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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Inventing the Future

Going to California With…

I like to think I’m particularly adaptable on those occasions when I happen to recognize that I need to be, but I perpetually feel inadequate in recognizing when the rules of the universe have changed. That’s a pretty significant skill to be lacking when you’re trying to invent the future.

So it is with even more than the usual range of emotions that I have come to “sell” our home in Wisconsin and will finally be moving to California. I am told that this is an extraordinary accomplishment, but I’ve “adapted” so much, the celebration has a Pyrrhic cast.

The US housing market has all but ceased to exist as a functioning market with any sort of liquidity. In my neighborhood, there should statistically be about one home sale each week. Ours was the seventh in the previous eight months, and I think all of those were the previous calendar year. The issue seems to be that every sale is contingent on having the buyers sell their home, which isn’t happening, so the whole country is waiting for one big circle jerk. Many housing industry folks are claiming that prices have not fallen much, but that’s disingenuous – the average selling price nationally and in most areas hasn’t fallen much only because the average home size continues to rise. The average price per square foot of any particular existing fixed-size house is dropping like a stone in a still pond. (Areas that do not see average housing sizes grow have indeed been seeing a big drop in average selling price.) And with bankers knowing this and knowing that several hundred of their ilk are being carted off by the FBI – no I’m not making this up – they’re not making a lot of bridge loans that would allow folks to buy one house before they sell the next.

So here’s what we did:

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My Thoughts Exactly

Everybody Knows the Story! Everybody Feels Real Sorry!

Just found out that the greatest rockaroll band in this or any possible universe, although defunct since 1982 or so, has its own myspace page. With several cool tunes, and also several cool videos. Now, I’m going to charge y’all to hie thee thither and feast your eyes and ears. But before you listen to “Andy Fell”, make sure you read up on Bishop Pike, for only if you know Pike’s story can you appreciate the poingnant creepy compassionate humor of that song. Be sure to watch the video of the band playing the song live and marvel at how the four singers were able to present their delicate harmonies against the sonic mayhem pounding out behind them. No wonder they upstaged every act they opened for.

Although I missed the goup in its heyday, I did see the two reunion shows they did in 1988 and 1989, and all I can say is, I have been to the mountaintop.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Picture, if you will. . .

I continue to struggle with my little novella The Pains. Perhaps it’s fitting that a story about a humble human of common decency but no particular kozmic talent who is evidently picked by the universe to redeem the world through his own suffering should not come easy. Or, actually, the story came mostly easy; it’s the prose, dammit, the words, that are long-dark-night-of the soul-ing me to death.

Anyway, I have written a few more chapters which will be up soon, and a few more beyond them are in the queue. I can’t believe I’m still working on this thing! But I will finish it! Oh yes! It will be mine!

Those of you who’ve read any of our story thus far have seen this illo:

The Cell of Lux

In the meantime, mostly as a prod to myself, here’s a nice little illustrated summary of the book by its illustrator Matthew, AKA Cheeseburger. Take a look.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Croquet and OpenLaszlo: Plans for World Domination

Howard Stearns’s post, below, about How Croquet will Take Over the Universe (Bwah-hah-hah) got me thinking about OpenLaszlo and our own plans to take over the, um, er, well, our plans for success.

Laszlo Systems, Inc, signs my paycheck, but 90% of what I do for that check is related to OpenLaszlo, the “Rich Internet Application” platform that is given away for free. Just as Howard suggests, Laszlo Systems makes its money by selling applications and services on top of the platform, not from selling the platform itself. Laszlo Mail is the first such product, and others are under development. The OpenLaszlo platform, which Laszlo Systems Inc subsidizes to the tune of several full-time developers and one full-time documentation guy, generates exactly zero dollars for the company.

Laszlo Systems, Inc, is a startup in which I have a relative pantload of stock options. So I want Laszlo Systems, Inc, to succeed, which means that Laszlo has to convince deep-pocketed customers to buy Laszlo applications. In order for Laszlo applications to be acceptable to potential customers, the customers must be convinced that the underlying technology is sound and that it will be around for the long haul. That implies that OpenLaszlo must be seen to be thriving. There must exist a rich ecology of corporations that have a financial interest in keeping OpenLaszlo healthy.

Trust is the substrate upon which the open source ecology can grow. The best way to ensure that trust, of course, it to make OpenLaszlo really, truly open; to make it abundantly clear to potential developers that Laszlo Systems is not self-dealing, not trying to control the platform for its own benefit.

Laszlo is the fourth startup I’ve worked at. I ain’t rich yet, and I ain’t getting any younger. So I want *this* to be the one we get right. Wetmachiners Howard, Gary and I all worked for, and got virtually incinerated by, Curl, which, like Laszlo and Croquet, developed a potentially web-transforming technology. Alas for us, Curl screwed the pooch, as they say; it pissed away all the opportunity that that technology could have given them (us) by messing up this fundamental process that Howard wrote about.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Hitchhikers and Acts

RIGHT NOW on KFJC, the best radio station in the universe, they’re playing the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio show.

Later on in the show Ann Arbor will be reading from my Acts of the Apostles (look left for free download), and will continue to do so in weekly installments through August.

In case you’re not reading this entry RIGHT NOW, I think you’ll be able to download archived shows. Look for Ann Arbor’s UnBedtime Stories.

(Also, mind you, it’s also OK to buy printed copies for dollars money.)

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Wetware and Hard Science

quantum theory and relativity finally wed

“Is causality an inherent and necessary characteristic of the Universe, or just an illusion produced by the way our brains interpret the world?”

That’s the opening line of an article in Nature news titled How to Build the Universe

After a long estrangment, quantum views of small-scale interactions and relativistic views of large-scale interaction have been married to reveal how quantum mechanics brings about the fuzzy, four-dimentional universe in which we live.

Posted in General, Wetware and Hard Science | Tagged | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

1985 — a novel a-borning

I’ve started work on a new novel (or novella — we’ll see how lont it turns out to be. . .). It’s set in the year 1985 in a setting that seems to be some kind of hybrid of the USA, the New Kent of my “Cheap Complex Devices”, and Orwell’s 1984. Its subject, I guess, is the prison-industrial-military-entertainment complex, but I’m trying to focus (of course) more on the story than on any big themes or messages.

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My Thoughts Exactly

A of A Technology Sighting

Slashdot put me on to this link about scientists claiming ability to predict earthquakes, basically based on the same kinds of data and statistical methods that I imputed to Monty Meekman (page 63 in the first edition). However, whereas Monty evidently could predict earthquakes to the minute, the UCLA scientists (at the above link)are claiming that they can predict to within months. So I guess Monty is still on top.

At some point I will post a more thorough “Acts of the Apostles technology siting” story, in which I’ll provide links to random stuff I invented for “Acts” that has since made its existence in our universe. It will have about 15 entries.

I’m still trying to cajole (??) Ron, heretofore silent Wetmachiner, to write the story for me, because he’s been sending me “AofA Technology Sighting Newsflashes” for about three years. But if Ron continues to maintain radio silence I may have to take matters into my own hands. Hope I don’t have to! Ron, that’s a hint.

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