I'm a blog-of-the-year finalist

<![CDATA[The Story of Feedster: Feed Of The Year Finalist #11: RatcliffeBlog:
Thanks! Surprising and nice to see.

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Destroying the U.S. telecommunications industry, one fearful misstep at a time

<![CDATA[NYT: NSA eavesdropping wider than W.House admitted – Yahoo! News:

Several officials said senior government officials went to the nation’s big telecommunications companies to get access to switches that act as gateways between U.S. and international communications.

Many calls going from one foreign country to another are routed through U.S. switches and a communications expert who once worked at the NSA said in recent years government officials have been encouraging the telecommunications industry to bring more international traffic through U.S.-based switches.

Throughout the 90s, the U.S. government sought this kind of access through legislation. The industry fought it, because it is very bad business to spy on one’s customers. Regardless of what you think about this activity, the last sentence there is going to destroy U.S. carriers in the international calling market. Anyone concerned about U.S. monitoring of their calls—such as businesses that are concerned about economic espionage—is going to opt for a carrier that will not put their traffic onto the U.S. backbone.
Having a wonderful time in Germany; you can read my email at the NSA!

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Brilliant Human Achievement

Greenhouse spin: In fact, the air you breathe is less free and less clean

<![CDATA[There's really no good news in this report about 2004 U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, but the Bush agenda is spun in nonetheless, trying to make a stink into perfume…..

DECEMBER 16, 2005

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Grow but Intensity Falls in 2004

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.0 percent in 2004,

from 6,983.2 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e)

in 2003 to 7,122.1 MMTCO2e in 2004, according to “Emissions of

Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2004″, a report released today

by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). U.S. greenhouse gas

emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell from 677

metric tons per million 2000 constant dollars of GDP (MTCO2e/$Million

GDP) in 2003 to 662 MTCO2e /$Million GDP in 2004, a decline of 2.1


But, wait, if you read all the way down the report summary, you’ll find that the annual increase in greenhouse gas emissions during the 1990s was just north of half the 2004 increase, and yet the economy was growing faster for most of the 1990s. Likewise, you’ll find that the Bush approach to the environment has reduced the amount of carbon dioxide “sequestered” in forests for the first time in a decade (that is, there were not enough trees to process that carbon dioxide into oxygen compared to during the 1990s).

The 2004 increase is well below the rate of economic growth of 4.2

percent but above the average annual growth rate of 1.1 percent in

greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. Emissions of carbon dioxide

and methane increased by 1.7 and 0.9 percent respectively, while

emissions of nitrous oxide and engineered gases rose by 5.5 and 9.6

percent respectively.

+ Emissions of carbon dioxide from energy consumption and industrial

processes grew by 1.7 percent from 5,871.8 million metric tons in

2003 to 5,973.0 million metric tons in 2004. Since 1990, carbon

dioxide emissions have risen by about 19 percent.

More than a 10th of the increase over 15 years happened last year.

+ Methane emissions rose by 0.9 percent from 633.9 MMTCO2e to 639.5

MMTCO2e. The increase is attributable mainly to greater methane

emissions from landfills, while smaller increases from animal

waste, rice cultivation, and coal mining also contributed to the

total growth. Since 1990, methane emissions have declined by more

than 11 percent.

After falling over a decade, methane emissions are increasing.

+ Nitrous oxide emissions increased from 335.2 MMTCO2e in 2003 to

353.7 MMTCO2e in 2004 (5.5 percent) mainly because of increases

in emissions from agricultural sources, which rose by 17.4 MMTCO2e,

comprising 94 percent of the total increase. Nitrous oxide

emissions are above 1990 levels for the first time since 2001.

+ Emissions from three classes of engineered gases –

hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur

hexafluoride (SF6) – increased by 9.6 percent from 142.4 MMTCO2e

in 2003 to 155.9 MMTCO2e in 2004. As a group, these gases have

grown by 77 percent since 1990, but from very small initial levels.

Again, more than 10 percent of the increase since 1990 happened last year.

+ In 1990, land use change and forestry practices sequestered enough

carbon dioxide to offset 16.9 percent of U.S. anthropogenic

greenhouse gas emissions. In 2003 (the last year of available data)

that offset declined to 11.9 percent.

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Under President Bush, there aren’t as many forests to consume the C-O2 we produce. When you hear about drilling for oil in ANWAR, think about the fact that the forest is one of our last remaining natural C-O2 sinks.

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Social & Political

Bush blaming the messenger, avoiding the blame

<![CDATA[ – Bush says he signed NSA wiretap order – Dec 17, 2005:

Bush says he signed NSA wiretap order

Adds he OK’d program more than 30 times, will continue to do so

In acknowledging the message was true, President Bush took aim at the messenger Saturday, saying that a newspaper jeopardized national security by revealing that he authorized wiretaps on U.S. citizens after September 11.

“Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk.”

Look at that. It’s disgusting.

The President broke the law, based on repeated rulings of the courts for decades that prohibit surveillance of U.S. citizens within the United States without court orders. Now, he’s trying to blame the messenger who revealed his continued flaunting of civil rights. Just more of the same hypocrisy, the same fear-mongering, the same wiping of his nose on the Constitution.

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Everything Else

Nicely turned view of Pete Rose

<![CDATA[The Hit King Sits On The Strip: I think this is good writing….

I stroll past thirty yards of items I can’t afford and don’t want. Then I see him.

It’s Pete Rose, signing autographs for money in front of a memorabilia shop.

Rose, resplendent in a University of Miami sweatsuit and ballcap, doesn’t seem to be doing much. He checks his watch, makes some small talk with the security guards, then sneaks another peek down at his wrist. There are three teenage girls wearing Reds jerseys that have been paid to wave advertising placards. They appear to be the closest he’s going to come to an adoring public.

In person, Pete Rose looks much like he does on television — you get the feeling that he’s waiting for someone to challenge him. He seems defiant and yet slightly bewildered, like a bull that doesn’t yet realize it has been castrated. In a way, Pete’s the perfect man for Vegas, and not just because of the obvious. In a town built for oddness and isolation, he appears one of the oddest and most isolated men around.

Just wanted to say that this is well written, one of the best pieces of writing I’ve run across in blogs for a while.

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Business & Technology Media Comment & Crimes

BBC doesn't open its archives to the world

<![CDATA[BBC opens up its news archive:

Wow. Wow wow wow. Will we all remember where we were when the BBC opened up its news archive for downloaders? This is incredibly exciting. Haven’t played with it much yet, but just wanted to say that.

This is really cool, but there’s a catch, something people fail to note about Auntie Beeb’s open efforts: This is for British users, not everyone.
The BBC’s funding, which comes from taxes paid on television and radio receivers purchased in Britainthose living in the UK who intend to watch television are expected to buy a TV license annually per household, is for development of programming that serves the British public. Outside of the U.K., the BBC intends to make money and control the distribution of content, because the rest of the world is not paying for the content and the BBC (and the British government) aren’t interested in subsidizing the global open media movement. Funding for BBC World Service comes in part from the UK Foreign Office.
The British may be well advised to subsidize global open media, but they aren’t interested in it. Not even the radical open media people in the BBC have enough clout to make this a freely accessible global service.
See for yourself, by clicking a media link. You get this message:

Sorry, you’ve been declined because our system shows that you are outside the UK.

Yes, I’m outside the UK

The BBC has decided to limit access to its archives in this pilot to UK residents to ensure best value for the UK licence fee. Users outside of the UK are not able to access clips and programmes that form part of this pilot. Regrettably we are therefore unable to offer you content and would like to apologise for any disappointment. Please spare five minutes to give us your feedback.

More about the Creative Archive Licence

I live outside the UK and I’m happy to pay for programmes and clips

The BBC content released for this pilot is not available for sale. Click here for material for sale.

It’s not that I want to rain on this parade, but I don’t think this is a world-changing moment. It’s certainly not
Howard big, and I am not sure that’s going to turn out so big, either.

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Everything Else

Movin' on up…

<![CDATA[I'm heading out of the country (hello Leipzig and Frankfurt) for the rest of the year and will be blogging lightly until the New Year, when a big change will come upon this blog.
ZD Net’s Dan Farber has invited me to join the blogger corps over there. I’m very honored and look forward to working with Dan and the ZD gang, again. Beginning on January 3rd, I’ll be posting technology, media and business at a new blog over at ZDNet.
I’ll post short excerpts of ZD Net postings here and in the RatcliffeBlog RSS feed, so you can keep track of my tech stuff, and doing more with political and social postings here.
This creates two opportunities: First, Dan knows how to turn writing into revenue, and I can certainly benefit from being in his camp; Second, it lets me turn to more political posting on this blog, which I have been expecting to grow with the mid-term elections and 2008 just over the horizon. If you want just the tech stuff, the ZD blog will be for you. Should the rabidly acid postings against the abuse of the Constitution jangle your spurs, you’ll want to keep your RSS aimed squarely at RatcliffeBlog.
The first thing I’ll be doing at ZD Net is my predictions for the coming year. My last postings of 2004 at Red Herring looked into 2005, and I didn’t do too badly:

2005 in retrospect: Microsoft’s very bad year

2005 in retrospect: Apple’s 1 percent solution

2005 in retrospect: What we’ll be talking about next year

2005: The year media will turn inside out

So, merry holidays, everyone, regardless of your creed or lack thereof. See you sporadically from Europe.

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Media Comment & Crimes Social & Political

First they said we were conducting a war on Christmas, then they came for my neighbors….

<![CDATA[Talking Points: The So-Called War on Christmas – New York Times:

Charges that Jews are behind the “War on Christmas” are beginning to be made directly. The president of Liberty Counsel, a conservative religious group, stated on Fox last year that a Florida mayor was conducting a vendetta against a nativity scene at least partly because he “apparently is Jewish.” When a Jewish caller to Mr. O’Reilly’s radio show objected to Christmas in the schools, and said that he “grew up with a resentment because I felt that people were trying to convert me to Christianity,” Mr. O’Reilly responded. “If you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel.”

The tenor and topic of the national discussion is becoming markedly more dangerous as the Bushies and neocons and fundamentalists falter in their pursuit of total power. This kind of nascent anti-Semitism can and must be squashed. President Bush should condemn these people for turning Christmas into an opportunity to toss anti-Jewish language. It’s garbage and has no place in this country.
Sure, Bill O’Reilly and his ilk can say these things and is free to, but let’s call bullshit on this racist crap. The rest of us, patriots to the American principles of tolerance that make this country great, need to express constantly and loudly our disapproval. O’Reilly should lose his Fox show and try to find work with the nearest neo-Nazi radio network; unless he already works at one, that is. It’s up to Fox to draw a line against racism, too.
UPDATE: – Bush Stems Erosion in Support, Though Americans Remain Unhappy, buried in this report about President Bush’s still dismal public approval ratings (he’s doing great on public disapproval, scoring 55 percent disenchantment), is this:

One other encouraging note for conservatives: by 42%-25%, Americans say store clerks should greet shoppers with “Merry Christmas” rather than “happy holidays.” Some on the political right have criticized the trend toward “happy holidays” at some retailers as a diminution of Christian celebration of the season.

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Business & Technology Media Comment & Crimes Social & Political

Froomkin Blow-up was political, not citizen journo-vs-mainstream journo

<![CDATA[This transcript of a call between Brad DeLong and Josh Harris of the Washington Post, about the role of Republican National Committee eCampaign Director Patrick Ruffini in the attack on blogger Dan Froomkin shows that the kerfuffle isn’t a battle of new and old media, but a neocon attack capitalizing on the controversy over WaPo’s Bob Woodward. Now the Post is ready to fall on its sword, so the neocons struck hard at critics and the Post wasn’t straight about it when interviewed by Jay Rosen.

Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal:

Q: So you knew [Ruffini] had been a Republican operative in 2004, and didn’t tell that to Jay Rosen?

A: [Ramble of which I caught only scattered phrases] But assuming you aren’t posting this at least immediately… A good relationship between the print Washington Post and WPNI… Happy to answer privately… Really don’t want to be quoted on the record… If you want to call me an idiot without my response, that’s fine…

A: No I want your response.

A; [stream continues] But I shouldn’t respond… I’ve promised people I won’t respond… We need to cool this down… It’s a really a very narrow issue: are there people confused about Froomkin’s role…

Talk about your botched job…. The Post is doing nothing good for journalism by refusing to address this in an honest and open way.
UPDATE: Daily Kos calls for resignations.

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Business & Technology

Halley's question


Is it me, or are they all getting to feel exactly the same? Same players, same venues, same ideas.

This is why I stopped going to almost all conferences. I learn more from being home, at work, with people—online and off—who are not adopting the persona they use at conferences.

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