Meet Lamar Smith: SOPA author, climate change skeptic, and Congress' next science boss, via @Verge

The fight against SOPA, led by web advocates and several prominent internet companies, revealed some key facts about Smith’s campaign support and his legislative inspirations. The entertainment lobby laid a heavy hand in the crafting the bill, reaffirming Congress’ revolving door with private industry. Politico reported that former staff of Smith’s office, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, each accepted jobs with two of the lobbying firms backing SOPA and PIPA — helping to write the bills. And Chris Dodd, who served as a senator for thirty years and swore he’d never take money from lobbyists, joined the Motion Picture Association of America as its Chairman and CEO, grabbing a $1.5 million base salary and a $100 million lobbying budget (Dodd and the MPAA were chief supporters of SOPA). By several accounts, the bill is one of the worst internet laws to have been considered by Congress, and would have allowed copyright owners to go after pirates by altering the internet’s fundamental architecture.

Say it ain't so.

An influential conservative group released a copyright reform memo that was so smart it had to immediately disavow it.

America’s original copyright statute provided 14 years worth of protection, renewable for 14 more years if the author was still alive. Current law gives individuals monopoly rights for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. Corporate authors’ rights extend to 95 years after publication. But even that’s an undercount. Congress has retroactively extended copyright terms to prevent Mickey Mouse from losing copyright protection—preventing hundreds of other works from entering the public domain.

Khanna also makes an intriguing case that we shouldn’t consider strong intellectual property rights as a form of free-market capitalism but rather as a form of big government monopoly creation. Khanna, essentially, is proposing conservatives make a bold political gambit. Rather than moving “to the center” on issues that are in the public eye, Republicans could perhaps garner support from younger voters and the tech community by repositioning on a subject that’s currently the subject of bipartisan consensus. The memo doesn’t delve into this kind of cynical gamesmanship, but it’s hard not to notice that right now the Democratic Party raises a lot of money from both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, even though those two industries tend to line up on opposite sides of the copyright issue. Elevating the salience of copyright reform would be an excellent way for the GOP to wreak a little havoc with the Democrats’ financial model.

Great little read as I polish off leftovers. Let's get this right, America, and roll back copyright to the founders' intention.

What??? Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants

Leahy's rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies -- including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission -- to access Americans' e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.

No.

Simplicity Is The New Premium @Forbes on @thehipmunk + @uber

Bringing a unique and simplified approach to how information is consumed has contributed to Hipmunk’s success in the saturated and largely undifferentiated travel booking industry. The hot new travel startup believes that when it comes to booking flights, people don’t necessarily need more choices, but fewer. What makes Hipmunk unique is the way it displays flight search results. The result screen helps you visualize a lot of data at once and make your decisions in minutes as opposed to hours.

All comes down to giving a damn about your users.

Not only did @AlGore stop by my website, but he even thanked redditors for fighting off #SOPA #PIPA

Our national information infrastructure is no longer competitive. We need to invest in more bandwidth, easier access, and the rapid transition of our democratic institutions to the internet. And we need to protect the freedom of the internet against corporate control by legacy businesses that see it as a threat, and against the obscene invasions of privacy and threats to security from government and corporations alike. Please think about this: almost everytime there has been a choice between privacy/security on the one hand and convenience on the other, the mass of folks have chosen convenience. I for one believe the "stalker economy" on the internet is undemocratic and anti- American. Are folks at the gag point on this yet? Thanks, btw, to the Reddit community for fighting off Sopa and PIPA. Keep your powder dry; more big struggles ahead.

    Huzzah!

    On the importance of gestures in public speaking

    Some people believe that public speaking is an ability that only a few "chosen ones" can execute well. While I personally don't consider myself to be a great public speaker, I do think that anyone can become one. While the ability of being charming, engaging and persuasive comes naturally to some people (think Steve Jobs), I strongly believe that these are traits that can be learned and, more importantly, perfected over time - case in point, Mark Zuckerberg. His first talks were, for a lack of a better term, utterly pathetic, and he seemed to be unprepared and very nervous all the time. Over time he became more confident and his last talks were just brilliant.

    One of my favorite hobbies is watching talks or speeches of people that are extremely passionate about the topic that they are talking about, specially in the realm of technology. However, I have noticed that many of my collegues in software development lack one very important trait: Most of them, almost never use gestures.

    So so true.