Classic first line:

Think tanks being what they are -- large meat lockers in which future government bureaucrats are stored until needed -- the reports they produce tend to be little more than exercises in reputation management.

I really like the way this guy looks at the issues. The source report is also a good read (even though I don't agree with the second recommendation, and I think it also omits several important issues, namely, managing Afghanistan's opium and cannabis industry in a productive manner): http://www.afghanistanstudygroup.org/

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"Jac Holzman, the man who discovered The Doors, founded Elektra Records, and nudged the big recording companies into adopting the compact disc, considers the Web and says: 'I think the music industry has a bright future.'"

This article takes a quick look back at Holzman's career and opinions on the music business. It's an interesting read, and quite the contrast to other music industry professionals. Most interesting were not his good decisions, but the bad ones: he didn't anticipate the rise in CD-burners and felt that putting Napster out of business was a bad move.

Read the story here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20014752-261.html

Last month the federal government took unprecedented efforts to shut down selected hosts on intellectual property infringement and national security grounds. One such action took a blogging site offline, leaving 73,000 bloggers without access to years of accumulated data. If they haven't backed up their work, they aren't going to see it for a while: http://torrentfreak.com/u-s-authorities-shut-down-wordpress-host-with-73...

The implications are that if authorities want your servers shut down, your ISPs will shut them down and will legally not have to, or be able to, give you access to your own data. This will take years to resolve through the courts, with no guarantees on how it will all play out. This has a few practical implications for people and businesses who maintain data on remote servers.

1) Most blog platforms don't have an easy way for you to backup your blog entries. If you're blogging, you might want to check your host to find out how you can do this on a routine basis. If no mechanism exists to make this happen, you should seriously consider changing hosts, or figuring out how to backup your stuff once it's posted.

2) Organizations must maintain local copies of all server data so that their business doesn't die if their ISP shuts off their data. Can you imagine the damage that would be caused if the FBI chose to shut down Amazon's hosting services because some user(s) posted prohibited materials (i.e. bombmaking instructions or downloadable copies of "Caddyshack II")? The only reasonable option to maintain your line of business in the possible event that your hosts are forced to shut down your remote servers is by having a local backup of your hosted data.

It may make sense to backup your data to yet another vendor, but considering all the reasons why you might not be able to get to your remote hosts, it probably makes more sense in the long run for you to maintain physical control of your data -- at least until the law is more clear and the authorities demonstrate reasonable adherence to those laws.

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A video of what an honest campaign ad might look like.

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This one is too good not to capture in toto.

By The Associated Press | Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010 1:01 pm |
http://helenair.com/news/article_5eafdae8-650b-11df-9610-001cc4c03286.html

DILLON - Not guilty pleas have been entered on behalf of a 45-year-old Polaris woman charged with stabbing her boyfriend and threatening to kill her mother during an argument over how much beer was left in the refrigerator.

Cynthia Green appeared before District Judge Loren Tucker in Dillon on Thursday. She is charged with two counts each of felony aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and misdemeanor partner or family member assault.

Green is accused of stabbing her boyfriend in the armpit and puncturing his lung during a fight on April 29. She also allegedly threatened to kill her mother with a large butcher knife. Court records say Green had been drinking tequila.

Because the defense requested a psychiatric evaluation, the court entered the pleas on Green's behalf.

Very interesting, concise article on one (probably very good) version of how to make it in the music business these days. Basically, it's an open-source business plan that focuses on the key open-source variables:

-Clearly identifying your niche;
-DIY;
-Upsell;
-Viral/guerilla marketing;
-Building a community that supports your work because they like it;
-Iterate often;
-Meet your audience, and
-Be nice.

Could be a page out of David Byrnes playbook. All in all, a pretty good business plan. My musician friends should take a look at this one: http://downtuned.net/2009/07/28/why-jonathan-coulton-is-the-future-of-mu...

In a recent column in Forbes magazine, Bruce Bartlett puts together a pithy policy review of "starve the beast" theory first proposed in the mid-70's by moderate Republicans, then goes on to review the empirical evidence of the failure of both it's assumptions and its results.

As a young adult at the time, the basic idea seemed rather simplistic and naive to me, but I just chalked that up to my subject area ignorance. Thirty years later, the idea that restricting government revenues would automatically shrink government was clearly a simplistic, naive idea that has amassed 30 years of economic evidence against it's validity.

The pain that California now faces with it's budget, the crisis faces in attempting to house it's prisoners, educate it's children, police it's cities, manage it's transportation system and provide a safety net for long-term unemployed workers stems directly from the passage of Proposition 13, the first large-scale iteration of starve the beast theory.

We are now living with the consequences of the idea embraced by Milton Friedman, Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, Howard Jarvis, George Will and Grover Nordquist. I found this article to be a useful and important milestone, underscoring the sense that the only way out of the economic and political mess we are now in is fact-based behavior modification measured by objective results.

This will require new mechanisms for data collection and analysis, and the political will to modify and enforce policies that, like weight control, everyone knows they need to do, but find it very very difficult to accomplish.

Unfortunately, in today's political climate, when one mention's fact-based policy making, data collection and political will in the same sentence, you know it's doomed to utter failure. Until we as a people reject willful ignorance and the entertaining obfuscation of reality as a national trait, we're in for a long, painful decline.

I started with Red Hat, moved to Fedora Core (3,4,5,8); used CentOS, FreeBSD (both on my Mac and as a server install); Debian Feisty something, now have servers running Ubuntu Server 9.10 Karmic something. So far so good. I've installed both the 32-bit and 64-bit version and it's working pretty well.

Cons:
-Getting started. Had some funky issues with the full install iso. Worked great with the minimal install CD/disk image.

-Have to get used to the Debian way of doing things. But once you figure out the weirdness (and when you bump up against problems that just don't exist in RedHat/Fedora/CentOS), you learn to look for the Debian exception et voila, you find there's a reason and a method to overcome the problem.

Pros:
-Apt-get: The binary package installer. Almost as good as yum, but the packages it installs, plus how it resolves dependencies, seems to be more robust. The current version handles all the PHP5 issues pretty well, (unlike CentOS, RedHat, Fedora). If you like PECL, it installs it. You like apt-get, you can use that too.
-Directory structure: I always thought that the RedHat directory structure was kind of random. I pictured a mushroom chewing, chronic-affected North Carolina hippie coming up with their directory structure. Debian's approach to organization is a nice balance between ideosynchratic artistry and Prussian organization. I can usually intuit where things are with Debian. A big plus.
-Ubuntu desktop. Basic. Nowhere near OS X, but pretty good. If I could just figure out how to tunnel x11 and run the interface remotely on my Mac, I'd probably dump vim forever.
-apt-get. I really like this application. It does all the OCD cleanup stuff I believe in, without the pain.

So, for the forseeable future, my preferences lie with Ubuntu Server. Don't know much about the company, but the community looks pretty good. And I'm just happy to have a good, stable version of PHP5.2 with pecl working without any hassle.

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