Wednesday, April 04, 2007

News and Notes

150 days until football season. Basically, we have the spring games and then things get really bleak. To tide us over in advance of some final football thoughts, here's a few random thoughts on the week's events so far:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran will release the 15 detained British sailors and marines "as a gift to the British people." In other news, I'm off to rob Goodwill, but rest assured I'll return the loot in a few weeks as a gift and, yes, I will be seeking a deduction next April 15. While the U.S. is not yet at war with Iran, apparently the race is on between our leaders to who can be the smuggest SOB alive not named Trump. Ahmadeinejad jumped out to a big lead this week, magnanimously asking British PM Tony Blair not to "punish" the crew for confessing they had been in Iranian waters when they were seized by Iranian coast guard. To make sure its stick landed squarely in Britain's eye, Iran broadcast videotaped confessions by crew members. (Image at right: Ahmadinejad, apparently in his hostage-taking salad days during the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.)

Keith Richards may or may not have snorted his dad's ashes. If it's true, the only thing surprising about this is that it wasn't Ozzy Osbourne. But Keef has gotta make anyone's short list of people who would do this kind of thing. That list would also include Lemmy Kilmister.

The NCAAs are over, but Billy Packer won't go quietly. Appearing on the Charlie Rose Show, CBS men's hoops color man/lightning rod for scorn, ridicule and hate! hate! hate!, Billy Packer, whose name is Packer, tells Rose, "you always fag out," in response to Rose's mock offer to help him out during the tournament. Consensus is that Packer was not using British slang for cigarettes, because a) Packer is not British and b) "you always cigarette out" makes absolutely no sense. Really, I thought the "Henderson was not looking for a cheap shot" call of the Tyler Hansbrough mugging was going to be Packer's nadir this season, although his insistence on mispronouncing Florida coach Billy Donovan's name ("Dunnavan") during the entire NCAA championship game has to make the season's top 10. Damn you, Packer, the whole point of this post was to see if I could make it through the day without mentioning the Gators.

EMI will be selling high-bitrate, DRM-free downloads through iTunes for $1.30 apiece. The chorus of DRM haters ought to include anyone with more than a two-digit IQ, which apparently excludes most major label executives. EMI Group CEO Eric Nicoli, whom I took to task over a year ago, has finally acknowledged a least a small portion of the insanity that is Digital Rights Management. To recap, the lack of interoperability has inhibited digital music sales growth while CD sales continue to falter and placed content owners (the labels) squarely under the thumb of Apple's near-monopoly. Moreover, DRM means limiting consumer options, as in the number of devices on which a consumer can play a track and how many times he/she can copy it. Options have value, which is why we have the Black-Scholes Model. Apparently, EMI and Apple think options in the digital music realm are worth 30 cents a track, as the DRM-free tracks will be priced at $1.30. Lifting DRM restrictions eases some of the pains I mentioned, although these tracks, which are encoded at 256 kbps, will be initially available exclusively though … iTunes. EMI stressed that DRM would remain on music bought under monthly flat-fee-based services such as Rhapsody, Napster and Yahoo Music Unlimited. Oh, well. Baby steps.

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