December 3rd, 2007

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Google as the Toxoplasma Gondii of the Wireless World

For those unfamiliar with it, Toxoplasma Gindii (or T. Gondii to its friends and lazy writers like me) is a parasitic protozoa with a complicated sex life. In its immature form, it can live happily in any mammal. But to breed, it needs to be inside a cat.

Turns out the best way to get inside a cat is to be eaten by one. That means residing in a mammal that gets regularly eaten by cats. e.g. mice. The problem is that mice have developed an avoidance system to cats. When mice smell cat urine or other cat smells, they feel fear and avoid the source.

T. Gondii that crafty little protozoa, works some kind of magic on the mouse that gives the mouse the opposite reaction. Instead of becoming afraid and avoiding the cat, it will become attracted to the smell and seek out the cat. It will become bolder, and instead of hiding when it sees the car, it will leap out and defy the cat. Contrary to many an amusing folk tale, the cat is not in the least impressed or concerned by this behavior and gobbles down the the mouse, thus ingesting the T. Gondii as the parasite intended. While this may seem an awfully large effort on the part of the protozoa to get laid, it does seem to be effective -- from the protozoan's perspective.

As I explain in this most recent professional blog post:, I expect Google to do to the wireless industry what T. Gondii does to mice. Totally alter their behavior in order to make sure that Google gets what it wants. And, like T. Gondii, Google really doesn't care if the wireless careers get eaten in the process. I mean, nothing personal guys. But if your getting eaten is the cost of Google's reproducing, then so it goes.....
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Venezuala and Russia: Studies In Democracy

In the U.S., we often suffer from a delusion that all democracies should pretty much resemble ours in the overall outcomes of things. When we see a democracy that starts to go down a very different path in terms of its economics or social structure -- especially when these changes run counter to our interests and defy our conventional wisdom -- we start to wonder. Particularly in countries without strong histories of democracy, it is natural when we see movement toward radical economic restructuring or political reform to consider whether this represents a viable democratic process or the resurgence of tyranny.

The recent elections in Venezuela and Russia provide stark contrasts between a country that appears to operate under constitutional norms and produces results at odds with what we expect, and a government heading toward one-man tyranny. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez had sought constitutional reforms that would have allowed him to centralize power and remain in office indefinitely. As popular as Chavez and his social program are with the vast majority of impoverished Venezuelans, the referendum failed. The people of Venezuela, it seems, have become attached to the substance of real democracy and not just attached to policy outcomes. While they will no doubt continue to support Chavez and his economic and social reforms (polling shows these remain popular, and Venezuela's oil money provides the means to pay for them), the people of Venezuela also retain the rule of law and the promise of genuine democratic processes.

Russia, on the other hand, presents a very different tale. Where Chavez has rigorously followed the rule of law -- declining to take revenge after the failed coup of 2002, seeking to defeat his foes at the ballot box, and engaging in a program of economic reform authorized by process found in the Venezuelan constitution -- Putin has arrested members of the independent media, used thugs to intimidate voters, and made a mockery of the electoral process. Bit by bit, Russia returns to the ways understood by a former KGB aparatchik, complete with show votes and a tame, state controlled media.

Chavez's flamboyant style, appeals to socialist economic platforms, and vehement anti-Bush rhetoric have earned him far more criticism in the U.S. press than Putin has received. Chavez is repeatedly denounced as a tyrant who destroys democratic institutions and imposes a socialist tyranny. Putin is routinely let off the hook for massacres in Chechnya, the suppression of all opposition, and an increasingly aggressive use of oil and natural gas resources as a trump card in foreign policy.

Hopefully, the next President will take the opportunity to evaluate where the real threat to democracy and to U.S. interests lies. Our current administration has done little to expand critical ties in the growing economies of South and Central America, despite high hopes before 9/11 that the former Governor of Texas who also speaks Spanish would focus on strengthening ties with Latin America. A next President will have the opportunity to change that, including re-evaluating whether Chavez and his supporters in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America represent forces that must be opposed or an economic philosophy supported by a popular mandate that the U.S. must respect while seeking to promote its own interests. And, by the same token, a new Administration will need to determine whether Russia has once again become the enemy of the West governed by a handful of men careless of the welfare of their people.
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PC World's Most Anti-Tech Orgs In America,140081/article.html

Making the list are:
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences (MPAA)

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA)

The big phone companies

Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF)

Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)

National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)

Personally for me, I would have included the major cable companies and the National Cable Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and dropped PFF. The major cable companies have prevented the evolution of two-cable and broadband services far more effectively than the telcos have, and have contributed as much as the telcos to blocking network neutrality.

I consider PFF a prefectly reasonable organization that is trying to promote its world view. I just happen to think they are completely, utterly and totally wrong. They, unsurprisingly, feel the same way about me.