Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category (feed)

Social media, texting, and Chomsky

I really like Noam Chomsky. He’s a very kind and understanding man, full of humanity (we had a brief conversation via email recently). His opinions, and the way he tackles problems make sense to me. Well, most of the time.

He recently went ahead to say that Twitter, SMS and other forms of social media are shallow forms of communication. He has a good point when he says that complex, mega-thoughts can’t be expressed through these means of communication. I’m sure that he feels that we say too much via these mediums, but without saying anything of importance at all. But I believe that he only sees half of the picture, not because he’s too old to understand the Internet, but because he’s too entangled in his own profession where big thoughts and ideas are the bread & butter of his whole existence. He sees the big picture about everything, but not the casual details of the picture, because he’s looking from 10,000 ft high.

The kind of communication Chomsky advocates for (books, essays, possibly art) is the right medium for big ideas. But we don’t always want to philosophize all day long. Sometimes we just want to vent out or say we’re happy, or share some quick knowledge, experience, or fact. In our daily lives, outside the web, we mostly have this kind of small-talk rather than discussing Kant or Foucault (well, most of us at least). In our lives there’s usually time designated for philosophy or science or religion or whatever else, and there’s time designated for small-talk. So why shouldn’t we be able to move part of this very-human communication online and share with more people?

Sure, tweeting that your “carrot cake came out delicious and everyone at home enjoyed it” is not a big idea, and it can be perceived as “shallow”. But it also expresses the little happy things in life, offering a window into people’s lives. When I read a random book I don’t know if the author is happy or not, I don’t know if he’s happily married or not, or if he has mortgage to pay. Most of the time I don’t need to know. But for people I feel closest to, I do want to know more. It doesn’t make me visit my friends less just because I got their update online and I know they’re doing good, it just gives me a piece of mind instead that they’re ok. It makes communication feel two-way, rather than the one-way kind we get from books. Not everything in life has to be about science, philosophy, or math.

More over, Twitter has been a major micro-blog to co-ordinate political movements and report on big ideas too. It gives a voice to people who can’t always use complex words or write books. It’s the democratization of communication, and from all these 6 billion people out there, at least some of them have something interesting to say or report on, even if it has to be squeezed at 140 characters.

There is of course the other side of the coin, where we have kids texting 100 SMS per day, which is of course not only excessive, but also indeed damaging, and a waste of time and money. But then again there are trash books too out there (like these stupid romantic novels with vampires in them, ugh). So we should not get too disappointed about new technologies, it’s how we use them, they’re not inherently good or bad. I can’t wait for the time we would be able to transmit thoughts or feelings to others! Hopefully at more than 140 bytes of thought per message! 😉

I personally don’t use SMS (I may be sending about 5 SMS texts per year overall), I do very few phone calls (which is why I’m still on pay-as-you-go), but I do use Twitter and my personal blog extensively. I don’t have the hots for Facebook, MySpace, or Google Plus though, I find them too cluttered & messy — I like direct simplicity, which is why Twitter won me over. I’ve written in the past that I use my blog as a therapeutic method, it’s kind of my shrink (which is why I also write a lot of very personal things here). It has worked wonders for me, so this new world order about communication can’t be all that bad.

The Effects of Pure, Unadulterated Art

The text below was meant as a comment reply to my friend Glenn, but I think the subject warrants its own blog post:

Art becomes problematic when money is the object, because in order to make money, the artist must “comply” with the mainstream pop culture & limits of the time. Wild experimentation would result in a financial disaster, so no risks are taken. But it’s that experimentation that propels both art & our world forward. See, if you do pop music exactly because it’s easily consumable, and because you want to make a buck, then no, what you do, is not art. It’s a product.

My previous article was meant to go against the powerful mechanisms of capital and power in particular, who would manufacture “art” in order to sell to the masses, rather than because it’s good art. Just today I was reading this, where 6 media giants (in cahoots), get to decide 90% of the entertainment that gets served to the population. This is not just money we’re talking about here, but it’s POWER. When you control that much of the art people use, then you control these people, plain and simple.

That’s why I mostly listen to bedroom pop these days. 90% of my music experience is music written by young people in their bedrooms, who give their music for free (usually, but not always), and self-publish mostly via Bandcamp. These artists don’t even offer a picture of their faces to accompany their albums or their Tumblr blogs, while these one-man projects are usually hidden behind a pseudonym. In other words, this is 100% antithetic to what mainstream show business are. Plus, this kind of “chillwave” music speaks to me volumes about our situation today, about how we feel, or how we want to feel, rather than a sterile Katy Perry or a Lady Gaga song would ever be able to do so.

Regarding video we are still in the dawn of true indie video. Good cameras have just become to become affordable. For video, it’s like we live in 2003, in terms of computer music tool availability. Consider that chillwave took off in 2009. So by 2018 or so, I think we should be having amazing short films or other artistic videos, mostly for free on Vimeo. Sure, we already do have some (e.g. Matthew Brown’s work), just not as many.

I mean, just like with bedroom pop, I expect that artistic indie video will go to a different direction, to a new dawn of cinematic experience where the aesthetics, senses and emotions get 10x higher than in a normal narrative movie — for those who can “decode” the style. Chillwave was never about competing with mainstream pop, instead the Internet-sprouted genre was surprisingly current, and much more emotional: I listen to “Skin” by FiveNG for example, and I get transcended like I’m on a voodoo ritual. I listen to Washed Out’s “You & I“, and I get so fucking horny, that no other music ever managed to do so. I listen to “New Theory” by Washed Out, and my eyes fill up with tears with nostalgia about a place and time that was, but never really was. No other kind of mainstream music, ever, was able to do this to me. Maybe it helps that I’m a synesthete, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s because I give music a chance to open up to me. But since this hasn’t happen with any other genre or mainstream art before, I do give the credit for these high emotions and thoughts they inflict on me to the very fact that bedroom pop was created by real humans for a multiplicity of reasons (but all these reasons were pure), and not by an established capital power encouraging the masses to simply consume and obey.

To make it more visual: mainstream pop is like eating donuts. Full of corn syrup and wheat flour, among other additives, fried in PUFA oil. You eat some, your insulin spikes, and an hour later you need more because that’s what sugar does to you! You end up fat, sick, and dead inside. You become a slave of the system, of a chain of events that only stop when you die. True music instead is like eating a steak with a mix of veggies as a side. It’s a less interesting proposition at first, but it provides true nutrition, and after a while, this “real food” is the only food you eat, but you don’t necessarily “crave”, because craving itself is a symptom of the metabolic syndrome.

So similarly to music, I don’t expect this new kind of video art to try and compete with Avatar or Star Wars, but instead, be truly different. We live in the dawn of a new kind of filmmaking, which is truly impressionistic in nature. The people who will have their brains and eyes open, will feast on it. The rest, they can stay slaves of the powers of capital, who mostly serve pedestrian love war-stories. Good luck to them.

Artistic freedom, and why capitalism is a necessary evil

I was reading recently that:
1. Art is never pure when it’s created for money or fame.
2. Art is influenced by the state of power (capital, church, aristocrats etc).
3. Popular art mirrors the average brain capacity of the society of its time.

I must say that I agree with all these points, but I believe that we are currently living in a unique point of time in our history, where at least two of the three points above aren’t necessarily true anymore.

In the olden days, a piece of art would most likely exist only if some patron paid for it. Also, the kind of art that was created was highly influenced by the power of the time: medieval art was purely church-influenced, Renaissance and classical period was influenced by the aristocrats or the intellectuals, and today, the capitalistic market decides the type of art we consume.

Look at Hollywood movies for example, or popular music: the traits between the different works are more alike than different. You watch a Steve Carell comedy, or a Ben Stiller one, and the technical construction of the movie, along the “morals” served to the audience, are exactly the same. You listen to Gaga or Rihanna, and their “vibe” is the same. And if Hollywood or the music labels have an agenda (as The Guardian recently claimed), this can easily influence the sheep masses towards a specific mindset or opinion.

However, what about this “new” music, and this new kind of “film” appearing on sites like Bandcamp, Vimeo, or SoundCloud? These aren’t created for money but for love (they are offered completely for free), and they do not serve the agenda of capital. I’m talking about underground indie bands, usually recording in their bedrooms, using their computers. And I’m also talking about that other crop of artists, who use their dSLRs to make photographic or video art in a completely different way than what the mainstream audience is accustomed to. There are some of these pieces online that, in my opinion, rival professional works in quality. Speaking for myself, 90% of the music I listen to these days is downloaded from Bandcamp, for free. It sounds fresh, and current, not like a canned, formulaic piece of crap, which is how 99% of the mainstream and even “popular indie” music is. These bands don’t get mentioned by the Rolling Stone magazine, not even the king of indie music, Pitchfork, but mostly from much smaller blogs — which are also run for love and not for profit.

We must consider how we got here though, mostly within the last 10 years. How an 18 year old kid was able to put together an EP and give it away for free, without a label behind him, a producer, or a sound engineer. And the answer to this is this: through the commoditization of technology. Buying a $400 laptop, a $150 synthesizer, and then using the free version of Reaper, and countless free VST plugins & samples, is enough to create something magical and new — should the talent is present (technical expertise is usually patched together with knowledge acquired at forums or tutorials online, also for free). Similarly in the photography and video world, when the first affordable large-sensor dSLRs came around, and later HD video became fast-enough to edit, we got countless amazing pieces of works. Look on FlickR for example, or for video, check Vimeo’s Matthew Brown, or Charlie McCarthy.

In other words, there was a certain “democratization” that occurred in the current “fascism” of capitalism, via means of technology. I personally do not believe that such a commoditization of technology can happen in a strictly communistic state today. If USSR is an example, its art sucked pretty bad for the most part, and it was scarce to find anyway. While they had rad space satellites, technological innovation for the masses was not common either, and its citizens became poorer than before at the very end. Bedroom-pop (“Chillwave”), or “Vimeo-style filmmaking” would never exist in such an environment — at least not in the incarnation of communism USSR had.

This is not to say that capitalism is great either. Capitalism mass-produces art, thus having to average its radical elements to the IQ of the average consumer (making it mostly crap). What is called “pop sensibility” is simply an average barometer of the society’s needs or intelligence, expressed through pop-art. Make your art smarter, the masses can’t follow it anymore, and you will be called a “hipster”. Make it dumber, and you will be called “old”. There’s definitely a balance to be found, for those who crave to please the masses. Personally, I am not an avid promoter of “popularizing” (aka dumbing-down) art or science, just so people can follow your truth, or buy your record/movie. If the art is radical, then it’s the consumers who must do the effort to understand these new concepts. If they are not willing to do the effort, then they’re passive sheep, dragging everyone else down too. Passive sheep never get to run a company, or a country. They just consume for the sake of consuming. This doesn’t mean that I want art to be experimental/inaccessible all the time. I just believe that it has to be “edgy-enough” so it pushes people to make an effort to understand it.

Additionally, capitalism promotes the diminishing of ethics among the citizens — a heavy cost, no doubt. You can’t “make it” in a capitalistic environment by playing nice. I personally favor a somewhat socialist system, something in between of various popular ideologies: if so many people are fanatics for completely different political and economical ideologies, then where all these ideologies meet, it must be the sweet spot. Πάν μέτρον άριστον, the ancient Greeks used to say.

For now though, for better or worse, accessible technology does thrive in this capitalistic environment we live in. Technology might become the catalyst that could reset this diminishing of ethics. Some examples: freedom of information on the internet, future robot workers, machines that make food out of thin air, cybernetics and alteration of functions in the brain, etc. Such advancements can have a paramount effect on any political or economical system.

So my theory is that while capitalism has many negative effects, its very nature of producing “stuff” for the Market, some of these “products” end up fixing back some of capitalism’s bad points. In our case at hand, the electronics industry & market provided the tools to kill off the Music Industry, an Industry that ran on capital without a shred of love for art. Nothing happened on purpose of course, but it did happen as a natural consequence of our advancement. And it makes me happy that it happened. Because art should be free in order to re-affirm its pureness. And for the kinds of art that still require high amounts of capital to exist (e.g. a $200mil Pixar movie, or a large statue), technology eventually will get there to provide affordable solutions.

I know that some people will say that I put too much faith in technology, which itself can be manipulated to do “bad” as it can do “good”, but I believe that when technology is accessible by the common citizen, for every “bad” guy, there’s a “good” one too. For every computer virus that exists, there’s a wikipedia article too.

It all balances out most of the time, but it usually gets worse before it gets better. I truly believe that society is a living thing. It grows, it makes mistakes, it matures. Our society is not the same as the one of 10 years, or 100, or 1000 ago. You can’t force a population to suddenly become altruists for example, or to not break some law — instead, the society must learn right from wrong on its own. In 1000 years, or in 10,000 years from now, our society as a whole might be ready for some form of “utopia”. But in order to learn and get there, it has to suffer first. Capitalism is simply just a small part in this suffering-and-learning evolution. It’s just what we have right now, but I don’t believe capitalism will be with us forever.

Going back to art and society, for me, art is not just an aesthetic pleasure, but also a way to break new ground, to initiate more progress in many different directions. The faster we progress, the faster we will find our “utopia” (even if we have to get bruised in the process). We just have to keep pushing the envelop. Every. Single. Day.

How we all live a lie

I’ve spent 10+ years with IBS-D, and when I finally managed to kick it away 3 weeks ago, I’m still surprised about how something so simple as a diet change is not prescribed by doctors by default. Very few doctors and nutritionists so far align themselves with some form of the Original Human Diet (e.g. Paleo, Primal, GAPs, SCD etc). And yet, there are thousands, maybe millions so far, who have had their auto-immune & inflammatory disease under control, or even healed, using these diets. So why isn’t modern medicine more open on the actual explanation as to why modern diet is so bad? That is, when lectins, gluten and bacteria inflame the gut, make holes on it, and toxins/feces enter the bloodstream. Then, the whole body goes haywire and the most weird illnesses appear. Illnesses and allergies that didn’t happen, or were very rare in the pre-Agrarian era.

But let’s go back to IBS.

We have to ask ourselves, except humans, are there any other animals that have IBS? And the answer is “yes”. Domesticated cats & dogs. The illness does not appear on their wild counterparts! IBS appeared in large numbers in the human population in the last 50 years only (before that time it was more rare), while pets started having IBS about 20-25 years ago. What’s the only thing that changed in the last 50 years for us, and 25 years for pets?

Enter FOOD. Food that contained more and more grains in various shapes and sizes, and more and more sugar. Pet food originally was mostly meat, but in the last 25 years, vegetables and flour appears on your pet’s cans. When was the last time you saw wolves grinding flour out of wheat in the wild? Feed these animals their natural diet (pieces of bones, and real meat), and you will see their symptoms reversed in the vast majority of cases.

So all what humans have to do, is simply go back to their original diet: veggies, meat, fish, eggs, fruits, and a bit of nuts & honey. Maybe some lactose-free goat cheese/yogurt IF they can tolerate it (cow dairy is even less tolerable).

The idea is so simple, and it makes so much sense. And yet, I spend 10 years trying to find the magic pill, trying to understand why this was happening to me. I was thinking along the “common wisdom”, that some of these “unexplainable” and “incurable” auto-immune/inflammatory diseases are just mysteries of nature that some day medicine & science might provide answers. I was thinking that I was simply unlucky for having gotten IBS. Maybe it was stress, as my doctors said, or maybe it was some old food poisoning that kicked it in.

NONSENSE.

I was daily abusing my body with grains and sugar (like 99.9% of you who read this). I was eating unnatural foods, foods that the human stomach does not have the right enzymes to break down. We are not hens. We are not pigs. We evolved to eat specific kinds of foods. Not the addictive grains or the even more addictive sugars. These are products of civilization, products created to be able to sustain unnaturally large numbers of population. But at what cost? Today, almost 50% of Americans have one of these “mystery diseases”! And the other half are on their way to get them later in their life. 97% of us are undiagnosed celiacs up to a degree! So, ditch the damn things. Do the work now, so you won’t regret it afterwards.

As for the medical & political world not seeing any correlation between “diseases of civilization” and grains/sugar, this would be one of the few times that I will have to sound like a conspirator. I do think that they know all they need to know about grains & sugar, but Big Pharma likes people to be sick, and politicians want citizens with a full belly. A full stomach always makes an obedient citizen, while a hungry one is nothing but trouble (since there are no resources for everyone to follow the Paleo diet — at least not for cheap).

Romans did exactly the same btw. In order to keep their population from revolting, they were feeding them with free-of-charge wheat products, and why not, kill a few people in the arena too, just for the fun of the masses. So tonight, go sit in front of TV, and enjoy your cheap drug: pasta, rice, bread… Top it all with a slice of chocolate cake. Oh, have a beer on me too.

The modern affordability of Paleo

One of the common arguments against the Paleo diet is that it’s too expensive to maintain. The diet’s preference for grass-fed beef & game, wild-caught fish, local organic plants, eggs, fruits & nuts, and unfiltered raw honey has put a rather high price tag on the diet’s reputation. Things don’t get easier either when lots of Paleo recipes online call for almond flour, or coconut products (exotic products that are not available at all in many rural places, e.g. my hometown in Greece).

The truth is though that you don’t have to go for these types of food if you don’t have the money for it. If you really want to follow the diet’s core you can still buy the cheaper corn-fed meat, farmed fish, veggies and fruits from your local super-market. Even with this lower quality food, you’ll still be miles ahead than with the standard Western diet. And that’s something significant already, if you’re serious about your health. Remember, Paleo is not a weight loss diet, even if overweight people happen to lose weight on it. Paleo is a lifestyle, a return to balance and normalcy.

Since I started Paleo I’ve been swarming to local farmer’s markets. Most of the vegetables & fruits there are cheaper than in super markets, and of much higher quality and freshness. Because I don’t buy sugary/grain products anymore, and since I stopped going out to (starchy) restaurants, I believe we’ve saved money overall. I don’t buy higher quality meat & eggs yet, but I’m thinking of going towards that path too — although my husband still resists to the idea.

One thing that got me thinking is that if Paleo was the prescribing diet for a number of “modern-world” ailments in the Victorian Era, it wouldn’t have been feasible to follow it — unless you were an aristocrat or a rich businessman. While fish, game and good quality farm meat would have been easy to find, plants and fruits were difficult to find in that era. Pretty much, the only mass-produced non-grain plants that grew well in UK were tubers, which are loaded with starch. As for fruits & honey, they would be rare and expensive to find in the market. Just think how good we have it nowdays, where the various foods are easily available.

And this brings me to the Mediterranean diet, which is named by some nutritionists as the “healthiest diet in the world” (especially the Cretan version). The Mediterranean diet is not that healthy actually (especially these days). It’s simply healthier than the standard Western diet because people could produce a lot of different veggies & fruits and nuts and honey on their own — since the weather allowed it. They were blessed to be part of the advanced Europe and maximize their yields. This led to a somewhat balanced diet between fresh produce & wild plants, and starches.

Judging to how my grand parents lived, and how my parents grew up, there was some bread, rice and pasta, but it was overrun with plenty of fresh veggies from their own garden, even more wild greens (e.g. amaranth greens, sorrel), cheese & lactose-free probiotic yogurt from their goats or sheep (they’d go up to the mountain all by themselves and come back alone at night), eggs from their own free range chickens, fish from the river, and some meat occasionally (either from a goat that broke a leg and had to be killed off, a hen getting too old to have eggs… or some game like wild birds, hares, and boars found in the mountain above the village). Sugary products were extremely rare. Even fruits were rather rare, except when in season.

So there was some balance there. I started hearing about uber-modern diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia) in these villages in the late ’80s. “Cancer” was a word I didn’t hear before 1985 in respect to my local people. Before that, most people there would just die of natural causes (with stroke and heart-related disease following). In my opinion, the Mediterranean diet only has a positive effect when you live the kind of hard life these people lived, and use that high quality of plants and meat they had. But it’s still not an ideal diet.

If the Mediterranean diet is, let’s say, 25% better than the Standard Western one, then Paleo is many times as good. Paleo is believed to be able to reverse some “incurable” modern diseases, and heal the body after years of grain & sugar abuse. The forums are full of accounts of people who had various conditions reversed (and I’m on that camp too). The few cases of heart-disease or strokes that took down these Mediterranean people before the ’80s (when the Mediterranean diet became Westernized and hence worse), could have been avoided if these people were Paleo- or Primal-dieting (they could have kept their yogurt & cheese). All they had to really do is to say “no” to the tons of grain products that “International Help” gave away to families, especially in mountain villages.

I was extremely surprised when I saw someone this past Summer in Greece taking out of his pantry a large pasta box and a big bag of rice. I took a good look, because I wasn’t accustomed to see such quantity at someone’s home pantry. These were not commercial bags of food. They were sent from the European Union to “poor” Greek families (not that poor btw). I really had no idea that grains were pouring into Greece in these modern times too (despite the financial crisis). I thought that the “international help” of food stopped in the ’80s. But no. They continue raking people’s lives and health with their free non-food foods: “let’s give everyone cheap food. And make them all eventually sick and skyrocket the health system’s costs instead.”

In all truth, grains are easy to produce, and so it does sustain the world’s population in one way or another. Without grains all the 7 billion of us on this planet would be unsustainable. But instead of feeding people undigestable crap, maybe we should rethink about our (exploding) numbers first. I prefer quality, not quantity. And that goes about people too, not just food.

Regarding the Greek situation

Soon, the Greek debt will rise at $500bn. That’s the kind of debt that no small country can repay, unless it has invented, internationally patented, and marketed anti-gravity. So, let’s see why we’re where we are today, and what can be done about it.

The origins of the problem

One thing you have to understand about Greece is that since it became independent, 190 years ago, there hasn’t been a single time when the Greek economy and standard of living was “good”. See, if you look at Germany, France, UK, and even Russia and Romania, you will find stretches of time that measure in years where you could say that these countries had a “mini-golden age”. Greece never had such a golden age in the modern times. It was always under the danger of defaulting. And it has, at least 3-4 times. From the Irish Times: “According to a study by economic historians Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, the Greek state has been in default for almost one out of every two years since it was founded in the 1820s.

This financial situation has led to dictatorships, kings, and democracies come and go, like on a vicious cycle. And until the 1980s, this has kept the Greek people from living at the same standard as their European counterparts. In the 1920s, the bureaucracy had become so big that the public sector grew not only in numbers, but also in power. A law was enacted where from the moment you became a civil worker, you effectively couldn’t get fired.

This quickly created a two-tier citizenship in Greece. The powerful civil workers (who retire early, some of them work few hours, some of them working in offices are indeed lazy etc), and the private sector, which remained very underpaid, very hard working, and who’d retire at the age of 65. When Europeans today complain about the lazy Greeks, they must understand that Greece has a virtual cast system, and that not everyone is equal in it.

So, because of this social schism, the private sector had to resort in tricks to stay alive. They’d avoid taxes as much as they could. As the years went by, this whole mentality of corruption and “under the table business” was spread to every part of the state. From the poor workers, to the richest. Tax evasion is what everyone does, from the poor worker who pumps gas to your car, to the biggest construction company of the country. Being street smart was now how everyone was getting by in Greece. Want to see a doctor? Pay him under the table. Want to have your car pass the yearly examination? Pay the guy who does the checks. Want to get your case be heard at some civil office? Pay the clerk to just move his/her ass to go and find the file. In all truth, this kind of mentality was in Greece for centuries, but it amplified with the rise of the civil workers in the 1920s.

I was born in 1973 in Athens. In the first years of my life I lived in both big cities (Athens, 1-3 yo), small cities (Preveza, 4-7), towns (Louros, 12-18), and mountain villages (Skiadas, 3-4 & 8-11). One thing I remember very clearly from that early time is how many times I’d eat beans during the week. It was bordering to 5-6 times a week. Beans were our staple. And not just my family’s, but most of the people we knew too. We’d be lucky if some goat broke a leg, and my uncles had no option but to kill the goat, and share the meat among the family. The standard of living was a bit better in Athens, but not a whole lot better.

But after the inclusion of Greece’s in the European Community in 1981 something happened. Money poured in from the European countries to Greece. FREE MONEY, that is, in almost the most literal definition of the words. Not once in the past a country was ever so lucky to receive so much free money. That was such a major opportunity for Greece to get it right. Europeans wanted Greece to be part of the future European Union, and to be able to be as developed, money had to be given to Greeks, to make roads, businesses, develop more their agriculture etc, etc. In three decades, 240 billion Euros of European subsidies were given away to Greeks.

Instead, the money found three destinations. Divided, 1/3 went where it was supposed to go. Indeed, some new roads were made, some new athletic infrastructure etc. The other 1/3, the one that was given to businessmen to modernize their business and bring them to a European standard, went into building new houses for their family and buying cars. See, that money was like candy change for a street kid. Money was poured in to very poor people, so the natural reaction was to buy “luxuries” (if you can call a house that its floors are not made out of cow manure, a luxury — that was the case for many houses in Louros up to the late ’80s). Because the socialist PASOK wanted to be re-elected, they didn’t do anything about the situation. They just let the people “become happy”, so to get votes again. And they did.

The last part of that 1/3 (and maybe even more than just 1/3), was eaten away. By people who had access to it. Be it politicians, civil workers, the mob, rich people, it doesn’t matter. The point is, billions of dollars were eaten away, and that money never went where it was supposed to. They are probably in some Swiss banks right now, if they were not always spent away in cars, swimming pools and what have you. The point is, Greek lost a unique opportunity with that money back then, to modernize the country.

Another thing that was and is part of the problem, is the oligarchy in Greece. The career politicians are coming from families of politicians. While there are similar examples in the US too (e.g. the Kennedys), Greece has taken that to the extreme. 90% of same people are getting elected and re-elected all the time, and when they die, their kids, or their proteges, are taking over. The Greek political parties are like football clubs, with fan clubs, and fans that can be trusted to make trouble when asked. They are all populists, they are shouting at each other in a way that would land them in jail in any other parliament in this planet, they are short-sighted, and they are incapable of understanding what they’re into (consider that Greek ministries are NOT offered to academics or people of knowledge, but to these elected — so a dentist that got elected, might end up become head of the Education Ministry). Not to mention that the title of Greek President had true powers before 1988, and became just a ceremonial title after constitutional amendments that the Prime Minister of the time passed, ensuring that there’s only “one” person in power. The whole thing is power-gripped, and corrupted. Unfortunately, even if a new government takes over, the same underground people will still move the pawns. The only way for Greece to free itself from this political mob, is to not allow any of the politicians, behind-the-scene workers and their immediate families of these political clubs to be elected for 30 years. Take away their be-voted citizen right, destroy all political parties that have more than 5% of popularity. Politically, Greece must start from scratch in that front.

As much as I’d like to put all the blame to politicians and call it a day (as many Greeks do), the truth is that Greece is a form of democracy (yes, just a form). And as such, the citizens are responsible as to who they vote. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, you could have this bright chemist, or theoretical physicist, or mathematician just finishing up his university studies, and instead of trying to setup a research company to try and create “the next big thing in the world”, he has to go through almost two years of mandatory army service (doing nothing all day after the first 3 months of basic training, killing any urge to change the world via a new product, and forgetting what he learned at school), he then comes back to mom & dad and asks them to go and kiss the ass of their local politician to get him a job as a civil worker — sitting down all day, doing nothing of note, that is. And politicians did put these bright people in dumb, filling and data-entry positions, because they wanted to re-elected. Everyone was winning in their microcosmos they lived in.

But the country was losing in the big picture. Greece became a country that did not produce anything. Except feta, olive oil and tourism, the country was just living on virtual growth. And the civil workers made it difficult to get out of this terrible situation, by asking the government to “lock” certain modern professions (so only civil workers could do them), and by making it difficult to incorporate an LLC. Do you remember that Greek Android company that Google bought last year? The reason its two guys left Greece and tried their luck in the Silicon Valley wasn’t because they couldn’t get an internet connection from Athens, but rather because creating a new private company in Greece was a pain in the ass until recently, when finally Papandreou made it easier with a new law (acknowledged by the two engineers in a separate video interview).

At the same time, Europe has part of the blame too. They poured all this money to Greece, and they never checked it properly if the money was going where it was supposed to. They trusted Greece to be an adult, while Greece was just a little poor kid on the streets, and was just learning to become a spoiled teenager after it got adopted. As much as I’d like to put all the blame to “external forces”, zombies, Europe, vampires, and politicians in the last 30 years, the truth is that a lot of the blame goes to every Greek citizen. Every single one of them. They brought all this on to their heads for the last 90 years, and especially during the last 30 years.

Ah… the ’80s. What a nice time (*chillwave music plays in the background*). The time that we switched from beans and wild vegetation soups to chicken, beef, pork and Prada belts. Guess what kids: you now have to pay for a standard of living that was not symmetrical to what you generated as a country.

The blame of Europe does become more apparent and more serious in the last 10 years, when they started lending Greece even more money, on the promise that they will get their money back. There was no collateral, and they kept lending. That was not just a financial mistake on their part and for their customers, it was a crime against Greece. Every responsible bank is supposed to do the math if someone has the money (or the will) to pay back. ECB didn’t do the obvious math, even after Goldman Sachs helped Greece to cook the books. That’s how far the Greek corruption went, as to making illegal business with the GS sharks. Instead, Greece is now paying the price and GS still strongly sits in Wall Street like nothing happened (a bank that should taken apart by the US government in my opinion, for the problems they created to at least the American people recently).

And if the lending of money wasn’t enough, the paranoia that Turkey (also a member of NATO) will invade Greece has led to an arms race. Think of what was going on: France was lending money to Greece, to buy French arms. Let alone that most (all?) of the 12 Phantoms Greece bought in 1988 have crashed since during exercises (second grade quality?), killing most of their pilots. Not to mention that because of bribery to civil servants from foreign medical companies, Greece pays 3x the amount of money for medicines and medical instruments than any other European country.

So what can we do?

There are only two things that can be done, and unfortunately, Greeks today are opting for the wrong option. When will the citizens see the big picture? Don’t get me wrong, both options are SHIT. There’s no way back to the old standard of living. But there is a difference between SHIT and SHITTIER.

Shit option #1: Austerity measures, more bail-out debt

This is the solution that the current Prime Minister is trying to pass. The advantages of this plan is that, at last, more laws will pass that will make free enterprise and growth a possibility (but definitely not a certainty). At the same time, crazy pensions, 14 months of payments for 11 months of work, and other crazy civil worker benefits like these, are all cut out. Personally, I’m looking forward to these kinds of social changes. For the long run, even if it stings 1 million civil workers who have learned to expect a specific standard of living that is not analogous to what they offer, it’s the right decision. If bankruptcy fear is what drives Greece to corrects the sins of the past, well, then that’s what it takes. The truth is, the kind of civil worker system that Greece has is not sustainable. It must be shrinked considerably.

The disadvantage of this plan is that Europeans are asking to privatize all national wealth. From transportation to healthcare, from banks to selling islands. I’m all for privatization of certain elements, but as a socialist myself I believe that a righteous government should have the upper hand when it comes to resources that are important for its citizens in the next 100 or 200 years. For example, while I’m for selling a few small dry islands that no one is living on them, I’m against of selling water. With the dangers of global warming, overpopulation, and the decline of the sea life, owning potable water is very important.

Greece must be bailed out, but without selling out its main life lines. These must remain property of the people. Papandreou should only sell parts that are not vital to life in the future.

Shittier option #2: Bankruptcy and back to drachma

This is the easy solution. But easier said than done. See, with bankruptcy, and going back to the newly devalued drachma, Greeks can start anew. Unfortunately, this is not what is going to happen. Have you ever seen what happens when you remove the Hi-Fi system from the room of your teenager kid? Hell, that’s what. He comes back and trashes the place out of anger.

I’m Greek, I love Greece as my birthplace, and I terribly miss its beauty. But I do NOT trust the Greek people to live like Zimbabweans do. Because that’s what is going to happen if Greece exits the Euro. Forget buying a new cellphone every year, or a new computer. These will all be parts of the past. Instead, the standard of living will go back 20 years, and the country will need between 30 and 100 years to get back to its feet — if civil war doesn’t tear it apart before that time. Expect a lot of violence. Lootings, rapes, robbings. When Argentina defaulted 10 years ago (an argument that many Greeks bring as a positive example), 25% of its citizens had to live (and some still are) under extreme poverty.

In my opinion what Greeks ask today when they riot, or when they write such half-truth articles, is not a viable policy. It’s a pipe dream. They think that if they are left to their own devices, and Europe ungrips, things will be good. No. Things will be way, way worse. The international market is like a web, and no country can live alone. Greece does not even have oil, it imports 100% of it. Greeks who riot to leave the European Union and NATO are romantics, their idea of how to proceed can not work. Unless they want everyone to live the way people in North Korea do, which is not very nice, to say the least.

Instead, they strike, bringing the country to its knees even more, which results to requiring more bail out money to pay for these un-worked days. The more these idiots strike, the more the country dysfunctions. Strikes is the worst thing a citizen can do to an almost dead country. I’m extremely sad that the Greek citizens don’t see this. It shows great irresponsibility.

Some further ideas

What Greece needs to do is simply:
1. Get bailed out by Europeans, by convincing them that Europe without Greece will crumble. Get their money, but this time use it right. So far, Europeans do want to bail out Greece, but this will change in the next few weeks (mark my words). There’s no time to waste, from the Greek point of view, bailout is better than bankruptcy. With the right measures, the debt will be paid back eventually. Refuse to pay a part of the debt if lawyers find that some of it was illegal (like Ecuador did). But this “trick” can’t be done for all the debt.
2. Austerity measures where it matters, where it makes the country stronger, no matter if some civil workers don’t like it. Lower civil servant pays (it makes no sense that a private worker gets paid $800, when a civil servant gets paid $1950 on average), cut off the big pensions to no more than $1000 etc.
3. Privatization of only non-essential parts of life (current and future life). Fight corruption at all levels. Transparency everywhere.
4. Like India, become an off-shoring center for many things, not just software.
5. Start industries, make smart people create companies and products that international markets would care to buy.
6. Cut out the army service to 3 months. Stop buying arms, only parts if needed.
7. Ask people to go back to the villages where they came from. Ask them to use the land, make food. Athens holds 1/2 the Greek population, a negatively unique situation in the world.
8. Clean up the political system. Disallow all politicians and people currently in power from getting re-elected or serving for a number of years. Instead, the people who are eligible for that period should be under 50 years old, and never have been part of any political association before. Bring new blood into politics and put smart specialty people as heads of the various ministries.
9. Go back to the tax books, find the holes, and make the citizens and corporations pay of what they owe (there are terror cases of corporations paying $0 when they should have paid $15mil in taxes). While that money might have left Greece for Switzerland long ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if what is owed to the state by its own citizens and especially its companies, reaches to the heights of a trillion dollars.
10. Tourism, tourism, tourism. Put people to work, remove the Acropolis, and move it to a secure location. Rebuilt the Acropolis from scratch, according to how the archaeologists think it looked like in 400 BC. Rebuilt the Colossus of Rhodes. Greece’s landscape is also unique for extreme sports. But as my mom says, who I always found her to be the epitome of the very average Greek (in a bad way): “Allo ti tha kanoume. Tha paroume to ale3iptoto kai tha pame na pidisoume apo tis speles na pame na skotothoume. Den mou fernoun fai aftes oi vlakeies”.

Oh, and Greece is not just the islands. So far, 90% of all tourists go to islands, and that’s stupid. I bet most non-Greeks have never heard of Vikos, even if it’s as deep as the Grand Canyon (if not more). Except goats and a few know-hows, no one visit it. There’s another wasted opportunity to make money off of tourists. I can find about 100 such opportunities, that if I had all the money the Ministry of Tourism had in the ’80s in its hand (or was supposed to have), Greece would not be in this situation today. Even with all the rest of its problems in its back!

Heck, the place I come from, Epirus, is one of the best “blind spots” in the whole of Europe that can do astronomy better than any other place (especially because there are high mountains, clean non-polluted atmosphere, and weather is good too). And what has been done for that? Absolutely nothing. Instead of building roads that go up a mountain, and facilities up there so European amateur astronomers know about it and visit, I’m pretty sure that the idea has not even crossed anyone in Greece’s Ministry of Tourism, ever.

As much tourism Greece has (and has quite some), and Greeks think that their tourism is top notch, the truth is that tourism in Greece SUCKS. There are so many things missing, so much missing infrastructure (from public toilets to golf terrains — there are none). There is so much opportunity there, that make my eyes cry. If all that is not enough, there you have the Greeks essentially banning kite-surf. If this last part doesn’t show how short-sighted Greece can be, nothing will.

Make no mistake, I love my country. I close my eyes at night, and before Morpheus has taken me away, I’m that kid again, chasing hens in my village. I love my birthplace. But the good citizen is the citizen who says it like it is. Unfortunately, it’s my fellow Greeks who I disagree with in this case — and this puts me at odds, because unlike most blogs discussing the situation, I put the blame on the citizens too. I disagree with the Greeks’ expectations about entitlement, their beliefs about other countries owing Greece just for being Greek and having invented democracy (I didn’t know patents can last 2000 years), their kind of non-sustainable aspirations of getting a job that you can’t be fired etc. But I do love them for being so open, for always saying what they think, for being laid back and cool. But I can’t stand this short-slightness, both at a personal and national level. I left Greece to get a better future (since there was nothing to do there for the business of my then-fiance, and after I specifically commanded my parents to NOT go kiss ass to try to make me a civil worker), but I always, always dreamed of going back. The people at the day to day basis are lovely, the nature is beautiful. Hopefully, one day the political and financial climate there will be stable-enough for once. I hope during my lifetime I see this coming to fruition, and Greece becoming a true 1st World country. Not in the name only.

Additional reading: this article by Vanity Fair. A lot of Greeks hated it and found it anti-Greek, but the author has his head screwed on perfectly. Kudos.

Update: Another good article, saying it like it is.

The Greek rural migration

My favorite progressive newspaper, The Guardian, has an article about Greeks migrating back to rural places. And I’m saying “back”, because before the 1960s, Athens was a pretty small city, not the ~5 million headcount behemoth it is today (that’s almost half of the whole Greek population). Suddenly, it had a population explosion after the vast majority of people from mountainous villages left their livestock, fields, and homes for Athens or abroad (mostly Germany), in hopes of a better [easier] life.

A few months ago I read another article by a Greek politician urging people to go back to their villages. Many took that remark pretty bad, but I must have been among the few who thought that this is the only good workable idea for both citizens, and the country. See, most of these Athenian people already are property owners elsewhere. There are very few “true” Athenians that have been there for many generations. The rest usually still have a property stake back at their old village. It’s just that no one wants to go back there.


Skiadas, my village. My father’s old house is visible in the pic.

My own village used to have over 400 inhabitants when my dad was a kid in the early ’60s. An extremely lively place. Today, there are no more than 40 or 50 people living there, mostly old people and returning retirees. My own generation in the ’80s was the last to see the school operating in the village. If all their descendants, that still have a stake or property at the village, were to come back from Athens or abroad, we’re looking for at least 1000 people! Thank God for the Summer or Easter, where the village comes alive again when these compatriots arrive for vacations. The community is still strong among all these people, since everyone knows everybody else, even if they don’t all live at the same place anymore. See, we don’t forget who we are: we’re Souliotes.

I spent my early years in Athens (I was born there), and then we moved to the city of Preveza. When my family got into debt in the early ’80s (long story), my father took us all and went back to Skiadas, his village (where he already had built a house all by himself in the ’70s). In the beginning, adjusting to the mountain life was difficult. Every other kid there was like a mountain goat, running faster than me and without fear in the dangerous terrain. Sometimes without shoes. The school sucked too. We were 25 kids in all 6 primary school grades, in a single room, with a single teacher. The teacher had no time to spend more than 15-20 minutes per day on each grade. And it was cold (no heating to speak about, in a place that ices/snows in the winter).

But I managed my way through all this. My family did too. We picked ourselves up financially, and 3 years later we left the village for the nearby town of Louros, that had a high school and more work for my father (he used to be a house builder). The point is, my family is living proof that taking a step back can help you stand on your feet again and then leap forward. If only more people saw it this way (at least anyone who doesn’t have children that need to go to school, since most schools are closed there now). Instead, the whole department of Epirus is full of abandoned villages. The land is not seeing any new crops, there are fewer sheep & goat flocks than what they used to be, and the houses are falling apart.

And their owners? The owners are still drunk with the city life. The easy life. But what’s the price to pay for this easier life? Themselves into debt or misery, the country into debt, and a Mega City becoming more dirty and more dangerous with every passing night.

The all-you-can-eat business model

Today, TorrentFreak published an article saying that piracy in the US is on a downward spiral because of competition it’s facing from a legal opponent, Netflix.

Some people have said online that “no one has a silver bullet against piracy”, but this is not true: the all-you-can-eat streaming model is the only one that works for these easy-to-copy digital products. Especially if the product is now cheaply produced too (e.g. music), it makes little sense to try to sell works individually.

I envision a world where $10 per month gives you access to all movies, $5 to music, $5 to a conglomerate of news/magazines, and optionally for most, $10 for access to video games. Another $30 for a 25 mbps internet connection with an allowance of 250 GB of bandwidth per month, and another $30 for a 4G cellphone package with 25 GB of data/voice per month. For $80-$90 per month overall, your digital life is complete. Today, most people pay for such services about $150 per month, and they get LESS. Naturally, as people trying to balance their wallet, the less important services, like entertainment, are getting the short end of the stick, because of piracy.

It’s not just the lower prices that can make consumers become legit, but rather the differences in service. Consider the following:
– You get a beautiful and easy-to-use UI to find a movie/album compared to the chaos and spyware of a thousand bittorrent sites.
– With streaming you get to watch/listen immediately, with bittorrent you’ll have to wait for the download to finish first.
– Good quality rips from the master source, rather than an optical source or shaky-cam-from-within-a-theater.
– Ratings, suggestions, and other social features can make the experience better, more interesting, and help you find new movies/artists.
– Edge-caching is more effecting for the network than Bittorrent downloads that are killing worldwide bandwidth by often going transatlantic.
– By going legit you help the producers/artists/journalists produce more.
– You won’t have the FBI/RIAA/MPAA on your back.

Bittorrent still has a few advancements, but most of them are going to fade away within 2-3 years:
– Not all Netflix titles have closed captions, but this is worked on as we speak.
– New albums appear immediately in the library upon release, and eventually Netflix will be able to get movies within a few weeks from theater release too (especially after the death of Blu-Ray/DVD that is upon us already). Also consider that some TV shows already show up on Netflix a few days after broadcasting (e.g. Stargate:Universe, Gladiators).
– It’s still free for those who can’t even spend $15 per month for their entertainment.

It’s because of these reasons why I also believe that any cloud-based music service that might come around from Apple, Amazon, Google, or your mom, will fail to deter piracy. See, if these services only allow you to upload your own already-purchased music instead of letting you stream everything in THEIR library, that’s a near-useless service in the grand scheme of things. I’m personally subscribed to RDIO, and I loves me the legal, unlimited, streaming (that also has an offline mode).

All this is so clear for me that it’s mind-boggling as to why we don’t have all entertainment ever created, streaming, right now, worldwide. Technical difficulties aside, the real reason we don’t have this yet is because of conservative businessmen who don’t want to face the truth that their business is now commoditized, in some cases as easy to create on a bedroom, and that it therefore generates less money than it did in the golden age of the (culturally) read-only generation (that is, particularly, 1930-2000).

An ex-Warner Bros VP wrote yesterday that he believes that the Netflix model does not work for music because music can be listened in the background, as opposed sitting in front of a TV that has our full attention. Therefore, music has lower value than video in the minds of consumers, and so they won’t pay the price. I agree with this, music is more abstract as a product. But what this only means is that instead of $10 per month (as in video), music must cost $5 per month. Music is cheaper to produce than a movie anyway.

What his real problem seems to be is that he doesn’t want to see that lower return in investment. So he basically shoots down the whole idea, that Netflix has proven to work, just because he wants to make as much money as movies do. Sorry pal, but that’s not how much music costs or is valued at. Movies are way more expensive to produce! Get down with more realistic prices for music licensing, buy a smaller house, a smaller car — or change your profession if you don’t like it. But don’t shoot down a business model that does work because you want to cling in the old world’s unnaturally big profits.

Update: Another reason why the old school labels don’t feel that the Netflix way will work for music too? Because then their products would compete on the same grounds with the indie bands, and so the competition would be more fierce for them. It’s easy to pay radios to play your music, try to do that on an “on demand” service! So it’s not a matter of making less money, but of eventual irrelevancy.

IIPA: Greeks are poor, let’s sue them

The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) just released a PDF about Greece, one of the countries in their “most watched” list about piracy. In the first paragraph in that PDF they recognize that the governments’ austerity measures will increase piracy even more. Then, they go on to suggest strict laws and punishments to those who are caught pirating. Well, let me say something to these sharp knives over at IIPA:

When a country is under a huge stress over their previous quality of life getting vanished (as IIPA themselves are acknowledging), and they take that weight out of in the streets by rallying and striking every week, the government will not, and it should NOT, take further action against them for any home/digital copyright infringement. Not because copyright infringement punishment is not lawful (it is, and it should be up to a point), but because as a politician you must control these 11 million people from pulling a Jasmine on you.

And the best way to do this, is to keep them busy with entertainment. If piracy is how these straggling citizens are getting their fix and relax, well, let it be so.

IIPA, I hope the Greek government won’t listen to you. No problem catching the professional pirates, but at the current climate in Greece, the Greek citizens should get a free pass on digital piracy at home. At least until things calm down, which it will take a few years. If this means that you must stop selling your goods in Greece because of unmet trade agreements, then DO SO. Your goods were not going to be bought anyway, because there’s no money left to be spent on your products. But you have no right to dictate policy on the Greek nation.

2010: The Year the Old Music Industry Died

A few days ago this article made the rounds: music execs are stressed over free streaming (e.g. online radios, pandora), and streaming in general (e.g. the for-pay spotify, rdio, mog etc). They fear that this freeness or cheapness will generate even less profit for them. But isn’t this normal?

Funny thing is, until last year they put the blame for their failing business to piracy. Now, they blame streaming. But the truth lies elsewhere, a truth they’d prefer hidden.

The real headache for the big music business is not just piracy, streaming, lack of talent/innovation, or even the financial crisis. Yes, these factors had their toll, no doubt, but they are not the only catalysts for the decrease in revenue. The “problem” is also the fast emergence of the independent scene.

Independent musicians were around since forever, but the Internet, and the cheaper hardware & software in this past decade, brought them into the limelight, little by little. Now it’s possible to find thousands of legally free promo mp3s from these indie artists, get accustomed to their eclectic sound, and eventually get to a state of mind where you never want to have anything to do with the mainstream music ever again. Also, these decreased revenue numbers we get from RIAA are from a few labels only, while customers have moved over to true indie labels instead (e.g. even SubPop is not exactly indie anymore, being owned by Warner Bros, and being part of RIAA), and they often buy or freely download music from artists that are label-less.

To showcase how the indie scene took paying customers away from RIAA, let’s have a look at the Rolling Stone magazine’s reviews over the years. Magazines have their interest in reporting about music acts that people care about, so they’re a good benchmark in this research. Rolling Stone has posted online their music reviews from 1967 to date. The first album reviews for an indie band was just in the ’90s, for Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pavement. They were pretty much the only indie bands that were reviewed on a timely basis, and the first two eventually went major anyway. The second true indie band reviewed later was Yo La Tengo, in 1998. The next ones were Shins and Neco Case in 2001. Interpol and Death Cab for Cutie in 2002. Cat Power and The Postal Service in 2003. Basically, acts from mostly Matador, or Subpop, and only far and between.

From that point on though numbers of indie reviews were going up every year, and around 2009, about 40% of all the reviews on Rolling Stone was for indie bands. Fast forward in early 2010, and that number is at around 60%. Fast forward at the end of 2010, and the beginning of 2011, and that number is close to 80%. It seems that the indie bands are taking over major-signed artists in the press at a logarithmic speed, and the curve of this surge feels more natural than just a pre-calculated editorial policy shift. Not to mention the explosion of indie mp3 blogs in the recent years too.

Sure, news gossiping is still about major pop stars, but that’s because nobody cares, or should care, about the personal lives of indie bands. Album review articles on the other hand, are targeted directly to serious consumers, people whose purchases are supposed to show up in these RIAA revenue spreadsheets. But they won’t, not anymore. The press is now directing new consumers towards indie acts — after the previous generation of consumers forced the press itself towards indie.

As for Arcade Fire winning “album of the year” at the Grammy’s, a first for an indie band? That was just the cherry on top of the cake.

Music does not die. The music industry does not die. It just has moved shift from the majors, to the indies. New, more broad spreadsheets are required to measure the success or failure of the music industry. Unfortunately, RIAA is using the same old methods to measure its revenue, presents it as the only truth, and speaks via its lobbyists to the Government still with authority — while it should have none anymore. The result from this head-on collision will be more terrible laws, trying to save an industry that should not exist anymore. Major record labels are not needed anymore. Recording and mixing is cheap nowadays, and advertisement can just be offloaded to third party PR companies.

These music execs who now complain are in the wrong business. Nothing would have saved them. There is not money to be made anymore in the same fashion they were working in the past. Some people say that if majors had embraced the Napster model things would have worked for them, but that’s not true. Big companies need lots of money to sustain themselves, and cheap products can’t sustain that lifestyle. Instead, full scale-back was needed, and for those companies this didn’t make sense, they should have dissolve, or sell, no later than 2008. The ones who remain, throw ash in our eyes with this “streaming is hurting us” bullshit, while from the other side they try to kill their true competition, the indie scene and Creative Commons.

You see, they’ve lost control. In the past, they would dictate to consumers to whom to listen to, by creating stars, and paying TV and radios to play their songs every hour. Without having a contract with them, you could never make it in the business. Now, they’ve lost that control. People are finding new bands on Pandora, music blogs, or Bandcamp, often downloading bedroom-made music for free. You can’t beat free. Plus, technology has helped putting an end to the read-only culture the majors nurtured in the last century.

The point is, indie is here to stay. Lady Gaga is the last major pop star of the old world.