V5 (May)

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Steve Bogart

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2 May 2001

There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest.

This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit. That is all.

-- Robert A. Heinlein ("Life-Line")

This is a worrisome bill:

"Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act": Bill Summary & Status []

Text of the bill

Here's what it means:

  • HELP STOP HR 1542! []
    The bill will make it illegal to offer IP based voice services over the Internet and give the Bells hooks to kill off remaining broadband competitors.

    The entire bill, starting with its title ... is remarkably disingenuous. The bill ends Internet freedom and removes any hope for broadband deployment.

    The Bells have longstanding efforts to protect their lucrative business selling 1970's T1 technology from competition. Bell efforts to deploy DSL appear only in areas where a competitor exists. Their deployments slow, customer service degrades, and prices rise as soon as they weaken or kill off competition.

Also, more conventionally reported:

  • And the broadband played on ... by Brock Meeks [MSNBC via]
    This bill ... does nothing more than strip-mine the remaining competitive safeguards of the current law, green-lighting the Bells to bludgeon any remaining competitors into oblivion.

    By now consumers were supposed to have several local phone companies from which to choose, including residential services offered by long-distance, cable and wireless companies. Many have tried, a few have made lurching advances, but all have failed to make a significant dent in the residential offering of telephone service.

    ...while long-distance rates have fallen faster than Madonna's latest single from Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 -- down 34 percent since Ma Bell was broken up -- local telephone rates have RISEN 70.2 percent.

    ...when the Bells have little threat of competition, they all too easily fall back into the sloth that made them the plodding monopolies they are today.

    The broadband bill is being fast-tracked; too few hearings, too quickly for much groundswell of debate. Congress and the deep-pocket telephone company lobbyists writing fat checks are depending on your being asleep at the keyboard, not making much noise.

I don't know what good it will do, but I'll contact my congressfolk. Please read the articles and contact yours if so moved.

Somewhat related, a link valuable in a more general way:

Masterful: Lowest Common Denominator Continues To Plummet [The Onion]

James W. Northrup, special appointee to the recently established LCD Emergency Federal Task Force: "Things that were once base enough for the notoriously undemanding American public are now considered too highbrow for mass consumption. The bar is on the floor, but everyone still wants it lowered."

In a Syracuse University study conducted last month, reruns of Happy Days, a show derided by 1970s critics as "targeted to third-graders," were deemed "beyond comprehension" by 75 percent of present-day third-graders. The surveyed students expressed frustration with the show's characters, some of which exhibited more than one trait. "Fonzie rides a motorcycle, but he also likes girls," one subject said. "I don't get it."

Strange: CNN profiles NPR's 'All Things Considered' (a competitor, no?) on its 30-year anniversary. Unlike with the CNN crossovers with The Daily Show (which I was surprised at until I found out that both are owned by AOLTimeWarner), NPR and CNN don't have any financial ties that I'm aware of...?

Also, I find it telling that a feature story about an influential news show got filed in CNN's ShowBiz/Entertainment category. Oy.

  • Consider this: 'All Things Considered' turns 30 [CNN]
    On Thursday, [Robert Siegel will] mark the 30th anniversary for the show with a special one-hour program, a collection of interviews with 30-year-olds who share their thoughts on what it has been like to grow up in the past three decades.

    [Siegel:] Television obviously dealt a body blow to radio that, at some level, we'll never recover. We're no longer the primary cultural event for American families -- to sit around and listen to the radio. NPR was the aspect of American radio that recovered from that in ways that the commercial radio networks in some ways did not.

Hey. I'm 30, but nobody's interviewing me... :)

The new iBooks are $1300 and up, not $1000, but they're still pretty darn impressive for being just over half the cost of the Titanium. Finally, a small Apple notebook! It's been what, 3 years since there was one?

This is a mind-boggling tidbit: Apple to Supply 23,000 iBooks to Henrico County Public Schools [Apple PR] ... so that's still, what, $20 million even after volume discounts? What school system has that kind of cash lying around?

Maureen Dowd on the first 100 days:

  • I Have a Nickname!!! [NY Times]
    His White House reminds me of the 1937 movie "Damsel in Distress," in which Fred Astaire has to frantically pirouette around Joan Fontaine to make up for the fact that she cannot dance.

    Obviously, Mr. Bush did not set out to change nearly 30 years of American policy on a morning chat show. But, sensitive about W.'s reputation as a featherweight, his aides did not want the president to have to admit he made a boo-boo and is a yo-yo who can't be trusted to carry on a brief discussion about his own policies with hard-hitting Charlie Gibson.

    The ill-prepared president doesn't seem troubled by the state of his preparedness. There's no indication he's staying up late to make up the work. He isn't even aspiring to on-the-job training. The White House simply pretends that thoughtlessness is thoughtfulness, and that the president is governing when he is gaffe-ing.

Even Robert Novak (!) is annoyed that the White House won't admit when Bush makes a mistake:

  • Capital Gang transcript, 28 Apr 2001 [CNN]
    NOVAK: He forgot to put in the one-China policy. Was that a mistake? Yes, it was a mistake. And they won't admit, we had Karen Hughes on "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT AND SHIELDS"...

    SHIELDS: And a hell of a show it was.

    NOVAK: It was a good show -- and she wouldn't admit there was a mistake. They don't admit mistakes. But that was a mistake which he corrected. It's not a huge mistake.

Deny, deny, deny...

Quick hits:

I understand Moynihan's presence, but what's up with the AOLTimeWarner COO being on the Social Security panel? [CNN] The CNN article gives no background on him; why does he have a special insight into Social Security policy?

Intro to good user-interface principles: The usability world according to Tog [IBM developerWorks]

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