February 12, 2006

Living A Kafka Novel [8:49 pm]

If this remains as polarized a fight as it is now, regardless of who wins, we *all* lose: Inquiry Into Wiretapping Article Widens

The case is viewed as potentially far reaching because it places on a collision course constitutional principles that each side regards as paramount. For the government, the investigation represents an effort to punish those responsible for a serious security breach and enforce legal sanctions against leaks of classified information at a time of heightened terrorist threats. For news organizations, the inquiry threatens the confidentiality of sources and the ability to report on controversial national security issues free of government interference.

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An Online Rant [6:07 pm]

What’s Online: A Rant. All 406 Pages of It.

The book is “The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal” (newnetworks.com). The author is Bruce Kushnick, a longtime irritant to the telecommunications industry.

His targets are the Baby Bells, which he contends owe every American household about $2,000 because they reneged on their collective promise to deploy ultra-high-speed broadband Internet access via optical fiber to millions of homes.

[...] The phone companies made this promise as Congress was getting ready to pass the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act, he points out. In return, they received benefits —- including tax breaks and changes in state laws lifting limits on their profits -— amounting to more than $200 billion, Mr. Kushnick writes. But instead of building the infrastructure, they spent money on more immediately profitable services like plain old copper-wire D.S.L. and hoary long-distance networks, according to the 406-page e-book.

“It’s like ordering a Ferrari and getting a bicycle,” Mr. Kushnick writes in his introduction.

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Skirmishes In An Upcoming Battle [11:52 am]

Competitors Making Inroads Against Cable [pdf]

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin said yesterday that the agency should make it easier for new companies to compete with cable providers in bringing video services to consumers.

Speaking at an FCC meeting held symbolically in Keller, Tex. — the community where telephone giant Verizon Communications Inc. rolled out its first fiber-optic TV service last year — Martin said in prepared remarks that the commission should “facilitate” such efforts and “seek to eliminate unreasonable barriers to entry.”

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The Times on Google & China [11:30 am]

So Long, Dalai Lama: Google Adapts to China

Only one of the 161 images produced by searching in Chinese for the Dalai Lama on Google.cn shows the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet since 1940. He is pictured as a young man meeting senior Chinese officials. That was before 1959, when China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet and the Dalai Lama fled into exile.

For people outside China, or Chinese who can circumvent the Internet firewall, the 2,030 images on unfiltered Google.com favor the Dalai Lama of today. He is the genial-looking guy in the burgundy and saffron robe, here meeting President Bush, there speaking to 40,000 people in New Jersey.

Several of the biggest media and technology companies have come under attack for helping the Chinese government police the Web. Yahoo provided information about its users’ e-mail accounts that helped the authorities convict dissidents in 2003 and 2005, Chinese lawyers say. Microsoft closed a popular blog it hosted that offended Chinese censors. Cisco has sold equipment that helps Beijing restrict access to Web sites it considers subversive.

But few have cooperated as openly as Google. Google’s local staff works closely with Chinese officials to ensure that search results from Google.cn do not include information, images or links to Web sites that the government does not want its people to see.

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Books and Records [11:24 am]

Reading between the lines [pdf]

The demise of these media spells more than just reduced clutter: Digital downloading has shifted focus from albums to individual tracks. As well as the Grammy-nominated ”The Emancipation of Mimi” no doubt holds together as a cohesive artistic work, it’s probably hard even for true Mariah Carey fans to resist downloading just the tracks they hear on the radio. Why spend $11.99 when you can get all the good stuff for $1.98? The days of fetishizing a beloved album seem to be numbered.

Yet even as the idea of the album has come under seige, a movement to preserve it has recently been gaining momentum, and in an unlikely field-book publishing. In the past few years, there have quietly appeared dozens of books treating classic pop, rock, and jazz recordings as objects worthy of continued appreciation.

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