Correcting Rubio (re: Net Neutrality)

This is what happens when a (former) High School teacher grades a Senator’s op-ed on a technological subject.

That Senator is running for President, BTW.

Mark Takano's photo.

I only break out the red pen on special occasions. So when I saw Marco Rubio’s recent op-ed on Net Neutrality, you know I couldn’t resist. It is intentionally m

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Obama and McCain Differ on Net Neutrality

Network neutrality has gathered enough political momentum for both candidates to take an official stand on it. Although the issue was debated furiously in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2006, neither side managed to produce a bill that could be signed into law. (The only lasting result of the efforts on Capitol Hill was an unintentionally comical bit of grandstanding by Alaska senator Ted Stevens, where he offered an analogy describing the Internet as a “series of tubes.”) In the absence of any clear legislation on the matter, the FCC has taken up the role of neutrality enforcer, forcing cable provider Comcast to stop restricting BitTorrent traffic earlier this year.

According to their position statements on the issues, John McCain is against Net neutrality and Barack Obama is for it. This makes it one of the few technology issues on which the candidates clearly disagree.

via Obama and McCain Differ on Net Neutrality – Internet Policy from McCain and Obama – Popular Mechanics

This article is an outstanding primer on the topic of “network neutrality”. They didn’t get specific responses from the campaigns (this issue is currently more of a nerd only thing), but the basic slant of each candidate is evident…

…the general philosophies of each side seem clear: McCain believes in a lightly regulated Internet, while Obama believes in more government involvement. But it gets a bit more complicated. When it comes to net neutrality, both sides can make a credible case that they’re the ones defending freedom of innovation and open communication.

The author then does an excellent job of defining the term…


One reason is that there’s no accepted definition of network neutrality itself. It is, in fact, more of a networking philosophy than a defined political position. A pure “neutral” network is one that would treat all content that traveled across it equally. No one data packet would be prioritized above another. Image files, audio files, a request from a consumer for a web page—all would be blindly routed from one location to another, and the network would neither know nor care what kind of data was encompassed in each packet.For most but not all kinds of files, that’s how it works now.

…and then talks about the literal “technical difficulties” that face the topic in the future.

Go read the article to get a better idea of what those are going to be. Feel free to suggest your own.

It’s an interesting question, as it gets directly at the question of the degree to which the government should regulate the market to protect rights of people, to protect rights of “property” ownership*, and how much we should let the market itself do both…or neither.

* This asterisk is for intellectual property and the whole copyright/internet question, which is of itself a stimulatingly difficult situation to resolve. It is tangential to the Internet as a whole, but also drives a lot of the demand for the bandwidth in question. Comcast got busted for making a decision along this axis.

That is, the copyright/internet question of what is in the dumptrucks. The network neutrality question is what information super-highway they can get on, and whether or not the telecom industry can set up toll booths in the fast lane…and harass the riff-raff.

Changing the World, Internet Style

So there’s been an ongoing battle in the United States over the nature of our knowledge. Which is to say, how we communicate our knowledge to the next generation of Americans. While the vast majority of this battleground is decided, there is a persistent hotspot regarding the nature of Human Creation.

Or perhaps I should more accurately say, human evolution.

I’m not going to go into all the details right now, but basically all life on this planet is related. Small genetic changes over time have led to different species, including our own. That’s basically it. If I had to reduce it to a verse or two to hand down verbally over many generations, that’s how I’d say it.

If I didn’t have knowledge of genetics and DNA and all the evidence that supports their existence and the theories and science surrounding them, I might instead reduce all human knowledge to something poetic. Maybe along the line of …

24 ¶ And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, 1 Cor. 11.7 after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Mt. 19.4 · Mk. 10.6

[more here]

That’s pretty much all background information for the meat of this story, which is how the Internet is helping us help each other teach the next generation a…shall we say…more enlightened understanding of how we came to be we.

As mentioned previously, the topic of the battleground is Evolution. The location of the battleground is Kansas. The time of the battleground is the Election.

And so bOINGbOING gets the ball rolling…

Progressive geek looking for 3,000 people to help him win Kansas election against dinosauric anti-science/pro-surveillance dude


Sean Tevis is a geeky geek from Kansas who’s fed up with his state rep, an anti-abortion, anti-evolution, pro-censorship, pro-surveillance, anti-gay incumbent. Tevis — an unknown — is polling within three points of his opponent, and is looking to raise some Internet dough to kick this guy’s (extremely tight) ass, and to promote his cause, he’s made a fantastic, XKCD-style toon called “It’s Like A Flamewar with a Forum Troll, but with an Eventual Winner.” Specifically, he’s looking to raise $8.34 from 3,000 people (no state rep in Kansas history has ever had more than 644 donors). I’m in*. Who’s with me? Link (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)*Actually, I’m not. I’m a dirty foreigner and I’m not allowed to meddle in American elections. Someone else donate $8.34 to this guy for me, OK?

Which then got picked up by Digg.

And somebody on Kos mentioned it. If it involves fundraising and progressive causes, Kos is going to be a part of the solution.

Anyway, all of that led to this.

UPDATE!

Backup

Donate

We’ve met our goal to run a competitive campaign, but you can help us win. It’s for an excellent cause, you’ll be making history, and you will be greatly appreciated.

…which is awesome.

You can read the whole story, XKCD-style here.

We’ll keep you updated on the story of this guy…

And his fight to help make things a little bit better in one way or another.

/Sean Tevis pimping over.


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Another Reason I Can’t Vote For McCain (Updated 7/8/8)

There are a number of reasons that I find the idea of voting for John McCain for President to be…unpalatable.

Some are big things, like the torture thing and the 100 year war thing.

But some of my reservations are small and petty. This is a small and petty one.

John McCain doesn’t know how to use a computer.

This isn’t conjecture. This isn’t bullshit. It comes straight from his own mouth.

You can see that mouth speaking those words here.

Question: Do you use a Mac or PC

John McCain: “Neither, I am a [sic] illiterate who has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance I can get.”

Small and petty to be sure…but….Daaamn…really?! You don’t even use a computer?

It certainly explains a lot…at least to me.

UPDATE: It looks like this was a pretty timely post (despite the fact that McCain admitted his lack of basic modern knowledge back in March). There has been a general response to McCain’s tech cred given by Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina, one of the most powerful women in corporate America, is leaving the troubled computer maker after being forced out by the company’s board.

Shares of HP (Research) jumped 6.9 percent in heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday on the news. But at one point, the stock was up as much as 10.5 percent.

“The stock is up a bit on the fact that nobody liked Carly’s leadership all that much,” said Robert Cihra, an analyst with Fulcrum Global Partners. “The Street had lost all faith in her and the market’s hope is that anyone will be better.”

Here’s what Fiorina had to say recently

[Jim Puzzanghera] asked her about McCain’s opposition to so-called network neutrality, proposed government rules that would prohibit Internet service providers from charging websites for faster delivery of their content. McCain is on the side of the cable and phone companies, which argue that the rules would squelch investment in new broadband networks. Obama has been a big supporter of net neutrality, a huge issue among online activists that adds to his Internet buzz factor, leading some (OK, it was us) to ask if Obama is a Mac and McCain a PC.

Carly Fiorina: There’s no question that it is to our economy’s benefit to have more Internet access, more broadband capability, to have this country more wired, so to speak, as we move forward…. I think John McCain understands the way to get that done effectively is by principally allowing business to get it done as opposed to a big government-mandated program. And business won’t get it done unless they see sufficient return on their investment.

The problem here and with big business and net neutrality, is that maintaining an open, level playing field on the internet costs potential profits for these businessses.  If they could find a way to charge more for the same thing, and charge people more to access their fat dump-truck tubes (as would happen if network neutrality was nixed), they would make more money…and the people would lose an amazing resource, not to mention creating huge barriers of entry for the next myspace/napster/youtube.

When you have a computer illiterate President, you can be damn well sure that he doesn’t understand network topology and packet switching, and therefore doesn’t have a clue as to why soooo many computer savvy individuals are standing together to try and defend their realm.   We know what can happen once the network is compromised.

We’ve already seen what happens in the Internet realm when Big Business and Big Brother get together.  When you take this already proven propensity for snooping and mix it with a 70-something computer illiterate President the result can only be one thing.

A bad thing.

CBS See’s Net as Useful

CNets Allure for CBS: Both Are Laggards – Bits – Technology – New York Times Blog

So CNet is finally being bought.

In January, I wrote a post called “The Problem With CNet: No One Wants to Buy It.” Every Internet and media company has looked closely at CNet. They are intrigued because it is a leader in its category of tech news and reviews, with some good technology and brands. But it is growing slowly, and its cost base is so high that its profit margins are meager. And the asking price, which hovered between $1 billion and $2 billion, scared off all the potential buyers.

So what is different for CBS, which announced today that it will pay $1.8 billion for CNet?

For one, CBS is also a company with well-known brands and sluggish growth. So CNet adds some luster to CBS, even if it would drag down other theoretical buyers like Yahoo.

Interestingly, on a conference call with investors this morning, CBS said that its own Internet properties — like Sportsline and the Web site for the Grammy Awards — are actually growing faster than CNet is.

Pretty good analysis of the brands and deal there.  Bascially CBS is paying an absolute crapload for some good domain names.  C-Net has been a solid ‘net brand for a long time, but never really jumped into the huge category.  I have serious doubts that CBS will do amazing things with the properties, but have tv.com and news.com in your stable of properties should be beneficial for an old-scheel TV business with a long term news brand.

The Language of the Intarwebs (Nerdic)

‘Nerdic’ is fastest-growing language – Telegraph

From dongles to mashups to RickRolling, ‘geek speak’ has become the fastest growing language in Europe as new words are invented to describe technological advances.

Experts claim about 100 new words are added to the language of technology, dubbed ‘Nerdic’, every year – three times the number of new words making it into the Oxford English Dictionary.

This year the number of new Nerdic words will rise to 200, according to research carried out by e-tailer pixmania.com to mark the 15th anniversary of the internet.

I don’t know about this. I found a very convincing argument against it here.

The Shithole Ratio

ASCII by Jason Scott: The Tyranny of the Ratio

Not every part of history is bright and cheerful, and some concepts which we think we’ve grown past are certainly still with us to the present day. In these cases, historical knowledge of the situation is even more disheartening than none at all. Nothing’s worse than knowing we’ve encountered a problem before, have dealt with the problem, and now the problem has optimized and made itself even more insidious and evil the next time around.Many situations fall under this general description, but I speak today of the Ratio.

This one is regarding the largely unsolvable problem of “community”.  At least it’s good to know there’s always going to be problems.

Meatsack Meanderings

Our collective recent history, online (kottke.org)

In past few years, several prominent US magazines and newspapers have begun to offer their extensive archives online and on DVD. In some cases, this includes material dating back to the 1850s. Collectively it is an incredible record of recent human history, the ideas, people, and events that have shaped our country and world as recorded by writers, photographers, editors, illustrators, advertisers, and designers who lived through those times. Here are some of most notable of those archives:

Good collection on a bunch of silly things you biological organisms enjoy doing.

The Revolution Was Not Televised

Mainstream Media Finally Cops To Dependence on Blogs* – Silicon Alley Insider

As mainstream media disintegrates, one of the final plums of pride clutched by those who still work in it is that bloggers are just parasitic leeches who depend on them for every last info nugget and pageview. *(In original post, there was a snarky, and, in retrospect, unfair aside here about a dialogue in the comments of this post. Our apologies to Dan Miller).But now we get the real story.

In anonymous surveys, if not in interviews or religious sermons, mainstream media journalists are finally copping to their dependence on blogs. The 2008 PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey queried 1,231 journalists, and here’s what they said:

  • Nearly 73% of respondents sometimes or always use blogs in their research.

And so it goes.  As with many revolutions, it is over before it began.  And by “over” I mean decided.

That’s how ninjas do it.