Back in August, back when I had a functionality in me that left me able to write decent blog posts, and not just Twitter posts, I wrote a little piece called I Want My HBO, where I thought of a service called HBOnline where non-cable subscribers could get HBO content on their computer. It turns out, they had something in the works, but it’s nowhere close to what I’m looking for … yet.

HBO GO is what they’re calling it, and while I’ll admit that’s a catchier name, it also sounds like something you’d order at a sushi bar. Ehchbeeyogo?

But the real problem in their service as spelled out by their website at the moment is that you must be still attatched and suckling at the cable tv industry’s teat in order to get into HBO GO. This could change with the announcement that they’re going to make about the service tomorrow, (NYM via NYT) but I’m not holding my breath. I still don’t trust the telecoms not to have lifelong deals with HBO that are punishable by death if voided. If HBO thinks this kind of measure will stem the tide of piracy against them (see this wonderful essay from Astra Taylor from the new edition of literary journal The Baffler for more on piracy, and if you enjoy it, subscribe, damn it) they’re mistaken.*

HBO’s content, by and large, smashes the competition in the face with a brick. They used to be aware of this, you know:

So you lost The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, and that show where the ladies loved their shoes and hated men; HBO, you’ve still got a lot to offer and a lot to get your superiority complex back about. True Blood is great fun, and it doesn’t even feel like a guilty pleasure anymore. Even though I hate on him, Bill Maher is one of the last frank and honest people on American television. The pretty funny Bored To Death is your weaker comedy show, because 1) you have the genius that is Larry David’s ever evolving Curb Your Enthusiasm, and 2) Eastbound & Down is just so amazingly fucked in the head I’m not sure what to classify it as. I know people that swear by Big Love, and you’ve got another David Simon masterpiece on deck, Treme. For once, it’s been proven that it can be a good thing to have the market cornered on old white guys, albeit geniuses who make you piss yourself in laughter or want to get piss drunk from thinking on how shitty the country can get. And I’m not even going to discuss the stuff that works for you that I just don’t think deserves it (Entourage, Hung, In Treatment, and Real Sports). But then again, you can’t be too great: you gave Joe Buck his own show. Also, you do reality tv right: by making documentaries.

Why did I just make a laundry list of reasons to fellate HBO execs for free on the side of the road? To remind them that they know how to do things differently, and to say, HEY, STOP MAKING THOSE WHO CAN’T STAND THE CABLE TV SERVICES HAVE TO PIRATE YOUR G.D. CONTENT!

*I can’t find the new Bill Maher comedy special from this past weekend at any online stomping grounds, so they’re getting better.


With A Frequency as well

So here’s a common argument I’ve found myself on the defensive end of since the dawn of social networking websites. I post too often.

This came up most recently with Twitter, where I currently have a locked/private account you can only access with an account and my approval, where my posts (tweets, in twitter speak) have leaned towards the complaining and bitching end of the This Is What’s Happening Right Now To Me spectrum.

I can explain why it happens in two ways, the first is more practical and the second is more thematic of the ongoing pattern.

I “follow” more people on Twitter than some of my friends do, and to have my posts keep up with the people who aren’t complaining, who post much more often, I post a lot. I follow > 100 people on Twitter. Not my fault you follow 30 or less. Addendum: yes, it’s also not your fault that I follow so many people.

And the other reason: I’m an over-sharer. You don’t have to be on the internet to know that when telling a story, I’m almost too detailed in the telling. This relates to the above point as it’s a simple corollary to understand that if I like to digest more information, that I’d like to share more information.

Sometimes, though, I understand that what I’m saying, like a lot of tweets, can be classified as chaff and not wheat. This is me understanding the situation, and also saying I’m going to work on it.

Paper or Pixel? Why Not Both? Act 2 of With A Passion About The Printed Word

The view from my bar stool at Wildwood BBQ tonight as I continued to drink the good drink and consume the piece on Iceland in the New Yorker
The view from my bar stool at Wildwood BBQ tonight as I continued to drink the good drink and consume the piece on Iceland in the New Yorker

So, Collin replied to my post with this comment. The line from the comment I found worth jumping off from towards my next thought about print journalism was:

My point of leading with Ben McGrath’s New Yorker piece wasn’t to discredit his story. Pieces like that have their place in journalism, and that specific story is full of worth (it’s in the New Yorker, ’nuff said). I just thought it was a great example of the traditional print voice that is seeping online.

And the thing is I wouldn’t say that it’s “seeping online” because there’s no real problem with the internet being used as a means for distributing material, at least as long as the material is worthwhile (no point in copying and pasting crap, which is why it’s great that Dane Cook started online, so his bullshit wasn’t redundant on top of being bullshit) presented in a visually palatable manner and there’s a decent business model behind it. And unlike many other publications that use the internet to mirror their physical product, The New Yorker has a pretty good handle on it’s online presence.

First of all, the New Yorker does it right because they let their writers have blogs on site, such as Sasha Frere-Jones, whose blog is definitely worth the click it will take you to get there … once you’re done here. I promise there’s a funny clip at the end of this, but it will disappear if you just scroll down right now.

The New Yorker also offers the smaller pieces for free to entice the would be spenders, then putting a premium on the meatier works as well a crazy little thing called Design. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I don’t like the web design that most sites employ. The New Yorker’s standard web isn’t the big offender, that award goes to Rolling Stone and the combination of the teeny-teeeeeeny-teeeeeeeney-tiny (©Maddow) thin column of text and their insistence on splitting a piece displayed so think across four fucking pages, without a “one page” option that many including the NYTimes offer.

But how does The New Yorker manage to get it right? Well, what I’ll assume are well-padded coiffures were able to put as many net application designers in all of their open-space offices on the same task, and this resulted in The New Yorker’s Digital Reader. The simplest way to browse is click on the arrows on the sides of the layouts, and then, as you’ll see below, after you click on the page, you zoom in to read the page.

The New Yorker Digital Reader Means Business
The New Yorker Digital Reader Means Business

Works like Parker’s article, the creme de la creme, are kept “behind the curtain,” as The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates put it, in the premium content section of The New Yorker’s site. This is done for one very good reason: good work doesn’t come free. Sure we’ve hit a point where admitting you still pay for music illicits stares akin to suggesting you just sharted, but journalism is a key ingredient in a well functioning and self questioning society, and we should be paying for it, hand over fist. Buy those NYTimes’ or whichever local paper is worth your money, (and no The USA Today does not count) not just when Obama’s won an election as I now endorse buying the Times (not that this was always the way I rolled over the W. Bush years) on any day of the week.

The New Yorker Digital Reader Zooms In.
The New Yorker Digital Reader Zooms In.

A few weeks ago, TIME had a cover story about the ways to save the newspaper. The problem the industry is currently facing is the fact that internet ad revenue for the news site industry is down. This trend results in oddities like the ginormous screen-estate that the Apple ad on the front page of the NYT that you may see when you go online to check your digital news, a stunt done wherein a high end company promotes itself to an audience that is presumably able to afford the product. The problem, though, is that these sites are all free, so their customers have no proof they’d actually be able to afford the ginormous 17″ Macbook Pro.

With The New Yorker’s digital reader, only available to those who will pay for it or actually subscribe to the publication, the people at Chevron know their product hawking won’t fall on broke ears. Admittedly, it would be great if all news would be available for free, but money doesn’t grow on KFC Famous Bowls yet, so we’ll have to pay for quality for the time being. And I have to reiterate that I think that as hard as it’s been for the journalistic commuity to get a grip on the net world, I think the New Yorker has a good start.

The author of the above TIME article then went on The Daily Show and Jon Stewart admitted that he shares the same crippling addiction to newspapers that I boldly revealed in my lede yesterday. Here’s the clip:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

• Oscar Grant Got Killed By A Cop In Cold Blood And It’s Getting No Attention.

Oscar Grant is a name nobody that didn’t know the man should know.

But he was killed in cold blood by a cop in an Oakland transit station on New Year’s Day.

This may not have gotten the attention it did if not for the cell phone recorded video that has been posted online. You know what, technology keeps getting more useful.

I have just seen the clearest-so-far clip of the murder. I warn you, this is brutal, and it happens late in the clip.

The officer, who has resigned from the force, has not been charged at all for anything, which is almost mind numbing.

Oakland mayor Ron Dellums is quoted to have said:

“Even with our anger and our pain, let’s still address each other with a degree of civility and calmness and not make this tragedy an excuse to engage in violence,” he said. “I don’t want anybody hurt. I don’t want anybody killed.”

Which is bullshit. If you don’t want anybody killed, then bring this officer, Johannes “Hoping his name is so difficult to pronounce that nobody will cover this” Mehserle to justice. Deliver a fucking body already, Dellums, because Mehserle already has.

And finally, Mr. President Elect, speak about this. You may be surprised to find out about this, but you’re black. The country needs you to have one of your great speeches, now on the topic of excessive force from the police to minorities and the public in general. This country needs someone of power to say that Enough Is E-Fucking-Nough. You know you’re the right guy for the job. I know we have a troubled economy on all of our minds and bank accounts, but this is important.

More from the Times of UK article I’m sourcing:

Videos shot by onlookers on camera phones show Mr Grant being pushed onto his stomach shortly before Mehserle fired his gun at his back. The bullet ricocheted off a pavement and pierced his lung, killing him.

The victim’s family claims that the officer shot him deliberately but some have argued that he may have thought he was firing his stun gun.

A group of angry demonstrators smashed store windows late on Wednesday, set fire to cars and clashed with officers equipped with riot gear and tear gas in downtown Oakland. More than 100 people were arrested and about 300 businesses were damaged.

Extra police were posted at Bay Area Rapid Transit stations after the rioting and a demonstration passed off relatively peacefully yesterday. At the mayor’s request, the Oakland Police Department has launched an investigation into the shooting.

Mehserle was initially placed on paid leave. He resigned from the BART police force on Wednesday, but officials say he has refused to speak with the transit agency’s investigators.

BART officials said the agency is trying to conduct a thorough investigation, but that the public appears to be making judgments about the case based on raw video online or on television.

First off, the stun gun shit is pure Dept. Spin. The stun gun is a rectangle. A hand gun is not. Get out of here with that nonsense.

Further: They’re making judgments from raw video? How dare they view actual source material and not listen to what they’re told? This ricochet theory may in fact be true, but it doesn’t matter if it were a ricochet or not in terms of the fact that Mehserle should have been hauled down to the station for a full fucking debriefing. An investigation shouldn’t have been something happening just because of a request from the Mayor.

This reminds me of The Wire, seriously. Remember when Prez blinded the kid with the butt of his handgun when him, Herc, and Carver were out at night up to no good? That was some seriously in need of Internal Affairs fucking shit. But he skated cause of his family ties to the force.

Facts are sourced to this post from The Times of London.

• The Post Election Plan

I’ll post some thoughts on November 5th, but from 11/6 to 11/13 and hopefully beyond that date, you won’t be seeing much of me online. I’ve planned a technological detox program (aside from when I’m at work, where I won’t be using NetNewsWire anymore) for myself, as I think I well need it. Maybe need it now, well, of course I need it now. But only 1 Week Left! Gotta push through.

• The Daily Ritual: Coffee

“Small Iced Coffee, Unsweetened.”

That’s how I order my coffee. Usually done at the Starbucks on 23rd and Park Ave South. Which is around the corner from my office.

Preamble first, so you see where I’m coming from on this habit that most have been on forever. Before, let’s call it, senior year of college, I didn’t really fucks with coffee. I had dabbled in the drink, but had always found myself too impatient to wait for it to cool down from what Kenneth on 30 Rock calls “The Devil’s Temperature.”

When staying awake was a major concern, Euro History in High School with Snook if any Packer survivors are reading this, this being back when he threatened to kick me out of the class for falling asleep (side note: if he didn’t give us such dense readings every day, I wouldn’t stay up so late, yes that’s why I was always tired, so sheltered back then) I found my caffeeine in Red Bull. Red Bull, that evil evil combination of the tastes of Pez, Seltzer, and Gatorade.

At some point in college, I realized Red Bull wasn’t taking anymore. That leads me to my Jessie Spano caffeeine pills incidents, the last of which ended at Bard’s Karaoke night, me performing “I’m So Excited” and ending it by tossing Caffeeine Pills into the audience.

So back to coffee. It’s mostly been a phenomenon of the post Bard years that I’ve been able to get decent coffee. The brunch coffee at Elote is servicable, but the thing about them is that they only serve it hot. Which I get. Except I love it ice cold. Much better for savoring the flavors. Much better for having the coffee black, too.

The daily iced coffee routine started back when I was in Williamsburg and Gimme Coffee was just so nice with their iced. Around the time Winter started though, Gimme decided they weren’t going to do iced coffee in the same way, they then kept a pitcher in a fridge. The results of which were not at all close to what I’d gotten used to. So I moved to tea, I think. Or something?

I’ve started a plan to go to as many coffee places as possible and rate their offerings. Today’s was the sometimes oddly enough reccomended Dunkin Donuts. C+. Watered down and burnt. Nothing more to say than that.

Finally, from Sunday to hopefully middle of next week, I won’t be blogging as much. My laptop’s going in for repairs, as Apple is finally admitting that the Nvidia chips in their MBP line can shitty the display up. See my first encounter with this B.S. here.