Open Line Friday!

“You know, I keep forgetting, the fact that Obama is black, is why we can’t call him a socialist?  Is that it, because Obama’s black we can’t call him anything? Is that what it is? That had slipped my mind because when I look at Obama, I don’t see black. I see a socialist. I see a Marxist. I see a guy who’s got this country in his crosshairs.”

–Rush Limbaugh, Wednesday

59 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808 says:

    How to make $200,000 in four days

    Here, it’s all that. On Wednesday morning, the comedian tweeted that sales of the new special had reached 130,000 downloads, for a gross of $650,000. On his Web site, he broke down the finances: the cost of producing the six-camera shoot and renting the Beacon Theater was basically covered by ticket sales (he directed the thing himself and edited the video — which looks as good as any “professionally” produced special). Expenses associated with distributing the video were minimal — there is a near-zero marginal cost for each video sold. And unlike traditional media, very little in the way of fixed costs. No big marketing expenses, no focus groups, no paying media-company middlemen to do … whatever it is they do. (So far, he’s netted about $200,000.)

    It’s that old exponential curve again. Hollywood is probably mostly assuming the change is complete and they are figuring out a way to keep most of the profit under this new system. But unfortunately for them, the change is continuing and as the cost of producing content and reaching customers drops down to nil, you’ll see more and more people bypassing the studios.

    • sxp151 says:

      Is this your attempt to have “one phrase that explains everything” like “The world is flat” and “Software eats health” and “leveraging opporsynergies”? Because that’s what it sounds like to anyone who knows what an exponential curve is.

    • … and comedy shows, but it’s a long way from putting a significant dent in Hollywood’s big ticket items.  And as the article notes, Louis already had a name for himself; the hardest part of the Internet market is that unless you hit it big on a YouTube video by accident, you have a hard time gaining a rep and the fans to do this kind of self-publishing.

      • DavidThi808 says:

        There’s a lot of work being done on delivering to people the content they want to view (but don’t know it yet). Sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon are baby steps in that direction. As is Netflix’s recommendation program (which still cannot predict if someone will like Napoleon Dynamite).

        As these programs get better and better, existing name recognition will matter less and less. I think within 10 years lack of name recognition won’t be a problem.

        That leaves the cost of production. But that too is dropping like crazy. Even for major special effects movies, that’s going to drop a lot. Pretty soon you’ll be able to do all the CGI for Lord of the Rings on one PC. (Of course that PC will have several thousand cores.)

        What I don’t think will change for at least 10 years is the dependency on talent. It’ll be inexpensive to make content, but 90% of it will be crap. And as it gets easier, that percentage will climb.

        • SSG_Dan says:

          …I remember hearing similar hooting during the desktop publishing “revolution.” A PC, a LaserPrinter and a copy of Ready Set Go! and we can fire the marketing department.

          All we got was a chronic overuse of Comic Sans, matched only by an overuse of distressed type (for the record, which came from a company called House Industries, and was named “Crackhouse.”)

          You COULD do all the 3D, rotoscoping, editing, color grading and compositing on system, but that one person doing it will take years to finish the project. But using your Lord of the Rings example, that one guy can’t be a DP with experience in setting up a greenscreen shot, a MoCap artist in a suit mimicking the moments of Gollum on that greenscreen stage, a 3D artist that spent his life immersed in bad scifi movies and books, an editor who studied Billy Wilder movies, a color grader that loves Meet Me in St Louis and a compositor who knows that the best was to suppress green spill is to have orange gels on the back lights on the set.

          You’ll will cut down that EFX house to a smaller bunch of people on really power systems, but you still need the artistS.

        • They’re about art.  It was a big deal back in the 1990’s when Sun announced it’s multi-core video cards that, when combined in a single workstation, could render Toy Story in real time.  But it still took a veritable army of graphic artists years to create the movie.  Hollywood will remain relevant so long as talent is rare and the work remains difficult.

          Reddit and StumbleUpon are really raw compared to what’s really needed.  The missing piece is having something like Pandora (or Netflix) join in in promotion of new talent – something where an unsuspecting listener can get to hear (or see) an artist based on their interests, with feedback to make good talent show up to more listeners/viewers more frequently.  This is the success of the RIAA: availability of recording equipment, exposure on radio, and distribution; exposure is the only one of these three (for audio) that is now out of reach of the average band, and it’s not a hard nut to crack technologically.

          • DavidThi808 says:

            But as you alluded to, what we have now is first steps. Similar to the first motion pictures (no sound, hand cranked, small black & white screen). It wasn’t that long ago that you had an actual projectionist running the projectors in a theater.

            I think we’ll soon see the graphics described instead of drawn. And that description will not only be how it looks, but how it moves/reacts. For animation I think there’s a good chance all inbetween-ing will be done by the computer in 10 years.

            What worries me about this is this will accelerate the divide between a small number of jobs that pay very well and a large number of jobs that pay lousy. And I don’t see anyone in government even aware this is coming, much less thinking about how to address it.

        • VanDammer says:

          the horror …

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        Finally — something worth the minutes of life spent watching in front of the tube . . .

        If you’ll excuse me now, I’ve got a treatment that I need to rush finish . . .

    • DaftPunk says:

      He wasn’t a nobody before this video was released.  He built his career the old-fashioned way via clubs and TV shows, and that’s how he built his following.  Just because you never heard of him doesn’t mean he never existed before this.  Big studios and TV networks have their pound of flesh on his fame.

  2. DavidThi808 says:

    10 Things Our Kids Will Never Worry About Thanks to the Information Revolution

    8) Having to endlessly search to find unique content.

    Related to the previous point, the digital generation will never recall a time when they had to hunt for the obscure media content they desired. When I was a teenager, I spent an absurd amount of time and money trying to find (and sometimes import) rare vinyl or CD versions of singles or albums from my favorite artists. I will never forget the day in the early 1980s when, after a long search, I finally found a rare Led Zeppelin B-Side (“Hey Hey What Can I Do”) on a “45” in a dusty bin at a small record store. It was like winning the lottery! Today, virtually any piece of desired content, no matter how obscure, is just a quick search away.

    This is gigantic. Not so much for music (although making Russian pop videos available to all is huge). What’s gigantic is that you can pull up any content instantly from anywhere. It gives us all instantaneous infinite memory.

  3. DavidThi808 says:

    The National Intercollegiate Programming Championships

    This upcoming January will see the first intercollegiate programming code war, with multiple teams competing from the top computer science colleges in the country.

    Universities have long had national athletic championships. Now with the code war, we get an academic competition, with play-offs at each school and then the top two teams from each school in a final series competing for the national championships. This contest will demonstrate the programming skill of some of the most brilliant student programmers in the world.

  4. Pita says:

    the White House.  For millions it’s at least a Merry Christmas with hopes for a happy New Year.  Time will tell.

  5. SSG_Dan says:

    ….and I wonder, based on Newt’s record on “family values” if he’ll proudly accept this one…

    Adultery Dating Website Ashley Madison Endorses Newt Gingrich

    Extra-marital dating website has erected a billboard of serial adulterer and presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich in Bucks County, Pennsylvania that reads: “Faithful Republican, Unfaithful Husband. Welcome to the Era.”

    Given that Gingrich’s edge in the polls has recently been dwindling, could the former Speaker’s clinching of the coveted pro-adultery demographic be just what his campaign needs?

    Considering that the thrice-married Republican candidate recently took a “no-adultery pledge” to increase his clout — much to the glee of snarky political bloggers — it’s probably not what the Team Newt had in mind. But according to Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman, the billboard can only help him.


  6. UglyAmerican says:

    Lost in all the noise about the the payroll tax cut is the effect of this cut on Social Security balances. Doesn’t underfunding Social Security persistently dramatically shorten the lifespan of the trust fund? Or is it all a charade, with the eventual conversion of Social Security to a pure entitlement a foregone conclusion?

    I think it’s weird that this is not the R talking point on this tax cut.  

    • SSG_Dan says:

      Social Security is funded thru other mechanisms to keep the balance intact. That’s why the Republican’t Party is mum on the issue:


      I’m looking for a site on the Interwebz that has a more complete explanantion of how this works…

    • … and you fell for it.

      The payroll tax cut is offset from the general fund, so the SSI fund remains as solvent as it has been.

      There is a worry that keeping the lower SSI tax rates and restoring the trust fund from the general budget will allow the Republicans to more easily cut SSI, saying it’s an entitlement rather than an insurance program.  But, frankly, Republicans have phonied up plenty of other angles of attack and have not decided to pull the general fund card yet.

      • UglyAmerican says:

        I hadn’t heard the argument made to fall for it to begin with. What I hadn’t heard anywhere in the discussion was how this cut didn’t torpedo Social Security. Thanks to Dan I now have an idea.

        Once these cuts get locked in it seems like it will be extremely difficult to get them reinstated.

        • just as it’s been hard to get the Bush tax cuts expired as they were planned for…

          The way out is a stronger economic recovery, which the Republicans seem dead set against promoting.  (Or, from their POV, they think the Democrats are preventing the wealthy from engineering the recovery via an unregulated onslaught of pink unicorns…)

  7. davebarnes says:

    and we have 11 months to go before the actual election.

    But,… , this is Rasmussen doing the polling.

    “Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the frontrunner in Iowa and New Hampshire, now trails President Obama in a hypothetical Election 2012 matchup.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds Obama earning 44% support to Romney’s 41%.  Seven percent (7%) prefer some other candidate, while eight percent (8%) are not sure.”

  8. Raw Story reports:

    A Utah man who was trying to kill a mouse ended up shooting one roommate and getting another arrested for child rape, while a fourth roommate slept through the whole thing.


    Police say they suspected alcohol was involved.

    You don’t say…  Alcohol may have been involved…

    You have to read the article to get the full scope of the weirdness.

  9. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    A tiny little building on the harbor in Seattle, where a local company built its own airport to ferry passengers to Victoria, the San Juan Islands, and other nearby destinations. No TSA. Love it.

  10. Middle of the Road says:

    He’s declared that he will run for President as an Independent and has “dumped” the Republican Party.

    Thank you, Donnie. I can’t figure out what I did so right this year that Santa should be so good to me.  

  11. SSG_Dan says:

    Just one of those facty-thingies from Cornell University…

    We provide direct evidence of market manipulation at the beginning of the financial crisis in November 2007. The type of manipulation, a “bear raid,” would have been prevented by a regulation that was repealed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in July 2007. The regulation, the uptick rule, was designed to prevent manipulation and promote stability and was in force from 1938 as a key part of the government response to the 1929 market crash and its aftermath.

    And just in case you resort to calling this some “Left-Wing Commie-Pinko Elitist College Propaganda” here’s an article from the Right-Wing Fascist Moneygrubbing Press:

    Given the continued turmoil in the financial markets, the SEC should reinstate the “uptick” rule, which helped limit downward spirals by allowing a stock to be sold short only after a rise (an “uptick”) from its immediately prior price. Adopted in 1938, the uptick rule was repealed by the SEC on July 3, 2007, primarily on the basis of a pilot program conducted in 2005.

    (Now, which President’s SEC appointee’s were running things then?)

    • Ralphie says:

      Where the hell have you been?

      Please keep writing.

      • SSG_Dan says:

        …the Veteran Lottery ticket is announced, but we’re got some serious work to do in order to get it passed.

        There’s a few other things in the works, and I’m hoping to announce something in January.

        However, I have to say I’ve been suffering from record productivity after leaving CoPols. It’s not that I miss putting my digital foot up some poster’s asses, but the time spent away has been refreshing.  

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