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Philly Bluejay Is Not A Facebook Page! July 13, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in books, business, education, music, society, sports, technology, weird.
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I recently finished Jaron Lanier‘s manifesto “You Are Not a Gadget.” I had started it a while ago. Then about 40 pages from the end I misplaced it. And so I started with another book—Len Fisher’s “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Then I found YANG and was immediately presented with a dilemma. Should I finish YANG while the first 150 pages are still edible, post about YANG, and then finish a still edible RPS and post about it? Or should I let YANG expire, finish a fresh RPS and post about it, then finish a rancid YANG and post about it? I decided to follow my culinary rule—always eat the oldest still-edible leftovers—and go with YANG first. Gulp.

If you haven’t heard of Jaron Lanier, he’s a computer-scientist-slash-musician-slash-I-guess-author. In computer science circles, he is known as the father of virtual reality. In music ellipses, he is unknown—at least to me. And in computer-science-slash-music hypocycloids, he is known, but not as well-known as Monzy. Lanier is an Edgie. He’s also a one-time roommate of Richard Stallman of GNU and Free Software Foundation fame. I know of both Lanier and Stallman and I did not know that—it’s always interesting to find out how famous people are connected to one another. For instance, did you know that George H. W. “41” Bush and Saddam Hussein were both Freemasons? Truth!

YANG is Lanier’s rant against “cybernetic totalism”—a term of his own coinage. Cybernetics is the study of control systems. Totalism is i) totalitarianism, ii) a new style of music that appeals superficially to neophytes and on deeper levels to sophisticates, and iii) a doctrine of wholeness imposed by brainwashing. Strangely, all of these definitions seem to fit Lanier’s dogma. As I understand it, cybernetic totalism is the opposite of humanism—it is the elevation of information and the machines that process it above humans. Cybernetically total ideas include “free culture,” open source software, crowd sourcing, and the Singularity—think “The Matrix.” Cybernetically total manifestations include Google, Facebook, Wikipedia—most of Silicon Valley and South Africa, actually—and hedge funds. Oh, and blogs! I have no use for Facebook—hi everyone, my name is Amir and I’ve been off of Facebook for ten months—or hedge funds. But where would I—or really anyone—be without Google and Wikipedia? And where would I be without blogs? In existential limbo! And how can anyone hate on open source software? Are Lanier and Stallman still on speaking terms?

Let’s start with open-source software. Actually, I understand the limitations of open-source development. There’s the “too many chefs spoil the broth” problem. There’s the “who let the cat out of the bag?” problem. And there’s the “you get what you pay for” problem. But open-source software not only provides free software, it provides “market” pressure on pay software! Yes, an open-source community may not be able to come up with a new product like an iPhone. In fact, open-source communities may be best suited to creating knock-offs. But knock-offs are a viable and a valuable economic niche. Where would we be without generic drugs?

Onto Wikipedia. Lanier doesn’t so much harsh on the idea of Wikipedia, but rather on the idea that information and its presentation should be shaped by an anonymous crowd rather than by individuals. He may or may not also be bemoaning the notion that the Wikipedia encourages shallow interaction with information—as if reading Wikipedia is akin to reading Cliff’s Notes. I love Wikipedia. I’ve learned many things from Wikipedia, even things about my own purported area of expertise. I probably read an average of ten Wikipedia entries a week. I just read the entry for Freemasonry (not quite like reading “Da Vinci Code”). Before that I read the entry for Italic Typefaces (more interesting than you would think). Other recent entries? Recession Shapes (ouch). The Avengers (my son asked me). The Sinister Six (ummm … yeah). Computational Fluid Dynamics. Navier-Stokes Equations (from latter). SSE4. NAMBLA (just checking if you’re paying attention, but it does does have a Wikipedia page). Body Integrity Identity Disorder. Clean Air Act. Reverse Osmosis. I understand that one could spend years studying each of these topics. But I don’t have years! I have half an hour and need a quick tutorial and perhaps a list of good references. Where else should I go?

Next, hedge funds. There was a lot of weird stuff in this book that I couldn’t really digest, but there was at least one suggestion that I thought was interesting and useful. And strangely enough it has to do with finance. The financial meltdown in October 2008—now that I write it, I don’t know whether that feels too recent or not recent enough—was at base a product of bad loans. But the real culprits were opaque financial instruments that chopped up the underlying risk so finely until it was no longer recognizable as risk—in the same way that industrial hamburger is no longer recognizable as beef. Lanier proposes to create a formal language for describing financial instruments and to outlaw instruments that cannot be written in this language. This would restrict financial engineers, yes, but not in a bad way. It would prevent them from creating contracts that they themselves don’t understand and which cannot be effectively tracked or regulated. When the next crash comes, we’ll know exactly who to blame and how much money was lost! I joke, but this is a really good idea and it needs to happen. Sadly, I don’t think it made it into the House finance reform bill.

Finally. Blogs. Lanier contends that most blogs are “unreadable” and urges bloggers to post only if they have something new to say. And that this something should be a non-knee-jerk reaction that took at least several weeks to ferment—lest the post dilute and devalue “real” journalism and reduce the signal to noise ratio of the noosphere. Ouch. On that note, I think I will end this post, shut down Philly Bluejay, and return to Facebook.

P.S. Speaking of Facebook. You think you have $12,600,000,000 coming, Paul Ceglia? I came up with the idea for Snuggie™ in 1995! I want my two dollars!

P.P.S. Today is the midsummer classic—the major league baseball allstar game for the unwashed. Every year around this time there is always talk about “fixing”—making better not rigging—both the game and the sport. I don’t have much to say about the game other than I don’t really care about it. As for the sport, I admit I haven’t thought a ton about this, but I have a simple and workable suggestion that should improve things and that I have not heard before. Currently, baseball’s 30 teams are divided into a 16-team National League and a 14-team American League. The NL consists of two 5-team divisions and one 6-team division. The AL consists of two 5-team divisions and one 4-team division. Both leagues send three division winners plus one “wild card” team to the playoffs. Both leagues primarily play within themselves, but each team also has 5 or 6 six inter-league series each year. You may have already guessed my suggestion—move to two 15-team leagues with three 5-team divisions in each league. This means that there will be one interleague series on every day of the schedule—occasionally there will be three—rather than packing all interleague series into a two-week stretch in June. But that’s presumably fine. The benefits will be improved fairness for NL teams, especially for teams in the 6-team NL central. Currently, teams in the 5-team AL East and Central have a 27.3% chance of making the playoffs—a 1 in 5 chance of winning their division plus a 1 in 11 chance of winning the wild card on the 4 of 5 chance they don’t win the division. Teams in the 4-team AL West have an even better chance of making the playoffs—32.3%. However, teams in the 5-team NL East and West have only a 26.2% chance of making the playoffs and teams in the 6-team NL Central have only a 22.8% chance of making it. Ignoring baseball’s economic structure—which arguably plays a bigger role in which teams make the playoffs than the division structure—is it fair that the Houston Astros enter each season almost 10% less likely to make the playoffs than the Texas Rangers? Economics aside, wouldn’t it be better if every team had an equal 26.7% of making the playoffs? I can’t believe NL Central owners haven’t gotten more upset about this.

This Will Change Everything May 29, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in books, climate, politics, science, society, technology.
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I have just finished reading “This Will Change Everything” edited by John Brockman. It’s a collection of 125 short essays—where short ranges from one sentence to about 2,000 words—that respond to the question “What game-changing event or technology do you expect to live to see?” This question was posed in 2008 on edge.org and the respondents are the leading thinkers of our time. Some of them are recognizable (Richard Dawkins, Freeman Dyson, Roger Schank, David Gelernter, Craig Venter). Others are not. About 110 had interesting things to say. And about 120 write incredibly concisely and elegantly. Or maybe that’s Brockman airbrushing.

I’m not and Edgie, but if I were asked, I would have answered with one of the following: i) we would (accidentally) create a conscious artificial intelligence that will quickly take over the world a la Skynet or the Program Smith—although I don’t actually think this will happen, ii) global warming will significantly change the face of the planet likely for worse, iii) the United States will elect a Jewish lesbian president from the Green Party, perhaps Rachel Maddow if she converted and switched party affiliations, or iv) the Eagles will win the Superbowl. I guess options number one and two were obvious, because some of the actual respondents went with them. Shockingly, no one chose doors three and four.

A little commentary about the actual responses. The most common theme by far was radical human enhancement including enhancement of the brain. I counted 17 essays on this topic. If I expanded the criteria just a little to include understanding and not strict manipulation, the number would have been 22. Juan Enriquez went so far as to call his essay “Homo Evolutis”, the continuously and consciously evolving species. Someone else predicted humans will be significantly more varied as a species than we are today. Who knows, maybe some of us will be 20′ foot tall, blue, with carbon-fiber skeletons and USB tails able to jack in to other forms of life. My favorite in this category was Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster who predicted that we will genetically engineer ourselves to be physically much smaller so that we consume fewer resources and that a human society that numbers in the billions becomes sustainable. Runner up was Alison “Scientist in the Crib” Gopnik who wrote that we will be able to maintain or even reintroduce high degrees of brain plasticity and therefore be able to stay in a childlike “intellectual sponge” state for significantly longer and maybe indefinitely.

Another high-frequency topic was contact with extra-terrestrial life. Eight entries here. I agree that this will change things, especially if this life happens to be technologically superior to us. But it’s far down on my list because I just don’t think it will happen. We might—I repeat might—via spectroscopic analysis discover the signature of life on some distant exoplanet, but making meaningful contact with this life will be nearly impossible. We will not establish actual “contact” with it.

There were five or six essays about Artificial Intelligence that will rival or exceed human intelligence. I am a computer scientist by training and so I am a little more familiar with this than I am with some of the other predictions. And I am skeptical. Real intelligence requires constructive models for semantics, i.e., what things mean, not just what they are. This is obvious and I am not sure how close we are to a computational equivalent of this. Maybe we are a few decades away. But I also think that real intelligence requires consciousness—it seems hard to be truly intelligent without being conscious—and that real consciousness requires emotion—this also seems plausible—and I am really not sure how close we are to having computational models of emotion. I don’t think we are anywhere near something like this. To me, the more interesting essays were the five or six about human-machine interfaces. Evidently, a few people see this coupling as becoming much tighter in the next half century, including the ability to upload ourselves into our avatars and to live forever in silicon. As long as we don’t live forever in Silicon Valley.

Climate change. Six essays and I’m cheating because I’m including essays about future attempts and successes at controlling climate. Sadly, this—the change part—is about as safe a prediction as we can get. We are already locked in to some pretty significant changes. Progress on the CO2 emissions front is alarmingly slow. Progress on the ice sheet melting front is alarmingly fast. Unless some serious geo-engineering takes place between now and when I die—NASA? hello?—I expect to see some serious shizz.

Six people foresaw personalized universally accessible education as the game changer. Amen.

Another five or six essays about the defeat of aging and chronic disease. Various estimates of average 2050 life expectancy in the developed world were 110, 150, and “essentially infinite”—given financial means—courtesy of the ability to replace and regrow arbitrary body parts.

A few of my favorite singletons. Discovering one or maybe more of the Klein-Kaluza additional dimensions of string theory—talk about “Fringe,” I hope in other other dimension I’m a Navi and “Fringe” is a better show. Carniculture—growing meat artificially rather than harvesting it from animals. Universal communication—jagshemash! Human-animal hybrids like the Island of Dr. Moreau—personally I would like to be hybridized with a dolphin. Also, I was disappointed that nobody suggested human-plant hybrids. And I don’t mean half-man/half-tree. Wouldn’t many problems be solved if humans could photosynthesize? Back to the list. Post-rationality—I think I’m already there. The need to bring the not-quite-developing world up to Western standards—triple Amen to that. Massive computer failure—oh no, whatever would happen to Bluejay? Detection and suppression of malevolence genes. A return to illiteracy as video replaces text. And finally, the notion that we just might become satisfied with technological progress and shift our collective focus from advancement and aggrandizement to enjoying our finite execution quanta—kumbaya.

There were about four or five essays I found completely incomprehensible. I couldn’t even parse the sentences. The one I could parse and found least interesting? Proving the Riemann hypothesis. Really? That will change everything? Name one thing. Seriously, the Eagles winning the Superbowl will change more lives.

P.S. The US patent system has several problems: it’s too easy to get certain kinds of patents, it’s too easy to artificially extend the lifetimes of certain patents, the patent review process itself takes too long—at least too long relative to technology advance—and patents are generally written and reviewed by non-experts but then attacked and defended in court by experts. But the biggest problem is that patents do not come attached with plain English extended abstracts that practitioners in the field can understand. I am supposed to be an expert in some field and I have quite a difficult time reading patents in this same field! What does this say about me?

P.P.S. Unreliable sources tell me that Bluejay was number 42 on this list.

P.P.P.S. Or not.

P.P.P.P.S. A must read if you’re a sports fan. Or even if you’re not. What is it? Bill Simmons guide to the Russian billionaire who bought the New Jersey Nets.

P.P.P.P.P.S. I am putting “The Black Swan” on my reading list. Not just because of the topic, which is fascinating, but because of Nassim Taleb’s obnoxious website, which is just as fascinating if not more so. I’ve just spent 45 minutes chasing down links on this thing.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Are we at a new record for (P.)+S.? I don’t know. I will have to go through the archive.

NASA’s New Missions April 20, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in climate, geo-engineering, science, sustainability, technology, transportation.
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Bluejay’s idol, ideal, role model, template, and Platonic form is TMQ by Gregg Easterbrook. In fact, Bluejay likes to think of itself as TMQ 0.1 minus the football analysis, deep insight into politics and economics, fancy graphics, and pictures of cheerleaders, but with third person self-references! TMQ thinks of NASA as a giant pork barrel rather than an actual federal agency. TMQ likes to post pictures from the Hubble space telescope—and these are cool, although not as cool as pictures of lightning from the Iceland volcano ash cloud—but otherwise takes a dim view of the shuttle program, the international space station, the Constellation program, etc. TMQ thinks NASA’s real core mission should be to develop techniques to protect earth from large asteroid strikes.

Apparently, Bluejay’s other idol/ideal/template/Platonic form POTUS BO agrees with TMQ’s assessment of the shuttle program, essentially forcing the agency to scrap it and to delay Constellation by five years. At the same time, however, BO is promising NASA’s a $6,000,000,000 grant to fund a circa 2035 manned mission to Mars. For the record, this is about one third of NASA’s annual budget. Here is a conservative reaction to this plan.

Bluejay is nothing if not idealistic and Platonic and thus follows the views of TMQ and POTUS. Bluejay does have something original to add to the conversation, however. Maybe. Bluejay doesn’t know what purpose the ISS serves and therefore what purpose the shuttle program—which apparently exists to supply the ISS—serves. Bluejay wonders what a manned mission to Mars will prove and/or contribute to science and society. Bluejay sees two pseudo-realistic possibilities. One, POTUS hopes that a manned mission to Mars will result in the development of medical technology for human hibernation and for sustainable power,oxygen, and food generation from fixed resources. Two, POTUS understands that the global political will to enact meaningful climate change mitigation actions doesn’t exist and is scouting Mars as a potential future home for the human race. Amen to both!

But Bluejay has an alternative suggestion in the form of alternative mission statements for NASA. Specifically, in addition to protecting earth from asteroid strikes, solar flares, and prawns, NASA should be developing two other capabilities. First, planes capable both of taking off from and landing at conventional airfields and low-orbit rocket-propelled flight. Doing this will not only cut flight times for long flights, but will also reduce the enormous greenhouse gas footprint of airplane travel. Second, NASA should develop capabilities to launch and position giant solar shields in geosynchronous orbit. As masterfully described in the previous post, we will likely need such shields to help avert dangerous climate change “tipping points” we have already locked ourselves into due to a century of action followed by nearly half a century of inaction. If NASA succeeds in developing and deploying these two technologies, solving a large part of our transportation problem and helping to head-off potential climate disaster, TMQ, POTUS BO, Bluejay, and the general public may come to view it as an albatross in the sky rather than as an albatross around the neck.

P.S. Bluejay is not a big comic book guy. Never was. And isn’t a huge fan of most comic-book-derivative movies, having seen the classic Christopher Reeve Superman trilogy and all three X-Men movies, but only the original SpiderMan, three of the 28 Batmans, and skipped several other singletons, like DareDevil, altogether. Bluejay’s favorite superhero movies of all time are IronMan—IronMan 2.0 is greatly anticipated but is sure to disappoint—and The Incredibles. Well, the duo has become a Troika.

P.P.S. Bluejay will resume its more traditional and less obnoxious first-person self-referential style tomorrow.

Shall We Geo-Engineer? April 19, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in climate, geo-engineering, society, taxes.
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A few days ago, Fresh Air hosted Jeff Goodell about geo-engineering solutions to the climate crisis. You might be thinking “another NPR-inspired post?” No, no. This post is inspired by this NYTimes article about the same topic.

I don’t know how much you know about geo-engineering, but it encompasses a relatively wide swath of ideas for cooling the planet that don’t involve the only real long term solution—reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. Some examples? Sending giant “umbrellas” into low orbit to reduce the amount of sunlight that hits the atmosphere. Blasting soot particles into the atmosphere to reflect more sunlight. Covering glaciers with reflective thermal shields. Dumping powdered iron into the ocean to spur the growth of carbon-capturing algea. Ordering all drivers to with the windows open and the A/C on high. And so forth and so on. Many of these approaches sound loony. Many of them reek of  unintended consequences. But all share two important characteristics. First, they would likely succeed in cooling the earth to one degree or another. (Ha!) Second, they are eminently feasible from both technology and financial standpoints, rendering their “political feasibility”—my least favorite term, perhaps of all time—essentially moot. Some rogue well-intentioned country or even individual billionaire—Bill? Warren? Sergey? Sir Richard? J.K.? Tiger?—could under-write one or more of these single-handedly! Should they?

Definitely maybe. It would behoove (I promise this is the last time Bluejay will use that word) the US and other governments to undertake detailed feasibility and impacts analyses of the most readily “reversible” or “undoable” of these proposals. Dumping iron into the ocean would be pretty hard to undo. And if it turns out that the resulting algea also de-oxygenate the ocean and kill all other life in it—not that this isn’t going to happen anyway because of acidification and the great pacific garbage “patch”—then we would be adding injury to already serious injury. Similarly for using ballistics to shoot soot particle bombs into the atmosphere. But what about putting giant reflectors into orbit above glaciers, Greenland, the Arctic and precarious ice shelves of Antarctica to keep these in perpetual shade? Is this not worth a try? Or at least very serious study? What’s the worst that can happen? We find that changes in temperature gradients are changing precipitation patterns around the world in bad and unpredictable ways—meaning in ways worse and more unpredictable than they are changing already? Well, then we take the shields down with the added knowledge of the effects of “spot cooling.”

Here is the problem. Regardless of how much we cut back going forward—and sadly, as a world, we don’t seem to be serious about cutting back at all, on anything—we are already “locked in” to a certain level of future warming. This by virtue of the CO2 that’s already in the atmosphere and oceans and by the hands of vicious feedback loops we discover on an almost weekly basis. No one knows for certain, but without additional measures, this locked in warming may mean the loss of some serious “assets” like Arctic summer ice, the Greenland ice sheet, various large glaciers, etc. Unlike fictitious Wall Street assets which can be created just as quickly as they can be destroyed, these assets, once lost, will take millenia to regenerate. The Greenland ice sheet is over a mile thick. If it slides into the ocean, it will take quite some time before another mile-thick ice sheet forms on Greenland, if one ever does.

The only real long term solution is to first halt and then reverse the growth of our collective carbon footprint. But even that might be too little too late to save us from a planet with a significantly different climate—perhaps better in some places but probably worse overall—than the one we have today. To avert or at least delay real disaster, we might need more extreme measures. In an effort to buy a little time—time we shouldn’t need because we have known about this problem for 40 years and have literally done nothing about it—we may have to call on the lunatic fringe of science to save us. Do something, Walter!

P.S. Philly councilman Darrell Clark must be an avid Bluejay reader, having introduced a bill to tax non-cigarette tobacco products including pipe, loose leaf, and chewing. This vice tax is estimated to bring in $6 million annually. The city of Philadelphia is fast running out of both money and potential vices to tax. Even if the tobacco tax passes, closing the remaining $144 million budget hole would require taxing vices like spitting, cursing, nose-picking, line-jumping, excessive body odor, excessive tweeting, and excessive blogging. Oh no!

P.P.S. The bonfire of the vanities continues. Which bank is going to emerge from the meltdown of October 2008 untainted? Even my daughter’s piggy bank had some toxic sub-prime nickels in it!

P.P.P.S. Kevin, I promised someone you would drop a 50 in this series. Don’t disappoint me.

Undo! Undo! April 13, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in drama, food, politics, religion, technology.
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Every self-respecting publication has a retractions section. Bluejay is nothing if not self-respecting (which I guess makes it nothing) and so here is the inaugural retractions section.

Several hours ago I posted about the Catholic Church’s new harder stance against sex-offending priests. That led to a comment about Stephanie Ragusa. And a short-ish rant about the lack of a double standard in statutory rape laws. My view was, there should be a double standard—currently there doesn’t appear to be one—because young boys are less psychologically damaged by sex with older women than young girls by consensual sex with older men. Well, I thought it over on the drive home. And I retract. That’s a knee-jerk, narrow view that smells of David Lee Roth’s (no relation) “Hot for Teacher.” Stealing is stealing, whether it’s stealing from rich people or poor people. And statutory is statutory, whether you’re “Hot for Teacher” or not. On the web—as in life—there is no undo. There is only strike through. And so I am striking through rather than deleting the retracted part of the previous post.

Also heard and pondered on the drive home, this entry’s post-scripts are brought to you by WHYY, Philadelphia and NPR. National. Public. Radio.

P.S. Big round for Family man Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for making Congress eat dogfood. For the urban-dictionary-impaired: eating dogfood means playing by the same rules you set for other people.

P.P.S. As it turns out, there is a new weed out there that is resistant to each and every herbicide approved for use in the US. Farmers have had to resort to weeding by hand! Ha! Take that! How exactly did this super-weed develop? Apparently because of overuse of Roundup. And why is Roundup overused? Apparently because of the proliferation of Roundup-resistant genetically modified crops! Evolution, evidently, is not only a bitch, she’s a bitch with a sense of irony.

P.P.P.S. Twitter is going to start advertising. In other news, toilet paper is going to start advertising.

Net Neutrality or Fiber Utility? April 7, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in business, climate, technology.
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I’m sure you’ve seen the appeals court decision against net neutrality, or rather against the FCC’s right to enforce neutrality. My first bet? This will go to the Supreme Court. My second bet? The Supremes will uphold the appeals court decision rather than expanding the powers of the FCC. My third bet? There is going to be an anti-trust suit against Comcast.

I like the concept of net neutrality, I think most people without stock in Comcast, Verizon, etc. do. The internet was born neutral, and grew to its present awesomeness in a neutral state. One gets the feeling that abolishing neutrality, or even introducing a little tilt, would stifle further growth and development in some way. Which would be a bad thing. The internet is the most efficient economic engine the world has. It is responsible for a large fraction of the economic growth in the Western world in the last decade. With the global economy being what it is, now would be an especially bad time for this engine to blow a valve.

I think a free competitive market would choose a neutral net. Just using the specifics of this case as an example. If you were a fan of BitTorrent, and Comcast either blocked BT or significantly degraded its performance but Verizon did not, which carrier would you choose? Exactly. Especially considering that a carrier that preferred its own content over a particular third party content would likely make the same preference against any perceived competitor. Why isn’t this happening now? Because in many places there isn’t real competition between carriers. Multiple fiber grids are redundant and resource inefficient. We don’t have multiple water grids or electrical grids. I know that fiber is less capital and physical plant intensive than water and electrical, which is why there is competition in some places, e.g., where I live. But maybe redundancy and competition is not necessary to create the right environment for a neutral net. Maybe what is needed is a little vertical trust-busting.

High bandwidth data is essentially a utility, like water, and electricity. It is slightly different in that it is differentiated by bandwidth–by the way, I hate the term high-speed internet, it’s high-bandwidth internet, not high speed internet, individual bits don’t travel faster, just more of them arrive in parallel or they arrive at shorter intervals, when I hear someone advertize high-speed internet, I want to scream “really? your internet uses something faster than light? you have tachyon internet?–but it’s a utility. It should be regulated like a utility, and should charge by usage modes, usage amount, quality of service, or some combination thereof. Ideally, it should provide a menu of pricing plans like a telephone service provider. Actually, it would have to because it will include telephone or something like it as one of the services.

Content provision should simply be decoupled from the fiber utility. If and when this battle continues, and a case of Comcast v. State of Pennsylvania comes before John Roberts and the Supremes, one possible–even likely result–is that the gang of 9 will forcibly break up Comcast into Comcast-fiber and Comcast-programming. Just like they broke up Ma Bell 20-some years ago.

P.S. Read this.

P.P.S. Really, crap like this is much more annoying than North Korea’s empty nuclear threats. I’m surprised KJ didn’t sentence the man to 2,000 years of hard labor and a fine of one billion jillion kazillion won. Or maybe to death by sharks with frikking lasers. Does the republic of Il have a single ally in the universe? The republic of Ahmadinejad? Can’t we get international concensus to do something here? We invaded Iraq over less!