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AIG Bonus Solution

AIG is giving away millions of dollars in payments to their executives. According to CEO Liddy, the firm was legally obligated to make 2008 employee-retention payments.
Hello? Retain the fuckers who caused this train wreck?
Who the hell is gonna hire these guys?

“We cannot attract and retain the best and brightest talent to lead and staff the AIG businesses, which are now being operated principally on behalf of the American taxpayers _ if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” Liddy said.

Like that’s working out so well.

AIG’s financial products unit is getting $165 million in bonuses. These are the guys who sunk AIG.
Really these guys need to be acknowledged for their work.
Scenario #1 is to give them their bonuses in the products (derivatives contracts) they sold at the Sale Prices. Let them work on a commission basis straightening these out!

One of the funny things here is that for some reason, AIG can’t seem to cancel these contracts and return unused premium payments. Businesses like insurance companies do this shit to private folks all day long.

Scenario #2 comes from Aaron Zelinsky at the Huffington Post:

“Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner should direct the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to challenge the AIG bonuses as unreasonable compensation under the Internal Revenue Code. Finding the AIG bonuses to be unreasonable compensation would render them nondeductible for federal tax purposes, and would strengthen potential shareholder derivative suits to recapture The Great AIG Giveaway. …”

Yeah, I think these bonuses would qualify as unreasonable compensation!
Since the US Owns 80% of AIG, this ought to be a no brainer. But we should never underestimate the power of the government to screw shit up.

The elegant part of this solution is that AIG cannot write these off on their taxes.

Notable Quotes

What’s wrong with Newspapers
“marketers are growing skeptical of the ability of display ads on any platform to capture the consumer’s attention”
New York Times CEO Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
Source: All Things Digital

Artificial Intelligence
“It astonishes me that people spend years and millions on attempting to re-create what two 17 year old can make in the back seat of a car.”
Shelley Powers BB Real Tech

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Due to the current political and economic situation, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been removed.
Thank You.

Transparency and Controlling Comments

I was reading Matt Ingram the other day and he had a posting; Are comments valuable or a waste of time? Yes. It got me thinking especially as Matt has become the Community Director for the Globe and Mail.(I sent him my condolences:) But I digress.

One of the latest memes to arrive in cyberspace is Transparency. You know, bare the soul, perform disclosures, admit conflicts of interest, fess up that somebody is paying you to say nice things, basically run around the internet naked.
Electronic Veritas! Truth in Pixels!
Transparency is a lot like sausage. You like the result, but you prefer not to look to closely at how it gets made. As long as you understand that Facts and Truth are not the same thing, you will not bleed much.

Newspapers long regarded as the primary bastions of Facts and Truth, are in serious trouble. They put up a pretty good fight against radio and television, but the Internet has kicked their ass. Eyeballs have moved online. Fact checking does not take place in the newsroom alone anymore. News cycles are no longer 24 hours, but have collapsed to 24 seconds, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Newspapers have moved online in an attempt to remain relevant and viable. That is the good news. The bad news is that readers want to share their opinions on what they read.

Newspapers enjoyed the ability to control commentary through the Letters to the Editor. You could write an impassioned letter to the editor, but your chances of it actually appearing, were about equal to winning the Powerball Lottery.

Moving from Monologue to Dialogue is the most important step any news organization can take.

The ability to get comments on your website is probably the most powerful part of the interactive web. This is the part of the web that promotes dialogue over monologue. It lets you know that somebody actually cares, sort of. The dark side of this are comments that are outside of your comfort zone, because of language, snark, or off topic raving lunacy.

A lot of organizations have rules and policies in place for comments. Moderation is necessary for a number of reasons. The primary reason is to demonstrate that somebody is paying attention, actually listening and may engage in dialogue. Secondarily, decisions are made as to tone of discussions, from topicality to language. Thirdly, to fight spam.

Moderation and Transparency are not mutually exclusive and can actually act as an enhancement for dialogue.

Some have full moderation, which is not transparent and is no better than the Letter to the Editor game. When commentary is filtered with the bias of the folks that wrote the article in the first place, it is a lose, lose situation. You only get what they want to show you, there is no incentive to comment, and criticism is eliminated. There is no transparency here. Nor is there any learning curve as to what the deleted comment and why it was deleted.

Some require registration as a requirement to comment, which is not as onerous as some folks might believe, but still is not as transparent as it should be. While the moderation may be significantly less, the dialogue is not transparent, and most sites do not even acknowledge removed comments or provide reasons. Here again there is no feedback as to what or why.

Some allow Anonymous comments, which does increase the amount of interactivity, but also increases the probability of language, snark, or off topic raving lunacy. This however presents the best opportunity for more transparent dialogue. I personally am a great believer in transparency, and have a much higher gag threshold than most folks, and a twisted sense of humor.

Getting back to Matt. I suggested that they try strike through. Strikethrough is one of those little known or used visual tags that allow text to appear and can present a clear signal that the comment is a policy violation or is irrelevant or to the conversation.

Publishing all comments, but using strike through on those comments that do not fit whatever policy you have in place will do a couple of important things.

One, it will demonstrate your desire for transparency, by publishing all comments.

Two, It demonstrates comments that are objectionable, using them as indicators for what will not fly.(you can also take the time to note why the comment is outside the lines. preferably, below and in italics )
Also you can use the star **** to bleep language too ‘salty’ for your readers.

Three. Strike through demonstrates your commitment to Transparency, engagement and dialogue.

A lot of folks will scan over things that get stricken, and stay with the program. You will probably get a much better comment stream, and help your shy writer’s over their issues.

As for spammers, they should be fed their own intestines starting at the rectum and moving north slowly, very slowly should be deleted.

Bullshit Site of the Week

I was looking for some car infomation. Google served up this site.
PDFoo.com it says “Your free search PDF files ” It looks like a site with links to download pdf files.
Not so fast.

This site does everything evil on the web. You have to constantly scan to find the bit for the link that you are actually searching for, multiple pages of ads, to get to the actual link or where it should be, but requires registration to actually download. Oh yeah, they even have a toolbar so you can continue to bang your mouse against your head.

P.S. Most automotive owners manuals can be found on the manufacturer’s sites.

What Bruce Sterling Actually Said About Web 2.0 at Webstock 09

This is for the 5 people on the planet who actually have a clue.


Amazon gets Borged

Amazon, arguably the largest bookseller on the planet, and proud parent of the Kindle Book Reader, whose birth defects are legion, most notably DRM, came out with V2, which added  text to speech as an enhancement, recently came under fire by none other than  the Borg Collective Authors Guild.

Roy Blount Jr., current President of the Authors Guild put forth the argument that:

“Kindle 2 is being sold specifically as a new, improved, multimedia version of books — every title is an e-book and an audio book rolled into one. And whereas e-books have yet to win mainstream enthusiasm, audio books are a billion-dollar market, and growing. Audio rights are not generally packaged with e-book rights. They are more valuable than e-book rights. Income from audio books helps not inconsiderably to keep authors, and publishers, afloat.”
Source NY Times

Audio Books still come on cassettes fer christ sakes! Growing Market my Ass!

There is nothing illegal with text to speech especially in the comfort of your own home, on your own devices,(readers, computers, your significant other, or parents) The First Sale Doctrine alone gives you the right to do what you want with your books. Regardless of delivery system, subject to physical or technological stumbling blocks like DRM. For example I used a copy of John Deans ‘Blind Ambition’ for target practice. Which is my right.

The “first sale” doctrine says that a person who buys a legally produced copyrighted work may “sell or otherwise dispose” of the work as he sees fit, subject to some important conditions and exceptions. Section 109(a). In other words, if you legally buy a book or CD, “first sale” gives you the right to loan that book or CD to your friend. Libraries heavily depend on the first sale doctrine to lend books and other items to patrons.
Source: AALL

Which if you have the brains god gave a gerbil, is the first free taste most people get that leads to an addiction to the printed word, culminating in visits to dead tree dealers both offline and on, like Borders, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

That the Borg Collective Authors Guild, would put forth such a specious argument boggles the mind in light of using the audio book market (another milestone in technology) as its justification for demanding the removal the Kindle’s technological Next Step, the text to speech feature.

No the most outrageous part of this sorry mess is that Amazon fell for it. Here is Amazon’s statement:

Kindle 2’s experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given. Furthermore, we ourselves are a major participant in the professionally narrated audiobooks business through our subsidiaries Audible and Brilliance. We believe text-to-speech will introduce new customers to the convenience of listening to books and thereby grow the professionally narrated audiobooks business.

Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat.

Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rights holders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title. We have already begun to work on the technical changes required to give authors and publishers that choice. With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is.

Customers tell us that with Kindle, they read more, and buy more books. We are passionate about bringing the benefits of modern technology to long-form reading.

Note that the rights holders are emphasized,(before authors) which as an author you usually have to assign to a publisher to get published. The Borg Collective Authors Guild’s members would probably be better served limiting rights grants to publishers for publication. Because without authors, there is no reason for a publishing industry. Ask the Buggy Whip or Pager folks.
Authors should be drowning Jeff Bezos in fruit baskets or hookers in profound thanks making their work available worldwide 24/7.