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Ripped From the Headlines - Gingrich To Be 'Called Home'


Censorship Is Bad For Business

It was perhaps this week's biggest "DUH!" moment. Verizon reverses itself not 24 hours after it banned NARAL Pro-choice America's text messages from its mobile network. And "Why?" you might ask, did Verizon decide to appoint itself the guardian of its subscriber's mores? Well nobody's really sure, but the Telco did mouth something silly about not accepting content that, "...may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of our users."

Damn! "...controversial or unsavory to any of our users."? Are you people serious? Well that settles it. I'm switching, and then I'm gonna tell Verizon that I find anything sent via text from the GOP, RNC, Rudy, Romney, Bush, and Cheney to be offensive. That should thoroughly torpedo 'Thuglican grass-roots efforts in the next election.

But wait... Just this afternoon Verizon wakes up and smells the moolah. Because, when you're a telco, you don't just say no to a customer that will net you 10 to 20 thousand dollars every time they use their message tree. No sir! You say, "Democrat messages, Republican messages, pro-choice, anti-choice, Elvis sightings, sightings of Paris Hilton's cootchie...BRING 'EM ON!"

So I suppose, to the extent there's something to worry about here, it's the idea that a Telco would assert their right to censor whatever goes through their lines. Imagine if they pulled these kind of shenanigans with your email.

I guess I'd be worried if it wasn't so bad for business.

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Time To Retire Feinstein

It would be hard to find a more worthless administration tool than Diane Feinstein. From gutting FISA to funding the war without restrictions, this so-called Democrat cries "how high?" anytime Bu$hCo says jump. She voted to extend the Patriot Act without the critical safeguards that real Democrats wanted. She voted for what amounts to a declaration of war on Iran. She was instrumental in sending a corporate shill to the Senate floor for a US 5th Circuit confirmation vote. She condemns the free speech rights of MoveOn.org and our troops to endless combat without relief.

Even a Republican apparatchik, appointed by the governator, would be better than a woman who at every turn demonstrates contempt for her constituents. At least then there would be no expectation of true representation.

So...Senator Feinstein...could you please just retire. You're an embarrassment--a liability for your state and your party.

Cabinet Department or Public Relations Firm?

In the hyper-politicized environment of the Bu$hCo executive, it seems as if the Department of Transportation is going to need a new mission statement. The old one:
Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.
...just doesn't cut it anymore. And no wonder... "You can't have those uppity Californians trying to clean up their own air, now can you? God forbid we allow them to save energy with their own mileage standards. Forget the fact that they already have tougher standards. The EPA screwed up when they gave California it's first exemption from the federal requirements. Another exemption? To raise the standard again? F*CK NO! But how to keep EPA from acting on the Supreme Court's instructions to consider the exemption?"

This is the dilemma for Bu$hCo, and their solution? Instruct the DoT to start an illegal lobbying campaign against California's request. Because, after all, the Supreme Court said 'consider the exemption' not 'grant the exemption'. So if you can get EPA to say "no", the whole mess goes back into the court system for another lengthy trial.

So now that DoT is acting like a public relations firm for Big Auto, perhaps they'd consider the following for their mission statement:
Serve the American auto industry by ensuring a profitable, regulation-free environment where the concerns of states and citizens are kept in check and a transportation system based on the automobile is the only choice for the American people, today and into the future.


The Era of the 'American Serf' Is At Hand

Many of you know about the Automated Targeting System (ATS), a federal database that has been used to screen passengers since the mid-1990s. And the fact that DHS has put this system into overdrive since 2002 has been discussed on this blog. What is only now starting to be revealed however, is how much information is being stored, how long DHS intends to keep the information around, and the very personal nature of the data.

Let's start with the basics: FOIA requests filed by John Gilmore, the technologist and privacy advocate, reveal that DHS is storing information on where you travel (even when that travel originates outside the US), by what means, with whom you stay, and what you take with you (a.k.a., the contents of your luggage). Now you may say, "So what's the problem? DHS needs this information to identify terrorists." Well...the problems are two-fold. First, the Privacy Act of 1974, forbids the government from collecting data on how you exercise your 1st Amendment rights. So recording the contents of your luggage and the names of the people with whom you stay, is illegal. Second, building a database of "known associates" may expose those people--your friends and family, for example--to government scrutiny without probable cause. Consequently, civil liberties advocates have asserted, and I agree, that this system is ripe for abuse.

But I will go one step further. I think that it is naive to assume that such a comprehensive database has any purpose other than to restrict the ability of US citizens to travel freely within their own country. In other words, this isn't merely a matter of presenting your "papers" on demand. We're about to enter a new era, one that should be disconcertingly familiar to any student of history.

In Imperial Russia the majority of the population was forbidden to travel without permission from their lord. In ATS, our political ruling class has a tool and a pretense for imposing such restrictions here. So...welcome to the era of American serfdom!


BlognonyBITS - Dan Rather, what are you thinking?

A $70M lawsuit? To rehabilitate your reputation?
The reputation that you yourself torpedoed?

Do you somehow think that a civil judgment
Will make people forget 20 years of boring?
That your hollow protestations will change
The fact that you were a corporate kiss-ass?

Is your sole desire for your waning years
To spend your time sitting in a sterile courtroom?

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A Moment of Silence

Marcel Marceau, 1923 - 2007

Perhaps the greatest mime the world has ever known, but also a scholar, teacher, movie star, and French resistance fighter. Say what you will about mime. Marceau's performances where magic.


Emigration *IS* An Option

If America continues on its current course, will you seriously consider emigration?

If yes, what event might cause you to emigrate?

Seem like Blognonymous' readers are more disillusioned than liberals as a whole. A whopping 69% will consider emigration under the right circumstances. Of course the 16 of you who voted for 'martial law' as the reason (and in retrospect I suppose I really shouldn't have put that in), might not get the chance. But I'm especially intrigued by the 5 of you who are already planning your escape.

Apparently, America is gonna get left for the fundies and the fanatics. Now...where did I put that passport?

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'Sex Sells Seats'

Before any more pundits breathlessly opine on whether or not Southwest has the right to kick mini-skirted passengers off their airplanes, maybe we should all remember the airline's hot-pants and go-go boots era. I know that I remember those days fondly. Of course, I was a horny kid.

BlognonyPOLL Redux

Please take a moment to participate in our BlognonyPOLL on emigration

I'll be posting the results this evening.


What price democracy?

Gonna be a busy day today, so let me begin with this:

Dr. Denny of Scholars & Rogues estimates that a serious presidential contender will have to raise a staggering $500M in the upcoming election. Now lopping off...say...40% for running the campaign, that leaves about $300,000,000 for advertising designed to secure about 60 million votes. And, when you consider that some votes are more important than others--Ohio, for example, matters way more than California--then we're talking about maybe 1/5 of those 60M. So, doing all the division, we find that 'the votes that matter' are worth about $25 a piece.

For a while there, I entertained thoughts of moving to a solidly red or battleground state, thinking that my teensy blue vote might do more good there than it does here in San Francisco, the world's largest political echo chamber. But now that I know my vote isn't even worth the price of a decent bottle of vodka, I think I'll stay put.

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Tuesday Technology Tidbits - Music Industry or Balkans?

Apple Says: "It's a feature, not a bug!"
Buried in the latest Apple iTunes update is a little "feature" that not only prevents your iPod from working with anything but iTunes, but that also links your music database to a single device. Got music of your own that's managed by another program? "Tough!" says Apple.

Universal Says: "We didn't really like selling music anyway."
And not to be outdone, Universal Music Group escalated their war with Apple by signing a deal to offer music on Spiralfrog's ad supported service. The catch is that the MP3s can't be burned to CD (yeah, like that will last), and they won't play on the iPod. Oh well, so much for Universal's sales.


Larry Craig Prepares for the Future

Larry Craig welcomes visitors to the Twin Cities' newest attraction.


The BlognonyPOLL - Emigration

On the anniversary 9/11, I was surprised by the number of readers who expressed serious thoughts of emigration. So now I'd like to formalize the question with a pair of polls:

If America continues on its current course, will you seriously consider emigration?
pollcode.com free polls
If yes, what event might cause you to emigrate?
A Republican president in 2008
A Democrat in 2008 that refuses to end the Iraq War
War with Iran
Formal suspension of habeas corpus
A declaration of martial law
Already making plans
pollcode.com free polls


A Metaphor For America's War On The Have-nots

This is Our Lady of the Angels, a magnificent $180M cathedral erected by the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Opened in 2002, it is an opulent testament to the wealth of the church.
These are the Sisters of Bethany who live and work with the poor in East Santa Barbara. In December, these elderly nuns will be evicted from their convent home of 40 years so that the Archdiocese can sell it to pay for 1/10 of 1% of a record $660M settlement of hundreds of clergy abuse cases.

Everything that is wrong with this nation is aptly demonstrated by this sad story.


The GOP's 'Small Price'

John Boehner (R OH) did us a great service on Wednesday's edition CNN's Situation Room by waxing nonsensical on what the Iraq War means. With a single quote he demonstrated everything that is wrong with the GOP's addled thinking on the issue:
I think General Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. We’re making success. We need to firm up those successes. We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East, it’s not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.
So let's break it down.

First: Patraeus lied in his testimony. Everybody knows it, and yet the GOP continues to support a rosy picture of Iraq created from whole cloth by Bu$hCo apparatchiks.

Second: The 'investment we're making today' is money being thrown down the toilet with no measurable progress in stemming terrorism. It is not 'small'. It is borrowed straight from foreign creditors, and it will be paid off by our children, our grand-children, their children, and by generations to come.

Third: The Middle East today is demonstratively less stable, and the political situation degrades by the week...by the day...by the hour. In fact, every minute that the Bush Administration continues to meddle in the Middle East makes the United States less safe.

Fourth: As pointed out at The Horse's Mouth, the so-called sacrifices fall, without exception, elsewhere than on our leaders and especially not on a GOP leadership made up of witless chickenhawks who, in their utter hypocrisy, describe those sacrifices as their own.

So thanks Rep. Boehner. You're a credit to your party.

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Start a war, win an election?

Does the Bush Administration intend to time the start of a war with Iran in order provide political advantage to the Republican presidential nominee? An article published yesterday by Faux News makes it look that way.

Ostensibly, this article is about the German government's recent announcement that they would support no further sanctions against Iran and about how that decision is forcing administration officials to start the planning for an air campaign against Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities. But buried in the story's eighth paragraph is a quote from an anonymous, but "well-placed Bush administration source", stating that the time frame for an attack is 8 to 10 months from now..."after the presidential primaries have probably been decided, but well before the November 2008 elections."

Now imagine how that will affect the presidential race. Though the conventions haven't taken place, our super-duper early primaries have already selected the presumptive nominees. A second war will put an enormous amount of pressure on the Democratic nominee to definitively state her/his support or opposition. If the Democrat supports an Iranian War, the Democratic base falls apart. Anti-war liberals start making plans to emigrate and moderates, unwilling to support the party but with no viable alternative candidate, refuse to vote. If the Democratic nominee opposes the war, Republicans use it as a rallying cry. The right-wing noise machine goes into overdrive, tarring the Democrats as 'America haters', and the Republican base goes to the polls in droves.

Either way, it's a win for GOP, and so if the question is: Would Bu$hCo time a war to provide Republicans with political advantage in 2008? The answer seems to be an unequivocal, yes!


Tuesday Technology Tidbits (A Little Late)

See, this is what happens when you get all morose about 9/11 and start obsessing about our f*ckwad of a president...you forget what Tuesday is really about: Technology Tidbits!

Want a really green car? Well you can't have one!
They're called PZEV, partial zero emission vehicles, and in some cases outdo even conventional hybrids for their cleanliness at the tailpipe. The catch? Unless you live in California, New York, or one of six other northeastern states not only are they not available, it's illegal to sell them. Yes indeed, and if the Feds catch you trying to buy one, the fine can be as high as $27,500.

You scratch my back...
Telcos and ISPs voluntarily cooperate with the Feds on illegal surveillance of Americans.
...and I'll scratch yours:
DoJ sides with the Telcos on 'Net Neutrality' and starts muscling other federal departments on the issue.

And just in case your employer wants to 'chip' you...
Point them at this article that says that those embedded RFID transmitters are causing cancer in laboratory animals.


What is there left to say?

Last year on this date, I participated in 2996, the project to remember each of the victims of the September 11th attacks, and I had hoped to find the inspiration to write something positive on 9/11's sixth anniversary. But frankly...I've got nothing. And I'd really like to say that nothing is what's happened in the United States since 9/11/2001, but just ain't the truth.

The plain fact is that everything that has happened--from the Patriot Act to politicizing the government, from illegal surveillance to indefensible acts of torture, Gonzales to Guantanamo, Rumsfeld to rendition, Iraq to Iran--every act is calculated to further the process of twisting America into a fascist hegemony. And do I blame Republicans...solely, for this cancer? I do not! Democrats are equally to blame for seeing the cancer and refusing to cut it out! You are equally to blame. I am equally to blame, and if there was anything left to say, I'd say it.

America is dying, and late at night I find myself surfing sites that discuss the process of emigration.

Game over.


California GOP Prefers a Texan Wingnut To Schwarzenegger

OK, setting aside the seemingly extreme views the actor-wannabe-president (Fred Thompson), one has to wonder if the GOP really ready to jump off a cliff in 2008? You'd think that with Bush's approval ratings in the terrible twenties, the field of contenders would play to the center in an attempt to woo moderates. In fact, in a speech to the California State GOP Convention, this was exactly the advice that Governor Schwarzenegger had for his party. He encouraged his fellow Republicans to tackle issues California's voters care about like health-care and global-warming, but the address got a decidedly chilly reception.

You know who California's Republicans do like? Bush's successor in Texas, the wingnut Rick Perry. He brought the convention to its feet with an address that derided moderation and attacked California's "bankrupt, liberal political philosophy".

Now it could be that Governor Perry has forgotten that Republicans haven't won California in a Presidential election since 1988, but I doubt it. Attempting to appeal to independents doesn't appear to be in his playbook--nor the GOP's for that matter, and no wonder. Perry comes from a state where gerrymandering has delivered a comfortable conservative majority. Here in California though, you don't get elected without at least paying lip service to social issues. Schwarzenegger knows this and knows that it will matter in 2008, even is his party doesn't.

Guess the GOP really is going to need to steal California's electors in order to get their man into the White House in 2008.

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Two Sad Bits on a Sunday Night: Thompson's True Colors

And he didn't even wait 24 god-damned hours after announcing his campaign:
If you're politically committed against this war and to do something to further harm the president, the way the Democrats seem to be in Congress, then anything [in the Petraeus Report] that's a mixed message is going to be seized upon in a negative way. ...If we look weak and divided in this country, we're going to pay a heavy price for it in the future...
Get that? Dissent, opposing the President, weakens America. And...since candidates never reveal any truth that might harm their campaign, you can bet that Thompson's closely held beliefs pale in comparison to what he was willing to say on Hannity & Colmes--A neocon wet-dream.

Two Sad Bits on a Sunday Night: Steve Fossett Missing

Steve Fossett--the millionaire adventurer, a man addicted to attempting the seemingly impossible, the imperturbable record breaker--has been missing since Labor Day when he took off in a single-engine plane from a remote Nevada airstrip Southeast of Reno, NV.

I recall vividly his successful 5th attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon.



"When you think housing, think Chrysler!"

Detroit (f-A-ke. P.) -

Chrysler Chief Sees Link of Housing to Car Sales

Chrysler's new chief, Robert L. Nardelli is concerned that problems in the housing market and the broader economy are hurting car and truck sales. So today he announced an new initiative designed to stimulate flagging sales:

Today Chrysler is launching the 'Live In Your Car America!' campaign.

Wouldn't you like to have a beautiful new Chrysler 300 rather than a squalid closet in Hell's Kitchen? We're just saying to Americans, don't worry about those foreclosure notices. Don't worry about skyrocketing prices or plunging values. Sell your house and buy a Durango. We'll even throw in a free mattress and a shaver attachment. Your kids will love with our built-in entertainment systems. The only thing we can't provide is a toilet, but hey...that's what truck stops are for, right?

It comes down to this: When you think housing, we want you to think 'Chrysler'! Because, let's face it, a 30 years fixed-rate on a Town & Country is gonna give you a very affordable payment.


Idaho Conservative Group 'Jumps Shark' To Support Craig

Not content to simply accept the mind-boggling stupidity of Senator Larry Craig's actions, the conservative Idaho American Land Rights Association decided today to 'Jump the Shark' in support their favorite stall-crawler:
In a lengthy e-mail to supporters ALRA head Chuck Cushman accused police of "ambushing" Craig, and said the airport has "effectively declared war on the West."

"Frankly, I've been in that Minnesota airport many times. Virtually everything Senator Craig did, I have done. I have a medical problem that means I must find a usable stall quickly... I've actually made noise outside a stall to encourage the person inside to move along as fast as possible."
One wonders if Mr. Cushman realizes that he basically characterized himself as a Turd Burglar? Well, no matter... Responding on behalf of the great State of Minnesota, Blognonymous' very own Frogette says:
Well ya know... We just don't go in for that type of behavior around here. What Mr. Cushman does in airport bathrooms in his own state, is his business, but we're just protecting our families. And, ya know, threatening our airport there, well that's just not nice. I don't think Mr. Cushman would like it very much if Minnesotans stopped buying their potatoes, don'cha know.
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Kvatch Konsiders: The Day After We Bomb Iran

It comes as no surprise that where Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were concerned, The Decider didn't--in the words of a former CIA agent quoted at Salon--"...give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up." Which makes the rumors a "3 day bombing campaign" against Iranian nuclear enrichment and military facilities seem all the more likely. But here's the thing that keeps me up nights...

During the Cold War, especially in the 70s and early 80s, NATO military doctrine in Europe was rumored to include a plan for defeating Warsaw Pact ground forces in the event of an attack. The idea was to have NATO troops give ground and then to nuke advancing enemy forces, the only way, it was thought, to stop a force far superior in numbers.

So what happens on day four of the 'Iran Campaign' if they throw all 900,000 of their men under arms at the Iran/Iraq border, presumably in the South where the way would be paved with help from the Shiite militias?

The British are leaving Iraq, withdrawing from their base in Basra just last weekend. Do they know something's up?

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I Hate To Say iTold You So, But...

So how many iPhones did Apple sell? Who knows, but apparently not enough to keep Steve Jobs from kicking the early adopters in the teeth. I mean...how hard must it suck to not only own a crippled device but to hear that Apple dropped the price by $200 just 60 days after the initial release?

Oh well--the frog says, overwhelmed with schadenfreude--I'm just going to pop over to the Apple store and drool over the device that they should have released in the first place. Two months ago, when I pronounced the iPhone "doomed", I talked about what I really wanted: An OS X enabled iPod with the nifty touch screen and WiFi, a "...perfect synthesis of...my digital assistant and my digital music player". And guess what? Apple announced my dream gadget yesterday, iPod Touch.

Eat your hearts out iPhone weenies!

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The United States, World's First Corporate Kleptocracy

When Ronald Reagan said, "...government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Many people thought it would usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility, but to the contrary, taxes decreased, government spending increased, and the national debt went through the roof. In fact, it took 6 of 8 years of the Clinton administration to turn those deficits into surpluses, and then only by virtue of the fact that the economy boomed in the 90s. But now, with the Bush oligarchy coming to an end, we see what really became of the Reagan's legacy. The GOP has turned our nation into the world's first fully functional 'Corporate Kleptocracy', a government/corporate partnership whose goal is acquire as much of the nation's wealth as possible.

In a traditional kleptocracy, the government directly extends the power and wealth of the ruling class through taxes and the looting of wealth in natural resources. The United States is no longer rich in resources but is rich in the productivity of its workers. Our country is also rich in geo-political influence and military might. And so we find the Bush Administration, at almost every turn, advancing policies that indirectly transfer wealth to the powerful by:

1) Removing regulations on, curtailing oversight of, or blocking corrective action against predatory industries. Example: Enron and the gaming of California's electrical markets with FERC blocking corrective action after the fact.

2) Creating geo-political instability designed to enhance the profits of particular industries. Example: The Iraq War with it's direct and indirect benefits for the defense and petroleum industries.

3) Actively supporting inefficient, but highly profitable, corporate service delivery systems instead of more efficient government systems. Examples: Private insurer health care and mandatory non-governmental retirement financing

4) Supporting predatory laws that amount to non-tax "taxes" that favor corporations over individuals. Examples: Bankruptcy reform, medical savings accounts, privatized social-security

5) Massive politicization of the regulatory (EPA, OSHA), investigative (DoJ, FBI, BATF, Customs), military, and judicial functions of government, thereby ensuring compliance that supports the other four areas.

Sort of makes you feel like Neo in The Matrix, doesn't it? Not a battery...a wealth creation machine for corporations. The proof in the stats. Real income for the majority of Americans has not increased in 7 years while corporate profits have ballooned and are, for certain industries, at historic highs. Productivity continues to climb while wages fall, even during a period of low inflation.

One wonders how long such a system can last since most kleptocracies fail, bloodily, when there is no more wealth to loot. The powerful leave, and poor fight each other for what's left.

More in the 'Blogs Against Kleptocracy' series.


Tuesday Technology Tidbits - "At the sound of the tone..."

Yes you heard right my friends. The end is nigh as AT&T discontinues their venerable "time-of-day" telephone service. I wonder if you can still hear WWVB's time broadcast over the phone?

"At the tone, 6 hours 42 minutes 15 seconds, Universal Coordinated Time... [BEEEEPPPPP!]"

Google Uber Alles
It's not like you need to be told that, when you surf Google, they track everything you do from your results to your clicks. But did you know that when you use Google apps pretty much everything that's stored in their servers belongs to them? Got a mess-o-data in Google Spreadsheets? Well...they own it! Here's the language from their user agreement:
...you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services...
How you like them apples? Can anyone say, "blackmail"?

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Skillserv - Or 'How Kvatch Spent His Labor Day'

OK, I have an admission: Early in the summer I took a little break from blogging. Although I was pretty burned out at the time, there was an ulterior motive. I needed to devote some time to a little side project I'd been trying to finish.

Well here it is September, and ironically I completed the last few items on Labor Day and put the site up live on the Internet yesterday afternoon. "Why ironic?" you might ask. Mostly because this little project is designed to help consultants and contractors accurately estimate rates for their billable hours.

You see, when I left my corporate job back in May of 2006, I found that the world of technology contracting had changed...a lot. Though there is plenty of work around, it's now almost impossible to get to the hiring managers because thousands of staffing agencies guard the doors, 'body-shops' whose sole purpose seems to be offering up semi-qualified candidates at cut-rate prices. They pay their 'code-monkeys' a pittance and skim 25% to 40% of the billable rate off the top for doing...essentially...nothing. Qualified, experienced engineers don't stand a chance because our rates are too high. We happen to know what we're worth.

But what if these kids also knew what they were worth? What if they knew that when they work sans benefits, their effective salary is considerably less than what they'd make going corporate? This is where Skillserv comes in--a subversive little application originally designed to help me estimate my own rates while taking into account the complexities of taxes, billing status, and benefits. My goal is to help the kids, and just about anybody else who works independently, figure out what they're worth, how much benefits cost, and how their tax status affects their earning potential.

Worth 'wasting' my holiday for? I hope so, and I would encourage you to take a look if you think it might be valuable. If not, please forgive the indulgence of my using my blog to flog a pet project.


Labor Day Is For Un-American Pussies

From the President's Labor Day Weekend radio address:

My fellow Americans, we have the most productive workers in the world. They're a big part to what makes this country great, and so I'm declaring an end to the anti-American practice of celebrating Labor Day.

We all know that terrorists want to harm our great nation, and one way they do this is by encouraging our workers to rest when they should be out there kickin' Chinese butt, but I want you to know that the terrorists never rest. So like me, if you need a month--I mean a day off on Labor Day, do the "American" thing and take a day of vacation.

Thank you and God bless the United States of America.


San Francisco's Municipal WiFi Is Dead - Long Live Muni WiFi

Gavin Newsom and Earthlink really screwed the pooch on their plan to provide free municipal WiFi in San Francisco. The cost estimates were unrealistic--Earthlink didn't even come close--and would have provided service levels akin to...well...dialup. Whee! Moreover, most buildings wouldn't have been covered above third floor, and Earthlink's partner Google would have gotten the rights to scrape all the data on the network for their own purposes. Consequently, the plan nobody but the mayor wanted, had to be negotiated in secret then rammed through the City Council.

But now that it's dead, let's step back and consider how you provide municipal WiFi. I contend that it's easy. In fact, all the infrastructure is already in place.

Where I live, I'm saturated by over 20 802.11 networks, and a bunch of them are "open" networks run at local coffee shops. So here's the thing: If San Francisco wants city-wide WiFi, all they have to do is put in place a program that subsidizes the existing networks for providing free access. Do you live in a known "dead zone"? Make your network available, and ask the city for reimbursement. The city, for it's part, just has to allocate the money and put in place some reasonable requirements for use and availability. I'm willing to bet the subsidizing existing operators would be many times cheaper than what Earthlink proposed and wouldn't allow Google to run a demographic analysis on all our city's residents.

So...are you listening Mayor Newsom? Or have you already lost interest?

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Around here, when you say 'coffee', you mean 'Peet's'.

Oddly, I made it all the way through college without ever touching coffee, but at my first job I quickly discovered that, in order to get through those interminable afternoon meetings, one needed a pick-me-up. And thus I made the acquaintance of that nasty black-sludge that used to masquerade as coffee in offices across America. Fortunately the 'real' coffee revolution was only a few years off, and soon one could obtain decent coffee just about anywhere you turned.

But here in San Francisco, when you say Coffee, what you really mean is Peet's Coffee. Oh sure, there have been others. Spinelli's (acquired by Tully's and rebranded); Tully's (eventually shut down most of their Bay Area stores); Pasqua's (acquired by Starbucks...and then shut down). But through it all, there has always been Peet's. Who do you think taught Starbucks' founders how to roast coffee? Alfred Peet.

Alfred Peet passed away Wednesday at his home in Ashland, Oregon. He was 87.

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