Off the Top: Politics Entries


January 17, 2021

Weeknote - 17 January 2021

Busy, but not overly productive week. I’ve been battling getting a replacement laptop actually functioning, so battling and not being productive. That scenario drives me absolutely up the wall. Going through the battles reminds me of how fairly seamlessly Apple does this.

Evenings have been trying to run errands, but finding stores closing quite early due to Covid and complications around the attack on the Capitol and Inauguration. This has left me rather tired, but also not sleeping well.

Insights from

I just read about Foxsy shutting from their CEO’s blog post about the company and product and his and their lessons learned, Moved on from my journey Foxsy. I was introduced to them from an investor as they were hitting an inflection point and needed help smoothing out some of the interactions, user flow model, and some language areas. The product was rather ingenious as it was a cross social platform chat service using AI to match people. Jin was in San Francisco and the rest of the team at that point and time was in Japan. It was great to read they kept going as I shifted to another project.

The glimpse inside a San Francisco start-up is rather typical from the doing everything to scrape by to keep the product going and get to the next level. I heard some of these stories when I was helping them and hearing it from Japanese guys was interesting as the story wasn’t that different from American guys, the French teams I know, nor the mixed teams from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The small companies I knew / know in Europe, Latin America, and Singapore were a bit different, but the dedication and passion isn’t.

While I hate to see Foxsy shut, I know whatever each of these people do will be fantastic. Only a very small percentage of start-ups make it through to launch, through a few years or use, and then making money to be self-sustaining, and getting the investors some profit. Here’s to whatever is next Foxsy crew!

Read

Every January I dig out the Saint Mary’s Jan Term Catalog and look through was is / was offered. When I was at St. Mary’s Jan Term was something I deeply enjoyed. St. Mary’s ran on a 4–1–4 schedule with four courses in a fall semester, one course in January, and four in spring semester. January classes typically met for 3 or 4 hours Monday through Thursday for an intensive course on a tight subject. There are usually also travel courses for Jan Term, like religious architecture in Ireland or Italy, or sailing course in the Caribbean. My first year I had a Sports Psychology course and second year was on charisma and public leaders (this was amazing). My last year I didn’t exactly get Jan Term as I was doing a full term in Oxford at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Centre.

Every year I find new intriguing courses with good reading lists and I add the reading list and often start digging into a subject of a few each year. I’ve long wondered what a full school year of one month one class would look like. The Oxbridge tutorial system is somewhat similar over two months with intensive tutorials used to fill in gaps through guided self-learning, with that guidance being deep and good.

I stumbled on this article from a couple people, ‘Rent-a-person who does nothing’ in Tokyo receives endless requests, gratitude. This concept is an utter gem! The guy in Japan is selling his service of not doing anything, other than “just being there” for a round $96 a task. People using him to walk them to a court house as quiet support. Listening to people talk through something that they don’t want others to they know to hear or to judge them on. The service of “doing nothing” is somewhat akin to renting someone in a mature relationship that is years into that calm quiet support that gives the deep relief of not being alone and some togetherness.

Watched

Modern Doctor Who is on HBO Max. My two favorite Doctors are David Tennent and Matt Smith. There were a lot of the Tennent episodes I missed and being able to fill in the gaps is wonderful. But, also being able to watch favorite Matt Smith episodes again is something I’m looking for.

Listened

I tend to listen to a lot of music that doesn’t have lyrics or English lyrics. I don’t often listen to lyrics when they are in English, even though I will sing along or sing the song with out music. But, every now and then the lyrics stand out as they are creative. Twice this week I hit this.

One instance was going back something I used to listen to a lot and listened to driving across country with my dad, it was A.J. Croce’s self titled album. The music and production quality are really good, but the lyrics also stand out as they are witty and creative.

The other was Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver License, which was in my short list of recommended new music for the week and I had it playing in the background and the chorus of “’Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street” that really stuck out and I scrubbed back and relisten. That was insanely well crafted lyrically as well as musically.

Food

El Charro Mexican Restaurant in Lafayette, California Closed for Good, which may be one of the odd Covid maladies I’ve run across that hurt, beside the people it has taken from us. This was my first taco. It was also the accidental spark that got my parents and I obsessed with guacamole. When I was born this wasn’t all that far from where we lived and it was a favorite of my parents. I don’t remember going here as we moved when I was about 18 months old or so. But, we always stopped here when in the Bay Area.

I went to undergrad at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, which is sort of next door via back roads through the hills. When my parent would come and visit we would often goo to El Carro for lunch or dinner. One of the things my parents loved was the small dish of guacamole that came with tortilla chips, as well as salsa. From the time I was a baby my parents tried to replicate this intensely flavored guacamole. We learned many different ways of making guacamole and had a few favorites that are still really good. But, it wasn’t anything like El Charro’s.

So one day we asked about the guacamole, with my parents explaining they had tried to replicate it for 20 some years when we moved away. There was a bit of confusion, but the waitress understood and went in the back to ask. He head cook came out smiling. He explained it wasn’t guacamole, but blue cheese, a little garlic, and butter all mashed together until the blue of the cheese was a green-ish spread / dip. I’ve never seen this anywhere else. The cook had said the owner knew it from Mexico and was a special treat in a small town there. Thanks to the confusion I’ve learned many different guacamole recipes, probably more than 50, but also how to riff with the basics.

Productivity

I’ve been trying to put something in a daily dump note. The book notes and idea notes are getting to be a decent habit and being able to easily search and build on an understanding is really nice to have. Obsidian has been proving to be an insanely great augmentation layer.

Talking with a couple people using Roam this week about Obsidian has been interesting as both lost network access and didn’t have access to their notes. This also got them thinking about how to exit Roam, and the lack of API and a common framework they are feeling really stuck. There is now an option to scrape Roam to pull the content into markdown files that can work with Obsidian, and it seems it will also work with block replication. Roam is slick and what the people who love slick, but don’t consider function and the basic use cases for every platform: Do I have ownership of everything I put in?; Do I have constant access?; How do I exit?

I’m thinking through these as I have been looking at Craft, an Apple OS focussed note system that is quite similar to Notion. I somewhat like Notion and its capabilities, but getting to things, feeding them, and searching when working on things (I have to go to it and perform search and moving content in and out for writing and other workflows has a lot of friction. One solution around it is an API, which isn’t fully there. Craft being more native and sync with iCloud or other would enable what is in it being found in a search. Notion for personal use is now free and Craft is pay, but only about $4 a month.

Craft wouldn’t replace anything in Obsidian, but could help with some organization systems. I use Notion most for pushing podcast and YouTube links into them and then annotate them for refinding and reusing.



January 13, 2021

Weeknote - 10 January 2021

The first week back at work after a 10 day break was going well, other than a continual battle with my work computer that had a battery bulge that started six months ago and slowly turned into throttling, slow cursor and slow recognition of keystrokes at times, and regular crashes. The long replacement / fix cycle is pure Covid impact. After on Friday 5pm my refresh the laptop arrived, it felt like I got half my brain back spending time getting it setup (that process is still underway).

But, the insurrection actions to take over the U.S. Capitol took the focus of the week. Work Thursday and Friday was a welcome distraction, but lack of sleep and a computer doing its best to die made them not overly productive. I never thought I would see the U.S. foundations attacked in such a brutal way. Large mobs fed by outright lies trying to keep Congress from doing what the Constitution requires them to do is years and decades in the making. Chants to execute the Vice President because he said he couldn’t do what there is no legal path for him to do is beyond excuse. Attacking the the monuments to the democracy, but also attacking the Constitution and what it has laid out to protect the U.S. democracy is pure insurrection. This is a true wicked problem that is a tightly wound gordian knot of complexity. Having leader still sitting in office that supported the insurrection and the lies that created its actions is beyond me. They are sitting in seats and elected bodies they don’t believe in and want to destroy and want to run a country with a Constitution they want to destroy.

Read

Friends shared the Rijksmuseum’s now offering high resolution images of their collection, which are stunning.

I restumbled upon SPACE10, which I used to follow but the RSS feed seem to have broken, but some of their long pieces (which is many of them) are not structured well for a long read and they have the scroll bar in the browser turned off to know roughly how far along you are in a long piece, and there are no anchors in the long pieces to link to sections of relevance. It is a really not well conceived site for people thinking about architecture and a structured world.

That said, their piece on The Digital in Architecture: Then, Now and in the Future is rather good, it reminds me of a collection of presentations on information architecture from some of the top information architects from around 2003 to 2015 or so. The piece also has a good bibliography, but nothing is linked (I’m really not sure they understand what they are doing with the web, but they content is interesting and that is likely why I pushed it off my radar in the past).

Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for fast Flow by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais finally arrived. This looks much better than what I had thought it was and may dig into it over the weekend. I picked it up to gut around the topic of teams and optimizing them, particularly around adaptive teams. I a lot of experience with building and running teams and team ecosystems in large organization and bringing helping them be modern and breaking out of the command and control as well as chain of command model non-digital companies lean on (which destroy capabilities and efficiencies and mostly died out in the early 2000s except for the dinosaur companies - for more than 20 years I’ve flipped that models and been able to vastly improve every important metric). I haven’t found good books on teams that echo not only the experiences I’ve had and have consulted others on, but ones I see as prevalent in most of the high performing companies that work the same way. I know Team Topologies is more focussed on DevOps / developer / engineering models, but some underlying foundations for improving my framing of things is what I’m looking to get out of it. There are some things I don’t fully agree with and I regularly see as problematic that are listed in headings, but I don’t know their take. What I do know is a lot of the reference materials they point to are ones I’ve long used and have in my foundations as they echo experiences and things I’ve seen in practice that are really good (I love well documented books, particularly ones that use solid references that hold up with time).

Also arrived is a used version of Paul Madonna’s Everything is its own reward, which is a book of his monochrome watercolor and sketches of San Francisco. It is wonderful and takes me back to a San Francisco I deeply miss and loved. Even though it was used, but still had the poster piece tucked into its back cover sleeve. This poster is a wonderful edition.

Watched

News…

Listened

New to me band, Her, fit the mood early in the week and I’ve added them to easy access in some playlists.

Exponent - Episode 191: Facebook, Twitter, and Trump was a good conversation that was a bit out of sync, but good from a thinking and considering the situation piece.

Postlight Podcast - WordPress and Beyond: With Matt Mullenweg was really good, as expected. Some of the side discussion that started Paul Ford thinking, really have me intrigued. I’m needing to go back and track these down.

I had A.J. Croce’s A.J. Croce album on and had forgotten how good it really is. It is so well recorded and produced as on decent headphones or sound system it sounds like you are in the room with them. This was the in the soundtrack of the cross country drive with my dad in 1993. But, even with those wonderful memories I’ve always loved this album as there is so much good music in it and the lyrics are really good with nice turns of phrase.

Productivity

I’ve gone back to a practice of daily notes (the daily dump) in Obsidian / markdown that helps keep track of thoughts. It is similar to the sections I have for the weeknote template, but include: Thoughts, read, talked to, health, watched, listened to, worked on (personal items - I haven’t kept a daily work journal in a long while, but have daily meeting notes I keep in my work environment), learned, ate, bought, added to wishlist. These last two are to keep track of why.

One of the things I’m trying to sort through in my notes, research, and writing process workflow that I’m doing between just the daily notes and weeknotes is a microcosm of my regular workflows for writing (which I’m getting back to). My notes sit in directories in markdown files that are now in Dropbox for mobile device access and Obsidian sits on top of them linking things together and all is searchable in spotlight and DevonThink Indexes it. My writing is now in iA Writer, which works best with iCloud directories, which can be searched by Spotlight, but is outside Obsidian and Outside DevonThink.

I sometimes start writing in iA Writer, but they may be: Just a stub, more fleshed out but still a draft, mostly finished but not posted / published, or posted / published. I have many pieces from mid-summer around the Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd was murdered, which really moved me, but they weren’t finished or posted. Weeknotes ran into multi-week notes, then into just idle and start from scratch. There are things I know I have written I want to point to, but they aren’t shared out (this is a common issue). I finally created a quick template for marking the state at the bottom of a piece in progress. But, this isn’t helping sort through my central repository in Obsidian where searching across that collection and interlinking to pull things closer.

I’ve swapped through a bunch of writing apps and at the moment I have no interest in moving off iA Writer as I really like it. There are some things I need to investigate for some writing coming (footnotes, tables, and possibly integration with Grammarly as I need to get back into good writing patterns and practices). In the past my long or focussed writing was in Scrivener, which I still love, but its treatment of markdown as second class citizen, which made it difficult to have a smooth workflow with for publishing to the web. I used Ulysses for a short while, but its own structures and not freely available markdown files made it not work well at all in my workflows. There is a lot I really like with Ulysses and Scrivener with notes and note management, but easy working across devices isn’t as smooth as iA Writer nor as smooth as the workflow that is easy with freely available markdown files.



November 9, 2020

Weeknote - 8 November 2020

Happy 253rd day of March in the Year of Covid.

Work week was busy. Again not a lot of extra time for reading or moving this site. The election and the week of counting all the votes ate attention. One of my favorite clips from the week was of this Detroit pastor talking about protecting counting the vote and the impact of Black Americans involvement in the process with the great line, “we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents”. I love a good turn of phrase, and this is a gem.

After four years not not believing what I was seeing and hearing coming out of the White House, change has come with Joe Biden being announced as the President-Elect of the United States with Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect. Hopefully this we be a turn toward calm, getting ahead of Covid by following science and medicine, and getting the economy and environmental needs back in focus. It is so good to hear a President talking about being a President of “all the people” again.

Watched

The Atlantic’s “25 Feel-Good Films You’ll Want to Watch Again—and Again” list has been pointed to as a list of comforting movies to get through the current week. Some of my favorites on on there, like: Metropolitan (Whit Stillman movie which is one of my favorite movies, but not on my top 5 and I may need to rethink that or make my top 5 my top 10 - Barcelona I find to also really enjoy but isn’t quite as chatty and the dialog in Metropolitan is brilliant), Before Sunset (I really like Before Sunrise more, but after a couple watchings Before Sunset has grown on me and I still have the last of the trilogy to watch), High Fidelity (I really liked the book more, but I’m a big John Cusack fan thanks to Sure Thing that had friends as extras in it, yet when I think of the movie as separate from the book I like the movie a lot), Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh’s edition and the whole series I find to be fun), Ponyo (is still on my watch list and likely my next up of Miyazaki’s films, but I’m thinking of this as most any of Miyazaki’s films as most of them exude comfort, kindness, and a sense of peace in turbulent times). Two the list but I haven’t watched, but one I have it in this category is Julie & Julia, the other is Inside Man that I really would like to watch for more than just a few minutes at a time. One that I would add that isn’t on the list is Local Hero, which I have watched numerous times after watching it in the theater twice when it came out. I likely have seen Local Hero more than 15 times, and possibly more than 20, but there is always something new that surfaces and some missed humor or something in the background that is wort paying attention to.

I have a feeling by week’s end I may have watched one or two of these again, or for the first time… Well, I did watch Before Sunset again, which I liked much more this time. I also watched some of the additional content from the Criterion Collection edition.

I started in on the newest episodes of The Mandelorian with my son. My son has watched Clone Wars since the last series ended and was much more attuned to back story.

Listened

I restumbled onto the work of Yosi Horikawa, which the genre normally isn’t fully in my interests, but I found I really enjoy Fluid and Longing off his newest album, Spaces. I have had Bubbles in playlists from audio testing and sampling playlists, but back listening to it more closely as music not analytical sampling of equipment.

Also out this week is Construction’s newest, "We’re Great Thanks for Asking, which I really like. So far my favorite song is “Never Fail”, which is video of it and filmed in Venice (pre-Covid).

Food

A couple weeks back I shifted breakfast to smoothies from a fresh fruit and yoghurt stretch, which has replaced a black bean and mushroom bowl with egg on top, which replaced a long stretch of huevos verde with black beans. This was sparked by sorting out a working blender. The mix has settled into frozen banana, ginger root, turmeric root, a little under a cup or probiotic yoghurt drink, fresh orange juice, pineapple, and berries. This ends up being about 16 ounces and keeps me going to mid-afternoon.

The weekend, due to errands, turned into takeout, and finally did pick-up from a favorite restaurant, La Piquette, with a well packaged frisée salad with lardons and poached egg (normally a salad Lyonnaise) is one of my favorites and makes me happy. Also tried their cassoulet, which was stunning. I have had some poor to horrible cassoulets over the past few years and this put my faith back into cassoulets as amazing and really good comfort food.



October 19, 2020

Weeknote - 18 October 2020

Okay, that week was the prior week’s weeknote. Now I’m trying to capture two weeks in one. The prior week was rather busy and the weekend full too.

The morning coffee walk, this week turned a bit wet and chilly. I may need to change from wearing shorts for my this trek to get me out my door and a bit of exercise to start the day. Seasons and other temporal changes of worldly transitions have really flown past this year with little acknowledgement. The trees are just starting to turn in their autumnal color pageant, but it seems like they were just bare and bright green sprouts coming out.

I got a note this week from my webhost, which had been bought quite a while ago by GoDaddy and they finally said they are transitioning and my host is going away. I know a lot of people who work at GoDaddy and the leadership and inhumane leadership problems are gone. But, they are planning on moving from a hosting plan and platform I love that fits what I want to keep going (this site) and some small experimental spaces playing with Python, NodeJS small services, and a little Ruby and moving to a service that really isn’t clear about what it does, nor what it offers, nor pricing, nor service, and it is only based in the UK. With Brexit it is deeply unclear what is going on in the UK with regulation and anything and that is one of the last places I would want to have anything hosted.

So, some of my time will be focussed in the next couple or few weeks transitioning elsewhere. I think I know where, which is a hosting platform from former founders and employees of my current host. They have similar offerings, but I’m needing to sort out what these changes will entail for some of the custom pieces I have and dealing with email.

I was in the midst of starting to plan an upgrade to the underlying code of the site to bring it to a modern version of PHP. This is on hold until I get the site moved.

Read

There wasn’t a lot of reading time this week. But, I sort of parked An Absolutely Remarkable Thing for now as the micro-fame discussions were something that was causing a lot of self reflection around similar. I picked up John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and just a few pages in I’m happy with the swap as John Green’s writing voice is one I find comfort in.

I’m also reading / skimming back through some Richard Feynman as some friends have stumbled on to it and has lead to interesting discussions. I read Six Easy Pieces around 2003 or so after writing the draft of Model of Attraction and as I fleshed it out and it turned into Complexity / Social Lenses there is a strong underpinning in physics through Feynman’s introduction, followed by discussions with good depth in physics and quantum underpinnings.

Watched

The Pete Souza documentary, The Way I See It about his time as White House photographer for Reagan and Obama. It was completely wonderful and a solid reminder of what a great leader does through understanding things deeply and supporting all others through leading with empathy.

Listened

Tigran Hamasyan is a musician I stumbled upon through a “what is this” explainer on YouTube, which lead to a mini deep dive. The two videos that had been deeply intrigued and really enjoying his music are IMPOSSIBLE Time Signature or 4/4? Tigran Hamasyan Explained and The Rhythms of Tigran Hamasyan on David Bruce’s channel, which I have enjoyed and stumbled on before. The cross over and different mental model using math transformations and mapping patterns through size relevance patterns that are adaptive is really intriguing.

Food

I don’t understand why sole, particularly Dover or Petrale, is so hard to find on the East Coast. I swear they were pretty much a year round fish growing up on the West Coast. This week I stumbled on a decent sale on Dover Sole so made a quick fry in virgin olive oil and brown butter, with a dry coating of corn starch, rice crumbles, sea salt, and black pepper then finishing with lemon and quick fried capers and pickled capers. This was a good Sunday brunch to say the least.

Productivity

In this transition from light too mid-term notes in NValt to Obsidian for better organization and cross-linking and an app that actually works (NValt stopped working spectacularly). One of the things I was peeved about was the tagging I had done in NValt. But, Brett Terpstra knows tagging well and tucked the tags in the user interface of NValt into the tag field in Apple’s file metadata. The one that I’m really wanting to get organized is my blogfodder tag, which is really rough drafts of posts, or collections of notes no a subject.



August 21, 2007

A Sad Day for Great Customer Service

Today I made a call that was really tough. I canceled my Speakeasy DSL account. A few weeks ago the we upgraded to Verizon FIOS (fiber network) to get much faster internet service for less cost. The switch removed the copper wire coming to the house (although that may not be fully the case due to some law suits brewing against this practice - the copper may have to be put back for free if the case wins or is settled and Verizon is cutting their potential losses making it easy to reconnect).

Giving Up Customer Service

In making this switch I gave up one of my favorite customer service relationships I have ever had, which was with Speakeasy. Every time I have needed to call Speakeasy, which was not often as their service was nearly perfect in the nearly six years I used them, they were polite and were very helpful. In one occasion they suggested an option that would save me money. They also applied the lower rates to my service when the rates dropped. They have acted just like you wish every company would act. They treat you like a valued customer at every turn. They look out for their customers interests, even it if is making less money. For me Speakeasy would win my business if they could compete on a level playing field.

Verizon the Painful

I have had horrible customer service in the past from Verizon, with customer service agents flat out lying (their upper managers later apologized in each case and said it was not normal practice, only to have it happen the next call). But, with getting an oder of magnitude (10x) or faster internet for a third of the price, it was a really tough call. Before we even got the service installed we uncovered Verizon had signed us up for services we did not want and did not have in our signed contract. It has been painful to get that sorted out.

Why go with Verizon? Well, I figured I can put my battle boots on to get what I need (hopefully), which is just what is promised in the contract. I know that every conversation will be a lot of effort and painful, just like they have been the last 14 years and even getting the fiber activity connected proved they have not changed.

Lack of Competition Ensures Low Quality

I have been amazed that much of the rest of the industrialized and post-industrialized world treats its telecom infrastructure as a public good. It is a national interest. The copper wires we have/had are considered belonging to the public. It has been considered a core necessity to have up to date technology infrastructure by many countries, but not the USA. Today the USA is 14th to 25th in broadband availability, use, and average speed compared to other nations across many surveys. The USA is way behind and its model leaving infrastructure in the hands of those with no competition or incentive. In a capitalist market society there needs to be competition, but in telecom there is no market as their is an oligopoly (only a limited few strong players), which is not a market (open competition) in economic terms.

I like the model for DSL, which had many parties buying infrustructure and selling based on service. When DSL started there was largely parity (small companies and large with similar pricing) and competition on services was the difference. Then the courts ruled and still allowed access, but the telecoms created a playing field in their advantage where they could sell services for less by not providing "discounts" to other service providers. The competition then came to be solely paying more for better service (connectivity and customer service). For many paying to be treated by a human was worth the cost.

Today there continues to be no marketplace. But, there is no option for competition on service. The lines are now property of the telecom that laid them and others have to lay their own lines to provide access. This method tears up the road infrastructure and creates un-needed redundancy. The model is broken and is keeping the USA behind other countries. I would gladly pay $10 to $15 more per month for Speakeasy customer service for my fiber connection.

Infrastructure is Competition?

I have chatted with a few CEOs and CIOs who have global businesses. When they look at expanding they look less to the USA than to Europe or Asia. It is not so much the cost of people, as most will pay for good people. But, in the US the poor infrastructure comparatively means they need more buildings and to pay for infrastructure themselves. The big campus is not efficient to many businesses as the technology and tools to connect and collaborate have improved. But, to do this takes infrastructure in a country or region.

My upgrading my connectivity allowed for much smoother video chats and voice chats. I can share large documents more easily. But, my access to the infrastructure is extremely rare in the USA. In the Netherlands similar connectivity is at nearly every doorstep in the top cities, secondary cities, and even tertiary cities. Outside of their city centers many people I talk with there work from home 80 to 90 percent of the time.



August 24, 2006

Net Neutrality Faces Biased FTC

FTC to the Rescue?

Monday the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC Chairman, Deborah Platt Majoras, stated the FTC was going to look into the Net Neutrality issue. Her statement already shows the outcome based on her language and the tools they are going to use to investigate.

Chairman Majoras has formed an "Internet Access Task Force", which could be good, but depends on who is on the task force. Where things get troubling is the Chairman&'s preference for reliance on the markets to sort things out and using "cost benefit analysis" as their policy tool.

The "Market"

The Chairman's preference for the market to sort things out is very problematic as there is really no market. In economic terms the market normally applies to a "free market", which is setting where their is open competition and many players. With Net Nutrality we are talking about the telecom companies being the the providers of bandwidth that stands between the consumer and those with the content on the Internet. It is rather funny to call the telecom industry a market as their are now four players and possibly three soon (Verizon, ATT, and Qwest) for landlines. That is not a market but an oligopoly (a small number of providers). An oligopoly does not act like a free and open market, but much more like a monopoly. The prices do not very, there is very little differentiation between products. The consumer has little choice, well they get a different brand on their phone bill.

The "Tool"

The Chairman stated she was going to use a "cost benefit analysis" to determine what is happening. There was one very strong point that came out of graduate policy school, cost benefit analysis (CBA) is highly biased and really does not pass the laugh test (mention it in serious settings and you are not taken seriously or you are out right laughed at).

The problem with CBA is the variable you are investigated are weighted with nothing to back them up. Lets say you want to compare sheep and cows and figure out which is better. You can examine weight be market value divided by the cost to raise the animal. But, if you live in a cold climate you may value the wool of the sheep more, so you use CBA to give weight to the wool in the equation, which is fine until you go to assign value to the wool. Assigning values makes the CBA highly biased.

Two Wrongs Do Not Make a Good Decision

The Chairman said she prefers markets to sort things out, but a free market does not exist. She said she wants to use a heavily biased tool to sort things out. These are not the words of an open arbitrator, but somebody who has made up her mind. She is trusting a biased market to be good players (we broke that market up once before for similar tactics).

Whom Do We Trust

I have worked in the telecom industry a couple of times. In the early post Ma Bell break-up doing work for an alternate long distance carrier (one that barely served a whole area code in the California Central Valley) I put speed dialers into homes and businesses to help them deal with the many extra numbers needed to dial for the cheaper service. I also did analysis work for market entry for telecoms in the late 90s (including work for Bell South involving market assessment tools and visualizations of the data for policy work and decision making) mostly focussing on wireless and satellite broadband.

I did have some trust in the telecoms when they were in a free market, but they have not been playing fair as their numbers have dwindled. In the Net Neutrality debate they have taken a three legged argument (telecom, consumer, and content provider) and removed themselves from the argument. The telecoms want people to believe a lie that it is the content owners and the customers that are on opposite sides. But, in reality it is the telecoms that stand between the people and the content and the telecoms have threatened to extort money from the Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others. The telecoms fed the lies to Senator Ted Stevens to make him look like a bufoon talking about the "Internet are just tubes".

Do we trust Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo? Well the content providers are far more in number than those. Every web start-up is a content provider. MySpace, YouTube, Dabble, RocketBoom, Ze Frank, and every blog and videoblog are your content providers too. I do trust Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo with my content, but I also have trust and have faith in the small players.

The Real Market is Bottom-up Innovation in a Free Market

Who stands to lose if the FTC mangles its investigation (remember they have already claimed their bias)? It is the small players that will not be able to pay the extortionist pricing of the telecoms. Innovation often begins with the small players taking risks. Google started a few years ago as a small player in a free market. Companies like YouTube, Dabble, RocketBoom, etc. are the new Googles, but they need a free market, not one that is biased toward the oligopolies.



April 14, 2006

Congressional Race Reaches MySpace

I got a new and different request today in a social site, a request to "add Allan Lichtman as a MySpace friend". While the campaign has an official Allan Lichtman for Congress site, I thought the MySpace page was a new and interesting approach, particularly for a candidate of the people.

First, I do not know of any other campaigns that have a presence on MySpace or other social networking sites. I am sure they exist, but the MySpace entry interests me as it is a place where young voters (potential voters atleast) hang out. Getting people within collision space of running into a candidate in a web-based community is interesting. A friend of a friend in virtual space is a good play in my book.

While, I know very little about Allan Lictman I added him as a friend as a marker to spend a little more time finding out about him and his campaign. The request and the failure of social networking systems lack of ability to more granularly define relationships or components of relationships that "friends" have defined is really made clear here. I can not define how I know Allan Lichtman, nor can I define the elements that I find of interest in his stances.

Do we need a political social network? I really do not think that more verticals to social spaces are needed, but the social spaces we have need to stop being relative failures for the millions that use them and find them still frustrating.

So, for now I am a "friend" of Allan Lichtman on MySpace.



June 29, 2005

Join the Cause with Live8

In light of the G8Reboot, I would be remiss if I did not mention Live8 or the tracking the Live8 web conversations using Technorati. Twenty years ago Live Aid made a change, but today we have the opportunity to make an even bigger impact. Add your voice and your support, can you think of anything better to do?



One in a World of Many More

Ben Hammersly points out the doom and gloom around Grokster is missing one clause, which is in the U.S. Just because things are borked in the U.S. does not mean that the rest of the world is broken. The U.S. is one country, whose government lacks foresight, but there are many many more countries out there that have not mangled foresight.



June 27, 2005

G8 Summit Now has G8Reeboot

Within days the G8 Summit kicks off. This time around there is a little pressure to do things that really matter. Adam reminded me that it is well worth the effort to take an interest and to urge people to get involved with G8Reboot

G8 REBOOT



June 1, 2005

The Last Big Piece

I grew up in the early 1970s with the Watergate scandal and hearings on television in the background to my world. Yesterday the one big missing piece was revealed, Felt was Deepthroat.



May 12, 2005

Oddities on an Odd Day

There were three things from today's White House and Capitol evacuations that were a little more than bothersome.

First it was reported that a couple weeks ago there were evacuations, but the cause of the radar blips were clouds. It sounds like the system is not quite ready for prime time and our lives depend on it.

Second, the only way those of us not working in the Capitol nor White House knew something was up was people calling them or they caught something in the media. The city government of Washington, DC was not informed until after the all clear was sounded. After September 11, 2001 this Government seems to have learn little and changed their planning very little and they prove they lack competence at every turn.

Lastly, our President was out in the country-side on a bike ride. Oh, it was the middle of the day on a Wednesday and the President of the United States is out with an old school chum for a bike ride? You have got to be out of your mind. Not only did people elect this guy, he is getting paid for leading not bike riding and playing hooky, and he is allowed to keep his job?



November 2, 2004

Voted, Have You

I voted, have you done your part? If not, please do so.



Wonderful Show on Election Day

There are about 275 voters ahead of me inline outside to vote. This is my new place to vote and those around me say there has never been a line outside before. This is an incredible showing of people with faith in the system, particularly after the last election fiasco.

Come join the fun and have your say.



Vote

Please Vote!



October 31, 2004

New way to view politics

I learned something about politics today. This past year or two really has had me scratching my head and wondering what I am missing. There are some individuals I can not fathom how somebody could vote in the manner that they claim to. Today I found the answer...

At the drugstore I was checking out and a toy was playing "I've Got You Babe". My cashier, who is elderly was complaining to her manager that she was getting a headache from the music.

Manager: Do you not like Sonny Bono?
Cashier: I don't know Sonny Bono
Manager: He was the governor of California
Cashier: He was?
Manager: He sure could not sing, but he was a great Republican governor.

I am trying to turn my head so she does not see my San Francisco Giants cap, but somehow I do not think that would ring a bell as being part of California.

Today I learned suspending reality is a great way to look at politics. Well, for some. Tuesday I vote with my reality fully engaged and with an eye on my son and his future. I vote not to dismantle the future with building huge deficits, destroying the environment, nor dismantling foreign relations. But a future that is safer, with global warming in check, solid education, sound economy, innovation and science respected, creativity embraced, diversity embraced, and living in a country that the world respects again.



July 22, 2004

DC Metro Scene

The DC Metro Red Line was a mess as usual today, but it was hot and muggy to add to the usual fun. When we arrived at Metro Center the train was packed and many people we trying to get out and one older guy in a suit was pushing to get on. People started yelling at the guy in the suit to let people off before trying to get on (this is the proper Metro etiquette, as is moving to the center of the train).

Older guy: [yelling back] You can't stop me from getting on the train.
Passenger: Who do you think you are, the Vice President?
Older man: No, I suppose you think you are the President.
Passenger: I am not dumb enough to choose you.



January 11, 2004

Blogs highlighted on Meet the Press

While I am not a huge blog-for-blog-sake person, Meet the Press has a relatively long roundtable discussion on blog and the Democratic presidential campaigns. The talk about how Joe Trippi not only uses the blog to communicate with potential Dean supporters, but how he and others cull ideas from the blogs.

This highlight how new innovative ideas can quickly get posted by individuals, culled, and directly or with modification get implemented to better an endeavor. One clever idea that was culled from a weblog was the ability to have individuals share their unused weekend cell phone minutes and have the campaign use these minutes to call voters in Iowa. A rather clever idea and even smarter use of culling the Internet's vast cacophony of voices to find good helpful ideas to run a business/organization better and smarter.



September 9, 2003

I see Mars

Tonight I got a very good glimpse of Mars. It was the moon peaking through the blinds in the office that caught my eye, but right next to it was a bright orange-red star. I went out the front door and turned off our lights to get a better look with binocular assistance. The moon and Mars were stunning.

This site made me feel small at first, but then apart of something so much larger. The moon and stars know no politics, no killing for ego or pride, no political boundaries, no foolishness. These objects in our sky, in our orbit and solar system know far more time and remind us to take the long view.

Maybe one day I will get a telescope, but looking to the stars through binoculars seems to only draw on a desire to get up on the roof to get closer to the stars and have a better look. I know that this would do little to assist my view, nor would getting on top of a tall building. There is great beauty in the heavens that are beyond our arms length, but still drive the desire to see and get beyond the petty temporal issues of the day. (Fortunately NASA site offers some solace.)



August 28, 2003


June 23, 2003

WatchBlog for all political commentary

If you are looking for American political commentary and want Democrat, Third Party, and Rebublican commentary all in one place, you should check out WatchBlog: 2004 Elections.



June 7, 2003

Photo galleries from September 2001

September 2001 was wonderful and a little hectic, to say the least. Hence, I have just posted three new galleries of photos from my trip to San Francisco in September 2001. Posted are People, Places & Things, Flowers, and Architecture. These are some of the 450 pictures taken on that trip. The galleries will get a little more tweaking to improve browsing structures, but they are there to enjoy.

This process of posting was eased as I finally turned on the Windows file sharing in Mac OS X, which even works with XP Home. I can now view the directories on my TiBook from the PC. This allowed me the ability to pull files to the PC and build Adobe Photo Shop Web photo galleries from them. I have build the photo libraries on the Mac using iPhoto, but the PS galleries are one of my favorites for layout (not for accessability nor standards compliant). This solution will work until I move Photo Shop to the Mac with version 8.



March 21, 2003

Now less competion in the tech marketplace

Wall Street Journal reporting Cisco is buying Linksys. In all I think this is a good idea as I like Cisco products and they care about their products. On the other hand the lack of competition in the technical sectors can not be good in the long run. We need options, much like when I got fed up with Windows and switched to Apple (actually Apple provided a better solution and I switched last January and found a much easier and reliable way to do computing, which caused me to question why we put up with inferior products from Microsoft). In the U.S. we were educated to believe competition was good and the evil empire to the East did not allow competition. Now the U.S. government seems complacent to allow, and even encourages (at the FCC) the removal of competion. The lack of competion was un-American. Where is the U.S. now if we are removing competition from the marketplace?



March 9, 2003

US prepares for a private war

Fortune magazine's discussion of the private war show there is very little that the military actually does any more. Most of the technical assistance, repairs, food services, recruiting, and training is being done by private corporations, like Dyn Corp and Haliburton. Those that private civilians working for these companies may follow the troops into the battle field, but the civilians do not have any Geneva Convention protections, which means if they are captured they do not have the protections that military personnel does.

Peace



December 10, 2002

RIP Smokey

The Washington Post says R.I.P. Smokey the Bear. I hope this dismantling of the U.S. Forest Service is a failed effort. I really don't want to go to a Haliburton Yosemite Forest showcasing the one remaining tree and the "environmentally friendly" pavement.


August 1, 2002

Vote MP3

Would you vote MP3?


July 10, 2002

Logical digital media law

I really liked Matt's discussion of a logical digital media law, but it really does not have a chance as there is a lot more money pushing the other side. Maybe "We the People" will get our chance one day.


May 31, 2002

Techs urged to mingle in politics

Bill Thompson urges tech folks to get involved in politics, this is needed to protect the world as we know it can be, which is better with technology.


May 6, 2002

Fortyun shot dead

The news of the shooting of Dutch politician Fortyun really is bothersome. One it is in the Netherlands, the home of my ancestors. It is also an open and accepting country, which is often thought of as free from the violence that crops up in American culture. It is also 2002 and Western Europe which is democratic and a place usually associated with peace. Adam offered a broad set of links yesterday (still today in the U.S.) that covered the news. Netherlands Radio provides local shooting news. I usually consider the Netherlands the place to escape, clear my mind, and think about the good things in life.

The Economist this week surveys the Netherlands and one of its articles focuses on politics (registration may be needed) and highlights the complexities of the political landscape and Fortyun himself. This was just odd timing.



April 23, 2002


April 16, 2002


February 20, 2002

The Supreme Court to hear copyright extension case. Congress has tried to enact a 20 year extension to the current copyright laws, which would protect Disneys sole use of Mickey Mouse beyond 2003 as well as other properties. Lawrence Lessig has been a strong opponent of these extensions for very good reason, it restricts advancement of technology, culture, and the free flow of ideas. This free flow of ideas is what America is about, but copyrights have hindered the discussion of works and even the ability to satarize works.

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