Friday, August 25, 2006

YouTube Starts Selling Video Ads

It's a first for the company. But the ads are a little different from the usual fare:
Paris Hilton's face is shiny. The lighting is bad, and she's sitting against yellow wall, filmed with what appears to be an amateur's video camera."Hey, YouTubers, it's Paris," she says to the camera, followed by a clip of her latest video and an invitation to check out the "Paris Hilton channel" on

Her appearance on the Internet's most popular video site is part of a new advertising strategy announced yesterday by YouTube, a year-old Internet phenomenon that has yet to find a viable revenue stream. By midday, the Paris Hilton video -- found at a home page location that YouTube will be selling to advertisers -- had attracted 155,000 views and more than 600 comments from visitors. The company said it would sell the upper right corner to advertisers for an undisclosed daily rate, also allowing them to create special YouTube "channels," for which they would be charged based on the number of page visitors.

"It's giving brands and advertisers a new way to provide new material to the YouTube community," YouTube chief executive Chad Hurley said. "This gives them a chance to create a viral video," he said, referring to fast user-to-user spread.

YouTube visitors will have to click on the video ad to activate it, and its appeal will be measured by the number of visitors who choose to watch it, share it and provide a short commentary below the clip.

Terrorist-praising Boy Band Tops Palestinian Charts

Here's a story you're not likely to see covered by today's MSM TV: the story of a Palestinian boy band who made it writing up a song praising Hezollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah. (Click here for an MP3 of it.)

The song, "Hawk of Lebanon," is mostly a 10-minute repetition of the phrase "Yallah, Nasrallah" along with other delightful lyrics such as "I hope we can destroy your life and make you worry, Zionism and Zionists are the biggest poison in Arab land."

It's taken the Palestine by storm. AP reporter Sarah El Deeb has more:

They were struggling in a boy band, working the West Bank wedding circuit and dreaming of stardom.

Now the five singers who make up the Northern Band have come a little closer to their goal, with help from an unwitting ally — Hezbollah guerrilla chief Hassan Nasrallah.

At the height of the Israel-Hezbollah war, the band wrote new lyrics, in praise of Nasrallah, for an old tune. The Hawk of Lebanon song tapped into Nasrallah's huge popularity among Palestinians and became an instant hit.

The song is being played on Arab TV networks, used as a ring tone for cell phones, passed around on e-mail and distributed on pirate CDs and tapes. Music stores have trouble keeping up with demand, in part because Israeli soldiers have confiscated some Nasrallah tapes and CDs at checkpoints.

Basking in its newfound success, the band has doubled its fee per performance to $230 US. At a recent wedding in the town of Ramallah, the band was asked to play the Nasrallah song six times.

Lead singer and manager Alaa Abu al-Haija, 28, said he gives the audiences what they want to hear.

Alaa and his two younger brothers and band partners — Nour, 25, and Mohammed, 22 — are already working on the next song about Nasrallah. Alaa also wrote the Hamas election song, to the same tune as the Nasrallah anthem, but it never reached the same popularity.

So just like their American counterparts, the Northern Band is recycling music from other songs.

The Washington Times also has a report:

At a wedding party in Ramallah this week, Alaa Abul Heijah's chants of "Yallah, Nasrallah" sent the male-only dance circle into a relentless spin, with arms flailing and hands clapping.

"The song has brought us fame," said Mr. Abul Heijah, the songwriter and leader of the Firkat Ishaman band. "Palestinian people are interested in talking about people that fight for their cause. Hassan Nasrallah is that person."

Just one month ago, the band would have been lucky to find gigs for two weeks a month, but now it is performing almost every day.

The band's popularity highlights how Hezbollah and Sheik Nasrallah burnished their prominence in the Arab world after a monthlong war with Israel that ended in a cease-fire. Palestinians see Sheik Nasrallah as the one Arab leader capable of facing down Israel.

According to a survey by the Ramallah-based Near East Consulting Group, 97 percent of Palestinians support Sheik Nasrallah. There are newspaper reports about young couples naming children Hassan or Nasrallah. And Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly bestowed words of praise on the Lebanese leader.

The upshot:

Palestinian society is divided, with some pledging loyalty to the Islamic militant Hamas, which took power in March, and others backing the Fatah movement of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

However, Hezbollah fever appears to have united the Palestinians, who feel deep resentment against Israel after 39 years of military occupation, including harsh restrictions on travel, commerce and other aspects of daily life. Many admire Hezbollah for holding off Israel's mighty army — similar to the popular support enjoyed by then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein when he fired Scud missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War.

"We used to sing for Saddam," said Saed Akrawi, 26, whose perfume shop in downtown Jenin is adorned with a Nasrallah portrait, next to posters of models. "Saddam is gone. We want someone else to sing for."

Here is a translation of the lyrics.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Left-wing Insanity

If you've ever wondered why some liberals simply cannot be friends with anyone who is inclined even the slightest bit toward being conservative, check out this forum discussion started up at a Howard Stern fansite by a banned NewsBuster reader who became incensed that he wasn't being allowed to post nonsensical, trollish comments.

One of the many ironies here is that "hater" and friends claim to dislike NB for its alleged intolerance while making it their "life's work" to disrupt it. When called on it by a fellow reader, "hater" explodes into a frothy rage.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The New Generation Gap

Interesting thesis in this Arthur Brooks WSJ piece: Democrats are destined to lose to Republicans, simply by virtue of the fact that they're less likely to have children:
Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20%--explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today.

Alarmingly for the Democrats, the gap is widening at a bit more than half a percentage point per year, meaning that today's problem is nothing compared to what the future will most likely hold. Consider future presidential elections in a swing state (like Ohio), and assume that the current patterns in fertility continue. A state that was split 50-50 between left and right in 2004 will tilt right by 2012, 54% to 46%. By 2020, it will be certifiably right-wing, 59% to 41%. A state that is currently 55-45 in favor of liberals (like California) will be 54-46 in favor of conservatives by 2020--and all for no other reason than babies.

The fertility gap doesn't budge when we correct for factors like age, income, education, sex, race--or even religion. Indeed, if a conservative and a liberal are identical in all these ways, the liberal will still be 19 percentage points more likely to be childless than the conservative. Some believe the gap reflects an authentic cultural difference between left and right in America today. As one liberal columnist in a major paper graphically put it, "Maybe the scales are tipping to the neoconservative, homogenous right in our culture simply because they tend not to give much of a damn for the ramifications of wanton breeding and environmental destruction and pious sanctimony, whereas those on the left actually seem to give a whit for the health of the planet and the dire effects of overpopulation." It would appear liberals have been quite successful controlling overpopulation--in the Democratic Party.
Of course, Brooks is ignoring the potential impact of immigration on the American body politic. I suspect that both parties are not, though. Expect both immigration and low liberal birth rates to become high priorities for Democrats in the near future.

Brooks's essay is instructive in one point, though, it dispels the myth that young people of today are not "turning more conservative." They're being born this way instead. If the GOP wants to keep them voting that way, they'll need to keep their rhetoric more futuristic libertarian conservative (or my preferred term "liberal conservative") and less traditionalistic conservative.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Preach It, Al! (Well, Mostly)

Many black youths fall under a spell of "gangster mentality," preventing them from becoming leaders and making a positive impact in politics, the Rev. Al Sharpton said.
The civil rights activist faulted Hollywood and the record industry for making "gangsterism" seem cool and acceptable.

"We have got to get out of this gangster mentality, acting as if gangsterism and blackness are synonymous," Sharpton said Thursday at the annual conference of the National Association of Black Journalists.

"I think we've allowed a whole generation of young people to feel that if they're focused, they're not black enough. If they speak well and act well, they're acting white, and there's nothing more racist than that."

The key to leadership is taking the initiative to change things, said Sharpton. He said his National Action Network is just one group willing to help young black leaders get into politics.

"Nobody broke in my house in Brooklyn and dragged me out the projects and made me a leader, I wanted to do that. Clearly, we would work with young people who want to do the work," he said.

Sharpton is right about the gangster culture being a motivational drag, but the solution to the problem isn't just to get young black kids interested in politics. Most non-black kids aren't particularly interested, either.

Motivating urban youth isn't about getting kids into voting. It's about getting them to realize that the future is theirs and not anyone else's.

Back in high school, I spent about a year in the Kansas City School District, which at the time had some of the very highest in per pupil spending in the country. Yet test scores never really improved much, and eventually, the school district lost its accreditation by the state. My experience there led me to believe that the solution to getting people off their ass isn't to be found in a politician's speech. The solution will be found in parental involvement and community participation.

Government can provide some of the solution in this, but it can't fill all the gaps.

Via Ace.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

'I Don't Bother You at Work'

Mindless fun with media. Must watch:

HT: The Moderate Voice

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Universal Waiting Time

Health care is not something I normally write much about, mainly because I think a lot of people who do really aren't qualified to do so. It's one of those political issues that isn't just not black and white, it's full technicolor.

London's Telegraph provides another example of why this is true:
Hospitals across the country are imposing minimum waiting times - delaying the treatment of thousands of patients.

After years of Government targets pushing them to cut waiting lists, staff are now being warned against "over-performing" by treating patients too quickly. The Sunday Telegraph has learned that at least six trusts have imposed the minimum times.

In March, Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Health, offered her apparent blessing for the minimum waiting times by announcing they would be "appropriate" in some cases. Amid fears about £1.27 billion of NHS debts, she expressed concern that some hospitals were so productive "they actually got ahead of what the NHS could afford".

The minimum waiting times, however, dismayed Katherine Murphy, of the Patients' Association, who said last night: "This all stems from bad financial planning and management. No wonder there is a crisis. If staff are available for an operation, they should be utilised."

Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, added that the minimum waiting times shed new light on the Government's target that patients should wait no longer than six months. "It is outrageous that the purpose of the Government's targets is not so much to drive down waiting times, as to impose a six-month wait."


Disaster Averted

This is sure to be a huge story:

British authorities said Thursday they had thwarted a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage, averting what police described as "mass murder on an unimaginable scale." Home Secretary John Reid said British police and government were confident the main suspects had been arrested.

Huge crowds formed at security barriers at London's Heathrow airport as officials searching for explosives barred nearly every form of liquid outside of baby formula. [...]

The U.S. government responded by raising its threat alert to its highest level for commercial flights from Britain to the United States amid fears the plot had not been completely crushed. The alert for all flights coming or going from the United States was also raised slightly.

In Washington, two U.S. counterterrorism officials said the terrorists had targeted United, American and Continental airlines. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Police arrested 21 people in London, its suburbs and in Birmingham as part of a major covert counterterrorism operation that had lasted several months, Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson said. Searches continued in a number of locations.

I'll bet that this attack was the one that bin Laden et al. have been warning about for a while.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Technical Difficulties

FYI: If you're trying to access NewsBusters, we're having some technical issues that we hope to have resolved tonight.

UPDATE 6:18. Things are back to normal.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Everyone's Healthy, at Least in Their Minds

More than three-quarters of obese Americans say they have healthy eating habits, according to a survey of more than 11,000 people.

About 40 percent of obese people also said they do "vigorous" exercise at least three times a week, the telephone survey found.

"There is, perhaps, some denial going on. Or there is a lack of understanding of what does it mean to be eating healthy, and what is vigorous exercise," said Dr. David Schutt of Thomson Medstat, the Michigan-based health-care research firm that conducted the survey.

The survey also found that 28 percent of obese people reported snacking two or more times a day, only slightly more than 24 percent of normal weight people who said they did.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bloggeurs Extraordinaires

I was somewhat surprised by this:
Already famed for angry labor strikes and philosophical debates in smoke-filled cafes, the French have now brought these passions online to become some of the world’s most intensive bloggers.

The French distinguish themselves, both statistically and anecdotally, ahead of Germans, Britons and even Americans in their obsession with the personal and public journals of the Internet age. Sixty percent of French Internet users visited a blog in May, ahead of Britain with 40 percent and little more than a third in the United States, according to Comscore, an Internet ratings service.

Likewise, French bloggers spent more than an hour in June visiting France’s top-rated blog site, far ahead of the 12 minutes spent by Americans doing the same and the less than 3 minutes by Germans, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a sister company to the television ratings giant.

More than three million Internet users, or more than 12 percent of those online in France, have created a blog, a study released in June by the ratings agency Médiamétrie found.

“You cannot be elected president of France without a blog,” said Benjamin Griveaux, director of Web strategy for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister and current member of Parliament who in 2004 was among the first politicians to start a blog. “Blogs have not replaced traditional media, but they are absolutely necessary for every politician.”

Some bloggers even harbor a faint hope that flourishing online discussions might curb the French population’s penchant for taking to the streets in protest.