My Thoughts Exactly

Development Rights in a Carbon-Constrained World

The good folks at environmental/social justice/global policy think tank EcoEquity have just published an intriguing policy paper about a “Greenhouse Development Rights”, which they call a

Climate protection framework designed to support an emergency climate stabilization program while, at the same time, preserving the right of all people to reach a dignified level of sustainable human development free of the privations of poverty.

More specifically, the GDRs framework quantifies national responsibility and capacity with the goal of providing a coherent, principle-based way to think about national obligations to pay for both mitigation and adaptation.

I plan to write a more in-depth synopsis of the paper soon, but in the meantime, all you people who are threatened by the climate crisis (basically all of you who live on earth), and especially you economic policy-wonk types, should check it out.

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Inventing the Future

Mixed Reality

Getting virtual worlds away from a computer screen and into a physical classroom space doesn’t have to be hard. These Greenbush Labs guys are using a commercial computer/whiteboard link to run open source software based on the KAT. How cool is that?

Check out their other projects and the related stuff on YouTube. What a great way to get the word out. (See also.)

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Inventing the Future

Harvard statue becomes Halo avatar

<%image(20070925-halo3.jpg|500|332|John Harvard as Halo's Master Chief)%>In another sign of the significance of virtual reality, MIT hackers transformed the Harvard benefactor into a character from the popular video game.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Would somebody please taze the WSJ?

Well the so-called journalists of the Wall Street Journal are back to their usual practice of making shit up in the name of capitalism and Victory! and Freedom! and A Pony — or whatever it is they’re arguing for.

Call me a dreamer, but I kinda like the idea that editorial boards of extremely prominent media outlets would do at least rudimentary fact-checking before racing off to their foregone conclusions.

I can hardly wait until Rupert gets hid 48-point Helvetica-Bold hands on this paper. The editorial page, already the next best thing to an acid trip for those who don’t chemically imbibe, will likely become the apotheosis of truthiness, kinda like Alan Greenspan talking about geopolitics under the influence of Atlas Shrugged and some of that bad windowpane that was going around at Woodstock.

By the way, I really am not asking anybody to taze the WSJ. Nor do I want anybody to shoot the WSJ in the face. We’ll leave those kinds of things to people in uniform and Vice Presidents of the United States, respectively.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

To the Democrats Who Voted for the Cornyn Amendment Condmening “Liberal Activist” Moveon and the “General Betray Us Ad”

To the Democrats who voted in favor of the Cornyn Amendment to condemn the “Liberal activist organization” Moveon for its “General Betray-Us” Advertisement.

I can only say — SHAME! Shame on you for siding with the conservative talk show bullies! Shame on you for once again perpetuating this twisted double standard in which the merchants of venom and filth scold their opponents for daring to raise their voices in protest and speak truth to power. Where were you when Max Clealand — a man who risked his life in the service of his country, losing limbs for our liberty — faced far worse “personal attacks” on his honor and bravery for daring to question the rush to War? Where was the Senate outrage then? Where were you then? You were cowering before the conservative mob, running like frightened stag before the baying talk radio hounds, while the Republicans you joined with for this shameful vote laughed at your cowardice and timidity. And now, six years later, you have proven yourselves once again to be the same timid deer, ready to run wherever you are driven when the talk radio pit bulls bare their teeth and growl.

I am tired of you. I’m tired of hearing your brave talk of “Change” and “Taking a Stand,” only to see you time and again knuckle under to the same tricks and demagoguery that held you paralyzed in the past. Your helplessness has become a joke of the late night talk shows. Your cravenness has become a byword among your opponents, who have lost whatever fear they may have felt after seeing us bring you into power after 12 long years of minority status. And your pathetic timidity has become a bitter disappointment to those of us that elected you to create change and take a stand.

I am done with you. Neither you, or The Democratic Party general reelection fund, will receive one more dime from me until a sufficient number of you are replaced with men and women willing to stand up for principle. I and the other “liberal activists” the Cornyn Amendment explicitly condemns shall seek out new candidates willing to stand up against the talk show bullies and the Conservative demagogues who seek to brow beat the opposition into silence with mock indignation, while reserving for themselves the right to spew poisonous vitriol on all who disagree. You will have no more “safe” districts or “safe” states. What use have I or other “liberal activists” — who have sought only to see an end to the tragedy that has become our failed involvement in Iraq and to protect ourselves and our fellow Americans from the rapaciousness of a new generation of corporate Robber Barons — for so-called Democrats who quail before the conservative talk show bullies and crawl to do their bidding? We will find new candidates, brave men and women willing to speak truth to power, and with the spine to carry their conviction from the campaign trail to the Capital.

It may be that you can provide some satisfactory answer to your unconscionable vote and redeem yourselves, but I sincerely doubt it. For actually crossing party lines to condemn the Moveon ad, I have nothing but contempt. It is not merely that you are utterly wrong on substance. It is not merely that this latest craven surrender to the Conservative noise machine marks you once again as unfit to lead our nation in the direction it must go. It is the sheer, utter, lemming-like suicidal imbecility with which you seem determined to leap over the proverbial cliff and throw yourselves into the sea. As a matter of pure, cold blooded political calculation, I am simply astounded at your utter disregard for those who have paid with sweat, blood and treasure to put you and the Democratic Party back in the majority. I am appalled at your inability to perceive the misgivings of your “base” that despite your brave talk you would in the end once again disappoint us by prostrating yourselves before the Conservative talk show bullies who — after two decades of unrestrained consolidation and the death of the Fairness Doctrine — dominate our public airwaves with their vitriol and drown out all voices of dissent with your craven assistance. What “vital center” do you think you win by continued reaffirmations of your political cowardice and timidity? What “centrists” do you think you inspire with consistent craven surrender to the Conservative right?

Had you resisted your craven impulse to bow to the Right, sadly grown into unthinking habit from long use, this “controversy” would have been dismissed as a mere sideshow, the vaporings of the Conservative talk show bullies and Republican demagogues, forgotten in the wake of the next OJ bulletin. But no, you have given your imprimatur to their brayings, handed them another victory to reenforce the perception of their power, and deeply offended those on whom you must rely for success. When your fundraisers call, or those from the Democratic Party call, I shall make clear to them precisely what I think of Democrats who quiver to do the bidding of the Cavutos and Limbaughs of the world instead of standing up for the principles on which they were elected.

To the Democrats who stood up to the bullies and voted against the Cornyn Resolution — especially the Democratic Candidates for President Hilary Clinton and Chris Dodd — you give me hope. In 2003, only two Democrats dared to defy the attack dogs of the right and make a stand against the pressure of the Conservative mob. Some Democrats, at least, can learn courage and can stand by their convictions. Whatever your personal feelings about the language of the advertisement (and there is certainly room for disagreement on whether it was useful, appropriate or effective), I am pleased to see that you have learned that trying to appease the talk show bullies is a losing proposition. You recognized that when push comes to shove and you must go on record and take a stand, and proved you are prepared to stand up for what you believe. You have learned to say “No, maybe I didn’t like the ad and thought it’s criticism of Patraeus over the top, but I will not endorse a double standard that lets talk show bullies call us ‘traitors’ and ‘terrorists’ and ‘cowards’ who ‘cut and run,’ but who fake outrage and demand we disassociate ourselves from ‘despicable hate speech’ when others use much milder criticisms.”

If the rest of the Democratic Party can only learn from your example, there is still hope for 2008. Like Dorothy standing up to the Great and Powerful Oz and thus revealing him to be a fraud propped up with a loud voice and special effects machine, your example in standing up to the orchestrated outrage of the Conservative echo chamber can break the power of the talk show bullies over the cowardly lions, tin men, and scarecrows that make up the rest of the party.

To the Democrats who stood silent, thinking that this placed you above the fray and sent a proper nuanced message, a warning. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that “there is a time to speak, and a time to stay silent.” This is not the time for silence. Senator Mitch McConnell put it quite well when he said: “Let’s take sides. General Petraeus or MoveOn.org. Which one are we going to believe? Which one are we going to condemn?” Your silence, however meant, appeases no one and calls your principles into doubt. By refusing to take a stand, you leave yourself open to the accusation that you lacked the nerve to fully commit yourselves. Yes, there are times when it is both the right thing and the brave thing to refuse to engage at all, to follow the wisdom of the old adage that if you wrestle a fool in the mud no one watching will see much difference between the two. But there are also times when one must clearly and unambiguously pick a side.

I close with Senator McConnell’s call to arms. “Let’s take sides. General Petraeus or MoveOn.org. Which one are we going to believe? Which one are we going to condemn?” Yes indeed. That is the question the American people face, and will decide upon in the election of 2008. You Senators who chose Patraeous over Moveon, who claim to hate the War but cringe when the talk show bullies bark, have shown your true character and made your choice. We, the voters who brought the Democrats to power in 2006, who have done the impossible by giving the Democrats an hitherto unimaginable lead in fundraising against their Republican opponents, will not forget when we go to make our choice in November 2008.

Stay tuned . . . .

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My Thoughts Exactly

Petraeus == Betray us

Or not, who knows, I don’t care. It’s an enlisted man’s pun, you wouldn’t understand. I just want to see if I can get the Senate of the United States of America to debate Wetmachine and maybe pass a resolution denouncing us. I’m sure that would be good for traffic, which is what it’s all about, ain’t it? Net capitalism, dude. It’s what’s for dinner.

But I don’t know why I bother, because Comcast or AT&T, the new Cellular, will edit this en route to your eyballs, and you’ll never even know I wrote it. It will be like the memory hole, only more high tech. And the bits will seal up around the absense of my message just like the metal man in Terminator Two, Judgement Day. (Remember, in Soviet Russia, Internet censors YOU!)

Hey, don’t taze me, bro. I’m just say’n what it is.

You may now go back to reading the triumphal return post, below, from our long-lost Web 3.0 boy, Howard Stearns.

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Inventing the Future

The Virtual Gets Real

I figure there is no technology on earth to which the Chief Technical Officer of Intel Corp doesn’t have access. Today he chose to talk about Qwaq and Croquet during his closing keynote address to the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco’s huge Moscone Center.

< %image(20070920-smallhall.jpg|166|124|The auditorium at the Moscone Center.)%>< %image(20070920-virtualauditorium_sm.jpg|174|124|The virtual auditorium in Qwaq Forums, showing Intel's Miramar desktop on one virtual screen, a movie about virtual surgery on another, and in between is a model of the patient.)%>

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Broadcasters Leverage Monopoly on TV Channels to Push Vacant Channel FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)

It’s always nice when you can give yourself free advertising time on television. So no surprise the National Association of Broadcasters has launched a major advertising campaign in the DC Area to persuade members of Congress that allowing unlicensed use of the broadcast white spaces will mess up the transition to digital television. Indeed, the NAB has made this into a grand campaign, including a new website called “Interference Zones” complete with adorable graphics of “Wally, the Unlicensed Wireless Device” messing up the “pristine digital television signal” to your “beautiful new digital TV.” I particularly like how they got Wally’s fun-loving but malicious grin rendered so “pristinely.”

And, in case you missed it the first time, the site also contains a link to the Association for Maximum Service Television classic “educational” video Your Neighbor’s Static. “Your Neighbor’s Static” is as realistic a portrayal of the effects of white spaces devices on TV as Reefer Madness is a balanced documentary on the pros and cons of medical marijuana.

It’s all just the usual fun and games here in DC, and a fine example of why the broadcasters have so much power as a lobby.

More below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Whiny Techies or Dishonest Salesmen?

I cannot help but add a coda onto my latest article. Steven Pearlstein, econ columnist for the Washington Post, has written this piece on the recent complaints wrt to Comcast. To quote Mr. Pearlstein:

The latest rallying cry is “network neutrality.” This campaign started out with the legitimate goal of making sure that consumers could continue to access whichever services or content they want, rather than having to take those offered by the cable and phone company duopolists. But lately the campaign seems to have morphed into a broader demand that all consumers should be able to pay the same monthly fee for using the Internet, no matter how much bandwidth they use or how much their movie downloads and video chats are slowing service to everyone else in the neighborhood.

Perhaps this is the kind of economic illiteracy we should expect from people who get their information from “The Daily Show” and the Daily Kos. But isn’t it time for the rest of us to move on and acknowledge that the days of the online free lunch are over?

As you may imagine from my recent post, my complaint is not with charging more for more bandwidth, but for dishonestly promising me an “always on all you can eat” connection, then cutting me off when I use it all the time for all I can eat. I sent Mr. Pearlstein the following reply, reproduced below….

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Of Bandwidth Hogs, QoS, and Regulatory Chameleons

I can live with the internet as a best efforts network. I can live with the internet as a regulated utility. What I absolutely cannot stand is the idiocy of the current regulatory scheme that allows broadband access providers to justify the deregulated state of a competitive best efforts environment because they need to provide a public utility.

Case in point, Comcast’s recent actions of cutting off “bandwidth hogs” and purportedly throttling BitTorrent traffic to its subscribers (Comcast denies it targets BitTorrent traffic). Comcast in its user agreement explicitly reserves the right to cut off users using “too much bandwidth” — although Comcast refuses to say how much bandwidth is “too much.” Comcast defends its actions (including the secrecy of the bandwidth limit) on the grounds that “bandwidth hogs” overload the system capacity and thus slow down everyone’s use of the system.

As I discuss below, Comcast and the other broadband providers are speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They claim they have no liability for anything and should not be regulated because they are providing “best efforts” services and everyone knows it. But when they want to cut off users, tier traffic, or indulge in other behavior that sticks it to subscribers they haul out the “Quality of Service (QoS)” and “critical infrastructure” arguments. “What about voice?” They cry. “What about poor crippled Tiny Tim and his medical monitoring unit, cut off by some bandwidth hog downloading pirated child pornography and Al Qeda instructional videos (which, we will admit, makes a very interesting mash up when viewed via deep packet inspection)? You have to let us do whatever we want and charge whatever we want because people are relying on us for critical services.”

Of course, historically, companies that provided critical services were “public utilities.” At which point, the telcos and cable cos amazingly morph back into laissez faire “best efforts” providers and subscribers need to know there are no guarantees and that which we tell you three times may or may not be true.

My further analysis of the amazing regulatory chameleon, the private public utility, below….

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