Author - Paul Schatzkin

Welcome to the “Weekly Digest”

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 6.16.42 PMThis is for the vast legion of subscribers to my e-mail list.

A couple of months ago, you started receiving an e-mail notification whenever I’ve posted something new to this blog/site – typically once a week.

Starting now, I intend to post a lot more to this site.  Rather than giving all of my best stuff away on Facebook, etc., I’m going to post it here first, and then distribute to my social media networks.

So starting at about noon today – Wednesday January 22, 2014 – you’re going to be receiving one weekly missive from me with links to the seven or so best things I have posted in the previous week.  Some of the items will be links and comments;  hopefully there will be a weekly ~1200 word essay, you’ll get some photos, and maybe a link to some new music. Whatever strikes my fancy during the week and makes it through the Wednesday filter.

If you are unclear what you are subscribing to, read this.

Is Net Neutrality Dead?

LIstening to this excellent discussion of the issues around “Net Neutrality. It’s amusing to hear the guy from VerizonCast going through verbal gymnastics to make the case that more corporate control of the web is in the end-user’s interest. His organization is called “Free State Foundation.” A loving nod to Orwell…
http://ift.tt/1heemUM

It Was Nice While It Lasted ?

The “level playing field” of the Internet, that is.

a01-nl-vert-wolff-24-1306181153_3_4If you’ve been befuddled by the recent Appeals Court decision on the subject of “Net Neutrality,” Michael Wolff does a pretty good job of explaining what it could mean.

Power begets power and enables you to hold onto power. Owners of the pipes can charge what the market will bear. …Though Netflix will have to pay much more for distribution, it is large enough to be able to afford that bill. Its nascent and would-be competitors cannot. And without access to low-cost distribution

It’s not entirely clear that this loss of “neutrality” is a final ruling.  It could yet go to the Supreme Court  – though given that august body’s preferential treatment of corporate interests, it’s hard to fathom how the Appeals Court ruling could be reversed;  Or the FCC could revisit its own mandate, and recast their original ruling under a different mandate.

The genesis of the recent ruling appears to be the jurisdiction under which the FCC originally ruled that ISPs like Comcast, AT&T an Verizon could not charge for access to their networks:

The court just invalidated the way the FCC tried to make Net Neutrality rules in a 2010 order. The judges rejected the legal framework used by the FCC and said the agency currently lacks the authority to implement and to enforce these rules…The silver lining is that there’s nothing in the court’s decision that prevents the FCC from reversing its earlier misguided decisions and treating broadband under the law as the “telecommunications service” it so obviously is.

So the fact of the matter is that nothing has been decided.  We’re in limbo.  The FCC could go back to the drawing board, in which case the whole thing would be up in the air again for years.

I can’t count the number of times over the past two decades I’ve heard the phrase “level playing field.”  I always did think it was a bit of a mirage.  If the FCC can’t find away to enforce the idea of the pipes as common carrier, even the mirage will probably vanish.

Things We Take For Granted

finger
You really can’t appreciate how much you rely on the very tip of your primary-hand index finger until you nick it with the super-sharp blade of a brand-new food* processor, and can’t use it for a couple of days to swipe or type…

*the original version of this post had the word typed as “foot-processor.”  See what I mean?

TechHive: Google is creepy, but you shouldn’t automatically fear it invading your Nest

This is a pretty even handed treatment of the Google/Nest acquisition, despite the seemingly inflammatory opening: “Let’s get it out of the way right at the top: Google is a creepy company that’s only getting creepier with its hideous camera glasses and driverless ghost cars… it’s a creepy exercise anytime you sit and think about all the data you just hand over to this face-cam-wearing company on a daily basis…. But once all the jokes on Twitter die down, this is a super smart move on Google’s part…”

Surf’s Up (and so is the camera)

Do you remember the last verse of the last song on the Eagles’ album, “Hotel California”?  It’s called The Last Resort, and the verse begins with:

We can leave it all behind
And sail to Lahaina
Like the missionaries did
So many years ago
They even brought a neon sign
Jesus is coming
Brought the white man’s burden down
Brought the white man’s reign

That’s the song that ends with the line “…call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye…  Click here to refresh your memory…

I lived on the island of Maui for more than a dozen years, through the 1980s and part of the 1990s.  I drove past that neon “Jesus is Coming” sign on Front Street in Lahaina a thousand times.

All of which came rushing to mind when I watched this video of surfers on the North Shore of Oahu catching the big waves. The footage is notable in part for the fact that it was shot with a drone, which provides a really breathtaking angle on Hawaii’s National Sport (FYI, the islands were a sovereign nation before the missionaries and pineapple and sugar growers decided to put an end to that…)

I enjoyed the few minutes it took to watch the whole thing – something I rarely do with online videos.  Some of the footage in the first few minutes of the ‘barrel riding’ is spectacular: first the mist blasts out of the curl, then the surfer.