20071218

From CWA release: Information Unions Slam Newspaper-Broadcast Ownership Rule

Washington, D.C. – The Communications Workers of America, its newspaper and broadcast sectors, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists expressed disappointment over the Federal Communications Commission’s revisions to the newspaper-broadcast ownership rule. The changes will allow a single corporation to own both a broadcast and newspaper operation in the 20 largest media markets.

CWA and affiliates -- The Newspaper Guild-CWA and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA -- along with AFTRA, expressed strong concern that the FCC did not require that any merged newspaper-broadcast operation maintain separate newsroom and editorial staff, an addition that would have helped to ensure an independent editorial voice in communities. They also stressed that ensuring a diverse media is more critical than ever in today’s environment and raised concerns about the impact of consolidation on competition, diversity of opinion and quality jobs.

TNG-CWA President Linda Foley said more, not fewer safeguards are needed to promote media diversity. In the United States, local television and newspaper media markets already are highly concentrated, and most cities are one-newspaper towns, she said. “Today, most Americans get their news from local sources. The FCC’s action means that fewer distinct, local media voices will be available as news sources for citizens. Particularly in markets that already are highly concentrated and these changes fail to protect the public interest,” she said.

“Our members know what happens when one company owns more than one TV station or a major TV station and the monopoly newspaper in the same market. The owner merges operations, slashes jobs, and reduces the quantity and quality of the news,” said John Clark, president of NABET-CWA.

“As the ownership rules are relaxed, we will see even further consolidation and editorial control by just a few corporations,” said Tom Carpenter, AFTRA General Counsel and Director of Legislative Affairs. Carpenter noted that when the newspaper-broadcast ownership rule was first adopted, the FCC stressed that was “essential to a democracy that its electorate be informed and have access to divergent viewpoints on controversial issues” and that it was “unrealistic to expect true diversity from a commonly owned station-newspaper combination.”

“This rule change is contrary to the FCC’s mandate to safeguard diversity of local voices and the public interest,” he said.

The unions had called on the FCC to provide a full public review of the proposed rule, including a 90-day comment period as well as an open process to resolve issues of localism and women’s and minority ownership of broadcast media.

20071024

The distraction of school choice.

The issue of School Choice has often created emotional political divides in our community. It held out for many people of limited income an opportunity to help their children escape from, what they perceived as, a broken public school system.

In specifics it works some times, for some people. In the aggregate it has proven to be an expensive experiment with neutral results. My conclusion is underscored by the recent article in the Journal Sentinel "Choice may not improve schools, study says."

It has been my contention for some time that School Choice, while a rightly intentioned movement by some progressive thinking members of our society, has failed to resolve the problems plaguing public education.

Here is why, in my humble opinion, School Choice has failed.

1. It is a distraction from having a meaningful discussion on how to alter public education so as to make it relevant to a post industrial, post agricultural society.

2. By putting pots of money out in the public for alternative educational methods, it attracts as many charlatans and well meaning nuts as it does legitimate educators.

3. It is used as a blunt instrument by anti-government neoconservatives to attack public education and school teacher unions.

At best, it has done little good. At worst, it has siphoned away from the public school systems many parents and students, who by example, provide academic and social leadership.

We need to set aside the "take no hostages" politics that has turned modern issues into into binary absolutes. Many ways exist to tackle issues, but we must be willing to open our minds and engage is civil public discourse if we want to explore alternatives.

The future of School Choice needs to be discussed, but so does the the future of public education.

20070912

Open letter to Doyle regarding H-1B visas

Dear Jim Doyle,

I want to let you know I am against any increase in H-1B visas. The fact that you, as my governor, signed on to a letter to increase H-1B visas is a slap in the face to all IT workers seeking jobs.

To claim there is a critical shortage of highly skilled professionals in math and science is a lie. This myth has long ago been debunked by a Duke University study at
http://www.issues.org/23.3/wadhwa.html

I hope you will listen to voters who have to live with the consequences of jobs being given to H-1B visa workers rather than the corporations who want to give our jobs away.

Sincerely,
Joe Klein

20070904

Merde de Poulet

"I yam what I yam ..."

-- Popeye

Here is what the bloggers are saying about Joe Klein.

Badger Blogger writes ...

"By checking his Bio page, we can see that he is yet another East Side tree hugging liberal (oh, they prefer to be called “progressive” now) that wants to make Milwaukee taxpayers pay for a light rail choo-choo that no one will ride… except maybe himself, since he claims to have taken the city bus downtown to register as a candidate."

Another cogent and elegantly phrased argument against the child's word for steam engine.

Here is a news release about the light rail in Saint Louis that, it was said, nobody would ride.

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
-- Abraham Lincoln

Wigderson Library & Pub writes ...

"I'm not sure what qualifications someone with the occupation of "geek" brings to the position of County Executive."

Perhaps you missed the impact that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (both geeks and college dropouts) have had on the American economy.

You need only look at the deteriorated state of the Milwaukee County Parks, the cuts to the Milwaukee County Transit System, the empty land on the Milwaukee County portion of the Park East development, the Milwaukee County parking annex fiasco, the lack of oversight on pensions ... Scott Walker's qualifications speak for themselves. The public will only take being fed the foul excrement of blaming prior administrations for so long.

Scott Walker is a tax-cutting anarchist who threatens to irreparably damage public institutions held by him in the public trust. He has failed in his fiduciary responsibility to preserve the institution once held by the City of Milwaukee, (the Public Zoo, the Public Museum, the Public Parks) and turned over to Milwaukee County for the mutual benefit of all the people.

Where is the leadership and action? We have been the recipients of nearly six years of spin.

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
-- Abraham Lincoln

Unlike the Merde de Poulet politicians, talk show entertainers, and bloggers who fear dialog, I say bring it on.

So, how about your opinions on the issues?

20070824

Open Software, Open Minds, Open thinking.

One of the big problems at Milwaukee County is the lack of creativity by both Scott Walker appointees and the existing bureaucracy. They tend to look for commercial solutions from a semi-closed circle of vendors and consultants. They don't want to take a risk on some of the technologies like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) that can save Milwaukee County money and thus allow for the preservation of services.

Many VoIP carriers provide flat rate lines with unlimited calling in the US and Canada.

Significant savings can be incurred using VoIP based PBXs especially if implemented using Open Source based systems such as Asterix.

If Federal, State, County, Cites and Villages interconnect over their own fiber networks, the cost of inter agency calling can be reduced to nearly zero.

We need to get our heads out of the sand and stop government reliance on on gold plated IT solutions. A mentality that worships big consultants and big business solutions seems to reign supreme in Wisconsin. We need to foster a spunky, roll-your own, self dependency. Open Source Software (OSS) can provide low cost solutions to many of governments IT problems. To be effective, it takes disciplined software development and a cooperative approach with other other Villages, Cities, Counties, States and Countries involved in OSS development.

Google (A Linux shop) and Yahoo (A FreeBSD Shop) are companies that have made themselves using OSS to craft customer solutions. With the right minds at the helm, OSS solutions can architected to be scalable and reliable.

We need to put money into employee development rather than the pockets of large consultant firms like Accenture. We need to cooperate with other developers using the Internet and work to collectively improve our OSS based software. Taking an open, cooperative yet self reliant approach, we can insure that government can best serve the people and be frugal at the same time.

20070821

Infrastructure Cooperatives as an alternative to "natural monopolies".

One of the revolutionary elements of the Internet is the ability of different network operators to interconnect and exchange data seamlessly. This was made possible by building a systems based on layers of open standards.

Much of the information exchanged between different Internet providers flows across exchange points. Typically, exchange points are operated by neutral third parties. Many exchange points are private entities, some are cooperatives. The exchange point operator is responsible for maintenance of the physical infrastructure. A typical exchange point is a large building filled with switches, routers, servers, wire, fiber, power systems and environmental systems.

TCP/IP based (the protocol suite behind the Internet) networks have a unique technological twist in that there exists a standardized protocol for defining the policy for exchange of data between different networks. This protocol is called Border Gateway Protocol, or BGP for short.

In effect, the exchange point is a market place where network providers can sell or trade data, people negotiate the trade or sale and the mutual regulation of that exchange is highly formalized in the form of the BGP protocol.

The concept of an exchange point can be taken beyond a single building. In places like the London Internet Exchange Ltd. (LINX) the infrastructure has been extended to a cluster of network connected buildings in the heart of London.

In Wellington, New Zealand, a city initiative extended the concept of the exchange to include a city wide network. Companies in buildings on the Wellington CityLink network have the option of selecting Internet services from multiple providers. This created an open market for Internet services on a city wide basis. This was made possible through the magic of open protocols used over a common neutral network infrastructure.

Currently it is possible to provide all the combined services traditionally provided by cable TV and telephone companies over Internet. Globally, both cable TV operators and telephone companies are upgrading portions of their networks to support and use Internet protocols.

Now, what if instead of granting cable and telephone companies local monopolies, we put in a common, shared, infrastructure cooperative? As in Wellington, the local municipality could provide initial capital and organization, but operating capital and the retirement of debt would come through membership fees paid to the cooperative. What if the cooperative was open to any operator capable of providing services within the confines of the open standards? It would be bizarre ... or rather a bazaar; an open market where the consumer can choose from competing companies.

This would provide a system where we would have true open markets and true competition as opposed to the Orwellian use of the term "competition" as coined by AT&T's lobbyists.

Unfortunately, we can't have municipalities organizing open telecommunications cooperatives in Wisconsin because of laws passed in Madison that where written by AT&T lobbyists.

In the 19th Century, Wisconsin was a political cesspool. Our state was every bit as corrupt as it is today. In the mid-1800s, a railroad baron by the name of Byron Kilbourn – who today has a major street in Milwaukee named after him – paid the governor at the time (Coles Bashford) $50,000 to sign legislation giving Kilbourn a land grant to build his Milwaukee and La Crosse railroad. Kilbourn paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to members of the Legislature to pass the legislation. That was an enormous amount of money at a time when most people were earning less than a dollar a day. Only one senator – “Honest” Amasa Cobb – turned down the bribe.


Look at the money being poured on our politicians at the state level by the telecommunications companies. They are the robber barons of our era.

Do we need to grant "natural" monopolies or has computer technology and standardization given us the ability to use standard platforms for the delivery of goods and services? If you want to get radical, think about applying the same principals as outlined above to the WISDOT owned railroads and to electric power lines.

20070820

Milwaukee rail transit debate: Fuzzy math and childish taunting

The local right wing blogger often refer to rail mass transit as "choo-choos." Being one who is a terrible speller (hence a frequenter of dictionaries) I note this definition of choo-choo from my on-line dictionary:

Choo-choo (noun) : a child's word for a railroad train or locomotive, esp. a steam engine.

So are the anti-rail bloggers children, or are they calling pro-rail advocates children?

I do not advocate using steam engines for mass transit. Let me state, for the record, that am for electric powered, rail based, mass transit. Below is my reasoning.

BTW - Lettered assumptions are listed at the end.

Electric powered, rail based transportation costs less to you, me, and society than cars and highways because:

Rail uses less land and less energy to transport more people. Less land is removed from the tax base by rail than highways. A double tracked right of way can move more commuters between two points than a four lane highway.

The people who use mass transit have more disposable income because cars are an expensive burden on each individual family income. The burden of the car on each individual income will increase over time because of assumption C and A.

Rail enforces vertical and linear development in place of sprawl, leading to preservation of green space and farmland. We should care because preservation of farmland and green space are in the best interest of our posterity. See B.

An electric powered train does not need to haul around its own power source and fuel, hence it is lighter than a car or bus. It is more efficient than even an electric powered bus because of the lower friction coefficient of steel on steel. See D and E.

Less power means less fuel, less pollution and less cost. See A.

A highway will last, at best, 50 years between major rebuilds. We spend 810 million rebuilding the Marquette Interchange today, we will spend about the same inflation adjusted amount in 50 years. Rail right-of-ways have a standard depreciation schedule of 100 years. So if we spend 810 million on a light rail system, it would be half the cost of the Marquette Interchange when amortized over its 100 year life.

Note that the original Marquette Interchange was completed in 1966.

Electric powered rail vehicles take less maintenance then diesel powered buses. They can transport more people per driver. They last longer. The amortized price per passenger seat is lower. The operational costs are lower because they require less operators per passenger seat. These are facts, check them out yourself.

See: Light Rail Now! MythBusters Weblog

Overall, housing and development tends be stimulated by rail based mass transit. Property values in and around mass transit, tend to increase, especially in middle class neighborhoods. These are facts, check them out yourself.

See: Housing Values Higher Near Most Buffalo Metro Rail Stations

The Milwaukee pubic is being presented a set of orchestrated lies about the cost and effectiveness of rail based mass transit. These lies come out of pseudo science studies produced predominately by organizations funded by right wing, pro-sprawl, pro-monopoly, pro-oil, foundations.

See: Randal O'Toole's "Thoreau Institute": Oil, Asphalt, and Pipeline Money Feed an Extremist Attack on Urban Planning and Public Transit

Google the next anti-rail "study" you see. Check if the author has ties back to any "libertarian" quasi-academic think-tanks which act as mouthpieces for their corporate and conservative funders.

"You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

See: The Cato Hypocrisy

Assumptions:

A. - The price of petroleum based products will go up faster than wages or inflation. Demand is increasing due to economic growth in both China and India while cheaply extracted reserves of oil are declining. The price will inevitably go up because demand is increasing and supply is diminishing.


B - As global population increases, farm land used for food production will become an increasingly important asset. In 2006 Wisconsin exported 259 million dollars worth of Cereals. Wisconsin has some of the most productive farmland on planet earth, much of which has been buried under urban sprawl.

C - There are no "magic" alternatives to gasoline. We can't depend on unproven technological solutions to power future cars. Every currently discussed alternative to gasoline is more expensive. Some may be cheaper given a continual rise in the price of petroleum (see A).

D. It takes more energy to move more weight or mass. See http://srikant.org/core/node4.html#SECTION00420000000000000000
E. Steel on steel has a lower friction than rubber on concrete. See: http://www.roymech.co.uk/Useful_Tables/Tribology/co_of_frict.htm

20070801

Back from OIF

Two years ago after Katrina I decided to rejoin the Wisconsin National Guard and get past my last two years of service to make 20 years. I will be 50 this year, and it seemed to me a now or never proposal at the time. I went down to the recruiter requesting to help out on Katrina. As it turned out, by the time the paperwork was completed, Governor Doyle had withdrawn Wisconsin National Guard members from participation in the cleanup.

In '06 I was attached to the 1-121 FA out of the Richard Street Armory for activation in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. So I spent time in Camp Shelby, then Kuwait and Iraq. In all I spent about 35 days in Iraq and about a year overseas. I was never was exposed to direct hostilities. I am just another guy who did his time over there. Hence the silent blog.

Now I am back.