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There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.

The Paradox of the Best Network
Topic: Telecom Industry 11:31 pm EDT, Jun 28, 2004

Just a few short months ago, it seemed that humanity stood on the edge of a communications revolution. Now a grim face replaces yesterday's optimism.

Something fundamental is at work. The situation has been shaped by a paradox inherent in the very nature of the new technology:

The best network is the hardest one to make money running.

This is the Paradox of the Best Network.

The Paradox of the Best Network

The COOK Report On Internet | June-August 2004
Topic: Telecom Industry 11:30 pm EDT, Jun 28, 2004

This three month issue explains why the prospects are dim for a full fledged recovery for telecom as long as the best effort paradigm remains as the only way of doing business.

Some choice items include:

Why the Hierarchical Peering Model Is Broken

Telecom Bandwidth Provisioning Trapped in a Deflationary Spiral?

The Network Is Not the Issue

Korea and a Gigabit to the Doorstep

Why Adding Bandwidth at One Link Just Shoves Congestion Elsewhere

The COOK Report On Internet | June-August 2004

A Guide to the Memos on Torture
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:39 am EDT, Jun 27, 2004

The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have disclosed memorandums that show a pattern in which Bush administration lawyers set about devising arguments to avoid constraints against mistreatment and torture of detainees. Administration officials responded by releasing hundreds of pages of previously classified documents related to the development of a policy on detainees.

NYT offers a brief description of each memo along with a pointer to the full text.

A Guide to the Memos on Torture

Aides Say Memo Backed Coercion for Qaeda Cases
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:37 am EDT, Jun 27, 2004

The Bybee memo was prepared after an internal debate within the government about the methods used to extract information from Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden's top aides, after his capture in April 2002. The memo, which is dated Aug. 1, 2002, was a seminal legal document guiding the government's thinking on interrogation.

The memo concluded that a coercive procedure could not be considered torture unless it caused pain equivalent to that accompanying "serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death."

To be regarded as torture, the memo said, mental pain must also be caused by "threats of imminent death; threats of infliction of the kind of pain that would amount to physical torture; infliction of such physical pain as a means of psychological torture; use of drugs or other procedures designed to deeply disrupt the senses, or fundamentally alter an individual's personality; or threatening to do any of these things to a third party."

Aides Say Memo Backed Coercion for Qaeda Cases

Promises To Keep: Technology, Law, And The Future Of Entertainment
Topic: Intellectual Property 12:25 pm EDT, Jun 26, 2004

During the past fifteen years, changes in the technologies used to make and store audio and video recordings, combined with the communication revolution associated with the Internet, have generated an extraordinary array of new ways in which music and movies can be produced and distributed. Both the creators and the consumers of entertainment products stand to benefit enormously from the new systems.

Sadly, we have failed thus far to avail ourselves of these opportunities. Instead, much energy has been devoted to interpreting or changing legal rules in hopes of defending older business models against the threats posed by the new technologies. These efforts to plug the multiplying holes in the legal dikes are failing and the entertainment industry has fallen into crisis.

This provocative book chronicles how we got into this mess and presents three alternative proposals -- each involving a combination of legal reforms and new business models -- for how we could get out of it.

Lawrence Lessig: "In this beautifully written and careful work, Fisher, more completely than anyone else, maps the choices that we might make. He argues for a choice that would produce enormous social good. And while not everyone will agree with the conclusions he draws, no one who cares seriously about creators or culture can ignore the framework that he has set."

Siva Vaidhyanathan: "The strength of this book is Fisher's willingness to step above the political fray to solve problems. He has produced one of the most important books in media studies and law in some years. It is refreshing, bold, and provocative. We need it badly."

Yochai Benkler: "A detailed proposal for how we could radically transform the way in which our society funds its music and film industries."

This book goes on sale in August.

Promises To Keep: Technology, Law, And The Future Of Entertainment

Contacts, Ties, and Relationships, Oh My
Topic: Current Events 12:17 pm EDT, Jun 26, 2004

Can we please stop talking about "contacts", "ties", and "relationships" in the context of international affairs, foreign policy, and justifications for war? It's all very pot meets kettle.

Everyone has seen the picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein on an official visit to Baghdad. There is no disputing the fact that this qualifies as a contact. Debating whether the US relationship with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war qualifies as "collaborative" or merely "associative" is beside the point. Ditto for Iraq-al Qaeda. The US had even stronger ties to Iran only years before.

Books like George Crile's "Charlie Wilson's War" and Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars" offer up ample evidence of years-long, sustained relationships between the US and the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

"The Insider" starts with a scene in which a Hezbollah leader is interviewed for a segment on 60 Minutes. Does this qualify as "Ties" between Viacom and Hezbollah?

The Harlem Project
Topic: Education 11:36 am EDT, Jun 26, 2004

It starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an entire neighborhood.

At a moment when each new attempt to solve the problem of poverty seems to fall apart, one after the next, what is going on in central Harlem is one of the biggest social experiments of our time.

The programs all seem carefully planned and well run, but none of them, on their own, are particularly revolutionary. It is only when they are considered together, as a network, that they seem so new.

The Harlem Children's Zone is to education as TiVo is to television.

The Harlem Project

Cute Quip Cuts to Quick
Topic: Society 11:32 am EDT, Jun 26, 2004

It's time for us parents to stop thinking that our jobs as parents are limited to providing a comfortable, well-decorated house with a pretty lawn.

We need to get more involved in our children's lives!

At first glance, this letter might just seem cute, but you can infer from NYT's decision to publish it that this quip cuts to the quick for a disturbingly large number of its readers.

Cute Quip Cuts to Quick

All Hail Moore
Topic: Politics and Law 11:25 am EDT, Jun 26, 2004

In years past, American liberals have had to settle for intellectual and moral leadership from the likes of John Dewey, Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King Jr. But now, a grander beacon has appeared on the mountaintop, and from sea to shining sea, tens of thousands have joined in the adulation.

So it is worth taking a moment to study the metaphysics of Michael Moore. For Moore is not only a filmmaker; he is a man of ideas, and his work is based on an actual worldview.

Like Hemingway, Moore does his boldest thinking while abroad. For example, it was during an interview with the British paper The Mirror that Moore unfurled what is perhaps the central insight of his oeuvre, that Americans are kind of crappy.

My sentiments exactly. If you want to spend some time watching a documentary, go watch The Fog of War (on DVD) or Control Room (in theatres), and forget about Mr. Thermometer.

All Hail Moore

Fixing Up the National Parks
Topic: Politics and Law 11:12 am EDT, Jun 26, 2004

When people talk about smaller government, they usually don't mean fewer park rangers.

Fixing Up the National Parks

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