mm207: Shorter attention span blogging

November 28, 2007

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MUDGE’S Musings

One of those days today, where nothing and everything is intriguing. All of these appeared this week in the NYTimes.

nytimes

Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department

By PATRICIA COHEN

PSYCHOANALYSIS and its ideas about the unconscious mind have spread to every nook and cranny of the culture from Salinger to “South Park,” from Fellini to foreign policy. Yet if you want to learn about psychoanalysis at the nation’s top universities, one of the last places to look may be the psychology department.

A new report by the American Psychoanalytic Association has found that while psychoanalysis — or what purports to be psychoanalysis — is alive and well in literature, film, history and just about every other subject in the humanities, psychology departments and textbooks treat it as “desiccated and dead,” a historical artifact instead of “an ongoing movement and a living, evolving process.”

The study, which is to appear in the June 2008 issue of The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, is the latest evidence of the field’s existential crisis. For decades now, critics engaged in the Freud Wars have pummeled the good doctor’s theories for being sexist, fraudulent, unscientific, or just plain wrong. In their eyes, psychoanalysis belongs with discarded practices like leeching.

But to beleaguered psychoanalysts who have lost ground to other forms of therapy that promise quicker results through cheaper and easier methods, the report underscores pressing questions about the relevance of their field and whether it will survive as a practice.

Are there stranger institutions than today’s U.S. colleges and universities?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department – New York Times

And yet. One sentence does stick with one…

“Some of the most important things in human life are just not measurable,” he said, like happiness or genuine religious feeling.

I’ll think about that one for a while (or at least until something distracts me!).

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And now for something completely different…

MUDGE has a love-hate relationship with his cable company. I suspect that many people share this feeling (and perhaps it’s not measurable).

Cable TV is terrific, if spendy. Cable internet is breathtakingly quick, especially if one is capable of remembering the dim dark dial-up days.

But, cable is a monopoly in most markets, only now facing serious competition. In television, the satellite people compete well, assuming you can place the dish effectively. But they’ve never offered a serious internet connection solution. Cable internet is a serious internet connection solution.

POTS, as embodied in the modern successors (Verizon and the new AT&T) to the Justice Department eviscerated AT&T — Ma Bell to we rickety old folks — can offer reasonably quick internet access (if you are located close enough to the central station, or some sucker has granted POTS an easement for a repeater station), but quick only if you compare it to the dial-up it probably replaces. Much slower than cable.

In MUDGE‘s market, the local copper wire phone company has offered bundles that include phone service, DSL internet and satellite television. In response, the cable guys are now offering reasonably inexpensive phone service via cable. In response to that, the phone guys are desperately burying fibre optic lines to reach out to the “last mile,” thereby offering a true high bandwidth choice for internet access, as well as competition for cable-delivered television. An awesome expenditure, and thus far fibre has been limited to a few scattered upscale neighborhoods (i.e., nowhere near casa MUDGE).

Recently, the cable guys have come under increasing scrutiny by the FCC, which believes that cable has abused its monopoly position.

Cable Industry Wins Compromise on F.C.C. Plans

By STEPHEN LABATON

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 — In the face of a lobbying blitzkrieg by the cable television industry, the Federal Communications Commission drastically scaled back Tuesday evening a proposal by the agency’s chairman to more tightly regulate the industry.

The compromise was a significant, though not total, victory for the cable industry, whose executives and lobbyists had worked to erode support on the commission for the agenda of the chairman, Kevin J. Martin. Among other things, the commission agreed to postpone for months the decision Mr. Martin had hoped would be made on Tuesday, over whether the cable television industry had grown so dominant that the agency’s regulatory authority over it should be expanded.

But Mr. Martin and some consumer groups insisted that the decisions by the commission could nonetheless help to make programming more diverse and ultimately reduce cable costs.

One of the new rules adopted on Tuesday, for instance, would make it significantly less expensive for independent programmers to lease channels.

The reasonably outspoken FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin, turned out not to have the votes he counted on to carry the day, and thus allowed the discussion to devolve into a dispute over whose market size numbers were more accurate.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Cable Industry Wins Compromise on F.C.C. Plans – New York Times

So, cable didn’t take the regulatory hit they were fighting off, and most of the U.S. will be unable to see the Packers-Cowboys game on NFL Network this Thursday, as an unregulated cable industry has decided that NFLnet is too expensive for anything but their premium packages.

Sigh.

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L-HC discussed the trend away from paper maps in a post some time ago. Navigation systems based on GPS populate more and more upscale cars. Stand alone personal navigation aids from Garmin and Tom-Tom are advertised heavily during this gifty time of year.

MUDGE‘s newest cellphone, the LG EN-V discussed here before, has a GPS receiver built in, as do most modern cells, and has available a subscription navigation service (for $10 per month) that will provide turn by turn spoken instructions. Very cool, if slightly expensive, until, one supposes, you really need it.

Can Google, that information octopus, be far behind? Certainly not!

Google Doesn’t Know Where You Are (But It Has a Good Guess)

By Saul Hansell

UPDATE: See comment from Google at the end.

Users of Blackberries and many other smartphones can now push a button and the Google mapping service will figure out more or less sort of where they are.

Last month, I wrote a post called “One Reason We Need a Google Phone: Free GPS.” I was complaining that cellphone carriers, mainly Verizon, are disabling the GPS navigation systems built into phones so they can charge $10 a month for the service. I posited that a Google phone wouldn’t have such a nasty gotcha. (Actually, in Google’s very open model for its Android operating system, carriers and phone makers are free to put as many gotchas as they want into phones.)

Of course, what everyone leaps to be concerned about is privacy — Google, Big Brother, Homeland Security, etc. has yet another way of pinpointing one’s location.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Google Doesn’t Know Where You Are (But It Has a Good Guess) – Bits – Technology – New York Times Blog

Face it folks, what is GPS in the phones for, if not to let a public agency locate you. It’s called Wireless Enhanced 911.

I guess the concern is that one might well be locatable even if one hasn’t declared an emergency.

We’re heading there folks. London has what, 2,000,000 video cameras blanketing the streets, and big cities in the U.S. are following suit as fast as they can afford to. Indeed, in MUDGE‘s not so big city, he passes such a camera, apparently monitored by the police, almost daily. Often, I wave.

The expectation of privacy is slipping away, and while I’m certain my buds at ACLU are concerned, I just can’t too exercised.

There are 300,000,000 of us after all. The best data miners on the planet will get indigestion trying to mine that.

So I guess I can go back to worrying about the demise of Freudian psychoanalysis.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm083: Corning claims optical fiber breakthrough | NetworkWorld.com Community

July 25, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Interesting thing I found at NetworkWorld.com on my way to finding something else…

networkworld

Corning claims optical fiber breakthrough

Submitted by Paul McNamara on Mon, 07/23/2007 – 4:24pm.

Corning researchers say their newest breakthrough – optical fiber that can bend without significant signal loss – will greatly accelerate the expansion of fiber optic connections directly into homes, especially those of the nation’s 25 million high-rise dwellers.

From an Associated Press report:

The world’s largest maker of optical fiber said Monday it has developed a new fiber that is at least 100 times more bendable than standard fiber, clearing a major hurdle for telecommunications carriers drawing fiber into homes.

“This is a game-changing technology for telecommunications applications,” said Corning’s president, Peter Volanakis. “We have developed an optical fiber cable that is as rugged as copper cable but with all of the bandwidth benefits of fiber.”

Verizon has been working with Corning for years to conquer this difficulty as part of the former’s FiOS push. Both the problem and Corning’s solution are spelled out in this Fortune story:

This intolerance for bending can make fiber optics a nightmare to install in someone’s home. Snaking the wiring along the floorboards is out of the question – just one tight turn around the bookcase, and the signal is kaput. So Verizon’s installers have been forced to come up with alternate routes, such as drilling holes in walls to get the cabling from one room to another. The process is time-consuming, expensive, and potentially destructive. The problem is particularly acute in apartment buildings – and there are a lot of those in Verizon’s East Coast territory – which are full of conduits, shafts, and corners that must be navigated in order to hook up each customer. (In most single-family homes Verizon just needs to connect the fiber to a special box on the outside of the customer’s house.) Fun fact: To get a fiber connection to a typical basement apartment, installers encounter an average of 12 right-angle turns.

Those hoping to learn from press coverage exactly how Corning accomplishes this feat are likely to be disappointed. From the Fortune article:

Corning’s researchers figured out a way to keep the light going as it turns corners – lots and lots of corners. We can’t go too deep into the technical details – the company exhibits CIA-levels of paranoia about its inventions. But essentially Corning’s technology infuses the cladding that surrounds the fiber’s narrow core with microscopic guardrails called nanostructures. They help keep the light from seeping out of the fiber, even when it is wound around a pencil – treatment that normally would render it completely useless.

Sounds amazing, although the news might not be welcomed by all. Just last month, Siemens was touting the wonders of its new polymer optical-fiber cable, which the company said was capable of transmitting data at about 1Gbps, in part because polymer could bend in ways fiber cannot handle.

Corning claims optical fiber breakthrough | NetworkWorld.com Community

MUDGEville is not located on the east coast, but our legacy copperwire dinosaur of a carrier seems many, many years away from getting anywhere near here with fiber of any degree of flexibility (and even if they somehow find our upscale town — MUDGE is proud to live in its downscalest corner, and thus the lowest priority area when upgrades are considered).

So, we’re stuck with the monopoly cable provider for our broadband service; wouldn’t you just know that of all the national outfits (and I use that term in its banditry sense!), ours scores lowest in performance, service, you name it.

Thus, I jump on stories about making fiber to the home more likely, since fiber is the best shot I have at liberation from the chafing shackles of broadband cable, dinosaur or no.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE