politics, civil rights, intellectual property, science, capitalism, and foo

« August 2002 | Main | October 2002 »

September 26, 2002
Competition Is Good

Brett Thomas has a post talking about the recent WSJ article stating that Starbucks moving in is more often than not a positive effect on local coffee shops. I certainly agree as Starbucks trained me to like good coffee and now I frequent my neighborhood coffee roastery. Mmmm.... I digress. Brett then goes on to talk about how competition has improved the book selling business from his experience with Waldenbooks where he worked in the 80's and Barnes and Noble now.

Interestingly, I was having a similar discussion with my barber. He told me that he used to run a video rental business in San Carlos before Blockbuster came in. He tried to compete, but got his head handed to him. As I think about these examples, one thing pops into my head that separates them. In order they increase in capital intensiveness. Stocking a coffee roastery has an initial startup cost, but once going can be sustained without a large and ongoing capital expense. Books are a little more capital intensive, but they turn over in a different way than videos. Videos are very capital intensive in that they have a very high demand for new releases that quickly tails off. Blockbuster had the capital to heavily buy new releases and thus was able to really use capital advantage to lever their local competitors.

Posted by hoffmang at 10:32 AM

September 24, 2002
TSA To End Random Gate Checks

Well, it looks like the TSA has made it official. Additional random security checks at the gate will end soon. I'm beginning to have hope again that the word "reasonable" may return to the enforcement of the 4th amendment.

Thanks Brett for the link.

Posted by hoffmang at 12:17 PM

September 22, 2002
The Odds Are 50-50

Steven Den Beste has an interesting thought experiment of trying to understand those people who say that America's past deeds are the reason that "They" hate us. Den Beste points out that he doesn't believe in the cosmic karma necessary to create this sort of world construct, and I think he may have hit upon a real basis of reasoning for many on the strong left.

The fallacy is based on a lack of understanding of statistics to some degree. If you flip a coin 49 times and it comes up heads 49 times, what are the odds that it will come up heads on the 50th flip? Many intuit the answer to be skewed toward tails. The reality is that it is 1 in 2 or 50%-50%. Each flip is scientifically and mathematically discrete from all other flips. This is a hard world view to internalize when most people intuit something different.

It further interests me that the same reasoning doesn't lead to people being indignant. We saved Europe twice, and arguably a third time, Asia at least once, and quite a few other nations. We didn't have to send our kids and our economic might each time, but we did and we'll do it again. Of course, pessimism seems to be far more politically correct...

This all reminds me of Einstein's rejection of the uncertainty principle because he didn't believe that God would be so removed from the world. His quote was something along the lines of, "God does not play dice."

Posted by hoffmang at 12:28 AM

September 20, 2002
Strange Calls

Being Mr. Mom of late allows me to experience the unique experience of dealing with the afternoon telemarketing.

The phone rang, and caller ID said "Private Call." I say "Hello." The voice on the other end says that she is from SBC Pacbell and she is calling all of their caller ID customers to offer them caller ID privacy manager.


Posted by hoffmang at 09:35 PM

September 11, 2002
In Remembrance

There were a lot of things I could post on 9/11/02. This is the one that seems to mean the most to me.

Thanks to Matt Davies.

Posted by hoffmang at 04:36 PM


I don't have to say too much about this:

Thanks to Dana Summers of the Orlando Sentinel.

Posted by hoffmang at 04:26 PM

September 09, 2002
The September 11 Decision

I know Glenn Reynolds posted this too, but as we approach September 11, I think Stephen Green has really hit the nail on the head about the decision we as a nation face.

We can't go on letting barbarians kill our people. We can either wage and win this war in our enemies' lands and (eventually) hearts and minds, or we can simply defend ourselves at home.

If we fight and win, we carry American values past our shores, and liberate trampled lands. If we retreat behind our borders and play defense, then we'll lose our American values -- freedom, privacy, trade -- in the attempt to make ourselves safe.

As a nation, we could probably become safe and neutral as Switzerland -- just with a bigger, fascist Army, and strip searches to get into the Post Office. But as a people, we could never accept the retreat and humiliation.

We can fight them there, or fight ourselves here. The choice is that stark. The outcomes are that drastic. It comes down to oppressive homeland security, or bashing the bad guys until they cry uncle.

I don't want to live in fear of them and of us. I want those who oppress to live in fear of us.

Posted by hoffmang at 11:31 PM

September 06, 2002
Copyright Briefs

Larry Lessig, et al. have filed their brief in support of the appellant in Eldred v. Ashcroft. The brief makes a compelling argument that the Sunny Bono copyright extension act is unconstitutional.

Take a read. The public domain may be a bit stronger by next summer.

Posted by hoffmang at 12:48 PM

September 03, 2002
Do These Go Together?

Three headlines caught my eye:

U.S. May Offer More Iraq Evidence

Bush May Face Tough Iraq Questions from Lawmakers

Bush Plans Sept. 11 Speech to Discuss Tasks Ahead

Do these things belong together? Hrm... I wonder...

Also, Time had an interesting blurb about the Navy flying the Gadsden Flag - better known as the "Dont Tread On Me" revolutionary era flag.

Posted by hoffmang at 11:16 PM

All 9 Lives

It looks like the Napster cat had no more lives left to give.

Equity and justice often take a while.

Posted by hoffmang at 02:26 PM

Powered by Movable Type