Markey To Leave Telecom Subcommittee

As related in Doris Kearn Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, a friend remarked to Lincoln just before the election of 1864 that the only way Lincoln would lose would be if Grant won the war and then ran for President himself. To this Lincoln replied that he felt rather like a man who preferred not to die, but if he had to die, then he knew what he wanted to die of.

That rather conveys my feeling on the word that Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) will give up his post as Chair of the Telecom Subcommittee to take over the Energy Subcommittee. Throughout his tenure on the Telecom Subcommittee, Ed Markey has time and again proven himself a true friend of real people over special interests and fought vigorously and effectively to make sure that legislation worked for the benefit of all. Sophisticated on complex matters of technology and economics, Markey combined these throughout his tenure with a brilliant sense of political tactics.

OTOH, for the same reason, I can’t very well object to Markey moving to the vital area of energy. With an Administration and Congress now primed to act, it is more imperative than ever for someone who can see through the pretty power points and hand waving to shepherd through legislation that will genuinely promote renewable energy and energy independence rather than simply line the pockets of the usual suspects.

I am comforted by the fact that his likely replacement, Rep. Rick Boucher, has also proven himself a strong proponent of open networks, fair use, and using policy to promote vigorous competition. With Waxman as Committee Chair and Boucher as Telecom Subcomittee Chair, I am very hopeful for the future of telecom legislation and FCC oversight for the 111th Congress.

Stay tuned . . . .

RIPE Makes Me Vaguely Uneasy By Creating Legal Market For IP Addresses.

Talk to anyone who was involved back in ye olde days of the development of the Internet address system and underlying protocols and they will tell you that most of the major stuff — like the division of the domain name system into generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and country code top level domains (ccTLDs) just evolved on their own. Sometimes this worked out real well. Sometimes, not so much. But for better or for worse, these decisions set the pattern for how the internet evolved and created huge policy issues as the internet scaled up from a universe in which everyone knew everyone else to a system of global communications that always seems to be lurching toward — but never quite reaching — total collapse.

I’m not saying I could do better, or that anyone could. Indeed, I can argue that a lot of good stuff happened when people handled problems in an ad hoc manner and that the major effort to put a little forethought and adult supervision over the whole process, the Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers (ICANN), turned into a total mess.

Nevertheless, it gave me a bad turn to read that RIPE-NCC, which allocates the IP addresses for the European Union, will now allow holders of IPv4 addresses to openly buy and sell these address allocations (you can read the policies around the address allocation here).

Why does this make me uneasy, especially when a gray market in IPv4 addresses already exists? Because it makes fundamental changes in an underlying piece of critical infrastructure. That always makes me queasy, especially when I know that those making the changes have not adequately considered the very many ways this can go badly, as well as the ways in which it can go well. OTOH, I also recognize that, as Ecclesiastes warns, “to the making of many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of flesh.” (Eccl: 12:12) Somebody needs to act sometime. Nor do I have a very clear idea what I would do instead to solve the IPv4 address exhaustion issue. But I really worry about creating a class of powerful incumbents invested in preserving the value of their IPv4 real estate and opposing transition to IPv6.

For more detail on this than any sane person would otherwise want, see below . . . .

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Matt Stoller joins the Ranks of Progressive Elders of Policy

*ahem*

Dear fellow members of super secret progressive cabal, fellow travellers in the Angry Left, community organizers, and other Fringies out to destroy honest small town American values and/or discredit the Democrats with our wild, out of touch ideas like not giving industry free checks and actually solving problems with our health care system, decaying infrastructure, and crappy broadband network.

I am pleased to announce that ace rabble rouser Matt Stoller will be joining the Inner Circle here in the DC Bubble by taking a position on the Hill. As you all know, Matt has been one of the amazing mainstays of progressive policy blogging — particularly on the media and telecom issues so near and dear to my heart. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Matt and familiarizing him with the Protocols of the Progressive Elders of Policy so that we may better destroy the true fabric of America by replacing the current amazingly successful free market model with our evil centralized socialist soviet-style top-down centrally controlled broadband infrastructure.

I know I personally, am looking forward to Matt’s help in imposing highly restrictive network neutrality regulations that will ensure that network administrators have no say in how they manage their networks, and — ultimately — lead to the nationalizing Veizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner and all other broadband providers in Socialist Workers paradise.

We will celebrate by pulling out the still beating heart of a Libertarian (assuming we can find one) (still beating heart, that is) at the Secret HQ of our Google Overlords who are, of course, bankrolling our entire effort.

P.S. Please do not forget to vote for us for Best Technology Blog of 2008.

Stay tuned . . . .

We Are Finalists for the 2008 Weblog Best Technology Blog! Go us!

My shameless begging last November paid off!

The 2008 Weblog Awards

Yes, we here at Tales of the Sausage Factory and Wetmachine generally are delighted, astounded, humbled and whatever else one says at this juncture to make the final cut for nominees as Weblog’s “Best Technology Blog of 2008.” Given that (a) Engadget has apparently won in this category every year since they started doing this in 2003, (b) Both TechCrunch and Ars Technica also do policy and have real journalists and stuff, and (c) a quick scan of all the other titles reveals that we are probably the only nominated site maintained by amateurs doing this in addition to our full time jobs, I totally expect for us to get utterly creamed.

Nevertheless, as whining pathetically worked to get us nominated, I am going to continue this fine tradition and see if it gets us a win. So I want to urge everyone who reads this to please, please, puh-leaze go vote for us! Polls close at 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 13. Any questions, please read the Weblog Award FAQ.

Thanks all, and stay tuned . . . . .

Materially Objective

Our David is cute. While testing today that the material editor was working, he captured the display material of the Python timer application running on the display stand, and then applied the material to the floor. The floor, the running application, and the material editor’s texture card and teapot sampler are all counting down.
< %image(20090106-material.jpg|713|476|Editing the material of the floor, using the material of the running Python timer application. All are counting down.)%>

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Revolutions and Resolutions and Revolutions

I was reading once, I think it was in an article that Douglas Hofstadter (“Doug” to us intimates) wrote, in the New Yorker of all places, about the art of translating literature from one natural language to another. At least, I think it was Douglas Hoftstadter, but maybe that’s just my fixation shining through. Maybe the article was by Dan Hofstadter, or by somebody else altogether. Puns, of course, present a great challenge to translators, and I remember the clever instance sited therein: in a translation of Alice in Wonderland, a pun on “axes”, as in, the earth spins on its axes–speaking of axes, off with her head– was turned into a pun on revolutions: each day the earth makes a revolution– speaking of revolutions, off with her head. Now that I check my Project Gutenberg, however, I can find no such instance, so maybe, like Alice, I was dreaming.

But that’s got nothing to do with Wetmachine’s being a finalist in the 2008 Weblog Awards!
The 2008 Weblog Awards

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Farewell to Commissioner Deborah Tate

As I observed back awhile ago when describing possible scenarios for the FCC, Commissioner Deborah Tate would need to depart when the 110th Congress expired and the 111th Congress convened at Noon on January 3, 2009. So, at the FCC’s pro forma meeting on December 30, Commissioner Tate stepped down and made her farewell address. Despite the rather tense atmosphere that often prevails on the 8th Floor of the FCC these day, her fellow Commissioners used most of the meeting time to say many nice things in appreciation of her tenure.

Allow me to add my own appreciation for Commissioner Tate’s service. This may come as a surprise to some, given that I disagreed with Tate a fair amount on most matters of substance. As others have noted, Tate voted along fairly standard Republican lines — generally shying away from regulation of “the market” despite a sincere concern about consumer welfare. (I should add that despite her much publicized comments about the dangers of Worlds of Warcraft, her support for strong digital right management and urging ISPs do more to block content potentially harmful to minors, Tate still generally followed a deregulatory line in simply urging industry to voluntarily do more and raising this in the context of voting against the Comcast/Bittorrent Order).

But let me tell a little story below which illustrates why Commissioner Tate deserves a respectful farewell even from staunch progressives such as myself.

More below . . . .

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