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Allen Varney
Works at Freelance
Lives in Ithaca, New York
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Allen Varney

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"The FCC claims it will still have the ability to stop "commercially unreasonable" activities by broadband providers, while refusing any attempt to explain what commercially unreasonable means. At the same time, it makes it pretty clear 'commercially reasonable' (again, undefined) rules will be allowed -- and it's likely this means allowing ISPs to create 'fast lanes' by which they can charge more, so long as anyone with a lot of cash can also pay more. [...] If you have a fast lane, by definition you also need a slow lane. So the (reasonable) fear here is that smaller entities, who can't pay for the fast lane, basically start out with degraded service compared to the big guys who can (and will) pay. That means services that don't pay up are throttled." (Techdirt):

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140423/17511727011/weasel-language-proposal-fccs-new-open-internet-rules-actually-opens-door-to-end-to-net-neutrality.shtml
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Allen Varney

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Happy whale (Imgur):

http://i.imgur.com/hqDIsay.jpg
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Allen Varney

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"Newspaper income continued to drop in 2013. Overall revenue was off 2.6% to $37.6 billion, a sharper drop than the 2% decline from 2012, according to a report from the Newspaper Association of America. Ad revenue accounted for the entirety of the losses for newspapers. Print ad revenues fell 8.6%, and overall, ad sales for newspapers declined 6.5%.
"A 3.7% jump in circulation revenue, including digital paywalls helped alleviate some of the losses. Digital advertising growth, while not growing as fast as some in the industry have hoped, continued to climb. Mobile ad spending soared 77%, although it still accounts for less than 1% of total newspaper revenue." (Mashable):

http://mashable.com/2014/04/18/newspaper-revenue-decline-2013/

#diefaster
Circulation growth, mobile ads and digital paywalls failed to offset declining advertising revenue as newspaper income continued to drop in 2013.
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I never worked for a newspaper, except occasional freelance contributions. News organizations have played a major role in engineering the unequal society we endure today, and I'm glad that particular gaggle of gatekeepers is passing away.
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Allen Varney

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I dislike posting linkbait listicles, but these photos present enlightening context for many of the world's landmarks. (Distractify):

http://news.distractify.com/fun/fails/seeing-these-9-famous-landmarks-from-far-away-might-shatter-your-perception-of-them-forever/
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Allen Varney

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Holy jeepers, film historians. "All 85,000 newsreels are now searchable and viewable on YouTube. This equates to 3,500 hours of filmed history."

https://www.youtube.com/user/britishpathe
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Have him in circles
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Allen Varney

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"The shearing force generated by a rapidly rotating tool in solution was sufficiently intense to separate the layers of graphene that make up graphite flakes without damaging their two-dimensional structure. However, it's not advisable to try this at home. The precise amount of dishwashing fluid that's required is dependent on a number of different factors, and the black solution containing graphene would need to be separated afterwards. But the researchers said their work 'provides a significant step' towards deploying graphene in a variety of commercial applications."  (BBC):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27113732
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Allen Varney

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From Benjamin Dewey's "Tragedy Series" webcomic, an ever-handy test to determine a given supervillain's aptitudes and vagaries by feeling head-bumps.
 
Supervillain phrenology assessment kit
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Allen Varney

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"War has produced bigger societies, ruled by stronger governments, which have imposed peace and created the preconditions for prosperity. [...] We have not managed to wish war out of existence, but that is because it cannot be done. We have, however, been extremely good at responding to changing incentives in the game of death. For most of our time on earth, we have been aggressive, violent animals, because aggression and violence have paid off. But in the 10,000 years since we invented productive war, we have evolved culturally to become less violent -- because that pays off even better. And since nuclear weapons came into the world in 1945, the incentives in the game have changed faster than ever before, and our reactions have accelerated along with them. As a result, the average person is now roughly 20 times less likely to die violently than the average person was in the Stone Age." (Defense One):

http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2014/04/war-what-it-good-these-four-things-actually/82522/
Contrary to what the song says, war has been good for some things. By Ian Morris
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I'm going to say that the article is very, very West-centric, and the author leaves out a lot of places where war is simply an escalating body count - like the war-torn parts of Africa, or ethnic cleansings across the globe. Likewise his assertions about improved quality of life.
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Allen Varney

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"Even in death Charlie Chaplin had little peace. Such was the price of his celebrity that his remains were dug up and ransomed back to the family. Chaplin died on 25 December 1977, in Switzerland. He was 88 years old. On 2 March 1978, his coffin (with him in it) was dug up and spirited away. His remains were recovered by Swiss police on 17 May 1978. Two Eastern European political refugees confessed to the crime. [...]

"Chaplin's widow, Oona, refused to consider ransom. But in order to cooperate with police, the family, through its lawyer, Jean-Felix Paschoud, bargained with the alleged grave robbers over a tapped telephone. By the time the demand had dropped from $600,000 to $250,000, the police had figured out that the ransom calls were coming from a public pay telephone. Two earlier traps set for the alleged grave robbers did not succeed but a dragnet of 100 policemen keeping an eye on all of Lausanne's more than 200 pay public telephones proved too difficult to elude for a 24-year-old Polish auto mechanic, until recently unemployed." (Snopes):

http://www.snopes.com/movies/actors/chaplin.asp
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Allen Varney

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Annals of Regulatory Capture: The Securities & Exchange Commission is pretty much wholly owned and operated by the big banks. "It’s quite impressive how quickly and accurately Goldman nailed the amount of money that it would have to pay the SEC to settle the [Abacus CDO] case: when it took three months to come to the $550 million settlement, I for one assumed Goldman had to be dragged kicking and screaming to that point. In fact, however, Goldman was happy to offer half a billion dollars right off the bat. The tough part of the negotiation was not over the Abacus fine -- it was over the question of whether the SEC, with the Abacus prosecution successfully under its belt, would then go after Goldman for a dozen other deals which were functionally equivalent. The answer was a clear no: Goldman might be equally culpable for 11 other deals, but the SEC quietly assured Goldman -- but not the public at large -- that none of those deals would result in any charges." (Felix Salmon, Reuters):

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2014/04/09/yes-the-sec-was-colluding-with-banks-on-cdo-prosecutions/
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More about the larger subject of the compromised SEC from Barry Ritholtz, summarizing a speech by a retiring SEC investigator who laments the agency's corruption:
http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-04-10/the-best-sec-money-can-buy
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Writer and game designer based for many years in Austin, Texas; currently in Ithaca, New York.
Introduction
I've designed three published board games, the PARANOIA roleplaying game (2004 edition), and two dozen tabletop RPG supplements, and have written eight books. I co-wrote (with Warren Spector and Alex Duran) the original 300-page design document for the Nintendo Wii videogame Epic Mickey. Many major companies have commissioned Enspire Learning to run my business leadership simulation Executive Challenge. I wrote and packaged official PARANOIA novels under my own imprint, Ultraviolet Books. Currently I run a small bundle site, the Bundle of Holding.
Bragging rights
Survived as a freelance writer for over 20 years, a nontrivial challenge.
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Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Ithaca, New York
Previously
Austin, Texas - Topeka, Kansas - Cupertino, California - Reno, Nevada - Renton, Washington - Stone Town, Zanzibar - Cape Town, South Africa - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
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