Friday, September 18, 2015

The coming Indian net.neutrality debacle?

So, this is what happens when the apparatchiks write about policy:

Noam Chomsky, a famous leftist American philosopher

See, MSM? Not too difficult, even for foreigners.

town square for the global village

Every village needs an idiot.

The telecom operators claim that these applications impact their revenues

Protect their revenues at all costs!!

The debate on Net neutrality, as it is called, has developed into a duel for the ownership cake. Why do we need owners for this wonderful realm? The question in itself is baffling.

So, so baffling. We are so baffled. The question is not over ownership, everyone owns their cables, their fiber, their web servers. The issue is control other other people's stuff and how to use you two to get it, you tools.

The Net neutrality principle simply states that there should be no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritisation of any lawful content on the Internet.

None of these three things are the same. Within the three are divisions. Why not allow prioritized traffic? Why not let the telecoms figure out how much to charge?

Though the recommendation of this committee pitches for a neutral Internet, it has proposed regulations on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) OTTs

“Quick, more boiling oil!”

It suggests that arbitrages on regulations and pricing exist between operators and substitute service providing OTTs, which needs to be removed to provide a level-playing field for both.

Do not be fooled by the word “arbitrage,” which is an import from high finance. What the author just said here is that Indian telecoms are saddled with regulatory burdens and taxes, which create a tax burden-gap benefiting the independent app providers.

This outrage must be ended!

It’s worth mentioning that operators are regulated on call tariff through interconnect charges, tariff ceiling for roaming calls, etc. Such regulations won’t ever allow genuine competition between conventional calling and VoIP calling. This calls for further deliberation on the “solution”.
And will be! This is called “failing upward.”

GOVERNMENT: our regulations and taxes created the problem, now we need more to “fix” it.

While only domestic VoIP services are recommended for regulations, other services are not. It would be interesting to see how a line would be drawn among OTTs, since many offer multiple services packed in one.

More room for more regulations! You need to stop bundling awesome things so we can break them properly.

The DoT committee has failed to address other issues such as data privacy. With OTTs holding huge consumer data, the issue of protecting consumers’ sensitive data is worth a mention. However, the regulator reviewing tariff plans on zero-rating before being launched in public is an optimistic step for consumer protection.

Yes, we saw government consumer protection. It was called the June 2015 Office of Personnel Management data breach.

OTTs play a part in promoting Internet adoption and regulating OTTs on tariff may make the free services a paid service. This might impact the pace of OTT-driven Internet adoption. With the Internet penetration standing below 20 per cent, regulations might land a knockout punch on India’s digital inclusion mission.

A price we must pay!

A hurdle to Net neutrality also comes from the existing revenue models of Internet-based services. From Internet search to prioritising data packets on quality of service, the entire network is governed by payments made by companies to avail preferential treatment.

Un scandale! Remember: the first outrage of “preferential treatment” is when you pay a telco to come plug a wire into your house or business. Will this blasphemous perfidy never cease?!

The power of choice should, in any case, rest with consumers and not the operators. Consumer demands vary according to individual preferences. For example, some consumers might settle for an average Internet speed, while others might not. Thus, differential services/paid prioritisation may be provided only on “consumer demand”, but it should be ensured that other services are not negatively impacted.

Note the constant format: start with a sane proposition, then slide in the crazy. Note the complete lack of documentation showing that “vital services” have ever been blocked.

The operators highlight the need of capital expenditure for infrastructure and argue that OTTs, that impact their revenues, hinder their ability to invest on infrastructure. It is undeniable fact that OTTs rely on Internet service, and it’s equally their responsibility to let Internet breath for long. OTTs should lend a hand on building the foundation, for which the question that needs answer is “how”.

Normally, OTTs pay their ISPs for their connection, and their consumers pay yet more to be connected. But not in new, glorious theme park's Statismland!

Thus, the Internet we use is nowhere close to being perfectly neutral.

Note the complete lack of any data to shore up the Big Lie. Note how their “thus” attempts to conceal this total lack of any case by simply presuming it into existence. The Internet is not neutral. It is so completely Balkanized that no one can control the whole thing. Which is the real problem.

We still have to safeguard it from the probable clutches of the prospective owners.

In case you were wondering, the “prospective owners” are in fact all the little players who do in fact own bits and pieces of “the Internet”: ISPs, consumers, businesses, the soi-disant OTTs. The future owner is your happy local community kommissar and apparatchik.

OTTs help getting new consumers on-board and also propel data revenues.

Translation: our regulations turn ISPs into crappy phone providers. Instead of letting telecoms lapse into mere ISPs who compete on price, and letting independents offer new, cheaper and usually better telephony services, and letting the real and natural dual-tension between ISPs and OTTs play out (how they both need and burden each other), we offer more regulations.

So operators should work out on economies of scale strategies rather than cribbing over the competition brought in by innovation.

Sounds pretty.

If regulations seem the only solution, they shouldn’t be based on tagging prices on these apps. The idea is to promote the Internet, not to break it. The need is to make it robust, seamless and for everyone.

Still pretty, but problems persist. First, “seamless?” Nothing a tech sees is seamless, this is a political hack's word. “Robust” would be good enough. Second, the pricing of the apps is the least of the problems. The big part here is the “revenue sharing.” Oh, didn't you read that? That is what the authors meant by sharing the regulatory and tax burden, you know, instead of, oh, I dunno, relieving the suffering telecoms from their obsolete and current burdens!

Because, you know, libertarians are crazy.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Academia lies and lies and spends and spends

When I was a volunteer IT department for an AIDS care non-profit corporation (heavily Democratic, as you may imagine), I was often told that pharmaceutical companies were free-riding on all that magical medical research done by those wonderful universities.

Meanwhile, the great Dr Jerry Pournelle tells us:

Of course as soon as the Master Plan was adopted and funded, the California State Colleges began a political campaign to be turned into universities, with salaries comparable to the Universities, and graduate schools with research, and publish or perish, and all the rest of it; and instead of being teaching institutions they would become second rate copies of the Universities, with a faculty neglecting teaching in order to gather prestige in research and publication, or, perhaps, at least to look as if they were. In any event the California State Colleges became California State Universities, their commitment to actual undergraduate education was tempered to make room for the graduate schools, budgets were higher, costs were higher, and tuition, which had been designed to be very low, began to climb.

And guess what else was a Democratic lie?!?

During a decade as head of global cancer research at Amgen, C. Glenn Begley identified 53 “landmark” publications -- papers in top journals, from reputable labs -- for his team to reproduce. Begley sought to double-check the findings before trying to build on them for drug development.

Result: 47 of the 53 could not be replicated.

Turn anything Socialist, and you turn it into ice cream soup, because the animating intelligence behind the original thing is gone. Care for the poor, love of science or literature… the Soul of Man withers and dies under Socialism.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015



“Hulk has seen a bunch of white college kids” who need to be on the business end of night sticks.

Oh, sorry. I’m aware you think I would of approve of everything white people do, since you probably think of me as a white supremacist, but I’m not. Those filthy white college kids are using the US government's bizarre college subsidies to fund criminal behavior, and hire university police forces (is there any stranger collection of words in English? I think not) to protect them while they break the things their elders sweated and labored to buy.

I am barely a college drop out (does three days count?) and I have never seen white people behave in so despicable and vicious a fashion as you describe, and it is clear to me that college subsidies need to die permanently to stop this cancer from spreading.

I once worked as a security guard in two fast-food joints, in a city with one of the more famous, Left-leaning four-year universities. One was near three bars in a working-class neighborhood: one gay bar, one black bar and one white bar. I ejected one person in the few months I worked there (white, male, dunno sexual preference); everyone else was pretty well-behaved. The restaurant on-campus was at least 30% infected with hateful, vicious, thieving elitist punks, most of them stupefied with alcohol and very well dressed. I am sure that the patrons of the first joint would have agreed with me.

Sad: FilmCritic!Hulk does not know what normal behavior is due to an artificially warped upbringing.

On Do The Right Thing: I saw it in the theater when it came out and not since. I remember loving the first 90% but I do not recall the ending clearly enough to critique it without a re-watch.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: “Just Like A Daydream,” various artists

Some years after Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and all the Original Rock’n’Rollers (call it AE, After Elvis), poured their signal into the British Isles, Anglo-American music ran in close sync from the Beatles through punk, new wave, and, on either sides of the Pond, the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) and soi-disant hair metal.

This loose coupling (less popular trends like progressive rock were already Pond-assymmetric ) loosened further in the late ’80s. The already successful kraut rock-influenced Depeche Mode* became the premier British act in 1990 when “Violator” outgrew the American art f-g market. America's bellwether was folky, twangy R.E.M., at once a lot less gay than Depeche Mode (no equivalent to “People Are People”) and a lot more (having an actual gay man in the band).

In Britain, shoegaze was kicked off with:
  • 1988 My Bloody Valentine, “Isn’t Anything”
  • 1990 Ride, “Nowhere”
  • 1991 My Bloody Valentine, “Loveless”
I dated a guy in 1993 who introduced me to shoegaze: both went nowhere (ha!). Hair metal had gone over the Warrant cliff, Nirvana had kicked off grunge (1991), R.E.M. had not yet been dethroned by “Monster,” and rap began making regular inroads to the hit charts.

Critics loved to hate shoegaze, preferring instead the cheerful “misogyny” and violence of gangster rap, madly waving the Flag of Irony while also hating on hair metal (perfect). Rap, of course, is not Ironic but Heroic, but being a critic means never having to let reality stand you up so long as you have a curtain of words to hide behind.

A big hole exists for musicianship beyond the pentatonic scale and relentless improv.: jazz fusion; progressive rock; the Medieval tune-resurrecting; erudite folkies; even motion-picture soundtracks are still overwhelmingly orchestral. Shoegaze was accused of many things: class warfare; misogyny (emphasis on high art, distorted guitars and performance); misandry (a lush, emotional, wimmin-y sound); racism (it's not rap!). But shoegaze mostly was an attempt to fill that damned hole.

Enter this American shoegaze compilation. Most of the songs are indeed drenched in the echo, delay and reverb pedal effects that gave the genre its name. Malory’s lead track starts with almost a cliché of delay, but pretty. Secret Shine creates a dramatic sweep that makes me hang on for the next line. Glowfriends and The Flower Beds tender pop tunes; the former almost too Pop for this collection. In Civilian Clothing contributes a stand-out anti-love song. Finally, The Fauns provide a lush soundscape that melts into Sunlight Ascending’s six minute instrumental dreamscape.

It’s good stuff. All I could wish for would be a lyrics sheet. Track list:
  1. Malory, “Just Be”
  2. The Morning Paper, “Making You Up”
  3. Airiel, “Cinnamon”
  4. The Brother Kite, “The Finest Kind”
  5. Brief Candles, “National Dream Registry”
  6. Tears Run Rings, “Mind the Wires”
  7. Crash City Saints, “Panic Queen”
  8. Secret Shine, “Oblivion”
  9. The Joy Bus, “Something Wrong Inside”
  10. Je Suis Animal, “Sparkle Spit”
  11. Glowfriends, “Sensible”
  12. The Flower Beds, “Mean to Me”
  13. Panda Riot, “Flowers at Night”
  14. Soundpool, “Do What You Love”
  15. In Civilian Clothing, “Current Therapist”
  16. Thrushes, “Aidan Quinn”
  17. The Fauns, “Lovestruck”
  18. Sunlight Ascending, “Out of This Place”
* Rumor claims industrial metal band KMFDM was named for “Kill Mother F-cking Depeche Mode,” but was never verified.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

“Jodorowsky’s Dune,” a documentary

Jodorowsky’s Dune
Frank Pavich, director/producer

“What is the goal of life? It’s to create yourself a soul.”

Trouble at the first words, the quote above refuses humanity to anyone unwilling to put in the effort to “make” a soul. The hidden lie, of course, is: which totalitarian regime judges what work is soulful? And such is needed; something as ad omnibus as the pre-Revolutionary Roman Church which, after all, threw in the soul gratis with the flesh but held a proprietary accompt over how you treated it.

I have not seen El Topo or The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky but I will, because I wish to see what his Dune might have been like. That being said, any person who pauses to think should thank their lucky stars that Jodorowsky was stopped before he could make this film and destroy dozens of lives and untold wealth in the desert of Algiers.

Simply put: no man who could do what Jodorowsky did to his own son should have any position of authority ever. Those old silent films were not worth running cattle off of cliffs to their deaths; this film would have been no different.

Lots of charming stories are told by the would-be crew, most are quite entertaining and informative, painting Jodorowsky as an even more driven Steve Jobs. H.R. Giger sounds like a precocious prepubescent boy with a frog in his throat here; this dashes one’s expectations of a gravel-voiced necromantic cyberneticist but a surprising disconnect between a non-performing artist and his work is hardly new, just as Nicolas Winding Refn’s raging paranoia is not shocking but still unpleasant.

Indeed, as quirky as Jodorowsky is, with his expressive hands and onomatopoeia, the most threatening figures in this documentary are the rabid fanboys. Refn quietly seethes over the damage done by Star Wars and the “megabucks blockbuster structure,” ignoring that Jaws started that two years prior. Some blame the same big American film corporations that funded 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, both science fiction films with oddly spiritual takes, as out to destroy higher consciousness once and for all.

(Oddly, no one blames Michel Seydoux, who had never produced any film, let alone with a Chilean megalomaniac, before 1973, the year Seydoux distributed The Holy Mountain in Europe and offered, and failed, to fund said maniac’s next.)

The fanboys cite Frank Herbert’s spice “melange” as a consciousness-expanding drug, which makes some sense since Jodorowsky’s idea was to recreate ’60s LSD visions as drug-free cinema. But they also compare Arrakis, or Dune, to Afghanistan as a place of supreme geopolitical importance. What else do they get wrong?

In story, sandworms exude melange and are only found on Arrakis. Melange offers man life extension, expanded consciousness and awareness, and precognition. Only precognition allows safe use of the faster-than-light Holtzman drive. Thus melange alone creates the entire Galactic economy. The water of life, another sandworm product, offers access to past lives but it too becomes another control battle.

For Herbert, the spice of Dune is a hydraulic despotism, a lens to concentrate and examine political power, which is the core of Dune: a comparatively mature contemplation of power, its benefits and costs, its ultimate goals. I say “comparatively” because it is the sin of critics who know nothing of Renaissance England to babble about how William Shakespeare understood power and politics, who knew nothing of the sort. Shakespeare lived not too long after Agincourt, when men at arms did all the fighting as a disorganized mob, when authority end law extended as far as your mailed fist or naked voice could project. (When you read a Shakespearean king and his words suddenly shift into hyperdrive, the tingle up your spine is exactly this projection.)

Herbert began Dune as a novel about Liet-Kynes and desert ecologies, but by publication in 1965 (by Chiltons!) the true subject was power and CHOAM, his feo-totalitarian cartel earning most of its profits from spice, was explicitly based on OPEC (prescience indeed). Religion in Dune is taken seriously but never literally, as expression of human will, faith and drive. In Herbert, as in Heinlein, expanded consciousness leads only to philosophy on how and when to use governing force. Hippie visions need not apply.

David Lynch’s Dune was quite faithful to the book but inspires hostility from Jodorowsky and others, who come looking for religious ecstasy and get nothing but Machiavellian philosophy (the original maligned Republican). The friend who recommended Herbert’s novel to Jodorowsky may not have known how ill-fit the two minds were. Jodorowsky follows Strindberg, Lynch an American magical realism; Lynch frets the novel’s politics less. (Or perhaps magical naturalism: consider the ear in Blue Velvet: a call to adventure in the hero’s journey to the underworld, where nothing is supernatural at all but the world is still a strange and dangerous place.)

The fanboys also natter on how this unmade film influenced others. Some are honest and direct: Dan O’Bannon, post-Jodo, hired Giger to design the Xenomorph for Alien. But how many other films did this affect? They mention the Terminator’s computer readout vision as a legacy of the unmade Dune’s storyboards, but by 1973 we had already seen Westworld through Yul Brynner’s infrared vision. How many people saw Jodo’s storyboard books? How many were made when only two still exist?

As I watch, at some point, El Topo, I will not like it. Messianic, religio-political Latin/Catholic visions always leave me cold. But I hope to be fascinated at least once as I was by this documentary.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Robert Heinlein, the Authorized Biography

Robert A. Heinlein: in dialogue with his century: vol 1, 1907-1948: learning curve
William H. Patterson Jr
New York

Any reader of Mr Heinlein’s has been served pieces of the Old Man’s mind already; Mr Patterson’s magisterial work, so far, finally shows us the whole man, the author, his friends and his times and makes the picture whole. I learned a lot.

I was not previously aware that western Missouri had been depopulated by the Union army during the Civil War. The Heinleins were not bred Southerners, but post-war immigrants from far north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Mr Heinlein’s difficult history at Annapolis is fascinating, but only a part of a rather brittle young man’s slow, painful education in human failings. Mr. Patterson’s work here is complete and interesting, and I have only a few quibbles with some of his interpretations. It is also at the Academy that we read Heinlein’s voice for the first time: simple, direct, powerful, missing only the stories.

I was aware the Old Man was on the Left in the Depression, but the depth of his involvement here is nearly alarming. The Old Man seemed to be born sneering at “red Fascists” (Communists, to you) and “black reactionaries,” but was surprisingly devout in his devotion to Edward Bellamy and H. G. Wells‘ Socialist visions of The Good Life.

We learn much about his second wife Leslyn, as large a figure as Lt. Virginia Gerstenfeld, ending volume one by suffering with the Old Man in his painful divorce from the former and then (we know in advance) happy marriage to the latter.

Isaac Asimov dismissed Heinlein’s politics as uxorious, an Upton Sinclair Progressive with Democrat Leslyn, then a stern conservative with Republican Ginny. But the Old Man was always a fervent Jacksonian, disgusted at the thought of wasting American lives in a useless war for the British against Germany, whether in 1916 or 1939, then driving himself sick (Leslyn did the same) serving his country after Pearl Harbor (which battle gains fascinating depth here).

He advocated a world government to manage the post-Hiroshima threats and would always regard atomic weapons with a bitter heart. He was fascinated by general semantics throughout his life. His first, unpublished novel followed social credit theories before he decided that the theory threatened private property and thus individual autonomy, a Heinleinian non-starter. He mined that book for the rest of his life.

Mr Patterson does not bother to “explicate” the Old Man’s crystal-clear short stories and (with few exceptions) novels, he simply details Robert’s life and the people he shared it with. We learn little about “where the stories come from” that we hadn’t already read in Expanded Universe. But just as we hear an utterly familiar voice in Annapolis, so too is Our Hero unmistakably Robert A. Heinlein ab initio. Time may chasten him, people may force him to abandon positions untenable, but the Old Man is One throughout. Mr Patterson could not fake that inimitable voice. I thank him for letting it speak again, and placing again a pearl of great price in its proper setting.

Friday, July 04, 2014

“Visit secluded Shangri-La”

Title: Lost Horizon
Author: James Hilton
Date: 1933
Publisher: Macmillan & Co.
Place: London

I am not surprised to learn that Franklin Roosevelt adored this novel, naming both an aircraft carrier and his weekend getaway digs Shangri-La, and less so that his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, immediately changed the latter’s name to Camp David. (CV-38 vanished even sooner.)

Another found manuscript adventure story with a taste of meditative Utopia and post-Great War ennui, Lost Horizon became a success only after Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips did. Both are specimens of the novel of sentiment, which may be called the romance novel only without the latter’s nominal goals. Not for nothing was Frank Capra chosen to film it.

Hilton’s small novel (61,000 words) charms us still, nailed to its perch and period by its opening line:
Cigars had burned low, and we were beginning to sample the disillusionment that usually afflicts old school friends who have met again as men and found themselves with less in common than they had believed they had.

This disappointed presence is dated and constant, but minimal.

The ending is a bit muddled. One imagines that Hilton did not want to write the murder of an escapee, and, of course, given the format, he needed someone to escape with the tale. He doesn’t quite pull it off, but it hardly mars the book as a whole.