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Net Amazing

February 25th, 2015

The net neutrality issue seems to be drawing to a close, and it looks like the supporters of an open Internet have won. The tale of this victory is an amazing one: the netroots activists have beaten back top corporate lobbyists including the massive cable providers.

The concept of an open Internet means a prohibition of “slow and fast” lanes for Internet access. The Internet has always allowed the most inconsequential individual the same possibility for going viral as companies like Netflix.

By classifying the Internet as a public good, the FCC has been able to assume the authority necessary to rein in the big ISPs. While Republicans complain about government regulation, even they have been forced to concede by the flood of protest about this issue.

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Republican Shutdowns

February 24th, 2015

The Republicans promised an era of responsible government, but that concept does not seem to have lasted very long as they refuse to compromise with the President. And a refusal to compromise is tantamount to a return to the group we fondly called the “party of no.”

The current point of conflict, and crisis, centers on the attempt to attach a politically unpalatable retraction of President Obama’s executive order on immigration. An executive order that does not differ significantly from those imposed by other Presidents, including President Reagan.

But by attaching the legislation to an unrelated bill funding the Homeland Security Department, the Republicans have ensured a Democratic filibuster in the House, and, should that somehow be overcome, a veto by the President.

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Keystone Kops

February 23rd, 2015

The Keystone XL Pipeline has emerged as a symbol of resistance for the environmental movement, and an opportunity for the Republicans. While they claim the pipeline will serve as a source of jobs for the American people, the number of the permanent jobs created is almost laughable. We’re talking less than 100.

Meanwhile, on the other side, the oil from Canada is going to be extracted regardless of the existence of a pipeline, and the only debate concerns how it will be moved to market. Right now, that’s being done by trains, and recent events have shown how unreliable that method has become.

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Showing Progress with Google Analytics

February 11th, 2015

bullhorn

 

Public relations is notoriously hard to measure. Before the online revolution, PR pros would resort to calculating column inches of publicity, or inflate the results by talking about “pass along” circulation.

The bounce rate is a particularly useful measurement. It tells you what percentage of visitors left after visiting just one page. A high bounce rate means something is wrong.

However, today, any PR professional can measure online publicity through any number of measurement tools. My favorites are Klout and Google Analytics.

Google Analytics can measure your company’s website visitors in two ways: traffic and engagement. Traffic represents the raw number of people who visited your site, and Google Analytics provides a bottom-line measurement of the unique visitors to your home page. By creating a spreadsheet with monthly results, you can track whether the traffic is going up or down, e.g., whether your publicity efforts are creating more visitors.

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Empathy for Ukraine

February 9th, 2015

gun and bullets

 

German and French negotiators, in a self-centered attempt to avoid escalation within the European enclave, are opposing the provision of defensive arms to the Ukrainian army. Meanwhile, the Russian-backed separatists are continuing to make gains in eastern Ukraine, thanks largely to heavy weapons and logistical support, at the least, to separatist leaders.

So while France and Germany beg Mr. Putin to meet with them, the United States is rightfully considering something more tangible.

However, to come to the right decision on this issue, you only need to put yourself in your brother’s place. If it was your country that came under attack, whose international borders were obliterated, and who was being bullied by a large neighbor, at the very least, and at the most by its soldiers, what would you want?

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The Purity of Religion

February 7th, 2015

cross

 

The three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all purport to provide a moral code for their adherents, and that code has served society well as a source of charity, striving for improvement and overall well-being.

So as Christians, we may use the term Islamic terrorism, but let’s not get too smug about it.

Sometimes, however, these religions are used, twisted and distorted to provide a cover for acts that go beyond their purview. When that happens, religions can serve as a source of unhappiness, manipulation and even death.

Whether or not President Obama should have brought up the Crusades at a national prayer breakfast is an issue tangential to the point he was trying to make. Man is a fallen creature, and it is not surprising that he would act in a way diametrically opposed to the religion he is trying to promote.

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Politics and Terminology

February 6th, 2015

sign

 

“A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Whomever wrote and applies this saying is a neophyte when it comes to politics. What you call something always has implications for how you approach it.

“A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Whomever wrote and applies this saying is a neophyte when it comes to politics.

That’s why President Obama always calls the Islamic State ISIL, instead of the cooler sounding ISIS. That’s why Republicans use the word “Democrat” as an adjective instead of “Democratic.” The Democrat Senator sounds a lot more abrupt and pejorative than the Democratic Senator.

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A Visceral Evil

February 4th, 2015

stop sign

 

I am a fairly jaded consumer of the news, and I have seen a lot that has made me thoroughly aware of the “evil that lurks” in man’s souls and actions. But even with that, I was taken aback by the way ISIS burned a man alive yesterday. It struck me and made me pause and say to myself, “that’s too much.”

I am a fairly jaded consumer of the news, and I have seen a lot that has made me thoroughly aware of the “evil that lurks” in man’s souls and actions. But even with that, I was taken aback by the way ISIS burned a man alive yesterday.

I have lived a fairly sheltered life so things like the inherent nature of man, and the meaning of an absolute evil, are things that I have agreed with, but only in principle. Having been born decades after World War II, the fact of a Hitler has always been relegated to the history books.

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World War II or Vietnam?

February 3rd, 2015

cemetery

 

War is hell. That’s what we learned at Phillips Exeter Academy where the next generation of leaders is being trained. Unless someone has participated in a war and has experienced what it’s like being in the front line of conflict, they have no place in getting us into one.

When are we acting like Neville Chamberlain and appeasing the next Hitler and when are we acting like Lyndon Johnson and throwing our money and the lives of our kids away in a distant conflict with little direct connection to our national security.

That said, policymakers are constantly being confronted by the difference between World War II and Vietnam. When are we acting like Neville Chamberlain and appeasing the next Hitler and when are we acting like Lyndon Johnson and throwing our money and the lives of our kids away in a distant conflict with little direct connection to our national security?

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The Worst Call Ever?

February 2nd, 2015

football field

 

Sports have both written and unwritten rules, and they exist for a reason. The written rules are generally meant to ensure a fair contest: everyone must either follow them or be subject to forfeiting the game. Playing with a uniformly inflated football is a written rule, and the Patriots broke it. The exact circumstances remain to be determined.

But the unwritten rules provide a way to win the game; they should underpin your strategy and guide your decisions. And a failure to follow the unwritten rules can result in bitter defeat.

But the unwritten rules provide a way to win the game; they should underpin your strategy and guide your decisions. And a failure to follow the unwritten rules can result in bitter defeat. The Seahawks broke an unwritten rule yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened to them.

When you’re on your opponents one-yard line and about to score, an unwritten rule is that you run the ball and don’t subject yourself to a much more risky pass with players flooding the end zone because they have no place else to go. Your receivers can’t get as much distance to free themselves from the clogged area, and while on rare occasions you can violate this unwritten rule, it’s generally not a good idea to do so.

While every single knowledgeable football pro and amateur alike expected the Seahawks to run, especially with such a talented running back as Marshawn Lynch, the geniuses who have gotten the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl somehow didn’t think about this, one of the most obvious decisions of the game. It’s like Bobby Fischer blundering and losing his queen. It just doesn’t happen. But it did. And the Seahawks lost because of it.