"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Friday, June 30, 2006

Toll booth model cont ...

More on politicans using utilities to collect taxes (aka toll booth model)
Note that we've slashed the number of phone lines and services we use in our household, and cut our costs drastically.

John Stossel:

The cost of a phone call has actually been coming down. Through the miracle of new technology and heated competition, a three-minute cross-country call that once cost two bucks now costs 20 cents. But what's all that other stuff on your bill — surcharges, regulatory fees, state gross receipts tax? A lot of people are upset about these extra charges.

But Steve Largent, president of CTIA — The Wireless Association, says it's not the cell phone companies' fault.

Most of the charges are fees that government, not the phone company, adds to your bill.

It's a way to raise taxes without people seeing it because phone bills are so long and contain so many extra charges. Also, putting more taxes on your phone bill is not as politically painful as, say, raising income or property taxes. In Baltimore, where phone users were already paying heavy state and federal taxes, the city decided it wanted some of the action.

"They were charging every resident who used wireless services in the city of Baltimore $3.50. They said, 'Hey, this is a good thing. Let's double it,' " Largent said.

With the new "Baltimore City Surcharge" of $3.50, the average cell phone user there must now pay about $7 extra in taxes per phone line. Taxes on cell phone service nationwide now average 14.5 percent — more than double an average sales tax.

It would be nice if the wireless providers who advertise a plan for $39.99 a month said you'll really have to pay closer to $50. But the companies are just passing on taxes and surcharges that government mandates. So instead of screaming at the guy behind the counter, maybe you should scream at city hall.

Stossel slams idiots

June 25, 2006 — John Stossel, the co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20," has been crusading for consumers for over 30 years. His trademark "Give me a break" series took him to the top of the New York Times bestseller list two years ago, and now he's at it again. Uncovering "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity," Stossel is out to prove why "everything you know is wrong."

John Stossel: It's a book title. It's an exaggeration. It's not everything, but so much of what I thought was true turned out to be wrong.

I believed it when I heard that we weren't spending enough money, and that's why schools were struggling. I was shocked to find out we're spending $10,000 per student. Do the math. That's $250,000 per classroom. Think what you could do with that money. You could hire three great teachers.

We spent half a trillion dollars on Africa. Africa is poorer than before we spent that money. … I wish Bono, instead of saying, "Ask President Bush to spend more of your money," would say, "Let's spend more of our money on a private charity," because private charities keep their eye on where the money goes.

We need lawyers. We need lawyers like we need nuclear missiles. They keep us safe. But nuclear missiles kill innocent people. Lawyers wreck the lives of innocent people. We should avoid using them the way we avoid using our missiles. But we don't, because in America we have a unique legal system that invites destructive lawsuits.

The media are by and large economically and scientifically clueless. … Imbeciles in our business are saying gas prices are at record highs. Well, it's only a record if you don't adjust for inflation. And then you might as well say the movie "Rush Hour 3" is one of the highest grossing movies of all time. It's absurd not to adjust for inflation, and when you do gas prices today are lower than they were in 1980 and 1920.

You should listen to the media skeptically … Correct me if you find anything I've said that is a myth or a lie or downright stupid, myself … and I'll apologize.

More here: ABC News: John Stossel's "Myths, Lies and Nasty Behavior"

Calif To TC

Found following while trying to check local radio for the commentary when the Blue Angels perform.

Small world
We spent a little time on Monterey last March

This post was from Sept '04
Blues flying again this weekend (they do it every other year).

California radio host does show from Traverse City

Record-Eagle staff writer

TRAVERSE CITY - Good morning Monterey! By way of Old Mission Peninsula, that is.
Since June, Ed Dickinson has been broadcasting his big-band jazz radio show on the AM station KIDD Magic 63 in Monterey, Calif. from his summer home overlooking treetops and East Bay.
"It's perfect looking out and seeing that instead of talking to a blank wall," he said. "When I'm in the studio, sometimes that bothers me."
Dickinson, 78, has been a fixture of Monterey radio for more than 52 years and hosts "Way Back Now" on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Last summer when he and wife Anne came to spend the summer in Traverse City, he flew back and forth to keep the show going.
"This year they put in the ISDN (integrated services digital network) line and that's when we bought this house in the Bluffs," said Anne.
The house she refers to sits high on a hill on the Old Mission Peninsula. The home is mostly underground with a tower sticking up about 40 feet that provides a view of the treetops and water.
Both Ed and Anne, Dickinson's second wife, lived parts of their childhoods in Michigan. They met through a mutual friend in Monterey when Anne, the former Anne Braden, moved back there after she spent most of the 1980s in Traverse City.
They have been married now for about 10 years. They bought their home here after Anne's daughter, who has adopted five children, moved back to the area.
Dickinson's listeners know he's broadcasting from Michigan, and he begins the show with a recording of someone climbing 35 steps. That's the actual number he takes to get up into the tower.
Dickinson acts as if he's out of breath, then chats with his engineer back in California over that digital line. He spins big band favorites from Glenn Miller to Artie Shaw to Suttons Bay resident Harry Goldson, with other old non-big-band numbers sprinkled in.
He can also chat with listeners calling in to answer trivia contest questions.
Radio station general manager Kathy Baker said the arrangement "works very well." She said he's a "very popular announcer" because of his longevity, the fact that he plays music that older listeners can't find on other stations and his rapport with his audience.
Dickinson started his career after being stationed in Guam and China with the Marines between 1944 and '47, then getting a bachelors degree in radio speech at San Jose State University.
He was first a disc jockey at a station in Elko, Nev. Seven months later, he landed a job at KMBY in Monterey broadcasting minor-league baseball and spinning pop records.
The station was owned by Bing Crosby. It aired his golf tournament known as the "Crosby Clambake."
"It was a lot of fun," Dickinson said. "We worked with one drink in the hand and all the movie stars were there."
Through the years, he's worked at several stations in the Monterey Bay area, building a following for his knowledge of music and his folksy on-air persona. That got him a nomination to the Radio Hall of Fame in 2001.
Every year, he observes the birthday of Doris Day, a local resident there, by focusing on her recordings. He dedicates Memorial Day and Veterans Day shows to veterans.
Dickinson will be returning to California soon. When he broadcasts from the studio there, they play fewer footsteps and he says he's broadcasting from the attic. The pretense is that it's his grandmother's attic and he's finding old records there.
"People actually believe he's up in an attic," Anne said.
He does play some CDs, though he still plays mostly vinyl.
"People say, 'We love hearing the nicks and the pops,'¡" he said.
The Dickinsons often lead cruises and other trips for fans through a travel agency in Monterey. They plan to lead one to Michigan next year that will include the Detroit area and Traverse City.
"They want to see the tower," Ed said.
That's because he's talked it up, having become fond of the scenic perch in the modern home. His listeners have heard some of it themselves, including a Blue Angels jet flying overhead and a woodpecker knocking on the house.
And by now, Ed uses the correct terminology when he tells his listeners where he is, with the help of his wife.
"The first day I was on the air from here, I said, 'I'm here looking at West Bay' and she said, 'No, no, it's East Bay,'!" he said.


Back from Cape Cod

Both have significant National Park ( Seashore and Lakeshore )
Both have similar soils, sandy
Both have similar vegetation, conifers, although Leelanau has more hardwoods
Both surrounded by water
Both are tourist driven economies

I prefer Leelanau County
1) Better Food, at least "in season"
Exception being fresh seafood... lobster and oyster's

2) less crowded ... often much less

3) better roads/traffic/signage (esp. signage)
Here, roads have simple numbers.
There they designate north or south, which don't correspond to the direction you may be traveling.
Heading south on Rt 6 North is still south.
Thankfully, we had my pocket GPS to keep us sane.

Roundabouts - I failed to learn that you simply start lapping them until you find the exit you really want.

Signs missing, faded or hidden.
Should have taken some photos. Example, in Orleans, "Mainstreet" where entire sign, except for the "M" hidden by a telephone pole.

I think that they are still afraid of the redcoats ...

4) less "touristy"

Good to be home.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pols love the toll booth model

I've often argued that politicans love the idea of alowing, even mandating tighter controls on the internet and supporting the established Telco's and Cableco's, letting them be the operators of the toll booths on the turnpike.

Here's WSJournal on the same re: USF
Note that it isn't just the subsidy to rural phone service providers, it's the principal of having a conduit for funds that the politicans can tap.

Bad Subsidy Call
June 23, 2006; Page A10

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to require Internet telephone companies to contribute to the Universal Service Fund (USF). The move means higher phone bills for Internet telephone service as providers pass this new cost on to customers. But it also means that a Republican-run regulatory agency is expanding a federal subsidy that should have been phased out long ago.

The concept of "universal service" dates back more than 70 years to a time when stringing wires together to bring telephone service to loosely populated areas was expensive. The goal was to keep local phone rates low and increase subscribers. This policy long ago fulfilled its purpose: By the mid-1990s, nearly 95% of U.S. households had a telephone. A competitive telecom marketplace with proliferating wireless technologies and multiple service providers had developed.

Nevertheless, the USF lives on. What's worse, the FCC has now determined that Internet telephony should be roped in to this anachronistic regulatory framework. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says this levy is necessary for parity purposes. But the best way to produce a level telecom playing field isn't by burdening new technologies with old regulations. It's by phasing out such regulations for everyone.

The USF has become a tool for redistributing wealth from urban phone customers to their rural counterparts, says Randolph May, a former FCC lawyer who now heads the Free State Foundation think tank. The irony, says Mr. May, "is that the subsidies tend to flow from more densely populated areas like New York or Baltimore to less densely populated areas. So, in effect, you've got many places where poor people are subsidizing rich people in Aspen." Given that near-universal service now exists, why not subsidize only those low-income customers who truly need it?

The main beneficiaries of the status quo are rural telephone companies, some of which receive as much as 70% of their revenue from the USF. More than a thousand such entities still exist nationwide, and they have powerful allies in Congress, especially Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens of Alaska. We knew many in Washington were eager to classify the Internet as nothing more than a glorified telephone subject to the usual telecom taxes and rules. But we were hoping a Republican-controlled FCC wouldn't let that happen.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Study of the genetic links to behavior is OK
That Wild Streak? Maybe It Runs in the Family - New York Times

But not IQ
WSJournal :WSJ.com - Scientist's Study Of Brain Genes Sparks a Backlash
Head Examined
Scientist's Study Of Brain Genes Sparks a Backlash
Dr. Lahn Connects Evolution In Some Groups to IQ;
Debate on Race and DNA

'Speculating Is Dangerous'
June 16, 2006; Page A1

CHICAGO -- Last September, Bruce Lahn, a professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago, stood before a packed lecture hall and reported the results of a new DNA analysis: He had found signs of recent evolution in the brains of some people, but not of others.

It was a triumphant moment for the young scientist. He was up for tenure and his research was being featured in back-to-back articles in the country's most prestigious science journal. Yet today, Dr. Lahn says he is moving away from the research. "It's getting too controversial," he says.

Dr. Lahn had touched a raw nerve in science: race and intelligence.

What Dr. Lahn told his audience was that genetic changes over the past several thousand years might be linked to brain size and intelligence. He flashed maps that showed the changes had taken hold and spread widely in Europe, Asia and the Americas, but weren't common in sub-Saharan Africa.

Web sites and magazines promoting white "racialism" quickly seized on Dr. Lahn's suggestive scientific snapshot. One magazine that blames black and Hispanic people for social ills hailed his discovery as "the moment the antiracists and egalitarians have dreaded."

Dr. Lahn has drawn sharp fire from other leading genetics researchers. They say the genetic differences he found may not signify any recent evolution -- and even if they do, it is too big a leap to suggest any link to intelligence. "This is not the place you want to report a weak association that might or might not stand up," says Francis Collins, director of the genome program at the National Institutes of Health.

Gates Goes

Between the lines, Gates admits defeat.

From WSJ:
"Bill Gates was a terrific player in a world where software was in a box and he made a profit on that product," says George Colony, chief executive of the market-research firm Forrester Research. "I think he's having a very difficult time understanding how to compete in a world where that is free."

Handwriting has been on the wall for a while.

Brilliant at the time, at least in a monoploy business sense, the info-world is passing MuSoft by.


Well, maybe there is someone with a more bitter view of America and it's people.

NYTimes review of 'Dark Ages America,' by Morris Berman
Grim View of a Nation at the End of Days.

Times slams the book for being a mear critique of critiques or of others writings.

"This is the sort of book that gives the Left a bad name.

Morris Berman
The Final Phase of Empire

By Morris Berman

385 pages. W. W. Norton & Company. $25.95.
Readers’ Opinions
Forum: Book News and Reviews

In "Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire," the cultural historian Morris Berman delivers a vituperative, Spenglerian screed that makes Michael Moore seem like a rah-rah American cheerleader: a screed that describes this country as "a cultural and emotional wasteland," suffering from "spiritual death" and intent on exporting its false values around the world at the point of a gun; a republic-turned-empire that has entered a new Dark Age and that is on the verge of collapsing like Rome."

I'd have to ask : compared to What?

While I agree that our public education system seems to be failing, pop culture is full on "huh?", and that politics stays in full dumbing down mode, I'm not seeing leadership elsewhere in the world.

We still have issues with immigration, people want to come here.

Maybe Mr. Berman can move to ... France.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Yum Yum

As the world turns, we now learn that Fried Chicken may not be "good" for you.

This is new?

KFC Is Sued Over the Use of Trans Fats in Its Cooking:

"A nutrition advocacy group sued KFC yesterday to get it to stop using partially hydrogenated oils, a key ingredient of its fried chicken. The oils contain trans fats, which scientists consider the most unhealthful of all fats.

The plaintiff, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which frequently criticizes the food industry and the government, seeks to have the District of Columbia Superior Court either ban use of the oils in KFC's cooking or force the company to post signs telling customers that its food contains trans fat and can cause heart disease."

But ...
Some time ago CSPI supported partially hydrogenated oils.

"About 80 percent of trans fats in the American diet come from partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fats became a part of fast-food meals in the 1980's, after consumer groups demanded that the chains stop frying in beef tallow and palm oils because those products are highly saturated. The hazards of trans fats were not widely realized until years later."

Couldn't find the orginal source in the CSPI archives
Nutrition Action Healthletter Archives

But did find this commentary : The Tragic Legacy of Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

And from CSPI Press Release : KFC Sued for Fouling Chicken with Partially Hydrogenated Oil ~ Newsroom ~ News from CSPI

"The plaintiff in the case is retired physician Arthur Hoyte, of Rockville, Maryland. He had purchased fried chicken at KFC outlets in Washington, DC, and elsewhere, not knowing that KFC fries in partially hydrogenated oil.

'If I had known that KFC uses an unnatural frying oil, and that their food was so high in trans fat, I would have reconsidered my choices," said Dr. Hoyte. "I am bringing this suit because I want KFC to change the way it does business. And I'm doing it for my son and others' kids-so that they may have a healthier, happier, trans-fat-free future.' "

What planet has this guy been on?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Food Fads

The Way We Eat: Market Value

"When it comes to food, the principles of supply and demand do not always apply. Food is about the senses, and its value is determined by something less rational. Rarity may put a special gloss — and price — on some foods, but so will fashion and the perennial need for new flavors."

Such stuff as "Patagonian toothfish didn't seem toothsome until it became Chilean sea bass. And stocks of dogfish were nearly wiped out not once but twice, though only after the fish became known first as rock salmon and later as Cape shark."

Not quite "we are what we eat"


NYTimes on Shin Buddhism.

"In some ways, the story line is familiar. Religious traditions have long adapted to fit changing cultural circumstances. Consider how Hanukkah, a relatively minor holiday on the Jewish religious calendar, has leaped in importance among many Jews in the face of the crush of attention surrounding Christmas in this country. But while Zen and Tibetan Buddhism — the Buddhist forms that have largely driven the religion's surge among Western practitioners — focus on meditative practices as a way to achieve enlightenment, Shin Buddhism, the Pure Land school that the Buddhist Churches of America embraces, teaches that meditation is ultimately useless because of the inherent human limitations."

Following da bouncin ball

Suspect that Rove non-indictment may move the data.
Predict that oil prices will come down this summer, and that will move data as well.

IEM 2006 US Congressional Control Market Price Graph

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Strawberry Moon

Just a bit before 6AM (5:48)
Likely the lowest (most southernly) we'll get a shot of the moon this year.

Bit of a blow up of the same shot, doing some cropping

10 Min later (5:49)
Moon settles into the "notch" towards Empire

Monday, June 05, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?
(other than my copy/paste where shot runs under side text)
Since edited - scroll down

Try Dictionary for Devise vs Device ...

Wonder how much to Charge AT&T for troubleshooting their site?

de·vice Audio pronunciation of "device" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (d-vs)
  1. A contrivance or an invention serving a particular purpose, especially a machine used to perform one or more relatively simple tasks.
de·vise Audio pronunciation of "devise" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (d-vz)
tr.v. de·vised, de·vis·ing, de·vis·es
  1. To form, plan, or arrange in the mind; design or contrive: devised a new system for handling mail orders.
Definitions from Dictionary.com

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Manitou Music Fest

Shameless plug for the Glen Arbor Art Association and it's Manitou Music Festival.

Posters available for purchase here
As well as tickets, sign up for classes, or make donations.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Now this is Interesting - Open Source Politics

Following is copyright Newsweek, but I think it interesting enough to post it in full.

Way beyond MoveOn (aka where to get laid)
What I find most interesting is the attempt to sieze the middle (high) ground.

Wonder if it will tie into the Iowa Election Markets (prior post)

A New Open-Source Politics
Just as Linux lets users design their own operating systems, so 'netroots' politicos may redesign our nominating system.

June 5, 2006 issue - Bob Schieffer of CBS News made a good point on "The Charlie Rose Show" last week. He said that successful presidents have all skillfully exploited the dominant medium of their times. The Founders were eloquent writers in the age of pamphleteering. Franklin D. Roosevelt restored hope in 1933 by mastering radio. And John F. Kennedy was the first president elected because of his understanding of television.

Will 2008 bring the first Internet president? Last time, Howard Dean and later John Kerry showed that the whole idea of "early money" is now obsolete in presidential politics. The Internet lets candidates who catch fire raise millions in small donations practically overnight. That's why all the talk of Hillary Clinton's "war chest" making her the front runner for 2008 is the most hackneyed punditry around. Money from wealthy donors remains the essential ingredient in most state and local campaigns, but "free media" shapes the outcome of presidential races, and the Internet is the freest media of all.

No one knows exactly where technology is taking politics, but we're beginning to see some clues. For starters, the longtime stranglehold of media consultants may be over. In 2004, Errol Morris, the director of "The Thin Blue Line" and "The Fog of War," on his own initiative made several brilliant anti-Bush ads (they featured lifelong Republicans explaining why they were voting for Kerry). Not only did Kerry not air the ads, he told me recently he never even knew they existed. In 2008, any presidential candidate with half a brain will let a thousand ad ideas bloom (or stream) online and televise only those that are popular downloads. Deferring to "the wisdom of crowds" will be cheaper and more effective.

Open-source politics has its hazards, starting with the fact that most people over 35 will need some help with the concept. But just as Linux lets tech-savvy users avoid Microsoft and design their own operating systems, so "netroots" political organizers may succeed in redesigning our current nominating system. But there probably won't be much that's organized about it. By definition, the Internet strips big shots of their control of the process, which is a good thing. Politics is at its most invigorating when it's cacophonous and chaotic.

To begin busting up the dumb system we have for selecting presidents, a bipartisan group will open shop this week at Unity08.com. This Internet-based third party is spearheaded by three veterans of the antique 1976 campaign: Democrats Hamilton Jordan and Gerald Rafshoon helped get Jimmy Carter elected; Republican Doug Bailey did media for Gerald Ford before launching the political TIP SHEET Hotline. They are joined by the independent former governor of Maine, Angus King, and a collection of idealistic young people who are also tired of a nominating process that pulls the major party candidates to the extremes. Their hope: to get even a fraction of the 50 million who voted for the next American Idol to nominate a third-party candidate for president online and use this new army to get him or her on the ballot in all 50 states. The idea is to go viral—or die. "The worst thing that could happen would be for a bunch of old white guys like us to run this," Jordan says.

The Unity08 plan is for an online third-party convention in mid-2008, following the early primaries. Any registered voter could be a delegate; their identities would be confirmed by cross-referencing with voter registration rolls (which would also prevent people from casting more than one ballot). That would likely include a much larger number than the few thousand primary voters who all but nominate the major party candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire. This virtual process will vote on a centrist platform and nominate a bipartisan ticket. The idea is that even if the third-party nominee didn't win, he would wield serious power in the '08 election, which will likely be close.

There are plenty of ways for this process to prove meaningless, starting with the major parties deciding to nominate independent-minded candidates like John McCain (OK, the old McCain) or Mark Warner. Third-party efforts have usually been candidate-driven, and the centrist names tossed around by way of example (Chuck Hagel, Sam Nunn, Tom Kean) don't have much marquee value in the blogosphere. And the organizers would have to design safeguards to keep the whole thing from being hijacked.

But funny things happen in election years. With an issue as eye-glazing as the deficit, a wacky, jug-eared Texan named Ross Perot received 19 percent of the vote in 1992 and 7 percent in 1996. He did it with "Larry King Live" and an 800 number. In a country where more than 40 percent of voters now self-identify as independents, it's no longer a question of whether the Internet will revolutionize American politics, but when.

For more, go to JonathanAlter.com

And they're off

Iowa Election Market launched yesterday

Iowa Electronic Markets ~ Current Markets: 2006 Congressional Election Markets

It will take time for the market to get up and running, but I've found them to, over time, be more accurate in "predicting" the final result(s) of elections than polls.

With polls, respondents reply with what they want or what they think is the "right" answer (or lie).
With Markets, participants reply with MONEY.

Example: you may want a Republican to win, but if in your heart of hearts, you don't think they have a chance, you "bet" that they will loose.

When the markets are thin, and/or when participants try to "game" them, others will gladly take their money.

Green(faced) Piece

Philadelphia Inquirer | 05/29/2006 | Greenpeace's fill-in-the-blank public relations meltdown

AKA Big Whoops...

"Before President Bush touched down in Pennsylvania Wednesday to promote his nuclear energy policy, the environmental group Greenpeace was mobilizing.

"This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet decrying the "threat" posed by the Limerick reactors Bush visited.

But a factoid or two later, the Greenpeace authors were stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.

We present it here exactly as it was written, capital letters and all: "In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."

Had Greenpeace been hacked by a nuke-loving Bush fan? Or was this proof of Greenpeace fear-mongering?

The aghast Greenpeace spokesman who issued the memo, Steve Smith, said a colleague was making a joke by inserting the language in a draft that was then mistakenly released.

"Given the seriousness of the issue at hand, I don't even think it's funny," Smith said.

The final version did not mention Armageddon. It just warned of plane crashes and reactor meltdowns."

Contrast this with Patrick Moore (co-founder of Greenpeace)

Washington Post

Going Nuclear
A Green Makes the Case

By Patrick Moore
Sunday, April 16, 2006; B01

"In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lowest Common Denomator

Excellent piece by Jaron Lanier on the flaws in meta sites/systems such as wikipedia.

Best to read the whole piece.

Unsure of the Concept

Aren't Vonage customers "switchers"?
Willing to leave established telco's for better prices.
How loyal are they?
What is the "Lock In"?

If I'm "Big Telco" wouldn't I want to try to compete on price and keep customers via some other bundling/tie-in's?
Cingular got me with "rollover" and coverage at both houses.

Vonage Moves to Reassure Nervous Investors

Published: May 31, 2006

Vonage, tarred by a disastrous initial public offering last week, is scrambling to reassure investors. The company, which provides Internet phone service, said yesterday that it would reimburse the bankers who handled the sale if any Vonage customers refused to pay for shares that were allotted to them.

Vonage gave its customers a chance to buy as much as 15 percent of the 31.25 million shares that were offered last week. About 10,000 of the company's 1.6 million customers ultimately received shares, which were sold at $17 each, according to a person briefed on the deal. Customers had until yesterday to open an account with a specified broker and pay for their shares.

Some customers who participated in the "directed share program" were reluctant to pay for their shares after the stock fell. The shares have lost more than 26 percent of their value since their debut last Wednesday. They fell 52 cents, to $12.50 yesterday.

Update (aka Whoops)
Might sue customers (really smart move ;-p)

Vonage May Seek Payment From Balking Share Buyers

Published: June 1, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, May 31 — Vonage, the Internet telephone provider, said on Wednesday that it might seek reimbursement from customers who fail to pay for shares they committed to buy during the company's disappointing initial public offering last week.

Wednesday's statement continues Vonage's public relations and financial struggle since it went public last week. Its shares have dropped almost 29 percent from their $17 opening price, closing on Wednesday at $12.02

Maybe it's just a nefarious plot by "Big Telco's" to discredit net-phones.
"Do you REALLY want somebody like this running your phone service?"

Addendum :
A bit more digging and it all starts to come back to me
Jeffery Citron "banned from securities trading":

Internet telephony | Vonage unwanted | Economist.com

"In 2003 Jeffrey Citron, a former broker, paid $22.5m in penalties to settle allegations of fraud and agreed never to work in the securities industry again. He then turned his attention to his next big thing—making phone calls over the internet. He launched Vonage, a company in New Jersey that has since become almost synonymous in America with the term VOIP (for “voice over internet protocol”). Spending oodles on marketing, Mr Citron has persuaded 1.6m Americans to ditch their land-line telephone company. In the American VOIP industry—which has 5.5m subscribers now, but should have 24m by 2010, according to TeleGeography, a research firm—Vonage is the leader.

That did not count for much on May 24th, when Vonage made the worst stockmarket debut by an American technology firm in two years, offering new shares worth $531m in total, which dropped 13% by day's end. There had been signs of desperation in the preceding weeks—such as a plea to customers to take up 13.5% of the new shares—but a belly flop of these proportions was surprising. Is VOIP over-hyped?"

Economist goes on to note that Skype is software only (headset reccomended).

Link to SEC on settlement: SEC Charges Former Day-Trading Principals with Securities Fraud; Others Charged with Fraud or Violating Recordkeeping and Reporting Rules; Press Release 2003-5

MidEast Headline

The U.S. offered
to hold talks with Iran if it suspends development of nuclear technologies, a major policy shift for Bush.

If this comes to pass, which I think it will, oil prices will fall.
All part of the puzzle.
Slowly developing stablity in Iraq.
Persians (Iran) key players in the region, whole nuke thing may have been stage acting on both sides (Iran and US).

Fingers crossed.
Maybe more comments later.