May 9, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 3:08 PM


Charles Percy, Former Ill. Senator, Is Dead at 91 (ADAM CLYMER, 9/17/11, NY Times)

[J]ust as Illinois voters had tired of Mr. Douglas by 1966, Mr. Percy was old goods by 1984. In a strong Republican year, with President Ronald Reagan campaigning for him, Mr. Percy could not overcome his Democratic opponent, Representative Paul M. Simon.

His position as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee seemed remote to Illinois voters, as did his manner. The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal all described him as "pompous."

Mr. Percy never persuaded conservatives to trust him, and some actually supported Mr. Simon in the hope that Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, would succeed him in the chairmanship. The Illinois economy was weak, and Mr. Simon won a narrow victory with 50.1 percent of the vote.

Posted by orrinj at 2:30 PM


This Man Can't Vote in West Virginia, but Lots of People Voted for Him (ALEX ALTMAN, May 9, 2012, TIME)
Keith Judd, a.k.a. Inmate #11593-051 at the federal correctional facility in Beaumont, Tex., is a modern Renaissance man: a Rastafarian-Christian, a former member of something called the "Federation of Super Heroes," a musician and NRA member who has bowled a "sanctioned" perfect game. His favorite book is Stephen King's The Stand. His favorite President is Richard Nixon. And on Tuesday night, he notched 41% of the vote in West Virginia's Democratic presidential primary, carrying eight counties despite being incarcerated more than 1,000 miles away.

Posted by orrinj at 6:10 AM


Brilliant Solar Ads Say Screw The Environment, It's About Paying Less MORGAN CLENDANIEL, 5/08/12, CoExist)

SunRun is a solar company with an interesting model: Instead of just selling you solar panels, they pay to put them on your house, and then you pay them for the energy those panels provide. In other words, for no upfront costs you can start having access to a source of clean energy. What you may not know is that in many places, solar is now the cheapest form of power you can buy, and that list is growing rapidly. To ram this point home, SunRun has just created a brilliant advertising campaign that makes it clear that solar power is a smart financial decision, and not one just for silly hippies.

Posted by orrinj at 6:03 AM


How We're Holding Back Broadband: Like food rotting on a dock, politics prevent spectrum from getting where it's needed. (Holman Jenkins, 5/08/12, WSJ)

Seen properly, the solution to today's spectrum problem is to permit any spectrum that's immediately deployable to be immediately deployed by those who can make use of it. Tomorrow's problem, which government will have to solve in any case, is to reform spectrum allocation so all users--government, business, military--have incentive to use the airwaves efficiently or transfer their rights to those who can.

Verizon and AT&T, it's true, value spectrum partly because Washington has created artificial scarcity. Nor are they above lobbying to stop new supplies from coming into the wireless market via innovators like LightSquared and Dish.

But spectrum is an input that allows the quickest, cheapest expansion of mobile broadband capacity, and standing in the way is especially dumb right now given what else is going on in the larger broadband marketplace.

A lot of reasons might explain why investment in fiber-to-the-home and advanced DSL has dropped off dramatically. TV was supposed to help carry the weight of such deployments, but the economics of TV are falling apart. Weirdness in Washington and a slow-growth recovery don't help either to whet appetites for investments with long and uncertain paybacks. But whatever the reasons, the withering of the urge by phone companies and others to compete with cable in supplying high-speed bandwidth to homes is a phenomenon that deserves more attention.

We're convinced the biggest factor is paralysis over the potential of wireless to bypass expensively laid physical lines.

Verizon, with the country's first 4G network, already allows users in some neighborhoods to get their home Internet via a wireless link, i.e., a network designed for mobile. Yes, it's expensive and slow for now, as all new bandwidth platforms are at first. Verizon has also experimented in marrying its mobile network with DirecTV to deliver a fully cable-like experience to homes.

Posted by orrinj at 5:59 AM


A Light Bulb that Breathes: The perfect light bulb. But at $50? (DAVID ZAX, 05/08/2012, Technology Review)

You can't get the Energy Smart LED bulb just yet. It's expected to come out in early 2013, and there's no definitive word on price (a $39-$49 figure has been circulating). Other high-end LED's can run as steep as $60 (to wit, the Philips L Prize LED Bulb; there's an instant rebate of $10, though). Even though the bulbs are pricey, they inevitably amount to lifetime saving in energy costs, given the longevity and efficiency of the bulbs. Businesses have wised up on savings. But for the average consumer, overcoming sticker shock is likely to remain a major obstacle for widespread adoption of this technology. We have been trained to think of bulbs as light, cheap, semi-disposable products. But as a Home Depot employee put it recently: "It's the last bulb you'll ever have to buy."

It may take some getting used to, but LED's are inevitably the future--not least because legislation has actually mandated the development of more efficient bulbs and the phasing out of ones that are less so. Philips, among others, debuted similar LED bulbs at the conference. Incandescent bulbs are beginning their slow fade to black, as another iconic technology makes way for the new. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:49 AM


Posted by orrinj at 5:45 AM


RNC Hispanic outreach director: Romney 'still deciding what his position on immigration is' (Chris Moody, 5/08/12, Yahoo!)

When asked during a meeting with reporters Tuesday how Republicans plan to convince Hispanics that their platform on immigration is better than the Democratic plan, RNC National Hispanic Outreach Coordinator Bettina Inclan declined to answer because, she said, Mitt Romney is "still deciding what his position on immigration is."

It's an election, not a primary.