Tag Archives: Apple

The Private Sector Reigns Supreme…Again

Good news for Apple fans: the company’s mobile operating system, iOS, as well as its new iPhone 6 devices, feature beefed-up levels of default encryption and–to the horror of our federal government’s “Justice” department–no “back door.” Zack Whittaker of ZDNet argues that the “feds only have themselves to blame” for Apple (and also Google) beefing up their smartphone encryption, because the federal government has failed to scale back the NSA’s bulk metadata collection in any significant fashion. I agree, and I also agree with Whittaker’s (and others’) disappointment in the Washington Post editorials echoing “Justice”‘s call for a “back door” and arguing for a “compromise” on encryption.

Yes, government should be able to compel the production of evidence when it has probable cause and particularized suspicion (and follows procedures appropriate for the context). But government should not be able to compel manufacturers of devices to do its job, to make it unnecessary for the government to approach the device owner directly with the warrant. As Yaron Brook alluded to on Facebook yesterday, it is great to see the profit motive encouraging companies to cater to customers’ privacy preferences.

[Also notable: this story about Twitter suing the U.S. government over limits on its ability to disclose surveillance orders, something about which Apple has also complained.]

Now, if only Apple could figure out a simple and elegant solution to the threats posed by ISIS and Ebola…

The news on Ebola is getting worse, as we learn that a nurse in Spain–who presumably knows what precautions to take and has the materials necessary to take them–contracted the disease while treating two patients who had been brought to Spain for treatment. The nurse’s husband and two others have reportedly now also been placed in quarantine. The Los Angeles Times published a speculative piece, in which one expert opined that “We just don’t have the data to exclude [the possibility of Ebola spreading by air in close quarters].” While it’s natural to worry about a disease that seems to be killing more than half of those who contract it, we need to keep in mind that the assertion about the possibility of airborne Ebola is arbitrary–there is no evidence to support it and therefore it should be dismissed–unless and until such evidence materializes.

While we wait for more information on the transmission of Ebola, it is heartening to read of the Firestone plantation in Liberia, where the tire manufacturer has applied determination and common sense to the task of containing the Ebola outbreak, with great success. “[E]ven as the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded rages all around them, Firestone appears to have blocked the virus from spreading inside its territory.”

It is not surprising to me that a private company has outperformed governments in containing Ebola. In fact, while our own government should likely be doing more–temporary travel restrictions or enhanced screening–to combat the current outbreak, preventing the spread of disease is not a routine government function. Firestone realizes that it is crucial for the success of their plantation in Liberia effectively to contain the virus, and they have acted accordingly. (HT Rick Wilmes, who brought the Firestone story to my attention.)

What is a proper government function, however, is defending citizens against threats of physical force from enemies foreign and domestic. And it is here that the Obama administration’s default is most concerning. ISIS continues to behead western journalists and threaten the beheading of veterans and active members of the military. They are harassing military members and their families via social media. ISIS supporters have even managed to place their graffiti in Washington, D.C. And yet our President and his Secretary of State continue to evade the nature of the threat, or its origin, saying it has nothing to do with Islam and, apparently, everything to do with Syrian rebels needing our assistance.

Thankfully we have some Americans who are willing to speak the truth about the nature of the threat we face. The most unapologetic and outspoken critic of ISIS and Islam of late is, surprisingly, a liberal who most likely would not want to be included in a post praising the private sector: Bill Maher. Here’s the latest in a long series of Maher’s excellent commentary on Islam and the danger it poses:

Check the Real Time account on YouTube for more commentary by Maher, and join me in thanking him for speaking out and telling the truth when no one in our government seems to be able to.

You might also enjoy this from a few years ago: Maher’s “Muslim Dior” fashion show:

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Culture, Foreign Policy, Medicine, Technology

Government and Innovation

Inspired by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who recently announced plans to use drones to deliver packages to Amazon customers thirty minutes from the time of placing an order, a Minnesota microbrewery, Lakemaid Beer, announced its own spin on drone delivery service: using drones to deliver cold beer to ice fishermen working on frozen lakes. Managing partner Jack Supple told the Wall Street Journal that he anticipated fewer safety issues for Lakemaid than for Amazon, as Amazon would have drones flying down city and residential streets, whereas Lakemaid would be flying the drones across flat, largely uninhabited lakes. Apparently Lakemaid had planned to start delivering beer via drone imminently—that is, until the FAA informed Supple that drone delivery of beer was indeed a commercial use of the technology, and therefore is prohibited until the FAA finally gets around to publishing regulations, sometime in 2015. Thankfully Lakemaid is willing to put its plans on hold until then. It is still unclear, however, how the FAA will compensate the ice fishermen unjustly deprived of beer.

Entrepreneurs in the United States are, unfortunately, well accustomed to the delays that come from government erecting obstacles along the path to innovation. What many are not quite as familiar with is government getting directly involved in the process, in an attempt to speed it up. The Wall Street Journal reports that ten companies are committed to…wait for it…a five-year plan, in which they will work alongside the National Institutes of Health to perform research leading to treatments or cures for Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis & Lupus. Some might see this effort to pool the best and brightest minds from leading drug companies as promising, but I’m skeptical. Can the “Accelerating Medicines Partnership” do what its name promises when, as WSJ reports, “NIH scientists will review progress and provide help with scientific decisions”? Given that our government will be picking up a larger and larger portion of the nation’s prescription drug tab in the near future, maybe the NIH scientists will “help” steer the “partnership” away from research likely to result in more expensive therapies? Even if they don’t, this program represents a significant expansion of fascist involvement of government in an industry that, with some exceptions and reservations, seems to be welcoming it.

Even though Steve Jobs is no longer at the helm, and even though it’s been unjustly harassed by antitrust litigation, Apple seems to be continuing its tradition of boldly expanding into new markets. The WSJ reports that the company is buying up Internet infrastructure at a rate consistent with its stated intention of revolutionizing the TV viewing experience. In addition, CEO Tim Cook recently said during a conference call that “Apple is on track to break into new product categories this year.” Moreover, Apple has hired executives with expertise in cable Internet infrastructure and TV research and development. (Read more here.) If our government stays out of the way, I am hopeful that Apple will provide an aesthetically pleasing, viable alternative to cable.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics, Technology

A Chris Christie News Sandwich

I think Chris Christie would make a terrible president due to his statist policies. If you’re like me, you’ll be glad to hear that what was once a local scandal (some call it “Bridgegate”) is now getting nationwide press, due to some damning evidence coming to light. The Wall Street Journal reports that it has reviewed documents showing that a top aide of Christie “told an executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey it was ‘time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee’ before the authority closed lanes onto the George Washington Bridge in September, triggering a week of massive traffic jams….” The traffic jams were apparently created in retaliation against Fort Lee’s mayor, who refused to support Christie in the last election.

If he’s doing this as governor, imagine what he might do as president.

I find news coverage of the scandal particularly satisfying this week, because Christie is touting his “Dream Act,” which he signed into law yesterday. The act, in part, grants in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants who have attended high school in-state for at least three years. In other words, the act forces NJ taxpayers—who already face one of the highest tax bills in the country—to subsidize the education of illegal immigrants.

I support a policy of open immigration, but I abhor anything that increases the rate at which our government steals from us and that, simultaneously, encourages illegal immigration by handing out goodies. The fact that Christie is being seriously considered as the presidential nominee of the Republican party, the party that’s supposed to stand for free markets and limited government, is truly revulsifying.

The only other “good” news story I could find about Christie this morning: this story from nj.com, which notes that national media outlets apparently feel comfortable taking “swats” at Christie. USA today made a crack about his weight, publishing among other faux New-Year Resolutions, a Christie resolution to “watch what I eat.” The New Yorker (does that qualify as national media? maybe if you live in New Jersey?) published a cartoon about “Bridgegate”.

That’s not enough good news, so how about something completely different. Apple is taking a stand in self-defense again, against court-appointed thug, um, I mean, anti-trust compliance monitor, Michael Bromwich. Apple has asked for his removal, citing evidence of personal bias against the company. (HT for this story: @seven2521 and @Liquid_Engineer on Twitter.) For more on Bromwich’s abuse of Apple, see this News Sandwich from last month.

I wish Apple the best in its efforts to defend itself against our unjust government and its accomplices.

3 Comments

Filed under Politics