Two prominent House committee chairs are “deeply disappointed” in Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler for refusing to testify before Congress as “the future of the Internet is at stake.” Wheeler’s refusal to go before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday comes on the eve of the FCC’s vote on new Internet regulations pertaining to net neutrality. The committee’s chairman, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), and Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) criticized Wheeler and the administration for lacking transparency on the issue. “So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” Chaffetz and Upton said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress.” The vote on the new Internet regulations is scheduled for Thursday. The FCC’s two Republican commissioners have asked Wheeler to delay the vote to allow more time for review. The changes would allow the commission to regulate the Internet like a public utility, setting new standards that require the provision of equal access to all online content.
The centenary of the artistic movement known as Dada is coming up in 1916 and it ought to produce a lot of nonsense. The word “Dada” is supposed to come from the Kru language in Africa, and refers to the tail of a sacred cow. Up till then, the purpose of art had been to say something about humanity, and how to be a human being. Dada had the contrary purpose that there is nothing to say about human beings. The artist’s mockery and nihilism is supposed to be proof of his superiority to the stupid public. The moving spirit was the Romanian Tristan Tzara (a pseudonym meaning “sad in the country”). He had fled to the safety of Zurich, neutral in the First World War, and there he attracted like-minded writers and painters from almost all European backgrounds. They sat in cafés and argued and wrote manifestoes. Of them all, James Joyce was the only one with real talent, but Finnegan’s Wake, that unreadable effusion, shows how Dada had got to him. In the wake of Dada came Surrealism, Socialist Realism, and today’s conceptual art in which humanity doesn’t feature at all. Adolf Hitler gave all such work a longer hold by calling it degenerate and having it destroyed. Unfortunately, his view that the purpose of art was to inspire racism is a kindred absurdity. Tzara and his coterie were preparing to make the world a worse place at the very same month that a million men were being killed or wounded in the Battle of the Somme so that the world could be a better place. Their centenary is likely to be celebrated with lots of anger expressed against the politicians who got Europe into that war. The city of Zurich, I notice, is already planning visits to cafes, readings, and who knows what. It is only fitting that the final word on Dada should go to tourism.
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