I have seen the battleground, and it is Saving the Net

Stop what you are doing, right now, and go read Doc Searls’ latest for Linux Journal: Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes.

Key quote:

Of course, at its base level the Net is a system of pipes and packets. But it’s not only packets, or “content” or anything for that matter). Understanding the Net only in transport terms is like understanding civilization in terms of electrical service or human beings only in terms of atoms and molecules. We miss the larger context.

That context is best understood as a place. When we speak of the Net as a “place” or a “space” or a“world” or a “commons” or a “market” with “locations” and “addresses” and “sites” that we “build,” we are framing the Net as a place.

Most significantly, the Net is a marketplace. In fact, the Net is the largest, most open, most free and most productive marketplace the world has ever known. The fact that it’s not physical doesn’t make it one bit less real. In fact, the virtuality of the Net is what makes it stretch to worldwide dimensions while remaining local to every desktop, every point-of-sale device, every ATM machine. It is in this world-wide marketplace that free people, free enterprise, free cultures and free societies are just beginning to flourish. It is here that democratic governance is finally connected, efficiently, to the governed.

It is on and not just through—prepositions are key here—the Net that governments will not only derive their just powers from the consent of the governed but benefit directly from citizen involvement as well.

Why is Doc’s piece important? Key quote from the opposite side, Edward Whiteacre, CEO of SBC:

[BusinessWeek]: How concerned are you about Internet upstarts like Google, MSN, Vonage, and others?

How do you think they’re going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain’t going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there’s going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they’re using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?

The Internet can’t be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!

And Doc’s right about the importance of reframing the discussion in terms of a marketplace, rather than just a transport system. Trivial as the distinction sounds, it matters. All words matter in discussions like this. Think of how important calling the anti-abortion movement the “Right to Life” movement has been in terms of re-framing the debate–instead of arguing about the economic and health effects of denying abortions, we’re talking about when life begins. And it took weeks of stories linking the words “Sony DRM” to the words “spyware” and “rootkit” (and “boycott”) for people to stop talking about controlling “consumer use of media” and start talking about the real threats to individuals—and corporations—that are introduced by the uncontrolled rush toward DRM.

And if we succeed in reframing the discussion, then we have a leg on which we can fight the Broadcast Flag, and the HD Radio Content Act of 2005, and the Analog Content Security Preservation Act of 2005, and clueless broadband providers who want their customers to be “consumers,” and on and on and on.

Enough. Go read. I need to finish reading the piece myself. It’s long, but it might be the most important thing you read this month.

No turkey no brine?

The New York Times has an unusual food article today—unusual for the run-up to Thanksgiving, anyway: The Pilgrims Didn’t Brine, in which their writer canvasses a number of chefs to find the simplest possible turkey preparation that still turns out well.

Given my adventures last year, their findings—start with a fresh, locally raised turkey; roast at 425, and tent the breast with foil to keep it from cooking too fast; then let rest for a half hour—sound pretty good. I’m still probably going to brine, though this year I think I’ll make the brine on Tuesday so it will have enough time to cool.

Complete with souvenirs

It’s probably a good sign that people are starting to joke about the Parisian riots. I mean, as opposed to my horrified silence as I watched most of the coverage over the last few weeks. Anyway, the Attu Sees All blog claims that this is the latest souvenir trying to cash in on the civil unrest: the Parisien Matchbox car.

(Over at the Boycott Sony blog, I’m getting links from the damnedest sites. For every Slashdot or BBC, there are probably a hundred links from random sites like Attu. In addition to making me happy that the word about Sony BMG’s shenanigans is spreading, I’m finding the most random stuff imaginable on some of these sites… the above is a minor case in point.)

Holiday checklist

In the spirit of making a list, and checking it twice:

  1. Verify my concert schedule for the Pops and the Symphony (schedule available online, for those who wish to attend concerts or stalk me). Check.
  2. Note conflicts with my church choir, and apologize meekly to my director. Check.
  3. Coordinate with three other couples, including one from San Francisco, to identify date that they want to attend Pops concert. Check.
  4. Purchase tickets. Ignore scream of protest from credit card, which is already freaking out over the final expenditures for our bathroom remodels. Check.
  5. Speaking of bathroom remodels, spend two hours sanding, tacking, patching, and priming exposed plaster in every room downstairs. Except for the living room, where the radiator patch is hidden by the sofa, because hey, it’s hidden and it’s too much of a pain to move the sofa. Check.
  6. Try to call Wilson Farms to reserve a Thanksgiving turkey, and remember too late that they’re closed on Tuesdays. Check.
  7. Wonder where we’re going to stow all the crap that’s currently in the library room in the basement, which will become a guest bedroom for at least part of the Thanksgiving holiday, starting on Thursday night. Check.
  8. Notice that the contractor still hasn’t gotten the correct grab bars to install in the new downstairs shower, which are needed by my in-laws—who also arrive Thursday. Ask contractor about them, and watch him sheepishly disappear. Check.
  9. Drop dogs off at doggie grooming spa so that something can be done about faint lingering odor. Check.
  10. Actually plan Thanksgiving menu. Not yet.
  11. Finish painting. Not yet.
  12. Remove tools, drop cloths, tubes of caulk, tubs of spackle, and cans of paint from their current positions on all horizontal surfaces on first floor. Not yet.
  13. Identify activities for houseful of five adults and one visiting teenager (and two Bichon-Americans) so we don’t all go nuts. Not yet.
  14. Realize that the room in which the visiting teenager will be staying on Friday and Saturday will be filled with construction detritus and shifted crap from all the other rooms in the house until at least Friday afternoon. Check.
  15. Design this year’s Christmas card—what do you mean, Christmas card? Are you KIDDING me?. Um, not yet

Ah yes the holidays. Our favorite part of the year.

Clemencic Consort: Dunstable, Cathedral Sounds

dunstable cathedral sounds

There is a long stretch between the earliest known polyphony—the works of Perotin and the other masters of the Notre Dame school—and the next high point in the 15th century with the works of Ockeghem, Obrecht, and others. In between lie the Black Death, the birth of the Renaissance, and other major cultural developments, of course; musically there is a school of early polyphony called the contenance angloise, literally the “English guise,” so named because the composers on the Continent who adopted the English techniques were said to be putting on an English face. Without the composers of this school, the course of the evolution of Western music would be dramatically altered. With this background, this recording of the works of John Dunstable, foremost composer of the contenance angloise, takes on historic significance.

Even without the historical setting, this recording earns its musical significance on its own merits and on superlative performances by the Clemencic Consort. The ensemble, comprising three male voices and Dr. René Clemencic on a reproduction positive organ, is superbly tight, and the polyphony is rich and vibrant. In fact, the musical ideas in the polyphony, including the use of Gregorian melodies as a cantus firmus on which the piece is built, are consonant with the work of composers who flourished a hundred years or more later. It is difficult to remember that this music, which sounds as though it came from the height of the Renaissance, was written within fifty years of the plague’s devastation. Dunstable’s work is thought to be influenced by contemporary understandings of astronomy—one of the few surviving artifacts that attests to his existence (many of his scores having perished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries) is a note in his hand in a book on astronomy at Cambridge. Whatever the source for his inspiration, his music is presented on this recording with warmth and humanity.

Allegro Music is reissuing a number of other pivotal recordings from the Arte Nova label (this recording was originally released in 1995), and on the basis of this performance the rest of the series is certainly worth checking out.

Originally published at Blogcritics.

Home stretch

Whew. Lisa and I are finally starting to feel as though we are over the hump for our renovation projects. The tile guy is a day ahead and will finish our upstairs bathroom today, meaning that the remaining fixtures will be installed by the end of the week and we can start painting. Last night I sanded the new plaster on the first floor—in the process realizing we had unpainted surfaces in every room in the house, thanks to the new shower and the radiator niche patching—and Lisa tacked the dust away. We’ll paint tonight.

Incidentally, for the sanding we used a vacuum equipped sander with drywall sanding screens, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Very little mess was created and it did the trick, removing the few ridges and blots left behind by the plastering work. We didn’t use a name-brand sander, just a generic kit from one of the home warehouses, and it seemed to work just fine.

There are still a few loose ends that I need to make sure the contractors get wrapped up, though. In particular, the grab bars for the downstairs shower, which we need for her dad, haven’t arrived yet, and we are still waiting for a few odds and ends of trim—soap dishes and such. But we’ve come a long way and I am looking forward to having the final stages over and done with.

Oh—and they might even be able to get the front door and storm door replaced this week, too. Swoon. Likely later, though.

Just in time, too: Lisa’s folks arrive Wednesday for the holidays, and her brother will fly in late Thursday—while her niece will drive down from Vermont on Friday or Saturday to hang out with us for a few days. The new bathrooms will get a real workout.

An ironically timed CD Project update

I crossed a mini-Rubicon on Thursday: I finished ripping both my classical and my jazz discs. (Somewhat ironic, in light of the Sony Boycott Blog activities—but I haven’t bought many new CDs, if any at all, in the last year.)

New totals for the losslessly ripped files: 355 artists, 441 albums, 130.64 GB for 5584 tracks, 19.4 days of playing time.

Sorta Slashdotted

Hey folks. If things are a little quiet here today, it’s because the Boycott Sony blog is kind of getting Slashdotted at present. “Kind of” because there’s no direct /. link, just a link in a comment on a related article that has still steered almost 900 visits here. At the same time the blog has been linked as related to a BBC article about the situation, so things are a bit hectic. Feel free to stop by and join the discussion.

Not such a bad little tree

Courtesy Boing Boing, the Urban Outfitters version of Charlie Brown’s pathetic Christmas Tree. Someone could bring this to my house at Christmas if they were inclined (hint hint). UO has done a remarkable job of reproducing the pathos of the original animated version, though you have to supply your own security blanket:

urban outfitters charlie brown treecharlie brown animated christmas tree

However, there is some irony here: the point of Charlie Brown’s tree was that, as scrawny and pathetic it was, it was real. Urban Outfitter’s tree is “made of wire branches and plastic needles.”

Update, 2009: The current version of Charlie Brown’s tree at UO now comes with the security blanket… but is still “bendable wire branches and plastic needles.”

Virginia is keen for Kaine

Congrats to my native state for electing Tim Kaine as governor last night. The 11th hour appearance of the president, his only swing into the state to support Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore, apparently didn’t help Kilgore as much as it did Kaine. I love this quotation from Mo Elleithee, the Kaine campaign’s communications director: “Can someone tell me where to send the thank-you note? The president fired up our base.”

The tone of the campaign is neatly summed up in the closing paragraphs of the New York Times article:

Mr. Kilgore tried to make character and ideology central ideas, portraying himself as a straight shooter who “doesn’t need a poll to make up his mind” and attacking Mr. Kaine as “instinctively liberal.”

Mr. Kaine tried to build his campaign on the issues of managerial style and bipartisanship, asserting that Mr. Warner and he had—with Republican help—made state government more efficient and effective. But he also questioned Mr. Kilgore’s honesty, and accused him of planning to outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade was overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

It’s good to see that the voters of my state are too intelligent to fall for the same tired rhetoric of the “l-word” and accusations of flip-flopping.

A look back

Sometimes I forget how long I’ve been writing this blog: over four years, going on five. Four years ago today, in 2001, I pointed to my friend John Vick’s band Hello Swindon. Four years later, Vick is a family man—congrats, John, on your recent marriage.

Three years ago today, in 2002, I disclosed my struggles with depression for the first time. I won’t lie and say that that is no longer a problem, but I’m certainly a lot better off than I was then, thanks largely to the support of family and friends.

Two years (and a day) ago today, in 2003, I had just returned from Santa Rosa where we tasted some great wine and I got my picture taken with a famous round-headed kid.

And a year ago today, in 2004, I announced my job search. Happily, that one turned out well. I love what I do and wouldn’t be anywhere else right now.

Justin Rosolino returns to Club Passim

Speaking of indie musicians, your friend and mine, singer-songwriter Justin Rosolino returns to Club Passim next Friday, November 18th, opening shows for Lowen & Navarro and Brian Webb. Should be a good show, and an opportunity to see Justin in a format where he can build up some momentum between his songs. And an opportunity to give him hell about this little blackmail photo with the man called W. (See my notes about Justin’s last Club Passim appearance.)