Archive for December, 2010


Is there some holiday goi on or something?

Friday, December 24th, 2010

So I was working on a Christmas blog entry,but didn’t have time to finish it. What does that say?

Oh well, Merry Christmas anyhow.


Net Neutrality and the Wireless Non-Alternative

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

So the FCC went ahead and did what they’d previously been told they don’t have the authority to do, which is to regulate the Internet and declare Net Neutrality the law of the land, apparently against the wishes of lawmakers on both sides of the isle. Much has been written about this, and I’ll provide a bevy of links at the end of this blog post. But the best on the subject has been Bob Cringely, who writes:

The short story of what’s happening at the FCC is that the agency is trying to grab power over the Internet and to make that happen is paying-off any number of constituencies. With everything eventually going onto the net as a data service, the FCC wants to avoid irrelevancy, so this is how they are doing it with the help of Google and Verizon. Net neutrality partisans appear willing to accept more oversight if it comes with guarantees against packet throttling. And phone companies are willing to accept broader restrictions if they can still throttle or introduce tiered charges on their only networks that matter anymore — wireless.

It’s regulatory capture at its finest. Agency with no authority gets sanction from major incumbents to be the authority in exchange for exemptions for their own rotten practices and a promise to help keep out would-be competitors.

I’d expect no less from our country’s broadband suppliers.

What’s more interesting to me is that Clear, the new WiMax service from Sprint has arrived in my neighborhood. Given my endless problems with getting FIOS installed and my loathing of Comcast, I figured I’d check out Clear’s offerings after getting a flyer from them in the mail. Moreover, every right of center commentator tries saying that adequate competition in broadband exists, or will soon exist because of the likes of 4G wireless services. SO here it was, that very 4G service in my own neighborhood. So why not check it out? Care to guess what their home WiMax speed maxes out at (WiMax being a service that is supposed to max out at 1Gps for stationary objects in ideal conditions)?

That’s right, 3Mbps.

To be precise, “You will experience the fastest download speeds available on our network at your time of usage. Based on internal speed tests of CLEAR network users, download speeds average around 3-6.0 Mbps with bursts up to 10 Mbps.” Great (I get 20Mbps on my cable modem). 3-6 Mbps is not much faster than a DSL line. Which, incidentally, the FCC classifies as broadband. So I suppose according to the technical definitions of the FCC there’s competition, but from a practical standpoint, wireless isn’t competitive with wired at all.

So I suppose this next congress will slap the FCC down, or maybe even abolish it entirely. They don’t seem to be taking kindly to having had their power usurped.

In any event, there’s plenty to read on the subject, if you’re interested. In no particular order:


Weird Occurrences

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Drudge has been pushing this headline today about how this year’s Winter Solstice will be the first to coincide with a lunar eclipse in 456 years. Its meaning is unclear:

A lunar eclipse taking place during the solstice is not an event Hawkins has seen in research, but he said it would have been viewed as something special.

“Eclipses could be taken either way,” he said. “Certainly it would have been an omen, but it would have been up to the interpretation of specialists of whether it was good or bad.”

And that interpretation would likely be based on whatever was happening at the time.

The last time the two celestial events happened at the same time was in AD 1554, according to NASA.

An otherwise seemingly unexceptionable year in recorded history, the darkened moon happened during a bleak year for Tudor England.

Lady Jane Grey was beheaded for treason that year, while Princess Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Mary of Guise — the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots — became regent of Scotland.

Scientifically, however, it’s just a coincidence of natural cycles.

In light of this upcoming occurrence, let’s taker a moment to review the other known weird things that have been happening:

If I were a superstitious type, I would portend that the upcoming eclipse/solstice confluence is a very bad omen. But I’m not, so who knows. I would be interested in any alchemical interpretations any readers can give or point me to.


Ernst and Lehman

Monday, December 20th, 2010

So the WSJ is reporting that NY Attorney General is set to file civil fraud charges against Ernst & Young for not properly informing shareholders about Lehman’s difficulties. I have a question about this:

Wasn’t Sarbanes Oxley supposed to stop this kind of thing from happening?

As you no doubt remember, Arthur Anderson had colluded with the management of Enron to issue false and misleading financial statements, which in large measure contributed to Enron’s collapse. Now the New York AG office is alleging that Ernst did the same thing with respect to Lehman. In the wake of Enron, congress passed the Sarbanes Oxley bill, designed to stop a repeat of Enron. And yet, here we are, with an apparent repeat of Enron.

So can we all finally agree that Sarbanes Oxley isn’t doing what it was supposed to do, and just repeal the whole thing?

Sarbanes Oxley has single handedly ground our IPO market to a virtual halt. It’s time for it to go. Read more in the Financial plank of the Grand Plan.


Life Insurance

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Life insurance serves two purposes. The first, is in case on an unexpected death, to be able to take care of children and family and whatnot. The other is to pay off one’s estate taxes, especially if one owns a business or if one’s estate is not something that one can easily divide and liquidate. So it was no surprise to me to see this today (via instapundit):

A new report from a trade association representing family-owned businesses fighting against the estate tax says a giant life insurance lobby is a key force pushing against repeal of the estate tax as the tax creates demand for their insurance.

The life insurance industry’s lobbying presence in D.C. is huge – larger than almost any other industry sector. According to the report, life insurers spent $10 million per month on lobbying in the first half of 2010. Only the pharmaceutical, electric utilities and oil and gas sectors, the heaviest of heavy hitters, spent more.[…]

One of the most outspoken voices urging a higher estate tax, Warren Buffet, owns six life insurance companies, the report says.

The point about Buffet is especially poignant. He’s a beneficiary of the estate tax, something the sycophantic business press never seems to point out.

Back in 2007 I wrote about this same topic. I submitted it to the Carnival of the Capitalists, and was rejected, because the CoTC had become overrun with real estate and insurance salesman pitching their wares, and wasn’t really about business and economics any more. The host actually told me “he didn’t see a connection between life insurance and the estate tax”. What a douche. I complained about this to Jay Solo, which set in motion the Carnival’s eventual demise.

It’s a shame how everything on the Internet starts out cool but quickly degrades into idiots schlocking their crap ad nauseam. Twitter is quickly turning into that. I get several new followers per week who are just bad fronts for some website selling crap. It’s sad, really.