The Longest Now


The .Org Fire Sale: How it sold for less than half its valuation
Monday December 02nd 2019, 12:13 am
Filed under: %a la mod,fly-by-wire,international,meta

Part 2 in a series.  (See also Part 1: The Great Dot Org Heist.)
Updates: Moz letter, El Reg, registry agreement, ISOC forumletter, Wyden

Ethos Capital seems on track to complete their takeover of .org early next year.  ICANN claims it is powerless to stop the acquisition. ISOC president Andrew Sullivan suggested nothing but a court order would make ISOC change their minds. (If the sale concerns you, you can write to the Virginia state DA, who has to approve the sale via the Orphans Court.)

There are still many unanswered questions. Sullivan’s presentation of the offer to the ISOC Board highlighted a need for speed and secrecy. Details were redacted from the board minutes, and have been released grudgingly. Only last Friday did the price of the acquisition ($1.1B) finally emerge, which ISOC insists is a good price (or was before the price caps were lifted), but which most consider well below the market value of .org. (For reference, here’s PIR’s 990 and annual report:  $90M revenue, $60M gross margin, 77% renewal rate).

Sullivan shared some conflicting thoughts in an interview with The Register: he thinks not many people care about the sale; public pushback has been strong; the sale would not have happened if there had been public discussion.

Mozilla has compiled Questions about .org into a public letter, asking both ISOC and ICANN to answer them before concluding this sale.

Measuring the worth of a legacy registry

While there is a range of estimates out there for the true value of .org, the sale price is on the low end under conservative assumptions.  (more…)



Trump’s tee-totalling: why are so many meetings held on the golf course?
Sunday December 01st 2019, 6:17 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,citation needed,fly-by-wire,international

It is time we stop talking about “golf time” as leisure time away from the presidency, and start treating it as a primary channel for meetings, negotiations, and decision-making. (See for instance the last line of this remarkable story.)

Trump’s presidential schedule is full of empty days and golf weekends – roughly two days a week have been spent on his own resorts, throughout his presidency. Combined with his historically light work schedule, averaging under two hours of meetings per day, the majority of small-group meetings may be taking place at his resorts.

He has also directed hundreds of government groups, and countless diplomatic partners and allies, to stay at his resorts and properties.

On his properties, his private staff control the access list, security videos and other records.  They are also able to provide privacy from both press and government representatives that no federal property could match.

How might we address the issues involved with more clarity?

Paying himself with government funds

To start with, this is self-dealing on an astronomical scale: the 300+ days spent at his golf clubs and other properties have cost the US government, by conservative estimate, $110 million. The cost of encouraging the entire government to stay at Trump properties is greater still, if harder to estimate. (more…)



ICANN races towards regulatory capture: the great .ORG heist
Saturday November 23rd 2019, 6:13 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,fly-by-wire,international,Not so popular

Updates: EFF letter, PIR’s update; IGP’s insider take; ICANN resolution;
Ways to act, Reg essay x2Ohashi, Tim Berners-Lee response;
Letters from
ISOC(😇), Ethos(🌈), and a banker (🚩🚩📜)
(See also Part 2: How to Flip .org)

Ethos Capital, a new commercial investment firm founded in the past few months in Boston, has 2 staff and only one pending investment: a deal to acquire the 501c3 non-profit that currently runs the .org domain (valued at a few $B), for an undisclosed sum. This was initiated immediately after ICANN decided in May, over almost universal opposition, to remove the price cap on .org registrations with no meaningful price protections for existing or future registrants.

This seems to run afoul of a range of ethical, ICANN, ISOC, and non-profit guidelines.  It is certainly the privatisation of a not-for-profit monopoly into a for-profit one, which will benefit ISOC and a few individuals by inconveniencing millions of others.  I have questions:

  • Do affected parties have recourse?
  • Other than polite letters, do any responses have teeth?
    • Maybe: Official complaints have been filed, but don’t expect results.
    • Chronic optimists can .. take part in ICANN and ISOC governance
  • Has anyone currently at ICANN + ISOC made substantive comment?
  • Vint Cerf said: ‘Hard to imagine $60/year would be a deal breaker for even small non-profits.
    • How did we get to Net pioneers embracing 99% profit margins?

For more backstory, read on…
(more…)



“‘I participate in contact origami’, The Book”, The Movie
Thursday March 09th 2017, 8:48 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,indescribable,noetic

Footprints in a self-similar river. The occasional passing act of will that remains and is amplified downstream, so that at some future moment, perhaps fording at another spot altogether, you discover a print announcing to you alone that you have been there before.

screen-shot-2017-03-09-at-5-33-45-pmA decade ago, I once spent too long creating a stylesheet for a tiny “how-to” template: the numbers in boxes laying out a three-step process, whether to switch fonts, bold, padding, background and border colors. Making the css just right to work on screens of all sizes.

It looked something like this.  >>

In fact, almost exactly like that.  Some things worked, some didn’t.  I tried to add padding to the left of the roman numerals, tried to remove the pixel of whitespace above the bordered boxes, without success.  Should the roman numerals be left-aligned but the boxed text centered?  Since then, scores of similar templates have copied and remixed it, changing text and context but not style.  The color palette I settled on, almost content with it, shows up on hundreds of pages. It would now take a script and many hours to find and tweak each instance of the design.

I run across one myself every few months, and experience river-shock: the sense of seeing something simple you did once that has a quiet, pervasive mark that cannot be undone.  This is quite different from the sense of pride or dismay that comes from seeing the expected result of a major endeavor: a book in someone’s hands, a clinic building in use or in disrepair, a student now teaching others.

Another memory: One week I set about compiling a collection for a museum, a complete series of parts, diagrams and XO laptops: a few boxes full.  I had sent background context by mail, but at the last minute took a fine-tipped sharpie and attached clarifying notes to post-its on each cluster.

Years later, visiting the museum with a friend, I ran across the display as part of a history of computing; the electronics beautifully preserved as I had hoped, as I saw with pride.  And – river shock – a handful of my post-its, with small diagrams and 8pt-font notes to the curator, exactly where I had placed them.  Anyone with access to the materials could have chosen one of each and put them in a box; my handwriting made it seem like my own workdesk, enclosed in perspex and on display.

On occasion a visitor will find one of the historical texts I’ve preserved against linkrot and plagiarism, like the acquiantance checking up on the man trapped in Charles de Gaulle airport, or a friend running across their favorite college essay or spellpoem, and I have a shadow of that frisson.  A passing fancy, created to be found anonymously by others, appearing at least once more in the endless river of daily life.



Cop dines with homeless mother of four, gets kudos. Her plight is ignored.
Thursday May 19th 2016, 2:48 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Not so popular,Rogue content editor,Uncategorized

Recent news blurbs across our fair state, applaud a state trooper for “sharing lunch with a homeless mother of four“.  (Headline language).

This was noticed and photographed by a passerby; the trooper then identified by the state police and posted to their online webpage praising him for his good deed; a CBS affiliate spent hours tracking down both the photographer and the woman for a video interview.  They got quotes from her about: being a ‘homeless panhandler’, his common decency, and her surprise.  She was described by her motherhood, her panhandling, and being down on her luck.

And that’s it!  Nothing thoughtful about why this young mother is homeless in Fall River, or what will become of her family.  No opportunities to reach out and fix a tragedy. She clearly needs more than one good meal and healthcare, but the outpouring of interest in the viral photo is entirely directed towards how and whether to applaud the police officer [who, quite decently, refused to be interviewed], how this reflects on police officers everywhere, how this perhaps restores faith in humanity.

(Update: It seems the trooper and one local news affiliate did find a way to help her temporarily with material support, a bit after that event. And a few cases like this that have famously included a crowdfunding campaign. But the most newsworthy issue is: how does this happen in our society, what can we do to fix that, and what permanent fixes could work for the family in the spotlight.)



Lila Tretikov named as Wikimedia’s upcoming ED
Thursday May 01st 2014, 5:49 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,ideonomy,knowledge,popular demand,wikipedia

And there was much rejoicing. Welcome, Lila!



Sacrifice Mt. Gox: This will be good for Bitcoin because
Tuesday February 25th 2014, 2:04 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,fly-by-wire



Desert canticles wrestle susurrantly, lithe behind quiet eyes
Friday September 13th 2013, 2:39 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,fly-by-wire,indescribable

Sitting down today to write my first non-work letter in a few weeks.  I’ve been enjoying poetry lately; here’s some Simon:

A man walks down the street
Dusty street in a strange world
Maybe it’s the Third World
Maybe it’s his first time around
He doesn’t speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen and Hallelujah!



Ripeness being all: Snowden’s secret and the web’s New Nihilism
Monday July 22nd 2013, 11:25 am
Filed under: Aasw,Blogroll,fly-by-wire,Not so popular,null,Too weird for fiction

Heller via Yossarian:

He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled…
Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall.

Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage.
The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.



A Raw Interview: Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Boston bombers.
Friday April 19th 2013, 9:15 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,null

Update: Dzokhar was captured alive, around 20:30 EST, after hiding in a boat in a Watertown backyard.

@Boston_Police: CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.

This public interview from today with Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers, is impressive. It seems to be from a conclave of media who turned up on his property; and highlights what the media look like as a herd without preptime, and what a family man looks like when stripped to his instinctive graces.

Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in. And ask for forgiveness, from the victims, from the injured, and from those who left, ask forgiveness from these people.”   Businessweek

Arrested Friday April 19, 20:40 EST



Public Service Ad: TheOldReader perfects a google reader clone
Friday February 08th 2013, 10:05 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory

If you liked Google Reader, you’ll love TheOldReader.com – a site that perfectly replicates the funcionality of the original Google Reader, adding the joy of being part of a reclaimed tool.

Update: Mako points out that newsblur may be even better, and is free software. Huzzah!

Every day for the past two weeks someone different has mentioned in my presence how much they miss Google Reader, and I or someone else has pointed them to this site, to great joy. TOR supports importing of your old GR feed. Most of my G-R-maven friends have switched over by now, so there are at least a few amazing people to share with there.



#pdftribute – a hack to share research in honor of AS.
Tuesday January 15th 2013, 3:58 am
Filed under: Aasw,chain-gang,fly-by-wire

Original idea by Eva Vivalt and Jessica Richman, site and scraper by Patrick Socha.

Well covered by Kerim Friedman.



Wikipedia gets visual editor in time for Christmas
Wednesday December 12th 2012, 11:35 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,Seraphic,wikipedia


One small step for an editor


Huge props to the team working on this and the underlying parsoid. It’s still in Alpha, so it’s only on the English Wikipedia this week. And you have to turn it on via user prefs; and it wants good feedback, but it makes the old heart-cockles sing.



For Blue: W00 in Space
Friday November 30th 2012, 9:59 am
Filed under: fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,international,Uncategorized

Spaaaaaaa-aaaaace



Thoughtbot writes letters sharing their dreams with the world – fresh from the Bot Cave
Thursday November 29th 2012, 1:50 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,fly-by-wire

Volume 1: November. You can subscribe for updates.



OLPC in Ethiopia: Testing Child Literacy
Thursday November 15th 2012, 9:14 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,gustatory,international

An excellent piece on OLPC’s tablet-based literacy experiments in Ethiopia, via the BBC World Service.



!!!!! Move over, Makmende! Aki Ra is Love
Tuesday September 25th 2012, 5:26 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire,indescribable,international,null,Too weird for fiction

Love and death and hope. Here’s wishing him a fruitful and productive year.




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