Today’s Links: March 16, 2012


ELSPETH REEVE: “Could You Really Get Rid of Porn on the Internet?
“Rick Santorum is the latest politician to promise to ban online porn, but is it possible? When politicians say they want to ban porn, it’s sort of like they’ve claimed they can fly: most reporters simply point out the promise, as if the absurdity were self-evident. […] In the case of Rick Santorum, a statement went up on his campaign site on Wednesday pledging a grand crackdown on the “distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”

ALEXANDER FURNAS: “It’s Not All About You: What Privacy Advocates Don’t Get About Data Tracking on the Web
“Jonathan Zittrain noted last summer, “If what you are getting online is for free, you are not the customer, you are the product.” This is just a fact: The Internet of free platforms, free services and free content is wholly subsidized by targeted advertising, the efficacy (and thus profitability) of which relies on collecting and mining user data. We experience this commodification of our attention everyday in virtually everything we do online, whether it’s searching, checking email, using Facebook or reading The Atlantic Technology section on this site. That is to say, right now you are a product.”

FERGUS HODGSON: “The Absurdity of Raw Milk Prohibition
“Picture a peaceful, Amish farmer, selling one of nature’s super foods — fresh, raw milk. Eager customers came from afar, even across state lines, to savor the taste and access a nutritious product. Who could oppose such harmonious commerce on Rainbow Acres Farm? Government officials and their enforcers, that’s who.”


WOMEN – Senate Democrats Aim to Extend Violence Against Women Act
“U.S. Senate Democrats are counting on a fight over reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act to give their party’s female Senate candidates an edge in the November election.”

ENVIRONMENT – Zeroing in On Lead in Hunters’ Pellets
“Citing risks to birds and to human health, roughly 100 environmental groups formally asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency this week to ban or at least impose limits on lead in the manufacturing of bullets and shotgun pellets for hunting or recreation.”

OIL: Offshore Oil a ‘Gamechanger’ For Falkland Islands
“Falkland Islanders are so accustomed to making do with what they’ve got that many still heat their homes with peat stoves, grow their own vegetables, repair their Land Rovers themselves and raise chickens for their soft-boiled eggs. But now they’ve struck oil offshore – potentially vast stores of it. Billions of dollars in taxes and royalties could soon flow their way, creating an entirely unfamiliar challenge: the prospect of sudden and tremendous wealth.