Recently in Politics Category

[As the potted petunias said: “Oh no, not again.” I am giving myself a birthday gift: a free and open internet. You should join me!]


I urge you to keep the current Title II classification for broadband internet.

Over past 20+ years I have had the great fortune to make my living building both applications and the “plumbing” on the Internet and what has become the World Wide Web. I have seen first hand how innovation works in this industry. The disruption that takes the entire network by storm one day becomes the de facto standard the next. 

I am deeply concerned about the recent proposed rule changes regarding the neutrality of network providers. Allowing last-mile providers to charge for “premium” access to their subscribers will cause two separate, deleterious effects: It will harm innovation, and it will widen the digital divide in this country.

First, no one can predict where the storms of disruption will form. ISPs are trying to maintain a delicate balance providing the best service to their customers. Disruptions, by definition, wreck that status quo. Allowing the ISPs to pick winners (at best, and giving priority to their own offerings at worst) gives a huge advantage to entrenched incumbents. It would be disastrous to the innovation that has been driving one of the shining stars in our economy of late, and one that has been sorely needed.

This is doubly disastrous for the majority of Americans for whom their ISP is a virtual monopoly. They cannot vote with their wallets and move to a provider more willing to allow the disruptive traffic the innovative service requires. They are stuck with whatever their ISP deigns to offer.

Second, allowing ISPs to double-dip and charge both subscribers and content/service providers for the privilege of connecting will exacerbate the digital divide in this country, and will mean that only the relatively wealthy consumers will be able to afford a decent Internet experience. It will also further widen the divide between the US and the rest of the developed world, where we already pay more for much slower connectivity.

Finally, and perhaps most distressingly, it will have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression that is central to a free and open society.

You have the power to change all of this. For these reasons and more, I urge you to keep broadband internet classified as a Title II telecommunications service, and keep access equitable for everyone.

Thank you for your time.

Erik Ogan
San Francisco, CA

Diane Feinstein
Kamala Harris
Nancy Pelosi
I have been trying to write this entry for two weeks, and have run out of time. Tomorrow/Today is my last day at Context Optional.

They are a great group of people and I wish them the best of luck. After some hard reflection and rumination I came to the painful realization that my destiny lies elsewhere.

For quite some time I have been wrestling with the nature of the work we do. I had chafed at the fact that I have, through them, hitched my wagon to a company whose corevalues” I despise. We may be making people “happy” to a degree, but with saccharine connections to “brands,” not real people. It is very hard to call what we do “important” by any metric that truly matters. The only possible exception is my current project: the Chase Community Giving program, where we have helped people tell J.P. Morgan Chase where to donate millions of dollars to charity … so that people will hate them slightly less.

In light of this assessment, I am ecstatic to say that I am moving on to, a network for social change and grassroots organization. I will be working with the team to scale their application to serve communities around the globe who are clamoring to use it, in spite of there being roadblocks in the way now.

We will be helping people work on the international, national, regional, and local levels to spur action on causes and issues that matter most to them. It is through these actions that we will start to see real change in our world.

I really look forward to rolling up my sleeves and beginning the work that needs to be done.

Not a Time For Gloating


For the past few months, I’ve hoped that this evening I’d have something about which to gloat. But since about this time last night, I’ve had the immortal words of the inimitable Terry Gilliam, as delivered by an understated Bobby D on a seeming endless loop in my head:

“Listen, kid. We’re all in this together.”

There are likely to be many on the side on which I’ve been standing who are looking to destroy those on the other side, as a manner of repudiating the thinking and damage done in the last eight years. I fully expected to be one.

This morning my realization that I wasn’t in that camp prompted me to remember a well-respected Republican admonishing:

“Why, madam, do I not destroy [my enemies] when I make them my friends?”

It’s going to take every one of us to roll up our sleeves, pull the wheel, and turn the Ship of State off the suicidal course on which it has been directed for the last 8 years.

Let it begin with me. Yes we can.

It’s Dead, Jim


My Treo 650 was acting a little strange during my travails in travel on Tuesday. Wednesday morning it got even weirder, and by noon it stopped working at all.

I’m in Miami for the week, and I feel a bit vulnerable without having the ability to connect with folks, either at home, in the family, or people I want to see/meet here.

But beyond that, I don’t know what to do moving forward. Palm is dead as a platform. The rumored impending release of the 3G network iPhone would be absolutely perfect, except:

  1. The rumor is completely unsubstantiated, it started as an off-hand comment by Walt Mossberg, and is fueled entirely by wanton wishful thinking
  2. I need something now, not in a month or two
  3. It would mean giving a(nother) red cent to AT&T after they:
    1. flagrantly and recklessly colluded with the NSA to violate the law and our Constitutional rights.
    2. decided all of your personal information? yeah, that’s now “Marketing Information” they're free to use (and sell) as they see fit.
    3. etc, etc, etc…

It’s that last one that is so problematic. I feel completely hypocritical even considering an iPhone. Yeah, sure, Android, um, see #2 above.

The First Word was Hartford...


[This has been rolling around my head for a few weeks, and I’ve been chomping at the bit (until my site redesign was finished and MT was working again for me) for the time I could write it.]

I play at being a misanthrope. It’s not all charade, there is certainly a fair bit of my character that is completely anti-social, and while I’ve come out of my shell in shocking and scary ways in recent years, I’m still rather introverted.

But at the deepest level, the essential kernel, I am an optimist. A humanist. A romantic.

There hasn’t been much fuel for that spark in the public space in recent years, in fact in most ways we haven’t been sliding toward oblivion so much a stampeding toward it.

And yet, as I observed the political process recently I’ve found myself experiencing some odd emotions. While reading reading Jon Taplin’s Blog I put my finger on it. The odd sensation I couldn’t quite grasp was hope.

I feel hopeful. Not that we’ve turned around and are headed in the right direction, but that maybe we’ve turned a (slight) corner. That some more people are starting to ask hard, important questions. That people might actually be willing to put aside differences, and dig in for the herculean task of rebuilding everything the last 8-10 years has torn down.

I fully expect these hopes to be dashed. We, as a nation, have been coddled and encouraged to stick our heads in the sand for too long for it change overnight. And the siren song of blissful ignorance is powerful. But, if the cards fall well, that dashing could be delayed until after January. Several months of hope could do me (and many of us) a world of good.

Edit: I finally figured out what was breaking the crossposting of this entry. The original draft of this entry, had I been able to publish it, would have coincided perfectly with the speech about which everyone is talking. It’s gratifying to see so many of us feel the same way.

I know it’s more of that blinding hope, but I can’t help but feel that the choice before us is between the politicians of the past; and a statesman, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a generation, who will lead us into the future.

Fiscal Musing


Two thoughts on taxes. (That I meant to post two and a half weeks ago when I actually did them):

  1. The first thing that TurboTax told me was that starting this year (so next years taxes) same-sex partners who are registered domestic partners in the state of California must file using one of the "Married . . ." options. This information elicited the following reactions (roughly in this order, as close as my random-access train of thought gets):

    1. Yay! Recognition! A step forward! That's great!
    2. So, wait. The general idea is "Pay as though you're married, without getting the benefit of actually being so." That kind of fiscal hypocrisy fits the conservative (if not the religious) agenda perfectly.
    3. And it also means that our tax code is more progressive than our civil code. What the fuck does that say?

    So, I guess it sucks in the short-term, but it gives me hope for the long term. Anything we can do to erode the "defense of marriage" bullshit is a good thing in my book. On the other hand, it's not something that affects me directly, so I'm sure there's a whopper of a consequence I'm not considering.

  2. The alternative energy credits apply to HYBRIDS? What kind of half-baked crock of shit is that? A lip-service, incremental (at best), stop-gap, Band-Aid solution that ignores the environmental impact of the production and destruction of all those batteries?

    Where the hell is the tax credit for my alternative fuel vehicle?!? You know, food.

    No. Seriously. I'm not saying I should be able to write off a decadent evening at Millennium, but maybe on a pure caloric intake level vs. the distance commuting I spend on the bike. Ok, so it sounds like the paperwork would be a hassle, but I'm keeping track of it all for weight reasons anyway.

It's been 12 long years.

The "Contract on America" is finally put to rest. And we'll have the first woman Speaker.

Now, how's about we reinstate the writ of habeas corpus? (And stop "letting the terrorists win")

Die For Oil, Sucker


On the way back from work yesterday my iPod presented me with something I hadn't heard in a long time: Jello Biafra's "Die For Oil, Sucker". It was depressing the first time I heard it - during the first Gulf War. Now, finding it just as relevant, in some cases moreso, it just makes me want to cry.

Also reminds me of a statistic I heard around that time: an average of 4mpg increase in fuel economy across the board would completely eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. Yes, that was on every vehicle, but 4mpg. How many stealth bombers would it take to fund research into ways we could do that?

Of course, that was before this country stuck it's head up it's ass and went SUV crazy. It's probably up to 5 or 6mpg.

I think I'm going to go cry now.

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