Telecoms: California Declares Free Market Broken

“There is no indication of any change in the near future regarding the current state of competition. Market forces have not yet met the challenge of controlling price increases.”

[From Telecoms: California Declares Free Market Broken, Recommends Price Controls For Phone Services]

huh, the California PUC is suggesting that you can’t have a competitive market without competition. Why didn’t I think of that.

Unfortunately, the PUC is offering a cure that is more severe than the disease… price controls.

T. Boone Pickens

I’ve been watching Pickens with a high degree of curiosity as he pitches his energy plan. On one hand I see a guy worth $4b that isn’t in this for the money, yet I haven’t seen too many billionaires that were not always looking for a 45 degree angle on a deal. I was therefore somewhat disappointed to realize that the core of Pickens plan is not just wind but natural gas, to which he has substantial financial incentives in the form of Clean Energy Fuels.

I’m not casting a judgement on the Pickens plan, mostly because very little of it is described in detail. The plan is essentially a 3 page brochure that says we need more wind power and natural gas for transportation. No word on vehicle conversion, gas pipeline development, electrical grid impact, taxes, distribution of costs as they span state boundaries, exploration for natural gas, etc.

Then there is Nancy “trying to save the planet” Pelosi and Pickens making strange bedfellows indeed with the Speaker’s investment in CLNE, even if it is a relatively small one. Nonetheless, these perceptions of conflicts lead to actual conflicts that fuel the “business as usual” sentiment among the public that results in voter disgust and disenchantment.

We don’t doubt that T. Boone Pickens will eventually make substantial earnings off of his green kick — including the world’s largest wind farm, and the proliferation of natural gas to power our vehicles. But Clean Energy Fuels, Pickens’ natural gas distribution company, reported earnings yesterday and, yep, it’s still losing money. The company reported a loss of $2.41 million for the quarter, though that was narrowed from a loss of $3.56 million for the same quarter a year ago.

[From Wasn’t T. Boone Supposed to Be Earning Money Off Green? « Earth2Tech]

Obama and McCain on Electric Cars

Interesting analysis on the candidates proposals for alternative energy and vehicles.

PM’s Geek the Vote series takes an in-depth look at the presidential candidates’ policies and positions on science and technology. In this installment, car-tech experts evaluate the stances of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama on America’s future electric vehicles, including funding for battery research, tax credits and loan guarantees for a struggling American auto industry.

[From Obama and McCain on Electric Cars – Energy Plans for Gas Prices, Plug-in Hybrids – Popular Mechanics]

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From the OMG Lighten Up Files

Nutritionists are pissed because Michael Phelps is on the front of the Frosted Flakes breakfast cereal box… but I’d speculate they are not nearly as pissed off as the guy who got bumped, Tony the Tiger. That’s great…

Of course, nutritionists aren’t too happy about the switch either, since Tony the Tiger’s cereal has three times the amount of sugar as Wheaties and only a third of the fiber, neither of which help the fight against childhood obesity.

[From Frosted Phelps. Will You Eat ‘Em? – E! Online]

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Key News Audiences Now Blend Online and Traditional Sources

Interesting Pew study on the trends in news consumption… I would add my own commentary to this but it would basically be a rehash of other posts I have written over the years. Yeah, people are changing their behaviors as a result of the web, that much is obvious.

Actually, I will add one comment to a tidbit that is in this study. They found that social networks are not “newsy” and I fully agree with that after watching the results of NewsGator’s Facebook app that launched late last year. While we can always find fault with the tactics that lead to dismal results, there was one other factor that is unavoidable, which is that people are not using Facebook and social networks more broadly to consume traditional content. It may be generational but it may also be related to the user experience that prioritizes soundbites over full text.

A sizable minority of Americans find themselves at the intersection of these two long-standing trends in news consumption. Integrators, who get the news from both traditional sources and the internet, are a more engaged, sophisticated and demographically sought-after audience segment than those who mostly rely on traditional news sources. Integrators share some characteristics with a smaller, younger, more internet savvy audience segment – Net-Newsers – who principally turn to the web for news, and largely eschew traditional sources. (For a complete description of how the news audience segments are classified, see pg. 45.)

[From Overview: Key News Audiences Now Blend Online and Traditional Sources]

Buttock-clenching at the bus stop

No western country is more amusing to me than Britain, I present exhibit A:

A bizarre Government-funded campaign is being launched to encourage people to exercise while they’re waiting for a bus.

According to the campaign’s organisers, those minutes spent at the bus stop watching the traffic go by could be spent more usefully – by standing on one leg, pointing your toes or clenching your buttocks.

[From Buttock-clenching at the bus stop: The nanny state’s new bid to get us all fit | Mail Online]

Generation Shift

Yeah this is NewsGator widget business but near the end of the article there is a great statement from Rob Covey that underscores the opportunity that companies face as they take in a new generation of young workers.

Covey added that some of the inspiration for the new application came from National Geographic newsroom employees under the age of 25, who offered suggestions of new products that might appeal to younger online users. “The more that you listen to them and think through and understand how they see the world, you begin to want to shape your products to see if their ideas will catch fire,” he said.

[From National Geographic redefines widget strategy with co-branding effort]

110th Congress Earns it’s Poll Ratings

The 110th Congress is earning their 9% approval rating, but if the productivity of Congress were to be measured as the number of pointless resolutions they pass, well they would be killing the polls.

Barring a burst of legislative activity after Labor Day, this group of 535 men and women will have accomplished a rare feat. In two decades of record keeping, no sitting Congress has passed fewer public laws at this point in the session — 294 so far — than this one. That’s not to say they’ve been idle. On the flip side, no Congress in the same 20 years has been so prolific when it comes to proposing resolutions — more than 1,900, according to a tally by the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense.

[From As U.S. Economic Problems Loom, House, Senate Sweat the Small Stuff –]