Keep Net Neutrality Non-partisan

Doc says… “For example, I’m concerned right now that Net Neutrality, a complex issue (which I think has to do with a definition of the Internet) is turning into a left vs. right issue (left for, right against). Most voters are neither all-right nor all-left. Most issues aren’t, either. But it seems that most people who care about politics are on a side.” (Thanks to Leslie for the link).

I care deeply that this left-right polarization not occur, and right now I don’t think that it will. People on the right and on the left are standing up for net neutrality. In Madison, Jesse Russell and Steven Stehling started a group blog that pulls right, left, and center together around the issue. Take a look at Mr. Stehling’s blog roll if you have any doubt about his philosophy. Jesse is a journalist (unbiased, they say) with a Jones for music sharing. I’m just an aging lefty. A few days ago I posted there the following: “We need free access with no monopoly manipulation that segregates the little guys from big media and gives big media a priority within the network…. This post is not to lay out any of the complexities of the issues before us, there is plenty of time and space for that, but rather to create a clear distinction of “us” and “them.” WE support net neutrality. THEY support a tiered structure that permits the stewards of the Internet public trust to manipulate the market to their own ends. WE support the four Internet Freedoms laid out by FCC Chairman Michael Powell. THEY support their own freedom to dominate markets, control content, and maximize corporate profits by dictating what they feel is appropriate use of the Internet.”

This is a polarizing issue, and Doc’s concern that it could turn into a right versus left struggle is well founded because not only are the corporate interests opposing net neutrality are very good at framing issues that way, but also the left is easily baited when they do that. Doc says,

Advocating and saving the Net is not a partisan issue. Lawmakers and regulators aren’t screwing up the Net because they’re “Friends of Bush” or “Friends of Hollywood” or liberals or conservatives. They’re doing it because one way of framing the Net–as a transport system for content–is winning over another way of framing the Net–as a place where markets and business and culture and governance can all thrive. Otherwise helpful documents, including Ernest Partridge’s “After the Internet” fail because they blame “Bush-friendly conservative corporations” and appeal only to one political constituency, in this case, progressives. Freedom, independence, the sovereignty of the individual, private rights and open frontiers are a few among many values shared by progressives and conservatives. All are better supported, in obvious ways, by the Net as a place rather than as a transport system.

It’s up to us, the people who are concerned with maintaining our freedom to connect, to gather in this “place,” to be sure that this does not happen. Right now there are some very powerful and clear voices from the right speaking up for network neutrality. Glenn Reynolds is among the most visible. Let those of us on the left be measured in our criticisms and cautious in the way we frame solutions. This is a rare opportunity for us to work with people of good will across the entire political spectrum.

They say politics makes strange bedfellows, but I think that issues like this are fundamental to democracy. For me, this is an opportunity to chip away the armor of my own frame of reference in order to work together for a common good. The polarization of politics erodes our institutions and our sense of community. Organizing around an issue that crosses the barriers we’ve built between liberal and conservative, left and right, may be just what we all need to remind ourselves what democracy is about.


Thanks to Steven Stehling (Standards and Grudges) for the link to Pomme & Kelly’s winning entry in the Google Idols video competion!

It may not be Numa Numa, but it’s fresh.

Quick Link

Before bed, gotta point you to Kansas City’s Pitch, where Ben Paynter writes this week about the reality TV winners and losers from the heartland.  Have you heard of Real World?  Me neither, but Ben spins a story about locals who made good, or not, on that and at least a dozen other reality TV shows, and it’s a good read, tells you what you’re missing by not watching…

The Blue Springs resident’s on-air experience was the kind of coming-of-age train wreck that reality TV producers dream of. Her first night in the Real World house, she got drunk and puked. She smoked, even though she has the lung disease cystic fibrosis. Roommates caught her with a kitchen knife in the bathroom and learned that she habitually cut herself. She broke down because of a phobia of large boats.

Larsen Road

Wish I had a camera yesterday… four turkeys crossing Larsen Road, strung out in a line  reminding me of John, Ringo, Paul, and George.

A Blalk in the Blark…

We bloggers like to create neologisms. We like the neologism that reshapes an older term in our new and hypercreative anguage-blay. We call these BLOGOLOGISMs, not neologisms, which is the old word for the new word we made up to cover this concept. I offer this prefatory comment as an explanation for the title of this post. In the lifeworld we have parks, and people often go walking there. Here in the – yes – BLOGOVERSE we have BLARKs, virtual spaces through which we virtually BLOGambulate. You see how it’s done, feel free now to go forth and coin a dozen or so of your own BLOGGING BLOGOLOGISMs.

end prefatory matter//begin Blalk in Blark postular introduction

A question I often ask friends, neighbors, and relatives is “Did you follow the links?” This is a follow-up question to “Did you read my blog this morning?” I think I can safely say that about one person in a thousand answers affirmatively to “didja read it” and one reader in a bazillion follows the links. Since I have not yet served one bazillion BLOG burgers it’s anybody’s guess if anyone has ever followed any of the links that I offer like sesame seeds on the BLOG burger bun. Yet I persist in adding them, for my own amusement I suppose. This promises to be one of those posts with a lot of links, so if you are BETH or one of those other readers who just has no time for clicking through to the actual subject of my BLOGambulation, well… you might as well fire up Grand Theft Auto now, because there isn’t a lot here for you.

end hectoring postular introduction//begin body of Blalk in Blark

here, on myslnia, is an entire parallel life, existing at least since the times of the first neural structures on Earth. New science – psychomemetics – is born. Its goal is, of course, exploration of myslnia. Are there psychomemetic plants, animals, intelligent beings (“neuromonads” )? (I stole word “monad” from Leibniz, but I use it differently, to describe “the cells” of psychomemetic organisms)

cease channeling bizarro Polish sci-fi writer//begin body of Blalk in Blark

I was gratified this morning by a comment from J. Alva Scruggs (not his real name). As often happens when someone leaves a comment I followed the link Scruggs left then surfed on through to other side. My Scruggs surfage led me to The Fifth Column. [Note to self… you really must enable permalinks on your own comments… end note to self]. Commenters at The Fifth Column are a merry band with charming names like Brian888, winna, xoid, and Magic Pink. These are not their real names, I think, but I like their direct style and communitarian good fellowship (or, as we say in the [air-quotes] BLOGOVERSE, their good [airquotes] BLellowship). I like it so much that I followed links on The Fifth Column’s blogroll hoping to see more of these peeps in other contexts. That blogroll is short and contains a couple of familiar names… Jon Husband and the Happy Tutor (one name real, one not). But it was by following the links to the less familiar places that I found the Loveologist (a second order link) and Twisty Faster. I also found a couple of great cat pictures, some cute, one sneaky.

end body of Blalk in Blark//begin Blalk in Blark snarky conclusion

At this point if you are reading this I must assume one of two things about you. Either you are a highly accomplished web surfer with excellent command of the browser’s back-button, or – and this, sadly, is more likely – you did not follow the links in this post at all. How boring for you.

George Gilder, Michael Milken, and the imp of the polymathic perverse

David Weinberger participated in a panel at the Ninth Annual Milken Institute Global Conference this week, and it rankled me. Rather than ask him what he was doing hobnobbing with billionaire felons, I sought the answer elsewhere. I think I found it in George Gilder’s book: Telecosm – the World after Bandwidth Abundance. George Gilder is a good writer. He’s engaging and he has a sense of the perverse that only a Ripon Society Republican could embrace. He writes anti-evolutionary claptrap for the Discovery Institute, and his prescience regarding market movements is second only to his scientific acumen.

“I don’t think Internet valuations are crazy, I think they reflect a fundamental embrace of huge opportunities. Virtually all forecasts estimate something like a thousandfold rise in Internet traffic over the next five years. That means that if you are an Internet company today, you are dealing with only a tenth of 1 percent of your potential traffic in just a couple of years. In 10 years, at this rate, there would be a millionfold increase.”

George Gilder, Wired Magazine, 9/1999

In Telecosm, Gilder lionizes Milken. He hews to a Chicago School naivete reminiscent of all the adolescent masturbatory fantasists who found libertarianism via Ayn Rand’s novelistic fiction. And Al Greenspan. Republicans do love their felons, whether they’re the ones who gutted it out for Nixon following Watergate, or the cheesy paranoid marines who took the fall for senescent Reagan in the Iran/Contra gangsterism. Milken seems to be one of Gilder’s favorite felons because he put together sufficient capital for the criminals at MCI to work the miracle of abundant bandwidth a little more quickly, but generally in about the same amount of time that it would have happened in a non-criminal investment context.

You guys hate these rants don’t you.

Habermas and RatzingerHere’s the point, let me take you back to the glory days when the Nazi pope was free of the burdens of office and even of faith, and was able to consort with mild mannered ineffectual post-modernists. There’s a loose connection here… work with me. One Johanna Mehan is quoted as saying “This distinction between public and private parallels, but is not identical to, the distinction he [Habermas] draws between system and lifeworld. On the one hand, action in the modern world is coordinated by systems which function according to means-end rationality; the market is a paradigmatic example of such a system… On the other hand, actions are coordinated primarily by communicatively mediated norms and values, and by the socially defined ends and meanings which constitute the fabric of the lifeworld.” Now Johanna and Jurgen have something in common I think with David.

At the Milken Conference, the white collar crook proudly hosted a couple of winners of the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economics named in Honor of Alfred Nobel. One can’t really call that a Nobel prize for a couple of reasons. The first is of course that it isn’t. And the second is that gave it to a bunch of gamesters from Chicago, people like Milton Friedman, so how could it be? That aside, there’s Milken, onstage with Scholes and Becker, brilliant men for all their University of Chicago reluctance to deal with the gordian knot of economics in any way but with a sword. And you can see where this all turns… fellows in the Hoover Institution (they honored that fellow with an institution), felons from the federal institution, a childish billionaire’s faith in rotten-child economics and simplistic understatement of sociological complexities… oh Becker, oh Habermas, oh Weinberger… you don’t even smell the brimstone when Milken and Ratzinger appear.

There are all kinds of rhetorical fallacies in the associations I’m making. While George Gilder doesn’t “believe in” evolution, and while he does believe in Michael Milken and Intelligent Design, what does that have to do with the price of bandwidth in a municipal wireless context? And why drag the good Dr. Weinberger into this besides the fact that – like Habermas – he skirts close to something Hannah Arendt would have recognized, that thing – as David Cesarani noted – that bespeaks the tension between “the monstrous and the mundane.”

Wisconsin Whip

[cross posted at Wisconsin Coalition for Network Neutrality]

Network Neutrality legislation is already convoluted. It frames the conflict between the telcos and the cable companies, with AT&T and friends seeking a legislative mandate for competition in video distribution markets that cable companies currently dominate. Public utilities franchises, the Commerce Clause of the constitution, rules governing common carriage, and more are all muddled together in a complex market that cries out for a clear set of regulations that protect the people’s right to use the virtual commons of the internet in a way little different from our rights to use the public highways.
We need free access with no monopoly manipulation that segregates the “little guys” from big media and gives big media a priority within the network. I think we can come back to this highway metaphor again and again. This post is not to lay out any of the complexities of the issues before us, there is plenty of time and space for that, but rather to create a clear distinction of “us” and “them.” WE support net neutrality. THEY support a tiered structure that permits the stewards of the Internet public trust to manipulate the market to their own ends. WE support the four Internet Freedoms laid out by FCC Chairman Michael Powell. THEY support their own freedom to dominate markets, control content, and maximize corporate profits by dictating what they feel is appropriate use of the Internet.
What are the four Internet Freedoms? Here’s how Michael Powell laid them out…

Freedom to Access Content

First, consumers should have access to their choice of legal content. Consumers have come to expect to be able to go where they want on high-speed connections, and those who have migrated from dial-up would presumably object to paying a premium for broadband if certain content were blocked. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to commit to allowing consumers to reach the content of their choice. I recognize that network operators have a legitimate need to manage their networks and ensure a quality experience, thus reasonable limits sometimes must be placed in service contracts. Such restraints, however, should be clearly spelled out and should be as minimal as necessary.
Freedom to Use Applications
Second, consumers should be able to run applications of their choice. As with access to content, consumers have come to expect that they can generally run whatever applications they want. Again, such applications are critical to continuing the digital broadband migration because they can drive the demand that fuels deployment. Applications developers must remain confident that their products will continue to work without interference from other companies. No one can know for sure which “killer” applications will emerge to drive deployment of the next generation high-speed technologies. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to let the market work and allow consumers to run applications unless they exceed service plan limitations or harm the provider’s network.
Freedom to Attach Personal Devices
Third, consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes. Because devices give consumers more choice, value and personalization with respect to how they use their high-speed connections, they are critical to the future of broadband. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to permit consumers to attach any devices they choose to their broadband connection, so long as the devices operate within service plan limitations and do not harm the provider’s network or enable theft of service. Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information.
Consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans
Simply put, such information is necessary to ensure that the market is working. Providers have every right to offer a variety of service tiers with varying bandwidth and feature options. Consumers need to know about these choices as well as whether and how their service plans protect them against spam, spyware and other potential invasions of privacy. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to ensure that broadband consumers can easily obtain the information they need to make rational choices among an ever-expanding array of different pricing and service plan.

This post is called “Wisconsin Whip.” Wisconsin has eight US Representatives and two Senators. (See the convenient table below). Our job is to whip these people into supporting network neutrality and the four freedoms as legislation emerges during this congressional session. This is not a partisan issue. It is not about Democrats versus Republicans. It is about preserving the rights we have now and not giving them up to either the telephone companies, or to the cable companies or to some alliance of both. Contact your legislator and see where s/he stands.

Member Name DC Phone DC FAX
Senator Herb Kohl (D- WI) 202-224-5653 202-224-9787
Senator Russell D. Feingold (D- WI) 202-224-5323 202-224-2725
Representative Paul Ryan (R – 01) 202-225-3031 202-225-3393
Representative Tammy Baldwin (D – 02) 202-225-2906 202-225-6942
Representative Ron Kind (D – 03) 202-225-5506 202-225-5739
Representative Gwen Moore (D – 04) 202-225-4572 202-225-8135
Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R – 05) 202-225-5101 202-225-3190
Representative Thomas E. Petri (R – 06) 202-225-2476 202-225-2356
Representative David R. Obey (D – 07) 202-225-3365
Representative Mark Green (R – 08) 202-225-5665 202-225-5729

Fighting Duckies!

get a room you two At this time of year, I like to watch the birdies fighting. They fluff their feathers at each other and then comes the squawking and close-in pushing and pulling and then, and then… well not much happens then, but all that feather ruffling and pushing and pulling is quite exciting for me. I like to watch it.

Today I was gratified by that same push and pull in the vLoggerverse… Amanda and ze sitting in a tray, k-i-s-s-i-n-jay… you know?