Racing Bikes in Wine Country

via The Big Picture

The morning had all the makings of a disaster. It was cold and hazy. I got two flats before even leaving the starting area, I got stung by a bee under my jersey, and I accidentally did the first loop an extra time, adding an extra 11 miles to a 100 bike race. By 10AM however, the sun broke out over Sonoma, lighting the vineyards brilliantly as we built up a strong pace. We stopped at farms throughout the route for snacks. Figs are the new Clif bar.


The Future of Internet in Africa, and How to Build It Pt. I

Spending this summer at Google thinking about how African policy makers can create conditions for more and cheaper Internet in Africa [paper on the subject forthcoming], one thing continuously struck me: we really don't know what the Internet will look like [device and app-wise] when it is plentiful in Africa, much the same way we didn't know that banking in Africa would look like M-Pesa. The solution will certainly be mobile, but the big winners in African entrepreneurship often come up with unique, creative solutions tailored to Africa needs, not simply imported from abroad.

In 'Mobile Broadband Internet in Africa, Hash talks about the importance of mobile data. Money quote:

While it's good to talk about mobile phone penetration, I was a lot more interested in seeing the discussion going on around mobile broadband internet and how that is the next big move in Africa for the operators. Passing data, not just voice, is the battleground of the future in Africa - and all the carriers are fighting to position themselves to win.

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Suskind on Iraq

My good friend Greg Jackson was the researcher for Pulitzer prize winning journalist Ron Suskind's new book The Way of the World. If what Ron and Greg wrote in this book holds up under grand jury investigation, the President of the United States could be impeached.

The book claims that the CIA, on orders from the President, forged a letter between a former Iraqi intelligence chief named Habbush and Saddam which stated that Iraq and al-Qeada colluded to get uranium from Niger, and that 9/11 hijackers trained in Iraq. Suskind alleges that Habbush actually explicitly told CIA that Iraq had no WMD several months before the invasion of Iraq, and while publicly a wanted man, was actually a US-paid informant living in Amman.

Not only would this be the most outrageous government lie in modern history, but it would also be illegal. A 1991 amendment to a 1947 law governing the CIA forbids disinformation campaigns aimed at United States public opinion. There are no listed penalties for breaking this law, but one assumes it is an impeachable offense.

Suskind's main source, a CIA agent named Robert Richer, now denies his account. Others are speculating that the letter was forged, but it came not from the CIA, but from Doug Feith's Defense Intelligence shop, which would not be governed by the same laws.

By the way, the book is haunted with 'what might have been' if the Administration had actually finished the job in Afghanistan, focused on keeping America safe from loose nukes, and supported Bhutto and democracy in Pakistan.

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San Francisco 1/2 Marathon

via Dizzy Atmosphere's photostream

We left the house at 4AM. The race started at 5:30AM. I crossed the Golden Gate bridge at dawn. Stunning. I was done by 7AM. Most fun race I've done in a long time.


Bandwidth is the Oil of the New Economy

In the often legally and technologically complicated world of technology policy, metaphor is often the best weapon. My summer rock climbing buddy Tim Wu recently published an op-ed in NYT entitled OPEC 2.0, arguing that "Just as the industrial revolution depended on oil and other energy sources, the information revolution is fueled by bandwidth."

Later Tim writes, "In an information economy, the supply and price of bandwidth matters, in the way that oil prices matter: not just for gas stations, but for the whole economy." I think the comparison of oil and bandwidth is remarkably powerful, especially in the policy battles in Africa, where the essential challenge is actually convincing politicians they have more to gain from promoting innovation through cheaper Internet then from continuing to side with anti-competitive incumbent telecoms.

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