That’s a tragedy. Can I finish my story please? I began my search for meaning.

Corporate control of the internet. Impossible you say, just another hair-brained conspiracy theory. In typically simplistic fashion corporate speak has already raised its petty and greedy little head. Ed Whitacre, chairman and CEO of AT&T, told Business Week ,

“Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can’t be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment, and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!”

The End of the Internet?

The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.

Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets–corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers–would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.

Under the plans they are considering, all of us–from content providers to individual users–would pay more to surf online, stream videos or even send e-mail. Industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing “platinum,” “gold” and “silver” levels of Internet access that would set limits on the number of downloads, media streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received.

To make this pay-to-play vision a reality, phone and cable lobbyists are now engaged in a political campaign to further weaken the nation’s communications policy laws. They want the federal government to permit them to operate Internet and other digital communications services as private networks, free of policy safeguards or governmental oversight. Indeed, both the Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are considering proposals that will have far-reaching impact on the Internet’s future. Ten years after passage of the ill-advised Telecommunications Act of 1996, telephone and cable companies are using the same political snake oil to convince compromised or clueless lawmakers to subvert the Internet into a turbo-charged digital retail machine.

The telcos and cable companies may be overreaching in saying that they own the pipes. While trechnically correct the fact is that consumers paid for them and they usually paid for them in the envelope of a protected monopoly. There is one cable provider in most cities, two in some. If you want cable, you pay what they dictate, they are not really subject to the rules of the free market place. Satellite offers enough competition to keep them from being total pigs, but not enough to keep from being piggish. Telcos are in a panic because they are used to having an incredible amount of control over communications and the internet has pryed some of that control out of their sweaty little hands. This not about capitalism or some ideal free market that never existed its about trying to monopolize as much of the access as they can.

I’ve noticed that there’s there seems to be a sudden and odd embrace of free speech rights and freedom of expression spreading across the nation. The Constitution is pretty straight forward about it, short of libel or slander we’re in theory able to say what we like and express ourselves likewise, including cartoons that redicule other people. Thus being offended sought of comes with freedom. Its kind of a package deal since freedom almost certainly will produce offence at some point. This is democracy, free speech, free expression, being offended. As such you might see that Muslims right now are not all that enamoured of the idea of democracy. How can democracy be so great if it allows people to commit blasphemy. Its part of the package is all I can say, for people like myself who like to make a practice in everyday life of not being rude or crude in dealing personally with a variety of people and their beliefs I’ll agree that satire of sacred religious figures is lacking in Sunday dinner table manners. So dear Muslims of the world welcome to democracy. It may be some consolation that fundamentalists christians in America also think that their beliefs trump the messy and sometimes offensive machinations inherent in a liberal democracy.
In related news, The Cartoonish State of the Media

When it comes to matters of free speech and sound journalism, it’s getting increasingly difficult to determine who is worse: the present rulers of the United States or the Islamo-fascists they’re now at war with. When they’re not busy attacking one another, each side in the current conflict keeps busy attacking journalists (more already dead in Iraq than in the entire Vietnam era), journalism and the very concept of freedom of the press.

In the midst of the ongoing controversy over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, and the pusillanimous reaction by scared outlets such as CNN and France Soir (of which more later), it was particularly sad to see U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lobbing yet another round of verbal grenades at the media last week.

Congress once tried to ban that cross generational threat to the nation,,,,,comic books. Kind of a disclaimer about the link, its a libertarian site and while libertarians and I sometimes intersect on the road of cultural discourse I do not endorse it as a political philosophy.

In the 1950s, the United States Congress threatened the comic book industry with – you guessed it – government regulation if the industry did not clean up its act.

What kinds of books were being published?

Detective stories, romance stories, horror stories (perhaps you’ve seen Creep Show, based on the old E.C. Comics horror comics).

This had to stop. It was corrupting the children, don’t you know! After the predictable moral outrage and theater for consumption by the gullible, er, Congressional “hearings,” the industry caved in.

Go pick up a copy of Green Lantern or Superman. You’ll note a literal stamp of approval – from the Comics Code Authority on the front. That’s the industry group that took the place of Uncle Sam in protecting American children from dangerous ideas.

Myth 5: The President as Commander in Chief cannot be regulated by Congress.

The Administration’s ultimate defense is that even if Bush broke the law, his constitutional authority as Commander in Chief permits him to do so at his discretion. According to the Justice Department, Congress cannot limit his choice of how to “engage the enemy.” This rationale is not limited to wiretapping. On the same theory, Justice argued in 2002 that he could order torture despite a criminal statute to the contrary. It is that theory that Bush was presumably invoking when, in signing the amendment barring “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” of terrorism suspects, he said he would interpret it “in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief.”

Bush tried this theory out on the Supreme Court in the Guantanamo cases, when he argued that it would be an unconstitutional intrusion on his Commander in Chief powers to extend habeas corpus review to Guantanamo detainees. Not a single Justice on the Court accepted that radical proposition. But that hasn’t stopped Bush from asserting it again. After all, when you get to say what the law is, what’s a contrary Supreme Court precedent or two?

Dude: Why are you banging you’re head against the wall? Dude2: because I like it. Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects

Bush has recently described the warrantless operation as “terrorist surveillance” and summed it up by declaring that “if you’re talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why.” But officials conversant with the program said a far more common question for eavesdroppers is whether, not why, a terrorist plotter is on either end of the call. The answer, they said, is usually no.

Fewer than 10 U.S. citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls, as well.

FBI Agents Back Down When Librarian Refuses to Let Them Seize 30 Computers Without a Warrant

“We were able to both protect public safety and also protect the rights of people, the sense of privacy of many, many innocent users of the computers,” he said. “Had we given them the computers, they would have gotten to see e-mails from ordinary citizens doing ordinary things and would not have preserved privacy.”

 

 Sunday is a day for haircuts

 

CLUB MEMBER #1
I’d come to the realization that everything I’d based my life on was false. And that my life had no meaning.

CLUB MEMBER #2
(to Martin)
He gets this way when he hits over eighty-five.

CLUB MEMBER #1
It seemed like my life was slipping away, somehow. I was a knot in the middle of a wet rope. Everything was futile and nothing had value.

CLUB MEMBER #3
That’s the way life is. The only meaning and value is what we create. Through structure, and discipline. Though they seem to limit our freedom, they actually give us great comfort. Your problem is you’re looking for some great answer. Some ultimate truth. When what you really should do is go to work and go home.

CLUB MEMBER #2
And take golf lessons.

CLUB MEMBER #1
That’s a tragedy. Can I finish my story please? I began my search for meaning. I was a Catholic, Jew, Scientologist, Sufi, Buddhist. I went to a Psychologist, psychiatrist, herbalist, nutritionist, a shaman, and a psychic. And they all pretty much say the same stuff.

CLUB MEMBER #2
A Jew, a shaman, and a herbalist are telling you the same thing? You’re insane.

CLUB MEMBER #1
Basically the same thing. In a very evolved, esoteric way.

CLUB MEMBER #2
Insane.

CLUB MEMBER #1
To make a long story short…

from the screenplay GROSSE POINTE BLANK, First Draft: Tom Jankiewicz
Revised Draft: D.V. deVincentis & S.K. Boatman & John Cusack