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Carol of the bells

Eastgate Mall, Ohio, Dec. 2010:

I heart Louis CK

But even more since he did this:

(NEWSER) – Comedian Louis CK has scored nice profits by taping, producing, and distributing his stand-up special by himself and without the help of a network or studio. In what he calls an “experiment” to cut out the middlemen and keep prices low, CK hired a camera team to tape two of his stand-up performances at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. He then began selling the video for $5 a pop on a newly built website, and after merely four days had racked up 110,000 downloads and $200,000 in profits, reports Mashable.

He notes on the site:

The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th. 12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58). This is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video. They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely. This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.

I really hope people keep buying it a lot, so I can have shitloads of money, but at this point I think we can safely say that the experiment really worked. If anybody stole it, it wasn’t many of you. Pretty much everybody bought it. And so now we all get to know that about people and stuff. I’m really glad I put this out here this way and I’ll certainly do it again. If the trend continues with sales on this video, my goal is that i can reach the point where when I sell anything, be it videos, CDs or tickets to my tours, I’ll do it here and I’ll continue to follow the model of keeping my price as far down as possible, not overmarketing to you, keeping as few people between you and me as possible in the transaction.

Do they know it’s Christmas

I was at this show on the Philadelphia side – I even got to attend the Paul McCartney press conference. Live Aid:

The Gingrich who stole Christmas

Deck the halls

From the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, another great holiday video:

GOPers

Threatening another government shutdown in three days.

I sometimes kid the Onion for taking a lame approach to political satire — for trying to sink battleships with a BB gun. However, its social satire is often right on the money. More here.

Wendell Potter

“If it wasn’t for Joe Lieberman, we probably would have had a public option.”

Governor Tom Corbett’s Classy Staff

Phone call this morning…

Me: Hi, I’m calling ask the governor veto SB 732. Kermit Gosnell’s crimes didn’t occur because of safety standards, but because the state wasn’t doing its job to begin with. Rape and domestic violence victims will be harmed.

Corbett staff member: I’ll let the governor know of your support for the abortion industry. CLICK.

I called back immediately, furious. The people who answer the phones in a politician’s office are interns: they are not empowered to speak for the politician. This is the same in every office, in every state whether it’s arch-conservative Tom Corbett or far-left Dennis Kucinich. Their job is to answer the phone, take comments, and pass the comments along. That’s it.

But there was no answer, so I called back a third time, a different voice answered the phone.

After explaining angrily what had just happened, I said “I want to know the name of the young man who just hung up on me.”

“We don’t have that info, sir,” the kid on the other end said.
“Then transfer me to the chief of staff.” There was a brief silence as I was put on hold, and then the kid came back saying “he’s in a meeting.”

“Voicemail, please.”

“Umm… he doesn’t have voicemail.” That was bullshit obviously, so I left my name and number, with a request for a call back.

So i called back a few more times over the course of the day. I want this little snot reprimanded or fired, because he can’t be trusted to do his job. With an attitude like that -uncalled for dismissive back talk to a constituent- I cannot assume that he passed my comment along to the Governor. He demonstrated his political bias, and in doing so left me feeling disenfranchised.

Corbett’s Director of Correspondence is Mike Downing. I’m waiting for him to call me back.

Debtors prison

Remember when that was all just a distant memory?

NPR just ran a story called “Unpaid Bills Land Some Debtors Behind Bars.” As they report, ”Here’s how it happens: A company will often sell off its debt to a collection agency, generally called a creditor. That creditor files a lawsuit against the debtor requiring a court appearance. A notice to appear in court is supposed to be given to the debtor. If they fail to show up, a warrant is issued for their arrest.” Marie Diamond has more.

This is increasingly common across the country. My colleagues Matt Stoller and Bryce Covert have both written about debtors being jailed for failure to appear in court. Debtors’ prisons are illegal, and some point out that this is really jail for a summons problem, not a payment. But I haven’t had a full vision of the practice until I read this excellent working paper by Lea Shepherd of Loyola Chicago law school, “Creditors Contempt” (h/t creditslips). Beyond laying out the problems with the current system, which gives a disproportionate amount of the coercive powers of the state to creditors, this paper also has implications for another topic I’m interested in — the class bias of the submerged state.
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