Articles by Thomas Pearson


Just in time for the holidays, British officials have announced that Santa will no longer be the only one who can find out if you’ve been naughty or nice. The Independent reports the imminent creation of a nationwide network of road, convenience store and other cameras that will be tied into a central database equipped with license plate reading technology. The movements of all cars will be recorded and stored for a period of two years. The ostensible purpose is to gather intelligence and fight terrorism, of course. Truly frightening.

Though I haven’t read Steven Johnson’s book, I know he makes the argument that the complexity of plotlines in modern-day televison is a significant departure from the simplistic shows of the past, and as a result, our brains must work harder to digest today’s shows. In other words, the television of today is “smarter” than that of yesteryear. That’s all well and good and may be a satisfactory answer to the question of whether TV rots your brain. Answer: not anymore.

But, new research by a couple of fellows at the University of Chicago suggests that the answer might be: it never did. Certainly, too much of anything can be bad for us, but Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro contend that the presence of television in American life has actually raised our IQs, especially in homes where English was a second language. I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Shapiro this past weekend at an IHS-sponsored event. He explained that he and Gentzkow’s research compared standardized test scores for children in certain areas before and after television was introduced. Conclusion: scores rose after the introduction of TV. Read the whole thing here.

So, let me get this straight, if I own a broadband cable network, I don’t have to allow competitor’s access to my network, but, on the other hand if I own a home on a desirable plot, I not only have to allow those competing for the use of that resource (my home and land) onto my land, but have to essentially give it to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the Court upheld property rights in Brand X, But I’m curious why they didn’t apply the same rationale as they did in Kelo. As Adam notes below, the rationale in Kelo could have easily been applied to other property, such as cable networks. Open access advocates have made that very case for years.

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Forbes has an interesting column on how to lower your mobile phone taxes by changing your area code to a lower tax jusrisdiction. Though this loophole will likely be plugged quickly, it illustrates the difficulty of jurisdictional controls in an increasingly borderless world and the increasing absurdity of regulations based on mere physical location. It also demonstrates the benefits of tax competition among the states.

Adam co-authored an excellent paper on the benefits of tax competiton a couple of years ago, which is worth a read.

When I saw this article yesterday about agents from DHS shutting down a BitTorrent site, I thought that there’s no way anyone could be suggesting that copyright infringement and terrorism are related. Turns out, that’s exactly what some folks in law enforcement think.

According to Conan O’Brien.

Via Hit & Run.

No longer just a place for “conservatarian” icons to smoke pot or a hunting ground for modern-day pirates, the international waters (just off the shore of California) will soon harbor an innovative software engineering firm, according to a great post over at CNet’s News.com. Due to ridiculous limits on H1-B visas and other regulatory hurdles, the entrepreneurs at SeaCode did what freedom-loving businessmen have done for centuries, exploit loopholes in the law. SeaCode will employ 600 software engineers from all over the globe and house them on a boat 3.1 miles off the coast of California, just over the line into international waters. The programmers will all be registered as “seamen” with the Bahamas and will be able to take advantage of shore leave without H1-Bs. Not only will SeaCode offer wages of around $1,800 a month compared to about $500 a month in India, they’ll also not have to pay U.S. payroll taxes. Sounds like a win-win situation for the programmers, SeaCode and their clients.

I’m strongly resisting the urge to make a nautically- or piratically-themed joke.

I Want My MA-TV

by on April 11, 2005

Or so says some guy in an article on the latest bipartisan efforts to extend broadcast speech restrictions to cable and satellite TV. It’s up over at AFF’s Brainwash online mag.

Deep link.

Sen. Brownback is on a crusade to rid the ‘Net of pornography. According to this article, members of a panel organized by Brownback compare pornography addiction to heroin or crack. As Reason Magazine Senior Editor Jacob Sullum has pointed out in his book Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use and elsewhere such comparisons are geared to to instill fear about one thing by comparing it to something the reader already believes is extremely harmful, thereby obviating the need to prove that the first thing is harmful.

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Former Catoite and GMU law student Jerry Brito notes that the LOC will be hosting a lecture series on “Managing Knowledge and Creativity in a Digital Context.” The series starts tonight and runs through March. C-SPAN will broadcast each lecture.