Posts from August 22, 2004

Cablevision sucks!

Cablevision sucks!

: But we knew that, didn’t we? The reason they suck today: Suddenly, I couldn’t send email. After wasting an hour of my time and Hosting Matters’ time, it turns out the damned cable ISP overnight switched to require all outgoing mail to go through only its SMTP server. Now correct me if I’m wrong (please) but when I go to the office tomorrow, I’ll just bet I’ll have to switch it back again; and then switch it tomorrow night, and on and on. They didn’t tell anybody; they just did it because, hey, we’re the cable company and we suck but you’re stuck. (I live too far away from a central phone company office to be able to use DSL, so I am stuck.) Cablevision sucks.

: UPDATE: It gets better. Two Cablevision managers said to me with straight face that I could upgrade to a business account. So I could move from my $40 account to one that costs $110 just because Cablevision decided to change a rule to inconvenience its customers (and, by the way, this also shows that Cablevision did not have to change this rule). That’s clearly not good, I said. “Well, it’s an option,” they said. Yes, and so is sitting on top of a flagpole in my underwear. But I think I’ll pass.

If you’re a Cablevision customer victim, the man in charge is one Wilt Hildenbrand at 516 803 2300. Call and complain. If you walk to Cablevision, demand that your complaint be escalated, as well.

Not so swift

Not so swift

: The real lesson of the whole Swift Board brouhaha is this:

America isn’t over Vietnam — not by a long shot.

I said when Kerry gave his acceptance speech and John-John salute in Boston that I couldn’t believe Vietnam had been rehabilitated as a word and a war in America. Well, I couldn’t believe it for good reason. What we’re really seeing in this alleged controversy now — besides mud-slinging for mud-slinging’s sake — is the old prowar and antiwar sides fighting over the war once more.

By emphasizing Vietnam, Kerry scraped the scab of the war. And then the Swifties — backed by Bushies — poured salt onto it. The wound is not healed. And it’s stinging again. If we’re not careful, it will start bleeding.

Nothing good is coming of this. It’s not illuminating anything about the candidates. Oh, you can screech at me all you want about this in the comments — Lord knows, you have — but all the screeching won’t tell me what to think. As a voter, I still say I don’t care.

I don’t care about the Vietnam war.

We are in a war now. We are in a war against terrorists and Islamofascists and for modernity and civilization and America. That is the war I care about.

You can blame whomever you want for this fuss and muss. I don’t care about that, either. You can argue that this is really about character — Kerry’s or Bush’s; I’ll have a fuller answer to that shortly.

And you can say it’s about media but note that news media are doing what news media should do: They are reporting. They didn’t just swallow what the Swifties had to say. They dug and found out that everything isn’t as the Swifties or as Kerry says; it’s never that simple, folks. So see the Chicago Tribune today, where one of Kerry’s men points to the untruths of the Swifties. See the Washington Post this weekend sorting through errors of fact or memory on both sides. See the New York Times Friday pointing to inconsistent statements of the Swifties and their Bush backing. Be careful what you wish for: Big news media is paying attention and it’s reporting.

But this argument can go back and forth forever and will we be one bit better off? No, we won’t be.

I watched the start of Meet the Press this morning (before the kids hijacked the TV for Sponge Bob) and not one second was devoted to how to improve the country, only to the mud.

Vietnam has moved on and we haven’t.

Meanwhile, there are issues pressing us today: the war on terrorism and terrorists’ war on us; health insurance; the economy; education; free speech; technology innovation; energy independence; and on and on. And we’re wasting sweat and bile over this. Throw away your WayBack machines, folks.

Vietnam is over. It’s the war we lost and we keep losing it.

: MORE: After writing this post, I read a comment left below by David Crisp, who seems to be editor of BillingsNews faulting bloggers of both sides on this story:

….bloggers have blown the Swift Vets story bigtime. I’ve been looking through the blogosphere for two weeks for even one fair-minded account of this controversy. Every place I turn, I find only pro-Kerry folks who think it’s a nonstory and pro-Bush folks who start with the assumption that Kerry is a liar.

That’s just garbage. I want the facts before I decide whether it’s a story. And I’m willing to entertain the possibility that Kerry might be a liar, but that’s not where I want the discussion to start.

To get a handle on where this story really stands, I have found no worthy alternative to the mainstream media. They may have moved more slowly than bloggers, but they did real reporting, added new information, put the issues in perspective and made sense of it all.

Maybe somebody in the blogosphere has done that, too, but I sure haven’t managed to find it. Maybe I rely too much on Instapundit. Please, somebody tell me where to find a balanced blog account. All I find is arrogance, flim-flam and self-congratulation.

What’s really sad is that bloggers and reporters could make great partners: reporters asking questions on the ground, and bloggers doing research and fact checking and creating a forum for discussion. I would love to run a tough story through a gantlet of concerned bloggers who would help me hone, focus and sharpen it. But as a working reporter, all I seem to get from bloggers is contempt.

If blogging is what we have to look forward to as a replacement for newspapers, then I think I’ll give up reading altogether.

Free radio

Free radio

: Doc Searls writes an amazing piece on the possibly doomed fate of radio — and more than radio — at the hands of so many competing forces who have it in their crossfire, including Congress, the FCC, the music industry, and more. I can’t summarize it and do it justice — so go read it — but I will quote this:

To Congress and the FCC, broadcasting isn’t speech. It’s transport: a delivery system for “material” and “content”…..

Think of a metaphor as a box of words. We all think and talk inside the shipping box when we speak about “moving” or “delivering” goods we call “content” to “end users” or “consumers”. This is what Powell does when he describes broadcasting as a “medium” through which we “receive” stuff he calls “material”.

Broadcasting isn’t the only business in the shipping box. In fact, business itself lives there. Ever since the industrial revolution created an enormous system in which the few produce for the many, most business finds itself somewhere amongst the distribution chains that run between producers and consumers. That’s why we have so many more people “adding value” than creating it…..

All the talk about “content” reveals a conceptualization of broadcasting as a delivery system, primarily for visual goods: stuff you see. Not stuff you hear or read as you would with speech–the freedom protected by the First Amendment….

Which brings us to the place where we’re peaceably assembled right now, the Net. That’s what we need to defend, against the very transport metaphors we all unconsciously use. Specifically, we need to fight against the characterization of the Net as yet another medium….

We’re fighting for a place here. Or, in the original parlance, a space. Either way, it’s no freight-forwarding system.

Go read the rest.

Google: go transparent

Google: go transparent

: Seth Goldstein makes a good case for Google to be transparent about its clickstream: the number of searches, the number of sponsored clicks, and the average cost per sponsored click. He makes this argument on behalf of investors, now that they are public, since Google has — with what is, sadly, becoming its typical hubris — declaring that it’s not going to report financial results the way other public companies do. (But just watch: This will deflate the company’s value and they will be forced to do what the investment community demands. In the end, the Google IPO turned out the way the investment market would have had it turn out. The marketplace always wins.)

But there is another reason for Google transparency: Its customers and affiliates deserve to know what’s happening. Advertisers want to know more about where their ads appear and what happens to them. And content owners should get more details on what is served on their sites and what they are paid as a resalt.

Google is now a public company and must be transparent in public. Transparency is one protection against evil.