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Thursday,  12/09/04  11:13 PM

Poking around the 'net at 56K, here's what we find...

The Economist ponders America's One-Party State.  "If you loathe political debate, join the faculty of an American university...  Academia is simultaneously both the part of America that is most obsessed with diversity, and the least diverse part of the country."  A great point, and well made.  Some would say this is an IQ-driven thing (smarter people vote blue) but I would suggest a role-driven thing (people with skin in the game for red). 

Ethan Zuckerman is looking for a name for 4.8B people!  There are 800M people currently "on" the Internet, and then there is "the next billion".  Which leaves 4.8B people which are neither currently "on" nor about to be.  Check out the comment thread as well...  My personal favorite is "The Unwired". 

LGF reports French Winemakers are Whining.  "'We are a sector in crisis,' said Jean-Michel Lemetayer, the head of France’s main farmer union, urging the state to bail out an industry awash in a sea of Chablis and Bordeaux.  France’s wine industry, which employs about 500,000 people, says exports through Aug. 31 dropped by more than 5.5 percent in volume and 9.6 percent in value."  Boo hoo.  Interesting that they don't mention France's increasingly hostile relationship with the U.S., which is obviously a key factor. 

This is great news: The Commercial Spaceflight Bill has passed!  "Under this legislation, the FAA's role until 2012 will be to protect the uninvolved public on the ground, and allow passengers to ride as long as they've been properly informed of the related dangers."  This will greatly reduce the liability of private spaceflight pioneers, reducing cost and making space tourism much more feasible. 

AdAge has a terrific story Dissecting the wreckage of airline marketing disasters.  "In retrospect, it's easy to see the fallacy of an all-forks strategy.  But in the short term, many of these marketing moves increased revenues and profits.  It's only in the long term, and in the presence of narrowly focused competition, does an all-forks strategy fall apart."  This is a great analysis; why are Southwest and Jet Blue viable, yet United, American, and Delta are hovering on the brink of disaster?  [ via Doc Searles, in a post titled "Customers to airlines, go fork yourself" ] 

Oh my gosh - F.A.O.Schwarz is back!  Too bad they're not bringing Zainy Brainy back with them.  One of the few crummy things about shopping for Christmas this year has been doing it at Toys 'R' Us instead  >:( 

The new VoIP?  Not voice, but video!  Leading voice-over-IP providers Vonage and VoicePulse are both planning video-over-IP services.  Excellent!  That should finish off whatever is left of the analog phone companies...  Apparently Vonage is introducing a $600 phone called the Videon (pictured at right); this seems like a high price point, but maybe it will be okay for early adopters. 

Matt Haughey had a chance to try a hacked DirecTivo.  "Once you've got a DirecTiVo on the network, you can use TiVoWebPlus as a front-end to add shows, sort recordings, and do some deep searching.  Along with the included FTP and telnet, you can extend the basic toolkit in all sorts of ways.  This is really exciting stuff, and the start of the perfect TiVo toolset I always dreamed of having.

Matt also interviews Margaret Schmidt, Tivo's Director of User Experience.  Matt fails to ask the key question, how does Tivo balance the conflicting needs of their consumer users and their advertiser customers?  I wonder what she thinks of displaying ads during fast-forwarding! 

Oh, and here's a review of BeyondTV, a PC-based PVR from SnapStream which really seems to be as easy to use as a Tivo.  Almost :)  The screen shots look very nice, anyway. 

And of course, Video Feeds Follow Podcasting.  "We think of it internally as TiVocasting.  It's one thing to have a bunch of video files dumped into a folder on your desktop.  The interesting future is when it is put into a TiVo-style mechanism."  Yep. 

A boy and his dog - in space.  By Floyd Darrin Perry, former Creative Director for Wired, who recently passed away... 

Just a big dinghy?  The Open Pro 60 looks like it, doesn't it?  Amazing.  Must be fun - and just a bit exciting, too.  [ via The Horse's Mouth

Gerard Van Der Leun, The Name in the Stone.  Great post, very moving. 

Om Malik thinks the personal blog is dead.  Um, not quite.  Bloggers are terrific filters.  The bigger the net gets, the more need there will be for filtering...   [ via Scoble, who is a great filter himself ] 

Heck, even Eliot Spitzer has a blog

Finally, my DSL is down - boo! - maybe I should blame it on Christmas Lights