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|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.
|Friday, May 8th, 2015|
|I will now do filk to Gaaaaalavaaaaant
Inspired by Tom Smith's opening stanza and news that the ABC series Galavant is being renewed for a second season, much to everyone's surprise.
TTO: Galavant opening theme
Our story wasn't done
At end of season 1
So we're gonna bring Galavant
Cliffhangers we will solve
Now go to quick dissolve
and show these flashback scenes of Galavant
Use this montage as an update
While I use this song to narrate
WAIT! That charatcher is new
Do you wonder what she'll do
With what and how and who
Then tune in to season 2
*yes, I know it's "whom" not "who." That doesn't rhyme.
|Thursday, May 7th, 2015|
|Sometimes, I amaze even myself
Most days, I manage to be amusded by the industry folks. After all, they are paid to do a job. But some days, the level of silliness and self-contradiction makes my head want to explode.
The debate about application of telecom privacy rules to broadband access providers is one of them. Just finished a Webinar where the industry is clearly scrambling for talking points and -- Oh my Lord! Really? This is the argument you are making?
It causeth my head to hurt.
|Tuesday, May 5th, 2015|
|Why Our Work Culture Sucks and Sexist Reporting Thereon
This is fascinating for both the report and the way the result is reported in the news.
The underlying paper which is the subject of the article describes how a specific large firm has a "workaholic" culture that punishes formal attempts at work/life balance. The paper describes how some men, and a smaller number of women, develop strategies so that they can spend time with family and have a healthier work/life balance while still appearing to those doing employment evaluations to be "workaholics."
There are many interesting conclusions one could draw, although as the author points out "single study, small sample size." First, it is important to note that both men and women feltl equal pressure in the same firm to conform to work culture, but women were still more likely to request formal means of balance (and be punished accordingly).
Second, despite the graphic and general tone of the article, the examples cited are about men trying to spend time with family. For example, men requesting paternity leave or a lighter schedule after the birth of a child were penalized. So they adopted a different strategy than formally requesting maternity leave or a lighter schedule on return to maternity leave.
Nevertheless, the newspaper article likens this "cheating" and "faking." The graphic that is part of the framing is a cartoon of a man in a suit at a kids soccer game saying into his cell phone "Oh yeah, the meetings going real well." But the report describes no actual cheating or misreporting, such as pretending to be at a meeting when taking a child to a soccer game. Rather, the description was that these men (who were "passing" as workaholics) were engaged in a strategy of client selection and work from home that allowed them to carry a lighter load while STILL meeting client and supervisor expectation. In other words, they were working "smarter." (Also of note, the article does not describe the 11% of women in the survey who employed the same startegy as the 31% employed the same strategy.)
As the article itself concludes, perhaps the "real" problem is that carrying an 80 hour a week workload is more about showing devotion to the firm than about getting done what is necessary to get done. But I would go further. The REAL problem is characterizing men and women who manage to meet the expectations of the clients and employers while working a "mere" 50 hours rather than 80 hours as somehow cheating their employer and scamming someone.
|Friday, May 1st, 2015|
|Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015|
|Tuesday, April 21st, 2015|
|ADHD As Different Form of Cognition
A note about his caution on medication. Medication can be very good and very valuable. But every person's reaction is, to some degree, idiosyncratic. Furthermore, our treatment and philosophy around ADHD is changing (and needs to change). It isn't (and shouldn't be) about drugging a child (or adult) into submission. It is about using your different cognition style and skill and learning coping mechanisms.
|Wednesday, April 8th, 2015|
|Tuesday, March 31st, 2015|
|Random Reflections On The Current State Of Mid-East Policy
I am on a number of progressive listservs where folks are getting as excited as progressives allow themselves over the prospect that the Obama administration may submit a UN resolution to impose a two-state solution and that we may be on the verge of a nuclear deal with Iran.
Setting aside my personal feelings about these policies per se, what I find more interesting is that these steps do not appear to be reducing tensions, as many had long predicted -- although perhaps it is too early to tell in the case of an Iran agreement. Rather, we have seen an unprecedented growth in the exercise of military intervention by Arab states without US leadership or -- in some cases -- US involvement at all. Other developments likewise signal a rise in a more indigenous and more aggressive foreign policy by Arab states directed against Iran and used to quell internal dissent.
1. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have acted to intervene in Yemen using air strikes and naval shelling. A ground invasion has not been ruled out.
2. Egypt has settled its longstanding water conflict with Ethiopia and Northern Sudan with a new treaty, and is developing itself as the major power broker in Northeast Africa.
3. Consistent with this, Egypt is now intervening in Libya with air strikes to disrupt ISIS affiliates there and is in talks with Sudan and Ethiopia for regional intervention in the conflict.
4. The Arab League, after 40 years of trying, has now agreed to establish a permanent joint military force for the purpose of maintaining regional stability. It is likely that Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be -- at least initially -- major donors of military forces, equipment and officers.( Read more...Collapse )
Again, none of this is to suggest that U.S. policy must therefore remain unchangeable, lest it lead to regional instability. But it does suggest that progressives (and the Obama Administration) need a broader transition plan that goes beyond the idea that a more aggressive policy against Israel and a rapprochement with Iran will automatically reduce tension in the region and create peace. The US cannot, of course, control everything. But we are responsible for our own actions and we are therefore obligated to consider their impact. At a minimum, we should have some contingency planning that reflects the possibility that outcomes might be messier than anticipated.
The previous Administration, and the conservative hawks who supported its policies, failed to consider any possible negative outcomes. For this they have been roundly criticized. Progressives would do well not to make the same mistake, given the benefit of this example.
|Wednesday, March 18th, 2015|
|Legislative ALERT for My Friends In Maryland -- Please Signal Boost!
Verizon is pushing a bill through the Maryland Legislature totally deregulating existing basic phone service. The bill is SB 577
, with the companion bill in the House, HB 1166
. The bill would allow Verizon to end wireline phone service without regulatory review, with merely 30 days written notice to the customer and 14 days notice (no review) to the MD Public Service Commission (PSC).
The bill is part of a broader national campaign that has already effectively ended regulation of wireline phone service in over 30 states, to the significant detriment of consumers dependent on basic phone service. This is particularly problematic for older residents, small businesses dependent on copper line service, and rural areas (although it is surprising how close to a city you can be and still be "rural" for rate of return purposes).
Public Knowledge just sent a letter with 10 other public interest organizations
opposing the SB 577 & HB 1166. (Text of letter here
.) News coverage of the bill has, sadly, been non-existent. In addition, the bill is opposed by the Maryland Attorney General's Office, the Maryland Office of People's Counsel, the MD PSC, and Communications Workers of America. It is also opposed by Verizon competitors such as Sprint, T-Mobile, and Comcast (yes, Comcast and I agree on something), since the bill would allow Verizon to decommission critical interconnection facilities with only 30 days written notice.
If you live in Maryland, please call your state Senator to oppose SB 577, then call you state Representative to oppose HB 1166.
|Tuesday, March 10th, 2015|
|Thoughts on the Cotton Letter to Iran
The letter by Senator Tom Cotton, and signed by 46 other Republican senators ("Cotton letter") is the second time that Republicans have violated the existing protocols on how the U.S. conducts foreign policy. As is often the case, much of the argument I have seen revolves around whether such action is treason or a violation of law, the contention being that if it is not prohibited by law then it is perfectly permissible.
This ignores the fact that something as complex as government requires respect for unwritten conventions and respect for the institution as a whole to function. Republicans appear to have made a concerted opinion to undermine the Executive Branch on the exercise of foreign policy well beyond the usual, unwritten bounds. The Cotton letter is extraordinary in that it is a public statement addressed to a foreign power by a substantial number of Senators to undermine the negotiating ability of the President. As with Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, it is technically permissible (nothing stops Senators, in the exercise of their duties, from saying publicly how they plan to vote in the event a treaty is placed before them for ratification), but destructive of the institution and undermines our ability as a country to conduct foreign policy.( Read more...Collapse )
|Monday, March 9th, 2015|
|Wednesday, March 4th, 2015|
|The Speech, The Dress, And Why the Iran Negotiation Creates a Real Rift Btwn Israel and the U.S.
I shall now get a bit long winded, knowing that discussion on Israel is always triggery. But whateves.
Some will have seen a picture of a dress floating around the Internet
which, depending on who looks at it and againast what set of color cues, is usually described as either gold and white or brown and blue. I have suggested that Netanyahu's speech to Congress on Iran is much the same. Depending on how you perceive U.S./Israel relations, it is either blue and white (the colors of the Isrtaeli flag, i.e.
, you perceive the speech as being all about Israel and whether Israel is dictating to the United States, exploiting the U.S. for domestic Israeli politics and we should stop giving them $3 billion in aid, etc. or Israel needs our support and boycotting the speech means you hate Israel, want a nuclear Iran, etc.) or red and blue (this is just another extension of U.S. partisan politics and either Boehner or Obama or Pelosi ought to be ashamed of him/herself for making our critical foreign policy subject to domestic squabbles).
i have actually mastered the neat trick of being able to flip in my brain whether the dress is white and gold or brown and blue (if it helps, I tend to generally see it as goldish-brown and a kind of really light blue that I, being a guy, would call either white or blue depending on the day but which Becky would tell me has some weird name and could pick exactly that shade of white/blue (and no other) from a color chart). So I will try to apply that here. The problem is: this really is an actual hard problem where allies have divergent interests and considerations.
What is right for the U.S. is not necessarily right for Israel (or other countries in the region). This assumes a rational Iran, because any rational country capable of developing a nuclear weapon rationally wants to do so based on the advantages it confers.
It also raises significant problems of practicality. Iran is not like other countries in the region where Israel has acted militarily to thwart the country's nuclear ambition (Iraq, Syria). Iran is large, has a large, eductaed population, significant resouces to invest, and signifcant trade relations with lots of other developed countries. None of which is comforting to those in the region who worry about expanding Iranian hegemony.
Lots more boring stuff below, mostly to get it off my chest . . .( Read more...Collapse )
|Friday, February 27th, 2015|
|What Can I Say That Hasn't Been Said About Leonard Nimoy
I think I can only say it hurts worse than when either James Doohan or DeForest Kelly died. Leonard Nimoy and the character of Spock he created were both inspiring people for me.
I am, and always shall be, your fan.
|Thursday, February 26th, 2015|
|Wednesday, February 25th, 2015|
|The FCC Is Getting Me an Open Internet For My Birthday!
The FCC is going to give me an Open Internet For My Birthday -- Tell Congress Not To Be Party Poopers."Reclassification was a thing that should not be possible, and which therefore nobody but a handful of us believed could happen. It did not happen because some powerful person or special interest wanted it. It did not happen because John Oliver made a funny video. It happened because hundreds of lawyers, grassroots organizers, and policy advocates persuaded over 4 million people to stand up for their rights and demand that the government act to protect them from the unrestrained corporate power of broadband access providers. It shows — to everyone’s surprise — that government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth."