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Articles: commentary: 2009 April

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Today's Headlines
Wednesday, 2009 April 29 - 9:11 am
Fox News commentator Sean Hannity said he'd volunteer to be waterboarded for charity. Now MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann has
challenged him to go through with it. My hunch says Hannity chickens out.

The San Antonio Spurs are out of the NBA playoffs. Normally I couldn't care less* about non-Detroit teams in the NBA, but if there are two teams that make me happy when they lose, it's the Spurs and the Lakers.

Egypt is slaughtering 300,000 pigs over swine flu fears, despite the fact that no cases have appeared in Egypt yet. Next: Egypt to kill all Spaniards due to fears of Spanish flu.

*And yes, the correct phrase is "I couldn't care less", not "I could care less"... pet peeve grrr.
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Posted by Ken in: commentarysports

In the News
Tuesday, 2009 April 28 - 1:06 pm
Sometimes I feel guilty about not posting more often. It's not just that my blog is being neglected (and that recent entries are dominated by American Idol posts), but also that I often see interesting stories in the news that seem like they'd be worth a quick comment.

On the other hand, sometimes I don't really have much to say about those stories, so I'm not sure if anyone would care for my one-line analysis. Eh. It's my blog, I guess, so whatevah, I do what I want.

So anyway, read on for a couple of newsworthy tidbits.

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Posted by Ken in: commentarypoliticstechwatch

Economic Downturn
Saturday, 2009 April 18 - 12:34 pm
So, in the last twelve months, we've lost 15% of our net worth, due to the economic downturn. I'm not gonna say how many dollars that is, but let's just say, it's more than a fistful. This is the first annual decline in my overall net worth since I graduated from college. I mean, 2001 was bad, but I've never seen anything this bad.

I read stories about the downturn, and I hear about friends losing their jobs. But, ironically, it never really felt personal to me until I ran the numbers.

Still, I'm optimistic that if I carefully start putting money back in the stock market, I'll be able to recover most of those losses within a year or two. Maybe this time I'll actually catch the next wave at the right time. Green tech, perhaps?

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Posted by Ken in: commentarylife

Worst Business Decision Ever
Tuesday, 2009 April 14 - 4:54 pm
In Beaumont, Texas, Time Warner Cable has been experimenting with bandwidth caps on its high-speed internet service. They're trying a tiered pricing model where light users get 5 GB per month, and heavy users get 40 GB per month. Exceed the limit, you pay $1 per GB. The fee is capped at $150 total per month, so that will be the new price of unlimited internet access... a three-fold increase over their current price.

Now, they want to expand the trial to more cities, and eventually, they want to roll this out nationwide.

This is a terrible, terrible idea. I hope web site operators, many of whom have founded their business models on users having unlimited internet access, rail against this idea. I hope consumers, who probably don't even realize how much bandwidth they're consuming, refuse to have the internet doled out to them in metered parcels.

Here's the thing: cable modem providers have a near monopoly on Internet services in some areas. There are places where DSL currently doesn't reach, or only reaches with diminished performance (like my house). Plus, current users who use an email address have a barrier to switching providers, much like cell phone users used to have trouble switching carriers (before the government made it mandatory that phone numbers be made portable for free). So Time Warner's plan is little more than a plan to wring extra money out of their top customers. They'll get to advertise that they have the highest broadband speeds ("Turbo Boost! 10 megabits per second!") but they'll conveniently omit the fact that at that speed, you can exceed your monthly download quota in just half a day.

I won't stand for it. If this comes to the Raleigh area, I'm done with Time Warner. I'll find some other way. Maybe DSL will have improved here by then, or Verizon FIOS will be available here. Maybe there'll be some sort of high-speed fixed wireless access I can get. But listen to me, Time Warner weasels: you're taxing my patience with your cable rates as it is. If you add internet metering to your money-grubbing methods, you've lost me as a customer. I've already created a new domain name to move my remaining collection of email addresses. I'm tempted to offer free email accounts to any users who drop your service in response to this move.

When will corporations learn? It doesn't pay to piss off your best customers.
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Posted by Ken in: commentarytechwatch

Next, She'll Want Us to Bleach Our Hair
Friday, 2009 April 10 - 11:35 am
Texas state legislator Betty Brown suggested that Asian-Americans change their names so that state poll workers would have an easier time dealing with their identification.

To Betty: the name I will choose is "Up Yours". Is that American enough for ya?
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Posted by Ken in: commentary

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