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OpenMarket: June 2008

  • Would they also have Castro rum and Stalin vodka?

    June 30, 2008
    My friend Tom Palmer says that whenever he sees somebody sporting a Che Guevara t-shirt, he likes to ask the wearer, "That's a great t-shirt; do you have the entire collection?" The wearer usually responds either with a blank stare or by asking Tom what does he mean, to which Tom then responds: "You know, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot..." Now I can happily say that the disgusting Che is in the right company in at least one type of merchandise. The photo below was taken recently by a friend in vacation in Italy. It's also morbidly fitting that Che's wine bottle would be decorated with a Cuban flag. He was Argentine, not Cuban, but Cuba is the country upon which...
  • Hands-Free Driving: Bootleggers and Baptists

    June 30, 2008
    This article from CNET News does a (perhaps unintentionally) brilliant job of describing the Bootleggers and Baptists forces behind California's new law banning using cell phones while driving, unless using a hands-free device. The first paragraph sums it up perfectly:
    A good number of Californians think the state's new hands-free cell phone law will bode well for public safety, if a random sampling of consumers by CNET News.com is any indication. But gadget retailers have their own reason to cheer--they're reaping the cash benefits.
    Mike Masnick writes an excellent post at TechDirt about the folly of such a law. Why single out particular unsafe...
  • RIAA Attacks Safe Harbor

    June 30, 2008
    Ars reports that the RIAA is lobbying the government to sneak rules mandating web filtering into the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The proposed regulations would mandate that ISPs filter out copyright-infringing materials - and, in fact, all services that facilitate infringement, even those that also have legitimate uses. Killing P2P software in such a way would violate net neutrality principles far more than anything any ISP has yet tried. It would also gut the safe harbor provision of the DMCA, which sensibly argues that only actual copyright infringers - not the ISPs that transmit their data - can be held...
  • Terms of Service Criminally Actionable?

    June 30, 2008
    Wired reports that:
    In their eagerness to visit justice on a 49-year-old woman involved in the Megan Meier MySpace suicide tragedy, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are resorting to a novel and dangerous interpretation of a decades-old computer crime law - potentially making a felon out of anybody who violates the terms of service of any website, experts say.
    Apparently, the terms of service were violated in this case by registering under a false name - a pretty minor offense that many of us, seeking anonymity, commit regularly. At most, such a violation may be grounds for banning the user from the site. (Perhaps in cases of terms of use violations that...
  • Affordable Housing Fetish Devastates Chicago Housing

    June 30, 2008
    Congress is now pushing for the creation of a taxpayer-subsidized "affordable housing trust" in mortgage bailout legislation nearing passage.  The Boston Globe has a story on how the fetish for "affordable housing" resulted in dangerous, costly, wasteful subsidized housing units in the Chicago region, that enriched corrupt developers.  Federal obsessions with "affordable housing" and "diversity" in homeownership also helped spawn the mortgage crisis.
  • The Bell Tolls for Local Franchising

    June 30, 2008
    Broadband Reports has news:
    The FCC made changes to cable franchise rules last year which prevent "local franchising authorities from unreasonably refusing to award competitive cable franchises". Those changes have faced an ongoing battle in court by various city and state franchising agencies which argued that the FCC had usurped their power when changing the rules. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the FCC was within its authority to make those changes. FCC Chief Kevin Martin issued a statement about the ruling saying that he was glad that the court had recognized the fact that the new rules are pro-customer, reducing delays in cable service provision and increasing competitive pricing in the market.
    It is rare that we here in the Technology...
  • AIDS Subsidies Used to Subvert Anti-AIDS Message

    June 30, 2008
    Taxpayer-funded AIDS subsidies are being used to subvert successful anti-AIDS programs in African countries like Uganda that succeed by instilling a politically-incorrect truth: fidelity saves lives.  That's what Sam Ruteikara, Chair of Uganda's National AIDS Prevention Committee, explains today in the Washington Post, in an editorial, "Let My People Go, AIDS Profiteers."   He laments, "In the fight against AIDS, profiteering has trumped prevention. AIDS is no longer simply a disease; it has become a multibillion-dollar industry." Western governments (and charities subsidized by them) have spent billions on anti-AIDS programs in Africa and elsewhere.  They spend the money largely on...
  • The U.S. versus Undersize Lobsters

    June 29, 2008
    I just criticized the ditzy Europeans for banning the sale of undersize kiwifruit. But now as I go through accumulated emails I come across this story by my friend Quin Hillyer on undersized lobster imports. I'm afraid it's a close contest on which set of regulators is more idiotic.  But since people were actually sentenced to jail in the U.S. case, I think America wins the foolishness contest.  You decide. Reports Quin:
    When the story first broke in 1999, the Mobile Register played it tongue-in-cheek. “The defendants,” wrote reporter Mike Wilson, “have proved model prisoners, detained at present at minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit.” And...
  • Better Be a Dog than A Human for Canadian Health Care

    June 29, 2008
    Because you'll get treatment sooner as a dog!  Reports Macleans magazine:
    Dr. Danny Joffe is only half joking when he says that if he'd fallen asleep on the last day of vet school in Saskatoon and woken up some two decades later in his current workplace, he would not have believed it was an animal hospital. Joffe is one of 11 specialists at the C.A.R.E. Centre, a 28,000-sq.-foot palace of veterinary medicine built two years ago in Calgary by a consortium that owns 23 vet clinics and animal hospitals across British Columbia and Alberta. It has four operating theatres, a $100,000 CT machine, two ultrasound machines, a digital X-ray unit, an endoscopy centre, a lab and 16 examination rooms. Its intensive care unit boasts 20 cages and eight dog runs, staffed 24/7. "...
  • The EU Cracks Down on the Crime of Selling Small Kiwifruit

    June 28, 2008
    The line "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" has long been a comic favorite. As well it should. The Daily Mail reports:
    A market trader has been banned from selling a batch of kiwi fruits because they are 1mm smaller than EU rules allow. Inspectors told 53-year- old Tim Down he is forbidden even to give away the fruits, which are perfectly healthy. The father of three will now have to bin the 5,000 kiwis, costing him £1,000 in lost sales. Speaking yesterday from the stall in Bristol he has owned for 20 years, Mr Down said: 'It's total nonsense. I work hard enough to make a living without all these bureaucrats telling us what we can and can't sell. 'They're saying I'm a criminal for selling this fruit,...

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