Friday, December 29, 2006

Advertise Cellularly

Ads are coming soon to a cell phone near you.

Beginning early next year, Verizon Wireless will allow placement of banner advertisements on news, weather, sports and other Internet sites that users visit and display on their mobile phones, company executives said.
Advertisers “are crazed to get information” onto the phones, Mr. Goodrich said. But the effectiveness “will be really limited until you’ve enabled site, sound and motion.”

That will not be happening anytime soon on Verizon, according to Mr. Harrobin. He said that during extensive tests the company did in determining whether to run ads, and how to run them, it determined that consumers find short, stand-alone video advertisements to be intrusive.

How can that be? Big Business only cares about money, why would they care what consumers want?

Because Big Business only cares about money, that's why. If consumers don't like advertisements on their phone they will simply find another carrier causing Big Business to lose money.

The cell phone industry is highly competitive (thanks, in part, to hefty deregulation I might add) so companies will do anything to please the consumer.

Ah, the wonders of capitalism.

More Jobs Destroyed

When will the people wake up to the fact that this is just a scam whose very purpose is to make money - they don't care about you or the thousands and thousands of jobs that this is going to destroy - they just want to make a buck at the expense of American Jobs.
Buying a book could become as easy as buying a pack of gum. After several years in development, the Espresso - a $50,000 vending machine with a conceivably infinite library - is nearly consumer-ready and will debut in ten to 25 libraries and bookstores in 2007. The New York Public Library is scheduled to receive its machine in February.
OK, nobody is actually pitching the story in that way - for this. Why is it when Wal-Mart sells a warehouse full of stuff at bargain prices there is a line of people waiting to take pot-shots at them?

Selling stuff cheap makes everyone better off - except the monopolist, anyway.

When Will They Learn

The French economy is doing so poorly that they want a Socialist to take over.

Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party’s nominee for president of France, is gathering momentum
Granted, its early and the French are not known for their basic understand of economics, but shouldn't they eventually learn that economics isn't just a right-wing theory?

I hate to say it, but the French deserve everything that they get - hopefully it will serve as a lesson to everyone else in the world.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I'm back

At least I think so. The New Year is going to bring a much more relaxed schedule and I'm just too opinionated to keep my mouth shut.

No promises about how frequently I'll write, but tune in for how conceived ramblings of the classical liberal type.

I'm Shocked!

Democrats and the left in general have been wringing their hands about the debt. Bush was plunging the country into poverty because he wasn't paying enough attention to the debt. Democrats promised to bring fiscal responsibility if only the public would elect them. Pay as you go! They cried.

Then they won the election now Krugman, DeLong, Pelosi and the rest are saying the deficit really isn't that big a deal and there are more important things to do.

What a bunch of hypocrits. This is why its important to constrain the power of goverment - all politicians (and their lackies and hangers on) are liars.

The End

In Part I I put forth the theory that Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events was a libertarian tale and proceeded to explain that the only way that you could reach that conclusion after reading the first twelve books was to succumb to confirmation bias.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

Hopefully I can now convince you that the thirteenth and final book, The End, reaches a libertarian conclusion, one that illustrates, quite clearly, my perspective of the world.

The story starts as the children are throw onto a solitary island after being shipwrecked with their arch nemesis Count Olaf. Islanders find the quartet and for the very first time in the Baudelaire's lives someone sees Count Olaf for what he is - a scoundrel. They tell him that he isn't welcome and bring the children back to their village where they meet Ishmael.

At the beginning of the series everything was black and white. Villains were villainous; heroes are noble with little room for grays. As the series progress and the children mature they are faced with those shades of gray - they face moral dilemmas where they must do evil in order to achieve their ends.

Just as they begin to understand that the world is not black and white Ishmael, the facilitator, puts everything back into good and evil.

Ishmael is the benevolent dictator, his only goal is to create a safe place for his people. He doesn't force anyone to do anything, but he makes it clear where he stands and the islanders invariably agree. In his attempt to keep everyone safe all individuality is lost. Everyone wears white robes, eats bland food and drinks coconut cordials, an opiate to keep them lethargic and compliant. A safe place, to be sure, but boring nonetheless.

The Baudelaire children soon discover that Ishmael doesn't lead the simple life that he imposes on everyone else. He has a secret cache of books, food and luxuries that everyone else is protected from.

The children accuse Ishmael of abusing his power:

"...abridging the freedom of expression and the free exercise thereof is [not] the proper way to run a community ... You want everyone to lead a simple, safe life--everyone except yourself."

The reply is the standard statist response:
No one should lead the life I lead ... I've read more of the world's treacherous history than almost anyone, and as one of my colleagues once said, this history is indeed little more than the register of crimes, follies , and misfortunes of mankind.

Don't you see? ... I'm not just the island's facilitator. I'm the island's parent. I keep this library far away from the people under my care, so that they will never be disturbed by the world's terrible secrets.
The children are then given a choice - live a safe life and abandon everything that they enjoy - all that makes them individuals, or live a life of uncertainty and danger - the same life they have been living for the past twelve books.

This is Virginia Postrel's between stasis and dynamism A world that is controlled without passion vs a world of unknowns and passion and discovery.

The children tell themselves that they should pick the safe life, but find they cannot make the sacrifices necessary to choose that path. They use their gifts as individuals to try and save themselves and their friend disobeying their benevolent dictator.

In the end their choice is justified as the rest of the islanders follow Ishmael to their likely deaths terrified of the prospects of striking out on their own.

The lessons of this tale are clear - the world is a terrible, nasty, miserable place - but if you entrust your well being to others you will surely be disappointed. Not even the benevolent dictator can keep the world at bay and trouble invariably befalls the people. The only difference between the 'safe world' and the real world is that when you depend on someone else to protect you, you lose all ability to protect yourself; when your protector fails you are lost.

That is the libertarian theme that speaks to me. The world is not an orderly place, by trying to force order upon it much is lost in the way of individualism but nothing is gained because the order maker (the government) invariably fails and when it does those most in need of help no longer know how to take care of themselves.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

If you are anything like me (and of course you are) when someone proclaims that they have found major libertarian themes in popular media you face it with skepticism.

The libertarian blogosphere has erupted in Potter worship seeing the second coming of Ayn Rand in the pages of Harry Potter's story. Now, that isn't to say that a libertarian can't see something to like in the pages, I just think you have to go too far to get a real theme out of it.

That being said, I'm going to try and convince you that Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events does exactly that. I just finished the series after my daughter asked me to read it with her and very little in the first twelve books will leave a classical liberal nodding in agreement and pumping the fist of freedom.

Please note that spoilers abound from here - read at your own risk.

Sure, you can paint Mr. Poe as the inept bureaucrat that acts in his own self-interest as opposed to the interest of his wards. The Council of Elders from the Vile Village are the libertarians caricature of democracy as mob rule and over regulation to the point of absurdity with even the rule book being forbidden because it makes reference to forbidden activities. The same story even paints the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" and paints it as the absurd tripe that it is.

This is nothing more than confirmation bias though. There are plenty of examples that could paint the series a liberal's delight. From Mr. Poe the self interested capitalists that leaves the Baudelaire children in one bad situation after the next to Esme Squalor that seems to care about nothing other than fashion and wealth the villains of A Series of Unfortunate Events seem to point out everything that is wrong with the world as seen by the left.

The series does point out human frailty and folly throughout; villains are poorly educated, vain, ruled by mob psychology and peer pressure. The heroes are well read, selfless and pursue noble ends. So what changes in book thirteen that convinces me that its a libertarian tale?

Find out in Part II.

Friday, December 01, 2006


After giving it considerable thought and trying to figure out how to fit regular blogging into my schedule; I have decided to put this blog on indefinite hiatus.

My new career is just taking too much time and my personal life makes late evening blogging more than a little difficult. Since building a regular readership is hard enough when you are posting daily I can't justify maintaining this particular blog. And anyways, it clears up a spot on Kip's Elite Eleven for something that is going to provide more value.

I appreciate the blogging relationship that I have established with many of you and I hope that you can follow me to Degrees of Freedom where I will continue to blog occasionally as long as they will have me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Making Room At The Top

Every libertarian seems to have his blind spots, mine very well may be stem cell research, Coyote's seems to be Ivy League Schools.

Which leads me to my main point -- the Ivy League needs to find a way to increase capacity. The number of kids that are "ivy-ready" has exploded over the last decades, but the class sizes at Ivy schools have remained flat. For years I have been campaigning at Princeton for this, and I am happy to see they are increasing the class size, but only by a small amount.

This argument makes little sense to me. The value in Ivy League schools is that they are the top schools, not that they provide the best education - though that may be a by-product.

If this top tier of schools accepts 1% of the students then expanding admissions to the top 2% of students only diffuses the benefits that the top students would have otherwise had. If there really are more people that are "Ivy League ready" then the market will produce a tier of colleges that are perceived as nearly Ivy League in quality. Its fine if Yale, Princeton and others want to accept more students to make more money or provide other benefits to their students it isn't going to produce any value to society as a whole.

Its the same for secondary education as a whole, it was perceived that you had to go to college to succeed so we started sending everyone to college. Now that the signal is gone - college is no longer a signal of excellence - the very ambitious need to get advanced degrees to differentiate themselves.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lost My Lunch

There are dangers to reading blogs while on a lunch break - sometimes you read stuff like this:

one can use Bayes theorem to evaluate the conditional election prospects of various Presidential candidates for 2008.
Based on the most recent transaction prices, here is what you learn about the conditional probabilities:

Obama 88 percent
The market suggests that Obama would be the strongest candidate if nominated.
If you have read my blog for any amount of time you would realize that I'm not much of an Obama fan. Though, to be fair, he is one of the better Democratic politicians currently in Congress.

He is a hack that will sell out any ideal in order to get elected, which, again to be fair, is what all politicians do. Unfortunately, he plays the populist card a bit too strong for my tastes.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Help Fill My Stocking

If anyone has any of those worthless shares of Google floating around you can send them to me. I love giving my kids gag gifts at Christmas.

A Rose By Any Other Name

Microsoft is so afraid of pissing people off that they resort to all kinds of naming shenanigans to attempt to hide the truth.
As reporters discovered yesterday, a Microsoft Knowledgebase article updated just last week described RFM for Office 2007 as disabling a user's ability to create new documents, edit existing documents or to save documents edited within the suite, though the user can open existing documents and print them. Reports have stated this updated document is evidence that Microsoft, contrary to prior statements, is building a "kill switch" into Office, and perhaps into Windows Vista as well.

Microsoft yesterday afternoon rejected the characterization of RFM as a "kill switch," citing that RFM does not completely disable Office. But reporters have counter-argued, if you can't save and you can't edit, that's as good as killing it, isn't it? The ensuing argument is starting to take on the characteristics of Monty Python's classic "Dead Parrot Sketch." Is Office dead, or is it just resting?

Call it a freaking kill-switch - who cares? It's your product, if people do not want to activate it you are fully within your rights to turn off functionality.

This is not going to work though; the people that this is supposed to really affect - software pirates - will find hacks to kill the kill switch. Which leaves you with legitimate users irritated by "features" that are only intended to irritate. Meanwhile, Microsoft has to staff up help desks to deal with this nuisance.

Fortunately, this type of shenanigan is going to be short-lived. Software installed on computers isn't long for this world. Just look at the gaming industry - the big games all have an online component which is (nearly) impossible to pirate. The software industry will follow-suit - you only have to look as far as Microsoft's aquisition of Softricity to see where the future is heading.

You will buy software that only installs some of the bits on your computer - the rest will be online somewhere and you will have to log into the application to turn it on. This is good for all sorts of reasons that I may blog about later, but the good news for now is DRM/copy protection and all the headaches it involves, isn't long for this world.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Where is the Bias

Commenting on a study that looks at gender differences in tenure Matt Yglesias is pretty confident on where the bias lies.

You say the gap is explained by "fertility decisions" I say it's explained by "structural sexism." Here, as in much of life, women and men are now allowed to compete on "equal" terms. The terms, however, were set up long ago -- by men -- before that was the case, operating under the implicit assumption that the competitors would be men who, if they had children, would have wives at home to take care of the children.
I don't get it though. If men and women are, essentially, equal until one of them decides to work less in order to take care of kids then the bias is clearly not in the work place. The bias is in the home.

From a policy stand point things look pretty good. It is no business of the government whether or not women choose to emphasize family over profession - and don't let them fool you, it is a choice. The only solution would be to forbid people to work hard and that doesn't seem like a terribly efficient solution to me.

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Indispensable Stuff You Didn't Know You Needed

Our kids are going to look at pictures of all of our wires and wonder how we ever managed it all.
US researchers have outlined a relatively simple system that could deliver power to devices such as laptop computers or MP3 players without wires.
The concept exploits century-old physics and could work over distances of many metres, the researchers said.

Coming up with the coolest idea that no one ever thought of before is the simplest way to become filthy, stinking rich. And for those of you keeping score at home - no government body would ever approve of research funding for this unless it was attached to a bomb or some device that could kill bad guys.

I love capitalism!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Boy That Cried Wolf

Accusing someone of censorship is a serious charge. It's probably a good idea to make sure that someone is actually engaging in censorship before accusing them of it.

In October, a U.S. vigilante group asked Verizon to cut off Net access to Epifora, a Canadian ISP that hosts a number of (entirely legal) web sites offering support to minor-attracted adults. Shortly thereafter, Verizon gave 30 days notice to Epifora, ending a 5 year relationship.
Private companies deciding to terminate business relationships, regardless of the reasons, is not censorship.

Verizon customers can still get to the websites in question, Verizon has just decided they do not want to enter into business with this particular customer.

Whether you think their reasons are justified or not, this is not censorship and the net neutrality crowd needs to get its story straight.

Who Would Have Thought?

Back in September chicken little was concerned about Wal-Mart throwing its weight around.

several weeks ago, in the midst of rumors that Apple was close to announcing a deal with Disney, Wal-Mart's David Porter - the executive responsible for stocking the retailer's shelves with DVDs and CDs and whose influence is so immense in Tinseltown that he's been named to Premiere magazine's annual power list - made the rounds of Hollywood studios.
I claimed that the concern was just so much hooey. Wal-Mart only has as power over suppliers as they have ability to make said suppliers money. Let's fast forward and see who was right.

Disney continues to have success in selling movies through the iTunes Music Store, saying Thursday it had now sold about 500,000 films in just the first two months of operation. Consumers are downloading movies at rate of about 9,000 per day, generating about $4 million in revenue.
Expect stories, any day now, about how Wal-Mart is 'putting it to' Disney by shipping unsold merchandise back.


I think I've finally recovered from my 100 hour work week from hell (and I swear I'm not exagerating) and should return to something resembling a regular posting schedule.

And in my absense I picked up a co-blogging spot at Degress of Freedom. If I like it there and they like me I may move over full time, we'll just have to wait and see. But, for now I'll be posting in both locations.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sorry For The Quiet

I've basically been at work for 5 days - I have a ton of things that I would like to say about the election, DRM, ADA, global warming, government monopolies and all kinds of other fun stuff.

Please be patient and hopefully I can share my thoughts soon.

On another note, I've been considering joining a group blog. It would accommodate the sporadic blogging that my new job has imposed on me. If you have a group blog or know of one that is looking for a contributor leave me a note in the comments.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Flip Side of Privacy

Surprise, I'm skeptical of government mandated privacy rules. for as bad as privacy is perceived to be in the US, just remember that it can get much, much worse.

The Brazilian senate is considering a bill that will make it a crime to join a chat, blog, or download from the Internet without fully identifying oneself first. Privacy groups and Internet providers are very concerned, and are trying to lobby against the bill, but it seems they won't have much success.

I Love the US Reason #544

The press is still free.

Diebold Inc. insisted that cable network HBO cancel a documentary that questions the integrity of its voting machines, calling the program inaccurate and unfair.

The program, "Hacking Democracy," is scheduled to debut Thursday, , five days before the 2006 U.S. midterm elections. The film claims that Diebold voting machines aren't tamper-proof and can be manipulated to change voting results.

If the press was not free Diebold could simply petition the government to stop the program. Under US law they either have to prove, in a court of law, that the program is slanderous (or is it libel? or do neither apply?) Or they have to convince the American public that their machines are safe.

This is an important conversation - we shouldn't trust Diebold just because they say so, the accusations, even if false, are important to maintaining trust in the process.

There are plenty of reasons to not trust the process, adding to them simply isn't an option.

Broadcast TV Is Dead

It is only a matter of time.

Microsoft Corp. today announced agreements with CBS, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. (TBS Inc.), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to bring an initial lineup of over 1,000 hours of hit TV shows and movies to Xbox 360™ gamers in the U.S. by the end of the year. Furthermore, Xbox 360 will be the first gaming console to bring standard and high-definition TV shows and movies via digital distribution over the Internet directly to the consumer.

At first each show will be a pay-per-download. It won't take long for advertisers to realize that "Heroes - brought to you free by DC Comics" will be a far more effective marketing tool than spending millions on commercials that nobody watches.

It is fascinating to watch the world change right before my eyes.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Why Privacy Doesn't Matter

Or How I Learned To Quit Worrying and Love Total Information Access

The truth is that privacy does matter, but we don't really understand to what extent. Microsoft doesn't really care what I do online. They don't care what I buy, they don't care about what I listen to or what my favorite porn site is.

What they care about is how much my actions fit into a pattern of behavior. The more information that they gather, the more accurate their pattern matching will be. The reason that I trust Microsoft to gather that data is they can't really do anything with it.

Think about it, who is going to pay money to find out what book I bought at Amazon or who I chat with while I'm supposed to be working on my budget? The answer is no one, even if private enterprise wanted to abuse this information gathering, I'm not sure that it could if it wanted to. We just aren't that interesting, you and I.

That isn't to say that all information gathering is harmless. When the gatherer collects information against our will and can use it to arrest us, prevent us from traveling, steal our money or other such nonsense I am deeply distrustful.

"But I don't want them tracking my internet browsing!" I hear you say. But, since you know that its happening and you choose to buy stuff online anyway that is an implicit agreement to be tracked. Its not perfect, but no one is forcing you to perform business online.

We don't know what that loss of "privacy" really costs us, but I can tell you that it isn't zero. Retailers become more efficient by being able to offer us things that it thinks we want which reduce its total costs. Financial institutions gain a much higher level of confidence in our credit worthiness which allows us to gain instant credit with lower interest rates.

If government steps in and prevents all of this information sharing I can't tell you precisely what the consequences will be, but people will complain about it. Especially the credit. Creditors will be accused of gouging customers. Those libertarians amongst us will proclaim "You ask for it you morons! We told that restricting the exchange of 'private' information will have costs."

"Feh" they will say, "You free-marketers and all of your bizarre notions of incentives and costs. You think that everything resolves around money, can you see that we are talking about something more important than economics!"

Fortunately, I have my explanation detailed well in advance so that I can say "I told you so."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My World View

I seem to be taking heat for rejecting anything that doesn't meet my worldview and not negotiating and "meeting in the middle."

The truth is that I change my mind frequently and am constantly shifting my policy stances on all sorts of issues. The problem is that no one on these boards ever frames their arguments to shift my point of view because they ignore the foundation of my opinions.

That foundation can be summed up in two words"

Incentives Matter.

I am rather agnostic on all sorts of issues because I don't have enough information to form an opinion or US policy is so far removed from reality that forming an opinion is irrelevant.

Should something be done about Global Warming? Not sure, but I can tell you that all of the policy recommendations being made by the left are wrong because they ignore a simple fact - incentives matter.

Should government be providing education? Probably not, but I'm willing to concede that maybe governmetn should fund education. Public education is wrong because it ignores a simple fact - incentives matter.

Should government help the poor? I don't think its necessary, but I'm willing to concede that we, as a nation, are wealthy enough that the costs are minor. I can tell you that welfare is the wrong approach because it ignores a simple fact - incentives matter.

The list goes on and on and on. Social security is the wrong approach, immigration "reform" is the wrong policy, FDA governance is misguided, energy policy is archaic. Universal medicine is a pipe dream. All of these I view as true because they all ignore the incentives involved.

If you want to try and pursued me that X is the right approach because it shapes the incentives involved in a way that provides outcome Y.

Good intentions are all fine and good, but unless they actually achieve the desired ends then those good intentions are worthless.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More On Privacy

Yesterday I asked:

Shouldn't they have to show that the data collection is harmful before they file complaints

BetaNews has a great take on the petition:
The petition omits mention of tactics of salespeople in retail settings, who for decades have been trained to observe shoppers' behavior, even when -- or especially when -- they're wandering around. Retailers collect information from their customers every day in order to communicate better with those customers and to close a sale, and the very existence of shopping malls stands as proof that many customers prefer to conduct transactions in places where their privacy cannot possibly be guaranteed.

But also omitted from the citation -- 44 pages of which are devoted to citations from marketing brochures and Web sites, as well as Microsoft's privacy policy -- is any direct connection between the concept of collecting any user's behavior data, and that of gleaning from that data any personal information about that user to which a retailer or other service might not otherwise be entitled were he or she to enter that service's own physical retail storefront

The idea that we are only facing privacy invasion on the 'net is an illusion. From coupons to loyalty discounts to stopping to look at the latest Tool CD, retailers are watching what we do and trying to figure out how to offer us something that we just can't live without.
Everyday users, the industry groups contend, are generally unaware of the amount of behavioral investigations that Web sites conduct, and may thus be unaware of how their privacy may be invaded. For one non-Microsoft example, the petition cites a service offered by marketing technologies firm JumpTap, which keeps track of media purchases consumers make through their cell phones, and by way of alliances through carriers, make recommendations to customers about what they might like to purchase next.

So which experience would consumers rather have? The one where they get spammed about every crap CD that they play on Top 40 radio? Or advertisements about a hot but obscure jazz pianist that you would never have discovered on your own?

If the nanny-staters would just shut up long enough consumers will answer that question without being "protected" by people that think they know better.

Carrots and Sticks

...are probably the most effective way to deal with Chinese censorship. I'm glad to see that Microsoft may start using that approach as well.
The Associated Press cited Microsoft's Tipson as adding the following: "It is a point at which point you decide the Chinese people are worse off for having this service in their country...We have to discuss at what point censorship or persecution of bloggers has reached a point, or monitoring e-mail has reached a point...where it's simply unacceptable to continue to do business there. We try to define those levels and the trends are not good at the moment. And not just in China."

Tipson was reportedly being grilled by reporters and other questioners about allegations by human rights groups such as Amnesty International, that producers of Chinese search engines such as Microsoft were actively colluding with the Chinese government to propagate that country's policy of censorship to its own citizens. He denied Microsoft was in any such collusion, arguing that instead, Microsoft's efforts there are actively increasing citizens' access to information, although he conceded any company that does business in China must abide by its own local laws

Get China hooked on high tech investment then offer some quid pro quo. Sounds like a winning strategy to me. Greed is a powerful motivator, but the person has to know, exactly, what they are missing for it to be effective.

Dept of Homeland Stupidity

US-CERT, the government's computer security arm, is responding to news that a Microsoft application may be exploitable.

Until an official update, patch, or more information becomes available, we recommend the following actions to help mitigate the security risks:

* Review the workarounds described in Microsoft Security Advisory 927709.
* Disable ActiveX as specified in the Securing Your Web Browser document and the Malicious Web Scripts FAQ.
* Do not follow unsolicited links.
* Review the steps described in Microsoft's document to improve the safety of your browser.
What terrible, terrible advice; you might as well ask consumers to unplug their computers from the internet for as useful as this is.
  1. Asking a user to read technical documents is just asinine. I don't even understand most of them and I do this full time!
  2. If users are following unsolicited web links in 2006 then they probably aren't reading alerts from US-CERT anyway.
  3. Providing users instructions on how to break their browser without providing an explanation of what the consequences are really just takes the cake.
If this is a legitimate government function, they would be much more effective by explaining what exploits are available in the wild or some other education services. Recommending a bunch of counter-productive, destructive nonsense isn't providing anyone any value.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Where's the Harm?

Two consumer advocacy groups have filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), saying Microsoft Corp. and other Web-based companies are using "unfair and deceptive" business practices to collect data about their customers.
The FTC next week is hosting a three-day forum on protecting consumers online, called "Protecting Consumers in the Next Tech-ade," but the agency needs to go beyond a series of presentations by Web companies and take a hard look at data collection, Chester said.
"The time for show and tell is long past," he said."There's increasingly sophisticated ways of tracking people's information online, and there are no safeguards."
Shouldn't they have to show that the data collection is harmful before they file complaints? Hell, this sounds like a positive benefit for consumers. Instead of getting bombarded by advertisements for little blue pills I can see something that I might actually want to buy?

This habit of "protecting me" from imaginary harms is really getting a bit trite. The risks online are way overblown and it well past time for someone to call these so called consumer groups on it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just Give Consumers What They Want

Atlas Blogged points to a nice article on the future of DRM and old school media companies.

The music, movie and publishing industries do not deserve to survive if their only way to remain viable is to undermine copyright law and replace it with restrictive contracts backed by harsh penalties for breaking the inevitably flawed DRM they wrap around their products. Others will take their place, and I cannot see that this is a bad thing.
How many times do media companies have to spend millions of dollars on a DRM technology only to see it hacked in a matter of days before they simply give up?

It appears to me that it would be more productive to make money by providing users with what they want rather than forcing them to buy what you want.

Or to put it another way - consumers want digital music that they can use anywhere and anyway they want. On their computer, in their car, on their MP3 player, or on their home stereo. Find a revenue model that allows you to provide media in this fashion and you will blow the socks off Sony, Apple, Microsoft and all the rest of the companies that want to make consuming media difficult.

Not only will such a company become an immediate market leader, they will force all of the other companies to follow suit very quickly and you will see pirated content all but disappear.

Most consumers that I know don't find paying for content, they just don't like paying for content that is handicapped. As soon as traditional media companies understand this point, the tired game of copyright lawsuits will become a thing of the past.

Censorship is Bad, MmmKay?

In the past I have defended Google, Microsoft and others for complying with Chinese censorship laws, but never let it be said that I have defended China's right to censor.

I don't think we should be using different standards to judge China. In China, we don't have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that's a different problem. I know that some colleagues listen to the BBC in their offices from the Webcast. And I've heard people say that the BBC is not available in China or that it's blocked. I'm sure I don't know why people say this kind of thing. We do not have restrictions at all.
Is this the case of a bureaucrat having no idea what it is his country does or does he really think he is going to fool someone?

China's policy of trying to stop sites is counterproductive and ill-conceived. Chinese citizens that want to find out about Tienanmen will do so, by trying to stop them the government is only confirming that they are trying to control their constituents.

I'm optimistic that this practice is going to be short-lived. Unfortunately, I do not have any evidence for this Pollyanna view.

You Can Trust Me, I Swear

Perhaps I was too quick in calling UN control of the Internet the worst idea of the decade.

The US defence department has set up a new unit to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet.

The Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter "inaccurate" news stories and exploit new media.
Even if well intentioned this is a colossally bad idea. If news media aren't going to be carefull enough to fact check their stories, what is the likelihood that they will correct them via Pentagon sources?

This is going to be seen, whether right or wrong, as an attempt by the US government to spread propaganda. The government should recognize this and just let it go. They would have better luck stemming bad press by avoiding interference where they weren't wanted.

Yet another waste of tax payer dollars for little, if any, gain.

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And the Worst Idea Of The Decade Is

At a conference in Greece aimed at continuing the discussion over who should control the Internet, the United Nations once again renewed calls for diminishing the U.S. government's influence over ICANN.

I don't get it. Why would they want to change control of the Internet? I have a long laundry list of complaints about the US, but they have left the Internet alone. Why would you change that and give it to the same organization that lets Libya chair the Human Rights Commission?

Seriously. One could make an argument that ICANN should be 100% independent, but I don't think that is feasible. Once there isn't a government to place a watchful eye on the organization you might as well give control to the UN because all sorts of special interests would start exerting pressure.

I'm not a huge fan of cheesy axioms, but I think this time its appropriate. If it's not broke, don't fix it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Quick Hits

Life is still keeping me very busy; I had intended to blog about some libertarian cautionary tales, but other sites have beaten me to the punch.

When government runs what should be a private business, eventually you will dislike the results. Unfortunately, by then it is simply too late.


Campaign finance laws were intended to prevent Big Money from owning politics. In reality, they just ensured that Big Money were the only players.

Offending People With Style

Talking about free speech...

If you are going to offend people, you might as well do it unapologetically.
Responding to complaints about a recent South Park episode, Comedy Central

... defended the episode, saying that fans have come to expect such things from the series, and that this is neither the first nor the last time people will be offended by the show.

In other words, "Get over it, Biatch!"

I wish more media companies would respond the same way when faced with criticisms.

Freedom to Offend

Why don't people understand that the freedom of speech includes the freedom to say offensive things?

Racist blogs targeting minority groups in Australia are springing up on the web, but Google's Blogger, the service some are hosted on, refuses to take them offline, says an anti racism lobby group.

"I think what Google intends is not to restrict people's freedom of speech," Mr Stokes said.

"But we're talking about bashing up brown people and defaming them. This isn't politics, this is terrorism."

Actually, I think its called prior restraint. I mean, if you can only say things that don't offend anyone you really don't need a right to defend that freedom do you?

There are limits to free speech, but it isn't really related to the words that are said but how they are said. If your words are going to cause immediate harm (and not the hurt-my-feelings kind of harm) then you can be accountable for the consequences of your speech.

But notice that there must be consequences before you can be accountable - these blogs don't seem to qualify.

Let these bigots speak their mind so that everyone knows they are bigots and can be marginalized publicly. If you push them underground their hatred will only fester until it evolves into real action - and that would truly be a crime.

Friday, October 27, 2006

X-Prize For Politicians

I've been tossing this idea around in my head for some time now - I think that it is really exciting that a private individual is implementing it rather than a government body.

Each year the winning leader will, at the end of his term, get $5m (£2.7m) over 10 years and $200,000 (£107,000) each year for life thereafter. "We need to remove corruption and improve governance," Mr Ibrahim said.
...The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will be launched in London on Thursday... It will be available only to a president who democratically transfers power to his successor. Harvard University will do the measuring to see just how well the president has served his or her people during their term in office.

I agree with Tyler that the amount is probably a bit small, but there is nothing stopping other entrepreneurs from jumping on board to up the ante. In fact, if the program shows promise I would be surprised if that didn't happen.

The only problem with this approach is that it can be used for good just as well as it can be used for bad. Imagine a scenario where an entrepreneur rewards a leader for attempting to implement Communism, Socialism, protectionism or other such nonsense. You would end up with a situation where billionaires with money to burn would be completing against each other in order to get pet philosophies implemented. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

For the time being I'll be optimistic and hope that this is able to help Africa turn the corner.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This Is Why I Mumble

When people ask me about my political affiliation.

How can anyone really take Libertarians seriously when people like this are representing the classical liberal philosophy?

HatTip: Out of Control

Poor Governance Is Not a Republican Quality

Liberals, these days, are all chanting the same refrain: "If Democrats were in power x would have been better." Where x is Katrina, the War in Iraq, the FDA, gas prices, whatever. You don't have to look hard to find examples of Democratic negligence in the not-so-distant past.

[I]n 1992, the federal Public Health Service (PHS) recommended [that] all women of childbearing age consume 0.4mg of folic acid daily. The PHS estimated this could lead to a reduction in spina bifida, a crippling birth defect that partially exposes the infant’s spinal cord through a hole in the backbone, of about 50 percent (i.e., about 1,250 cases per year).

However, the FDA would not let producers of foods rich in folic acid (oranges, leafy green vegetables, etc.) inform expectant mothers of this preventive medicine until 1996. From PHS estimates, it may be reasonably postulated that the FDA’s four-year suppression of this health claim caused as many as 5,000 infants to be unnecessarily stricken with spina bifida.
When government has power to make all of our decisions for us, those decisions are likely to be driven by partisan concerns rather than efficacy concerns.

Everyone seems to be rooting for Democrats this November, just don't fool yourself into thinking that anything is going to change.

Ignorance Is No Excuse

Are people really so ignorant that they honestly believe that Castro is a good man? Or is this just anti-Americanism gone awry?

Capla Kesting Fine Art announces that an unveiling in Central Park of Fidel Castro on his "deathbed" may be the last opportunity to say "farewell" to the man some revere as a champion of civil rights. "Fidel Castro's Deathbed Portrait," described as a colossal portrait of a solemn Castro at rest, will be unveiled at 10:00 am November 8th, just north of the monument for Cuban poet, Jose Marti.

Let's put this into perspective. Castro is a man that:
Has executed thousands of political dissidents.
Not only spies on its citizens, but pays other citizens to spy on their neighbors.
Prohibits freedom of speech.
Outlaws freedom of the press.
Prevents the free movement of people.
Limits the free exercise of religion.

Which civil rights has Castro been a champion of? These people should be ashamed of themselves.

HatTip: Cato@Liberty

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stop! It's Budget Time

For many managers across the country, now is simply the worst time of year. It's when they start working on budgets for 2007. Nobody thinks about it much, but this 30 day window (or so) probably has more effect on productivity and economic growth than any other single factor.

I'd also say that it is a process that few (if any) economists really talk about. A simple example should illustrate my point as well as illuminate why businesses operate more efficiently than government.

How a manager determines his budget:
  1. Analyze the previous year's budget.
  2. Modify expenses based on changes in business practices - changes in headcount, maintenance costs, inflation, etc.
  3. Brainstorm all of the projects that you would like to complete for the entire following year.
  4. Work with several vendors for each project to determine likely costs associated with project completion.
  5. Complete Return on Investment and Total Cost of Ownership analysis on all proposed projects..
  6. Throw out all of the ones that don't pay for themselves in a reasonable amount of time.
  7. Show the proposed budget to your boss who tells you to cut 10%.
  8. Cut corners, make some dificult decisions, put off some projects until the following year.
  9. After showing the budget to your boss, he tells you that Marketing wants to do X, so you will have to budget for Y - and you aren't getting any more money to do it.
  10. You make all the changes, miraculously finding enough corners to cut to make it all work.
  11. Wait for the executive committee to approve all budgets - getting yours back 10% smaller than it was just a couple days ago.
How a government manager determines his budget:
  1. Sit back and have a glass of champagne - your 5% uplift was built into the legislation that created your department.
So, while businesses are fighting to fit larger pieces of pie into smaller slices, government is content with getting bigger and bigger all the time. I think this is also part of the reason that business people tend to be sympathetic to small government ideals (I almost said Republican - oops), they know that it is possible to do more with less because they do it every day.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Keep The Bits a' Flowin'

Dave Hoffman sees a connection between bits of bytes and bits of water.

Perhaps the analogy is facile, but is there a meaningful connection between the economics of water and information? The reason that the analogy occurs to me is that both goods the real cost is access, not consumption. Obviously, there are some important differences too (information isn't life, whatever Neal Stephenson thinks, etc.) But it might be that the lessons from the partial commodification of water in the last thirty years, and the positive consequences of regulation, could inform our experiences with informational regulation as well.
I think the lesson is simple - when consumers get to consume for free, they over use it, leading to shortages. Whether the consumption is water or data should be irrelevant, the same lessons apply.

Everytime I here some pundit or activist say "Well, this time its different" I roll my eyes and think back to all of those other times they said "this time its different" and were wrong.

As much as we would like to provide free water for everyone and Internet for all, wishing it so just doesn't conform with reality.

Counting Hate Crimes

How, exactly, do you keep track of which crimes are hate-crimes and which ones aren't?

America’s Jews were the victims of 68.5% of 2005’s religiously motivated hate-crimes. Even though there are a lot less of us than there are Muslims, we incurred almost 7x more hate-crimes than America’s Muslim population in 2005. I am expecting CAIR to send every Jew in America a sympathy card in the very near future.

Part of me suspects that much of the difference resides in the fact that Jews are more likely to be upper class and therefore have better lawyers.

Of course, that could just be the anti-Semite in me talking.

David v. Goliath

Radley Balko points out a potential consequence of the new, stupid, unproductive anti-internet gambling law:
There's no appetite for slapping trade sanctions on US goods; that would hurt Antiguan companies and consumers far more than Americans. Instead, the country may refuse to enforce American patents and trademarks. This would make it possible for Antiguan-based companies to produce knock-offs of American intellectual property, like video and music recordings or computer software. Such a tactic would get the attention of major US firms like Microsoft Corp. and entertainment titan Time Warner Inc. It would also put tiny Antigua's trade war against the United States on front pages around the world.
How cool would it be for itty bitty Antigua to challenge the US and win? As the world becomes more and more connected and the long tail gets longer and longer it is certainly possible that countries that specialize in certain types of commerce could gain power that outstrips their relative size.

I wonder if poor third world nations could use this approach to get the US and Europe to drop their unfair agricultural subsidies? I guess they would have to start caring about the conditions for their poor first - but I'm guess it would work.

Honesty In Numbers

The FASAB wants politicians to fess up how much our entitlements are really costing us. Not a bad idea, especially considering that any business that kept books like the government would have long ago been the target of multiple accounting investigations.

The FASAB is made up of six independent members who support the proposal and three opposing members from the U.S. Treasury, the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Government Accountability Office.

Progress will never be made on entitlements as long as their true cost is hidden in the political game of he said/she said where voters are only going to believe the guy with the right letter after his name. Telling taxpayers how much they are on the hook for is bound to be an eye opener for many.

Is anyone suprised that the only dissenters are the ones from the political branches of government?

More thoughts at Coyote Blog and Marginal Revolution

Liberal Blogs Make Me Giggle

The left is flabergasted that Lieberman is beating Lamont in Connecticut.

But it’s still hard to understand why Lieberman’s strategy is working – given that the things he has recently said would be suicidal for most Republicans. As Arianna Huffington wrote, “Lamont is somehow letting Joe Lieberman get away with being the only candidate in the country who's actually benefiting from running as a Republican.”

The thing is, Republicans are generally losing to moderate and conservative Democrats, not ultra-liberal guys like Lamont. The conspiracy theories are already swirling saying that this is a Rovian plot. They try to spin it, saying that people in Connecticut aren't getting the full story, the local media isn't playing up just how conservative Lieberman really is.

Hogwash, Lieberman has been Senator for quite some time, the residents of the nutmeg state don't know Joe's politics by now then they don't really care anyway.

Its bad news for the liberal left, but Lamont is losing because America just isn't that liberal.

As a side note, I still haven't figured out why liberals are putting their stock in that big, bad top 1%. I thought anyone that was capable of donating $13 million of their own money into their own political campaign would be avoided like the plague.

Or is money only evil when it is used to create jobs?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Virtual Taxes

I reported earlier that the government is looking into taxing virtual economies.

While this is true, the source article makes it sound like this is something that Congress is pursuing, however it appears that isn't quite the case.

“There is a concern that the IRS might step forward with regulations that start taxing transactions that occur within virtual economies. This, I believe, would be a mistake,” Chairman Jim Saxton said today.

So the IRS may be looking into virtual taxes, but the Joint Economic Committee is recommending against it.

HatTip: TaxProf

This Should Suprise No One

What Senator Obama said in January:

SEN. OBAMA: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.

MR. RUSSERT: So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

SEN. OBAMA: I will not.

What I said in January:

I’m not sure if Obama wanted to ensure that he came down on both sides of the issue, fell captive to the far-left KOS-ites or needed to make some backroom deals to ensure support for his certain Presidential run in ’08. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain Obama is a hack.

Guess who was right.

More from KipEsquire.

The Internet Is Liberating

If your blogging host does things that you don't like you can just choose another. Its really quite simple.

Russian LiveJournal users ... are very suspicious (to put it mildly) of a new partnership between SixApart's LiveJournal and the Russian Internet company SUP.
users don't trust local internet companies not to sell them out to Russian security forces.

If the Internet were controlled by government - something that some liberal camps have been promoting for awhile - then there would be no choice between LiveJournal and Blogger and WordPress and PowerBlogs (and ... and ...) you would have to stick with the rules that the government had set.

"But the rules would be just" I hear the audience on the left shout.

"How is that President and control of Congress working out for you now?" I retort.

Don't get me wrong, if true, LiveJournal is doing something wrong, the point is that you don't have to trust them. You can punish them for the appearance of impropriety and you don't have to wait for the next election day to do it. You can vote them out now.

Name That Country

The figures are stark. An average of 112 cars a day have been torched across [the country] so far this year and there have been 15 attacks a day on police and emergency services. Nearly 3,000 police officers have been injured in clashes this year. Officers have been badly injured in four ambushes in the [capital city] outskirts since September. Some police talk of open war with youths who are bent on more than vandalism.

Answer here.

HatTip: InstaPundit

Taxing Away Socialism

I'm guessing that taxing things that everyone uses to support something that no one uses isn't a winning strategy.

Germany's 16 states agreed on Thursday to introduce from January 1 a licence fee of 5.52 euros (3.70 pounds) a month on computers and mobile phones that can access television and radio programmes via the Internet.

Any household or company that does not already have a licence will have to pay the new levy, which is the same as the one currently charged for radio access, state premiers agreed at a meeting in the town of Bad Pyrmont.

With the vast array of media services available through satellite, internet, cable and the rest, why are governments even broadcasting anymore?

The governments of Europe have essentially squeezed the business community dry, in order to sustain their social welfare system they will have to start taxing citizens even more - an effort that is likely to cause serious consequences for the elite.

Here's to hoping that they tax the socialism right out of Europe.

Government Scares Me

This is why I trust business more than government:

The government is is funding the roll out of fingerprint security at the doors of pubs and clubs in major English cities.

Funding is being offered to councils that want to have their pubs keep a regional black list of known trouble makers. The fingerprint network installed in February by South Somerset District Council in Yeovil drinking holesy is being used as the show case.

If bars want to start fingerprinting patrons - more power to them - I can choose to go to a bar that doesn't fingerprint me. With govenment you have no choices.

While you are waiting for such shenanigans to cross the pond, enjoy a cold one and jump over to A Stitch In Haste where its an all beer weekend.

Update: Kip takes a break from beer and points out that he blogged about the fingerprinting in February.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Environmentalist Longs For Eden

Can you read this article and doubt that environmentalism is being driven by an irrational worshipping of nature - but a nature that presumes that man is not natural.

Now just suppose they got their wish. Imagine that all the people on Earth - all 6.5 billion of us and counting - could be spirited away tomorrow, transported to a re-education camp in a far-off galaxy.
Reading the article gave me the same creepy feeling that listening to campus preachers made me feel in college - an amazement that people could really feel this way.

Iran Shoots Self In Foot

I'm going to predict the beginning of the end for the Iranian regime.

Iran's Islamic government has opened a new front in its drive to stifle domestic political dissent and combat the influence of western culture - by banning high-speed internet links.

In a blow to the country's estimated 5 million internet users, service providers have been told to restrict online speeds to 128 kilobytes a second and been forbidden from offering fast broadband packages. The move by Iran's telecommunications regulator will make it more difficult to download foreign music, films and television programmes, which the authorities blame for undermining Islamic culture among the younger generation. It will also impede efforts by political opposition groups to organise by uploading information on to the net.When

When people can talk about taking an action it becomes a release all but precluding any real action. When you are prevented from even talking about political action the only course available is to actually take action.

By confiscating satellite dishes, throttling internet speeds and other such nuisances, the Iranian government is pissing off the most affluent citizens - the ones that actually have the power and influence to affect change.

Unless the Iranian government backs down we will see another Orange Revolution. Hopefully, the US will have the common sense to stay out of it.

Being A Child To Become Illegal

Or so it appears.

Officials at an elementary school south of Boston have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable.

Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe, who approved the ban.

Part of learning is making mistakes and getting hurt. You can't learn to ride a bike without falling and skinning your knee at least once.

Trying to protect kids from every chance of injury is only going to stifle their growth, development and, most importantly, their fun.

And besides, aren't kids getting fat enough without discouraging them from running?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fixing Unemployment Insurance

Arnold Kling and Tyler Cowen are offering five King-For-The-Day policy recommendations so I'm going to use it as an excuse to offer one of my own.

During the economic turmoil that followed the dot-com bust and the 9/11 attacks I knew several people that lost their jobs. Most of these people took advantage of the generous unemployment benefits and some of those turned down jobs or half-heartedly searched for new jobs taking full advantage of the (extended) benefit. One of the guys timed the start of his new job to be on the precise day that he was going to lose unemployment compensation.

As long as government is going to pay for people to be unemployed some people are going to choose to be unemployed. One could argue that government shouldn't provide protection from unemployment at all, but that would be an impossible political sell. Since elimination isn't possible, reshaping the program to offer the right incentives is the right approach.

Before you can just eliminate the hard-outs you have to understand what it is that you want to accomplish. Unemployment insurance needs to make sure that people do not lose their house, their cars, their livelihood and generally avoid bankruptcy if they are unlucky enough to lose their jobs.

The easiest way to accomplish this without just handing out money is to implement a government provided low-interest loan for the unemployed. The loan could cover mortage, utilities and car payments for sure and perhaps minimum payments on credit cards and other miscelaneous bills. The loans would be very low interest and could be paid back over a very reasonable amount of time - say five or ten years. The repayments could even be setup to come out of payroll before taxes.

This approach has several benefits over the current system.

  1. It could cover involuntary and voluntary termination.
    Right now, if you quit your job you can't get unemployment. This means that people have to tolerate conditions that they wouldn't normally put up with if they could afford to be without work for a month or two. This gives some additional power to employees which should please any liberal and gets rid of some legal processes that are used up fighting over whether or not a termination was warranted or not since some states view termination with cause as uneligible for unemployment benefits.

  2. People will only borrow what they really need.
    If someone has six months of bills squirreled away in a bank account (don't we all?) then they are unlikely to ask the government for money. The current system rewards people for taking something that they really need.

  3. People will be motivated to find jobs quickly.
    See above. If you have to pay back everything that you borrow you aren't going to be turning down perfectly good jobs so that you can spend more time watching soap operas.

  4. Its very cheap to implement.
    At the end of the day the program essentially revenue nuetral since most of the money will be paid back. The costs of running the program should probably be cheaper than the current system because you don't the enforcment mechanisms. You don't need lawyers and judges to decide if someone deserves unemployment or not. You don't need social workers checking to see if you are really looking for a job or just freeloading. You don't need accountants making sure that Big Bad Corporation is paying the unemployment insurance.
I can already hear some bleeding hearts complaining that it isn't fair to make poor people pay back unemployment loans. To assuage those types of fears I think that it would be reasonable to make the system slightly progressive. Perhaps people at or near the povery line would only have to pay back 90% of the loans assuming that there is a borrowing maximum.

As long as there was a real cost for being unemployment - or at least making sure that it wasn't profitable - it should be quite easy to eliminate much of the fraud associated with unemployment while providing the type of protection that liberals want.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Warning! This Is Patently Offensive

Or so says the Philosophy Department Chair at Marquette University.

As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.

Who knew that Dave Barry was such a threat? Its heartening to see academia standing up for personal liberty this way.

Philosophy Department Chair James South sent [student Stuart] Ditsler an e-mail stating that he had received several complaints and therefore removed the quote. He wrote, "While I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I'm afraid that hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.' If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note."

So you can say anything you want as long as the University says its OK.

Got it. I weep for the future of America when our future is learning, very early on, that you can use coersive power to stifle even the most innocuous dissent.

I Can Admit When I'm Wrong

Shortly after Kos posted the inaugural "Libertarian Democrat" post over at Cato Unbound I said:

After the rebutal essays are published I'm putting even odds on Markos becoming completely unhinged which should, all things being equal, put an end to this Democratic Libertarian BS once and for all.

I was totally incorrect in my prediction, the ensuing conversation has been far more civil, both in formal responses and blog responses, than anything I would have ever imagined. You aren't seeing any of the name calling and snark that has accompanied previous topics. Nothing that convinces me that I should be checking the 'D' on my ballot come November, but very thoughtful responses all the same.

This particular topic has gone so well that I am considering adding Cato Unbound back to my blogroll.

I'm Not The Only One

...that sees the parallel's between religion and global warming.

GLOBAL WARMING is a religion, not science. That’s why acolytes in the media attack global-warming critics, not with scientific arguments, but for their apostasy. Then they laud global-warming believers, not for reducing greenhouse gases, but simply for believing global warming is a coming catastrophe caused by man. The important thing is to have faith in those who warn: The End Is Near.

Others just say it more eloquently than I do.

HatTip: Cato@Liberty

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Defintion Please?

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

The Chinese are openly debating "regime change" in Pyongyang after last week's nuclear test by their confrontational neighbour.

Wouldn't openly insuinate that there should be a source somewhere that actually substantiates the claim? You would think a newspaper would have better editors.

At Least Its Not Europe

As much as I complain about politics and policy in the US I have to occasionally acknowledge that the EU is far worse.

THE Government is seeking to prevent an EU directive that could extend broadcasting regulations to the internet, hitting popular video-sharing websites such as YouTube.

The European Commission proposal would require websites and mobile phone services that feature video images to conform to standards laid down in Brussels.

Ministers fear that the directive would hit not only successful sites such as YouTube but also amateur “video bloggers” who post material on their own sites. Personal websites would have to be licensed as a “television-like service”.
God forbid that someone would get the opinions of an unvetted amatuer with a camcorder.

The EU's obsession with controlling every aspect of everything has got to backfire sometime.

Doesn't it?

How Has Blogging Changed You

However, I really do think that daily blogging has made me think more about a panoply of issues, insofar as I have had to deeply examine why I think what I think if I am going to be making arguments in public. Further, reading a great deal of rabidly partisan blogging (from both sides of the aisle) has enhanced my distaste for such approaches to politics. That distaste has extended to other media. For the longest time I was quite the consumer of political talk radio, but for almost two years I have found my interest in such to have radically waned. I mostly listen to sportstalk now.

Much of this seems to apply to me as well. I can't even stand to listen to NPR anymore; the half-truths and barely hidden spin simply drive me bug-nutty. The deeply partisan blogs, from Daily Kos to RedState, are an instant turn off.

I'm not sure if it is the state of partisanship these days or the fact that I have taken some serious time evaluating my own viewpoint that shallow analysis just turns my stomach.

For those of you that write or discuss politics on a regular basis do you see any similar effects on yourself?

HatTip: ProfessorBainbridge