Today’s Links: June 27, 2012


MEGAN GARBER: “Orbitz Discriminates Against Mac Users . . . Just Like It Should Be Doing
“The Wall Street Journal has a great scoop: Orbitz, the online travel agency, has realized that users who visit the site on Mac computers spend as much as 30 percent more on hotels than their PC-using counterparts. Based on that insight, the company is starting to show Mac-based visitors different, and sometimes more expensive, hotel options. […] [T]he Orbitz news, as great as it is as a scoop, isn’t much of a revelation: all it tells us is that the machines that record our routines are simply one more data point for marketers to use in their attempts to sell us things. And we users, of course, have a vested interest in those attempts. Relevance is key, in marketing as in so much else in the digital world.”

ROBERT BARNES: “The Supreme Court’s Unusual Moment in the Spotlight
“Calculating who will write the final decision of the Supreme Court’s term is a game that usually interests only a small band of lawyers, professors, reporters and politicos who obsess over the justices’ every footnote. But this year, the likelihood that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is preparing the court’s judgment on President Obama’s health-care overhaul is worthy of headlines and a whirl of Internet spin. Roberts’s questions at oral arguments are being consulted, his decisions in past cases are being reviewed, and the analysis is underway about whether he is preparing a life preserver or a stake for the Affordable Care Act.”

DAVID POGUE: “The TSA’s Dumb Air-Security Rules Are Not Based on Science
“Since [9/11], the U.S. government has spent billions on technology, enacted rafts of new rules and turned flying into a far more upsetting, complicated procedure than it needs to be. If it were all based on science and reason, critics might not be calling these new procedures ‘security theater’—an elaborate show to convince people that the authorities are doing something rather than nothing. Take the Transportation Security Administration’s rules about carry-on electronics, for example. […] [O]n close inspection the rules get arbitrary very quickly.”


PRISON REFORM – Reading Offers Brazilian Prisoners Quicker Escape
“Brazil will offer inmates in its crowded federal penitentiary system a novel way to shorten their sentences: four days less for every book they read. Inmates in four federal prisons holding some of Brazil’s most notorious criminals will be able to read up to 12 works of literature, philosophy, science or classics to trim a maximum 48 days off their sentence each year, the government announced.”

TECH – UK ISPs Called Upon to Police Infringement
“New draft measures against illegal downloads outlined in an Ofcom post that are now open for comment ‘would require large Internet service providers to inform customers of allegations that their Internet connection has been used to infringe copyright,’ the regulator said.”

CAPITOL HILL – Boehner Says Deal Near on Highways, Student Loan
“House Speaker John Boehner says bipartisan agreements are near to prevent interest rates on student loans from rising and to revamp the nation’s transportation programs.”