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|Monday, August 24th, 2015|
|Thursday, August 20th, 2015|
|Wednesday, August 19th, 2015|
|Friday, August 14th, 2015|
|Free to get hit by a bus now.
There was a time when if I got hit by a bus, that would be it for the public interest community doing complicated technical spectrum work at the FCC.
Then it was if ether Michael Calabrese or myself got hit by a bus. That would be it.
Today, I found out that a whole bunch of the younger attorneys are now busy working on a technical item that just came up. While my advice is certainly welcome, they have a handle on the problem and the matter is unfolding with minimal attention on my part.
Mission accomplished. I am now free to get hit by a bus with no guilt.
Mind you, I have no intention or desire to get hit by a bus. Rather, I will continue moving into more obstruse and obscure areas of policy so that the high level stuff can continue to keep moving in the right direction and other people can enjoy putting out the fires. But it is nice to know that the last 7 years have not been wasted.
|Wednesday, August 12th, 2015|
|Link Harvest: Broadband and Precision Farming
More reasons we need broadband in rural areas.http://www.wsj.com/articles/to-feed-billions-farms-are-about-data-as-much-as-dirt-1439160264
Ten years ago, I got asked by older farmers why the heck they needed broadband when dial up gave them email and that was all they ever needed. Now you can't even repair a tractor without a broadband connection.
Ten years ago, I had civil rights orgs ask why they should even care about accessibility to broadband when they had so many pressing needs and broadband was a mere luxury.
Now, getting broadband to rural communities and affordability for communities of color is a major issue. And look -- it was deployed unequally! Why didn't anyone do anything about that!
(Shall I even bother with the fights we had in 2009 to get community groups to push for fiber to public housing as part of the stimulous, which we *lost*. Now the same groups are upset that children in public housing can't do their homework because they can't get affordable access to high speed broadband. "Why didn't anybody warn us? Why didn't anybody structure this so we didn't fall behind again?")
It teaches me some depressing lessons about advocacy. (1) people are generally very bad at understanding why they need something they haven't previously needed; (2) as a result, the window to prevent inequality before it happens usually closes before the relevant constituency even knows that it cares; and, (3) It is a lot easier to solve inequality before it happens from a policy and cost perspective -- the chief problem is a political economy problem.
Which is what makes spectrum policy so useful. Like the Computer Inquiries in the 1970s and 1980s that produced the Internet and the capability to do dial up, spectrum policy is wonky and out of the way. But it creates the capacity for revolutionary good stuff later on.
|Sunday, August 9th, 2015|
|Why the Republicans will win in 2016 (and why that may not be a bad thing in the long term)
2016 is going to be a very weird election. It is the same kind of weirdness we saw in 1976-82. We are seeing a massive demographic shift in the electorate. This shift will hurt Democrats worse -- which will surprise just about everyone.
Factors to consider:
1. Dems have pretty much been eating their young and supressing younger leadership for the last 20+ years. This election cycle continues this.
2. A new generation of African American leadership has recognized that their political power comes from withholding votes. Unlike the previous generation of leadership, they appear to be cognizant of the game theory idea of a "punishment round." They will go two full election cycles, 2016 and 2018, to get their candidates into position and force the Democratic party to embrace a racial justice platform.
Being young, they do not believe their life can get worse under a Republican administration and Republican congress.
3. The Republican conservative movement, while older, whiter and therefore smaller than the rest of the electorate combined, is far more unified.
4. No one can predict how the current social media organization and fragmentation of the mass media will impact the electorate. Again, there is a profound split demographically in how people experience news.
It is unclear if a viable 3rd party movement will emerge. If we will see an Anderson or a Perot-like figure able to capture the large portion of the electorate dissatisfied with their current choices. Trump could play the Perot role, possibly bringing in a Democratic win like Bill Clinton's win in 1992.
On my way to one of the happiest occassions, the bris for child of friends. Welcome to the tribe, Samuel. You got good parents in gorgeousgary
Looking forward to seeing you grow up in your family and broader fannish family.
P.S. don't pull the tail on the furry four-foots. They really don't like it.
|Wednesday, July 29th, 2015|
|Friday, July 24th, 2015|
|Encountered One Of Most Annoying Arguments Again
A friend on Fcebook posted her dissapointment with a self-proclaimed progressive artist of the male gender. Artist Guy was going on about the old canard that men cannot really be friends with women, because the man will always be wanting to have sex with the woman.
There is a Pearl Before Swine Sunday Strip on that I was trying to find.
But anyway, I find much of this very annoying for very many reasons. As a starter, I have many friends. They come in many shapes, colors, sexual oreintations and genders. As far as I know, I have never tried to have sex with any of them -- and I'm pretty sure I'd know if I had. Having blanket statements that are invalidated by my own life always anoys me. This more than most because people who believe this cliche then circulate endless rumors and it can occassionally poison a friendship when a woman is persuaded by her friends that of course I must have designs in her if I am that friendly and helpful and so forth.
So, for those who still can't believe that a straight/bi guy cannot be real friends with a stright/bi woman, consider the following:( Collapse )
OK, rant done. To conclude, the "men can't really be friends with women because te man will always want to have sex" is one of many contributors to rape culture and sexism. Indeed, it is one of the fundamental justifications, because it has the appeal of reducing the male responsibility to control his actions. "Evolutionarily hard wired, can't fight the urge!" It should no more be tolerated or indulged than any other form such idea.
A man who cannot stop thinking of sex all the time, who wants to have sex with any woman with whom he feels a vague emotional connection, is not a "normal guy." He is at best immature and at worst obssessive and self-privileged to the point of danger. We should not as a culture tolerate this -- even expect it -- as the male norm.
|Friday, June 26th, 2015|
|Briefly on Today's Decision in Obergefell
This is soooo much better than the steaming pile of pretentious condescendig crap that was the SJC decision in 2003. I've written too much on this on Facebook to repeat here. But I will simply say that dignity is unfortunately underrated these days. Kennedy roots his decision in equal protection before the law grounded in the fundamentals of human dignity, not in some Disney-fication loves conquers all nonsense. Kennedy treats petitioners with equal dignity and without condescension. There is no pat on the head to the poor unenlightened as the SJC did in their ridiculius opinion utterly misreading the rational basis doctrine.
Which is why Kennedy's opinion is so much more important than the SJC opinion. The SJC opinion literally boils down to "if 4 out of seven judges think the law is stupid, then we're done." Kennedy's decision reaffirms the doctrine of the Constitution as a living document, and that such a fundamental but undefined concept as "liberty" must change with the same measure and flexibility as human society.
|Thursday, June 25th, 2015|
|Back to Grinding Out The Yardage
Been feeling somewhat down and think I fnall have a handle on what's bugging me. The year started really big, with huge wins on net neutrality and beating the Comcast/TWC merger.
Now its back to the usual game of grinding out the yardage in the long game. Yes, the FCC is still in "friendly" hands and Wheeler is a Chairman who shares our values a lot. But even a sympathetic FCC needs to get pushed, and nudged and cajoled and generally worked into doing the right thing. And Congress is a non-stop pain in the rear (as we knew it would be). New mergers, more gray areas, the slog on spectrum policy, etc.
It's like winning the Super Bowl, then needing to get back into the regular season. it kinda get you down for a bit. But then you get back into it. We have about a year or so to go before we get into the holding pattern that precedes a total turnover of administration (whoever wins in '16). Gotta see how many more wins we can grind out.
|Monday, June 22nd, 2015|
|Sunday, June 21st, 2015|
Unnoticed by most in the Roof Manifesto is the great contradiction on Jews -- considered non-white, except by POC, who consider Jews white. It's kinda like when Jews were "white" in Ireland because they were neither green nor orange.
Roof is, as he himself notes in his manifesto here
, unusual among "racially aware whites" in considering Jews "white" if we would just give up our identity as Jews.
"In my opinion," writes Roof. "[T]he issues with jews is not their blood, but their identity. I think that if we could somehow destroy the jewish identity, then they wouldnt cause much of a problem."
But even Roof's 'liberality' starts to crumble on his closer examination of the "Jewish problem." As Roof continues: "The problem is that Jews look White, and in many cases are White, yet they see themselves as minorities. Just like niggers, most jews are always thinking about the fact that they are jewish. The other issue is that they network. If we could somehow turn every jew blue for 24 hours, I think there would be a mass awakening, because people would be able to see plainly what is going on."
There isn't any great lesson here from my perspective. I simply note that despite being as much an object of unreasoning race hate as any racial minority, Jews will always be considered "allies" (if that), as if anti-Semitism were a distinct issue and not really a racism issue at all (curiously, however, anti-Islamic prejudice *is* considered racist). Actually, I take it back. There is a takeaway. If we really believed what we say about racial identity being a mere social construct, then we would view anti-Semitism, which is specifically about creating a racial construct of "Jews" as a separate race, as a form of racism. Certainly Roof and his fellow "racially aware" whites think so. But, like an inverse chameleon, Jews will always be apart. White to POC, non-white to white.
If this sounds bitter, it is actually to the contrary. Fewer things so prove our own Jewish perception of uniqueness and our unique role in the world. We will always stand out, for better or worse. We can chose to abandon our identity and "pass," but invariably our identity will catch up with us one way or another.
|Friday, June 19th, 2015|
|Tuesday, June 9th, 2015|
|Broadband Access As Public Utility
Last week I spoke at the Personal Democracy Forum
, an annual gathering of folks from the tech community interested in civic engagement and using technology to improve the world. It was attended by about 700 people.
We had many excellent speakers, and I recommend folks browse the video archive. I was privileged to speak in one of the opening sessions on the first day. As always, there are considerable differences between how it was written and how it came out (I'll eventually post the written version, I hope). But in the meantime, here is the archived video from the speech. I'm pleased to say it was well received.
|Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015|
|Prejudice And Victim Blaming In Black Dad Custody Fight
Petula Dvorak is one of the few columnists who regularly focuses on the systemic discrimination against fathers and the barriers to men trying to participate meaningfully in the lives of their children. Unfortunately, at the end of this piece,
she falls into the classic trap of blaming the victim of discrimination for not "standing up" enough.
In this case, James Lee initially sought full custody of his 3 yr old son as part of his divorce from Rommechia Simms. Simms had previously suffered a mental breakdown and Lee included descriptions of disturbing behavior in his initial filing that raised significant questions about Simms' recovery and ability to safely care for their son. On May 22, the boy was found dead on a park swing being pushed back and forth by his mother -- apparently unaware of her son's death. No cause of death has been determined.
Where Dvorak blames Lee is for his -- to her -- inexplicable decision at the custody agreement to withdraw his request for sole custody and agree to a joint motion with Simms for joint legal custody with Simms holding physical custodianship of the child (what has become the standard arrangement). While recognizing the Lee was "afraid of raising the Judge's ire," she concludes by saying the case for fathers needs to be made "by everyone, including him."
But put yourself in Lee's shoes. Not only a man, but a black man.. Black men, of course, are doubly and triply damned in the fatherhood game. We start, of course, with the general prejudice in society that sees young black men as potential threats simply for existing. Then pile onto that all the stereotypes about how black men are lousy fathers with no interest in their children. One would think that when a young, successful professional black father comes into family court he would be applauded as a model citizen and responsible father. But the reality is that all these accomplishments are undermined by the stereotypes and racism inherent in our society.
It is not hard for me to imagine the horrible choice Lee faced. Push for sole custody and risk losing any visitation or control. No doubt Simms attorney threatened to come up with his own allegations of Lee's unfitness and to prey on the court's prejudices. Lee would be accused of exaggerating about Simms issues. She would be presented as fully recovered, with stress of these false accusations and her 'intolerable' marriage being the cause of any mental stability. Perhaps they even threatened to make intimations of domestic abuse, knowing that a black man would be instantly suspect and unable to offer any contrary proof. Agree to the standard custody arrangement, he was probably told, or risk losing ANY access to your son.
And I have no doubt his lawyer would advise him to settle, because no way would a judge believe a black father could be a better, more stable parent than the mother.
We all like to think that we would be the one to stand up for what's right and damn the risk. Whether it's about "leaning in" or fighting for custody or whatever else. And maybe we would be. But having been in a whistleblower situation myself early in my career, I understand and sympathize with those who refuse to bet their lives and everything they hold dear in the face of a world they -- rightly -- perceive as stacked against them.
|Friday, May 29th, 2015|
|Walt Whitman Never Met An Internet Troll
Passage to India!Lo, soul! seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?The earth to be spann’d, connected by network,The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near,The lands to be welded together.
--Walt Whitman, Passage To India
Of course, Whitman was not talking about the Internet but about the completion in 1869 of both the Suez Canal and the Trans- Atlantic Railroad. As always, the optimist assumes that enhancing the connection and familiarity among the people of the world will bring people together in greater understanding, love and friendship. The pessimist invariably complains about how all these foreign savages are now flooding our Fair Land and diluting our Civilisation with their beastly foreign ways, low morals, lazy disposition, and disgusting food. The cynic notes that the more people understand each other, the more they find to dislike and quarrel about.
On the whole, over the long course of history, the optimists win out. But it takes a damn long time.
|Monday, May 18th, 2015|
|Friday, May 15th, 2015|
|Spectrum, Positive Train Control, and Philadelphia
So now everyone has heard about a thing called "Positive Train Control" (PTC) that could have helped avert the accident in Philadelphia.
To my considerable annoyance, the freight train guys and Amtrak are trying to leverage this into getting the allocation in 220 MHz that they DO NOT NEED for PTC
Mostly for my own reference, I'm parking a bunch of links to the FCC docket, WT Docket No. 11-79, on PTC for when I need to blog on this. But the PTC docket is a nice summary of both how hard it is to move away from the now outmoded "command and control" specialized allocation system to the actually sustainable system of open use and flexible use spectrum.
And if this MUST be a special service allocation, then let them share the open 700 MHz public safety allocation.
So first the FCC puts out a public notice (PN) to assess the needs and technical requirements for spectrum. Specifically, do they need a special allocation, or does existing spectrum (through secondary markets or other means -- they sadly were not looking at open spectrum in 2011, even though they should have even then).
The train industry and vendors already using 220 MHz show up to explain how important PTC is and why the FCC needs to give them what they want, but actually does not provide any useful information whatsoever from a technical perspective on how PTC operates, what throughput it needs, how much data the system needs to handle, power levels, etc. The suggested technical rules -- the extent they are offered -- assume simply taking over the enitre band as currently constituted.http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021687525http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021688669
Existing band users, their vendors, and neighboring spectrum users weigh in with concerns.
Neighboring DTV broadcasters: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021691743http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021691706http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021691720http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021691731
A vendor with a different technology solution and different spectrum shows up to oppose the 220 MHz approach.http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021691749http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021688938http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021745683http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7521065017
IEEE forms neutral working group. No one cares.http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021755367
Interested parties get members of Congress to weigh in.http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022134961
FCC responds by explaing to parties that (a) no one has actually answered the question asked, which is how would PTC work and what are the actual spectrum needs; (b) based on what info they do have, it appears that PTC can work with existing spectrum allocations and spectrum available in the secondary market; and (c) The FCC will work with the industry to expedite their need and make this happen, but please work with us guys -- or at least provide us technical information that goes beyond "we wants it precious! Give the spectrum to Smeagol!"http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021898476http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022133766
Vendors respond by repeating how wonderfully awesome a 220 MHz service for PTC would be, how challenging PTC is for the industry, how grant of the allocation would make their lives so much easier, and how this will save lives an stuff. Still no actual technical information that would the FCC actually make a decision on a service allocation or service rules.http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7520939914http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022027716
Rival vendor responds with why their solution is totally not necessary, how they have failed to prove case, and how his technical solution on other spectrum is more than adequate to meet needs of PTC, which are still not actually defined.http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7521064429
Which is why, as the people who were lobbying for a 220 MHz PTC allocation will tell you, the accident in Philadelphia is all the fault of the FCC.
|Wednesday, May 13th, 2015|
|My Apprentice Got Laureled Yesterday
I've known Edyael for years in the field. She's worked for many years at the Center for Rural Strategies and I've helped her as I could from my place in Washington D.C. Last year, she came to PK for a one year fellowship before going to law school. She told me she thought of me as one of her mentors and was looking forward to working with me on a more full time basis.
Her fellowship is almost over. Yesterday, she put on a Hill briefing on rural broadband that was just about textbook perfect. More to the point, she was the one who conceived the idea for the briefing based on speaking to a number of rural advocates and realizing "hey, these guys have so much to say and they say it so eloquently. I need to get them in front of Hill staffers." She saw the potential, siezed the moment, created the event, and executed brilliantly.
Watching her yesterday, I felt this peculiar mix of pride in how much she has learned and grown, bittersweet loss knowing that now she was moving on, but incredible joy and fulfillment knowing that she is going on to bigger and better things and will be -- God willing -- one of the next generation of leaders in our field.
I found myself thinking afterwards "this must be what it's like to see your apprentice get laurelled, or see your protege 'get the bird.'"
Always pay it forward. I've got a long line of folks who trained and mentored me. Some of whom probably never knew they were mentoring me at the time. My turn to do what I can for the next generation.
But oh, I'm going to miss seeing Edyael every day when she leaves.