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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

True Story

Today I talked to this guy on the phone, and when I asked his name, he said, "Ryan Reynolds," then after a pause, "the sexiest man alive."

"Oh yeah," I said. "I'm gonna hook up with your ex-wife."

"Go for it," he said.
A few weeks ago, a pregnant lady was hit by a car at an intersection near my house. The lady survived, but the baby did not. The driver of the car took off and hasn't been found.

It's been a big story in the local media.

Now the city is going to change that intersection...but in the dumbest ways possible: With signage.

Consider that at every other intersection on this street there are street lights and here, in a rather illogical place, is a stop sign. Maybe an additional street light would be more appropriate?

Lying to Yourself

Dan Simmons, who in the age of Obama has willingly joined the ranks of predictable ideologues, writes the following about the Net Neutrality debate:
The Internet may be the greatest single human-technical advance, outside of certain medicines, in half a millennium or more -- and while Arpanet laid the early cables, the 'Net grew according to its own rules and logic and in compliance with the ebb and flow of free market forces.
Um, no.

Simmons is making the same mistake that a lot of commentators have been making. They are confusing the World Wide Web for "the internet." And I understand. You look at the last ten years and you see how the Web has transformed business. Amazon, Ebay, Netflix. These web-based businesses did "grow according to [their] own rules and logic and in compliance with the ebb and flow of free market forces."

But there's a whole underlying structure that you do not see when you put "www.amazon.com" in your browser, a structure that didn't grow according to free market orthodoxy.

I'm glad Simmons mentioned Arpanet, which developed many of the principles of this underlying structure, but he's much too dismissive of its importance. If the first e-mail was sent on Arpanet in the early 70s, why did we have to wait until the 1990s to start using the web?

(Hint.)

Simmons would have you believe it has something to do "the ebb and flow of free market forces." But of course, he would be wrong. The market had to wait a couple of decades before they got their hands on a packet-switched network, and even then...we're still using the same software protocols DARPA created in 1983!

In a later comment, Simmons wrote this bit of nonsense:
You're obviously too young to remember the good old days when Ma Bell reigned, when everyone in America "leased" a big clunky rotary phone from said company (the phone coming in any color you wanted, as long as it was black), and when choice between AT&T and Comcast, much less among a hundred types of phones and service plans, would have seemed like wild and crazy free trade.
Pop quiz, hot shot. Who do you think broke up Ma Bell? "The ebb and flow of market forces" or the forcible intervention of the United States government?

If you said, "the ebb and flow of market forces," lose two points.

Ma Bell didn't feel "the ebb and flow of market forces" until it was broken up in 1984 because in 1934, they were given state-sanctioned monopoly powers!! Even after they were broken up, they were still basically regional monopolies, Mountain Bell here in the west, Pac Bell on the west coast, etc. The competitive market we have today is the product of the Telecom Act of 1996, which has very strict rules for how these companies operate. You call any of that a free market? Bah.
In today's 'Net environment, outside of such happily regulated environments as China, Iran, Russia, a hundred start-up companies around the world will leap into any gap created by customer dissatisfaction.
Oh yeah? Unless they're getting their IP blocks from ICANN, good luck with that.
We ask only one thing of the government, the Democrats, and the Obama administration -- quit trying to save us from ourselves and our own choices.
If you only knew, you ignorant bastard...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tebow! Tebow!

I'm not getting on the Tebow bandwagon, but I have no problems with him starting for the rest of the year. The season is done for the Broncos anyway. At best, they're playing for draft position.

So start the young guy. Give him a taste of what he's up against, give us a look at what he could do. Any other season, you'd probably wait until next year, give him some pre-season time. But this year, because of the labor struggles, there might not be a "next year."

So let it ride. Go Tim Tebow!

Lying to You

Man, this video is really bad. It's typical of Libertarian thought these days in that it dispenses with fact and relies on supposition.

Take this:
"But in the U.S., this interconnected system stayed very open and free, because the government has stayed very hands off and the companies have incentive to cooperate with each other."
What the fuck? It's almost as if the internet just materialized out of the swamp, as if the Telecom Act of 1996 that set up the structure of this interconnected, cooperative system never even happened.

I love their answer to the question about what you'd do if your ISP started blocking you. "What would you do? You'd probably cancel your plan and go to a provider who gives you easy access to your favorite sites."

Yeah, you'd probably do that. If you can! God forbid you live in a place where there's only one ISP. (And yeah, even in 2010, they still exist.) What are you gonna do then, you rugged individualist you, build your own network? You and what bank account?

"Neutrality is what customers want, which is exactly why ISPs have stayed neutral without a single government regulation." Again, I refer to the Telecom Act of 1996, which does qualify as "a single government regulation." You know, it's only 14 years ago. I know Libertarians have long memories. They're still bitching about 1934's Wickard vs. Flyburn decision. Surely they can remember 1996.

"Net neutrality types" --Hey, fuck you, buddy-- "also worry that companies will charge some users for the amount of data they use instead of a flat monthly fee." Actually haven't heard that, and think this is a very misleading account of the throttling debate, but we're talking about some doctrinaire Libertarians here. They're only out to convince each other.

And you know, hate on the FCC. The FCC sucks. Yeah, it's true. But if they set up rules that enforces net neutrality, that's no great evil. It's actually a good thing.

Really?

Spamming blog comments? Is this a valuable use of one's time and energy?

Kids....

This weekend I told my nephew about Sasquatch. I told him they were my new favorite band, made him listen to Boss Hog, went on and on about how they were so underground that it's amazing they got a record deal.

He called me last night to dispute that because a Sasquatch song was featured on Dog the Bounty Hunter.

And I guess that seals it. Once your music is on Dog the Bounty Hunter, you are no longer underground; you have officially made it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travels with Charley

I've been listening to an audiobook version of Steinbeck's travelogue Travels with Charley read by Gary Sinise and these are my observations:

A) Steinbeck has chops you would not believe. Sometimes his prose can seem stilted, and it is, but it is also without flaw or error.*

B) The sweeping generalizations, though cleverly written, annoy me. He goes to a small village in some beatnik part of the country and comes out saying Americans are this and Americans are that. It's not really forced, but the mythologizing doesn't always ring true. Some of that is the simple passage of time, but some of it is just the musings of a strange old man who asks too many questions.

C) Taking a long road trip like this would be fun. He was gone for months, no real destination but "to see the country," just him and his dog and the people he met. He had the latest in camping technology, truck, campershell, all the goodies, and from his whimsical tone, seemingly enjoyed every minute of it. All that driving would stress me the fuck out, so instead of a dog, I'd take a person. They drive, I come up with the pithy observations.



* And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my Steinbeck impression. Thank you, and have a good night.

Everyone's Got One

Gallup finds that "Four in 10 Americans Believe in Strict Creationism."

Now you might think I'd do something jerky like changing the headline to read something like, "Four in 10 Americans Are Idiots," But that wouldn't be very charitable of me, considering the season.

Instead, I will just say that they are wrong.

I mean, I can't say with any degree of certainty that there is no God. I strongly suspect there isn't, but I have nothing but a deep-seated doubt to back it up.

However, I can say with 100% certainty that God did NOT create human beings in our current form within the last 10,000 years. And I've got the science to back it up.