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US House May Pass "Cap & Trade" Bill 874

jamie found this roundup on the status of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, which is about to be voted on by the US House of Representatives. (The article notes that if the majority Democrats can't see the 218 votes needed for passage, they will probably put off the vote.) The AP has put together a FAQ that says, "[The bill, if passed,] fundamentally will change how we use, produce and consume energy, ending the country's love affair with big gas-guzzling cars and its insatiable appetite for cheap electricity. This bill will put smaller, more efficient cars on the road, swap smokestacks for windmills and solar panels, and transform the appliances you can buy for your home." The odds-makers are giving the bill a marginal chance of passing in the House, with tougher going expected in the Senate.

Need a Favor? Talk To My Right Ear Screenshot-sm 288

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that scientists have found that if you want to get someone to do something, ask them in their right ear. Known as the 'right ear advantage,' scientists believe it is because information received through the right ear is processed by the left hand side of the brain which is more logical and better at deciphering verbal information than the right side of the brain. 'Talk into the right ear you send your words into a slightly more amenable part of the brain,' say researchers. The team, led by Dr. Luca Tommasi and Daniele Marzoli from the University of Chieti in central Italy, observed the behavior of hundreds of people in three nightclubs across the city where they intentionally addressed 176 people in either their right or their left ear when asking for a cigarette. They obtained significantly more cigarettes when they made their request in a person's right ear compared with their left. 'These results seem to be consistent with the hypothesized specialization of right and left hemispheres,' say researchers. 'We can also see this tendency when people use the phone, most will naturally hold it to their right ear.'"

Comment one or two nukes in Washington (Score 4, Insightful) 120

If there's one or two nukes in DC, we're not in a "US defending itself against a serious attack" scenario, we're in an "end of human civilization as we know it" scenario. There's plenty of folks elsewhere in the country who will be around to push the button.


Rapidshare Ordered To Filter Content 161

A Cow writes "TorrentFreak reports that the Regional Court in Hamburg, Germany, has ruled that file-hosting service Rapidshare must proactively filter certain content. Music industry outfit GEMA asked the court to ban Rapidshare from making 5,000 tracks from its catalogue available on the Internet." Reader biabia brings an update to a related case in Italy involving four Google executives. The issue in that situation revolves around Google's response time in taking down a video that was deemed to be a privacy violation. Google is worried that a verdict against them could lead to mandatory pre-screening of all public videos that are uploaded onto their websites. Those proceedings have now been postponed until late September.
Update: 6/24 at 17:45 GMT by SS: The article originally reported that Rapidshare was fined $34 million. No such fine has been imposed — $34 million was the estimated value of the tracks hosted on Rapidshare.

Comment Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (Score 1) 96

Eh. The opinionated troll ratings are no less prevalent than the "you say what I agree with, and therefore it's insightful," moderation.

I still prefer the troll rating to the overrated rating - that's just someone who want's to downmod and doesn't have the balls to call the post troll or flamebait.

Comment Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (Score 0, Troll) 96

Say what you will about vinyl, but there is a huge difference in the experience of reading on a computer screen that sits a foot in front of you and a paper you can hold in your lap while kicking back on the couch.

I hold my computer on my lap as a kick back on the couch - they call them laptops.

Comment Re:Yes, they do (Score 1) 129

Another interesting example (and one I hadn't thought of). Of course, like you mention, it's the FCC. Also, radio and TV broadcasting is a government licensed monopoly on access to a resource held in common ownership by the state (broadcast spectrum), though I imagine it pertains to cable as well.

Still don't know if it's parallel to the blogging situation; probably the closest thing I can think of is false advertising controls.

Comment Re:license is not the most important thing (Score 1) 325

But the MP4 codec is produced by a company that 1) holds a significant number of patents itself (which both reduces the issues with infringement, and the likelihood of lawsuits, since in that limited domain, a lawsuit war can be dangerous for everyone), and 2) would indemnify the licensing parties against infringement suits.

Comment license is not the most important thing (Score 2, Insightful) 325

The license matters a whole lot less than the potential patent encumbrance for the codec.

The developers of Theora state that the codec is not encumbered by patents, but to my knowledge, there's been no legal tests of that and no intensive review of the possible areas of infringement by a patent attorney. That's a serious issue for the uptake of the codec by vendors, since they're potentially on the hook if it later turns out that the codec infringes on people patents and the holders want to be dicks about it.

Comment Re:stop crying (Score 2, Insightful) 129

This is not obvious. It's the case (as another poster notes) for financial commentary because it has implications in the securities markets.

I don't know if it's the case or not for other topics/genres of media that they're subject to the kinds of regulation that are supposedly being proposed here.

Comment Re:Yes, they do (Score 2, Insightful) 129

Yes, though that's rather specific to the financial industry. The securities market is more (though not nearly enough, apparently) heavily regulated than commerce at large.

Since this is the FTC and not the FEC, it doesn't seem to be as narrowly limited to a particular arena of business. Also, I don't know that similar penalties to the ones that are supposedly to be imposed on bloggers are in place for newspapers, broadcasters, etc.

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.