This weekend I browsed once again through the few latest issues of Finnish Talouselämä, a kind of lousy Forbes for the locals.
I have a problem with the mainstream magazines about the economic life (including business and finance to be sure). They are all like soap operas: most talk about local success stories, persons and firms. In every number they run the names and pictures of “top” CEOs and companies as if they would present “the economy”.
The problem is that we don’t get even real-TV quality. They have have little if no analysis. A journalist calls a big company, asks around, takes a phographer with and they shoot some smiling suitefellows. Or maybe it is the hottest startup, which just got millions of venture capital. Or the new prime minister talking “business”. The guru speaks. The economy demystified. One liners. There you go.
I am so lucky to subscribe to The Economist. It’s been the last three years the only magazine I subscribe to. They have independent analysis. People and firms don’t jump out of the economy just because they sell. The name of the journalist does not matter. Just because the bigger picture rules. On the top of all that, The Economist has an own “invisible hand” argument and a courage to write quality analysis about the stuff lamers won’t even mention. The normative economics of drug policy, religion, you name it. And the magazine is still mainstream in its own category.
I recently read from somewhere that most of the readers of The Economist are from the United States. After all, there are people there who think themselves. Highly recommended (*****)
1. You don’t get but the last five years of Hollywood mainstream
2. You don’t get the hottest titles anyway cause someone was there before you
3. Even those hot titles had their world premier at least half a year ago
(4. If you happen to get the movie you want, It’ll be 4 euros – around 5 bucks – and five minutes of forced commercials, region lock, copy lock, and other devaluation)
My gut feeling is that CD is going to outlive DVD. Both of those medias will die soon, that’s clear, but CD will undoubtedly win. I still buy occasionally CDs although I get most of my aural pleasure from the radio (online and offline), various p2p software and iTunes. Why still CDs? The quality is great (same as the “original” in most cases) and the price for used and bargains about right. You also get enough usage-freedom when you own a CD (except the fucking “copyprotected” ones).
But I don’t buy DVDs anymore. And I won’t rent DVDs either, just because the renting system does not work. I re-experienced movie renting the last few weeks while we’ve had to live in a temporary apartment due to some renovation in our own. We have a DVD player in our temp place and the two main Finnish video rental chains just a one-minute walk from our door. So I tried them a couple of times and disappointed big time as you can read from above. Where the hell is iTunes for movies? Before we get anything like that, I urge anyone to try the latest p2p tricks before entering any movie rental shop in Helsinki.
Lessig’s new book on “free culture” is out and well commented everywhere. I think I’ll join those who have issues with it. The prose and arguments are ok, but the general idea of a chained permission culture simply doesn’t buy me in. Culture has never asked, never will, any permissions from anybody. I agree there is a sub section in our current concept of culture, which we may call “commercial culture”. It plays with things like copyright and licenses. However, most of the stuff we do is never going to be under that permission bullshit. At least it is exremely hard to imagine such a world where browsing the web, chatting online and simply expressing oneself would not be permitted unless paid for. Masses can not be overriden. That would need much more than writing stupid laws and vague lobbying within the commercial media…
Finland has a hostile policy towards good cars. We have both a luxury tax system and strict anti-import legislation. My “problem” is that I like big cars that may cost a lot of money. With luxury taxes and import problems, having a car I like can be deadly expensive. So I am one among the many who really hates the system. I have a strange feeling that Finland is now quite alone in Europe with its anti-market (against free importation of goods) and anti-environmental (new cars would pollute less) car policy.
I had recently an opportunity to do some research on how the anti-import and luxury tax systems work in practice. I decided to ship a rather new SUV from California and see what it takes to get Finnish plates on it. It wasn’t too easy. Click here for full story!
There is little doubt that GNU General Public License (GPL) is not only the most used but also the most controversial Free Software license. While it gives users the freedom to use and study programs, it does not give them freedom to do whatever they want with derivative works. In fact, GPL is incombatible with many Open Source licenses.
Now MySQL has published a solution to GPL-incompatibility problems. Basically they have added an exception saying that code under GPL can be combined with code under any other Open Source compliant license. Technically speaking, MySQL users have an option to choose either a “plain GPL” or the amended, more Open Source friendly, version. Free Software Foundation currently classifies Free Software licenses according to their GPL compatibility, which in my opinion just confuses people. MySQL’s new policy is an example of an attempt to make information, and software in particular, available to all with no artificial (whether they be commercial or ideological) constraints.