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Spam War!

You may not know it, but war is blazing away on the Internet. Perhaps you've experienced some streaming delays on Netflix or Youtube recently. You may have been caught in the crossfire.

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A Real Death Tax: Let the Killers Choose, Let the Profiteers Pay

Premise 1: Killer Knows Best

What makes one gun more lethal than another? Ever since Sandy Hook, the media has bombarded us with gun jargon. We've learned about flash suppressors and high-capacity magazines, threaded barrels and pistol grips. We've heard that these features are bad features, dangerous to children and other living things. The expired federal assault weapons law used to ban any gun with two or more of them. The new New York law bans them all.

But we've also heard that gunmakers find ways to skirt these constraints. For instance, some manufacturers evaded California's quick-reload restriction with a "bullet button" that allows shooters to release a magazine with a bullet tip instead of a fingertip. It's hard for plodding legislatures to keep up with eager manufacturers, who have every incentive to invent the most lethal legal weapon possible.

So if not the legislators, who should determine which guns are too deadly? Who in America most appreciates a gun's killing potential?

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The Information Jacuzzi - Part II

This article continues from The Information Jacuzzi - Part I.

The Middle Ages was not a great era for budding writers. In those days, there was only one large publisher in all of Western Europe: the Catholic Church. Nearly every scribe on the continent worked in one of its affiliated monasteries or theological universities. Any writer who hoped to have his work duplicated and distributed had to win the sanction of Church leaders, and they were not known for permissive editing. Even writers who published outside the Church suffered from its monopoly on information, as the Pope routinely ordered heretical works banned and burned—usually along with the author.

That’s why the printing press, invented in the 1440s, was so significant. It bypassed Church scribes and produced books so quickly and cheaply that anyone with a little money or a wealthy patron could spread their ideas across the continent. Seventy years after its invention, Martin Luther published his famous 95 Theses criticizing Church practices. His ideas were not entirely new, but they spread far further than those of his predecessors, who lived before the printing press. As with previous heretics, the Pope excommunicated Luther and banned his writings, but his tracts had already flooded every corner of Europe. Thousands of people read and reacted to his ideas. The Protestant Reformation was born.

Michael Wolraich's picture

The Information Jacuzzi - Part I

Back in 1996, when mobile phones looked like giant calculators, and a social network was a just group of friends, comedian Dave Barry published a book called Dave Barry in Cyberspace. He devoted a chapter to the newly popular “World Wide Web,” which he titled, “The Internet: transforming society and shaping the future through chat.”

Sometimes truth is stranger than comedy. Internet chat and its heirs—blogs and social networks—are in fact transforming society and shaping the future in ways that no one imagined in 1996.

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Bigger Than Davos: Genghis Speaks!

The movers and shakers are congregating! The masses stare with wide eyes and baited breaths as the world's most luminous luminaries pool their luminescences to create a blazing beacon of illumination. The planet itself tilts with the weight of their intellect as the center of the universe coalesces in a remote village for three portentous days.

No, no, not Davos, not Switzerland. Those businesspeople have all the luminescence of a three-day old jar of fireflies. I speak of Charlottesville, Virginia, of course, the National Journal Conference for Schools of Public Policy and Affairs at the University of Virginia.

This year's national journal conference promises to be biggest event in the history of national journal conferences due to the anticipated appearance of a very special speaker: Michael J. Wolraich, blogger, author, mover, shaker, philosopher king, and co-founder of

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Evaluating the Teachers

Unlike New York City teachers, most Americans have no say in how their employers evaluate their job performance. The process, if there is a "process," usually emerges from an obscure H.R. task force that bases its guidelines on whatever trendy corporate gobbledygook some associate vice president read in the latest issue of Human Resources Executive.

Once the process reaches its lofty conclusion, the employee has to live with the consequences. A glowing evaluation may mean a raise and promotion. A scathing report may trigger demotion or even termination. The processes are not necessarily fair. Bosses often use them to justify whatever they wanted to do all along. Good bosses treat their people fairly. Bad bosses exploit their power for petty politics.

Michael Wolraich's picture

The Republican Suicide Strategy

A suicide bomber walks into a bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!" The worried bartender hands him a wad of cash, and the bomber departs.

The next day, the suicide bomber returns to the same bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!"

"Are you nuts?" answers the bartender. "If I give you money every day, I'll go out of business. Plus, you're scaring away the customers."

"I tell you what," replies the bomber, "Gimme the money, and I won't come back until the day after tomorrow."

Welcome to the art of negotiation, Republican style. Since the election of 2010, the United States has narrowly averted three Republican-built suicide bombs: one government shutdown, one debt default and one fiscal cliff. We have two more scheduled for February: across-the-board spending cuts and another debt ceiling expiration.

Read the full article at

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Boehner's Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad New Year

John Boehner has a situation. A week ago, he failed to reach a deal with President Barack Obama to avert the dreaded Fiscal Cliff.

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What Should We Do to Stop Massacres?


Maybe Wayne LaPierre is onto something. So suggests DF in his latest blog, What Can We Do to Stop Massacres? Isn't it at least worth considering, he asks, LaPierre's proposal to station armed "responders" at our schools?

It is worth considering. An armed officer presents a defense and a deterrent. It seems indisputable that LaPierre's proposal would help protect our schools against violent attacks.

But would it stop massacres? Not unless we placed multiple armed responders at every park, playground, pool, day camp, playing field, Sunday school, daycare center, shopping mall, or any other place where children gather.

Michael Wolraich's picture

Susan Rice, America's "See No Evil" Ambassador

Forget about Benghazi. The whole imbroglio was little more than an election gambit gone sour. Republican leaders, frustrated that their charges failed to wound Obama in November, have vented their fury on his choice for Secretary of State.

But Susan Rice's record as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. raises other more serious concerns. The New York Times published two articles today, a news story and an op-ed, which question Rice's judgment concerning several African dictators.


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