A non-neutral net may be coming soon

Between Stacey Higgenbottom’s piece at GigaOm and John Herman’s at Buzzfeed, I’m pretty much just counting the moments until my cable operator sends a note saying my internet fees are going up because I watch too much Netflix for their liking.

Not that I’m a huge fan of more and more government regulation, but it’s not just consumers at stake, it is, as many have pointed out, the start-ups who want to take on Twitter, Amazon and others but who won’t be able to pay for preferred access along the last mile to people’s homes. And that’s where government needs to make sure existing businesses don’t have policies in place that are meant almost solely to protect their own interests at the expense of innovation.

Light bulbs as political beanbag

Congress has decided fully enacting the energy regulations that would phase out electricity-wasting light bulbs is just too darn inconvenient. It’s a stupid move that’s grounded in politics and not good thinking. The Ars story is worth reading, but here’s the nut:

By repealing the standards, Congress has ensured that the waste will go on even longer.


Personally, I’ve been incredibly happy with the switchover to LED bulbs around the house. Yes, trying to find the right one that matches the lamp or whatever is sometimes frustrating. But once they’re in they’re in and it’s one less thing to worry about. Price, though, may lead me back to cheaper and less efficient bulbs, which will ultimately be even more frustrating.

via As part of budget deal, Congress blocks light bulb efficiency standards | Ars Technica.

Copyright is broken

A must-read.

The result is a copyright system that’s impossible to defend on economic or policy grounds. While copyright itself is a good thing — it helps artists and writers make a living — the repeated posthumous term extensions make no sense. No author, including Ayn Rand and Dr. Seuss, has made a decision on whether or not to write based on what will happen decades after they’re dead.

via No books for you: U.S. starves public domain for another year — Tech News and Analysis.

Because sure, who needs the environment or a functional food chain

This seems problematic:

Tea Party senators introduced a bill last week that would effectively end the protection of most endangered species in the U.S. by gutting some of the most important provisions of the Endangered Species Act. Senate Bill 1731, introduced by Tea Party members Sen. Paul (R-KY), Sen. Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Heller (R-NV) would end protections for most of the species that are currently protected by the act and make it virtually impossible to protect new species under the law. It would also eliminate protection for habitat that’s critical to the survival of rare and struggling animals and plants around the country.

via Tea Party Bill Would Gut Endangered Species Act | EcoWatch.

Ahh, the belief that business is an inherent and total good. That’s led to so many great decisions. Asshats.

The analogy continues to someone soiling an area rug



It seems The Big Lebowski can be used as a metaphor for everything, including the Fiscal Cliff debacle in Washington, DC.

The basic text for understanding this situation, as with so many situations, is The Big Lebowski. A woman has allegedly been taken hostage by nihilists (nihilists conveniently being a common point of comparison with the House Republican caucus.) Jeffrey Lebowski, the Jeff Bridges character, fears they will kill her. Walter, the John Goodman character, has already figured out that there is no hostage. Lebowski here is Obama, and Walter is Harry Reid:

Walter is right. There is no hostage. The Republican Party was actually terrified of the no-deal scenario. Policy-wise, the alternative to a small tax hike that they agreed to was a huge tax hike that they didn’t agree to. The politics were even worse: Republicans would be blamed for higher taxes on the middle class in order to defend the rich, deepening an already severe image problem.

Now go read the whole thing.

If we can’t discuss the real causes, the solutions will likely elude us

The causes of income stagnation are varied and lack the political simplicity of calls to bring down the deficit or avert another Wall Street meltdown. They cannot be quickly remedied through legislation from Washington. The biggest causes, according to interviews with economists over the last several months, are not the issues that dominate the political debate.

At the top of the list are the digital revolution, which has allowed machines to replace many forms of human labor, and the modern wave of globalization, which has allowed millions of low-wage workers around the world to begin competing with Americans.

Not much further down the list is education, probably the country’s most diffuse, localized area of government policy. As skill levels have become even more important for prosperity, the United States has lost its once-large global lead in educational attainment.

via Race for President Leaves Income Slump in Shadows – NYTimes.com.

Leaks reporting

So here’s my question around the WikiLeaks controversy:

Instead of – or in addition to – reporting on what the documents published by WikiLeaks actually contain, has there been any investigative reporting done on who might be the one who provided those documents to the site? That seems like some actual reporting that might be of interest and would certainly shed light on what the motivations would be behind providing the documents. Is there a criminal investigation underway?

That all would be just as much in the public interest as what the documents contained and isn’t simply the rehashing of the meta-narrative of reporting on the reporting but would require actual shoe-leather journalism.


An interview the Trib’s Eric Zorn conducts with a speaker at one of the tea party speakers in Chicago yesterday shows why this movement is so dangerous. In his responses, the interviewee repeatedly says that activists don’t know exactly what they want fixed, they just “instinctively” or “intuitively” know that things aren’t right and there has to be a better way to run a government.

We’re in a period of extremely dangerous anti-intellectualism. It doesn’t matter how much people who know what they’re talking about explain the reality of the situation to ordinary folks – if it doesn’t jive with what they feel intuitively regardless of their background it’s got to be wrong and just another example of the elite class trying to be better than everyone else.

Time was we respected experts and those who had made a career – or lifetime – out of studying a subject and relied on their opinions and experience to make good decisions. Now, though, these people are being pursued with torches like they’re carrying the damn plague.