Thursday, June 30, 2005

fyi U.S. lags in effort to create animal ID system


Pointer to article:,10801,102754,00.html?source=NLT_DM&nid=102754

Kobielus kommentary:
Hmmmmm…a national registry, identification scheme, tracking system, and regulations for branding livestock that doesn’t involve pressing a red-hot iron into their flesh.

This is another subtopic in the “identity of things,” in which case the “things” are the beasts from which we derive an important class of dietary proteins. And another potential use of RFID, which is becoming the identifier for every tangible and edible “thing” imaginable.

If I understand correctly, these RFID animal tags would allow us to track every individual head of livestock from the moment they’re born to the moment they’re slaughtered (or otherwise shuffle off to animal heaven), primarily to make sure that the infection routes for any disease to which they might have been exposed are made crystal clear and appropriate quarantining, notification, destruction, and other emergency response and remediation activities can be targeted with swift and brutal efficiency. And, I suppose, so that 21st century rustlers can be more rapidly found out and brought to justice.

Something tells me that this initiative will bog down quickly into a huge political range war, pitting the feds (who want ranchers/farmers to tag and track every thing that trots, waddles, or flaps its silly wings) and the ranchers/farmers (who’ll want to turn a profit, avoid major new unfunded mandates, and resist having “them damn bureaucrats in Washington” intruding more deeply into how they manage their operations and inventory).

This initiative will, no doubt, be called the “mad cow tag program” or something to that effect. My guess is that RFID tags will ultimately be rejected as too cumbersome and expensive. Instead, I'm in favor of requiring ranchers/farmers to take DNA samples from their animals’ mouths/ears/etc—-upon birth, transportation, and death--and then send those to some central FDA-mandated lab for DNA fingerprinting, registration, and tracking. That way, individual animals don’t need to have RFID tags branded into their hides or hung around their necks or whatever. When a “mad cow” or similar disease breaks out, the diseased animals will have DNA swabs taken and sent to the central lab, which will then figure out what other livestock came into contact with them where when and how. And then the appropriate alarms/quarantines can be issued to target those other possible infection vectors, wherever they happen to be.

Such an approach saves the rancher/farmer from having to “brand” their animals or buy/install/operate RFID receivers and RFID-based inventory-tracking systems. Thereby helping them keep costs as low as possible.

Politically, the folks in Washington have always succumbed to the rancher/farmer lobby. The last thing the pols want to do is force another expensive unfunded mandate on this particular industry. Prairie populism is always a smouldering brush fire in the USA.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

fyi After Grokster: why (almost) everything we're told about P2P is wrong


Pointer to article:

Kobielus kommentary:
Actually, the first rule of punditry is the dissemination imperative: unpublished punditry is mere self-stimulation.

That’s the first rule for all media products: get the word/song/movie/software/etc out there so people can be aware of it, access it, and consume it. The second rule is, if you can, find some way of getting paid for it. But the second rule is optional. The first is essential.

Which is why blogs have taken off in such a big way. It’s how we the self-appointed pundits disseminate our words, though most of us don’t make a dime directly from our punditry. I have it a bit better than most pundits. I also have steady freelance work from Network World (almost 18 years running, hard to believe—thanks John G., John D., Susan C., Neal W., etc.) and Business Communications Review (now in the third year of that gig, thanks to Fred K., Eric K., and Sandy B.). With pundits, as with professors, it’s “publish or perish [in spirit and/or cerebrum, if nothing else].”

I’ve been holding off on punditizing on the P2P phenomenon for a simple reason: many others have done a fine job of dissecting the phenomenon and I have felt I don’t have much fresh insight to contribute to the discussion. Maybe that’s false modesty on my part, but some topics are so overdone in the blogosphere that the last thing I want is to pitch in my semi-interesting observations into the general din.

But I’ll do that anyway. I just want to tie my thoughts to a recent experience that proved out the power of P2P to provide some artists with a decent living in spite of having been shut out of mainstream success. I hate to re-introduce the band Wilco into the discussion, considering that the likes of Lawrence Lessig and others have seized on Jeff Tweedy and associates as exemplars of artists who have loosened up on uptight copyrights in order to get their works disseminated to fans and interested parties.

But I have to ring the Wilco bell again. This past Sunday I attended my first rock concert in a long long time, and it was—guess who—Wilco, at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia MD. My son and I are big Wilco fans, and we bought their two latest albums, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” and “A Ghost is Born.” I used to go to concerts all the time during my prime years of 1975-1985 (I’m 46 now), but slacked off after I got married and started collaborating on baby production with a certain lady.

As regards Wilco, I know precisely how I got hooked on them. I started listening to the streaming web radio station KEXP ( in early 2002, soon after I got my first DSL connection at home. KEXP (a public radio station in Seattle—free to access and groove to continuously) is the most awesome, eclectic radio station I’ve ever come across, and I soon got addicted to their brilliant mix of (mostly) new and (well-selected, like the new) older music from every conceivable genre. Needless to say, they’ve long been big Wilco champions, play tons of the Chicago group’s stuff, and it was only a matter of time before I got hooked on Wilco.

But I never quite knew how my (now 18 year old) son got hooked on Wilco. Until recently, he never listened to KEXP or any other streaming web radio station. And they certainly don’t play Wilco on the local radio stations in the DC area where we live. And I’ve never seen a Wilco video on music television. But he (Jason) was the one who took the initiative to buy both Wilco albums that we own.

On Sunday night, I heard Jason mention to his girlfriend (yes, I, old fogey, was essentially the chaperone at this event, and I was at least 10-15 years older that most other attendees) that he first read about Wilco from some website, and then downloaded a Wilco song from some P2P community, and then got hooked.

Ohhhhhhhh! We both got hooked on Wilco through free content distributed over the Internet. As I looked around at the packed audience for the Wilco concert on Sunday, I realized that most of these other DC-area people probably got hooked on Wilco the same way. And I’m sure many of them have bought the legit CDs of Wilco’s albums at local stores. And, now, they’re attending a Wilco concert, further sustaining Wilco’s musical career.

At one point in the (brilliant, and more hard-rocking than their brilliant recordings) Sunday show, Wilco singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy announced to the crowd: “Brace yourselves now for a cavalcade of our hit.” (note the singular “hit”). And then they played “Heavy Metal Drummer” from “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” (I don’t actually recall ever hearing that great song on any radio station, but I’ll give Jeff the benefit of the doubt).

How can a “hitless” radio-unplayed rock band sustain a long-lasting (10 years +) and lucrative career? Dissemination. Get the music out there, first and foremost, through any means. Money will follow, through various means, if you’re willing to work it hard, as Wilco has done. They could stay a touring band now for the rest of their lives (like the Grateful Dead, or, I suspect, the Pixies are turning into), thanks to the fanbase they’ve built up from P2P.

So thank you Internet community for this revolutionary technology that fills our lives with great music. And don’t worry about how the artists will get paid. The best of them will figure that out, by hook or crook, as they themselves hook into a fanbase.

And thank you Wilco. You’re a classic. And I hope you get at least one monster hit in your careers before you yourselves experience that touch of grey.


Monday, June 20, 2005

poem Oy


As a pearl
in clam snot
glows, so I
inside my
stress headache.

A crust of
mere and wee

My grain of
growth, a shell
grown grand as
pain is green.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

poem Cuss


Clapping hurts my hands
and ears. Hurts my heart

to pile plaudits on
the overhonored.

Gives repetitive
stress. Ouch. The crunch of

muscles. The steady
press on tendons. The

clank and rattle of
tin hallelujahs

and more undeserved
medals. These cussed

buzzing huzzahs of
rote percussive praise.

These thundering hand
farts of squeezed-out air

and deafening drum
rolls of idle prayer.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

poem The Adapted Cat


Sat all Saturday
bored and basically

hating the day and
waiting for something.

Sally my sister
and I were dying

inside and trying
not to go crazy.

A crack and a boom
came thundering in

and spilled the rain all
over Mom’s carpet.

A pounce and a whush
delivered a cat

who bolt upright and
read this announcement:

“A trick on a dark
day helps the draggy

time pass, and chases
the grays out your door.

If you wish, you can
watch the dribbing and

drabs, or with tricks, take
a stab in the blue.

With your fish, you can
sit, and scout for your

Mom, so then when she’s
nigh, upon your cry,

you, I, and the fry
can finish our fun,

hose down the house, and
only then, when the

storm has passed and
our time is done, will

we swiftly kick these
unpleasantries out.”

Just then, with a dart,
from the red-and-white

stack of his stovepipe
hat, a teensy hand

snatched, from the reading
cat’s clutches, the note

from which he had been
piecing his speech and,

sin mucho ado,
the hand withdrew and

cat, moving too, slunk
straight and away through.

“Just what I feared,” sneered
our bowl-bound fish, “this

brash interloper
acts like he knows her,

puts on a show, but
no one does nothing,

or so much as yawns,
without absolute,


proof their intentions
are pure and a sworn

affidavit that
shows they’ve consulted

and have thoroughly
secured the total,

written, explicit
permission of Mom.”

Then up his upright
umbrella pole the

cat perched the fish in
his wobbledy bowl

and pirouetted
his own tippety

toe on a ball that
slopped slippety-so

down a freshly waxed
hall, with pitching and

woe, caterwauling
and yaw, like a lone

logroller clambers
over the lumber,

limberly scrambling
out from under and

gingerly hoping
to regain control.

Not heeding, it seems,
the fish’s wee shrieks,

or his little orb’s
diminishing wet,

the cat on the ball
started to bounce, and

struggle to juggle
the peeved little pet,

plus dead overhead
any movable junk,

or half-forgotten
snack, from any old

accessible crack,
or measly mouse that

popped into his path
whilst pogoing round

our deep-brown, detached,

and apparently
unparented house.

He tricked dick-and-jane
from their dustbunny

lair, and for pleasure
a Dickens he found

languishing there, then
bowled them and the fish

through the juggular
air, while researching

for additional
distractions, like a

leftover dish of
left-out cream, Dad’s old

rake still dripping of
soylent green, and a

marbular carton
of spaghetti ice

cream that Sally once
loved and now resides

calcified deep in
our freezer downstairs.

“Put me down,” screamed the
downright adamant

fish, but the mad cat
oblivious could

scarcely see, through his
gyrations and glee,

and the field of fast
invisible hands,

that he was deep in
danger of flinging

it all, the proud and
perfect result of

his haul, the fat and
happy assorted

detritus, the massed
and sordid horde he’d

acquired, including
a log still flapping

its fire, in a vast
and fulsome, frightsome

and wholesome, bouncing
big baby shebang.

Through all the buzz, fate
belled the cat, as the


does, and his face and
hat lay splat in the

dust, while all through the
house, projectiles took

flight, the heavier and
messier went right

to their appointed
plots, and fish to a

pot, suspended and
hot, in the kitchen.

The cat raised his head
in some painless pain,

like an ump calling
a day due to rain,

a sheep just sheared and
his ribs shown plain, like

passing a ten-ton
sorcerer’s stone, a

magician’s shame at
a trick well-blown, or

a monster’s fury
for sins unatoned.

Then we could see, neath
his strip├ęd stack, a

face more monkey or
man than cat, with his

front-facing eyes and
foot of five digits,

his prehensile tail
and backbone rigid,

and the way he grasped
Sally’s szechuan fan.

We could see it all,
through his twidgets and

tricks, that no matter
whence his forebears had

come, dashing cross the
savanna, with or

without gun, that he
was happily and

fully adapted
to fun, sorry for

storming and wrecking
our calm, and vowing

to set the rainy
day right, wipe away

any suggestion
of blight, swiftly fix

and polish it bright,
and then split, ere Mom.

But his hat seemed to
have a soul of its

own, in the space of
an instant it had

gracefully grown full
ninety-nine sizes

too large for his head,
then sprung some new life

form, which quickly spread,
and occupied each

niche in our indoor
ecology, new

things were evolving,
sans apology,

and making the house
their very own shambling,

shivering, rambling,
quivering river

of overgrown goo
and personal swamp.

The things flew kites in
the interior

breezes, then their lines

lashed us all at the
knees, and our pleas

couldn’t sway, nor cries

for mercy delay,
things having their way.

But the cat had one
trick in the sack that

he kept sequestered
round the rim of his

hat, and with his tail
unfurling, in a

flanking maneuver,
he extracted a

vacuum from the
red-and-white stack, then

smoothly hoovered the
things and their goo from

the throwaway rug
and our ceiling too

then sucked up our house
and all of the yard,

all the crumbular
remains and the shards

of the shattered day
and the scattered clouds.

When next we turned to
look, we were again

alone, with our Mom
approaching, though it

appeared our home was
none the worse for the

wear that the cat, or
whatever he and

things actually were,
exacted and weren’t

missing any of
the things extracted

when she wasn’t there.
The fish still burbling

and rain now sleeting.
What remained was a

fresh bag of tricks for
cheating sleep, and a

red-and-white tabby
that Mom let us keep.