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|Wednesday, December 17th, 2014|
|Tuesday, December 16th, 2014|
|Thursday, December 11th, 2014|
|Tuesday, December 9th, 2014|
|Friday, December 5th, 2014|
|The Annual Renewing of the Forms of the Vor
Last night was the annual Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) dinner honoring the Chairman of the FCC. This is a charity event and is the telecom bar equivalent to the White House Press Correspondent's Dinner. All the major companies and law firms buy tables and tickets. Folks like me usually can scrounge a ticket from allies or frenemies.
The entertainment is the Chairman's speech which, like the President's speech, is supposed to be a humorous speech mocking the Chairman and the major players/issues (it is one of my professional milestones to have been mentioned on occassion). Like the Emperor of Barryar's Birthday from Bujold's Vorkosiverse, it has a set of customs and pracices with which the practitioner should be familiar and attendance is a chance to see and be seen by the fellow members of the telecom bar. Or, as I tell our younger staff who ask, it is worth doing at least once.
One interesting convention for the Twitter crowd. The suffix "-prom" has now come to mean an annual formal event for a class or group of people. Last night's event was marked with the hashtag #telecomprom. The White House Press Correspondent's Dinner is #nerdprom. The annual CES dinner for the consumer electronics crowd is #techprom. Not sure what other -proms are out there.
The Chairman made a fair number of jokes about the Net Neutrality fight, but I found (reading tea leaves) most of them more favorable to Title II. (Referring to the protesters who blocked his car: "You will note my car is not
a hybrid." "The AWS-3 Auction has now earned $41 bn dollars. You know, some wireless companies say that classifying broadband as Title II will stifle investment. Did I mention $41 bn?") Some were directed at Comcast ("Comcast has accused its opponents of exagerating the fear of reprisals for coming forward. I was going to make a joke about [Comcast chief lobbyist] David Cohen here, but he threatened to break my kneecaps.") Other targets were the Washington "Professional Football Team" (there is a petition before the FCC to ban saying the name as indecent/offensive), and other members of the Commission and FCC.
As the Chairman noted in an unscripted aside, he got a lot less laughter this year than last year when he was new and people weren't mad at him yet.
|Thursday, December 4th, 2014|
|Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014|
|Tuesday, November 25th, 2014|
So many things. But I will limit myself to the following:
I cannot think of any steps that the government officials in Ferguson and St. Louis County could have done more to undermine confidence in the process and the verdict. Starting with the deployment of militarized police in the first day. Strategic leaks. Defensive press conferences. A grand jury process that looks impressive unless you actually know how grand jury processes work (the grand jury is supposed to be a very modest hurdle to determine if there is sufficient reason to proceed to trial. It is the trial
with its evidence and procedure designed to provide a full airing of the case, that is supposed to clear the innocent subject to a reasonable doubt). Here, the prosecutor simply dumped a great mound of evidence with no guidance and failed to do his job, which is to actually prosecute and leave the defending to the defense.
I note in passing that an Israeli jury has indicted a police officer for using live fire rounds to contain rioters
and killing at least one Palestinian teenager.
I cannot pretend to speak to what others are feeling, particularly young black men who know that they live their lives under a cloud of suspicion simply for being who they are. I will say that when the confidence in the rule of law erodes, it ultimately undermine society as a whole. No system will ever deliver perfet justice. But a system that is perceived as consistently failing to deliver justice is one that commands neither legitimacey or respect.
|Monday, November 24th, 2014|
|Saturday, November 22nd, 2014|
|Ah yes, now I remember why I do this.
Two years ago, AT&t began the formal process for transitioning the phone system. We, just about alone of all public interest organiations, actually decided to engage them. And by engage I mean "engage" not "oppose."http://www.wetmachine.com/tales-of-the-sausage-factory/shutting-down-the-phone-system-gets-serious-the-implications-of-att-upgrading-to-an-all-ip-network/
Now the FCC is issuing an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. I am happy.
Or, more officially from my employer.
AT&T and Verizon are a lot less enthusiastic.
The Republicans on the FCC, Pai and O'Reilly, are furious and warn of an evil socialist take over and FCC authority run rampant.
(statements not yet available)
COMPTEL (the trade association of competing phone companies) is happy as pigs in mud.
Not the war by any stretch of the imagination. But you don't win wars without winning battles. And I like winning.
As for my colleagues who now no longer remember that they not only refused to join me, but actively accused me of collaborating with the enemy>
Yes, your "Never-never country" -- yes, your "edge of cultivation"
And "no sense in going further" -- till I crossed the range to see.
God forgive me! No, I didn't. It's God's present to our nation.
Anybody might have found it, but -- His Whisper came to Me!
Or, perhaps for the more SF among us.
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|Wednesday, November 19th, 2014|
|Boy was I wrong
I admit I haven't been paying as much attention as I should have been to the FCC's spectrum auction. The AWS-3/1755 MHz spectrum is good spectrum, a nice chunk of it, and globally harmonized for LTE, which drives down equipment cost. The official reserve price was $10 bn, which I figured was reasonable. It wouldn't have surprised me if the auction raised $15 bn. I thought estimates of $20 bn were rather aggressive (especially after some recent disappointing auctions in Brazil and elsewhere) and that the estimates of $25+ bn were absurd.
As of the end of round 19, after only 6 days of the auction, the total Potential Winning Bids (PWBs)
yields more than $24 bn.
I will need to wait until after I see the de-cloaked results to make some guesses why I was so wrong. And I suppose I should have asked fatlefty
first -- but been busy on net neutrality and stuff.
|Tuesday, November 18th, 2014|
|The last time the FCC classified something as Title II Telecommunications Was 2007. It worked fine.
To address the frantic craziness around classifying residential broadband as a "Title II" telecommunications service, I did a little write up of the last time the FCC actually classified something as Title II (automatic voice roaming in 2007) and compared it with the NOT TITLE II approach for data roaming the FCC adopted in 2011.
To be clear, I'm not saying reclassifying broadband would be nearly as straightforward. But this little exercise shows that (a) the FCC has reclassified services as Title II relatively recently (even since the iPhone was introduced!); (b) they did not need to impose all the crap Title II opponents say they must address as part of reclassification; (c) classifying voice roaming as Title II did not destroy the wireless industry; and, (d) the FCC classified voice roaming as Title II despite finding that wireless services were competitive.
By contrast, the Title I/Title III solution used for data roaming has not been a superior 'light touch' approach. The NOT TITLE II approach the FCC took with data roaming has been an ineffective mess.
|Wednesday, November 12th, 2014|
|Thursday, October 30th, 2014|
|So few people get my mixed metaphors outside the SCA.
Verizon recently issued a public statement
completely reversing themselves on whether the FCC has authority to ban paid prioritization under Section 706 (position in official comments and reply comments: no. Position now: Absolutely!!! Just please don't reclassify broadband as Title II!) and on whether they would ever try to imp'ose fast lanes (statement by counsel at trial: "but for these rules, we would be exploring such arrangements," new statement: "What? Fast Lanes? NEVER. Why, we don't even know what that would mean!")
My response: "Most cynical and insincere conversion since Henri of Navarre told the Huguenot 'So long and thanks for all the fish.'"
Blank looks ensue.
|Monday, October 27th, 2014|
|An odd moment in time
Last night I heard that the older brother of a friend from high school had died. He was in his early 50s. We had not spoken in many years, alas. We drift on the currents of time, losing old friends, making new ones, carried along whether we will or nill.
I am, of course, grieved for the loss and for the loss sustained by my old friend and his family. But there is more. I have had relatives, friends and acquaintances in my age cohort, die before. Some violently. Some in accidents. Some by diseases such as cancer. But there is something about this that seems a more threatening marker of age and mortality.
Yes, therefore the days we have are precious. "Let him remember that the days of his life are not many, but God answers him with the joy in his heart." Ecl 5:19. We are but a broken shard, a whithered stalk of grass, a fading flower, a passing shadow, a wayward cloud, a wandering breeze, scattering dust, a fleeting dream. Yet even while these thoughts may help us appreciate the gifts God gives us, they likewise frighten us in the agony of future loss. What a brave thing it is to love, to live in the world.
Or perhaps not, given the alternative. "If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, but his sould was not content from the good [he received], and he has no one who will bury him, I say: 'the stillborn is better than he.'" Ecl. 6:3. We can wall ourselves off from the world to spare ourselves pain and loss, but in doing so we would cut ourselves off from that which makes life worthwhile.
It is dark now. I will be glad to see the Sun when it rises. Sometimes, that is enough. "The light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the Sun."
|Tuesday, October 21st, 2014|
|Mentally dealing with an apparent monster in our midst
As some here may have heard, a very prominent local rabbi appears to have violated his sacred trust in the most vile way possible
. The accumulated evidence from the police looks fairly damning. I am torn in a number of different ways. First, as a lawyer, I believe strongly in the presumption of innocence. OTOH, the evidence discussed publicly seems to lack much other credible explanantion. OTOH, that is exactly the problem with public release of the evidence -- even when it is necessary as it is here. The accused is silent on advice of counsel, so the public see only one side.
At the same time, lots of muttering about things that, in retrospect, seem odd. Self-construction by the community after the fact? Or useful self-examination? The police, I should add, appear to be handling the matter appropriately and sensitively. From what I can tell, the outreach to women of the community who may have been impacted seems designed to show respect for the violation of privacy, respect for the religious sensitivities, and to reassure women that any photos recovered of them will not be made public or accessible in a way that could be hacked.
I am not a member of the Georgetown community so I am not in the thick of things. My parents were members of Rabbi Freundel's shul when they lived in DC in '95, and have remained friendly with him, so this is also something of a personal shock.
I am extremely angry and upset with the announcement by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate
that it will "investigate" the conversions supervised by Rabbi Freundel, despite the declaration of the Rabbinic Council of America that all conversions supervised by Freundel are valid. Feundel was head of the RCA conversion committee, a leading authority on conversions, and supervised the conversion process of dozens of people over the years. While I cannot claim to be a halachic authority, in light of the RCA ruling, I am not at all clear on what 'defect' the arrest charges (even if proven true) would create from the standpoint of halacha
, or what evidence the Israeli rabbinate would be looking for. Jewish conversion takes place halachically at the ritual supervised by the beis din
of 3. And, while Freundel's behavior -- if the allegations are true -- is reprehensible and a violation of halacha, they are not of the kind that would retroactively even void him as a witness. Further, since the beis din
is 3, even if Freundel is retroactively disqualified, two valid witnesses remain.
But the politics of Israel and conversion recognition are extremely unfortunate. As are the long-standing issues with our religious establishment.
Which brings up another point which should not be ignored. We are seeing, IMO, not merely in this incident but in others, the culmination of many unhealthy trends in traditional Judaism. A distressing trend toward aggrandizement of Rabbinic authority and refusal to question established Rabbinic authority (leading to its antithesis, the automatic dismissal of Rabbinic authority as political and elf-interested in all cases). The shift in attitudes on sex to an unhealthy suppression and incorporation of viws more traditionally associated with Christianity and Islam on women and sex and sexual temptation. Increasing fragmentation within the Jewish community on a regional and doctrinal basis. All of these play into each other to create an increasingly dysfunctional situation.
Finally, I will say that in one way our community remains quite steretypical -- men deal with these uncomfrotable situations with really bad, tastless jokes. I am myself a practioner, although I like to think we are being extremely erudite. (None of these, I am pleased to say, have to do with the victims. For example, and I am not going to translate this: "I hear there will be a new tell-all book on Rabbi Freundel. It is called sheketz b'yado
.') But it is, I think important to recognize that -- at least in my experience -- this is a necessary psychological defense mechanism. it was almost a ritual among the men I talked to. We would exchange one or two such tasteless jokes, sigh and then actually talk.
Going to take awhile to sort out, on both a personal and community level. But I have reminded myself of something many times in recent days. When I was growing up, I had a lot of issues adjusting in Jewish day school. Undiagnosed ADD and dyslexia, gifted and talented (which actually makes dealing with most traditional education programs more difficult, not less), and with poor social skills, I had a lot of Rabbi teachers who ranged from indifferent to downright mean. it would have been easy for me to cnclude: 'If these guys speak for God, then God is a total jerk.'
But even as a pre-teen and teen, I recognized that Rabbis were people. I had the good fortune to know and be taught by a very exceptional man named Rabbi Walgemuth. As for the others, accepting Rabbis were people, it meant that they would have the usual assortmen of good people, bad people, average people, insensitive people, heroes, fools and villains of every description. But my relationship is with God and with the halacha
. I am not an Island. I fit in the matrix of a culture and a tradition. But the awefulness or cluelessness or mediocrity of people placed in positions of responsibility doesn't have anything to do with my fundamental relationship with God and halacha
Put another way, a doctor is a trained specialist. I would never diagnos myself. But when it turns out that a gynacologist was taking 'upskirt' pictures of his female patients to enjoy on his own, in direct violation of his oath and duty to the patients who trusted him, that did not make gynocology bullshit or necessarily tell us much about other gynacologists (although it might tell us about the need for certain systemic reforms on practice) -- even if other gynacologists reflexively defend one of their own or if a handful of patients stay stubbornly loyal to their doctor.
So I'm not troubled about God or halacha
. I'm distressed about a lot of things, and I'm panfully aware that this is the ultimate in chilul Hashem
. And I see rough times ahead for us as a community -- above and beyond the awfulness to the victims themselves.
|Monday, October 13th, 2014|