May 21, 2005

This Weekend’s Unanswered Questions (TWUQs for 052105)

Another installment in a nearly-regular series of mysteries and pseudo-mysteries this inquiring mind would like to have answers for (some links included may require free registration):

  • In an era of camera phones, why is everyone automatically assuming that American soldiers took pictures of Saggy Saddam in his undies?Yes I know the Sun claims the photos came from the military. They NEVER lie. (/sarcasm)

    Some possible candidates: International Committe of the Red Cross (y’know, the folks who think Gitmo ought to be a hotel, and that we should leave the good little boys alone), Saddie’s assorted lawyers, and non-military personnel who give him food, change the sheets, etc.

    Now it may be (but I personally doubt) that visitors have to hand over all personal gadgetry before visiting Saddie. If anyone can enlighten me and blog readers on this, e-mail me here.

    A good rundown of the good, bad, and ugly uses of camera phones is here.

    UPDATE May 22, 8:30 AM: More photos have been released, and the Sun claims to have paid $900 or so (second last paragraph at link) for the photos. Another blogger (sorry, lost track of who it was) pointed out that an American taking that level of risk would have demanded much more than that.

  • Why is business so surprised when regulators step in to make them do things they should have done all along?The FCC has just mandated that Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services must enable easy access to emergency services:

    In issuing its order on a 4-0 vote, the FCC said it “hopes to minimize the likelihood of situations like recent incidents in which users of interconnected VoIP dialed 911 but were not able to reach emergency operators.”

    The FCC decision says VoIP providers must make sure all 911 calls they process are routed to the caller’s local 911 operations center. In addition, VoIP calls must display the customer’s callback number and location when it rings into the emergency center, a system called “enhanced” 911 or E911.

    The need to do this automatically and with no questions asked should have been obvious from the very beginning. The fact that Vonage and other VOIP providers made emergency services access difficult and/or costly is a disgrace, and partially explains why the generally bureaucratic and inefficient hand of government regulation gets involved (once in, it never seems to let go). Sorry, Mises, I have to disagree with you on this one. Had the VOIPs done the right thing, the FCC in this administration would probably have left them alone.

  • When is New Jersey going to allow its citizens to pump their own gas? (a personal pet peeve, having just visited the Garden State)Here’s the background. I might have figured that Oregon would be the only other state to ban self-service at the pump.