The Dominance of Blu-Ray: A Non-Story of 2008

After Blu-ray won the format war against HD DVD some felt that Blu-ray would finally start to take off in sales. This is one expected story of 2008 which did not occur.  Engadget points out an article at Content Agenda on what Blu-ray needs to do.

As they point out, Blu-ray has a better picture, which most will notice, and better sound, which far fewer will appreciate, compared to conventional DVD’s. While it is an improvement, the improvement is incremental and does not represent the tremendous difference seen when we moved from VHS to DVD. Blu-ray also faces  competition from new technologies such as streaming video which were not a factor when DVD first developed its market share. Another problem faced by Blu-ray is that much of the programing is not available in high definition, limiting the material which is available which justifies the move to a different player.

The gap between conventional DVD and Blu-ray is even less now that upscaling DVD players are being sold for less than $100. Such players still do not have as good a picture as Blu-ray, but the gap is even less. Blu-ray looks better, but not enough for many people to pay the extra cost. The articles linked above recommend lowering the price of Blu-ray discs to that of DVD’s. While this would help to get people to make the conversion, lower  prices alone  would not solve the problem which led me to hold off on going to Blu-ray.

One issue which I have rarely seen mentioned, but which has led me to postpone the move to Blu-ray, is viewing in different rooms. If I am watching n my main media room with the fifty inch television I can certainly see a major difference and would prefer the higher definition of Blu-ray. However I also have smaller HD televisions in three other rooms and on those sets the difference over upscaled DVD is not as significant. If I buy Blu-ray discs then I lose the option to watch them in any of the other rooms, as well as on a lap top or other computer. For now, if I really want to see a movie in high definition I’ll watch it on HD cable instead of DVD.

Blu-ray players have come down in price enough where I’d be willing to buy one for the main media room, but I’m less eager to replace the DVD players in every other room. Some day all my computers might be replaced by newer models with Blu-ray players, but that is at least a few years off.

My suggestion, besides lowering the cost of Blu-ray movies, would be to bundle a conventional DVD with a Blu-ray disc. This way I could still watch the movie in any room I choose, regardless of which type of player is present. The material costs for a DVD are very inexpensive. If they are concerned that the extra DVD will be given away or sold to others, reducing potential sales, another possibility is to have a single disc with each format present. Actually I recently heard that this is being developed but it will only help if the release of combo discs becomes a wide spread practice rather than being limited to certain shows, and if the price is not much more than buying a DVD.

Al Franken Leads in Minnesota Senate Race

Back in 2000 Al Gore found out the hard way that he was fighting an uphill battle when George Bush was considered the unofficial winner and Gore had to play the role of challenger. Al Franken initially appeared to be in a similar situation in Minnesota but he ultimately managed to take a lead. While there is still fighting over absentee ballots, and other legal battles sound likely, Franken now has a lead of fifty votes.

A Condensed History Of The Failings Of The Bush Administration

Vanity Fair has accumulated a number of interviews, primarily from those in the Bush administration, to provide a look back at the last eight years. Following is a handful of selections from their article which help demonstrate the incompetence of the Bush administration and how they often allowed ideology to prevent them from facing reality.

A major problem with George Bush was his lack of intellectual curiosity.

Richard Clarke, chief White House counterterrorism adviser: We had a couple of meetings with the president, and there were detailed discussions and briefings on cyber-security and often terrorism, and on a classified program. With the cyber-security meeting, he seemed—I was disturbed because he seemed to be trying to impress us, the people who were briefing him. It was as though he wanted these experts, these White House staff guys who had been around for a long time before he got there—didn’t want them buying the rumor that he wasn’t too bright. He was trying—sort of overly trying—to show that he could ask good questions, and kind of yukking it up with Cheney.

The contrast with having briefed his father and Clinton and Gore was so marked. And to be told, frankly, early in the administration, by Condi Rice and [her deputy] Steve Hadley, you know, Don’t give the president a lot of long memos, he’s not a big reader—well, shit. I mean, the president of the United States is not a big reader?

This, along with many others who have described Bush in a similar manner, certainly contradicts the difficult to believe spin from Karl Rove regarding the number of books Bush has read.

Beyond Bush’s personal failings, I believe three events were most important in destroying the credibility of the Bush administration: 1) the questionable manner in which he took office, the mishandling of 9/11 and Iraq, and 3) the final blow was the mishandling of Katrina. A comment on the first.

Mark McKinnon, chief campaign media adviser to George W. Bush: My view is that civility was a heartfelt, well-intended objective that went right off the rails the day of the recount. The recount poisoned the well from the beginning. A good number of people in this country didn’t believe Bush was a legitimate president. And you can’t change the tone under those circumstances. There was a genuine effort, and I think there was some early success with Ted Kennedy and the education stuff. But it was acrimonious from the beginning.

There were many failings noted regarding the handling of terrorism, including mistakes which prevented the Bush administration from capturing or killing bin Laden.

Richard Clarke, chief White House counterterrorism adviser: We went into a period in June where the tempo of intelligence about an impending large-scale attack went up a lot, to the kind of cycle that we’d only seen once or twice before. And we told Condi that. She didn’t do anything. She said, Well, make sure you’re coordinating with the agencies, which, of course, I was doing. By August, I was saying to Condi and to the agencies that the intelligence isn’t coming in at such a rapid rate anymore as it was in the June-July time frame. But that doesn’t mean the attack isn’t going to happen. It just means that they may be in place.

On September 4, we had a principals meeting. The most telling thing for me about the attitude of these people was on the decision that had been pending for a long time to resume Predator [remote-controlled drone] flights over Afghanistan, and to now do what we couldn’t have done in the Clinton administration because the technology wasn’t ready: put a weapon on the Predator and use it as not only a hunter but a killer.

We had seen bin Laden when we had it in the Clinton administration, as just a hunter. We had seen him. So we thought, Man, if we could get this with a hunter-killer, we could see him again and kill him. So finally we have a principals meeting and the C.I.A. says it’s not our job to fly the Predator armed. And D.O.D. says it’s not our job to fly an unarmed aircraft.

I just couldn’t believe it. This is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the director of C.I.A. sitting there, both passing the football because neither one of them wanted to go kill bin Laden.