October 16th, 2006

Boss Coffee

Why Rush and not Franken?

Ann Althouse and her commenters muse over why Rush Limbaugh has been enormously successful and profitable while Al Franken and the rest of the Air America crowd lurched from failure to disaster to bankruptcy. This is a nice illustration of why smart commenters can do wonders for a blogger - as much as I find the "Meetings" Demotivator amusing, the truth of the matter is that the Internet can also bring a lot of smart people together with different pieces of an answer and/or different perspectives. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't find some ignorant idiots in the mix too, even at the Althouse blog.
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Just a flicker on the silent screen

Palm Desktop was being uncooperative today, refusing to boot up onto my workstation, and so I had to copy the information from the TX to the main book listing over lunch today since I couldn't get the file transferred in the usual way. This was a major pain in the butt, since the TX kept powering down every three minutes and there's no damn way to override that. Still, I managed to get everything copied over, sifted through the LOC.gov catalog to chase down missing DDN, weeded out duplicate copies, and highlighted paperbacks that I already have hardback editions of. This brings the grand total to 396 titles, including three excess paperbacks but not counting 7 duplicates. The ruling cataloging will continue tonight, with a brief delay to install Palm Desktop on Cowzilla so I don't have to rely on the possibly-corrupt workstation copy.

Today's been kind of weird. I slept okay last night, but for some reason I was totally off my morning routine and forgot a couple of things I was going to mail out today along with most of my writing implements and my knife. Fortunately I have a stash of Uniball Micro pens (the pen of choice!) in my desk, but it really confused me for a moment when I sat down at my desk and realized my shirt pocket was empty. Maybe I am a little stressed over the end of the college thing; certainly my shoulders have become tense enough that I'm going to have them poked and prodded tomorrow after work until they relax.
Get the message

YouTube as a common carrier

Ed Driscoll links a Robert Cox essay in the Examiner that warns of the dangers inherent in allowing the Silicon Valley Democrats to seize control of "Web 2.0", and points to Michelle Malkin as the canary in the online coal mine after one of her videos and her conservative group were banned by YouTube. (Related, although Cox doesn't mention it, is the ongoing Digg-of-war between CAIR sympathizers and Little Green Footballs supporters.)

I can't get too excited about this for a very simple reason. Back in the day, ISPs fought tooth and nail to be classified as "common carriers", like UPS or Southwest Airlines, in order to avoid getting sued to death for whatever poo got flung on their section of the internet. They won that battle, and now if you want to bring down the law on somebody for something that offends/threatens/defames you on the Internet, you have to go after the actual person doing the damage. So the ISPs have the right to be held harmless for the content they carry. The obverse of that, of course, is that they can't deny service to anyone for any reason, unless they can show reasonable cause that customer X is going to use them to violate the law.

The way I see it, "Web 2.0" services like eBay, YouTube and so on are in the same position as the ISPs that give people access to them. As Cox points out, there really aren't any alternatives to either site when it comes to accessing the vast sea of customers/viewers out there...and so eBay and YouTube can't reasonably deny access to anyone unless those people are doing things like violating copyright law -no, wait, um...Okay, you can probably get thrown off legally for posting pr0n clips. But censorship isn't okay, regardless of whether the YouTube headshed decides to pull the video on their own or whether they're doing it by "popular" demand. What happened to Malkin is a violation of the common carrier understanding, and is just waiting for a lawyer to come along and sue the pants off...oh, right, they're part of Google now, aren't they? Sure hope they mentioned this in their most recent 10K.