Posts from August 17, 2004

The pretty American

The pretty American

: An exasperated correspondent gets to the sports section of The Times, expecting a respite from politican spin, and gets this in a report by Selena Roberts:

A cyclist revealed what it’s like to perform without feeling the burden of the Bush administration’s policy on Iraq, without thinking about hostility by political association, without checking the preset limits on her freedom to express herself.

The cyclist didn’t censor her emotions at the end of Saturday’s women’s road race. She simply flashed an obscene gesture as she crossed the finish line.

And yet, she did not elicit worldwide glowering, morph into a microcosm of her country’s arrogance or become an example on the United States Olympic Committee’s most-wanted list of behavior miscreants.

That’s because she was not an ugly American. Judith Arndt was a German – no qualifiers attached…..

Not to despair, though. Track and field is still to come, and Maurice Greene is on the way. If there is a man unburdened by Bush politics, undisturbed by worldwide detractors, uncontrolled by the U.S.O.C. nannies, it’s Greene.

Says our sputtering correspondent:

Get it? Roberts makes a thinly veiled case that it’s George Bush’s fault if America’s Olympic team underperforms, reasoning (1) Americans can’t win and be good sports at the same time (good sportsmanship dulls the “edge”); (2) Bush’s foreign policy is creating pressure on American athletes to act like good sports; (3) therefore, Bush is hurting our athletes’ chances to bring home Olympic gold….

Shots at Bush coming and going. On the freakin’ sports page.

Yeah, the Olympics aren’t political. And neither is The Times. And I am Mark Spitz.

No blogging the honeymoon, now!

No blogging the honeymoon, now!

: Blogger Terry Heaton’s getting linked.

Who needs a scorecard for these players?

Who needs a scorecard for these players?

: Rob Glaser and Real are gunning for Steve Jobs and Apple, trying to portray Apple as the big, bad corporate monster trying to mess with consumers’ freedom.

Tough sell, Rob.

The problem is that Real has messed with its consumers since the beginning. Your software sucks. You make it impossible to find your free product and trick people into buying the product they don’t want to and then you try to make it even more impossible to cancel that product. Your buggy software completely messed up my Treo and I’m not going to risk you messing up my iPod. Rob, your credibility with consumers is swiss-cheesey.

Apple, meanwhile, is the first company to make digital music work. Apple did what you couldn’t do, Rob.

But having failed to come off as Prince Charming against Dark Prince Bill Gates, Glaser is trying the same poor-pitiful-me shtick against Jobs. He has an ad campaign out today. He started a blog (amusingly, with a new spelling of “blogisphere,” not that I’m here to defend that word) and the promise of a weekly Q&A with Glaser called “Rock on[,] Rob.” He’s also trying to undercut the entire industry with 49-cent songs, admitting that he’s losing money on every sale. Good for those who get cheap songs. But spite does not a product — or a business plan — make.

: UPDATE: Rafat Ali reports that Real took down comments from the Real blog. The comments reportedly weren’t flattering.

Exploding TV

Exploding TV

: A key issue for media — news and entertainment — is being able serve consumers where, how, and when they want to be served. It’s an issue not just for TV fun; it’s an issue for any form of information and media. But we’re seeing the issue start to bubble and boil in TV. See this from EDN.com (via Rafat Ali):

As broadband gets faster, storage gets cheaper, and home-networking products get smarter and more capable, video via the Internet will morph from a clumsy PC-based process into a painless remote-control operation. Video files might accumulate in a cache according to your predefined preferences, or improved compression might make an on-demand streaming approach more palatable. A PC might orchestrate the process, or you might buy a video server of some kind. You might sign up for programming subscriptions or choose programs one by one.

The details don’t really matter. The point is that video will flow into your home at your command, and your network will deliver it when and where you want to consume it. We’re a long way from that ideal today, but the trends are undeniable….

So to the content owners out there, please realize that exclusive deals no longer make business sense. It’s shortsighted to limit the market for your high-value programming to the population served by a single delivery mechanism. Along with a few hundred million of my closest friends, I’m willing to pay a fair price for your product, so please focus on making it available to me through whatever medium I prefer.

When did we Saudis stop beating your American wives?

When did we Saudis stop beating your American wives?

: It had to be the oddest advertising meeting since the intro of New Coke: Saudi Arabia starts a campaign of radio ads in America to convince us they didn’t help attack us. Not officially, anyway.

Stung by criticism about its role in fighting terrorism, Saudi Arabia has launched a radio advertising campaign in 19 U.S. cities citing the Sept. 11 commission report as proof that it has been a loyal ally in the fight against al-Qaida….

The ads don’t address commission criticism of Saudi Arabia, which the report called “a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism.” It said Saudi-funded Islamic schools have been exploited by extremists and, while Saudi cooperation against terrorism improved after the Sept. 11 attacks, “significant problems remained.”

Here’s the Saudi press release. Here’s the text of the ads.