Tales of the Sausage Factory

Genachowski's Remarks At Auschwitz

I cannot claim to know Chairman Genachowski very well. But the remarks below, given as head of the U.S. delegation in commemoration of the 65th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, mark him as my brother on a level that goes beyond all levels of politics and policy.

Ezchor! Lo tishcach I will remember; do not you forget.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Sunset makes me think of Google teeth I coulda maybe shoulda bashed in

So today, depending on how you reckon such things, more or less marks the end of the legendary Silicon Valley company Sun Microsystems, where I worked from January 1986 until April 1994 (badge #1387). Here’s a photo (taken today) of me behind a giant-sized beer mug that I got from Sun on my 5th anniversary. It says, “In appreciation for five years of service in the Kingdom!”

photo of giant sun beer mug
In addition to this beer mug, Sun gave me a fantastic education in hardware, software, management and office politics; a chance to spend at least one night in every hotel on the entire length of El Camino Real from Sunnyvale to Burlingame; lots of good friends and fun times; money, and most of all an inspiration for Monty Meekman, the nastiest villain in the best. novel. evar written about Silicon Valley, my very own Acts of the Apostles.

Below the fold: The day I almost put (Google CEO) Eric Schmidt’s teeth down his throat.

UPDATE
My dear wife says this post makes me sound a whole lot angrier than I in fact am, and she’s right. I just thought it was funny that two of the most arrogant bigwigs I encountered at Sun went on to become bigwigs at Google, an outfit that’s known for its. . . arrogance. Most of my memories of Sun are of good friends and interesting challenges. (And a whole lot of airplane travel and hotel rooms.)


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My Thoughts Exactly

What's in my wallet, Part One

You’ve seen those TV advertisements for the “credit card” mafia front called Capital One. “What’s in your wallet?” they ask. Well, I used to have a Capital One so-called “credit card”1 in there , but I cancelled the account last year –I’m still paying down the balance– so I have nothing with their name on it in my wallet to remind me that I’m still their bonded serf. What I do have in my wallet is this:

photo of warn and folded pawn ticket.
It’s the pawn ticket from when my wife pawned her jewelry, including her wedding ring & family heirlooms, for cash to keep us going when we were homeless in 1996 when I was writing Acts of the Apostles.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Doing Kojo Nnamdi Show This Tuesday — and other opportunities to see me.

For those interested, I’ll be appearing on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on Tuesday, January 26 (tomorrow). I’ll be on for a discussion of the future of cable with Greg Sandoval and Derek Thompson. Should be fun and interesting, as I hope to talk about things like our set-top box petition, the SOC Waiver, and how all this ties in with TV Everywhere, overt-the-top video, Comcast/NBCU, and the general “cable digital transition” as more systems convert to all-digital. Should be fun — if you are the sort of person who reads this blog.

UPDATE: You can listen to the Kojo show here.

As long as I’m doing the self-promotion thing, I’ll mention three other events where I’ll be speaking.

February 16: The Administrative Law Review event on Regulatory Change Under The Obama Administration at the Washington College of Law at American University.

March 15: Law Seminars International Telecom Conference in Seattle.

June 10: Pike & Fisher’s Broadband Policy Summit VI, where I shall square off against the ever popular Scott Cleland on everyone’s favorite topic “Who are the Internet Gatekeepers and Should They Be Regulated?” [I know, big suspense on which of us will say “Google” an which of us will go on about ISPs, switching costs, and all that other stuff.]

Stay tuned . . . .

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Inventing the Future

Corporatist Dawn

I remember how I felt when the media announced the fait accompli that W would be the next president. Twice. This is worse.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

MA Elects Public Access Programmer To U.S. Senate

Never underestimate the power of local media, although I can’t really say if this made a difference. But Senator-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) has his own public access cable show he uses to keep in touch with his constituents.

It shall be interesting to see if this has any impact on his approach to cable issues, although I suspect he is unlikely to get on a committee where this would matter.

Somewhat more seriously, it underscores the importance of staying in touch with your constituents, and the importance of PEG regardless of political allegiance. Brown won, among other reasons, because he actually went out and campaigned. This also wasn’t some clever act of pretending to stay in touch with constituents. Looking at his record here, he has been doing local cable show for years, and doing local events.

If one truth is emerging from the spate of special elections from NY-29 to last night’s MA race, it is that politicians cannot phone in their campaigns and expect the party affiliation (either their own or their opponent’s) to carry the day. Ya gotta work it. So the next time local cable access programmer asks for an interview, don’t snort “Wayne’s World, right” and blow them off. Take a lesson from Scott Brown — commitment to local media matters.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

FCC Issues Excellent Wireless Microphone Order — Perhaps NAB Will Rely Less on Scare Tactics and Celebrity Letters Now.

Time to clear up a little piece of unfinished business for which I and this humble blog can claim some modest responsibility. The FCC finally issued it’s long awaited Order on wireless microphones stemming from this blog post and the subsequent complaint/Petition for Rulemaking by the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (to which a special shout out to the folks at New America Wireless Future is due, given the fantastic amount of work they did on assembling evidence and helping draft the document).

As one can tell from this FCC press release describing the details, we pretty much got what we wanted — although not entirely and not in the way we expected. But, as I noted in this press statement in my role as Legal Director of Public Knowledge, we’re very happy with how things turned out. Briefly:
(a) all wireless mic users are now granted legal status, this is done pursuant to the FCC’s Part 15 rules for unlicensed rather than the “license by rule” that we suggested, but my only regret about that is I didn’t think of it when we filed.
(b) Everyone using wireless microphones needs to clear out of the 700 MHz band by Jun 12, 2010 — one year after the DTV transition and 15 months after the original date proposed by the FCC. Given how the Broadway people have been telling the FCC for months how they are off the 700 MHz band, this should not be too much of a hardship — especially for those who had no right to be there in the first place.
(c) The FCC will invest a boatload of its own resources, and gin up the FCC 2.0 machinery, to get the word out to folks and help consumers, churches, etc. handle the transition.
(d) The FCC will require that wireless microphones have signs and labels going forward to make sure that people understand the difference between licensed users and unlicensed users.

In addition, the FCC is having a further notice of proposed rulemaking that will:
1) Set the rules for the new Part 15 unlicensed wireless microphones.
2) Will examine whether to expand the class of Part 74 Subpart H eligible licensees to see if they should expand the class to give interference protection to some set of users — which would include who gets to be in the database of licensed services protected from operation of TV white spaces devices.

Yeah, that kicks the can down the road rather than saying flat out “anyone who was using a wireless microphone illegally is not entitled to protection against the TV white spaces devices, which went through the legal process and got approved.” But I can most definitely live with that. For one thing, I am confident that in an evidence-driven FCC which places consumer interests first, as demonstrated by this Order with its unprecedented investment of FCC resources for outreach (which we had not even dreamed of requesting except in the most general way of offering to help), will focus on the real question of whether or not there is interference and if so how to strike the appropriate balance between allowing new technologies and protecting existing users. Hopefully, this will inspire white spaces opponents to focus on engineering rather than trying to use scare tactics and celebrity “star power”.

More below . . .

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My Thoughts Exactly

Last day to get your comments to the FCC about Net Neutrality

OK, get off your duff & file your comment with the FCC. Here’s why and how.

My comment:

The Internet is a fundamental engine of our democracy. It’s the equivalent in our day of what “the press” was in the earliest days of our republic. Yielding control of the Internet to large corporations is a betrayal of the bedrock values upon which our nation was founded and still rests.

In the words of MIT professor Daniel Weitzner, in testimony given before the FCC at Harvard, “What’s at stake is everyone’s ability to communicate with everyone else.”

In effect, the FCC must decide whether the Internet is to be optimized as a vital tool for promoting and protecting citizen engagement with each other and with their government, or as a tool for maximizing shareholder value of large corporations. It’s a simple fact that you cannot optimize for both. If the FCC optimizes for democracy and “everyone’s ability to communicate with everyone else”, there will still be ample room for lots of people and lots of corporations to make money.

But if the FCC decides to void the principles of Net Neutrality in the interests of corporations, our democracy will be decisively and perhaps irremediably harmed.

The FCC must now act decisively in the public interest by enacting strong rules that keep the Internet free from blocking, censorship and discrimination.

Don’t give in to pressure from AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and their lobbyists. Stand with us in support of a strong Net Neutrality rule.

Do it now. It will take two minutes. It’s important. Do it. (Weitzner citation from this brilliant eye-witness report ).

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Does Comcast Fear To Win Too Much?

I grant I wasn’t there, but pretty much everyone who was seems to think the D.C. Circuit oral argument in the Comcast/BitTorrent case was an utter disaster for the FCC/pro-NN forces and a total triumph for Comcast. Given my previously voiced opinion about the judicial activists on the D.C. Circuit, I can’t say this surprises me even in light of the previous precedent. Indeed, from what I have heard, the D.C. Circuit appeared breathtakingly eager to rush past the procedural issues and declare that the FCC has absolutely no jurisdiction to regulate anything an ISP ever does, ever.

So why has Comcast, which (along with its trade association) has argued that it would violate its First Amendment rights for the FCC to regulate its conduct as an ISP, posted this blog entry to explain that of course they totally support FCC regulation of broadband ISPs, under the right circumstances, etc.?

Answer: Comcast fears to win too much. For Comcast (and other broadband providers), the ideal world consists of an FCC with jurisdiction but no authority. That is to say, they want an FCC that appears to have authority to do something, but when push comes to shove is prevented from actually doing anything Comcast doesn’t like. Which is why Comcast wanted to win on procedure and, perhaps, get the court to threaten the FCC that it had no authority. In that universe (which could still come to pass), Comcast could keep Congress from giving the FCC explicit authority by saying it has jurisdiction but keep the FCC from doing anything by claiming that it lacked authority for any specific action.

But there is every indication that the D.C. Circuit will go much further, and find that the FCC has no jurisdiction to even consider regulation of ISP behavior no matter what the circumstances, because it doesn’t believe that ancillary authority exists. While that sounds like exactly what Comcast would want, it scares them silly. Because even the fear of this sort of huge loss creates a panic that could lead Congress explicitly delegating the FCC extremely clear and unambiguous authority.

More, including a shout out to all my fellow Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, below . . . .

UPDATE: According to this blog post by Washpo Reporter Cecilia Kang, I’m not the only one thinking this way. A few more choice remarks from NCTA’s Kyle McSlarrow about how the FCC’s role is to be a big ATM for his members may get even this Congress off it’s rear end.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Net Neutrality as “Public Option”? and “Fourth Amendment”?

According to Internet rumors and frantic emails that I get from places like Save The Internet, the Obama administration is about to pull a “FISA” option, in which a once staunchly supported progressive/democratic/public good position is abandoned in the name of “pragmatism” (or, as I prefer to call it, “corporatism & permanent-security-state-ism”). Wetmachine friend Matthew Saroff has more. Not sure if all hope is lost or time to storm the barricades or have a beer and be happy. Hoping for some guidance from Mr. Feld on this one.

UPDATED
Minor edits for clarity. See comments for more.

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged | 4 Comments (Comments closed)
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