Blacknell.net

Politics, technology, and society. And the seasonal incursion of pro cycling.

Month: April 2006 (Page 1 of 2)

Debate with a Drink

Why don't we have this in DC?

George Allen – A Small Small Man

Virginia is currently cursed with George Allen as one of its senators.  While I often disagree with Sen. John Warner (the Commonwealth's other senator), he's a respectable fellow who has given much in service to his state and country.   George Allen, on the other hand?  A sad little man who has had everything handed to him (hmmm, heard that before?), and has managed to trade on his name and charm to get him into the Senate.  Digby summarizes an interesting TNR article on George Allen, illustrating what a horrid little racist he was as a teen (and I don't think, for a second, that it has faded all that much).  This matters to you because Allen's going to be a top contender for the 2008 nomination - dumber than a box of rocks with a hateful little edge to him - just how the GOP likes their nominees, of late.

Chernobyl – April 26, 1986

For me, the aftermath of Chernobyl was that all of the playgrounds in my town, Eichenzell, were closed. For others, it was much more real.

Judiciary Committee on Net Neutrality Hearing

The House Committee on the Judiciary just finished a very informative hearing on the issue of net neutrality. I'm going to wait until I can get a hold of the Q&A to go into detail, but I say this right now - I hope more and more organizations get Tim Wu to deliver the message of the importance of net neutrality. I've been familiar with Tim's academic and policy work for a while, but until this year, I'd never heard him speak. He's very engaging, and if anyone is going to find a way to make this matter accessible to the public, he's among my top candidates to do it. His prepared testimony is here.

About those fabulous new planes . . .

I wish this were surprising:
The airlines have come up with a new answer to an old question: How many passengers can be squeezed into economy class?
A lot more, it turns out, especially if an idea still in the early stage should catch on: standing-room-only "seats." Airbus has been quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to Asian carriers, though none have agreed to it yet. Passengers in the standing section would be propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal.
I imagine that this will probably come to pass.  And, as much as I personally find the idea horrifying, I can imagine high traffic short hop flights where there might be a decent sized part of the market who finds this (presumably lower priced) option a good deal.  My fear, though, is that the choice will end up being between this barely acceptable service and the obscenely priced top end service.   Airlines - like so many other industries - seem to be unable to find a way to serve a middle market - those who *are* willing to pay more for a quality product, but don't particularly need a five course meal, ongoing drink service, or amenity kits.  Every time I fold myself into a coach seat, I find myself willing to pay a substantial bit more for a simple extra six inches of seat space.   Again, all I need is space, and I'd be willing to add anywhere from $30 to a couple hundred dollars to get it, depending on the length of the flight.  I know there are always business class tickets, but  the gap between them and coach is a lot more than a couple/few hundred dollars, and usually more than I can justify for personal travel.  I can't imagine that I'm alone in wanting a reasonable middle market for air travel.  Until that emerges, I'm left spending either far more than I want, or a good bit less than I'd be willing to, to simply get from A to B in a reasonable manner.

Sorry about the First Amendment, President Hu

ITV tells us that:
"[the]woman who heckled Chinese President Hu Jintao on a visit to the White House has been charged with a criminal offence by a US court. Wang Wenyi, 47, could face up to six months in jail for "harassing, intimidating and threatening a foreign official"."
I'm so glad to see that the US is showing China how serious it is about human rights abuses.

Last Out



Dear Leader

I just may have changed my position on the immigration issue - clearly, we are letting too many North Korean speech writers into this country. Think Progress shares this gem from the Easter Egg Roll at the White House:
Today at the White House Easter Egg Roll, dozens of children “from the stricken Gulf Coast region serenaded First Lady Laura Bush with a song praising the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency.” To the tune of “Hey Look Me Over,” the kids from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama sang:
“Our country’s stood beside us People have sent us aid. Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade. Congress, Bush and FEMA People across our land Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!”
More here.

My Career as a Scalper

My career as a scapler started - and probably finished - this past weekend.  I found myself in front of the 9:30 Club with two extra UB40 tickets (unexpected last minute bails).  I'd tell you to stop snickering, but maybe you aren't - the show was sold out, so apparently there are a number of fans around.  I was just about to head inside when I heard someone lamenting that there weren't any scaplers out there, and that they were about to head home.  Well, the smart thing to do was turn around and offer the ticket for twice the face value, right?  Probably.  I, on the other hand, turned and offered a ticket at face value.  Sold! in a nanosecond.  This transaction (replete with me fumbling around with a pocket full of cash on V St.) brought at least three people rushing over to me to buy any remaining tickets.  A classic marketplace, right?  Clearly time for a bit of supply-side pricing pressure.  Instead, I just picked the most excited looking person and offered him the ticket at face value, since I couldn't very well charge him more than I had the previous purchaser, no? Yeah, I don't think I've much of a future in scapling.

Care about privacy?

You're obviously a terrorist.

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