Wednesday, 23 September 2009


September Blogmeet (2)- “Atomium” edition

Coming up Sunday...

Art by Roberta X. • “Atomium”

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Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Wall Street Journal wrong (again) on net neutrality

Sometimes I wonder why I bother Dept

Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial page carried yet another editorial decrying the push for “network neutrality” on the Internet.  And, yet again, the Journal editors got it wrong.

Healined Bad News for Broadband (with the subhead “The FCC wins one for Google.”), the editors begin by intentionally confusing two issues: Network neutrality, and broadband expansion.  Let’s try to untangle them:
President Obama has been a long-time proponent of "net neutrality," which would prevent the use of price to address the increasing popularity of video streaming and other bandwidth-intensive activities that cause Web bottlenecks.
Well, no.  “Net neutrality” says nothing about price, except that the carriers would not be allowed to charge different prices for transporting the similar kinds of packets.  It also says nothing about the option of metered service, where customers who use more bandwidth would pay more.
The new policy is a big political victory for Google and other Web content providers whose business model depends on free-loading off the huge capital investments in broadband made by others.
Ummm... demagogue much?  It’s just as easy- and just as inaccurate- to say that the carriers’ business model depends on “free-loading off the huge capital investments in content and server capacity made by the content providers.”   Either statement ignores the fact that the one needs the other (why a transmission system,  if there’s nothing to transmit?), and that the content folks already pay big buck$ for their connections and bandwidth.  So let’s have no more talk of “free-loading.”
The telecom industry already operates under a set of FCC “principles” of open Internet access, and there have been a mere handful of complaints of network operators abusing them.
Like this, this, this, and this.  Principled?
Mr. [new Federal Communications Commission chair Julius] Genachowski nevertheless wants to codify these principles and extend them for the first time to wireless Internet providers.
Which is a bad thing because...?  Didn’t I just hear something about AT&T blocking Skype connections on the iPhone?
Normally, proponents of government regulation cite a lack of competition as reason to intervene.
...or when companies abuse their customers.  Like credit cards, for example?
But the typical cell phone user...
Woah!  Whiplash!  I thought the topic was Internet access, not cell phones. the U.S. has between four and six carriers to choose from. With all that competition...
I don’t know about “the U.S.,” but in my Indianapolis neighborhood, while I can get dial-up from several suppliers, for high speed I have a total of one choice - the cable TV provider.  (The telco gives me the old “Sorry, too far from the exchange” story every time I ask about DSL.  Then they pipe up with, “But we can get you a T-1 for only $900 installation!”)  What is this “competition” of which you speak?
So what’s the justification for more government regulation?  Beyond lobbying by Google and, we can't see one.
Ah yes, invoking the evil Google, and evil-er  (Do I sense an argument running thin?)

Note that the editors don’t address the core issue of “net neutrality,” which is whether carriers should be permitted to handle different people’s data differently.  Or, more accurately: Can they reduce the quality of someone’s service (and maybe that someone is a competitor) unless that same someone pays a premium for service that the carriers are already being paid for.

(And don’t think AT&T and Verizon haven’t already talked about doing just that.)

But let’s shift the focus for a moment.
Mr. Obama has also complained about the pace of broadband deployment.  If the Administration wants telecom firms to keep expanding their high-speed networks, net neutrality rules are the wrong way forward....

Telecom has been one of the bright spots during this recession.
Which is nice, but irrelevant.
Phone companies like Verizon and AT&T have spent tens of billions of dollars on broadband pipe in the past two years.  To pick one example: AT&T's capital investments in the U.S. totaled some $18 billion in 2008, the highest of any company.  By threatening to limit what telecom companies can charge and to whom, net neutrality rules will discourage such investment.
Well yes, regulation does discourage investment.  Which I might feel a bit more concerned about, except I keep remembering the $200 billion in tax breaks we already gave the incumbent carriers, in exchange for which we were supposed to get fiber-to-the-home by the year 2000(!!!), and for which we actually got nothing.[1]

(Thank you... I’m all better now!)

Anyway, I’m not particularly concerned with the welfare of companies whose principal problem is too much demand for their product. And AT&T, well, $18 billion in 2008- looks like you have about five more years to go.

Anyway, summing up:
Net neutrality mandates also risk turning broadband service into a commodity...
Strictly speaking, it turns internet service into a commodity.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  There are other kinds of broadband that don’t (or wouldn’t) fall under these regulations, just don’t call it “Internet,” ’kay?
...and making it much more difficult for potential new entrants to differentiate their offerings.
Ya mean all those new entrants who won’t be able to get their ideas off the ground because they can’t afford the “AT&T Tax?”  Those new entrants?
An Internet operator hoping to specialize in video or peer-to-peer file-sharing would be prevented from doing so.
It’s as if the government were saying that if you want to start a supermarket, it has to be a Kroger or Safeway because Trader Joe’s discriminates.
How about that your supermarket it can be a Kroger or a Safeway or a Trader Joe’s; but whichever it is, you won’t have to pay off Big Louie so the delivery trucks can come down your street?
Internet service providers manage their networks to give quality service to the greatest number of people...
Oh?  How about: “Internet service providers manage their networks to make the largest abount of money possible. (NTTAWTT.) And maybe it’s good public policy to make sure internet service providers don’t take advantage of their gatekeeper position to screw their customers.”
...which is as it should be. If the Obama Administration really wants unfettered “competition, creativity and entrepreneurial activity,” the best policy is to stay out of the way.

You know, the Journal’s editors really need to stop blindly rewriting AT&T press releases.  It makes them look dumb.

And when there’s “unfettered competition” facing the big incumbent carriers, they can get back to me.

Related (please read the first before commenting):

[1] The link in that sentence is from 2007. Two years later: Still no fiber at my house!

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In Passing

Sweet land of liberty...

Mike reflects on how far we’ve come [links in original]:

Keep telling yourself how “free” you are next time you strap on your government-mandated seat belt to drive your heavily regulated automobile to a garage sale that’s been federally-inspected and sanctioned [link now dead, try this one- o.g.], or flush your government-approved toilet — the necessary two or three times.  Keep it in mind when you try to hire someone who doesn’t meet federal diversity standards, and oh — better be sure you pay them the wage the government tells you is high enough, too.  Don’t even think about enjoying a flavored cigarette on your break; best forget about sodas and other drinks with sugar in them too, because they’re next on the ban-list.  When you get home and notice that one of your piece of shit government-mandated CFL lightbulbs is dead, be sure to dispose of it according to federal regulations.  And thank your benevolent government every day for the one freedom you actually do retain: the “freedom” to do everything the government tells you, as and when it tells you.

No tyranny to see here, folks, just government-approved FREEDOM!
Be sure to read the whole thing; skip it and you’ll miss Mike’s total demolition of the Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Frank.

Via DP, where you can also find:

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New in the sidebar/BlogMeet report

Two new blogs, thanks to Sunday’s BlogMeet:

In the MIDDLE of the RIGHT,
where “B” offers “Opinionated commentary designed to make you think... and laugh.”  (Anybody who has a “How to find your congresscritters” link at the top of his sidebar has the right attitude for me!)

The Non-Original Rants are assembled by “Midwest Chick.”  (So she says, but I dunno... I think she really writes ’em herself; they look pretty original to me.  Remember: It ain’t the issue, it’s the riff!)

Both have been blogging since the beginning of the year, and their works deserve checking out.  Altogether a fun meeting, and I promise that I won’t monopolize them the next time they make it down.  (And “B,” I owe you at least one beer.)

More blogmeet reports from Shermlock (who, unfortunately, didn’t get an opportunity to run his Pain-as-MSG test), Roberta, and, of course, Midwest Chick and B.  Other bloggers present: Hagbard (complaining that what with grad school and all it’s so hard finding time to blog) and Nathan (who doesn’t have a report, but does have a terrific meditation on faith inspired by- of all things- the IndyStar’s falling-over-its-own-feet religious reporting).

Those who missed it (and those who didn’t) are reminded that we’re doing it all again - this time at Brugge Brasserie (Flash required, sorry!) - on the 27th.

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Sunday, 20 September 2009

In Passing

Says it all, doesn’t it?

But we were naïve

The US sold us
and stabbed us
in the back
...well, actually no.

Lech Wałęsa, former president of Poland, has a few words, too:
Americans have always cared only about their interests, and all other [countries] have been used for their purposes.  This is another example...  [Poles] need to review our view of America, we must first of all take care of our business...

I could tell from what I saw, what kind of policies President Obama cultivates.  I simply don’t like this policy, not because this shield was required, but [because of] the way we were treated.
Feel good, America!

Note:  If you attended a public school and therefore have no knowledge of history since 1940, find out why WaÅ‚Ä™sa is important (and why the lefties hate him) by starting here and here.

Making the right enemies:  
Oh look!  Hugo Chavez has banned him from entering Venezuela!

(Quote HT:  QandO)

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Sunday morning reading - September 20, 2009

“The reason he could not get an answer to this very simple question is that it is stupid.”

In the WaPost, there was Ezra Klein trolling along with “What level of spending on health care was optimal for innovation?”  Then Warren pounced:

The very problem is that when government runs computers or health care, innovation is seen as a cost.  Klein, by asking the question in this way, is betraying exactly what is fundamentally wrong with a single-payer system.  The single-payer tends to think in terms of trying to deliver the current value proposition (i.e., the 2009 level of health care technology) as cheaply as possible.  The problem is that in 2039, it will still be focused on delivering the 2009-level of health care technology.  For the government — a new drug, a new procedure, a new test — these are all incremental costs, to be avoided.  Klein just wants a number he can plug into budget projections to say, “see, innovation is covered...”
Command-and-control “innovation” may work, but it is hostile to the unpredictable: The outliers that nurture the revolutionary. • 1800 words

“...from toothbrushes to eyeglasses to condoms to stethoscopes to syringes to blood pressure monitors to hospital beds to artificial heart valves to pacemakers to advanced diagnostic equipment.”

And it seems the Senate Democrats think that one way to encourage innovation is to impose what amounts to a gross revenue tax on the medical device industry:
In the case of my own mid-sized company, the tax would be the equivalent of a roughly 20% surcharge on our net income (in all likelihood raising our economic tax rate well above 50%) or 50% of our research and development budget, depending on how you want to look at it.
Who needs those eeevil profits?  Erm... you do. • 1250 words

“I think we would significantly advance the understanding of what happened and help policymakers address the root causes of the financial and economic crisis.”

Looking back:  Keith Hennessey has 20 Questions for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.  Lessons learned? (via: IP) • 20 Questions, 1200 words

“‘These methodologies do not help reduce risk in financial markets. What they do is provide investors and lenders with a rationale for taking on even more risk.’”

Looking ahead:  “Nemo Paradise” on the strange new actors in today’s markets (updated):
Where the market ecology once comprised a few instruments separated by wide gulfs of uncharted savanna, there is now a teeming megastructure with many highly complex organisms – all of which relate to each other in some way or another, either insignificantly or to a very high degree...

The beasts are about to start bumping into each other, and there’s no telling what the outcomes might be.
He says we’ll understand more- when it’s all over.  Gee, that’s comforting!. • 1000 words

“We now take up the long abdicated duty to rouse our fellow citizens and actively wrest [back] the power and the liberties that have been progressively talked, cajoled, threatened, wheedled, and extorted from us...”

The Reclamation of Independence:
We reclaim our independence from...
...the tyranny of ‘Political Correctness’.
...your victimhood.
...the myth of ...diversity at the cost of excellence.
...the contempt of our citizenship.
...and that’s just the first four articles.  Read the whole thing, and contrast with Ric’s 15 ideas (linked last week).  HT: Nathan • 7 articles, 2800 words

“Just a couple of days ago there was a lengthy piece in the Washington Post about how the White House was trying to come up with a coherent strategy for dealing with the opposition.  Fascinatingly, not a single one involved simply ‘responding to the arguments.’”

“Gagdad Bob” looks at why Obama’s opponents are racists. Or, more accurately, why the Obama-ites characterize their opponents as racists.
This was one of the things that most caught Tocqueville's attention, that is, the spontaneous emergence of civil society, of people taking care of one another.  When the state takes over this function, it not only diminishes the domain of the [collective-spiritual], but replaces it with... the fascist/socialist space of the magical collective, impervious to the light of reason.
Enlightening. • 1400 words

“No rational person, black or white or yellow, will, for the foreseeable future, allow themselves to be played that egregiously again.”

Meanwhile, “Velociman” sees dire implications for the future:
...The casual, insulting, provocative, hateful, dishonest, and desperate aspersions of racism cast by this fellow and his lot have left a significant portion of the populace feeling quite betrayed.  These quick, cheap potshots for short term gain will leave bruises upon the body politic for two generations...

The 55% of the populace who disagrees with his health care plan includes, obviously, a shitload of Obama voters.  For breaking ranks with Obama over a fucking policy difference this man is willing to slander and tar people who just voted for him with the ultimate insult...
I hope his predictions are wrong; I fear they may be right. • 547 words

So, are you a racist?  Find the answer, in the Obama Criticism Flow Chart. (HT: Dan Collins)

And finally, one-day-at-the-office from Crankylitprof.

See everyone at the BlogMeet.   There will be a quiz.

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Saturday, 19 September 2009


Medical “reform” = $37 billion in new *state* taxes

Hey, it’s only money  Dept

Nashville’s CityPaper reports that state governors are objecting to
...a provision in House and Senate [Obamacare] bills to expand Medicaid to cover anyone with income less than 133 percent of the poverty level, or $29,327 for a family of four.

Since states pay roughly one third of Medicaid, the provision could add billions of dollars in costs to state governments.
In a letter to the Senate, Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said: “States will likely have to pick up the tab for this extension of Medicaid.  We have estimated that the price for Indiana could reach upwards of $724 million annually.

“These additional costs will overwhelm our resources and obliterate the reserves we have fought so hard to protect.”

For Tennessee, the extra cost could reach $1.2 billion, according to Sen. Lamar Alexander.
Set aside for a moment my I’d-lay-you-even-money suspicion that these Medicaid cost increases appear nowhere in the administration’s “reform” cost estimates.  Let’s just look at the numbers.

Indiana has a population of about 6¼ million.  Governor Mitch’s $724 million/year estimate, evenly-divided (which you know it won’t be), works out to an annual state tax increase of $115 per capita ($460 for a family of four).  For Tennesseeans (population roughly 6 million), it’s worse: $1.2 billion parcels out at $200 a piece.  Factor in the people who won’t pay these taxes (anybody below poverty+33%, for one), and if you’re one of the productive you can probably double these numbers.

Or how about a back-of-the-envelope calculation, starting with a SWAG estimated annual cost of $750 million per state.  The magic number= $37.5 billion - per year.  Not on the federal books.

And if the states pay only 1/3 of Medicaid’s total cost, doesn’t that mean the federal share goes up $75 billion, too?  Hey, I thought once healthcare got reformed, the existing federal programs were supposed to cost less!  (I know, silly me!)

And of course none of this accounts for all the folks who will be forced below the poverty line by Obama’s new energy taxes!

The Obama promise:  I won’t raise your taxes (well, yes I will, but... Look! Unicorns!), but somebody else will!

And that’s not all...!  (Heh! You wish!):
Crucis has the Americans for Tax Reform’s “List of All Tax Hikes in the Baccus Draft.”  Read ’em and weep.

CityPaper link via Instapundit.

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In Passing

I have seen the future, and it’s dim

But they can’t black out the moon  Dept

Peter Ashley:
We've seen some jaw-dropping dictats... for some time, but this one beggers belief.  So, from yesterday apparently, it's ‘ban all those perfectly serviceable lightbulbs, use this [CFL] crap instead because it will save a polar bear’.   Ugly, dim, and utterly out-of-step.  And that’s just the Department of Eco Facism.  Will we now have the Lightbulb Police flashing their clockwork torches through our windows- “ere, put that light out, don’t yer know there’s an iceberg melting?”.  What are cartoonists going to do if they’re stopped from putting the traditional bulb above someone’s head to denote ‘idea’?...
Don’t laugh Americans, it’ll be here in three years.

Oh well, as Peter says, we can always go back to candles.


(Thanks to “mummylonglegs” for pointing me to Peter’s blog.)

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Friday, 18 September 2009


September Blogmeet (1)- “hold space for official artwork” edition

Can’t wait forever, so...

Discussion and decision here!

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Yes, the “Recent Comments” list is screwy

Probably has something to do with 60,000 spam comments (across


Buy a Book A Day
Keep Global Warming At Bay!

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