Monthly Archives: March 2010

Almost every Midwestern town announces itself at the city limits with a sign proclaiming that it is the home of the 1998 AA-class state wrestling champions, or the 2002 regional girls track meet winners. Just once I’d like to see a sign bragging that all the school’s graduates have gone to college.

Friday Night Blight, The Midwesterner

For years, Viacom secretly uploaded its content to YouTube

Zahavah Levine, Chief Counsel of YouTube:

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

Viacom’s efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

Is Undercover Boss the Most Subversive Show on Television?

Thirty years ago top executives at S&P 500 companies made an average of 30 times what their workers did — now they make 300 times what their workers make.

That’s the kind of statistic a show like Undercover Boss can put flesh and blood on. Here are a few others:

  • Since 2000, 3.2 million more American households are trying to make do on under $25,000 a year.
  • In 2005, households in the bottom 20 percent had an average income of $10,655, while the top 20 percent made $159,583 — a disparity of 1,500 percent, the highest gap ever recorded.
  • In 2007, the top ten percent pocketed almost half of all the money earned in America — the highest percentage recorded since 1917 (including, as Henry Blodget notes, 1928, the peak of the stock market bubble in the “roaring 1920s”).

[…]

Those are ugly trends, but Americans still want to believe otherwise. Over 60 percent of parents think that their children will have a higher standard of living than they have. And over 70 percent believe that drive and hard work play a bigger role in economic mobility than external factors, such as the income of parents.

15 YouTube Killer Features of 2025

In the year 2025, perhaps we’ll be seeing: [...]

2. YouTube Speech Dubbing

What it is: When you watch a foreign language short film on YouTube, the voices will automatically be dubbed into the language of your current content preference. You won’t even notice people aren’t speaking your mother tongue.

How it works: Behind the scenes, Google’s YouTube runs a speech-to-text program, followed by machine translation, followed by text-to-speech. To make the outcome more seamless, face recognition understands who is speaking and slightly adjusts the lip movements of the speaker so that it looks like the person really says the translated tone. [...]

9. YouTube Change the Cam

What it is: When watching an archived news report on YouTube – say, a press conference by the president – a camera symbol shows up in the bottom of the video. Click it, and the same press conference will be displayed from another camera angle.

How it works: YouTube checks, rather fuzzily, if the specific audio track of a clip has matches in other clips. If it finds other clips, it checks if the video differs substantially. If that’s the case then YouTube figures it’s the same scene shown from a different angle.

 

How to Make High Speed Rail Fail: Don’t Connect the Lines

From The Infrastructurist:

We want high speed rail to succeed in the U.S. For one, there’s a lot of time, money, and other resources that have already been spent, or will be soon, on HSR. Also, it has enormous potential to galvanize travel, communities, economies of scale, and even the national economy, not to mention create thousands of desperately-needed jobs.

Which is why we get worried when we hear about HSR plans that are already entering deeply-flawed territory. Like the scenario in Florida, where no agreement has been made about connecting the planned Orlando-Tampa HSR line (which, as you’ll recall, got a whopping $1.25 billion of the federal HSR funds) to SunRail, a 61-mile project that’ll be built on existing CSX tracks from DeLand to Poinicana, running through the east side of Orlando.

According to current plans, the HSR line will follow Interstate 4 and have five stations — none of which link to the SunRail. Which could severely hinder the ability of passengers to use the HSR line to get to their destinations, and consequently put a severe damper on the number of people who use both lines. What’s the point of spending millions on separate train lines in the same area if there’s no way to switch between them? The The Florida DOT is reportedly worried about slowing down travel time on the HSR line — but if passengers aren’t able to access the train with ease, keeping up a lightning-fast speed won’t matter, since no one will ride the train. Plus we’re willing to bet that the average passenger would be willing to add 5 or 10 minutes of travel time for an opportunity to transfer between lines.