Matt RanenThe debate over what the FCC should do in regards to net neutrality is getting a lot of coverage these days. It’s no wonder, since where the policy lands will have immediate impact on profits and strategies in the media industry. But more generally, this is also a debate over our assumptions about and aspirations for what we want the Internet to be, and whose values are most important to respect. Is “open” more important than “speed” and “innovation”? And which type of innovation is most valuable given today’s economic and social context—one very different from the late 90’s boom time.

Turns out, this is just one of a number of more broadly impacting policy issues that are about to come under the microscope of public debate and government action (or, inaction…which itself is also a choice), as the Internet and the “online” economy of digital goods and services re-integrates with the “offline” or “real” economy.

One of those issues will be about data—big and small—and the property rights assigned to it. There is no need to repeat the hype about how big data is changing everything. Everything from the mundane (cost effective 1 hour delivery!) to the profound (our understanding of climate change impacts!) will look to use data—about individuals, groups, places and things—to find patterns that suggest ways to improve services or deepen our understanding of how our world really works. And as with most technological revolutions, the ability to use data most effectively will lead to changes in who has the potential to hold power within an industry.

But because most of the applications for big data so far have resided in either niche areas or beyond the public’s view, we have not yet seen what happens when the promise of ‘better with data’ rubs up against real human lives and emotions on a large scale. As data-enabled business models grow in their reach and have more economic impact, more questions loom and will have to be addressed by the consuming public, regulating agencies, or the courts. For example: is your refrigerator or car or any other high end consumer good a natural monopoly when it comes to the data it collects?  Who should have access to your consumption patterns—just the company that made the product?  To what extent is targeted pricing—which some would label as simple a highly efficient market clearing mechanism—discriminatory?  When is it okay to essentially make public information about someones’ private life  through commercial behavior(e.g. Target and its infamous promotion of pregnancy products)?

Read the rest of…

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Miniature Cars

10389605_10154346724520515_1184003438670753102_nTwice in two days I have seen these new miniature cars.

They make me nervous but I wasn’t sure why.

10303873_10154346724605515_2012575358965154725_nBut I think I just figured out why.


Some days…like today…you will be feeling the perfect combination of older, calmer, more experienced and confident…and at the perfectly timed moment in a conversation you will open your mouth to dispense, finally, what everyone else will instantly realize is indisputably as wise as it is correct…and just as everyone is looking at you in anticipation…you will draw a complete blank.

And you never saw it coming.

jyb_musingsAnd fortunately, graciously, you will forget most of that horrifying experience in about an hour-and-a-half.



The RP: Survive and Advance at the World Series of Poker

WSOP Day 2As millions of Americans celebrate our nation’s birthday with parades, grill-outs and firecrackers, I will be stuck in a cavernous, over-air-conditioned, non-descript warehouse, leaning over cushioned tables with several hundred other exhausted, bleary-eyed (mostly) men.

And having the time of my life.

Yes, in a few hours, we will begin Day 2 of the World Series of Poker’s “Little One for One Drop” tournament, and I’m still in the hunt.  (Read more about the tournament and the incredible charity it supports in my Daily Beast report from last year’s event.)

Precisely, with over 14,000 chips, I’m in 529th place out of the 887 remaining players who have so far survived 10 hours through a field of more than 4400 poker-star wannabes.  (Is it fitting that I built my political career around the creation of a 529 pre-paid tuition plan in Kentucky? Naahhhh.)

I am really lucky to be here, and that’s not just some Gehrig-like humility.  A little over an hour into the event, I made the stupidest, most regrettable move that I have ever attempted in my three years of World Series events.  I was dealt an Ace-10, and the flop revealed a 10, 8 and 6.  The betting got intense, and a talky, charismatic Californian at the other end of the table with a larger stack than mine ultimately made a very large bet.  I impulsively went all-in, having the top pair on the board (10s) and the biggest kicker (an Ace).

However, with all of the betting, I should have realized that I did not have the best hand.  In retrospect, it was very possible that the Californian had flopped trips (three of a kind).  Indeed, when he called me and turned over his cards, he held an 8-6, therefore having two pairs.

I was in serious danger of leaving the tournament VERY early.  I thought I had 6 “outs” — there were 3 Aces and 3 tens left in the deck that could possibly save me.  When the turn (fourth card) revealed a 4. I had one chance left.  Finally, came the river.  Praying in vain for an Ace or a 10, instead another 4 appeared.  I got up thinking my tournament ended with a stupid mistake.

Then, the player to my right quickly informed me that I had just won.  I was now the holder of two pair — tens and fours, and my two pair was larger than the Californians.  I had doubled up through my stupid luck.

The poker miracle served also as a wake-up call. I became a lot more focused on my conservative/aggressive game (playing only the top hands and playing them with boldness) and played perhaps my best poker ever.  I was up to over 20,000 chips, and was poised to jump to 26,000 until I got rivered in an all-in against a short stack.  (He had only two cards that could save him from elimination, and one of them showed up.) Still, while the loss took me down to 14,000, I’m still very much in the game, starting today in a slightly below average stack position.

So, now it’s time for your help.  Yesterday, I wore my lucky outfit — my Cincinnati Reds Joe Morgan jersey and No Labels ball cap.  I’m wondering if I should wear it again (with different undergarments, of course!) — or if I should switch up to my Anthony Davis UK jersey or my Jeremy Lin Harvard jersey.  Please provide your counsel in the comments below.

Meanwhile, if you need to get away from Fourth of July festivities, you can follow the action here at the WSOP Web site, starting at 4PM EDT/1 PM PDT.

Josh Bowen’s Thursday World Series of Poker Workout for The RP

Globally-recognized personal trainer Josh Bowen will this week be providing intensive physical workout routines for The RP as he prepares to compete in the World Series of Poker.

This morning’s workout is below.

Visit Josh’s web site here and sign up for his newsletter here.


The RP at the WSOP — Day One of the “Little One for One Drop”

Johnny pokerYesterday’s $1500 no limit hold ‘em tournament was a wild ride.  For hours, I was grinding and grinding effectively, doubling, then tripling my stack.

Then, I was dealt the worst hand of all:  Two Kings.  Of course, two kings is the second best opening hand in all of hold ‘em.  But when one of your table mates is dealt the best hand — two Aces — you are in a whole mess of trouble.

When you are dealt two kings, you feel like the world is in your hands — and a whole mess of your opponents’ chips.  You are in clearly a dominant position against any other hand, and when no ace appears on the flop, you are almost guaranteed to be in a heavily dominant position.  You know, after all, your opponents only have a .45% chance of drawing aces.  A mathematical game, you can’t operate so cautiously as to fear that slim a probability.

So when it happens, two kings are a killer.  You have less than an 18% chance of prevailing.

And in my case, the odds held.  And I was knocked out of the tournament.

Good news is that there’s another tournament that begins today, and it is one of my favorites: The Little One for One Drop.  I wrote about last year’s event and the incredible “One Drop” global water charity it supports here.  And I’m back for another try today.

I’ve also tried to change my luck with a new fashion strategy.  Take a look at my outfit, and the first person who guesses my shirt fabric wins a prize.

Wish me luck.  And hope that I don’t get two kings again.

Update from WSOP, 2 rounds down

After two hours, I’ve built up my stack from 4500 to 5950. No special hands, just grinding out small victories. My best move was folding an ace queen when I was convinced my opponent had an ace king. I was right!

Biggest news: I met Trishelle from Real World Las Vegas

Most embarrassing news: I recognized Trishelle from Real World Las Vegas and introduced myself to her.


My World Series of Poker seat awaits…


John Y’s Musings from the Middle: So Over…

jyb_musingsDefinition: “I am sooo over that (or him or her).”

Something people say when they are still obsessed about some event or person and aren’t really over it (or him or her), but don’t want others to suspect they are still completely obsessed and have been seeing a therapist twice a week for nearly a year-and-a-half to work through the issue and have made little progress.


10427281_10154311285735515_7239723303620169955_nStory of my life.

At airport and huffing and puffing carrying two stuffed bags, one on each shoulder, and neither with wheels.

How do other people know about these much simpler and better options?

I know they exist. I just can’t imagine myself every being particularly orderly and organized. But when I get back into this position I always regret not being. For about 15 minutes.

Josh Bowen’s World Series of Poker Tuesday Workout for The RP

Globally-recognized personal trainer Josh Bowen will this week be providing intensive physical workout routines for The RP as he prepares to compete in the World Series of Poker.

This morning’s workout is below.

Visit Josh’s web site here and sign up for his newsletter here.


Betsy Powell: Expert advice on how Rob Ford can get his second chance

From Betsy Power of the Toronto Star:

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller

Hi, I’m Rob. And I’m a recovering politician.

When Toronto’s world famous mayor leaves rehab and returns to city hall and the campaign trail Monday, Rob Ford might want to get his hands on The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis, a 2013 book edited by Jonathan Miller, a former state treasurer of Kentucky. (His editor’s note opens with that take on the well-known Alcoholics Anonymous’ salutation.)

The book includes contributions from a dozen former American politicians sharing their “war stories” and advice on how to survive and transcend a crisis.

The steps include: Tell the truth. Own your mistakes, take responsibility and sincerely say “I’m sorry.” Make an emotional connection. Be first to frame your narrative in your own voice, with facts and sincerity. Present your fix-it plan.

North Americans, generally speaking, like to give public figures a second chance, Miller says, citing former U.S. president Bill Clinton, “the ultimate survivor,” and Marion Barry, the ex-Washington, D.C., mayor whom the New York Post calls the “original Rob Ford.”

Some comeback attempts don’t work out. Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s campaign for comptroller last year acknowledged his hooker scandal with an ad that said he’d “failed, big time,” and then he did. Former congressman Anthony Weiner scuttled his political re-entry by getting caught in a second sexting scandal.

Miller says that in his memory, no other scandal-scarred politician has sought re-election with the kind of “comprehensive baggage” Ford has accumulated.

“You’ve had people who suffered from addiction, others accused of hanging with criminal elements, and ethical impropriety. It’s just unprecedented to think of anybody with all of these accusations,” said Miller, a crisis management attorney and founder

The mayor and Councillor Doug Ford, his older brother and campaign manager, have promised the 45-year-old Rob Ford will be a “new man” after spending the last two months in a Muskoka rehab centre where he received treatment for alcoholism.

Ford went to the facility April 30 after audio recordings of him making racist remarks surfaced as well as another video allegedly showing him smoking crack cocaine, which was viewed by a Star reporter.

Ford’s actions in the coming days will be critical if he has a chance of persuading voters to re-elect him mayor on Oct. 27, Miller said.

His advice to Ford? Address the public and answer any and all questions — similar to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s two-hour news conference after a bridge closing scandal.

“He (Ford) really needs to have a full, free, honest and sincere admission of wrongdoing and to say, ‘Here are the ways I am going to change my behaviour so you’ll never see this happen again.’ ”

Ford has scheduled a city hall news conference at 3:30 p.m. Monday, but he will not take any questions. That’s a mistake, said Miller, who is married to a Mississauga native and has spent a lot of time in Canada.

“Letting his critics come in and take every single question and answer it honestly and sincerely . . . that is the way to survive something like this.”

Miller would also advise Ford to speak to youths about the perils of drug and alcohol abuse, and donate money to addiction treatment facilities.

The key will be his sincerity, “and whether people really believe that what he is doing is sincere or rather just a cover for trying to find political redemption.”

But after months of defiance, name calling and angry denials about substance abuse and a string of embarrassing and outrageous behaviour, Ford will face a doubtful public. Emailing a photo of himself in a swimming pool and proclaiming rehab is “amazing” might play well with his hardcore base but it will do little to sway skeptics.

Down at city hall, for instance, Ford has invited councillors to join him in his office Monday afternoon for an “informal meeting.” None contacted by the Star planned to attend. Some wished him luck and hoped rehab had done him some good.

“I don’t make time to meet with bigots, sexists or homophobes,” Councillor Josh Matlow said, referring to some of the comments Ford has made in his drunken stupors…

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith

Former Missouri senator Jeff Smith, a Recovering Politician contributor and another co-author of Scandal and Resurgence, said there’s a “reservoir of goodwill” for Ford, the same way there was for Barry, the former Washington mayor.

While both shared the ignominy of being caught on videotape smoking crack, the two men are popular with a similar constituency: people suspicious of government and media, and who view these politicians “as sort of persecuted underdogs,” Smith said.

“If Ford is able to channel peoples’ sympathies in a way that Marion Barry, I don’t think it’s inconceivable that he could be re-elected, but he can’t come back and have another episode, then it’s over,” Smith said.

Just last week, Barry, who is on a book tour promoting his memoir, Mayor for Life, denied he ever smoked crack in a hotel room when he was mayor in 1990. After going to jail, he was re-elected as mayor in 1994 and later won a seat on council that he still occupies.

Voters also respond to personal scandals differently than they do financial transgressions or those involving abuses of power,” Smith noted. In recent American history, financial scandals are more damaging.

“If it’s sex, a lot of voters are like, ‘what does that have to do with me, that’s between him and his wife and his God.’ If it’s public money, voters are like, ‘that’s my tax money,’ so it’s a different reaction.”

Smith was once a rising star in the Democratic Party and subject of the critically acclaimed documentary Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? His political career ended after he pleaded guilty to election-related fraud and went to prison in 2010 — punishment even his political enemies believed was wildly excessive.

Now a politics professor, Smith said Ford will have to craft his message aimed at the “fence sitters,” and not direct his message to the people “who identify with the sort of grievance-based politics that fuelled his rise.”

The Recovering Politician Bookstore


The RP on The Daily Show

Sign Up For The RP's Email List!