Why is Al Jazeera Blacked Out in US ?

Via The Big Picture via the Huffington Post:

WTF?

Huff Po:

Canadian television viewers looking for the most thorough and in-depth coverage of the uprising in Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English, whose on-the-ground coverage of the turmoil is unmatched by any other outlet. American viewers, meanwhile, have little choice but to wait until one of the U.S. cable-company-approved networks broadcasts footage from AJE, which the company makes publicly available. What they can’t do is watch the network directly.

Other than in a handful of pockets across the U.S. – including Ohio, Vermont and Washington, D.C. – cable carriers do not give viewers the choice of watching Al Jazeera. That corporate censorship comes as American diplomats harshly criticize the Egyptian government for blocking Internet communication inside the country and as Egypt attempts to block Al Jazeera from broadcasting.

The result of the Al Jazeera English blackout in the United States has been a surge in traffic to the media outlet’s website, where footage can be seen streaming live. The last 24 hours have seen a two-and-a-half thousand percent increase in web traffic, Tony Burman, head of North American strategies for Al Jazeera English, told HuffPost. Sixty percent of that traffic, he said, has come from the United States.

I would love someone to explain this to me . . .

All I would add is that Al Jazeera has a great iPhone app, better than those of most other news networks, that streams the live coverage pretty flawlessly. And I would agree that the network has the most thorough, in-depth coverage of what’s happening in Egypt, at least when compared to the broadcasts I’ve seen.

I Have A New Home

It’s been one month since I started this blog, and I’ve had a great time with it so far. I expected to write primarily about beer, but the content has taken some unexpected turns. And I think that’s ok. It’s been humbling to see that I have quite a few regular readers. So thanks for stopping by. I’ve really appreciated all the comments and feedback, and I think I’ll keep the blogging up.

With that said, I’ve decided to move. A few readers suggested I pick up somethingsbrewing.com. So I did. And if I succeeded in moving my content, you should be on the new site now. The process to move everything was a bit messy, and I’m still working out a few bugs. So let me know if you encounter any problems with the site, and I can look into fixing them.

But more importantly, if you’ve been here more than once, let me know what you like and don’t like. I’m slowly getting the hang of google analytics, and have been monitoring the site traffic a bit, but I still don’t have a good sense of which posts most readers actually enjoy. So really, send me an email with your thoughts.

Cheers.

Date A Sea Captain

Via Tyler Cowen on Marginal Revolution, here’s a dating site for sea captains: seacaptaindate.com. At first it looks like a joke, but, no. It’s real. There’s even a Time Magazine posting on it:

Ladies, do you find yourselves home alone on a Friday night, staring wistfully out to sea? Do you enjoy assembling tiny ships inside bottles or making sculptures out of driftwood that you find on the beach? Is your widow’s walk more like a single’s walk? Then NewsFeed has the dating website for you.

And then there’s this brilliant promotion:

Favorite line: “So when  got back to dry land, I logged onto one of them computer terminals, and I, I Googled the internet.” Don’t miss the Captain’s surprised reaction to the impromptu beach cartwheel at 1:55.

Mittens or Dinner?

James Kwak has a good posting on behavioral economics and irrational behavior that has led me to conclude I should probably invest in some warmer clothing. Possibly mittens.

Here’s part:

In your personal life, you should be aware of anchoring, because it can help you use your money more wisely. For example, for several years I would complain about being cold in the winter in New England. I was coldest when I was walking my dog, because then I had to be outside for half an hour at the time, and my hands were one of the coldest parts of my body. Finally I asked my wife to buy me the warmest mittens she could find for Christmas, and since then my hands have never been too cold. They probably cost $150 or something, but in the three winters since then they have probably given me something like one hundred hours of extra warmth, and they should give me at least another three hundred hours. That comes to less than a penny per minute of warmth (and less than a quarter per walk with the dog), and I would gladly pay more than that. Compare that to, say, two nice dinners that last for a total of four hours, and there’s no contest.

But until I asked for the mittens, I was overconsuming dinners and underconsuming warm mittens — because I was inferring my own preferences from market prices. In short, you are different from the average person, so at the same price level, some things will give you a lot of utility and some will give you not very much. The more you are aware of that, the happier you will be.

Time to go dig out my car, without warm mittens (or a shovel).

The Economist, In 1843

Via Marginal Revolution, I came across this volume of “The Economist” from 1843.

I’ve only skimmed it, but I usually enjoy reading old publications. On the Irish bullying Canadians:

A few days ago, a party of Irish labourers, who had received, as they supposed, some offence from a few Canadians, at Beauharnois, attacked and nearly killed two respectable old inhabitants, who had nothing to do with the affair.

That’s the most significant news from Canada that reached London that particular month?

Ooo! A Bike Share (Democracy?) Debate!

My friend, Colin Whooten, responds to my previous post on bike sharing:

It helps that China is essentially a dictatorship, no? It’s brilliantly efficient if the leaders make good decisions. It’s awful otherwise. I’ll choose 3 years to get a bike share program and being able to talk about this openly on a social media site vs. living in fear at even thinking of questioning anything (like if I didn’t like bikes and would rather the government spent money on something else).

Colin brings up a valid point: less democratic governments can generally get things done quickly at the expense of, well, democracy. I agree with everything he says in principle, and would not trade China’s government for ours, but think this particular case is different. This was essentially the city planning council (yes, probably appointed rather than elected) obtaining and allocating funding to quickly implement a thoughtful bike share program that has since improved the quality of life in Guangzhou and gained international recognition:

A bike-sharing program, wide bicycle lanes lined with trees, and a huge bus system that ties in with the city rail network are all part of the recipe for a winning transportation system in Guangzhou, China, according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

ITDP, an international nonprofit that works with cities on projects to reduce greenhouse gases and improve the quality of urban life, named Guangzhou the winner of its 2011 Sustainable Transport Award at a ceremony Monday night in Washington, D.C.

Guangzhou clinched the prize, said Jessica Morris, senior program director for ITDP, largely because it surpassed expectations. The bus rapid transit system, which opened in February 2010, “carries an awful lot of people,” as many as 800,000 a day, she said, making it one of the world’s largest. Perhaps more importantly, the new bus system “hooks up seamlessly” with rail as well as “idyllic” bicycle paths and bike-sharing stations, and helps to make the city “more livable.”

The trade-off between a one month and three year roll-out probably isn’t as black and white as I had previously suggested, but I still think we can do better. And there are also many examples of cities in democratic countries, such as Washington D.C.,  London, and Mexico City implementing bike share programs more efficiently than we have.

Colin’s right. We have a superior system to determine whether or not certain programs should exist in the first place. But once a program is agreed upon, I would argue China has the superior implementation system. It’s complicated though, and touches on some more controversial topics than I originally acknowledged.

Other thoughts?