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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcard

    Politicians: Just as vain as you!

    The Story: A flier for the campaign of Dean Hrbacek, former mayor of Sugar Land, Texas, and current congressional candidate, bends the truth by depicting the politician’s head digitally inserted on a thinner body. Hrbacek’s campaign manager explained that the image had to be faked because the candidate hasn’t had time to pose for a full-length photo.

    We all know what’s really going on here: In this age of Botox, when Hillary Clinton can’t so much as wear a demure pantsuit without someone, somewhere uttering the phrase “”cottage-cheese thighs,”” politicians can no longer afford to look strange or have love handles. If Hrbacek’s flier had shown the candidate proudly donning his fat pants, voters would be flocking to dreamy Democratic über-hottie Nick Lampson right now.

    OK, our culture isn’t actually that superficial when it comes to voting – or is it? How many times, for instance, have pundits listed Barack Obama’s “”handsomeness”” as one of his redeeming qualities as a candidate? Would modern voters trust tubby old Taft to do what’s best for the country, or would his press conferences amount to a bunch of thinly-veiled fat jokes? 21st-century technology allows us to be more familiar with candidates’ appearances than ever before – which also means we can’t help but judge candidates on their appearances more than we ever have.

    This so-called “”scandal,”” hopefully, will be a little reality check for an electorate bombarded with images of politicians: It’s the issues and personalities that matter, not the hip-to-waist ratios. Besides, as history has shown us, whoever wins is probably going to be pretty funny-looking anyway.

    – Alyson Hill is a senior majoring in classics,

    German studies and history.

    With the highest obesity percentages in the world, you’d think Americans would embrace pudgy politicians – this is a representative democracy, after all.

    Yet, alas, we demand beauty and physical perfection not only from celebrities, but from our politicians as well. What else would prompt Hrbacek to Photoshop his campaign photo, John Edwards to spend $400 on a haircut or Mitt Romney to shell out $300 for a personal makeup consultation?

    As voters, we may claim moral superiority and vote based on substance and not appearance, but studies tracking political success and physical attractiveness prove a strong positive correlation between the two. So make fun of Hrbacek, Edwards and Romney all you want, but they may be taking the appropriate measures to capture your vote.

    – Christina Jelly is a senior majoring in biochemistry
    and philosophy.


    Metered broadband–mucho baloney?

    The story: Time Warner Cable has announced plans to test out a “”Consumption Based Billing”” system in Beaumont, Texas, which permits Internet users to prepay for a set amount of bandwidth, then pay a per-gigabyte overcharge fee.

    Time Warner bills its plan as a way to crack down on the top 5 percent of Internet users who eat up over half of its bandwidth. But it’s an evil idea which everyone should be concerned about. Time Warner’s plans max out at 40 gigabytes per month, demanding additional fees beyond that. For reference, a simple movie or game demo download can run three or four gigs. Check your own bandwidth usage per month; you’ll be surprised how high it is.

    Those who combine Time Warner’s plan with pay-per-use services like Netflix and iTunes will essentially be charged twice for one piece of data – once for the license to download the information and once for the information itself. Such services will suffer from attempts to hobble “”bandwidth hogs,”” to say nothing of less scrupulous services like porn sites and “”World of Warcraft.”” The sensible next step is for broadband companies to “”partner up”” with such sites, offering them discounted rates. But this is a giant leap on the road to overthrowing net neutrality and permitting telecommunications companies to run your life.

    Cable companies seem to think Internet users should simply check their e-mail and surf “”the Web.”” But as “”the Web”” expands to encompass different types of media, the flaw in this will become more and more apparent. The reality is that bandwidth isn’t like any other utility, because customers are really paying for information – and the power to control mass information flow is one we should trust nobody to hold.

    – Taylor Kessinger is a junior majoring in math, philosophy and physics.

    Switching to usage-based billing for Internet service will lead to greater choice for consumers rather than opening doors to censorship. Imagine bandwidth usage as printer paper, with a fixed quantity available to users. Also pretend that the Internet is a giant printer, like those found in the OSCR labs – which just one year ago offered unlimited free printing every Thursday. As students painfully learned, free printing in the OSCR lab was too good to be true. Free riders abused the privilege by saving all their large printing jobs for the free days.

    The same principle applies to Internet usage. While most Internet users use their connections for low-bandwidth activities such ase-mail, information gathering and social networking, the 5 percent of subscribers with traffic jamming projects, such as trading movies and media on peer-to-peer networks or over BitTorrent, gobble over half of the total network bandwidth. Unfortunately for the public, the most vocal critics of usage-based billing are also the ones downloading the most.

    A nationwide change in pricing structures will mean cheaper Internet service for the vast majority of users. The public must wise up to force Internet sharks to pay for bandwidth abuse.

    – Matt Rolland is a junior majoring in economics and international studies.

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