OT: Nobody Likes To Look In The Mirror

(Well, not entirely off-topic, I’m afraid) Tom Friedman paints an ugly picture: Intercepting Iran’s Take on America

Yes, our last I.N.I.E. in 1990 concluded that after the collapse of communism, America was on track to become the world’s sole superpower and most compelling role model for Muslim youth — including our own. We were wrong. We now have “high confidence” that America is on a path of self-destruction, for three reasons:

First, 9/11 has made America afraid and therefore stupid. The “war on terrorism” is now so deeply imbedded in America’s psyche that we think it is “highly likely” that America will continue to export more fear than hope and will continue to defend things like torture and Guantánamo Bay prison and to favor politicians like Mr. Giuliani, who alienates the rest of the world.

Second, at a time when America’s bridges, roads, airports and Internet bandwidth have fallen behind other industrial powers, including China, we believe that the U.S. opposition to higher taxes — and the fact that the primary campaigns have focused largely on gay marriage, flag-burning and whether the Christian Bible is the literal truth — means it is “highly unlikely” that America will arrest its decline.

Third, all the U.S. presidential candidates are distancing themselves from the core values that made America such a great power and so different from us — in particular America’s long commitment to free trade, open immigration and a reverence for scientific enquiry wherever it leads. Our intel analysts are baffled that the leading Democrat, Mrs. Clinton, no longer believes in globalization and the leading Republican, Mr. Huckabee, never believed in evolution.

Sports, Entertainment and Ownership

The Patriots are in a funny place: NFL ticket resale deal may be odd play for Patriotspdf

The National Football League is preparing to embrace the ticket reselling business, which could prove awkward for the New England Patriots.
more stories like this

* In crunch time, Patriots were efficiency experts
* Patriots had luck and pluck on their side
* Patriots’ Meriweather was much more involved vs. Ravens
* Ravens’ comments may bring league penalties
* Like 2004, Steelers trying to stop Patriots

The NFL is planning to name an official ticket reseller for all its teams in the next two weeks. Six companies are vying for the business, including StubHub Inc., the eBay-owned company that is locked in a court battle with the Patriots over the legality of selling team tickets above face value.

The deal underscores how the ticket reselling business has gone mainstream in America. But it also highlights how the Patriots are trying to buck that trend, insisting their tickets are licenses that can be revoked if customers try to resell them.

See earlier posting

The Ever-Mutable Music Business Model

Promoting another device, and a service — why directly paying for content continues to erode: Free Universal Music Downloads on New Nokia Phones

Nokia, the telecommunications company, and the Universal Music Group, the recording company, said on Tuesday that they would offer unlimited free downloads of Universal songs to buyers of certain Nokia phones as a way to promote cellphones as media devices and to develop new revenue for a music industry struggling with piracy.

Under the agreement, Universal will let users download its entire catalog at no cost for 12 months, and keep the songs at the end of that time. Users will be able to download the songs to new Nokia phones or to their computers via mobile or fixed-line broadband connections.

Music, MP3s and Music Technology

Does sound quality matter? Shades of The Audible Past! In defense of audiophiles (citing The Deaf Audiophile – pdf – and Hard to Be an Audiophile in an iPod World)

It’s worth noting that digital audio files will get better, just as compact discs did. (In their first decade, CDs and CD players sounded dreadful, worse than MP3s—and much worse than some other, less-compressed, downloadable formats—sound now. Click here for a note on these other formats.) When this future comes, we will all rejoice. In the meantime, to deny or dismiss the sonic differences not only deprecates the depths and delicacies that make music so alluring. It also tells the engineers and manufacturers that they don’t need to improve their products, that bad sound is good enough.

Christmas Coming Early?

Well, no, but some interesting news on the DRM-free front: Digital developments could be tipping point for MP3pdf

Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony BMG Music Entertainment are feeling increased pressure to follow EMI and Universal Music Group’s lead in distributing music in the MP3 format, which forgoes restrictive digital rights management technology.

A yearlong download promotion planned between Pepsi and Amazon is among several developments forcing WMG and Sony to consider the format, Billboard has learned,

News of the Pepsi promotion, which is expected to be announced February 3 during the Super Bowl, coincides with Wal-Mart’s ultimatum that major labels supply walmart.com with their music in MP3, sources said.

Labels said they have been watching the success of an MP3 test that Universal Music Group (UMG) began in August. The major label continues to allow the sale of 85 percent of its current catalog as MP3s. Sources said UMG is on the verge of permanently embracing that digital format. But a source close to the testing insisted that the decision is still up in the air while the company awaits conclusive results from the trial, which are due in mid-January.