Monthly Archives: December 2009

Tiger gave everyone AIDS

OK, not that one.

Researchers say they may have traced the origins of the AIDS virus to an ancient tiger that lived either thousands or millions of years ago:

It appears the virus took on a bit of a tiger’s genetic material, scientists say, and a remnant of that cat remains in the virus to this day. That tiger, in fact, may have bitten a monkey, setting off an evolution of the virus that ultimately led to its infection of humans.

If true, these findings should do much to exonerate the monkeys we’ve been blaming for AIDS this whole time. When reached for comment, one monkey said “I told you it wasn’t our fault you hairless assholes, now throw some more bananas in this cage before I throw shit at you. By the way, what exactly is a medical testing lab? Do I have to fill out a survey or something? What are you doing with that dentist drill?”

AIDS May Date Back to Ancient Tiger [HeathDay]

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The day the (free) music (almost) died

According to Wired, today marks the 10th anniversary of the music industry’s lawsuit against file-sharing site Napster.

You may remember that Napster’s defense in the suit, before laying down and playing dead, was that it did not give away copyrighted music — rather it provided a platform for users to share their own files with each other. The RIAA’s argument was that Napster was a bunch of fire demons with cloven feet who were sure to turn the nation’s children into gay communist ax murderers.

After suing Napster for everything it had, the RIAA turned its fire on Bertelsmann, the German media conglomerate that had loaned Napster money:

The lawsuits accused Bertelsmann of copyright infringement for propping up Napster financially with loans totaling $85 million. The lawsuits claimed the firm wanted “to preserve Napster’s user base for Bertelsmann’s own commercial advantage.”

At the time of the loans, Bertelsmann’s chairman, Thomas Middelhoff, explained that “Napster has pointed the way for a new direction for music distribution, and we believe it will form the basis of important and exciting new business models for the future of the music industry.”

Bertelsmann paid millions of dollars to settle the claims. The media concern agreed in 2006 to pay the world’s largest label, Universal Music Group, $60 million to settle the allegations. EMI got an undisclosed amount in 2007, and Warner Music Group settled that same year for $110 million.

The music industry has come a long way since the original Napster lawsuit. Not only has it recognized the promotional value of easily-copied digital music files, but it has engineered a successful shift in its core business model to compensate for the corresponding decline in CD sales.

Hahahaha, just kidding — they’ve been suing the shit out of college students and stay-at-home moms.

Oh, and stiffing the talent.

Witness the saga of Tim Quirk, bassist for Too Much Joy. Recently Warner Music sent Quirk a royalty statement that allegedly accounted for digital sales of the band’s music. The statement showed that Quirk’s band had earned a grand total of $62.47 over the prior five years (which was simply subtracted from the band’s “unrecouped” advances*). This is where Quirk’s day job helped him get to work:

Here’s the thing: I work at Rhapsody. I know what we pay Warner Bros. for every stream and download, and I can look up exactly how many plays and downloads we’ve paid them for each TMJ tune that Warner controls. Moreover, Warner Bros. knows this, as my gig at Rhapsody is the only reason I was able to get them to add my digital royalties to my statement in the first place. For years I’d been pestering the label, but I hadn’t gotten anywhere till I was on a panel with a reasonably big wig in Warner Music Group’s business affairs team about a year ago.

I knew that each online service was reporting every download, and every play, for every track, to thousands of labels (more labels, I’m guessing, than Warner has artists to report to). And I also knew that IODA was able to tell me exactly how much money my band earned the previous month from Amazon ($11.05), Verizon (74 cents), Nokia (11 cents), MySpace (4 sad cents) and many more. I didn’t understand why Warner wasn’t reporting similar information back to my band – and if they weren’t doing it for Too Much Joy, I assumed they weren’t doing it for other artists.

So a major player in the industry that spent years and millions attacking its own best customers has yet to build a reliable system for reporting to the artists how much they’re selling or not selling. Then when someone pesters them for real numbers, they sit on the request for a year and send him a half-assed statement that is clearly, indisputably wrong. And they know he’s a music industry insider, so they can’t possibly think they’ll get away with it.

In conclusion, the music industry is so hopelessly stupid it makes the newspaper industry look like Google. Oops. Bad choice of words?

Dec. 7, 1999: RIAA Sues Napster [Wired]

* Here is Quirk’s explanation of how advances and the concept of recouping works:

A word here about that unrecouped balance, for those uninitiated in the complex mechanics of major label accounting. While our royalty statement shows Too Much Joy in the red with Warner Bros. (now by only $395,214.71 after that $62.47 digital windfall), this doesn’t mean Warner “lost” nearly $400,000 on the band. That’s how much they spent on us, and we don’t see any royalty checks until it’s paid back, but it doesn’t get paid back out of the full price of every album sold. It gets paid back out of the band’s share of every album sold, which is roughly 10% of the retail price. So, using round numbers to make the math as easy as possible to understand, let’s say Warner Bros. spent something like $450,000 total on TMJ. If Warner sold 15,000 copies of each of the three TMJ records they released at a wholesale price of $10 each, they would have earned back the $450,000. But if those records were retailing for $15, TMJ would have only paid back $67,500, and our statement would show an unrecouped balance of $382,500.

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What do you say we make apple juice, and fax it to each other?

It’s such a simple idea. Take old episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and re-dub the actors’ lines based on what it looks like they’re saying. So simple, yet so giggly.

Via Warming Glow

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Friday Random 10: Jersey Shore Edition

Last night marked the debut of one of the television season’s most anticipated shows, the regrettable “Jersey Shore” on MTV. Basically the premise of this show is to follow a group of the stupidest guidos on the planet as they dog-paddle through their shallow existence at a certain outpost in New Jersey — official maligned home state of Pax Arcana.

I did not see the premiere episode last night, but I checked up with Gawker’s live-blog-in-the-comments to get an appraisal of the event. I got as far as this:

DID HE JUST PUNCH A GIRL IN THE FUCKING FACE?!

Some critics say “Jersey Shore” is anti-Italian, since it glorifies the worst stereotypes of young Italian-American culture. I partly agree, since I know several meatball slurpers — our own Perry Ellis is one! — who do not ritualistically cruise around with spiked hair and oversized sunglasses and punch girls in the fucking face. On the other hand, holy SHIT you should have seen my high school. Just filled with knuckledragging ziti weiners like this. Christ almighty, I’ll take a pugnacious newsboy hat-wearing Boston mook moron any day of the week over these greasy bastards. No offense, Perry.

The songs:

Walls in Time — Bob Mould
Two Times Blue — Debbie Harry
Fame Throwa — Pavement
One PM Again — Yo La Tengo
Pink Turns To Blue — Husker Du
Get Older — Dan Deacon
XMas Curtain — My Morning Jacket
Lucifer’s Jigsaw — Jaydiohead
Baltimore — Steven Malkmus and the Jicks
Big Love — Broken Social Scene Presents… Kevin Drew

Bonus Video:

Fake Empire / It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop — Frightened Rabbit

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.

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Plastic surgery finally starts making sense

It’s a conundrum I’ve pondered many times, most recently in Volume 3 of my series entitled Musings On Science, The Human Body, And the Failures Contained Therein Which I Have Seen At The Shopping Mall:

Since half of cosmetic surgery is taking stuff out of people, and the other half is putting stuff into people, shouldn’t we just put the stuff we take out of some parts into other parts?

According to the New York Times, the medical community is finally thinking along those same lines:

THE latest kind of recycling has nothing to do with soda bottles. It entails liposuctioning fat from, say, thighs or buttocks and injecting it into breasts to augment them. After being condemned in the early ’90s, this procedure is generating newfound excitement among the handful of doctors nationwide who offer it and patients keen to enlarge their breasts without resorting to implants.

The practice was condemned because doctors worried that injecting fat into peoples’ boobies would hamper mammograms. But since our communist death panel librul mooozlim president says women shouldn’t get those anymore, it’s time to reconsider. Or something:

But this year, the plastic surgery society reversed its former position. A report from its task force reviewed the limited research on fat grafting to the breast and concluded that it “can be considered a safe method of augmentation.” On the issue of mammography, the report said fat grafting “could potentially interfere with breast cancer detection; however no evidence was found that strongly suggests this interference.” Thus, the task force’s statement turned a red stoplight into a yellow one, signaling to plastic surgeons: Proceed with caution.

I know there are a lot of people out there who look down on those who opt for cosmetic procedures, and I think that’s pretty sad. On the other hand, this new “relocation” technique could make it a lot more difficult to tell who has been enhanced and who hasn’t. I think you should be required to disclose whether you’ve had this particular procedure done. That way your office mates can make up funny nicknames for you, like “Ol’ Butt Tits” and “Belly Boobs.” Look, I never said your office mates were funny. Jeez, get a new job already.

Your Own Fat, Relocated [NYT]

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Tuesday Tubby Tearfest: Ranking the final four

Father Scott

Well I’m finally caught up in real time with the greatest show about the obese on the planet — I sucked it up and watched last week, then the previous episode out of order on Hulu. I’m still disgusted with you, free service that probably costs an arm and a leg to produce and yet only gets complaints from its users.

So we’ve reached the final four. I don’t really know what to expect from tonight’s episode — it says “at a special time” which might mean “we didn’t have enough good material for two hours, so we’re starting at 9” or even more egregiously “the President wants to talk to you and somehow that’s more important than watching fat people do jumping jacks.”

But I can tell you something about last week: Suze Orman is a frightening individual. I’m not sure she knows anything, but she has an abnormal amount of confidence in what she says. Listening to her talk about finances reminds me of when Jillian tries to do the psychobabble and the contestants who aren’t emotional infants (OK, there aren’t many of them) just kind of scoff at her.

So let’s talk big picture this week. Who’s winning this thing? I don’t think any really stand out as particularly dedicated, so it’s a tough call, but I’ll go in reverse order of my own personal rankings.

4. Liz. How is this woman still here? You know what Liz, your southern Grandma act is getting old. You have a charming accent. Get off my television so I can look at Ali a little more.

3. Danny. This man is the best earnest tear factory since Bob’s man-crush Mark from a couple seasons ago. But I think we’re going to see a plateau from Danny. GOOD GOD does he have a gut, also. Did he program his body to send all goods consumed directly to his stomach? How has he worked out for 3 months and lost 100+ lbs. and still have his stomach hang over his pants? Poor guy. But he’s not winning.

2. Amanda. I find Bob’s obsession with Amanda confusing. 1) Bob’s gay, right? And Amanda’s a woman, right? 2) She looks like LeAnn Rimes. A compliment? 3) She’s one of the few to walk out on a workout, and I actually think she’s done it more than once. What am I missing here? Anyway, she’s young and a female so she probably won’t plateau as much, but still, I don’t know that her heart is in it once she gets away from Bob.

1. Rudy. Rudy’s still got some weight to drop, but he’s got the athletic build and the endurance to keep going. Most importantly he’s got the drive from within, or at least he seems to. Jillian was pissed that he bottles it up, but sometimes I think it’s better to be less vocal about it, especially once you need to go back to regular life.

TEARS THIS WEEK:

The description on the site is as follows:

Special time, 9/8c! Last season’s finalists return to cheer the final four on as they face their toughest challenge: a marathon.

Toughest challenge? Past season returning? A FREAKING MARATHON? This is a tear explosion, even with fewer contestants on the show. I’m setting the line at an unprecedented 24.5.

WHAT TO EAT:

I probably won’t eat unhealthily during the show. For shame, I know. But I have a return to the flag football field this weekend, and am actually going to the gym after work, because I’m pretty sure if I ride on a bike machine for a couple hours this week I will officially be in shape before the game. But if I were to eat something horrible, it would be my go-to McDonald’s meal: a number 1 meal and a McChicken. That McChicken really does the trick.

And you know what I learned last night? Big Macs aren’t that bad for you, really. 29 grams of fat according to my Subway napkin. 29 grams of fat? I figured it was 60. NOW I CAN EAT TWO.

Enjoy the show, tiny folks.

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