Archive

  • WHO OWNS FACTS?...

    WHO OWNS FACTS? Major League Baseball has apparently decided that it not only owns the rights to broadcast baseball games but owns the statistics as well , so it can shut down unlicensed commercial fantasy baseball operations. Personally, I'd be thrilled if fantasy baseball gets wiped off the planet, but that's neither here nor there. If this is correct, then presumably MLB can shut down noncommercial fantasy games too. Or, for that matter, non-fantasy commercial uses of baseball statistics -- like, you know, when the sports section of your local newspaper runs the box score. Apparently, a couple of years ago MLB decided it was, in fact, illegal to transmit statistics in real-time . The controlling principle in all of these iterations ought to be that you can't copyright facts, a core element of free speech. That anyone could find MLB's positions here even remotely plausible goes to show how far we've let copyright expand in other realms, to the point where the idea of a public domain...
  • WHY DID VERIZON...

    WHY DID VERIZON AND BELLSOUTH ISSUE DENIALS AFTER THE STORY BROKE? Here's another thing about the denials that doesn't quite add up. As we've seen, both Verizon and Bellsouth have more or less denied the USA Today story saying that the NSA has been secretly collecting their phone records. USA Today appears to be sticking to the story, though the paper's statement seems to carefully avoid a total commitment to it, instead saying that the paper's "confident" in its reporting. But something doesn't quite make sense. Why are Verizon and Bellsouth only denying these allegations after the story broke? The USA Today reporters who did the initial story contacted the companies before publishing it. We know this because it contains statements from both companies, each of which declined to comment. So why didn't the companies deny the story then? I can already hear your answer: "classification" issues. Classification issues do come into play -- though not how you'd expect. And they don't account...
  • LOOKING FOR EVIL...

    LOOKING FOR EVIL IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES. To follow up on Matt's point below , the GOP's scaremongering on terror has become downright comical. They're hysterical over the prospect that terrorists will board a plane, fly to Mexico, spend months planning and making the deadly cross-desert trek, arrive in the US dehydrated and exhausted, and then set about conducting a terrorist attack. Wander across the Canadian border? Unthinkable ! Similarly, the press has deeply wounded national security because terrorists, who might've figured the US's massive intelligence apparatus had decided to take an extra long lunch break, are now aware that we're trying to tap their phone calls. Horrors! How will we fight them now!? It all leads to a rather central point about the War on Terror. If we really believe those trying to attack us are such unbelievable morons, why are we worrying so much about them? --Ezra Klein
  • LATINO ASSIMILATION FACTS....

    LATINO ASSIMILATION FACTS. Along with the fake issue of immigration and national security is the fake concern that Hispanic immigrants don't assimilate. For example, Robert Samuelson earns his bones today as one of those white pundits, employed by white editors, writing for an audience of white people, who has the courage to speak uncomfortable "truths" about how non-white people are bad: How fast can they assimilate? We cannot know, but we can consult history. It is sobering. In 1972 Hispanics were 5 percent of the U.S. population and their median household income was 74 percent of that of non-Hispanic white households. In 2004 Hispanics were 14 percent of the population, and their median household income was 70 percent of the level of non-Hispanic whites. These numbers suggest that rapid immigration of low-skilled workers and rapid assimilation are at odds. That's some seriously messed up math. If you want to judge how rapidly people are assimilating, you need to first look at a...
  • IMMIGRATION AND NATIONAL...

    IMMIGRATION AND NATIONAL SECURITY. Heather Hurlburt notes that the American people definitely see immigration as a national security issue and politicians need to deal with that reality. And so they do. But is immigration a national security issue? I don't really see why. No terrorists have ever been apprehended trying to cross the border from Mexico. Several have been caught trying to cross the border from Canada, but none of them were actually breaking any immigration laws -- people are free to come here from Canada as they please. They were breaking laws against driving around with bombs and plotting to blow stuff up. Besides which, if you aren't Mexican, it's not at all difficult to get into this country in a totally legal way. The perpetrators of the 2005 London tube bombing were citizens of the United Kingdom. We could build a giant wall across Mexico and Canada and all they would need to do to get into the country is . . . buy a plane ticket, fly to America, stand in line, show...
  • GORE WATCH. ...

    GORE WATCH . Whether Al Gore is gearing up for another run or just jumping back into the public eye to promote his coming movie, his reentry into the media's consciousness has been brilliant. Many of you have already seen his Saturday Night Live clip, where President Gore addresses the successes (end of global warming) and failures (when glaciers attack!) of his tenure (if you missed it, John Amato has you covered ). Over the past couple of months, he's made the cover of Wired , Vanity Fair , and most significantly, The American Prospect . Last week, Time included him in their 100 Most Influential List. His stock on Tradesports, as you can see in the graph here , is soaring. And yesterday , Gore updated his normal chuckling denial of electoral intentions -- "I'm a recovering politician" -- with a new ending clause: "But you always have to worry about a relapse.� That you do. And there's nothing better for an addict than a caring, observant group of friends dedicated to tracking his...
  • HOW TO ARGUE...

    HOW TO ARGUE LIKE A HAWK. As you may recall, a little while back Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad sent George W. Bush a somewhat rambling letter. One passage in the letter noted that if the billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War had instead been spent on fighting global poverty and improving worldwide public health, the United States would be liked instead of hated. This is, as best I can tell, entirely true. When I read that, I did a blog post noting the passage's existence, noting its accuracy, and saying that Iran's president was "making a lot of sense" in that particular passage. That blog post is now the subject of a denunciatory half-page front-of-the-book item in The Weekly Standard that doesn't even do me the service of using my name. But more to the point, it doesn't even try to argue that I'm wrong . Apparently, since Ahmadinejad is a bad guy, it's categorically out of the question to point out that he's right about something, even when he is, in fact, right about...
  • European Union Enlargement and Mexico

    Both the Clinton and Bush administrations were eager proponents of European union expansion, calling on the EU to quickly admit the former Soviet bloc countries, as well as Turkey. The media have typically presented resistance to rapid expansion as reflecting perverse European fears of globalization. The Post had another piece in this vein this morning. In assessing this resistance to expansion, it would be helpful to point out that the EU is more than just a NAFTA type trading bloc. It is a quasi-state, that in principle allows free movement of people and workers across borders and provides for substantial subsidy flows from richer regions to poorer ones. In this context, the people who oppose rapid ascension of the considerably poorer countries of east Europe and Turkey are showing the same sort of perverse fears as those people who oppose free entry of Mexican workers into the United States and a committment to use federal tax revenue to quickly bring Mexico up to U.S. living...
  • GATOR GONNA GETCHA....

    GATOR GONNA GETCHA. Now this is alarming . From 1948 to 2005, 17 people have been killed by alligators in Florida -- about 0.30 deaths per year. In 2006, so far three alligator-related fatalities have occurred -- a tenfold increase over the trend. If this keeps up, 30 people will die next year, 300 in 2008, and so forth until in the year 2013 the United States experiences a shocking 300 million deaths by alligator. At that point, we'll be begging for immigrants. --Matthew Yglesias
  • PAGING DR. CLOONEY....

    PAGING DR. CLOONEY. If Robert DeNiro purchases the New York Observer , does this mean that it�s only a matter of time before George Clooney acquires the Prospect ? We were on record calling Clooney "a great American" way before it became fashionable for right wingers to rag on him. Heck, Clooney and I were even quoted next to each other in a Mark Steyn screed against the U.N. A Clooney- Prospect merger would certainly be a match made in heaven. --Mark Leon Goldberg

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