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|Thursday, December 19th, 2013|
|Ferb, I Know What I'm doing Over Vacation *sigh*
The FCC seeks public comment on the Pet. For Decl. Ruling filed by PK, et al. that sale of "anonymized" CPNI data, such as the sale of data by AT&T to the CIA as described in the NYT, violates Sec. 222.
Comments due January 17
Replies due February 3
You can see more about the Petition here:
|Tuesday, December 17th, 2013|
|Empathy v. Sympathy
I find this short very meaningful on the value of empathy and how it differs from sympathy.
"No empathetic statement ever began with 'at least.'"
|Monday, December 16th, 2013|
|Forced once again to recognize I now rate "Elder" status
Was tired of answering someone's question on ancient telecom history and so directed them to this 7 year old blog post
-- because I'm old and I carefully recorded all my telecom baltherings for just such an emergency.
Today I had lunch with a college classmate and realized that if we were teleported back to our graduating selves and had to explain what we do for a living, it would make no sense. The career I have did not exist as a possibility when I graduated.
Geez . . . geez . . .
|Random Mutterings about the pay gap.
Well, the latest from Pew continues to confirm my curmudgeonly conclusions about the Demographic Snake, but also about other problems as well.
For those who missed it, PEW released an interesting study on the pay gap between men and women
-- a perennial favorite since apparently the "pay gap" has apparently been one of these immutable things. Except for anyone willing to actually dig below headlines and look at deeper demographic trends a number of thing have been clear for some time.
I have long held the following theories from this and similar reports, as well as a general survey of demographic trends.
1. A good deal of the persistence in the pay gap comes from the relatively slow shift in management based on generational shift. That includes all other aspects of the production food chain, such as access to capital for businesses. As long as management making the decisions derived from a generation that internalized core sexist ideas was still calling the shots, there was an upper bound to change. As Miles Vorkosigan so aptly put it at the end of Brothers in Arms
"some attitudes can only be outlived."
As we move through the demographic snake, we will continue to see a general rise in pay parity between women and men.
1a. In point of fact, demographic trends point to a reversal of the problem in approximately 20-25 years unless corrective action is taken simply as a function of education, training and drive. We have had more women than men graduating with college degrees for awhile. Women dominating in all higher ed fields, with the exception of STEM, has been the trend more recently, but appears to be holding. The impact of this has been somewhat muted by the bad job market, but if the trend holds it will have significant impact going forward.
2. The PEW poll on attitudes reflects the continued problem of dealing with pay gap and work conditions as "women's issues" rather than "family issues" impacting all of us. Most notable is the shift of attitudes on work and children. Women view having children as a career barrier, and expect to make career sacrifices to have children. Men see having children as when they need to get serious about their careers. This is reflected in hours worked for full time position, as noted by PEW in this article here
(explaining how they get a different result than BLS). 26% of men in full time jobs report working more than 40 hours a week, whereas only 14% of women similarly employed report similarly working more than 40 hours.
Certainly some of that is reflected in the nature of work, such as the continued preponderance of men in management positions (which tend to be salary w/out overtime rather than salaried with overtime), but it also reflects a cultural attitude. These things tend to be intertwined.
As a personal observation, the system tends to be reenforcing by providing an even more limited "daddy track" than a "mommy track." For men trying to parent and work, we are very much where we were about 30 years ago for women. Men taking parental leave face severe social and economic penalties in most employment situations. The Mommy Track may be lower pay and lower prestige, but the Daddy Track is usually to unemployment except for a handful of jobs. While this is changing in response to demographic trends, it is changing at a glacially slow rate.
3. While not covered in PEW, recent studies and personal articles about women in STEM demonstrate that the idea that "all we have to do is treat everyone the same and the problem goes away" is ignorant nonsense. Silicon Valley in particular has a sorry reputation of operating with a "frat boy" atmosphere in the sort of quiet sexism that is difficult to quantify but very effective at driving women out and discouraging women from advancing professionally.
Workplaces need to be structured as artificial environments to get work done. The problem of the "relaxed" environment is that it tends to drop to least common denominator. Unsurprisingly, 'least common denominator' is dictated by the tolerance of the majority culture within the workplace.
I would note in passing on this that for those professions that have historically been (and remain) women-dominated, such as nursing and K-6 education, we tend to have the reverse problem. This is because culture w/in a particular cluster tends to be persistent over time and respond to leadership.
My curmudgeonly prediction is that we will continue as a Society to fail to address this in any meaningful way. So that leaves working through the demographic snake and individual/targeted efforts. The rise of women in various professions has created a body of mentors and social capital that is starting to pay off. As leadership at Fortune 500 companies shifts to the next generation, we are slowly populating their ranks with women (African Americans and other minorities continue to suffer lag, for reasons that require an entirely different post).
A side effect of this is that we can expect a dramatic shift once the demographic shift happens. The previously glacial pace as a result of deferring retirement and other demographic trends that extended career/life expectancy will be replaced by sudden rapid "tipping point" over the next 15 years.
|Sunday, December 8th, 2013|
|Saw Frozen, It was Awesome
Yes, the short before the movie is really, really good and clever. And yes, the actual movie itself is really, really good and clever. A rare occasion where the updating of a classic fairy tale (it is very
loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen") dramatically improves it from the original.
Plus I would gladly listen to anything Idina Menzel sings.
|Friday, December 6th, 2013|
|I get annoyed at Rick Warren For cultural appropriation
Dear Rick Warren and other Christian people who want to use Jewish examples to argue that you are oppressed by various laws like the insurance mandate.http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rick-warren-contraception-mandate-like-making-a-jewish-deli-sell-porkAs an Orthodox Jew, I can assure you that we have an extremely rich and complex methodology for resolving conflicts of secular law with our religious code -- an exciting byproduct of, among other things, nearly 1700 years of Christian oppression starting when Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire. (And prior to that living under the rule of idolatrous Greeks, Romans, Persians.) Y'all might want to study it. But even if you don't, please stop trying to co-opt my religion for your political purposes when you clearly know jack shit about it. If you find this irreconcilable with your religious belief, I suggest you do what my ancestors did for the last 2,000 years when confronted with edicts to do things like convert to Christianity or die -- GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. Srsly. When the conflict arises between your duty to God and your creature comforts under secular law, you flippin' make the sacrifice. You think (some of) my ancestors left Russia because they wanted to? Hell no, they left to avoid the edict that Jews must serve in the army so that the Czar's soldiers could kick the shit out of them until they converted to Christianity. Confronted with this irreconcilable conflict between secular law and our religious convictions we RAN OUR FREAKIN' ASSES OFF.Closer to home, my wife spent several years after graduating pharmacy school working temp jobs. Why? Because every pharmacy wanted her to work on Saturday. She said: 'I'll work Sundays instead." They said: 'Sorry, it is not worth it for us to adjust our schedule to accommodate you.' And that was that.
To be clear, I'm not telling you that you shouldn't take advantage of the freedoms we have to protest a law you don't like because you feel it violates your religious principles. That's your right and one of the great things about this country. I am also not going to try to tell you that the law doesn't actually, violate your religious principles. That's for you to decide. But, as the Mormons discovered when they wanted Utah to become a state, not every religious exercise is protected and we as a society have to balance the need to respect religious freedom v. a law of general applicability judged necessary for a well-ordered society.
I just would appreciate it if you would not make analogies to my religion and drag us into it. The more so because if there *were* a law that said "all places that sell meat must make pork available to any patron that wants it," that would not violate Jewish law. Oh, it would be an expensive pain in the patootie to manage so that the pork did not contaminate the kosher food, but there is no law against benefiting from the sale of pork. So the analogy doesn't really hold for those of us who actually know the law.So, to summarize, (a) please stop trying to co-opt my cultural oppression (a lot of it done by your Christian forbears, for which I do not hold you responsible (hey, you weren't even born yet) but which does add irony here) for your own political purposes; and, (b) if you are, then please get it right and actually study the law. Because we did not have the luxury to whine and piss and moan and sue people over things like this. We had to friggin' deal with it, flee for our lives, or die. Love and smoochies.H
|A Brief Reflection On The Passing of Nelson Mandela
Of the many remarkable things about Nelson Mandela, what I find most remarkable is that he was both a revolutionary leader and a man capable of building the country and leading it after the revolution. And when the time came for him to step aside and demonstrate how democratic transition of power works, he did that as well. After he retired from active politics, he continued to exercise quiet moral authority in a way that bolstered, rather than overshadowed, his successors.His choice to pursue reconciliation, in a way that openly acknowledged the violence and injustice of the past but allowed South Africa as a whole to move beyond it, demonstrated a reconstruction genuinely run by the "angels of our better nature." It was a wonder and an astonishment to a world that often confuses "vengeance" with "justice."Mandela also had this blessing. He lived long enough to see his dreams realized. Not all of them. Their is much poverty and inequality remaining in South Africa. But he lived to see true political freedom for his people and he set them on a path to better days.
|Last Night's Annual Nerdpocalypse
Last night was the annual Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) Chairman's Dinner, aka #telecomprom. For those unfamiliar with this ritual, it is somewhat similar to the White House Press Corp dinner. The telecom bar gathers (1600 in attendance last night) and the Chairman of the FCC makes a self-deprecating speech that also mocks the audience of assembled lawyers and lobbyists.Like most folks in my profession, I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Telecomprom. I genuinely like a bunch of the people, and also appreciate the need to mingle and engage in the social back and forth that creates community and facilitates getting stuff done. OTOH, it's very crowded and loud.Chairman Wheeler did a pretty good job. More importantly, they gave Former Acting Chair Now Back To Commissioner Mingon Clyburn a chance to have an "acting" Chairman's Dinner Speech. The FCBA President announced "and now, the Chairman of the FCC." [Pause] "Perhaps he didn't hear. And now, the Chairman of the FCC" and up walks Clyburn. :"I know you all bought your tickets when I was still Acting" explained Clyburn, and then went on to make one or two jokes before yielding the floor to Chairman Wheeler.
You can tell what are the hot issues by the jokes. Wheeler began by saying we had some good wine, but it was limited, so AT&T and Verizon tables would be limited to one bottle each, but Sprint and T-Mobile could get as many as they wanted "But for God's sake, please actually buy something!" This is a spectrum joke for those unfamiliar with our world.
Most of the jokes were about Wheeler himself on expected and safe topics. His age, his background as a lobbyist, his interest in the Civil War (he's actually written a respected book on the subject "Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails," about how Lincoln used the telegraph to revolutionize control of the military and manipulate the press). Example: "As a former lobbyist, let me advise you how to lobby the Chairman. Don't wait for him to pull out pictures of his grandchildren, ask him. For those of you smart enough to applaud, here is a picture of my grandson " (Slideshow of pictures of grandchildren was a running joke during his speech). "I am probably the only FCC Chairman to have lobbied his own staff. That's why I hired them. They never gave me what i asked for." [Picture of Wheeler at table surrounded by sleeping staff] "Here I am at the first staff meeting, explaining how we can learn key things for Net Neutrality from the Battle of Antietam."
Annoyingly, I managed to do something nasty to my back. I suspect its because I was carrying my backpack the whole time rather than checking it in the coatroom (a notorious chokepoint. You can spend half an hour after the dinner trying to get your stuff).
|Wednesday, December 4th, 2013|
|Monday, December 2nd, 2013|
|Darkover Done, Off To Boston, and My Radio Interview From A Few Weeks Ago
Well, it's been busy and keeps being busy.
Thanksgiving was delightful. Spent with my younger brother and his family, Seth Cohen (whose LJ name I'm blanking on these days) and associated kids (Karen being back in the hospital).
Then came the last Darkover. It was also the last Clam Chowder concert, and I suspect, given the health problems of one member and the immediate future plans of some others, that this fellowship is ended for good this time. Perhaps some future group with some overlap will revive the name and have its own traditions and followers. But, to borrow from Doctor Who, this song has ended.
So for me it was melancholy but without being unduly bitter. Friday night it kept hitting me we had lost three folks I would usually expect to see at Darkover in one year. Jaelle, Marty, and Pedro d'Alcazar aka Craig Levin. All of them familiar acquaintances of many years. All missed.
At the end of the Hallelujah Chorus, a Darkover tradition, there was a round of "hava nagilla." It was well meant, but not really what was called for -- especially since it was actually Chanukah. So a few of us sang the opening chorus of Maoz Tzur
, a traditional Chanukah song. Felt better after that. (I'd an actual itch to add something suitable at the Jaelle memorial music jam, but had decided against it. Jaelle had left that part of her life, and we had not been that close. It felt, well, filk-hoggish if you will to have inserted something there that most of the participants would not have understood and would have had only a few participating voices.
Now flying off to Boston to spend tonight with my parents (since we barely had time to say 'hi' during the Bar Mitzvah a few weeks back) and then speaking tomorrow (Tuesday Dec. 3) at this free event at Suffolk Law School on Tremont street
. Sadly, will not have time to see mabfan
and family unless anyone shows up at the event.
Finally, I did an appearance last week before Thanksgiving on To The Point
, a show produced by KCRW
at UC Santa Monica, to discuss Net Neutrality. You can find the link here
|Wednesday, November 27th, 2013|
|I Have Nothing Intelligent To Say On The Iran Deal
This is one of those cases where the subject matter is so detailed and the details are so critically important that I actually have no way to evaluate whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Some of this appears to depend on an acceptable end game. If you *knew* that Iran would only be able to use enriched uranium for peaceful purposes, would it be OK? Or is it so easy to flip the technology that letting them have that capacity is too destabilizing?
Keep in mind we're talking not just a one year or five year horizon. The question is whether there is a level of confidence that the program could be constrained so as to avoid weaponization on a 50 year time frame (further than that is just too damn hard to predict). Weighing against this is the consideration that Iran might otherwise be able to weaponize their program despite sanctions, which would then present the nasty alternative of doing nothing or a potential military strike against a fairly well armed and populous power with significant allies.
So I have no clue what to think about this.
|Sunday, November 24th, 2013|
|Friday, November 22nd, 2013|
|Aaron was awesome in Les Miserables Last Night
And I'm pretty sure the other students were good too, fwiw.
Aaron was various bit parts. The arresting Sergeant who brings Jean Valjean to the priest. The prisoner mistaken for Jean Valjean. one of the national guard in the second half.
The show is actually the non-musical dramatic adaptation, but with some of the musical numbers added.
Second showing is Saturday Night.
Am linking to one of my favorite buzzfeeds. 28 Experiences Only Drama Club Kids Would understand
Out of curiousity, who else did drama club?
|Wednesday, November 20th, 2013|
|Text of my speech from last night is up
Briefly, I start with the quote from Ethics of the Fathers that: There are four types of people [lit. 'midot' meaning virtues]: The one who says what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours, this is a typical person ['beinoni]; some say this is the way of Sodom. The one who says "what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine" is ignorant of the world [lit. 'am ha-aretz'], "What's mine is yours and what's yours is yours" is generous/kind [chassid]. "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine," wicked."
The debate over copyright is often portrayed as a conflict between the idealistic "what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine" v. the worldly "whats mine is mine and what's yours is yours." This is a false framing, The real debate over the last 30 years is contained entirely in the first sentence. Have we left the path of ordinary law necessary to promote, in the words of the Consitution, "science and the useful arts" and instead begun to follow the way of Sodom?
|Monday, November 18th, 2013|
|Intellectual Property and Jewish Ethics
I will speaking at this event tomorrow night at the Jewish Museum of Military History. I call my presentation: "My idea is mine and your idea is yours -- Why some of us say U.S. intellectual property policy is the Way of Sodom."
"The tragic suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz in the fall of 2012 drew public attention to the ethical problems that arise from the protection—or overprotection--of intellectual property. Does information really want to be free, as the saying goes?
And what can we learn from Jewish tradition--from the Talmud to more modern interpretations -- about creating a fair balance between the intellectual property rights of writers and other artists and access to copyrighted media in the United States?"
|Tuesday, November 12th, 2013|
|Performers' Revel Was Awesome, As Usual
Last weekend was one of the few SCA events we still manage to make it to -- Performers' Revel at Caer Bear. For us, the event starts Friday night when we show up at Igor and Fevronia's and get to hang with them -- something we don't get to do nearly enough.
Performers' Revel is a small event held at Ig and Fevronia's house whose origins go back to when they were Baron and Baroness and wanted to create a "safe space" to encourage new performers as well as satisfy the urge of regular bards to get together and jam. Every attendee is required to do some sort of performance (interpreted very broadly) as their 'tithe' to the crowd. Baron Igor cooks up a lunch and dinner that smell amazing and, from what I am told, tastes amazing as well.
This year, on Friday night, I was lamenting how the pickled mushrooms always smell so wonderful and someday I would need to get Ig to make a kosher batch. As it happened, Ig had kosher vinegar and a glass bowl suitable for the making of a small batch of kosher pickled mushrooms. And yes, they were very good.
Unfortunately, Rivka was feeling somewhat under the weather, so we left relatively soon after Shabbos ended when they broke for dinner rather than staying for the after dinner performances. But it was a marvelous time and an excellent tonic to an emotionally draining week.