Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 28th, 2013

US citizens pay too much for Internet connectivity

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Take a look:. The article by Brian Fung reads:

There’s been a lot of debate about whether the United States is falling behind the rest of the world on broadband speeds. Upgrading to the latest networking technology is essential for a faster Internet in the long run. But a country’s average speed is also affected by another factor: affordability. A high-speed plan will do nothing for you if its price is out of reach for ordinary consumers. And as new research shows, Americans are still paying through the nose for what residents in some cities overseas get at a substantially lower rate.

In American cities like New York, you can buy a 500 Mbps connection that’s 58 times faster than the U.S. average. Here’s the catch: It’ll cost you $300 a month, according to the New America Foundation’s Cost of Connectivity report. In Amsterdam, however, the same connection can be had for around $86.

The same discrepancies hold when you move down the speed ladder, said New America’s Nick Russo.

“People may be opting for similar speeds [compared to foreigners] — and that may be what the average speed is — but they’re often paying more for it in the United States,” he said.

In Seoul, a triple-play package for phone, TV and Internet at speeds of 100 Mbps for both uploads and downloads will run you $35 a month. By contrast, Verizon will charge New Yorkers $70 a month for a triple-play package with Internet at 15 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up on its FiOS service. Verizon’s Internet is both more expensive and slower at the same time. . .

Continue reading.


Written by Leisureguy

28 October 2013 at 11:55 am

Posted in Business, Technology

Can we blame Eric Holder for DoJ misbehavior and dishonesty?

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I would think so: either he authorizes it or he’s not really running the place. In either case, he’s accountable—and so is Obama, to the extent that he continues to support holder. Andrea Peterson reports in the Washington Post:

The New York Times reported that the Department of Justice recently changed policies, and will be notifying a criminal defendant that the evidence being used against them came from a warrantless wiretap. Just one problem: Justice told the Supreme Court that was standard policy already earlier this year.

According to the Times, prosecutors filed such a notice for the first time late on Friday. It was in the case of Jamshid Muhtorov, who is accused of providing material support to the Islamic Jihad Union, a designated terrorist organization. The government alleges he was planning to travel abroad to join the group, but he has pleaded not guilty. According to the criminal complaint, much of the government’s case was based on intercepted calls and e-mails. By giving him notice that some of that evidence was derived from warrantless surveillance, prosecutors have set him up to be able to challenge the constitutionality of those programs.

In February, the Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to FISA Amendments Act (FAA) surveillance programs brought by Amnesty International on standing grounds — agreeing with the government that since Amnesty International could not prove that it was the victim surveillance at the time, it had no right to sue. That 5-4 decision at least partially relied on an argument made by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. that while Amnesty International did not have grounds to sue, others might because “the government must provide advance notice of its intent to use information obtained or derived” from the laws. In fact, the Supreme Court mirrors that language fairly explicitly in its ruling, saying that “if the government intends to use or disclose information obtained or derived from” surveillance authorized by FAA “in judicial or administrative proceedings, it must provide advance notice of its intent, and the affected person may challenge the lawfulness of the acquisition.”

But in June, the Times reports Verrilli discovered that Justice’s National Security Division had actually not been notifying criminal defendants when evidence used against them was derived from warrantless snooping early in the investigative chain. This set off a months-long internal policy debate over whether or not Justice should be doing what they told the Supreme Court they were already doing.

It’s obviously problematic that Justice misled the Supreme Court about how the agency was handling the law in practice. But the implications of that practice are even more troubling. Patrick Toomey, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represented plaintiffs in Amnesty International case, said in a statement to the Times “by withholding notice, the government has avoided judicial review of its dragnet warrantless wiretapping program for five years.”

Powerful figures in the Federal government no longer seem to be held accountable for their actions (cf. James Clapper’s recent outright lying to Congress—on video), but I really hope some action is taken on this beyond President Obama saying that we must look forward, not backward, and then sweeping it under the rug (as he’s done before).

UPDATE: Also see this article in the Washington Post: “Three congressmen asked the government to disclose more about NSA spying in 2009. It said no.

Written by Leisureguy

28 October 2013 at 11:17 am

Interesting aspect of the Affordable Care Act

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Generally speaking, the red states are “takers” rather than “makers”: they rely on Federal aid heavily, and receive much more in aid from the Federal government than they pay in taxes. This is somewhat puzzling, given their rancorous condemnation of “moochers” who “suck the Federal tit” and all that, but it’s a fact. (Dana Milbank had an entertaining column on this phenomenon in the Washington Post last year.)

At any rate, the red states seem to have decided that they should stop accepting Federal money—and stop accepting a lot of it:

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 10.17.33 AM

Note: Total is for all states in foregoing and gaining groups.

I saw that in this interesting post by Don Taylor, which begins:

At present, 24 States (and DC) have decided to move ahead with the Medicaid expansion provided for in Obamacare, and 21 have rejected expansion, while 6 are still considering their options. If the current decisions hold, it will result in a self-imposed redistribution of money from poorer (and typically Red states), to richer (and typically Blue ones).

According to an analysis I have done using Kaiser Family Foundation data–in 2016 alone–the 24 expanding states will receive $30.3 Billion additional federal dollars, while those not expanding will forego an additional $35.0 Billion they could have had (the fence sitters have an aggregate $15.2 Billion at stake in 2016). . .

Continue reading.

The article at the link contains some useful links.

Written by Leisureguy

28 October 2013 at 10:24 am

Posted in GOP, Government, Healthcare

Absolutely perfect shave—could the asses’ milk have helped?

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SOTD 28 Oct 2013

One of those totally amazing shaves—and the fact that it was a two-day stubble and I used one of my slants probably helps, but certainly the asses’ milk shaving soap contributed. I read of it in a post at Kafeneio and immediately tried to order it, but got no response. So when The Wife planned a long trip, including a stay in Paris, I had but one request: some of this shaving soap.

She returned this morning at around 2:30 a.m. (flight from LAX very late and then diverted to San Jose because of rain, much floundering by American Airlines, to whom the situation seemed to be so novel that they did not begin to start working on a solution until passengers disembarked at 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, when—surprise!—it turned out to be difficult to find transportation. The Wife ultimately shared a taxi with four other people.

At any rate, the soap arrived and I had to try it this morning. The lather is superb and easily formed, the fragrance is of a clean “soap” smell—nothing exotic, but very nice. I used a silvertip badger brush made by Sabini himself, with an ebony handle. (The handle does have a small crack: it was there when I got the brush 6 or so years ago, and it hasn’t changed since.)

The Fasan is my only slant that triggers caution as I use it. I’ve never had a nick or a cut (or even razor burn), but it feels like a nick is about to happen if I’m not careful. But this time I decided simply to relax and shave. I do find that I use a shallower angle with this slant, but it did a very fine job indeed with its Astra Superior Platinum blade, previously used.

A good splash of Hâttric aftershave, and I’m feeling exceptionally sharp to start the week.

Written by Leisureguy

28 October 2013 at 10:02 am

Posted in Shaving

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