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Comment Customers are getting fraudulently double dipped (Score 1) 270

If we wanted to go back to AOL's gated network of the 1990s we would invent a time machine and cover it with AOL CDs.

We the customers are paying for a certain amount of bandwidth to the Internet and we have long since paid for the build out of the Fiber Optic network infrastructure through our monthly payments. It is simply fraudulent to be charging customers a fixed price for bandwidth and then effectively limiting peering to other networks so as to create an incentive for other networks and content providers to pay off the Telecoms to provide that telecoms customers their content as a service... these are services we as customers are already ostensibly paying for or are requesting. It isn't like a content provider can turn on your computer or tv and make you download their content... the Internet is primarily about end users initiating some communication and either the computer on the other end responds or not. Verizon or Comcast sitting in the middle and deciding which communications should get a fast lane based upon who has the most cash is just a bad way to run a communications network and a bad way to regulate a free market.

Sure transparency in what kind of peering arrangements telecoms have with other companies all contracts regarding quality of service or internet connections could be useful for regulators who might have the time to spend years sifting through all that paperwork to figure out what is good for the free market or not, but it is no substitution for net neutrality which would assure customers that they are actually getting the bandwidth and good faith service they are paying for rather than perniciously getting fleeced at both ends with service that the telecoms feel free to effectively throttle down whenever they feel like it despite apparent contracts with their customers to provide a certain level of service.

Comment Re:"The Internet" (Score 1) 209

That is true, that's why campaign finance reform is not a magic bullet. Another necessary change is term limits for all of Congress, so that we can replace career politicians with civilian public servants, as it was meant to be.

I might agree with you if you also term limited other public officials and even low or mid level bureaucrats. The real power in Washington is the Bureaucracy which can outlast any single administration or any 8 years of Congress. The entrenched interests are not limited to the elected politicians, but all the individuals that make careers out of government money, government contracts and playing the system. It can take years or decades to fathom just part of the Federal Bureaucracy, let alone be in a position to make decisions over regulations, oversight and spending.

Comment Government money corrupts, not just PAC money (Score 1) 209

The problem to me seems that regular folks don't seem to understand or care (or think they can do anything about) creating a system of government where the rule of law prevails instead of the rule of committees, boards and commissions. There is a difference between the rule of law with people executing that law and a law that simply abdicates to the discretion of men and the corrupting influence that it has.

Comment Re:Another Congressional shell game. (Score 1) 164

Congress as an institution which contains people from around the country that people have never heard of and they didn't vote for. Obama on the other hand a lot of people voted for directly... I agree that Obama's approval ratings should be low since he has flip flopped on some major campaign positions like Obamacare and seems to be supporting some very unpopular policies like warrantless surveilance on Americans that he had previously opposed as a candidate and US Senator.

Comment Re:Index it to inflation (Score 1) 619

It is perpetually deficient because there will never be enough resources for all the projects people can dream up. You can always argue for more or less, but the beauty of indexing the gas tax to inflation is that it simply keeps the gas tax the same in real dollars. In that way you can better gauge whether maintaining and expanding the road system is really getting more expensive or not. So to me the greatest benefit is transparency and a better baseline understanding of how the transportation budget is changing over time taking inflation out of the equation.

To me the real battle and threat here is that there is a steady move towards funding the police surveillance state that we are constructing with highway money. Yes, fuel efficiency, hybrid and electric cars are going to reduce gas tax inflows which will need to be offset somehow in order to maintain steady funding for highway maintenance. But the solution of installing a network of monitoring devices to track everyone's movements and send them a bill based on where they drive is an over engineered, over priced and overly intrusive solution to a simple problem. The government could more easily in fact just charge a odometer tax without making us all pay for a electronic monitoring system. Or if you accept the fact that the transportation system is a broad public good, then the gas tax could simply be supplemented from existing more progressive taxes, like the income tax, without the need for an open road tolling system on all our highways and roads.

Comment Another Congressional shell game. (Score 2) 164

No wonder the approval rating of Congress is so low. They shamefully vote to extend the Patriot Act with 303 votes last month and this month they pass this toothless piece of distraction. This is a political stunt to try and mollify Liberty activists and not anything meaningful. They need to vote against the unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act and overturn any provisions that appear to give the government broad authority to force companies to hand over telecommunications data.

Comment Re: Index it to inflation (Score 1) 619

Never ending cycle of inflation versus what alternative? Right now we have these periodic very large gas tax increases to catch up with inflation followed by years of decline in the buying power of the Highway Trust Fund. I've actually just read a bit more on the proposal and they do propose indexing it to inflation... but only after increasing the tax by 65% to catch up with inflation over the last 20 years. Basically the choice is to either have it indexed to inflation or else have these periodic hyper increases to catch up with inflation anyway.... or come up with another tax system.

Of more concern would be the proposal to introduce an expensive and intrusive open road tolling system to track all our movements and charge us a per mile tax.

We don't need open road tolling if there is a mileage tax... we all have odometers and we can read and I know at least in my state we have yearly odometer readings and odometers are read whenever cars are sold or registered, so there isn't any reason why we can't just read the odometer and pay a tax instead of having all our movements tracked by a multi-billion dollar electronic tagging system which really infringes on our privacy also.

Comment Index it to inflation (Score 5, Insightful) 619

The issue with the gas tax is that it is a fixed amount per gallon and the real value falls over time with inflation. The only way for the gas tax to keep up is to index it to inflation. Otherwise you will continue to see the Highway funds periodically getting depleted until you have to pump up the tax again. Much better to permanently index the tax to inflation rather than have these periodic increases. Of course you could argue that there are better ways to tax in order to raise transportation infrastructure funds. But if you are going to stick with the gas tax, then index it.

Comment Re:Fox News? (Score 1) 682

First there is a reasonable suspicion that there was a conspiracy to use the IRS to target groups in a partisan way. This is a serious abuse of power.

So there are two things here. First, If you destroy records that you believe could be subject to a criminal investigation then you have committed a crime. That is irregardless of any document retention policies. And people have been prosecuted for obstruction of justice when they knew or should have known that an investigation was coming and they simply instructed people to follow the document retention policy.

Second the current guideline for document retention of "transitory" emails is180 days, but for Federal Records it is much much longer. I did find a useful description of the test for whether an email is or contains a "Federal Record" under the law:

To qualify as a Federal record under the Federal Records Act, a document must pass two tests:

It is made or received in the course of business, and

It is preserved or appropriate for preservation because it is evidence of Agency activities (as described above) or has sufficient informational value to warrant preservation.

So yes assuming that the bulk of the emails were correspondence over official public business and not friends forwarding her funny cat videos, then yes there is at the very least a violation of public records law. And it would be a violation of Federal Law for the IRS not to have something in place to preserve emails... for at least 180 days even if they were all just cat videos, but they would be required to archive emails for far longer if they contain official correspondence which some of the emails most certainly did contain.

Comment Re:Fox News? (Score 4, Insightful) 682

Relying on the un-backed-up hard drive of a computer as the sole repository of official communications is complete insanity. Heads need to roll over this. They wouldn't accept this as an excuse when they're chasing after private citizens for this or for that.

Yes, not having emails backed up on a server in some sort of archive would be absurd. Government requires document retention of just about everything. Unless every email was end to end encrypted, but even then there should be good key management that would allow investigators to decrypt the emails. Just seems absurd that with all the document retention policies the government has that it wouldn't have copies of those emails someplace. Or that other government agencies or the White House wouldn't have copies of inter-agency emails. If the trail dries up it is because people want it to dry up.

The assumption now is that the White House instigated increased IRS scrutiny on groups aligned with the Tea Party which would be a very serious abuse of presidential power to use the tax collecting and police powers of the executive branch to target opposition political groups.

Nixon is rolling over in his grave... the lesson for history is if Nixon had just destroyed all the tapes he could have gotten away with his dirty tricks brigade and abuses of power.

Comment Re:Save blackberry? (Score 1) 76

Based on (non-scientific) surveys of people I meet I find that there is still a sizable demand and preference for keyboards on phones. It just happens that Blackberry owns many of the patents for keyboards on phones and is fairly restrictive with licensing those patents. And it is simply the case that the phones blackberry has made with keyboards are not competitive on other features. I'd say that 15% of the consumer market would go for a smartphone with a keyboard versus one without if all other features were pretty much equal with other top of the line smartphones. Could be more or could be less, but 15% of the consumer market would sure beat 0%.

Comment Re:Save blackberry? (Score 1) 76

A company doesn't want to be in the business of having to pay customers to take their products... loss leaders are fine if you are getting investments down the line, but the current status quo also means that government/businesses are not going to be willing to make major investments in new Blackberry technology on the business side either. It is only a matter of time before Apple and Google or their proxies catch up on meeting the particular needs of those customers.

Also, in some businesses and government circles people want to limit the kinds of apps that their employees can download on company issued phones for liability, security and cost issues. So just giving them open access to the Amazon app store is not going to cut it.

To me blackberry would offer an android phone based on their good hardware and with an integrated app suites for business and backward compatible with their infrastructure. And then offer an android app store that businesses and government themselves can set the parameters for what types of apps can be downloaded. Sure it could be based on Amazon's app store, but has to be tailorable for different business needs.

Comment Save blackberry? (Score 1) 76

When your market share in the consumer market is approximately 0% "saving" is not good, what you need to do is grow market share. So the question is whether an appstore which is as good as your competitors will grow market share for blackberry in the consumer market. And I think the answer it takes more than just being as good as your competitors in one area to gain market share. Perhaps if they just put out some decent android phones that had the old (patented) blackberry keyboard then they could regain some market share from the texters that hate on screen keyboards. That is the one feature they can offer consumers that will be better than the competition. "Saving" market share only applies to the corporate and government markets where they still have market share to lose.

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