Obama: Not a Serious Person

The great Obama speech on race in America impressed a lot of people, but they were already Obama supporters. It left me cold, and more than a little offended. To compare his grandmother’s probably rational fear of black men on the street with the bitter public rhetoric of the bombastic Jeremiah Wright shows a distinct lack of judgment on Obama’s part. Women are often fearful of men on the street at certain times of the day and certain parts of the city, and it’s a fact that black men are more likely to commit violent crimes than other demographics. There are all sorts of reasons for that, but it’s a fact and we’re all aware of it.

Wright has claimed, among other things, that the government of the US created the HIV virus in order to commit genocide against the black race. He has said, in effect, that the KKK rules America. Wright evidently hates white people, and doesn’t feel bashful about saying so from his pulpit. To compare Wright’s racism – and there’s no other way to describe it – to granny’s private fear is simply bizarre.

[added 3/21]

Consider the differences between Obama’s granny and Wright. Granny expressed a private fear to her grandson, perhaps to help him understand attitudes that people have. She didn’t take to a pulpit and denounce all black men as criminals, which is apparently the way Wright would have behaved in her shoes. And moreover, Obama doesn’t get to choose who his granny is, but he does get to choose a pastor. And of all the pastors in the city of Chicago, he just happened to choose the most hateful one.

It’s simply bad judgment, or a lack of intellectual honesty, not to make these distinctions.

[end of addition]
Obama must be so inured to black racism that he can’t even recognize it. And given that the two most significant people in his life in recent years – his wife and his pastor – express anti-white racism with no apparent discomfort, that’s not surprising.

This tells me that Obama is a lightweight, a John Edwards, a pretty face, and not qualified to lead this country. It’s sad for Hillary and for the country that he’s seduced so many Democrats, because a Clinton-McCain contest would have put all the important issues on the table for serious discussion. With Obama the presumptive Democrat nominee, the election will revolve around experience and judgment, much less interesting topics and ones that are easily disposed of.

See the LA Times Op-Ed pages for a similar take on the speech from New York Civil Rights Coalition director Michael Meyers.

Opening Day Looms

Finally, our long national nightmare is about over. Next Tuesday at 3:00 AM Pacfic Time, the Mighty A’s take on some Eastern Division team in the Tokyo Dome. The DVR is fired-up and ready to go, and Mike has his Season Tickets ready for the home opener the following Saturday.

This is going to be a very different team that last year’s third place finisher, and in many ways a better one. Swish and Haren are gone, but there’s a whole crop of new faces in the outfield and the bullpen. Rumor has it that Crosby is healthy and setting up closer to the plate, and even China Doll Harden has thrown a few innings in Arizona without bankrupting Kaiser. The Evil Anaheim-Los Angeles-San Dimas Angels of Anaheim have their two top pitchers on the DL, and even Boson’s Beckett is ailing, so we ought to get off to a decent start.

The Western Division is going to be even stronger this year than it usually is, so I’m not going out on a limb to suggest the eventual World Series winner will come from the West. Unless it’s Detroit, a truly ferocious bunch of Kitties this season, of course. But dream teams have a way of not pulling through, due to all the pressure, I suppose.

FCC Hearing in Lessig Territory

Unsatisfied with the outcome of the FCC hearing on Comcast held in the maw of the Berkman Center, Kevin Martin turns to Larry Lessig for help: FCC Announces Stanford Hearing.

When you’re being investigated by Congress, anything to keep the eyes off the ball is helpful.

Seriously, this is happening is because the Commission lost the records of the Cambridge hearing; no, that’s not serious, but it might be.

Bad Time for Silicon Valley IPOs

This can’t be good:

Brenon Daly, who tracks IPOs and mergers in the technology and telecom industries for the 451 Group in San Francisco, said both the avenues VCs use to achieve liquidity have been drying up for months.

“The IPO market is dead,” Daly said flatly. Acquisitions had been strong through 2007, when big firms spent $476 billion to buy 3,559 smaller firms in Daly’s market, but a good chunk of that activity was buyouts by private-equity firms like the flailing Carlyle Group, now caught in the credit crunch. So that means fewer M&A buyers in 2008, he said.

Having recently left one privately-held firm for another, this is the last thing I wanted to hear, but facts are facts and we all have to face them. It’s a damn shame that the crisis in the mortgage markets would reach out and smack down promising high tech IPOs, but it has.

Japan to Ban P2P Piracy

Net Neutrality folks like to tout Japan as the model of a fine and healthy Internet access ecosystem, despite the VoIP blocking. They’re going to have a major fit when they learn P2P piracy is about to be banned in Japan:

The nation’s four Internet provider organizations have agreed to forcibly cut the Internet connection of users found to repeatedly use Winny and other file-sharing programs to illegally copy gaming software and music, it was learned Friday.

The move aims to deal with the rise in illegal copying of music, gaming software and images that has resulted in huge infringements on the rights of copyright holders.

Resorting to cutting off the Internet connection of copyright violators has been considered before but never resorted to over fears the practice might involve violations of privacy rights and the freedom of use of telecommunications.

The Internet provider organizations have, however, judged it possible to disconnect specific users from the Internet or cancel provider contracts with them if they are identified as particularly flagrant transgressors in cooperation with copyright-related organizations, according to sources.

How can they do that, you ask? Well, it’s pretty easy. We can’t ban piracy in the US because critics can say “just upgrade the pipes like they’ve done in Japan and it’s not a problem.” That dodge obviously doesn’t fly over there.

Japan has a 100 Mb/s connection to the home that’s over 95% occupied at the busiest times of the time, a completely unacceptable situation. So they’re taking sensible action in the absence of a technical solution to bandwidth-hogging.

They’re not stupid, you see.

UPDATE: Count Sweden in as well:

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Swedish courts will soon be able to force the country’s Internet providers to produce information on suspected file-sharers in a move to crackdown on piracy, the culture and justice ministers said Friday.

File-sharing can be traced by tracking the IP addresses of the computers that download or distribute a file.

…along with France and the UK. I’m sensing a trend here, where Kevin Martin is the only opposition.

UPDATE 2: George Ou comments on the story.

World’s Largest 802.11n Network

Trapeze Networks finally has announced their deal with U. of Minnesota to build the world’s largest 802.11n network:

PLEASANTON, Calif., March 10, 2008 – Trapeze Networks®, the award-winning provider of Smart Mobile™ wireless solutions, today announced that the University of Minnesota plans to deploy its Smart Mobile™ 802.11n wireless network product suite campus-wide, marking the largest ever 802.11n deployment to date. Beginning in May and continuing over the next five years, approximately 9,500 access points (APs) will be deployed to serve more than 80,000 people across the university’s two campuses. Students, faculty and staff will have fast and secure wireless access wherever and whenever they want it.

This network features a lot of the code I wrote for Trapeze for 802.11n, 802.11e, and bandwidth management, so I hope Trapeze hasn’t screwed it up too badly in the weeks since I left that company for my current gig.

Solving problems with technology rather than law

Communications Daily did a good write-up of the ITIF’s Network Management Forum yesterday, where Brett Glass and I held forth with our views and recommendations about the Internet’s traffic glut. CD is a subscription-only publication, so I can’t link to the article, but here’s a little snippet where I pitched tiered service and Weighted Fair Queuing:

ISPs might reduce worries about competition and free speech raised by neutrality regulation supporters by putting management in consumers’ hands, Bennett said. A common argument for neutrality regulation says network management lets ISPs favor their services over competitors’. Bennett proposed letting consumers designate the services they want given the most bandwidth. Consumers would use their home gateway to assign VoIP, Bit-Torrent and other services to tiered subscription “buckets,” he said. Each bucket would offer an amount of time for each level of bandwidth, he said. A consumer wanting fast BitTorrent service could put it in the high-priority bucket and demote Web browser service to a low-priority bucket. If the bucket used up its high-priority minutes, the BitTorrent service would be “demoted” to a lower tier bucket, he said…

Adding bandwidth on networks won’t fix congestion woes, Bennett and Glass said, citing Japan. At 100 Mbps, Japan has some of the world’s largest pipes, but still faces significant congestion due to P2P networks, they said.

This is an example of solving a problem through technology rather than by regulation and law, and that’s what we do in networking.

Clueless remark from Chairman Martin

Multichannel News has reported that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin made an exceptionally clueless remark about Comcast today:

Martin added that “two of the more troubling aspects” of the Comcast matter was that in his view Comcast at first denied the allegations, though he didn’t specify the nature of the allegations or the denials.

He said he was also troubled by allegations that Comcast altered certain user information in packets to effect a delay in peer-to-peer transmissions.

The first remark is spot-on, as Comcast clearly hurt itself by denying it was shaping traffic, but the second remark is clueless. Martin confuses the RST bit in the TCP header with “user information” when in fact it’s nothing of the kind. As RFC 3168 says, it’s a control bit:

There exist some middleboxes (firewalls, load balancers, or intrusion detection systems) in the Internet that either drop a TCP SYN packet configured to negotiate ECN, or respond with a RST. This document specifies procedures that TCP implementations may use to provide robust connectivity even in the presence of such equipment. – p. 4

I understand that Martin is a political creature and not an engineer, but is it too much to ask the head of the FCC to understand the difference between “user information” and network control?

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, this guy needs to get over his blind hatred of cable companies. I don’t care if the cable guy ran over his dog, he needs to bring a little balance to his job.

ITIF Network Management Forum

Next Wednesday, March 12, Brett Glass and I will be speaking on network management at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation‘s office in Washington, DC.

For me, this will be an opportunity to develop some of the points I raised but didn’t have time to flesh out at the FCC hearing at Harvard, such as per-user fairness, Quality of Service tagging, and the role of back-pressure in the IETF model of congestion management. Most of the heavy lifting on traffic management is done inside ISP broadband networks today, and the Internet protocols have some unfortunate side effects when layered on top of them.

I’ll also explain the consequences of applying Free Press’ “Deadwood System” to modern broadband networks and contrast it with a practical alternative.

Next on the speaking agenda is an appearance at Supernova 2008, one of the premier events at the intersection of networking and public policy. I’d like to speak at Dave Isenberg’s Freedom to Connect, but he’s not real thrilled about the idea. Isenberg trashed me in absentia during a talk Tom Evslin made at the Berkman Center a while back, and I’d like equal time to respond.

UPDATE: Mr. Isenberg has offered me free registration to F2C. That’s not as good as a place at the table, but it’s a start. I should point out that his conference is highly-regarded by people who agree with his “stupid network” formulation as well as by those who don’t. We all want our networking experience to be as free from barriers as possible, we just disagree on which barriers are most significant. In Isenberg’s world, the carriers are the problem because they want to squeeze every last penny out of their customers; in mine, the biggest barrier is the unbridled appetite for network bandwidth of about 1% of the people who share wires with me. His concern is theoretical, while mine is real.