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EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
IN THIS ISSUE:
NEW cyberbarf KOMIX
THE AMAZON TAX
FORCED MIGRATION ARTICLE
When Steve Jobs took the stage at Apple's developer's conference, he confirmed Apple's next great move: total integration of devices via iCloud. Apparently, the new philosophy is that there is no longer a digital personal hub, like a desktop or laptop computer. Everything is now a device. The hub is going to be Apple's new huge data center in North Carolina. Jobs was frustrated by the steps needed to synch one's devices together: music from the iPod, pictures from the iPhone, contacts from a MacBook. So he wants to force feed virtual synchronization through the iCloud platform.
The first reaction for attendees and Apple watchers was - - - what if you don't want all your devices to synch together automatically? There are some not named Tiger Woods who cringe if their spouse's iPhone was auto-synched to their email message accounts. This push technology in many respects is quite, pushy. Jobs is not offering Applephiles an option to participate in the iCloud universe; he is taking everyone by the hand and dragging them into the service since it will be the core feature in the new computer and mobile operating systems, Lion and iOS 5.
If people had concerns about Big Brother reading all the stuff on one's computer devices, what about Big Steve? He really did not address the basic cloud issues of security, privacy, data reliability, storage capacity or future pricing. No business is going to give away free cloud storage services when the infrastructure cost is in the multi-million to billion dollar range.
With large corporations and government agency hacker attacks on the rise, network security information especially from mobile devices should be a real concern that should be addressed before a forced migration of users to a vulnerable platform. Even Apple had to acknowledge recently that its pristine anti-virus reputation was not infallible to malware attacks, forcing new security updates.
But what is the real reason for iCloud? Storing all your information in a central location for synchronized access across any platform seems to be an overkill solution for individual laziness. It is also a realignment of conventional thinking that intellectual property is merely information and data is merely a new commodity to be harvested, stored and resourced like cards being shuffled in a deck.
We still really don't know what the iCloud license agreement will really say to individual users. How much access will third parties have to your stored data? Will Apple or third parties take collective bits of stored information and secretly data mine and sell those results to spam marketers? Recently, Apple was called on the carpet for collecting cell phone tower information from users to create central data bases for its GPS mapping services. iPhone users were not aware that their location information was being secretly collected by Apple. Apple said no personal information was collected, just the physical cell tower specifics in order to improve digital switching as a person moves throughout different cell areas. It is this kind of miscommunication on how the user experience (and information) can lead to a great conflict.
Critics will point to the NC data center as a huge hive of information, constantly updated by iPhone worker drones (users) who will continually pollinate it with personal information (creating the valuable honey data bases). It may be a cynical perspective but the current non-manufacturing business model in America is squeezing value out of inert data manipulation.
Apple has been moving its products lines into the mobile crossroad. The touch screen operating interface is now going to be put into new Lion MacBooks. There will be resistance to it in the pure business community where keyboards for word processing is still the most important feature used on a daily basis. Apple has been pushing sales of new models by not being backward compatible. A new OS makes the old OS obsolete in certain respects. Software developers soon stop supporting the old OS programs to concentrate on the new systems, with their new feature sets. When you join the Apple bandwagon, you have to hold on tight, because it is a fast ride.
With iCloud, the bandwagon is being roped on a Saturn rocket. The ride is going to be bumpy.
DE-PANTSING POLITICIANS COMMENTARY
It is apparent that there are a lot of strange people running around Congress. Strange as in ego, narcissistic, arrogant and stupid. Usually at the same time. Usually before and after getting caught with their pants down.
For the love of a wrong hash tag, a private message photograph gets into the public domain.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (Democrat, New York) is the latest politician caught with his pants down, literally, in a sext scandal. Weiner first claimed that his social network accounts were hacked by some unknown villain. He then stated that someone used his account to send doctored or false pictures of his underweared groin to co-eds across the country. In less than ten days, he called an emergency press conference to say he had lied, that he sent the compromising picture to the co-ed, and that he had personal (and stressed legal) communications with women over the internet. He said that he would not resign or take media questions.
That led to a Tiger Woods like media feeding frenzy. More women came out of the wood work to say that Rep. Weiner had been sending them provocative photographs, like the bare chested warrior pose that many late night comics splattered across HD TV screens. Rep. Weiner, a former fixture of a party attack dog on political TV and radio shows, went into hiding and avoided the media. Weiner, a married man whose spouse is a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would be subject to various calls for his resignation. Republicans caught up in sex scandals resign. Democrats caught up in sex scandals hold teary eyed press conferences and hold their ground against critics.
Then conservative media site maven Andrew Breibart received the naked photograph of Weiner's, well, wiener. So in short order, the image hit the Internet Any vague suggestion that these were innocent chats turned into a dark, pervy story. Just as another sexting story was about to break, one which would allege Weiner had a relationship with a 17 year old, Wiener made an announcement that he would go immediately into counseling.
For a powerful politician to forcefully deny any story of sexting conduct two weeks ago, to have to run and hide in a counseling center to avoid legal or ethical investigations is becoming standard operating procedure on Capitol Hill. In order to run for office, and the power, money and perks that our the victors, one must cut loose all ties to morality or shame. For the spoils of victory, said power, money and perks like using one's office or title to Internet chat up young women, make grown men into spoiled, hapless and stupid children.
Anything digital sent to a social media web site can be copied, printed or forwarded to any place in the world, including an editor of a news organization. Politicians such as Wiener must truly believe that they are above common sense because of their position as a representative means things that apply to their constituents does not apply to them. Like cheating on their spouse with graphic cyber-relationships with other women.
And how dumb was he? The biggest New York sports scandal in a decade was the Brett Favre sexting scandal. Weiner cannot claim any ignorance as to the consequences of his actions when his home state, with daily screaming headlines in the New York tabloids, detailed Favre's misbehavior. The public turned on the Jet quarterback faster than an unblocked defensive end coming in for a brutal sack.
Weiner, by all accounts, is such a pit bull that he will not give up his seat in Congress. He is a career politician, no real experience in the private sector. His sole being has been ranting about policy positions by taking the higher moral ground against his opponents. If that is the foundation for his political character, it has been crumbling for weeks. He may have the mental outlook of a punk, cornered by his own transgressions to turn him into a perv, but he can still represent the folks in his district. His interests are allegedly aligned with the votes cast on his behalf. How much embarrassment can his district take before re-aligning themselves with a new representative? After Wiener's counseling statement, several New York politicians began to explore the possibility of unseating him in the next election. You see, Wiener's self inflicted wounds make him a weak candidate, and the wolves will be out to hunt him down. That's what career politicians do: feast on each other's misfortunes for personal gain.
It is a cycle of deceit that was uncovered by public publication of private matters on social media sites. It is not a pretty picture what goes on in the halls of D.C. or what is floating around the social networks.
THE AMAZON TAX ARTICLE
Various states have been attempting to have Amazon.com collect state sales taxes on any sales generated by the Internet retail giant. Amazon has fought back saying it will not collect or remit sales taxes for state and local governments because it is burdensome on interstate commerce. State and local governments are cash starved and they have been looking to increase tax collections by any means possible to cover massive budget short falls.
The U.S. Supreme Court in the Quill decision held that a state cannot impose a sales tax on a business unless that business had a real nexus to the state in question. Nexus has been defined as a physical presence in the state. The theory is that if you have a physical presence in the state, that person or business is like any other taxpayer receiving state and local governmental services. In Texas, the state decided to impose collection taxes on Amazon because it had warehouse facilities. In response, Amazon told the state that it would leave the state, costing the area hundreds of jobs. Other states have decided that Amazon affiliates, independent business operators who direct clients to Amazon, are the physical presence nexus to impose the sales tax collection on Amazon. Amazon said, no, we do not have a physical presence in any other those states. But instead of risking a decision in court, Amazon cut all ties to affiliates in those states. The affiliates were outraged, not by Amazon, but by their own states - - - many moving their homes and businesses out of state.
In theory, states have been collecting use taxes on their own citizens who bring in out-of-state products for which no in-state sales tax was collected by the retailer. These use taxes are typically forced upon property that needs to be titled, such as boats, airplanes and automobiles. But the states define any property purchased by its citizens fair game for state sales tax collection. Illinois has asked its own citizens to calculate their own use taxes for all their annual Internet purchases, to be filed with their annual income tax returns. The Quill decision left open the question of whether use taxes are permissible under the US Constitution.
The limits to the right of the public authority to impose taxes are set by the power that is qualified to do so under constitutional law. In a democratic system this power is the legislature, not the executive or the judiciary. The constitutions of some countries may allow the executive to impose temporary quasi-legislative measures in time of emergency, however, and under certain circumstances the executive may be given power to alter provisions within limits set by the legislature. The legality of taxation has been asserted by constitutional texts in many countries, including the United States, France, Brazil, and Sweden. In Great Britain, which has no written constitution, taxation is also a prerogative of the legislature. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999.
In the United States Declaration of Independence, the rule "no taxation without consent" laid down. Under this principle, the rights of the tax administration and the corresponding obligations of the taxpayer are to be specified in the law adopted by the people's representatives.
However, there are limitations on the power of taxation by governments. Restraints on the taxing power are generally imposed by tradition, custom, and political considerations. Many countries have constitutional limitations. Certain limitations on the taxing power of the legislature are self-evident. As a practical matter, as well as a matter of (constitutional) law, there must be a minimum connection between the subject of taxation and the taxing power. The extent of income-tax jurisdiction, for example, is essentially determined by two main criteria: the residence (or nationality) of the taxpayer and his source of income. (The application of both criteria together in cases where the taxpayer's residence and his source of income are in different countries often results in burdensome double taxation, although the problem can be avoided or restricted by international treaties.) Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999.
Taxes other than income taxes--such as retail-sales taxes, turnover taxes, death taxes, registration fees, and stamp duties--are imposed by the authority (national or local) on whose territory the goods are delivered or the taxable assets are located. Another self-evident limitation on the taxing power of the public authority is that the same authority cannot impose the same tax twice on the same person on the same ground. A common limitation on the taxing power is the requirement that all citizens be treated alike. This requirement is specified in the US Constitution. A similar provision in of the constitutions is that all citizens are equal and that no privileges can be granted in tax matters. The rule is often violated through the influence of pressure groups, however; it is also difficult to enforce and to interpret unambiguously. In countries in which local governments are under the control of the national government, a local tax can be nullified by the central authority on the ground that it violates the national constitution if it transgresses the rule of uniformity and equality of taxpayers. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1999.
The United States Constitution is clear on taxation limitations. Article IV deals, in part, with relations among the states and privileges of the citizens of the states, The commerce clause (Article I, section 8) simply authorizes Congress To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.
Since Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), the US Supreme Court has broadly interpreted Congress' regulatory power under the commerce clause as new methods of interstate transportation and communication have come into use. States may not regulate any aspect of interstate commerce that Congress has preempted. However, at times, the courts do not view past precedent and constitutional language in context with the framer's original intent.
In the US Constitution, Article I, Section 8 states:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.
America had just completed a revolution to break away from England. One of the objectives of the revolution was to break the burdensome and penal quality of taxation imposed upon the colonists, who had no right to petition or object to the imposition of any tax by the crown. Taxation without representation was a battle cry to the founding fathers. But one must realize, that most of the founding fathers were wealthy and successful merchants, farmers and businessmen. In certain respects, there were on the front lines of harsh government taxation by the King. They understood that heavy taxation took capital out of the colonies and exported the means of independence and grown to the treasury of the King and his parliament.
At the time, sovereigns collected taxes on products such as imports. These duties or stamp taxes were imposed by revenue collectors on all merchants or suppliers as the ships docked in a port. The economic engine of the world in the 1700s was global trade. Every barrel of tea, wine or rum landing in Boston Harbor was taxed by the crown for the privilege of bringing it ashore for resale or personal consumption. This was an easy and efficient means of collecting taxes. So much so, that the taxing authorities continued to increase the rate of tax until the people had enough.
Just as the various colonies had issues with England in regard to the taxation of commerce and import fees, it was also an issue (or a potential powder keg) between the colonies themselves. In the Confederation of original States, there was animosity between the wealthy states (such as Virginia) and the rural states in regard to free flow of goods. A wealthy state could impose a tariff or tax on a rural state's farm goods so as to penalize the import or protect their own merchant farmers from competition. These border conflicts would be as ripe as the American revolution over time. The founding fathers believed that in order for their independence to be assured, all the new States had to band together for their mutual protection against the European superpowers of their time. As such, they put clear limitations on interstate taxation in the final Constitution:
Article I, Section 9 states:
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
This constitutional provision clearly states that one state cannot tax another state's goods from entering its borders. Likewise, a citizen of one state would not be obligated to pay a tax in his home state for purchases he made in another state. And in order to keep this free commerce provision from loopholes, the following provisions were adopted:
Article I, Section 10 states:
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress.
This meant that even if a State started collecting import duties and taxes, all those moneys belonged to the federal government. The sole source of revenue for the federal government was tariffs on international goods. Clearly, the states did not have any room to craft interstate commerce taxes.
And if read in conjunction with other provisions, this ban on interstate taxation applies to individuals.
Article IV Section 2 clearly states: The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
The 9th Amendment states The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The 10th Amendment states The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
If you are a citizen of Virginia and purchased a cow in Maryland, which imposed no sales tax on the transaction, Virginia could not penalize or charge you a cow tax when you brought your cow back to Virginia. That would be an improper tax on interstate commerce. It would also be an infringement of a person's rights and privileges while conducting business in Maryland where no sales tax for that transaction. The prohibition of government interference with contracts was clearly an issue the founding fathers thought paramount to establishing a sound movement of goods and services between the new States. To allow a state to tax any citizen, including their own residents, for out-of-state purchases is clearly an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce when one reads the constitution as a whole, and in context.
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
What passes for culture in my head is really a bunch of commericals.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
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WAY OF LIFE
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THE WHETHER REPORT
Question: Whether the federal government will be more active in prosecuting illegal download music and films with the new pro-RIAA solicitor general?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
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Question: Whether the new consoles announced at E3 will save the retailers' 2011 Holiday Season?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
Question: Whether the one percent increase in non-cable viewership (over the air reception now up to 15% total viewers) a bad omen for cable operators?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
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