my music.

Normally, I listen to Coverville, the best podcast in the world, but since Coverville's episode production has slowed down considerably over the past month, I needed something else to keep me goin'. So I downloaded Foxy's CardioShowtune mix.

Now, despite my theatre/musical theatre background and the fact that Mike would term me as "a little bit pretty gay," I am not a real showtune fan. I enjoy them when I hear them live, but in most instances, the joy doesn't carry back to my stereo. (Exceptions: The Who's Tommy (duh) and Avenue Q). So I was skeptical in downloading Foxy's mix, but also desperate for music to keep me going through my workout.

I listened to CardioShowtune last night and can tell you two things:

1) This mix is awesome.
2) This mix is the gayest thing I have ever listened to.

It started out rather innocently, with me groovin' to "Aquarius," "One Night in Bangkok" and even some rockin' Who songs (Foxy even used the original Who versions for two of 'em). Then, I was shocked and disturbed to find out that I knew most of the words to "Cool Rider" from Grease 2 (for which I blame Michele). I was tearing up during "Meadowlark," and by the time I got to "Don't Rain On My Parade" (which I know quite well from my work on Claymont), I was checking out other guys' asses. This mix is not for the weak.

Do yourself a favor and download CardioShowtune. And what the hell, grab CardioCowbell while you're at it. And get down with your bad, gay self. Give thanks to Foxy, who is one of the few music geeks I know who can put together a truly effective mix in this post-cassette era.

Looks Like The Who Are Doing It Right

The Who are about to embark on a year-long tour, taking them to Europe, the US and beyond. As a crazy, nutty Who fan, it seems hard to believe that 12 years ago, it seemed unlikely that Pete and Roger would ever even speak to each other again.

Since 1994:

  • The Who performed Quadrophenia in its entirety
  • Pete Townshend picked up an electric guitar again
  • Pete Townshend looked like he was actually enjoying himself
  • The Who went back down to a 5-piece (they're at 6 now, with Simon)
  • John Entwistle died on the eve of their 2002 tour
  • They pulled out songs we never thought we'd hear live again, like "Relay" and "Another Tricky Day"
  • They released all of their live shows on CD
  • They recorded, released and performed two new songs

Here's what we have to look forward to this year:

And, announced today, The Who Encore Series 2006: not only CDs of every show, but full DVDs of every show, with both stereo and surround mixes, and 4-camera setup.

Holy crap.

And did I mention that all profits from the webcasts and Encore Series go to charity?

Color me happy. And poor.

Now all they have to do is bring Keith and John back from the dead.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Living in 100 Feet

Photographer Michael Wolf has embarked on an interesting project: he's taken 100 photos from inside Hong Kong's oldest public housing estate: 100 rooms, each 100 feet in size.

The project is fascinating to view - specifically, the way various people choose to fill their rooms, and the notion that anybody could even live like this - until you remember that people are paying upwards of $1200 a month for the same amount of space in the West Village.

The wonders of FEMA

I coincidentally read these two articles back to back today.

Lives Suspended on Gulf Coast, Crammed Into 240 Square Feet (NY Times)

Fema Hurricane Cards Bought Jewelry, Erotica (CNN)


Bazooka Joe Revamped

Found this one via Waxy...apparently Bazooka Joe is now a hip, cool dude, and I never got the memo.

The New Yorker: The New Bazooka Joe

Meow Mix: A Reality Show About Kitty Cats posts about somehting we drove past last night, the NEW Meow Mix Store.


Awesome! The Meow Mix House webcams are up. Why webcams? Why a house? Meow Mix is running its special cat reailty show where cats compete for a job with Meow Mix. Seriously. Cats from shelters across the country were selected to be put into a "house" at 425 Madison Avenue (Meow Mix's director of advertising and marketing, Ira Cohen, did tell the AP, "This thing is very tongue-in-cheek."). Each week, people can vote for the cats they want to stay in the house, and the winner will be named the "Feline Vice President of Research." But cats who are voted out will get placed in a home, plus a year of Meow Mix, as a prize, so not all is lost. In fact, one of the goals of the Meow Mix House stunt is to remind people about adoption season and how older cats need homes.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More Great Headlines

For some reason, I feel like this is more Ace's department, but I loved this headline from CNN:

Protesting Daryl Hannah Removed From Tree

I don't know, it almost sounds like some kind of surgical procedure was involved.

The Patented Smooth Criminal Effect

Do you remember the "Smooth Criminal" video?

Of course you do. It rocked your balls off, and when you think of it today, you still think of that dance move in the saloon. And you always remember that part where MJ and cohorts stood still, yet defied gravity by leaning all the way forward:

Obviously this effect was achieved by using all sorts of nifty harnesses and cables for the video shoot. But when Michael performed the song live, cables wouldn't do. So a patent was actually issued for an invention that allowed Michael to pull off the trick in concert.

All the details.
Other tricks of Michael's stage show can be found here (click on "The Professor"). I gotta tell ya - MJ's a weird guy, but if he toured again, I'd be there in a heartbeat. With earplugs.

Borat! The Movie! The Trailer!

I need to see this movie, like, yesterday.

Monday, June 12, 2006


From last night's Tommy Emmanuel show at BB King's. I always try to not smile like an idiot when meeting someone like Tommy. But in my defense, right before the picture was taken, he said to me, "okay, now try to look intelligent."

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Len (always) looks much cooler:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As always, a tremendous show by Tommy. Looking forward to seeing him again tonight.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Taste of the New York Subway

via Kottke, I submit this for your interest: Taste of the New York Subway System is "a directory of New York City restaurants organized by subway stop. This directory shows all restaurants within 200 meters of a subway station, ordered by distance and linked to Yahoo! local search."

Pretty darn cool!

Kitten Attacks Laptop, Film At Eleven

This is just an adorable video.

Occasionally, Sabrina will sit on my lap and follow the mouse as I move it around. It's a fun game for both of us, but no way would I let her step on the keyboard.

However, when I do eventually get a laptop with a remote control like this one, I'll be tempted.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Muppets: Imitating Avenue Q?

News from Muppet Central reports (I love saying that phrase) that the Jim Henson Company is currently developing a new adult comedy, late-night talk show entitled "Late Night Buffet." According to the site, the show will "star puppets and celebrity guests and will be recorded in front of a live studio audience at Henson Studios."

I may be misinterpreting the use of the word "adult" here. They may just mean "not for kids." But y'know, I have a dirty mind. I immediately think of puppet sex.

The Muppets are, of course, no stranger to more adult humor. Despite me loving it as a kid, I don't necessarily think The Muppet Show was meant for my age range. The pilot (which can be found on the Season 1 box set*) was entitled Sex and Violence. Unfortunately, I didn't find it to be very funny at all. Add to that the fact that just about all Muppet product since 1990 has been pretty sub-par...well, I'm not getting any hopes up.

If you're in California, you can go see a live taping.

*Emily: I finally made it through the entire season, and I can see why Mummenschanz freaked you out. (shudder.)

Barenaked Ladies Are Me: 9.12.06

Barenaked Ladies Are Me is the title of the new album by one of my all-time favoritest bands, and it comes out on September 12.

And they're doing some really cool things with its release. There will be multiple ways to purchase the music, and right now, they're offering multitrack downloads of the first single, "Easy." Some of them are free. They encourage fans to submit their own mixes, the best ones of which will be released for charity.

Now THAT'S cool. And interesting. Because there's no offering of the complete song for download. If you want to hear it all together, you gotta be creative. Dick move, or creating a special treat for their tech-savvy fans? You make the call. The way I see it, they didn't have to release anything at all, and the four main tracks essential for a complete song are free off of MySpace. Maybe I'll play with this over the weekend.

In any case, check out Steven Page's blog post on for all the details.

BTW, I just said the title of the new album out loud. Cute. :)

spoofed, random numbers e-mail?

The other day, Jessica, on her Gmail account, received a message purportedly from herself, and to herself. The subject line was "586876" and the content was "5556." There didn't seem to be any attachment or hidden text.

This morning, I got a similar message - to me, from me - but on my work e-mail account. The only difference was my subject line numbers of "455."

I've found a few blog posts from people getting the same thing, a thread on the Google Groups Gmail discussion board (although most of them seem to think it's solely a Gmail problem, which it clearly isn't), and a post from the Internet Storm Center. (The Internet has a Storm Center?)

Anyway, I'm putting this post out there in case more people start searching blogs, as I did, to see if it's a more widespread problem. If you get a message like this, or come up with any additional information, please post in the comments. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Radio Has The Apocalypse Covered

According to Manhattan Users' Guide, the following was heard this morning on 1010 WINS:

"If the Apocalypse does come today, we'll have complete team coverage as well as traffic and weather on the 1s."

12 Gardens Live, And Clear Channel....Rocks??

I recently blogged about Billy Joel's upcoming live album, 12 Gardens Live and the myriad of songs transposed to lower keys. You can hear the entire album, or individual songs, as a stream, on Clear Channel's Sneak Peek: Hear It Here First.

Everybody knows that I will take just about any opportunity to bash the shit out of Clear Channel, but they've really done something right here. For a limited time, they're offering an entire album stream, in very good quality. To discourage piracy, every so often, a voice saying "Sneak Peek: Hear It Here First" is heard over the track. It's noticeable, but not terribly distracting. I only heard it once at the beginning and end of each track, and once in the middle.

This is the way to do it! How many of us have heard two or three good songs from an artist, purchased the entire album, and been burned? For me, it's too many times to mention. And enough with this bullshit 30-second sample crap. Nobody can make an educated decision about a song or, better yet, an entire album, in 30 seconds, despite what Gladwell might say.

If you're a record label, and you believe in your product, prove it. Let us hear the whole thing. If the majority of it is good, I will buy it. And Clear Channel's pop-up player is well done: it works with Windows Media Player, it allows you to stream either the entire album or by song, in both high and low quality, features some small (and again, unobtrusive) ads, and of course, provides you a link to buy what you're listening to. away! Listen to all of 12 Gardens Live. Decide for yourself whether or not the lower keys work for you, or whether you need another live version of "River of Dreams." It's your choice, and you can finally make an informed decision.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but well done, Clear Channel.

The man windmills, even in rehearsals

Video from yesterday's Who rehearsal here.

/gets excited

Monday, June 05, 2006

Are you ready for the ultimate 80s list?

From Steve at Stuck in the 80s:

A few weeks ago, I set out to compile a list of the 50 worst songs of the 80s. To be honest, I didn't think I'd find 50 truly awful songs. Truth is, I found so many more.

It's obvious 80s fans are passionate about the music they love -- and the music they hate. So when it came time to finally compile the songs into a list, I found that I have enough to offer 80 songs instead of 50. The 80 worst songs of the 80s. It has a nice ring to it.

The general criteria in picking the songs is:
-- They needed to be recorded in the 1980s.
-- They needed to be somewhat familiar to the average 80s fan, preferably making a decent run in the top 40 charts.
-- The songs didn't necessarily need to be awful from the first time you heard it. But given a few decades of fermentation, these are some real bio-terrors.

Several people suggested "anything by" these artists: Tiffany, Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Whitney Houston, Sheena Easton, Ray Parker Jr., Culture Club, Poison, Warrant, Cinderella and Bobby Brown.

Are you ready for the ultimate 80s list?

This makes for an interesting read. There's lots of familiar songs here. Now I don't care how many times Lionel Ritchie appears in the list, he's still collecting lots of royalties on those songs.

And look at how young George is...

here's some hint as to what's on the list:

Want some clues about more songs we're eyeing? At least four songs by Lionel Richie. Two by David Lee Roth. Two by Loverboy. And even two tunes by Billy Joel.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Classic Sesame On Its Way

Are you diggin' all the Classic Sesame Clips on YouTube? It seems perfect timing for Sesame Workshop to announce they'll be releasing a "Sesame Street Nostalgia Box Set." I am all over this.

News from Muppet Central regarding the DVD box

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Oh right you need a vacation


I have this friend who has been "writing" a screenplay or book or something or another for some time. When I first saw this clip, I about fell off the chair because it was EXACTLY what I wanted to say to him when he told me that he was going on vacation when he was in between jobs. When I got the opportunity to work on a new video distribution project, this clip was one of the test clips we used.

Now I am able to share it with everyone else.


Check Out The Weepies

Based on yet another Jefito recommendation, I picked up Say I Am You, the new record by The Weepies. Jeff poetically describes the album better than I possibly can, but the best way to explain how I feel about Say I Am You is this: I put it on while going to bed last night, and a sweet, simple note sung by Deb Talan in "Painting By Chagall" actually woke me as I was drifting to sleep. I couldn't fall back to sleep. I had to play the track a few more times. And first thing this morning.

Read Jeff's review, and if it's the kind of thing that sounds appealing to you, go to The Weepies website and play a few tracks. The site is remarkably well-done; by clicking on "discography," you can hear full versions of not only their collective songs but their solo tracks as well. All artists' sites should offer so much. I'll be picking up a few more releases from these two.

Oh, and read the "about" section, describing how Steve Tannen and Deb Talan first met. It's a great story.