Thursday, April 24, 2014

Foreign Aid for the 21st Century

Goodbye net neutrality.

While this is really going to hurt innovation in the American internet business, it could prove to be a real boon for people in other countries with net neutrality. For example, if I had an idea for a new creative way to deliver entertainment over the internet that was better than what already exists and I want to start a new company, these new rules would allow the incumbent companies that I wanted to compete against to cut me off from high bandwidth unless I paid the big bucks for it. Plucky start ups don't generally start out with big bucks, so here in the U.S. my great idea would probably die.

But what I could do is go to the UK, where they treat the internet infrastructure as a "common carrier" and thus have protected net neutrality. I could start my company there and if my idea really does turn out to be big, maybe I could turn into a big player who earns a lot of money. At that point, I would have the big bucks necessary to buy my way into the fast lane back in the U.S. So Americans would eventually get  to enjoy my great idea, except that: (1) their enjoy would be delayed to give me time to establish my idea abroad and build enough success to afford the high entry costs in the U.S., (2) the U.S. would  lose out on the economic benefits of having my company grow up and be established as an American company, and (3) when Americans finally get to benefit from my idea they will have to pay more for it, as the cost of the internet "fast lane" gets passed on to them.

Those three things seem like a big deal to me. And overall this means that the U.S. will become less business friendly over time. But it does favor the current big players in the American internet business. No naturally our government is going to do their bidding. Never mind that it actually serves the interest of our country's economic competitors more than it does the American people over the long term.

Freedom is free

The latest conservative hero has pontificated on racial issues, causing his former supporters to back away fast. But with all the attention on his use of the term "negro" and his delightful theory that black people probably were better off as slaves, it's worth noting that Cliven Bundy's criticism of black people is premised on the idea that they are "basically on government subsidy."

Apparently, Bundy thinks that getting stuff for free from the government is evil... unless that something is 20 years of free grazing on government-owned land. That kind of taking stuff for free from the government is called "freedom."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Quantum Uncertainty of Palestine

The Palestinians are in an inherently weaker position than the Israelis in any negotiations. I understand why Abbas would threaten to do various things that Israel would not like unless they live up to their agreement to release the next wave of prisoners. But it occurs to me that the two things he has threatened to do--(1) seek greater recognition of Palestine in the UN and other international organizations, and (2) dissolve the Palestinian Authority and hand responsibility for directly governing the West Bank back to the Israeli government --contradict one another. #1 is asking the world to recognize Palestine as a real country with a real government that can interact with international bodies. #2 is removing any pretense that the Palestinians have their own government.

Both are things that Israel does not want to happen because it would put them in a bad situation internationally. So it makes sense that Abbas would want to use both to gain leverage over Israel. He doesn't have that many other levers at his disposal. I just don't see how he can do both at the same time without having them undermine each other.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Really, 51%?

I'm on record predicting that the Democrats will not lose control of the Senate in November's elections. (see #6). But for the past few months it seemed like the weight of common wisdom was going pretty heavily against me. So I was very surprised to see that the NYTimes' Senate forecast is projecting that the Dems have (barely) more than a 50% chance to hold on to control.

The New Russia

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chocolution 16: Lake Champlain, Peruvian Dark


I guess sometimes I'm talkie about those things and sometimes I'm not. This week I'm not.

Comment spam's Turing Test

Google made an algorythm that can pass the CAPTCHA human test. So can all those other blogs dump it from their comment system now?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Most screwed

Без ордера

Did they have a warrant when they blocked this site (and all other blogspot blogs) in 2010? Did they get a warrant when there was another flurry of sites that couldn't be accessed from Kazakhstan in 2011?

I don't know how the "warrant" requirement works in Kazakhstan, but under Kazakhstani law, but usually a warrant would be something issued by a judge against a specific entity or web site. Not the kind of blanket ban I ran into when I was in Kaz. So I wonder if this law is doing much more than legalizing something that was already being done.

What John Cole said

I couldn't agree more.

I have never understood why political journalist want so much to be celebrity journalist.


Maybe Putin will start a fad of resurrecting old place names from the colonial era. Then I can talk about my upcoming trip to Nouvelle-France, which sounds a bit more exciting than another visit with the midwestern in-laws.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I always love it when someone who makes a public principled stand against gay marriage suddenly becomes in favor of it when he finds out a close family member is gay. It's the same thing with Teddy Olsen and Dick Cheney. While I'm glad to have them on my side on this issue, the self-centeredness of it all drives me a bit mad. Is there any doubt that if all their relatives were straight they would be anti-gay rights? I guess gay rights are only important when someone you love is getting screwed.

Race to the bottom

At the same time that the Ukrainian military is demonstrating that it is unable to protect it's territory from Russian-inspired/sponsored lawlessness, the wheels are coming off the Russian economy.

Which country will fall apart first? Maybe its economic problems will get Russia to work harder to find a way to de-escalate in the today's talks  Or maybe, it gives them an incentive not to resolve the crisis because the Russian economy was hitting the skids even before this crisis made it worse and if the crisis goes away, Putin won't have those nefarious foreigners and their sanctions to blame then the economy starts to drag down his approval numbers (assuming approval polls are still permitted in Russia if Putin's numbers go seriously south).