It’s A Wonderful Internet: If the FCC Had Regulated from the Start

101223_TECH_fccTNThe FCC immediately determines that the lack of interoperability among the online systems harms consumers and orders that each company submit a technical framework by January 1994 under which all online companies will unify to one shared technology in the near future. The precedent for this are the technical standards that the FCC has been setting for decades for AM and FM, and for television. The online services threaten legal action again, and again Congress passes new legislation authorizing the FCC to do as it wishes. The online companies hustle to submit a technical framework. Microsoft wants in on the game, so it persuades the FCC to extend the framework deadline to July 1995. …

In late 1993, AOL and Delphi become the first online services to offer the Internet. The FCC orders both to drop the feature until the FCC’s labs approve it.

“We can’t have the online industry pushing out beta software on unsuspecting customers willy-nilly. Such software could compromise the users’ computers, interfere with other users’ computers, or crash the whole online world,” the FCC chairman says. …

In September 1996, Microsoft, whose biggest individual stockholders are Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Ballmer, who are raising millions for the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign, wins the FCC’s online design shootout.

Microsoft calls its online-unifier “Bob.”

“This award is made purely on the technical merits,” the FCC chairman remarks.

The FCC is particularly enamored of the “back door” that Microsoft has built into Bob, making it easier for police to monitor communications in real time. The commission also applauds Microsoft’s forward thinking because it has incorporated a virtual “V-chip” in Bob. The censoring software is analogous to the V-chip the FCC wants TV manufacturers to build into their sets to block violent and mature TV programming from being viewed by children.

The regulators also love Bob because it has created more “Channels” for police, fire, libraries, city councils, legislatures, courts, and public service messages than the other proposed systems. Bob testers complain that these channels leave little space for the data, information, and communications they expect to find on an online system. One compares Bob to a government designed version of the Yellow Pages, only duller. Another pines for the Wild West days of the unregulated online world when you didn’t have to pay virtual “parking” to your local municipality before you went shopping inside the online mall.

God, I love Jack Shafer.

The Year The Global Climate Hoax Died

ISSa1223_ph101222_345.jpgPrognosticators who wrote the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, global warming report in 2007 predicted an inevitable, century-long rise in global temperatures of two degrees or more. Only higher temperatures were foreseen. Moderate or even lower temperatures, as we’re experiencing now, weren’t even listed as a possibility.

Since at least 1998, however, no significant warming trend has been noticeable. Unfortunately, none of the 24 models used by the IPCC views that as possible. They are at odds with reality.

Full piece here.

Seriously folks, let’s give the man-made climate change fable a rest.

In Print: Collin County Partied at Kids’ Expense

My investigative piece on the mismanagement of Star Children’s Charity in Collin County is online and in your mailboxes.

It was the kind of cool November evening in Frisco that allowed gentlemen to wear tuxedos without perspiring, while the ladies could still go bare shouldered in their Carmen Marc Valvo. As premium brands flowed from the open bar, guests in the Embassy Suites’ Grand Ballroom pored over four- and five-figure silent auction items like diamond rings and a $10,000 Super Bowl ticket package. Dinner, a live auction, a magic show, and casino games would follow.

From all outward appearances, Star Children’s Charity’s annual Winter Ball was a huge success. Guests, who paid a minimum of $250 per ticket, must have assumed that tens of thousands of dollars were raised by Star, which funnels money to other Collin County nonprofits that serve children. But it’s not at all clear whether Star made money that night (expenses ran north of $200,000). And, if it did make money, Star will have to use those funds to dig itself out of a deep red hole created by making pledges in past years to charities that it couldn’t fulfill. Take a look at Star’s books, ask around in Collin County nonprofit circles, and a picture of profound mismanagement begins to emerge.

“Besides hiding their liabilities and not fulfilling their commitments, they are telling people, ‘You don’t need to support this agency. You can support Star, and we will get the money to them,’ ” says a member of one nonprofit that has worked with Star. The source, like several who spoke to D Magazine, asked not to be named. “Star is just getting in the way and eating up donor dollars with their high overhead.

Full story here.

My Book Is Being Shopped Around

My first full-length novel, The Merchant Princes: A Far Ranger Adventure, is being shopped around. I’m closer to getting it published.4460450363_4668c02004_b

It’s a very different 1928. The North American continent is comprised of several rival nations, the Nazis came to power in Germany a decade sooner, and science and the supernatural co-exist.

The Nazis have hatched a plot to raise a legion of undead soldiers. An anti-Nazi faction within-1 the Third Reich recruits a young Prussian doctor, Dr. Kurt von Deitel, to find help in the West to stop this devious plan.auroraheadshot02smalljpeg

Enter Sean Fox Rucker and Jesus D’Anconia Lago, two Great War veterans and freelance pilots who are reluctantly pulled into the quest. They are joined by a brash Greek merchant, a brilliant Jewish cowboy, and the woman who once broke Rucker’s heart.

The heroes race against Nazi clockwork assassins, a charismatic commando, a telekinetic sadist, and transgenic man-beasts known as wehr-wolves.

IMG_1078The quest takes them around the world, with settings both familiar and exotic: Colombia, Austin, dieselpunk_nazithe capital of the Union States in New York City, a floating city over the Caribbean, Rome, and Poenari Castle in Transylvania. Along the way, they encounter well-known historical figures and uncover the shocking truth about the real Spear of Destiny.

german-nazi-airship-color-picture-from-wwii-1The Merchant Princes recaptures the unapologetic adventure, excitement and suspense of the classic pulp fiction of the 1930s and 1940s, along with a healthy dose of steampunk, historical fiction and humor.

LOCKHEED ELECTRA (11)Yet it also alludes to philosophical and moral issues relevant to our world today: the trade-off between security and liberty, the morality of pre-emptive war, and what fundamentally separates good from evil.

3961483861_90e4b233af_bIt’s got Nazis, zombies, cowboys, robots and airships. Isn’t that everything you want in a book?

Me Out There, or I Didn’t Know AOL Was Still Around

Yes, they are still around, and I’m occasionally writing for them. Simple stuff like “Best Places for a Man Date” or “Best Hot Dogs.” (articles unrelated) Basically, it’s stuff like this here.

Anyway, it’s on CitysBest and if you have any ideas for best of lists in the Dallas area — Best Rainy Saturday Options, Best Yoga Studios, Best Cheap Eats, Best Whatever The Hell — please drop me an email and I’ll pitch it to my editor there.