Why Your Broadband Sucks

A good column by Lawrence Lessig on a problem with Wi-Fi access in the U.S. In short, lobbyists are spending money to convince lawmakers to prevent municipal governments from competing with broadband providers instead of actually providing broadband. The really eye-opening stat in the piece is that our country is 13th in broadband deployment. Given how long it took me to get broadband initially, I can believe it.
When the free market is clearly not working in an area, government stepping in may not be a bad idea.

White House Turns Tables on Former American POWs

I came across this story late, but it has to be one of the most bizarre and sad stories I’ve read in awhile. It’s worth subscribing to the LA Times website to read the whole thing, but in summary, this is what’s happening:

2002: 17 POWs from the 1991 Gulf War filed a lawsuit against Iraq for the torture they endured from Iraq troops at the now infamous Abu Ghraib. They’re allowed to do this by the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996.

2003: Judge Richard W. Roberts awards them $653 million in compensatory damages and $306 million in punitive damages.

Soon after this, the Bush administration argues the case should be thrown out. Why? Reasons include:
–President Bush had voided such claims against Iraq because of the current occupation
–This Scott McClellan quote: “These resources are required for the urgent national security needs of rebuilding Iraq.”

When the case goes to the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit, the 3 judges ruled unanimously for the Bush administration and throw out the lawsuit. The case is now before the Supreme Court.

For their sakes, I only hope that the Supreme Court has far more sense than the government on this case.

Howard Dean: DNC Chairman

Even though I haven’t been a registered Democrat for some time now (switched to independent 5+ years ago), I’m very interested in this turn of events. I hope it means that we’ll actually have a two-party system again, instead of a party-and-a-half like we’ve had for awhile. How he’ll play in the South is anybody’s guess, but I think a lot of his views will turn out to be more moderate than people expect.

Cult of the Mac Membership++

About half an hour ago, I purchased a Mac mini. If you’ve read anything in the press about the “iPod halo effect”, I’m one of those buyers. Before buying my first iPod in 2003, I hadn’t spent a penny on anything from Apple. I was (and still am) a PC user. I still make a living designing and developing software for Windows. I’d barely used Apple machines at all outside of designing yearbook layouts for my high school in 1991 and on occasion during college. But my experience with the iPod has been so positive, when they announced that they would start selling a “headless” Mac, I knew I would buy one. Today just happened to be the day.

Here are the specs:
Mac mini 1.42Ghz processor
Bluetooth + AirPort Extreme Card
80GB Ultra ATA drive
4x SuperDrive
56k v.92 Modem

I bought AppleCare for it as well.

If you’re a Mac veteran, I welcome any tips and advice you have to share.

Gmail Invite Anyone?

Google recently dumped 50 each on current members. I plan to donate some to our troops overseas, but I’ll give away one to the first 35 people who e-mail slawrence@gmail.com and request one.

Three Paper Town?

To the Washington Post and the Washington Times we can add another paper: The Washington Examiner. In this age of the Web, blogs and other forms of electronic media, starting a print newspaper seems an odd choice. From my time as a technology intern at the Washington Post, I remember stories from bosses about how DC used to have four newspapers. The Washington Star was the one they remembered most, since a number of them worked there before it closed up shop in 1981.

From this column by Dave Matsio, it sounds like they want to do something a little different with their opinion pages.

The rest of their website looks pretty well done. We’ll have to wait and see if the writing is good. It would be nice if they got lucky and broke an important story or two before the larger papers.