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    • Inequality is Unnatural
      I’ve been reading UltraSociety, by Peter Turchin. Turchin’s a biologist turned to mathematical models of human society, and he’s done interesting work, not all of which I agree with (or agree is quite as radical as he claims.) But one of the points he makes in UltraSociety, which has been made by many archeologists and […]
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Hate NBC Olympics coverage? Blame merger mania.

Watch the snow and imagine Vonn skiing through it

Violet Socks is not the only person PO’d with NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. (There are plenty of complaints here and here.) Violet can’t see coverage in real time and she apparently works from home.  I can’t see it at all at work, not even with my dual recording DVR because there’s nothing to record in real time that I want to see.  NBC is even time delaying their broadcasts to the west coast.  That’s right, if you live in Seattle, you can’t see what’s going on in Vancouver, just up the road a spell, until 8PM when NBC, who has exclusive broadcasting rights in the USA, will turn to its marketing department to determine what you want.  If you are an American, NBC will presume that you don’t give a rat’s ass about the rest of the world’s athletes.  You will get highlights of events where Americans are expected to medal (or is that podium? ).  Interspersed with your carefully selected and edited sports niblets will be a ^&*(load of commercials and some nauseating human interest stories of determination and perserverence triumphing over heartbreaking personal loss and devastating injury.  (yeah, right, Lindsey Vonn’s shin injury was catastrophic.  Tell it to the podium)

It’s like getting dial-up Olympics coverage from AOL in a gigabit ether world that exists but that your municipality has forbidden you to get.  (No, I’m no bitter at all that I’m stuck on sucky DSL because my only other option is Comcast).

Why should you care?  Oh, I dunno.  I guess it’s because showing the games in real time should be a no brainer.  It’s not 1972 anymore and this is not the Wide World of Sports where, by the way, I think they showed every skiier from every country in their coverage of skiing.  This is 2010 where we *should* have instant access to everything.  If NBC is giving us sh^&&ty coverage, we should be able to turn to online sources for events in real time, that is, if they weren’t blocked by American IP address.  We should be able to go to a Canadian or European broadcaster for our downhill fix.

So, what’s going on here?  Ok, as  professional merger survivors, let me and my friends hazard a guess as to why NBC is failing to live up to our expectations.  Right now, Comcast and NBC are trying to merge.  Here’s how that goes: the first day that a merger is announced, all work comes to a screeching halt.  Formerly productive people spend their time speculating on the political chess game that is going on in their departments.  Who’s in, who’s out.  Projects are put on hold pending further review.  Projects that are going gangbusters prior to a merger announcement slow down to a trot.  People twiddle their thumbs while their overlords stab each other in the back, swing their dicks around and use their prodigious MBA’s to implement the idiotic plans of the consulting group they just hired to “transform” the place.  Then, because “we are too menny“, there must be layoffs.  The formerly productive workers cancel their living room furniture purchases and concentrate on getting their houses ready for a quick sale.  They spend hours grooming their resumes and making calculations of their gross yearly income based on the severance package that the company beancounters have sent out.  They sweat and worry and make appointments with their doctors to get the old bods in good working order while they still have health insurance.

Und zen zey vait.

How long will it take before all of the alpha males (and they are ALWAYS male) decide that they have strutted and preened enough to satisfy the shareholders, taken their cut and skeedaddled before everyone can get back to work?  Eventually, it happens.  Everyone is now one big happy company with values like “innovation!” and “Creativity!”.  But by that time, creativity has taken a backseat to survival.  When the Olympics roll around, the creative, innovative departments look around at their reduced headcount and their devastated budget and the even more manipulative and controlling overlords and they punt.  Just do it the way you did it last time.  Forget that there is new technology.  You don’t have the time, manpower or money to do it better.  Yeah, the shareholders (and you are probably one of them, which gives “conflict of interest”a new meaning) won’t get their bang for their buck but they won’t notice for at least another quarter.  And by then, your management will be looking for new “opportunities”.

Creativity?  Innovation?  Pleasing your customer base?  Who the f&*( has time for that when you’ve just kept your job by the skin of your teeth and the Idiots in Charge are too impressed with their business school credentials to listen to you anyway?

So, Comcast/NBC, when they finally merge, will push out content in time delay, like they do now, like it is 1972.  Only a few voices will stand up and call them on their borg like “You will be assimilated.  Resistence is useless” attitude.  We will fall farther and farther behind our Canadian, Asian and European counterparts.  We will have a free market, laissez faire, anything goes market place in the US where no one benefits but the consultants and the people who jettison at the last minute with golden parachutes, leaving everyone else with the bag and the blame.

So, what to do?  Well, we can’t prevent every merger but Al Franken is working on preventing Comcast/NBC.  Imagine if every innovation was given the same short shrift if the Comcast/NBC merger goes through.  Your cable company will control the horizontal and the vertical and you’ll NEVER see Lindsey Vonn ski in prime time- ever.

Ain’t America great?

To contribute to the only loud mouth in the Senate willing to stand up for us against the borgs, click here.

Now’s your chance to put your foot down and say “NO!” to more mergers, less freedom of speech, less control over content, less innovation.

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Reward Good Behavior- Al Franken

Al Franken has been busy, busy, busy this week!  Just look at all the stuff he’s been up to:

  • Al Franken spoke sternly to David Axelrod (does anyone else think that Axelrod has the profile of a rat? Raise your hand).  Where is the leadership from the White House?  LOL!  That’s a good one, Al.  I’m sure that was meant to be a rhetorical question.  See, Obama and his droogs handlers don’t think they *have* to lead.   I guess the White House figures that either the Senate forces the health care insurance reform bill on the House as is and makes the whole Democratic party look like they are capitulating to the right, thereby alienating their base, possibly permanently, or the Senate grows a more liberal spine and gets blamed by the media for capitulating to the extremist left.  Ooooo, Tea Partiers!  BOO!  It’s not like the media and its superultrauber wealthy, ruthless authoritarian owners like the Rupert Murdoch and Jack Welch proteges don’t have a vested interest in turning up the volume on those tea partiers.  Whatever, is the attitude the White House is projecting, with Obama doing the “And that would affect me how…?” posture of the smartass teenager.  Everyone ❤ Obama, or so Axelrod thinks.  But my momma told me that “Looks don’t last, cookin’ do” (It’s probably Pennsylvania Dutch).  I suspect that a lot of people in those polls say they like Obama because they’re sick of being called racists if they say they don’t like his poor presidential leadership.   Obama might need his party someday.  Better make friends with those senators and stop being so coy and ethereal about his political philosophy.  Sink or swim with your party.  Solidarity should mean something and besides, we’re losing patience out here.
  • Al Franken gave a speech to NARAL on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  You can read the whole thing here.  Al’s got our back on the Choice front but I would like Al to think bigger than Roe v. Wade.  After all, we wouldn’t need a Roe v. Wade if women were truly equal persons under the law and were able to exercise their unalienable right to decide for themselves whether or not to become parents.  Or their unalienable right to worship as they please or not please.  Or their unalienable right to determine their own morality about their reproductive decisions as women in many developed countries around the world are able to do.  The time has come.  Roe v. Wade was never our ticket to equality.  Let it die.  Bring on the war.
  • Al Franken takes on media giants Comcast and NBC.  He’s absolutely right about one thing.  You can’t trust the media.  They are not on the side of a free society.  They on the side of those maintaining a carefully controlled underclass.  Hey, if Democrats want to vote for this merger without closing all of the loopholes and strengthening the anti-trust protections, who are we to stop them?  They’ve never wanted our input on anything anyway (but they call our houses incessantly for money and our votes).  On the other hand, I can see no logical reason why any entity would consciously participate in its own demise, content with a few weak promises of restraint from the guys who potentially have Democrats’ balls in their hands come election time.  If Comcast and NBC REALLY, REALLY want to merge, now is the time to extract that pound of flesh, like reinstatement of the “fairness doctrine” or painful concessions on net neutrality or new rules regarding competition in townships like mine where Comcast practically owns the high speed internet market, keeping out competitors like Verizon FIOS.  This is a no-brainer to those of us out here watching.  But Democrats have been winning a lot of Darwin Awards for the past several decades so expect them to screw it up.
Trust me, kids, the Al Franken Decade was a classic

The Al Franken Decade was a classic.

I’m happy to say that Al was one of my better bets in 2008.  He’s turned out to be pretty much what I expected: an assertive, principled, liberal Democrat who is a royal pain in the ass to the Republicans and some Democrats alike.  He opens his mouth and shameless liberal ideals come out of it.  Watching him go after insurance companies that cut people off at their sickest, defense contractors who force rape victims into mediation and Joe Lieberman’s endless monotone bogarting of the Senate mic has been a joy and a pleasure.  This may be the “Al Franken Decade”.  It’s 30 years late but I’ll take it.

In the meantime, I propose we show Al some appreciation and demonstrate to the other “anonymous Senators” who are secret liberal Al admirers (that means YOU, Bob Menendez)  that good behavior will be rewarded.  You can make a contribution to Al here.

$25 per Conflucian adds up to a lot of reward.