Quick Roundup 452

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Still awaiting the arrival of my desktop. Netbook's crawling. If today's roundup seems terse, that would be why.

Enron with Nukes

A system administrator of my past acquaintance stands out in memory for having a particularly ... non-rosy ... outlook on life. He would often say, "Things can always be worse." An article on China's economy that I ran across the other day reminded me of that adage.

"Bat-Shit Crazy"

That's how one small publisher, who welcomes a new policy by the Associated Press, describes it. (HT: Dismuke)

In what appear to be its death throes, the Associated Press has decided to up the ante in its war against fair use. It plans not just to go after people for quoting parts of its news stories, but also merely for linking to its content.

AP will then find itself in an interesting position: with less members, AP has less income while at the same time spending increasingly large amounts on lawsuits as part of its war on links and fair use. If AP starts to lose money, it will have to increase charges, which will in turn drive more members to competing services…and around and around we go until AP is a shell of its former self and the wire service headlines on Google News came out of Reuters or CNN. Eventually AP dies.
Whether, out of financial self-preservation, you join the self-organizing boycott of AP this is going to create or you end up suing them, the end result will be the same for AP.

Duncan Riley further argues that they might take a few newspapers down with them on the way.

Obama's Next Target: Free Speech

Via HBL, I learned that Obama's choice to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, will argue for "restrictions" on freedom of speech in a book, On Rumors, due to be released this September. (If you need to know why I used scare quotes, read this post on principles by Stephen Bourque. To "restrict" freedom of speech is to kill it, sooner or later.)
Sunstein calls for a "notice and take down" law that would require bloggers and service providers to "take down falsehoods upon notice," even those made by commenters - but without apparent penalty.


Sunstein, trying to [be] fair, argues that libel awards should be capped at $15,000, or at least limited for anyone demonstrating financial hardship. But $15K is the limit you'd pay to your opponent. The legal bill is the scary part, and the reason bloggers already have plenty of reason to be careful about what they say, even if they don't much fear a libel conviction.


If this happened, the blogosphere would turn into Pluto overnight. Comments sections would slam shut. Every writer would work on a leash shorter than a shoelace.

Sunstein is an enemy to every news organization and blogger. We should return the favor and declare war on him. [bold added]
Amen, so to speak.

I didn't need Kyle Smith to point out that having a government "Czar" deciding what counts as "truth" in such a scenario would mortally wound freedom of speech. But in case you need an example, Smith notes that Sunstein didn't care for people noting during the presidential campaign that Barack Obama is big pals with left-wing terrorist Bill Ayers -- or at least of them calling a spade a spade when speaking of Ayers.


Vigilis cribbed from "The Bureaucrat," by Sergei Eisenstein, shown at right, to create an "age-enhanced mugshot" of your author for a "wanted" poster over at Molten Eagle.

I laughed out loud on sight at that one!

Two Interesting Tech Posts

Via Paul Hsieh -- whose latest editorial against socialized medicine is a must-read -- comes an interesting article on why one should have secure Internet passwords (and how to fix them quickly for those who don't).

Following a link from there, I also found an article about Twitter written for people who, like myself, don't see the point. (And perhaps it's equally good for those who wonder why we don't...)

I am generally a late adopter for most new technologies in part because I prefer to wait to see whether they'll catch on before I devote time and energy to them. In addition, I prefer to delegate bug detection and fixing to the early adopters. And then, with items that aren't free, there's the fact that price drops while quality goes up after initial introduction.

One notable exception was that I saw an immediate need for a netbook shortly after they came out. Mine was 500 smackers. My wife is thinking about one now for work. It will be much better and, I think, 100-200 bucks less than mine.

-- CAV

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