Author Archives: Dan

About Dan

I wonder what I should say.


A page from history, originally uploaded by dfb.

My son’s copy of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever is pretty much destroyed (my fault – long story). In an attempt to make it up to him I bought a used copy. My son’s original copy was printed in the last few years. The new-used copy is from a 1979 printing (the original copyright for both say 1963).
It seemed like a good idea until we noticed that the editors had removed certain pages and images — for good reason — from more recent editions. For example, this is one such page that was not included in my son’s copy. The small text says: “Indian is coming to town to buy a horse for his squaw to ride. Why do you think it would be nice for her to have a horse to ride?”
I’m glad the editors made the choice to remove this page and certain other pictures from more recent editions – this book is intended for babies and preschoolers after all.

Now in Saipan

We moved to the island of Saipan a few weeks ago. I now work as a law clerk clerk for the territorial Supreme Court of the Northern Mariana Islands. More specifically, I am the law clerk to the Honorable Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice.

Politically, the Northern Mariana Islands, or CNMI, is a U.S. territory similar to Puerto Rico. It was part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific that was set up after World War II by the United Nations and administered by the U.S. In the 1970?s, CNMI chose to become part of the United States while other parts of the Trust Territory of the Pacific decided on independence. Saipan is the capital island of CNMI.

Geographically, Saipan and the rest of the islands that make up CNMI are part of the same archipelago as Guam (about 125 miles from Saipan) and classified as part of Micronesia. The archipelago is located 2/3?s of the way between Hawaiā€™i and Manila, Philippines. Less than 100 miles east of Saipan is the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest known portion of the Pacific Ocean.

Wrangling high speed trains

This summer, the California High Speed Rail Authority proposed putting its high speed trains through Alhambra, the suburb close to downtown L.A. where my family and I temporarily landed. The I-10 freeway runs through the city with 12 lanes (6 lanes each way) and a commuter train line down the center of the freeway. Despite such a wide transportation corridor, the Rail Authority had the gall to propose a route along but outside the footprint of the freeway. Such a route would require homes to be seized and people evicted. Unlike other areas near freeways, Alhambra and its neighboring cities are not blighted nor ghettos. Moreover, a route down the center of the freeway on the commuter tracks would force the Rail Authority to build on an elevated platform from 35-50 feet high. Worse yet, the Rail Authority is rushing its environmental study process through despite having plenty of time on its side. It currently intends to finish its environmental reviews in 2014 but not begin construction until 2020, the earliest. By rushing, it is predetermining the I-10 freeway as the route selected.

I am showing my opposition the only way I know how. I created a web site where I am tracking the project and providing analysis about the route, focusing on the things the Rail Authority is leaving out of its presentations. I am also organizing my community so that it is informed, can learn more about the project, and voice concerns now before it is too late.

The upside to Google Books

Knowledge sharing is a foundation to a strong society and economy. For that reason, I think it is very impressive and wonderful that libraries and companies have teamed up to share books digitally.* For example, while researching the philosophical underpinnings of public trust in our democracy, I stumbled across Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Volume 2, hosted by Google Books. His Democracy in America series is a classic work and important for its early study of American democracy and society.

The book is also available in ebook format and other digital formats at a number of different web sites.

All digital formats have their pluses and minuses. Including book scans is wonderful because it is generally more readable than plain text formatting and does not require a specialized machine that costs $100 or more. Of course, I prefer paper to digital books but the downside to paper is the inability to quickly and easily search. šŸ™‚

* Note, I am talking specifically about books in the public domain, and to some extent orphaned works. Despite the obvious flaws to our copyright system, copyrights are valuable to society to encourage and reward creativity.


After a long hiatus, I’m back to updating this blog and doing the social network thing (although still a tad less frequent than before).

Sweet Dreams

Me: Good night, sweet dreams. What will you dream of tonight?
Casimir: Lay see

Lay see are the red envelopes given as gifts by Chinese folks. Other words are hong bao (literally red envelope). Cas prefers the envelope to its contents (for now;-).

Like Water For Spectrum

You can now download the paper I wrote for a Mass Communications class I took during the fall semester (also with a more practical title): Water Law Principles Applied to Spectrum Opportunities for Wireless Rural Broadband (PDF — 37 pages – with links) (Google Docs – without links).

In the paper, I recommend that the FCC utilize principles from water law to open up radio spectrum to encourage mobile/wireless broadband in rural areas.

From the introduction:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order, [the White Spaces Order], in November 2008 to free upĀ  unused radio spectrum in the television frequency band for unlicensed use by low power devices. AĀ  goal of the order is to help lower the costs of entry to potential wireless broadband providers by making more spectrum available for free to businesses and consumers.

One shortcoming in relation to rural users is the order’s failure to address backhaul between a ruralĀ  community and backbone networks. Frequencies in the television spectrum that are the focus of theĀ  White Spaces Order do not lend themselves well to point to point communication necessary for longerĀ  distance backhaul from a community to a backbone connection point. Without access to spectrum forĀ  backhaul, rural communities will be forced to rely on other alternatives such as more expensive fiber cables. As such, the Commission will need to provide spectrum that is better suited for backhaul required for viable and economic high speed Internet services in rural communities. To that end, I suggest that the Commission apply three modified principles of water law that: 1) require spectrum useĀ  be beneficial and reasonable; 2) require the licensee to actually use the spectrum and not hold a license Ā for speculative purposes; and 3) provide for equivalent replacement of a communications signal.

Applying these principles will free up unused and underutilized spectrum for more productive purposes including point to point backhaul connections.

Continue reading: Water Law Principles Applied to Spectrum Opportunities for Wireless Rural Broadband (PDF — 37 pages – with links) (Google Docs – without links).