“These practices, arising from the fact that consumers have few TV choices, inflate consumer prices. Cable companies have been able to use “Most Favored Nation” (MFN) clauses (essentially saying, ESPN, we will pay you a ton of money, but you cannot give anyone else a better price… oh, and you can’t make your content available for free online–except to our subscribers). This is particularly problematic for customers because their cable providers, who face limited competition in the first place, have less incentive to negotiate aggressively, and they then pass on these inflated prices to their consumers. Consumers are also prevented from switching to a lower price option–because these clauses prevent any other distribution channel from getting better deals. As the WSJ points out, these contracts are seen as “insurance for poor negotiators.” Unfortunately, it is consumers who pay the inflated “insurance” premiums.”—When MFN Clauses Go Bad
It hasn’t worked out quite like that. The launch of the Mosaic browser in 1993 transformed the internet into a mainstream medium and brought the corporate world online, so from then on the die was cast. What happened is that the two universes effectively merged, so we now live in a strange amalgam of meat- and cyberspace in which the elements of each run riot. A virtual space that once had no crime and no surveillance has become one with an abundance of each; and the “real” world has been destabilised by the astonishing power and properties of networks.
Yet public understanding of the implications of this convergence lags some way behind the emerging reality, which is why we need books like this. Astra Taylor is a talented documentary-maker who was dismayed by the way her work was appropriated and pirated online. But instead of fuming silently in her studio, she set out to seek an understanding of the paradoxical world that the merging of cyberspace and meatspace has produced. What she finds is a world which is, on the one hand, hooked on an evangelical narrative about the liberating, empowering, enlightening, democratising power of information technology while, on the other, being increasingly dominated and controlled by the corporations that have effectively captured the technology.
“Two decades before the US began using Reaper drones to strike terrorist targets in the Middle East, mobsters in Palermo were testing ways to rain death on rivals from the sky, former mafioso Gaspare Spatuzza told a court on Tuesday.
Spatuzza said he was ordered by one of the Graviano brothers - two senior Palermo bosses in the 1990s - to buy and flight test radio controlled aircraft with explosives attached.
“Graviano ordered me to buy a radio controlled aircraft,” he said. “He said others had already bought them and we needed to carry out tests for transforming them into flying bombs by loading them with explosives.”
Spatuzza said he had spent around 500 euros on the aircraft. “I carried out some tests,” he said. “We needed to learn how to pilot it and steer it towards targets, loading it with a modest amount of explosives.” He did not say if the aircraft was used in an attack.”—Cosa Nostra tested killer drones, court hears - Telegraph (via onevisiblefuture)
“To live every day as if it has been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life… To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to.”—Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain (via bookmania)
“High-tech civilizing missions, like Patrick McConlogue’s adoption of Leo, rely on two common assumptions. The first is an unwavering belief in the virtues of self-help over just being helpful. The second is the idea that technology can solve almost anything. By this logic, the onus is on the homeless person to hack the system—to gain entry into polite society and adapt to its ways. Such a worldview cannot acknowledge that polite society may have played a large part in contributing to the homeless person’s plight. Nor does this philosophy hold that humans deserve homes. It’s worth noting that during the tenure of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg—a data-crazy technocrat if there ever was one—homelessness shot up by 73 percent, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, in part because he tried to remove incentives for people to use public assistance and, instead of making it easier to find housing, made New Yorkers jump through hoops to secure a temporary and often crumbling roof over their heads. Homelessness is a statistically confounding problem—a perfect example of when the politics of upward redistribution trump math and reason. There is a glut of housing in this country—by Amnesty International USA’s count, there are five empty homes in the United States for every person who lacks one—and yet some 3.5 million people inhabit streets, shelters, or whatever refuge they can find. The paradox of homelessness is reminiscent of another equally absurd problem: hunger. Tons upon tons of food get thrown out every day, most of it perfectly edible, yet according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 49 million people, including 8.3 million children, were living in food-insecure households in 2012.”—Let Them Eat Code (via azspot)