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As computer technology became more advanced, so did the capability to digitally alter photos to the point they could become no longer deemed evidence in court (IMHO). Now we are at the point where video can be “faked” with computer-generated people indistinguishable from real folks. Two games I’m currently playing, Fallout 4 and Assassin’s Creed […]

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Well, neutral observer and I just got back home. We were vacationing not in the Dominican Republic, but in Tullahoma, Tennessee visiting friends. Sure, there was a tornado warning one night, but at least we didn’t get beat up or poisoned. Anyway, our hosts took us to visit the Beechcraft Heritage Museum (https://beechcrafthm.org/) where we […]

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I think it’s a phrase mostly used in the UK (especially with the first word spelled the way it is, so please don’t “fix” it), but it’s certainly applicable here. Here’s the definition from The Cambridge Dictionary: “To be unable to choose because there are so many possible good choices.” So. “Bill Gates reveals the […]

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Don’t Ruin the Internet Over Flukey ‘Bias’ Incidents Like the One on Pinterest

 

What passes for “evidence” of Big Tech bias against the right tends to be of the anecdotal variety. A piece of content gets blocked or hidden. An account gets suspended or banned. And then conservative media goes crazy, charging that Silicon Valley is suppressing conservative thought and thinkers.

The latest controversy involves a Pinterest employee sending a series of internal documents to the right-wing political website Project Veritas. The documents supposedly prove flagrant discrimination against pro-life groups and religious conservatives. This whistleblower claims the documents show that Liveaction.org — a pro-life informational website with more than 3 million followers on social media — was unfairly added to a domain blacklist reserved for porn domains, which are prevented from being pinned by Pinterest.

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David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss Harvard’s decision to rescind the admittance of Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland shooting survivor and conservative, for controversial past statements. They analyze the general misinformation and public ignorance about Medicare-for-All. And for today’s crazy martini, they discuss O.J. Simpson joining the Twittersphere. More

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Trump Plans to Live-Tweet Dem Debates

 

Trump’s favorite bully pulpit is his iPhone and he’s ready to pound it for the first primary debates of his Democratic opponents. From the Wall Street Journal:

The president, who has spent years embracing social media for his political advantage, is tentatively planning to live-tweet the debates on June 26-27, according to people familiar with the planning.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America praise Texas Governor Greg Abbott for a series of conservative legislative victories. They also react as YouTube admits it is suppressing what it deems “borderline” content. And in a double crazy martini, they discuss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (literally) running from Republican competition while reportedly entertaining […]

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The Women’s World Cup is back in action… now with robots! Well, not really. But the players do commonly wear GPS trackers and heart rate monitors. “Manage Player Outputs”, the SPT device ad says. If algorithms don’t already analyze patterns of player activity, stay tuned.  More

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Does anybody remember switchgrass? For roughly fifteen minutes roughly fifteen years ago, it was A Thing. And when the history of the 21st century is written, it will have Things. In such a history, switchgrass will be a footnote. On one page there will be something like “Very shortly before wealthy nations decided that (1) […]

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I Cut the Cord

 

After threatening to do so for the better part of a year, I finally cut the cord yesterday. I mostly held on this long because of sports. With the exception of a few programs I watch with the girlfriend, or in some cases drink scotch and tolerate, all I watch is sports. I had an irrational fear that I would miss coverage of The Masters, US Open, or football. I should also mention my dog Norman watches The Golf Channel all day while I am at work. So I spent numerous mornings researching and became convinced Hulu Live was the right mix.

Still, I did not make the move. I decided I would downgrade to basic cable first — incrementalism people! I logged into my cable account where I was promptly asked if I wanted to upgrade with HBO. I then looked for how to change my services — it was nowhere to be found. They were ready and willing with a “team member” available to chat if I wanted to upgrade. So, I clicked yes, assuming if they could add services they could also take services away. Wrong. “That is not my department.”

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This week my guest is the person who deserves to be known as the Robert Caro of energy history—Robert L. Bradley Jr. Rob is the founder of the Institute for Energy Research, one of the best go-to sources for information and analysis about energy (and especially debunking the nonsense energy romanticism of the left), but […]

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Judge Koh Is No 5G Wiz

 

Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California gave the Federal Trade Commission an enormous victory this past week in its antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm. Her conclusion was that “Qualcomm’s licensing practices have strangled competition” in key markets to the detriment of rivals, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and consumers.

Her solution was a stern edict that at a minimum forces Qualcomm to abandon its “no-license, no chip” policy in three key ways. First, as that label suggests, Qualcomm may no longer sell its chips only to parties who have already obtained a license—perfectly proper under patent law—to use chips that contain Qualcomm’s patented technology. Second, Qualcomm must renegotiate all of its contracts worldwide to make sure that it only charges “fair and reasonable rates” for all of its technology and chipsets, including now required sales to its direct competitors in the 5G market. Third, the order prohibits Qualcomm from entering into “any express or de facto exclusive dealing relationships” with its customers. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, Judge Koh’s “Qualcomm coup” effectively “kneecaps” the major American player in the 5G market.

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The era of free lunches is over, at least in the tech industry. For decades Big Tech has relied on exponential growth in computing power to compensate for deficiencies in everything from management practices to programmer training. But no longer. The end of Moore’s law (the observation that transistor density tended to double every two […]

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Why America’s Social Media Firms Aren’t ‘Parasites’

 

It’s hard to be a big tech company these days without somebody rooting for your demise. But some cases are a bit more understandable than others. Like this one: “Bannon says killing Huawei more important than trade deal with China.” I mean, I get it. Former Trump White House adviser and nationalist Steve Bannon wants America to launch and win a Tech Cold War against China. Taking an ax to what might be its most important tech company, a key player in the global 5G rollout, might be a big step forward in such a plan.

But it’s not Americans wanting to shut down just Chinese tech companies. Sometimes it’s Americans going after American firms. “Maybe we’d be better off if Facebook disappeared,” writes Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, in an op-ed for USA Today. And his problem isn’t just with the social media giant run by Mark Zuckerberg. According to Hawley, Twitter and Instagram, though oddly not YouTube, are also “best understood as a parasite on productive investment, on meaningful relationships, on a healthy society,” He claims they’ve created an “addiction economy” based on extracting and selling data gleaned from uninformed users. The first sentence of the piece: “Social media consumers are getting wise to the joke that when the product is free, they’re the ones being sold.”

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How Is This Tech Cold War with China Supposed to Work, Exactly?

 

Let’s assume the Trump White House blacklisting of Huawei in effect marks the beginning of a full-fledged Tech Cold War between America and China, complete with a Digital Iron Curtain. The full metaphor. How then does the conflict end in an American victory? And what does that even look like? Have the tech cold warriors, both within the White House and externally, given serious thought to any of this?

We know how the more comprehensive Cold War 1.0 concluded, with the dissolution of the Soviet Empire in 1991. It was a collapse that some predicted was inevitable. But at the time many others thought the scenario so unlikely as to be unworthy of speculation. The whole idea of 1970s detente was based on the perceived durability of the USSR. And this view held nearly to the very end. For example: The 1984 film “2010: The Year We Make Contact” was a sequel to the 1968 Stanley Kubrick-directed film “2001: A Space Odyssey” and concerns a joint US-USSR deep space mission.

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Jim is back! Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America get a kick out of New Yorkers bluntly rejecting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2020 presidential bid but it does give Greg an idea of how to thin the 24-candidate field. They also applaud Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai for giving […]

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I’m sorry, but this is a “get off my lawn” vent. I’m sick and tired of reading a one paragraph news story followed by a dozens of tweets implying “this is what people are thinking”. No, it’s not. There was already a news article out there about a poll that said how 80% of all […]

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Should We Tax Facebook and Google So They Change Their Business Models?

 

Paul Romer.
Is Big Tech today as dangerous as Big Money a decade ago? Economist and Nobel laureate Paul Romer seems to think there are disturbing similarities. In a New York Times op-ed, Romer advocates taxing revenue from the sales of targeted digital ads to check the size and power of “dominate digital platforms,” specifically Facebook and Google. “Our digital platforms may not be too big to fail,” he writes. “But they are too big to trust.” Romer’s policy goal is to nudge these companies away from the original sin of advertising-driven business models, and Romer sees a Pigovian tax as a more efficient way to reduce their size and influence than antitrust or regulation. He doesn’t like targeted ads, nor the financial power they generate.

Romer’s approach toward Big Tech might sound familiar to anyone who followed the post-Financial Crisis debate about Wall Street and “too big to fail.” Among the policy options for taming the megabanks and de-risking their business models were regulation, antitrust, or higher capital requirements. That last one, advocates argued, was the most efficient and market-friendly way of making failure less likely, potentially serving as a de facto tax on bigness, or even spurring a self-initiated breakup.

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One of the biggest debates ongoing within the right involves the regulation of Big Tech companies, namely Twitter, FaceBook, and Google. Briefly, the populists are on one side. They believe that American tech companies should follow free speech principles despite being private companies. Opposing them are the free marketeers, who also disagree with what these […]

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