Our Tax Dollars at Work: Saving Hollywood…

The Motion Picture Association of America:

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security today announced that they have shut down one of the world’s largest BitTorrent websites, Elite Torrents. Carrying out what is known as Operation D-Elite, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed search warrants against prominent members in Elite Torrents’ membership. Elite Torrents was one of the first peer to peer networks to post an illegal copy of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith before the movie officially opened in theaters last Thursday.

I’m not making this up….. Visit Elite Torrents and check out the home page, which now features US DOJ and DHS logos….

Copyright is important to some fair degree (Congress, via Hollywood money has greatly distorted the copyright law…). However, spending our tax dollars to save the latest Star Wars film is simply absurd. Let’s use some of that money for education or debt reduction.

Giving Electronic Books Away Increases Paper Book Sales


Gray was asked to study the publishing strategy of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in South Africa. This research institution had a traditional strategy of publishing lots of research books, and selling them. Gray convinced them to change their strategy — to give away all their research books for free online, and offer a high quality print-on-demand service for anyone who wants the paper version. The result: “the sales turnover of the publishing department has risen by 300%.” As she concluded her presentation, “giving away books and lead to an increase in our book sales.” There’s much much more in her interesting analysis.

Download the pdf.

Washington Flees from a Flea – Lind

William S. Lind

Two weeks ago, a small, single-engine plane inadvertently strayed into the closed air space above Washington. The result was panic. Both the White House and the Capitol were evacuated, with police shouting “Run! Run!” at fleeing staffers and visitors. Senators and Congressmen abandoned in haste the floors of their respective Houses. Various RIPs (Really Important People) were escorted to their Fuehrerbunkers. F-16s came close to shooting the Cessna down.

Schneier on Touch Screen Voting

Bruce Schneier:

Supporters of touch-screen voting claim it is a highly reliable voting technology, while a growing number of critics argue that paperless electronic voting systems are vulnerable to fraud. In this paper we use county-level data on voting technologies in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections to test whether voting technology affects electoral outcomes. We first show that there is a positive correlation between use of touch-screen voting and the level of electoral support for George Bush. This is true in models that compare the 2000-2004 changes in vote shares between adopting and non-adopting counties within a state, after controlling for income, demographic composition, and other factors. Although small, the effect could have been large enough to influence the final results in some closely contested states.

Is Low Cost WiFi UnAmerican?

Timothy Karr:

We have Big Media to thank for saving Americans from themselves. Just as the notion of affordable broadband for all was beginning to take hold in towns and cities across the country, the patriots at Verizon, Qwest, Comcast, Bell South and SBC Communications have created legislation that will stop the creeping socialism of broadband community Internet before it invades our homes.

Canadian Oil Sands

Robert Collier visits Alberta’s vast oil sands:

Alberta’s oil sands are destined to be the main supply of foreign oil to the United States for at least the next century. The sands hold proven reserves of 175 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia’s 262 billion, and far more than the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s estimated 10 billion.
If Americans want to keep filling their gasoline tanks at a reasonable cost, they will need the oil sands industry to push ahead on its expected path of doubling, tripling and even quadrupling production in coming years.
Nowhere else is the conflict between energy use and ecological cost so stark.
“The oil sands are a big challenge,” Canada’s environment minister, Stephane Dion, who has fought publicly with other Cabinet officials for a tougher line on global warming, said in an interview. “They are sending out a lot of greenhouse gas emissions.