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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in osewalrus' LiveJournal:

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    Friday, April 11th, 2014
    6:37 am
    Why Do We Help People?
    Stephen Colbert, at the end of this clip from testifying at a 2010 Congressional Hearing, answers this rather interesting question: why does he take the time to highlight the plight of migrant workers?

    This works for me sometimes, but I recently found myself asking that question when tackling a particular problem somewhat outside my usual range. It was not an issue on which I am usually active. I had not intended to address it. I mostly intended to pull together a briefing for some groups I thought would be interested primarily as a solidarity thing.

    But now I've taken a bunch of time before disappearing for Passover (and you better believe it is otherwise overbooked) to do a couple of FCC meetings on this and try to straighten it out. So I asked myself, why was I doing this.

    The answer I came up with actually comes from Lois McMaster Bujold's character Ivan. In learning the shape of the problem it just seemed so . . . . wrong. Worse, it was stupid wrong. There is no good reason for the people who are going to see their phone bills potentially double over 2 years to have that happen. And, with a modest amount of effort, I may be able to help correct that (or at least mitigate it).

    With all the crap in the world, having a bunch of people steamrolled for no good reason just seemed, well, offensive. It annoyed me. To quote Ivan, "this is just . . . really wrong."

    Useless bad crap happening to other people offends my aesthetic sense. Good things happening to people is aesthetically pleasing. It is worth some modest effort to create a happier world. Not for any noble reason, but from the purely selfish reason that it makes the world prettier for me.
    Thursday, April 10th, 2014
    7:54 am
    Link Harvest: Brough's Peering Slideshow
    A really good summary of the history and economics of peering, but with one problem. It overlooks the edge/vertical integration challenge.
    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
    6:38 am
    Don't forget, It's National Be Nice To Lawyers Day
    An actual 'holiday' in that I did not just make it up myself.

    It's also national poetry month.
    Monday, April 7th, 2014
    7:03 am
    RIP Professor Robert Seidman, 1920-2014
    Last week I lost my dear friend and mentor, Professor Robert B. Seidman. I've tried, in a very poor way, to express my thanks for everything he taught me.

    For those who do not click through, suffice it to say that I use the tools he taught me every day. More importantly, he infused me with a belief that law and the institutions of law can be the means of constructing a better world.

    He and his wife Ann made this video about their work last year.

    Sunday, April 6th, 2014
    8:21 pm
    This is what I mean when I say "War For Willful Ignorance"
    How the right deliberately took a voluntary FCC survey required by a law Congress passed in 1996 and made it look like an effort to censor the press -- ensuring that the FCC will never, ever try to collect evidence on whether non-english speakers have adequate access to information and news services ever again.
    Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
    12:49 pm
    I spend 3000 words explaining FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's 300 words about "peering" and Cmcst/Ntflx
    Yes, Wheeler gets it. No, he's not gonna ignore it. But he's not gonna be an idiot about it either. And, oddly, Comcast is just the company to help him get the information he needs.
    Thursday, March 27th, 2014
    1:07 am
    It's a long way home
    And I won't get there by running.

    Which is a quote I always love, even if I am using it totally wrong.

    Air travel in this country just keeps getting worse and worse. Am now stuck in a crappy hotel in Dallas due to equipment failure that prevented me from making my return flight to DCA.

    Happily, I always carry an extra pair of undies and more kosher food than needed because it is hard to find.

    Hopefully home tomorrow.
    Monday, March 24th, 2014
    10:00 pm
    Need heraldry help
    Someone asked me to blazon the Public Knowledge logo.
    Friday, March 21st, 2014
    5:14 am
    Netflix, Level 3, Cogent Unhappy With Paying Tolls To Comcast.
    Netflix makes the amazingly brave move of denouncing its own deal with Comcast as an exercise of market power and pushes the FCC to do something about it. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings blog post here. Good coverage from my favorite tech writers Stacy Higginbotham and Jon Brodkin.

    I say "brave" because I have dealt with Comcast before. Let us just say that they do not make life easy for the companies that dare to defy them before the regulators.

    Comcast, for its part, reassures the Ukrainian people that no one respects their territorial integrity more than they do but that Crimea has always been part of Comcast reassures the world that no company has a stronger commitment to network neutrality than Comcast and that the "paid peering"/interconnection deal it negotiated with Netflix was "an amicable, market-based solution to our interconnection issues" that "demonstrates the effectiveness of the market as a mechanism to deal with these matters."

    Meanwhile, the two largest Tier 1 backbone providers not integrated with a residential ISP in the U.S., Level 3 and Cogent, have likewise urged the FCC to wake up and take action. Level 3 has not yet made clear what it wants the FCC to do about it. You can see Level 3's original blog post here and good coverage by Stacy here.

    But Cogent has gone further than anyone, they have actually asked the FCC in an official FCC filing to recognize that the business of shipping bits is a "telecommunications service." As it happens, I have long said that this is true and what the FCC ought to do, as I see little difference between the business of shipping voice and the business of shipping bits in terms of the definition of "telecommunications service" (47 U.S.C. 153(51) for anyone who wants to look). Gotta rush now so will not link to my copious blogging on the subject.

    So we are off to war, with Netflix and the non-vertically integrated Tier 1 backbone providers deciding to rage against the dying of the light rather than go gently into that good night. 
    Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
    6:23 am
    Link Harvest: T-Mo CEO Says They Will Struggle In Acution
    this illustrates the principle of the "incumbent discount," which is the complimentary leg of the foreclosure value problem. 
    Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
    3:08 pm
    Foreclosure Value Is A Thing. Deal.
    Please pardon a brief rant on economics and spectrum auctions.

    IDIOTS! Foreclosure value is an actual thing. In a zero sum game like a spectrum auction, where there is an absolute limit to the number of spectrum licenses, there is an economic value to denying the spectrum asset to your opponent. That value varies depending upon the incremental benefit of denying the spectrum asset, which is a function of how spectrum constrained your opponents are. If all opponents are equally constrained, then the value is a wash. Everyone accrues the same value of denying the license to their opponents and the foreclosure value does not show up as a distinct element in the bid price.

    But when one or two bidders have a substantially greater set of spectrum assets going into the auction, and their opponents are spectrum-constrained, then foreclosure value becomes relevant. Why? Because foreclosure value raises the rational bid price to the spectrum privileged firms. But the benefit is no longer reciprocal, because the marginal cost of to the spectrum privileged firm of losing the asset is much lower.

    In other words, if license "X" has a theoretic market value of "$X" based on the ability of the firm to extract value (and assuming that all firms have a relatively equal ability to extract revenue from the license -- a factor I have dealt with separately under the "incumbent discount" argument but lets assume it for now for simplification purpose), then the rational bid price for all firms is $X-$1.

    However, to operate a successful wireless firm, a company must have a certain threshold of spectrum. Lack of spectrum prevents you from offering competitive services. Furthermore, the more customers you have, the more capacity you need to have to offer service, or service starts to degrade significantly. This inability of Spectrum Constrained Carrier (Carrier SC) to compete has value to the Spectrum Privileged Carrier (Carrier SP). Let us designate this value to Carrier SP as $Y. This value does not include the opportunity cost of not having the license, which is the same for both carriers. $Y is a distinct value to Carrier SP by foreclosing a needed input for which there is no replacement.

    In theory, Carrier SP also suffers from from not having the spectrum. But because Carrier SP already has enough spectrum so that its service will not degrade relative to Carrier SC, the value of $Y to Carrier SC is effectively zero.

    Thus, the rational bid for Spectrum Privileged Carrier is not $X-$1, but ($X+$Y)-1. Whereas the rational bid for the spectrum constrained carrier is merely $X-$1. True, you can argue that avoidance of loss for Spectrum Constrained Carrier likewise increases the rational bid (since avoidance of loss is the same as additional revenue), but this misses the point. Spectrum Privileged Carrier, by virtue of its superior spectrum position and auction function, is able to impose a wholly artificial loss on the Spectrum Constrained Carrier to its competitive disadvantage. While this may be efficient from the perspective of Coasian efficiency, it sucks from the perspective of competition policy.

    This is true regardless of whether the Spectrum Privileged Carrier warehouses the spectrum or deploys the spectrum. The issue is not whether the Spectrum Privileged Carrier will deploy, but whether the Spectrum Privileged Carrier enjoys an anti-competitive advantage.

    Foreclosure value is a thing!!! Deal!!! Stop treating this as a question of morality and bad intent and start treating this like an economic policy question! If you are mouthing platitudes like "auctions put spectrum in the hands of those that will put it to its highest best use" because the market "allocates spectrum to those best able to extract value," then you need to recognize that foreclosure value is part of the calculation of "value" and that the auction will -- absent a corrective mechanism -- allocate spectrum in the most anticompetitive manner.

    Any questions?
    Monday, March 10th, 2014
    3:18 pm
    3:12 pm
    Ever wonder how the Federal Gov Reviews A Massive Merger?
    By which I mean simply the straightforward mechanics of "how does this process work?"

    If so, then you should read my 4-part blog series: "A Guide To The Mechanics of the Comcast/TWC Deal."

    Part I: Intro and Exec Summary

    Part II: Antitrust Review

    Part III: FCC Review

    Part IV: Congress, The White House and the Public.

    Thursday, March 6th, 2014
    5:55 pm
    My Op Ed In The San Jose Mercury News
    So we have a fantastic new technology that is open to everyone to use, that can provide cheap wireless broadband and promote innovation because it doesn't require expensive spectrum auctions, where we totally lead the world, and where -- after years of policy fights and tech development -- is finally starting to get deployed.

    Hey, let's auction off the spectrum we need for it! That's a fantastic idea.

    Except not so much. And we can stop it.

    My op ed on the subject.

    And checkout our PK Video explain spectrum issues.

    Now go sign our Petition to save the TV white spaces from the auction block.
    Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
    6:25 am
    A cynical morning haiku
    Birds sing at Sunrise
    Winter will end, Spring will come
    Cats lick their whiskers
    Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
    11:11 am
    I really think Comcast Underestimated the Resentment Factor
    Watch this very NSFW "Public Service Announcement from Comcast" on the Funny or Die Website.

    It's called "Comcast: We Don't Give a F--- About You."

    Funny or Die is not a particularly political site as far as I know.

    Also of note, this article tracks consumer perception of Comcast and TWC for the year prior to announcement of the deal and over the last month since the deal was announced. Both companies experience a slump following announcement of the merger. This is significant because Comcast had been seeing a rise in consumer perception until it announced the deal. (I suspect the rise was due to its expanded DVR service.)
    Thursday, February 27th, 2014
    10:10 pm
    Gallifrey Falls No More
    My Davidka acquires charge.
    Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
    8:47 pm
    The peculiar nature of true advocacy
    The successful world-changing advocate must believe it is possible to achieve the impossible through passion and perseverance and planning. At the same time, the successful world changing advocate must be a horrible pragmatist, knowing when to cut losses or what evils to tolerate because diverting to tilt at windmills will stop you from ever reaching the dragons -- let alone slaying them.

    What this means is that the successful advocate exists in a peculiar state of functional delusion and cold calculation. It means having a pair of rose colored glasses but keeping them perched on your forehead, lest they obscure too much. It means spending oneself recklessly and, of necessity, repeatedly losing heartbreaking battles because failure is always, ALWAYS, an option. And despite utter, soul-crushing disappointment, getting back up and going for another round.

    But even if one achieves this perverse state of functional madness, the successful advocate faces one last trap -- the seductiveness of martyrdom. By this I do not mean true martyrdom of dying for one's beliefs, or even genuine figurative martyrdom of those willing to endure in the face oppression so as to create an example of resistance or to shame others into action. By martyrdom, I mean struggle with no hope of victory and no goal in defeat.

    Martyrdom allows you to define failure as success. Martyrdom converts bone crushing defeat into a sort of sick pleasure, and therefore defeat becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Martyrdom is its own reward, and its own prison. After a time, the failure becomes necessary, confirmatory that previous failures were not your fault but the inevitable way of the world.

    Those looking for world-changing advocacy should therefore embrace madmen but shun martyrs. The unfortunate history of social movements is that they tend to get this backward. 
    6:37 am
    A Very Pleasant B-Day
    My brother and sister-in-law had Becky and me over to dinner last night. Since we could not start before 7 p.m. (and even then I was 15 minutes late) we started with cupcakes and happy birthday from my nephews. Dinner was fun with kosher lamb bacon -- enormously unhealthy but I definitely see why goyim eat this stuff on a regular basis (assuming the lamb version is similar to the pig version).

    After dinner, and as the kids were being bathed and put to bed, a few friends dropped by for a quiet dessert party with some Laphroig, a nice dessert wine, and some homemade hermits and blondies (made by my sister-in-law).

    Very delightful and very low energy. Just the thing I was up for given everything that's been going on. 
    Sunday, February 23rd, 2014
    11:26 pm
    Arcadia Has Fallen! Comcast Penetrates Net Neutrality Trenches.
    I keep hoping for a week with no earthshaking crap. I keep coming up disappointed.

    This piece by Timothy Lee provides pretty good background.

    It will take me much too long to explain why this matters to the overall economic structure of the Internet and goes way beyond Netflix. Netflix is just the beginning. But there is a depressing sameness to how this unfolds, as it mirrors what happened to the independent programming market back in the 00s.

    If anyone needs me, I'll be off in a corner having a conversation with Billy Piper no one else can see.
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