URLs du Jour

2006-07-12

  • I think it was in third grade when my teacher, Mrs. Merklein, introduced us to the concept of the Permanent Record. Our grades would be in there, of course, but also a detailed history of our conduct and attitude. And it would follow us around Forever (for, yea, 'twas Permanent). And the strong implication was made that it would be waiting for us at the Pearly Gates, where St. Peter would peruse it on our arrival.

    Well, Kip Esquire has information and commentary on an actual Permanent Record scheme, "a massive federal database of college students -- including transcripts, financial aid and post-academic pursuits." He's not keen on the idea.

  • Tim Lee at the Technology Liberation Front points out a very good paper from Ed Felton of Princeton (PDF) on "Network Neutrality". He quotes the paper's two-paragraph conclusion, and I will too:
    The network neutrality issue is more complex and subtle than most of the advocates on either side would have you believe. Net neutrality advocates are right to worry that ISPs can discriminate—and have the means and motive to do so—in ways that might be difficult to stop. Opponents are right to say that enforcing neutrality rules may be difficult and error-prone. Both sides are right to say that making the wrong decision can lead to unintended side-effects and hamper the Internet's development.

    There is a good policy argument in favor of doing nothing and letting the situation develop further. The present situation, with the network neutrality issue on the table in Washington but no rules yet adopted, is in many ways ideal. ISPs, knowing that discriminating now would make regulation seem more necessary, are on their best behavior; and with no rules yet adopted we don't have to face the difficult issues of linedrawing and enforcement. Enacting strong regulation now would risk side-effects, and passing toothless regulation now would remove the threat of regulation. If it is possible to maintain the threat of regulation while leaving the issue unresolved, time will teach us more about what regulation, if any, is needed.

    But that's just the bottom line, go read the whole thing. It's especially good on explaining the technical issues involved at an accessible level. Maybe even Senator Stevens could profit.

  • The Ankle-Biting Bull Dog bemoans:
    Let's see - Social Security is going broke. Spending is out of control. Medicare is going to drain our economy. The tax cuts haven't been made permanent. The pension reform bill has been stalled for years.

    So what does the US House of Representatives decide to spend time doing today? Passing a law telling Americans that they can't pay online gambling debts with credit cards. And if that wasn't bad enough, and blocking access to gambling web sites. Yes, once again the government has stepped in to "protect us" from ourselves.

    And it wasn't even close: 317 to 93 in favor, with both New Hampshire congresscritters voting on the side of the Mommy State. Jacob Sullum weighs in with a column here.

  • Fans of intentionally bad writing—and we are legion—will want to hie on over to check out the winners of the 2006 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. In the Pun Salad spirit, we offer this free sample:
    As Johann looked out across the verdant Iowa River valley, and beyond to the low hills capped by the massive refrigerator manufacturing plant, he reminisced on the history of the great enterprise from its early days, when he and three other young men, all of differing backgrounds, had only their dream of bringing refrigeration to America's heartland to sustain them, to the present day, where they had become the Midwest's foremost group of refrigerator magnates.

  • True Fact Department: the Google gives an unexpectedly large number of hits for floccinaucinihilipilification.

  • On the other hand, the hit count for the Oprahfication of America continues to decrease, only 108 today. This confounds the one of the few predictions I've confidently made on this blog: I thought it was a meme that would take off. Instead, it's headed for obscurity.


Last Modified 2007-04-18 4:17 PM EDT

An Unfinished Life

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

OK, so it's kind of a chick flick, but I liked it anyway.

Jennifer Lopez plays widow Jean, on the lam from her abusive boyfriend with her young daughter in tow. She's at the end of her rope, so her only option is to move in on Einar, the irascible father of her dead husband, played by Robert Redford. There is much bad blood there, because Einar blames Jean for his son's death. Morgan Freeman gets thrown in as Mitch, a crippled ex-cowboy living with Einar. There's also a bear.

I found things a little melodramatically predictable, but the movie works fine anyway. The script is witty, the characters are well-developed, sympathetic, and interesting, and all the actors turn in first-rate performances. That's to be expected from Redford and Freeman, of course, but J-Lo is a real pleasant surprise, going toe-to-toe with the old pros.


Last Modified 2012-10-23 2:33 PM EDT