New York Times Again Planning To Charge For On Line Access

The New York Times is reportedly on the verge of announcing plans to charge for access to their site again. They have not decided how they will charge:

The Times has considered three types of pay strategies. One option was a more traditional pay wall along the lines of The Wall Street Journal, in which some parts of the site are free and some subscription-only. For example, editors and business-side executives discussed a premium version of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s DealBook section. Another option was the metered system. The third choice, an NPR-style membership model, was abandoned last fall, two sources explained. The thinking was that it would be too expensive and cumbersome to maintain because subscribers would have to receive privileges (think WNYC tote bags and travel mugs, access to Times events and seminars).

On line advertising has not been enough to support print media which offers their content on line but it is difficult for newspapers to charge when so much material is available free on line. Only newspapers with unique material stand a chance at being successful with charging. The Wall Street Journal is one paper which has been successful. Initially I considered it a bargain to subscribe to the on-line version as a far less expensive to my previous  hard copy subscription. Since Rupert Murdoch purchased the paper I have considered not renewing but so far have renewed.

I also subscribed to the previous attempt by The New York Times to charge for content but they took the opposite approach compared to The Wall Street Journal. The Times provided news content for free and charged for their columnists while the WSJ charges for much of their informational content while providing their editorial pages for free.

I was not surprised that people were willing to give up reading columnists if they had to pay. This ultimately hurt them by reducing international consideration of their viewpoints. For columnists, wide spread discussion of their views is part of their value and reducing access was counter productive. The Times has a better chance of getting away with charging for news content if they provide enough samples to demonstrate its value, especially if other top papers should also begin to charge.

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Charlie Cook Now Saying Massachusetts Race Leaning Towards Brown

More bad news for Coackley:  Charlie Cook has sent out an update on the Massachusetts race changing from toss up to leaning towards Brown. He does still say the race can go either way. Hopefully Obama’s appearance has changed things.

A poll conducted by the Merriman River Group (MRG) and has  Scott Brown leading Martha Coakley 50.8 percent to 41.2 percent.

Nate Silver is still calling the race a toss up.

Update: Public Policy Polling has Brown leading by five in final poll–with in margin of error.

Nate Silver is still calling the race a toss up.

Posted in Politics, Polls. 1 Comment »

SciFi Weekend: Dollhouse; Doctor Who and the Enterprise; Caprica; Lost; and 24

Hollow Man wrapped up the present day story on Dollhouse. As I anticipated, it was somewhat disappointing. It is very common for genre shows with complicated mythologies to be unable to provide a satisfactory conclusion for all the twists on a weekly show. Note their are major spoilers here.

The revelation last week that Boyd was Clyde’s evil partner in the development of Rossum provided a good shocker to end the episode, but it is very difficult to make sense of this. Even if you buy the story that Caroline/Echo is necessary to develop an immunity to having minds wiped, Boyd went about this in a strange way. Rather than have Echo in his own lab, or have Adelle actively working under his direction, he allowed someone as important as Echo repeatedly risk her life as an active. Perhaps this is why Boyd initially acted as his handler, but there this also complicated matters even more by having him out in the field as well.

The episode provided a fake happy ending. Rossum’s main frame was blown up and it looked like the good guys had won. If viewers were to stop watching after this episode there would be different conclusions for those who only watched it on television as opposed to those who have also viewed Epitaph One, which was only released on DVD. Those only viewing on television would so far see the happy ending. In two weeks they would see the apocalyptic future which has been hinted at in the series finale, Epitaph Two.

It is not difficult to understand that the destruction of Rossum in Hollow Man was not a solution. We already know that their mainframe is actually human minds connected around the world and destroying only one site probably would not destroy all of Rossum’s information on mind wiping technology. It is also possible that once the technology was possible others would develop it.

If anyone is hoping that the Dollhouse story will continue elsewhere, such as in comics, Joss Wheden says that this is the end.

In the 1980’s an unauthorized cross over book was published, The Doctor and the Enterprise. reviewed some books and interviews with Russell T. Davies and found an actual televised cross over was actually under consideration. A cross over with Star Trek:  Enterprise was seriously being considered in 2004 until Enterprise was canceled. There was also consideration of having The Doctor on board the Enterprise for the 2009 Easter special, “puncturing all that Starfleet pomposity with this sheer Doctor-ness”

There have been many Doctor Who references on Star Trek which have been accumulated here. There have also been references to Star Trek on Doctor Who, with some listed here.

Caprica debuts on January 22.  Executive producer Jane Espenson discussed the show with Airlock Alpha:

“Caprica” itself takes place more than 50 years before the events depicted in “Caprica,” and Friday’s premiere will essentially be the same episode that was released on DVD last year and online late last year, but there will be some differences with added scenes and some other adjustments here and there as “Caprica” goes into series mode.

“Obviously, in the pilot, they were reeling from this immediate attack,” Espenson said of a terrorist attack that affects the main character families of the Graystones and the Adamas. “But our show is going to pick up about a month after. And people will be back in your normal mode, where they can joke and laugh and try to cheer each other up.”

One thing that may never be explained explicitly but what Espenson and her crew had to think about, is how the Twelve Colonies can be on separate planets. Espenson said she worked with “Battlestar” science consultant Kevin Grazier to develop it, and basically the colonies will be a part of a cluster of stars.

“It’s all worked out,” Espenson said. “They are an easy shuttle flight distance from each other, without all crowding into the same orbit.”

Two of the colonies will actually orbit Ragnar, which was featured in the “Battlestar Galactica” pilot, she said. At least one other colony won’t actually be on a planet, but on on a “band” of material situated in a life zone between two uninhabitable planets.

Before the final season of Battlestar Galactica, a picture of the cast based upon the Last Supper was released (posted here). A Last Supper picture has also been released in US Weekly for the final season of Lost, with Locke in the center.

Jack is back, and Katee Sackhoff is also joining the cast. I know some of my liberal friends look down on 24 for its portrayal of torture. Personally I enjoy 24 as escapist fantasy and look down on pro-torture conservatives who are unable to tell the difference between television and reality

Another False Internet Rumor: Lieberman Not Endorsing Brown

There is an anonymous report on a blog claiming that Joe Lieberman is preparing to endorse Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race. While this should immediately raise doubts as to its accuracy, this is being quoted elsewhere. I imagine that a story suggesting that Lieberman plans to sell out the Democrats and further attempt to block health care reform has the feeling of truth to many.

The Hill reports that Lieberman has no plans to endorse anyone in the Massachusetts race, noting that conservative bloggers are floating this rumor. It is likely that this is intentional under the assumption that this might encourage some independents to vote for Brown over Coakley.

The Tea Party Scam

The tea party movement is a scam both intellectually and financially. They promote a disgraceful distortion of our national heritage to spread the know-nothing ignorance of reactionaries such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. They offer a false choice to those who do not understand the issues and an opportunity for those who want to take advantage of them to make big bucks.

Frank Rich, after noting how Michael Steele is profiting from his position, turns to the tea party:

Both Steele and Palin claim to be devotees of the tea party movement. “I’m a tea partier, I’m a town-haller, I’m a grass-roots-er” is how Steele put it in a recent radio interview, wet-kissing a market he hopes will buy his book. Palin has far more grandiose ambitions. She recently signed on as a speaker for the first Tea Party Convention, scheduled next month in Nashville — even though she had turned down a speaking invitation from the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, the traditional meet-and-greet for the right. The conservative conference doesn’t pay. The Tea Party Convention does. A blogger at Nashville Scene reported that Palin’s price for the event was $120,000.

The entire Tea Party Convention is a profit-seeking affair charging $560 a ticket — plus the cost of a room at the Opryland Hotel. Among the convention’s eight listed sponsors is Tea Party Emporium, which gives as its contact address 444 Madison Avenue in New York, also home to the high-fashion brand Burberry. This emporium’s Web site offers a bejeweled tea bag at $89.99 for those furious at “a government hell bent on the largest redistribution of wealth in history.” This is almost as shameless as Glenn Beck, whose own tea party profiteering has included hawking gold coins merchandised by a sponsor of his radio show.

Last week a prominent right-wing blogger, Erick Erickson of, finally figured out that the Tea Party Convention “smells scammy,” likening it to one of those Nigerian e-mails promising untold millions. Such rumbling about the movement’s being co-opted by hucksters may explain why Palin used her first paid appearance at Fox last Tuesday to tell Bill O’Reilly that she would recycle her own tea party profits in political contributions. But Erickson had it right: the tea party movement is being exploited — and not just by marketers, lobbyists, political consultants and corporate interests but by the Republican Party, as exemplified by Palin and Steele, its most prominent leaders.

Tea partiers hate the G.O.P. establishment and its Wall Street allies, starting with the Bushies who created TARP, almost as much as they do Obama and his Wall Street pals. When Steele and Palin pay lip service to the movement, they are happy to glom on to its anti-tax, anti-Obama, anti-government, anti-big-bank vitriol. But they don’t call for any actual action against the bailed-out perpetrators of the financial crisis. They’d never ask for investments to put ordinary Americans back to work. They have no policies to forestall foreclosures or protect health insurance for the tea partiers who’ve been shafted by hard times. Their only economic principle beside tax cuts is vilification of the stimulus that did save countless jobs for firefighters, police officers and teachers at the state and local level.

Why Massachusetts Voters Should Hold Their Nose And Vote For Coakley

Polls continue to show the Massachusetts Senate race  too close to call. As I previously discussed, the weakness of the Democratic candidate as well as anti-incumbent sentiment could very well lead to a Republican victory. Andrew Sullivan has several posts on the race, including ones I will quote here which provide reasons for voting for or against Martha Coakley.

While Republicans will spin a victory for Brown as a repudiation of Obama, one of Sullivan’s readers gave this reason for backing Brown, saying it is not a vote against Obama:

I was a very early supporter of Obama. I was living in New Hampshire two years ago. I signed up to go door-to-door to talk to people about his candidacy and in contrast to Hilary. I trudged through feet of snow in the week before the primary. I entered homes and had great discussions with my fellow residents. I went to Claremont, NH and shook Obama’s hand. I rallied the night before the primary in Concord. He lost the state but I knew we were on the right side of history.

I’m with you in thinking that Obama is the best thing the Democrats have going for them right now. But I also think that in having the supermajority, they actually undercut him. They don’t have to compromise and so they don’t try to. Instead, what passes as legislation is a horrid mismash of corporate interests and traditional, not progressive, balms of the Democratic Party. I know this country can do much, much better. And I think Obama needs a less powerful Democratic party to make it happen, like Clinton did.

The writer continues to argue for ballot splitting and notes that “It also helps that Brown has already voted for a health care plan with a public option. So to someone like Malkin who was ready to toss away a Congressional seat in NY for ‘purity’, I now laugh at their support of Brown.”  This is also described as an act to promote GOP moderation along with opposing “hacks like Coakley.”

Let me say emphatically that my vote for Brown isn’t a vote against Obama. It’s a vote against the Democratic Party, and hacks like Coakley, but also a vote to help moderate the GOP. One more New England Republican is necessary. Of all the places the GOP might find it’s path again I hope it’s from where it was born.

At other times I would have been more sympathetic towards this argument. I would certainly like to see moderate New England Republicans change the direction of the GOP. I also fear that once Brown is operating on a  national stage he will find it to his advantage to pander to the far right as Mitt Romney has. He may have voted for “a health care plan with a public option” in Massachusetts but is now running as the candidate who will block health care reform nationally.

If we could have a responsible Republican Party offering alternative solutions to problems it might be beneficial to have a Democratic Party which lacks the super-majority and force bipartisan cooperation. The problem is that the Republican Party now has no interest in bipartisan cooperation. Their only concern is to deny the Democrats any successes, even to the point of unanimously opposing a relatively conservative health care reform measure.

Andrew Sullivan appears to be thinking along similar lines. In some posts he has demonstrated the problems with Coakley, such as describing the flier which distorts Brown’s record on rape and emergency room treatment as vile. Sullivan also explains why he would hold his nose and vote for Coakley:

…there is the total, rigid opposition to any reform and any cooperation at all from the nihilist Republicans. Obama is president for three more years. He will survive. He may even prosper. But this really would be a massive blow. To get this close and lose health insurance would embolden every enemy Obama has, from Netanyahu to Ailes.

That’s the only reason to vote for Coakley on Tuesday.

She’s a dreadful candidate, but this race is now a critical battle in the war to rescue the possibility of effective governance. If health reform dies, it will show just how broken the system is, just how impossible it is to effect even centrist reform in a Senate this paralyzed, how polarization has made compromise impossible, how the country’s profound problems are simply beyond the system’s reach. If this fails, what chance for any action on climate change? Or the debt? Or some movement toward a settlement in the Middle East?

And if Obama fails, there are no Democrats able to match him. The nihilist Republicans would be resurgent, pledging more tax cuts, more debt, and no entitlement cuts, entrenching torture as the American way, and pouring even more resources into the indefinite occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The lesson will be: permanent political war is the only way. The only way to govern the country is to divide and weaken it.

Just like Rove did. You want that back? Vote Brown. You don’t? Hold your nose and vote for Coakley.