Pro-market Progressive

That’s what I’m going to start calling my political philosophy. It means that I like competition in all areas of life and see the value in our economic system, but that it must serve the public interest. And it fails in a lot of ways, but the best solution is then to try to fix its shortcomings by causing the least distortion possible. Or force negative externalities back onto those who caused them. Just as the market system is built on certain artificial legal structures, we may need to help those born with an unfair disadvantage, provide new structures like the internet or other infrastructure to create a more competitive environment, or break up entities that have reduced competition in various sectors.

And in paying for public goods, we should place the burden on those best able to pay and where doing so will have the least disruptive effect on the market – the wealthy. Reduce taxes everywhere else as much as possible, excepting fees that pay for something that lacks general public value and restricting deterrence taxation to alleviating the related negative externality.

Mobile Number As Personal DNS

Your mobile number is like a domain name. You basically own it, but some central organization provides oversight of the database of numbers. They subcontract much of that management out to the carriers, but you can take the number with you when you change carriers. Just like owning a domain name and changing registrars.

Your mobile number is linked to your personal device that is almost always with you and is already used as a 2nd level of authentication.

Why not take the next step? Use your mobile number as your personal identification on the network. Merge the idea of a domain registrar and hosting company. Instead of having to create a new account, password, and giving out your email address each time you sign up for a new online service or download a new app, just give them your mobile number. That new service/app then uses the number to query your mobile number host, and you choose what information to pass over to the service/app. Eventually, your mobile number host has an app that you install, and every time it gets queried, it notifies your mobile device and you can decide what information to allow it to access.

We take back control. Our contacts become just a list of mobile numbers, and as long as we’ve been confirmed by the other person, our apps read the current info from their database in real time. Calls get intermediated unless we’ve already confirmed that number. We create competition in the mobile number host space based on security, cost, and service. Social networking, texting, and VOIP become protocols. We win.

Time to Start Writing Again

I am unemployed. I am getting in shape – running and working out everyday for months now. I am learning Ruby on Rails. I am actually building Public Patron. I am volunteering for Chuy for Mayor of Chicago when I can. I am freezing in my basement office. My daughter is learning jiu-jitsu. My dad has kidney cancer and I am visiting him nightly to help with his catheter, medicine, and feet. I am going to NOLA in April for a friend’s wedding.

Overall, I feel pretty good.

A Message from Willis Earl Beal

Followers. One immense sheep herd. Dancing, twirling, going ape-shit for the unknown dream. I can see it so clearly now. We are fooling ourselves. Necessity, simple need, has led me to this conclusion. No single collection of songs or literature can encompass or transcend it. Once again, it seems that there is an opportunity to “Do something”…but what can be done? What can be done when every aspect of modern existence is monetarily owned? When power-crazed, megalomaniacal, business men infect minds with their subliminal marketing and turn common men into thieves or vagabonds or unwitting slaves?

Drink it up. Smoke it up. Fuck it. Suck it. Tear your fellow comrades down. Listen to the steady thump of the dead beat. It is the sound of your own heart. The parade is unyielding as we march enthusiastically into oblivion. We, as the common people cannot protect ourselves against oncoming wilderness. For we have been rendered helpless by instantaneous gratification. Our politics, religion, music, art, communication & necessary skills have been pre-selected. We must stay in-between the lines that have been painted by the state, by the taste makers, by the media etc. We must go through the proper channels to convey messages, to get a companion, to be accepted. Even I, who took a detour, have ended up here, on some kind of main road. If not, we are excised, cut off, turned into mad men. Even modern anarchy has become a stale joke. Love is for sale.

– from The Book of Nobody

What’s Wrong with the NSA (from 1975)

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

– Senator Frank Church on NBC’s “Meet the Press” (August 17, 1975)


Just watched the documentary on The Pirate Bay, and it seemed amazingly honest. Different people doing it for different reasons, and the ability to get something going on the web does not translate to the ability to build an organization outside of the network. They deserve the full support of those who believe in the open internet, and they should inspire all of us in this area.

All media should be freely available to everyone, now that the distribution cost is so low (even for long-form HD video thanks to bit-torrent). Copyright should be refined to its intended purpose, to encourage creation. Copyright is an extremely delicate subject because everything new is just a remix of previous ideas, yet limited copyright does encourage risk-taking. I see the former argument as much stronger than the latter.

We need to take all of this further into the cultural dimension, along the lines of what is hinted at in the documentary. A certain understanding of the world as transmitted in most movies and television, is the voice of a very limited group of people and it dominates our culture. This was the result of the limited previously available distribution methods, and the business model that grew up to accommodate it. The internet and related technologies mean that we can support many more voices and have a more democratized culture where all ideas have the chance to achieve culture dominance. To accommodate the new distribution, we need something better than a business model, an alternative way to support media culture.

And remind me never to use IRL ever again.

Pedestrian Verse

A new Frightened Rabbit album came out today. By chance, I was looking them up and happened upon that fact this afternoon. In a perfect world, I could go to a local “record” store and buy a beautiful booklet with a download code for the album in FLAC format. Maybe for $5. But back to reality, and I can’t buy it in FLAC anywhere on the web. An MP3 version can be had for $10 from Amazon. Pretty sure they don’t have the CD at the local big box, especially for much less than $20. Anything I can do illegally, should at least have a