Tech at Night

Sprint is doing what I said Sprint would do all along. Remember when AT&T wanted to buy T-Mobile? Sprint funded a campaign by radical leftists to claim the #2 firm and the #4 firm coming together would be unbearably detrimental to competition, and would hinder American wireless.

Sprint’s new Japanese owners want T-Mobile, they want the #3 firm and the #4 firm to merge together into one, still reducing top-tier competition by one firm, according to the beancounting they used to do. T-Mobile claims it’s inevitable, but Sprint is playing an unfortunate game. They’re using all the left-wing, ridiculous talking points about Internet access in America to push their case.

The problem with that, never mind that Japan’s population density is nothing like America’s, and therefore no comparison is Apples-to-Apples. But as Jon Henke points out, now that Sprint laid out the case against a similar merger, they’re probably going to have to enter into an FCC-empowering agreement in order to get this deal done. That harms Sprint, and that harms America.

Tech at Night

Remember during the height of the Edward Snowden media frenzy, how his defenders would dutifully parrot every word RT said about him? Here’s your great Snowden defender now. RT and Snowden are the enemies of liberty, peace, and the United States of America.

Bitcoin is the fantasy tool of ideologues, the 21st century version of Goldbuggery, but there turns out to be a group even more ridiculous than the Bitcoin zealots: TSA agents.

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Tech at Night

There’s a lot of fear going around about ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a plurilateral agreement under the WTO between the US, the EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Morocco. Some of the fears look real, some don’t. For example, even though it was negotiated in secret, the text is easily available.

Another false complaint is that it’s another SOPA, when in fact such a claim misses the point. SOPA was a bad bill, as it turned out to be a censorship bill that defied due process, but the intent was to fight the problem of free riding on copyright and trademark. Crossing international boundaries has been a cheap and easy way to cash in on another country’s copyright and trademark laws without having to abide by them. SOPA tried to fix that in a crude, rude, and ineffective way. ACTA has more options, and doesn’t have to resort to censorship, necessarily.

I’ve just read the treaty. I don’t really see a problem. Even if infringement isn’t ruining the movies and music, trademark and copyright are Constitutional concepts worthy of protection. That’s why some of the anti-SOPA leaders are promoting their own bill.

The pro-liberty position is not one of anarchy. It’s time to get reasonable protections in place. Maybe I missed something, and ACTA is a problem. But the best argument I see against ACTA is that it only includes a few countries, and not those best known for infringement (such as China, either China in fact). ACTA may yet be harmless but ineffective, as opposed to SOPA being harmful and ineffective.

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On Earthquakes

On March 12, 2011, in General, by Neil Stevens

When a person feels an earthquake, it tends to come in one of two varieties. There’s the brief, sharp jolt that comes from being near a minor earthquake, where one receives the localized high-frequency waves, and there’s the low rumbling that comes from being further away a larger earthquake, where one receives the low-frequency waves that travel further. Earthquakes strong enough to defy these two categories, strong enough to matter and close enough to be felt fully, are rare.

Throughout my entire life, there has been only one earthquake that left me with genuine concern for my surroundings, if only for a couple of seconds. This is true despite my living my entire life in earthquake country, apparently across town from an offshoot of the mighty San Andreas itself. That earthquake was an otherwise unremarkable earthquake in 2005. About 16 miles away from me a magnitude 4.9 earthquake struck Yucapia. This earthquake lasted just long enough, and shook just hard enough, that as it went on I was concerned for serious damage if it lasted too long or got any stronger. Fortunately it was only a 4.9 and did no such thing. However when it started I was sitting right where I am right now, at my desk. Though at the time I used a plain, old 6 foot plastic table as a desk, its top warped from my old, heavy computer resting on it for years. That warping, combined with the shaking, was causing a cup I had on the desk to slide.

When you’re used to earthquakes, they don’t cause you to panic. But when they hit, any sensible person will pause and evaluate the situation. That’s what I did when this one hit. I remember sitting there, staring at my cup as it shook, and realizing that this could be a big one. I had a moment of genuine surprise before I finally grabbed my cup to keep it from falling. And then, as the shaking continued, I got seriously concerned… just in time for the shaking to stop, and life to go on.

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Tech at Night

As I began work on tonight’s late Tech at Night, reports came out of an explosion at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. As Japan continues to deal with an unimaginably strong earthquake and then a devastating tsunami caused by that quake, I hope nobody takes those special circumstances and tries to argue against clean, effective power generation technology in the general case. Let them bury the dead first, clean up, and examine the causes of the problems before we then pause and make intelligent decisions.

Though as much as the earthquake causes me to woolgather about my own earthquake history, life does continue to go on here in America. And in fact, Republicans are getting so aggressive on tech policy issues. Mike Lee in particular has gotten much attention for calling for antitrust hearings against Google in the course of greater Senate committee efforts toward possible Search Neutrality laws. In fact I suspect he’d get even more if not for the Sendai earthquake.

I’m sure it’s infuriating the daylights out of the radicals that one of America’s most prominent TEA Party Senators is in favor of strong government action here, and I don’t know if I agree with it myself, but if Microsoft was vulnerable to years of government harassment despite the fact that anyone, at any time, could easily acquire high-quality competing products, so will Google be despite the existence of major search competitors.

Though if Senator Lee is making this move because of the juicy political effects, more than an actual desire to be a trustbuster, then his move gets two thumbs up from this observer. Ditto Joe Barton’s rumblings of going after Google for the children and their privacy.

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Tokyo’s new obscenity law bucks Japanese tradition

On December 16, 2010, in General, by Neil Stevens

The Japanese culture does not share quite the same sexual taboos that we have in the west. The differences are most notable in Japanese law on pornography and obscenity. While all Japanese pornography has long been required to be censored – a requirement going back the 19th century restoration of the Emperors over the Shoguns – Japan has long been vastly more accepting of sexual depictions of minors than the west. Pornography and prostitution of minors was legal in Japan until 1999, and even that major law set punishments that will look low to many of us.

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