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In Brief Politics

Software patent trolls and the threat to small business

While Congress is arguing points of policy labeled with “job-killer” rhetoric, perhaps they should look into what international patent trolls are doing to independent developers here in America. Independent developers have driven so much innovation in the last decade and have been a real bright spot in a very dismal economic climate. Craig Hockenberry, he of the Iconfactory, has a very sobering first-hand view of this as his company is the target of such litigation. He likens the current climate as “coding in a minefield,” an assessment with which I am in complete agreement. How do vague software patents held by non-practicing companies possibly contribute to an economic climate conducive to innovation and growth?

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In Brief Politics

The Great Experiment

As we celebrate the 235th anniversary of our independence, Dan Conover at Xark offers a thoughtful reminder of America’s iterative approach to our government and society, especially in the context of elements of our current political discourse, which often is limited to soundbites about the Founding Fathers. I have always preferred the United States’s characterization as “The Great Experiment” because it is, to me at least, the most accurate — for better or worse.

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In Brief Media Politics

Assange’s arrest

Julian Assange is in British custody this morning on Swedish sex-crimes charges. The next few hours, I suspect, will be critical in seeing if additional companies begin to cut off WikiLeaks’ platform (though it needs to be noted that the official charges of rape do not relate to WikiLeaks’ operation). An update on The Guardian (whose live blog is excellent) indicates that a decryption key for the “insurance” file, which apparently houses more damaging documents and would be released upon Assange’s arrest or death, is coming soon.

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News Politics

The inauguration of President Barack Obama, in multimedia


Today is kind of a big deal. on TwitPic Engrossed by the speech in Marion Square #inaug09 #chs on TwitPic John Calhoun DOES NOT APPROVE. on TwitPic

The video didn’t catch it, but there were snowflakes, too. :)

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Politics

A historic moment

Amazing

I never thought I would see something like this so soon in my lifetime. Being an optimist, I was sure I’d see it maybe when I was 40 or 50, but 24? Incredible.

There will be more to write in the days ahead. For now, though, silence. And sleep. And rejoicing in the end of a nearly two-year presidential campaign cycle that couldn’t be over soon enough.

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In Brief Politics

Parallels

This video seems eerily familiar. Watch, compare and contrast with today, and you’ll see what I’m saying.

(On a side note, I miss Ross Perot. My nostalgia for Perot was partially sparked by Obama’s infomercial last night; nobody, but nobody could do a political infomercial like he could.)

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In Brief Politics

Doing the people’s work

In further proof that we truly have the best government money can buy (and that our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, are completely out of touch with mainstream America), President Bush and Congress have quietly enlarged government again with the passage of the PRO-IP Act, signed into law Monday by Bush. PRO-IP’s big deal, besides increased punishments against copyright offenders, is that there’s now a Cabinet-level copyright czar. Seriously? In an age of unprecedented economic crisis, this seems like a completely irresponsible and unnecessary expansion of government power in an area that, quite frankly, needs to be regulated more by the free market instead of Big Brother. We have far bigger problems in America to deal with at the moment (even though I’m pretty sure that if you asked the RIAA, illegal downloading caused the housing market to collapse).

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Politics

Political Discourse In America

We all know that I’m not a fan of immunity for telecommunications companies that helped the government in its (at best) legally-questionable warrantless wiretapping program. (Which, thankfully, the House grew some backbone and stopped on Thursday! :) ) Today, Facebook and ABC News asked about telecom immunity in its latest poll question, and I jumped in a bit. I like talking about this topic; it’s gone fairly unnoticed with all the election hubris, and it’s a pretty pivotal deal in terms of rule of law in America.

At first, the debate was level-headed, a quiet discussion of the facts in the situation and a respectful exchange on both sides.

Then enter M, who clearly takes a cue from Sean Hannity or other hate radio purveyors, with gems like this, a happy wish for those who oppose warrantless wiretapping:

To those of you who believe that it’s wrong of the government to be doing this, it’s my every wish that a terror attack affects your family.

Thanks, M. I’ll be sure to pass your wishes along to my family, who also read my blog.

After another post by him telling me that he didn’t want to “die for my stupidity,” I pretty much let him have his soapbox. He then mentioned that he didn’t know what good things Truman did as President and that there should be a separate country for liberals. He was then fed to the virtual equivalent of rabid lions.

I love the Internet(s), and I love this country, because despite how nasty it may be, he has the right to state that opinion. There’s nothing in the Constitution about decorum in free speech, after all. However, it’s unfortunate that we still have to deal with the poison in our public discourse, particularly over the Internet. It’s not about calmly bringing issues to the table and debating their merits anymore; it’s about shouting, name-calling, ad hominem garbage that drives traffic and ad revenue. Both sides do it. It’s plainly obvious where our divisions come from; the fringes have mobilized very well on the Internet and began their shouting, which is so loud that the moderates are largely drowned out (Joe Gandelman & co. being an exception). And I think, despite what the fringes want you to think, that a majority of America is still moderate and understands the value in a calm debate of the issues.

Or maybe I’m just being idealistic, young, and foolish again.

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Politics

Telecom immunity passes

This makes me ill (via NYT):

The Senate rejected a series of amendments that would have restricted the government’s surveillance powers and eliminated immunity for the phone carriers, and it voted in convincing fashion — 69 to 29 — to end debate and bring the issue to a final vote. That vote is expected later this afternoon, with the result all but assured.

So how, exactly, can anybody say with a straight face that this warrantless surveillance is legal if we have to immunize the culpable parties? Isn’t giving them immunity basically an admission that these telecoms have been breaking the law by listening to Americans’ phone conversations? Where will it end? I’m almost scared to find out. This Congress, one of the most spineless in history, is now officially useless to me. We have officially legalized a total surveillance state, where the agents of the government are private enterprise, who are not bound by any constitution and are apparently above the law.

They say they do it to protect us from those who do us harm — but isn’t a government that respects the rule of law only when it benefits itself just as bad, if not WORSE, than any tyranny a foreign agent could unleash upon us?

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In Brief Politics

Obama & Huckabee win

What an amazing night in Iowa. A record number of people went out in the freezing cold, and in the end, overwhelmingly threw their support to Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama. Quite frankly, I really didn’t see that coming, and it’s somewhat refreshing. I’m really glad Republicans in Iowa saw through the 9/11 facade of Giuliani’s campaign and only threw about 2% of their support his way…he says he’s going to continue, but we’ll see if he lasts past New Hampshire. Dodd and Biden are out…the Democratic race is barely a four-horse race now, as Richardson’s hanging in there. Off to New Hampshire…