Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Big Trouble for Internet Radio
Last month, Dismuke drew my attention to the fact that a government panel had recently approved a new royalty structure that would cripple Internet radio if upheld. The new rates were appealed and a ruling on the matter was expected within weeks. Unfortunately, the panel announced its ruling yesterday, and things look very grim for Internet radio.
A panel of judges at the Copyright Royalty Board has denied a request from the NPR and a number of other webcasters to reconsider a March ruling that would force Internet radio services to pay crippling royalties. The panel's ruling reaffirmed the original CRB decision in every respect, with the exception of how the royalties will be calculated. Instead of charging a royalty for each time a song is heard by a listener online, Internet broadcasters will be able pay royalties based on average listening hours through the end of 2008.The story links to another article which reports that National Public Radio, which will be affected, is going to seek a rehearing. (HT: Sid)
The ruling is a huge blow to online broadcasters, and the new royalty structure could knock a large number of them off the 'Net entirely. Under the previous setup, radio stations would have to pay an annual fee plus 12 percent of their profits to the music industry's royalty collection organization, SoundExchange. It was a good setup for the webcasters, most of whom are either nonprofits or very small organizations. [link dropped]
"Doc" MacDonald on the Pueblo Incident
Upon reading Ayn Rand's remarks on forced confessions, which I posted recently, Rick "Doc" MacDonald, a navy retiree who blogs at SSN 687 and Friends (which has been added to the blogroll), posed the following questions:
Basically, I agree with 99% of Ms Rand's viewpoints; however, I am reminded by conscience that every ship (and especially every ship that deals with information gathering or espionage) has a self destruct bill. That bill isn't printed to fill space. It is printed and expected to be executed at the appropriate time. Captain Bucher was a brave man. I have no doubt about that. His crew were all brave men and represented this country with honor. They are all heroes to some degree.To summarize the questions he raises: (1) Shouldn't Captain Bucher have attempted to execute the ship's self-destruct bill sooner, even at the expense of more casualties? (2) Does he really deserve the Congressional Medal of Honor? These are both fair questions. Although I am not ready to answer either definitively, I will offer my thoughts on each of them here.
I understand that executing a self-destruct bill under the circumstances they were in would most likely have cost them even greater casualties, and that being in a position where making that call is difficult, heart wrenching, and irreversible. But making that call is the duty of leadership. It is based on tradition and its execution is relied upon in strategic planning.
As difficult as it is to order execution of the destruction bill while fighting against overwhelming odds, so, too, is the decision of one marine to fall on a grenade to save others. So, too, is the decision to jump up on a burning HUMVEE, while severely wounded to operate a machine gun out in the open against overwhelming force in order to provide your exposed team members the chance to get to cover.
These are the cases in which Medals of Honor are earned, and to suggest that Captain Bucher, who I agree is a hero to some degree, deserved that award when you can easily compare his actions to those of Captain William L. McGonagle of USS Liberty just 7 months earlier, is to cheapen the value of the Medal of Honor and to lessen the significance of the actions taken by those who earned it. [bold added, two minor edits]
On the matter of the self-destruct bill, the crucial question is whether Bucher could reasonably have been expected to carry it out much more fully at any point. While I certainly cannot speak for Ayn Rand, I will note here that she did specifically mention that her proposed policy on forced confessions "would not apply to divulging actual military secrets", so I think it is safe to say that her opinion was that this would have been impossible for him to do. (I think he started carrying out that bill shortly before the Pueblo was captured.)
Now this incident occurred when I was less than eighteen months old, and I am no great student of military history, so I'm guessing here ... but my impression is that she thought Bucher's failure to fully execute the self-destruct bill was unavoidable and that this failure was the basis for the recommendation to court-martial him, or at least from some quarters to scapegoat him. I could be wrong and would love to hear from anyone out there more familiar with this incident than I am, especially if they are also familiar with Ayn Rand.
On the second question, the standards for awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor, and whether Bucher deserved one, are open to debate, but they are irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is: How should our country treat forced confessions (of an ideological nature) by its captured soldiers?
A careful reading of the Ayn Rand letter shows that she never favored surrendering sensitive information. Thus, despite what a more detailed knowledge of the Pueblo incident might bring to light about Bucher's role contrary to Ayn Rand's assessment, the point Miss Rand makes is not injured in any way.
Myrhaf's on Fire
Myrhaf has been writing some really good stuff lately. I particularly recommend the following posts, if you haven't read them already.
- The Marie Antoinette of North Carolina -- on Elizabeth Edwards's recent remarks about her "rabid" Republican neighbor
- Only Egalitarian Racist Speech Allowed -- Myrhaf hits the nail on the head regarding the recent controversy over Don Imus's "nappy-headed ho'" remark and where the free speech-hating left would like to go with it.
- Paying for the Welfare State -- on leftists who speak moralistically about paying taxes as if they are financial transactions between consenting adults
Ninja Game Show
You have got to watch this video, from a Japanese game show, of a fisherman's spectacular athletic performance in a "Ninja" competition.
Reader Michael Gold tipped me off to this, crediting the blog Never Yet Melted for the tip.
The same blog also has a post about the use of anamorphic illusions (specifically the tromp d'oeil technique) in advertising. The posts on Japanese skirts may not be work-safe. You have been warned.
More about 'Happyness
Monica, blogging at Spark a Synapse (which I've added to the blogroll), makes some interesting comments about some criticism of The Pursuit of Happyness that she recently encountered. Among them:
One viewer on Rotten Tomatoes was really interesting... he said he really, really liked the film but doesn't understand why he liked it, because the types of goals the main character pursues are the opposite of what he has been taught as morally correct: that the film views personal accomplishment as moral, but what is actually moral is self-sacrifice. He was struggling with this emotional conflict about the nature of morality. I couldn't help but wish that I could reach through the computer screen and hand that person a copy of Ayn Rand's Virtue of Selfishness.But that's just the last paragraph.
Forget Why the Chicken Crossed the Road
Did he live to tell the tale? You'll see why I ask that question after you watch this video of a typical street-crossing in India over at Ergo Sum's blog, Leitmotif, which I have recently blogrolled.