Once upon a time, monopoly and oligopoly were illegal in America. Our ancestors believed, correctly, that concentrated economic power was incompatible with democracy in all sorts of ways. Since the days of Ronald Reagan, however, every succeeding administration has chosen to enforce the antitrust laws only if the monopoly or oligopoly in question threatened to cause big price increases for consumers— and sometimes not even then. This has come to mean that nearly all mergers and takeovers are permitted, and that achieving monopoly has once again become the obvious strategic objective of every would-be business leader.

Netflix offers a technical take on why a “fast lane” for data is a bad strategy, and why the Comcast/TWC merger shouldn’t be allowed:

Comcast does not carry Netflix traffic over long distances. Netflix is itself shouldering the costs and performing the transport function for which it used to pay transit providers. Netflix connects to Comcast in locations all over the U.S., and has offered to connect in as many locations as Comcast desires. So Netflix is moving Netflix content long distances, not Comcast.

Nor does Comcast connect Netflix to other networks. In fact, Netflix can’t reach other networks via Comcast’s network. 

For all these reasons, Netflix directly interconnects with many ISPs here in the U.S. and internationally without any exchange of fees. 

In sum, Comcast is not charging Netflix for transit service. It is charging Netflix for access to its subscribers. Comcast also charges its subscribers for access to Internet content providers like Netflix. In this way, Comcast is double dipping by getting both its subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. 

Side note: Here’s FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler rebuking critics of the commission’s proposed net neutrality strategy.

Welcome to the world’s largest book publisher: Penguin-Random House merger complete

Random House parent company Bertelsmann and Penguin parent company Pearson announced Monday that the merger of the two publishers is complete, thus resulting in the world’s largest book publisher: Penguin Random House.

The merger follows approval by the U.S., Canada, the EU, Australia, New Zealand and China.

Random House CEO Markus Dohle will serve as CEO of Penguin Random House; Bertelsmann owns 53 percent of the combined company, and Penguin owns 47 percent. Combined, the companies publish over 15,000 books annually and have 10,000 employees, with revenues of $3.9 billion.

» via paidContent

Question: If 2 black holes get near each other, can they then gravitationally pull matter out of the other black hole & back into “normal” space?

The short answer is no.

A black hole (in the traditional sense) is defined as an object that has collapsed so that its radius is equal to, or less than, the Schwarzschild of the object.

What does this mean?

Every object has a Schwarzschild radius; this is the point at which an object’s mass is so compressed that the gravitational influence overpowers the other forces of nature and it collapses to a singularity.

Of course, not every object is massive enough to collapse to its Schwarzschild radius. The Earth’s Schwarzschild radius, for example, is about the diameter of a small marble. If you were to apply enough energy to the Earth and compress its mass to that size, it would collapse to form a black hole. The same is true for humans, except I’d need to compress you to a point some 10-million times smaller than a marble in order to turn you into a black hole.

So, what is special about the Schwarzschild radius? This is the point at which the escape velocity for the object is equal to the speed of light. Obviously, since you can’t travel ,or faster than, the speed of light you can’t get out of a black hole neither can another black hole pull you out.

It’s important to realize that, outside of the Schwarzschild radius (also known as the event horizon), spacetime is normal. You can interact with a black hole in the same ways you interact with any other object of mass.

Image credit: NASA/CXC/A.Hobart

Article: From Quarks to Quasars

Justice Department attempts to block AT&T merger with T-Mobile
  • then A while back, AT&T announced it would attempt to purchase T-Mobile for $39 billion, in an attempt to shore up deficiencies in its wireless network. Other companies and consumer groups, most notably Sprint, loudly complained.
  • now Now the Justice Department’s trying to block the merger. “AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low-priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market,” their complaint said. *BOOM.* source

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Cather + Wren = Catherine? Fangirl and the pin/pen merger

I recently read the novel Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which is an excellent book that has nothing to do with linguistics. Despite that, I ended up noticing something linguistically interesting about the characters’ names, specifically that of Cather, the main character, and her twin sister Wren.

(Although she goes by “Cath” for most of the book, I’ll continue referring to her by her full name for reasons that will shortly become apparent. I’ll be discussing something that happened midway through the book, but I think it’s really too minor to count as a spoiler.)

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