Monday, July 24, 2006

410,000 lawyers in the ocean, a good start?

According to a Wired article, the ABA (American Bar Assoc.) is forming a task force to publicly denounce and challenge Bush's habit to add bill-signing statements to just about every law he signs. Next month at their annual meeting in Hawaii they will present this to the ABA policy makers to decide if they will peruse legal action.

The group claims that abusing this power violates the Constitution and jeopardizes the separation of powers. Which seems to make sense if it does give the President the power to "interpret or disregard measures on national security and constitutional grounds." Normally I wouldn't think this would be a major concern (save for a few crucial laws), but Bush has signed over 800 statements (200 more than the grand total of every other presidency) in his term. While I would fear any President who would sign so many statements, I particularly fear this current administration's abuse of power.

The question is will the ABA decide to take action? There are a lot of heavy hitters on the offensive, but I would imagine there would be just as many whom oppose the ABA taking action. Furthermore, if the ABA does decide to take action, can they do anything? Is Bush breaking any laws? Does the spirit of the law count? I don't doubt that the ABA holds a lot of power, but it seems like little to nothing has been able to slow down the current powers.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Digital Distribution Is t3h r0xx0rz!!!

Yahoo is offering unrestricted mp3s that could be played and copied to and from any device. Right now, they have only one mp3 (that is, a file in the unrestricted mp3 format) for $2. Soon, there could be more at lower prices.

Apple's iPod only allows Apple DRM on its iPod, and a select few other formats, like mp3.* If other music stores want to offer something the teeming millions of iPod owners can use, they'll have to offer unrestricted content. So in some sense, Apple made this inevitable. There are only two questions: 1) will the labels let this happen, and 2) will consumers care?

If you own an iPod/iTunes, what would you pay per track to be allowed a few more rights. Would you pay anything more at all?

As much as I love open standards, it's important to remember that not all consumers are ideologues like myself. Maybe Apple has just locked itself in, and that's the way it's going to be. The only way other music stores can compete will be by offerring more eclectic selections, or subscription based models that make songs effectively cheaper. emusic, the number two player in the music store game, is doing just that.

*Using the Rockbox software, significantly more files can be played, but no more DRM formats, and few iPod users use such third party software.

Also, on the movies side, EP and I talk a lot about the imminent digital netflix. Netflix is awesome, but it'd be even awesomer if we cut out the needless cost of shipping.

That's slowly becoming a serious possibility, with download and burn services like these. Will the studios ever eventually let us subscribe to watch any movie ever made at our leisure?

Will our culture become entirely subscription based?

Smart Cars Get Smarter

Smart Cars are coming here and going electric, making the cars reportedly three times as efficient, dollar for dollar. The range is a bit of a trade off, though. It's effectively like driving a 180 mpg car with a quart-sized tank.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Consumers Use the Internet to Fight Back

Consumerist On Nightline

Father's Day

Perhaps African American boys are more affected than girls by the absence of fathers in their households... I am not going to try to solve such a major problem in this post, except to indicate that legalizing drugs would help African American young men... -Becker

The ellipses completely distort the paragraph, but I was skimming, and that's how I originally read it.