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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wealth Accumulation

Society is geared for wealth to accumulate.
It's almost like wealth has a certain gravity about it that pulls other wealth to it such that the lumped wealth gathers yet more wealth. The bigger the wealth gets the more quickly it gathers more wealth.

This appears to be how society has ALWAYS worked. The cycle of wealth has been repeated over and over again.

It is thus: everyone starts out equal until someone works smarter AND harder than everyone else and gets more for their efforts. That individual eventually accumulates wealth at a rate faster than they consume it. They pass the leftover wealth on to their children when they die. Those children use that wealth to leverage their work to gain more wealth at a faster pace. Eventually the most wealthy 1% have more than 99% of all the wealth in the world. Then something disrupts this and the wealth situation resets to a much more equal state only to start over again.

Here's the kicker on this: we, the poor, not only LET it happen but also HELP make it happen.

We do this in many ways that are forced upon us such as by buying food from a company with the lowest prices and clothing from larger companies whose profits line the pockets of their CEOs.
We do this in ways that are convenient to us such by buying internet service from large corporations whose profits line the pockets of their CEOs.
We do this without knowing we're doing it by having a political system where politicians can become rich through listening to lobbyists for special interest groups.
We also do this willingly through many of the luxuries that we partake in. I am a Star Trek fan. Every time I purchase anything with a Star Trek label on it I am contributing to the wealthy people behind Paramount (and it's parent company) having greater wealth while decreasing my own wealth. Any time someone purchases a ticket to a professional sporting event they, too, are doing this.

This is something to think on. The next time you purchase anything you are contributing to the inherently unbalanced system that aggregates all the wealth at the top until the top is too wealth heavy to stay where it is.

When will the next collapse be?

They do happen: that's how we ended up with the USSR. That's the root cause of the French Revolution and the seed of WWI (WWII was, really, just a continuation of WWI after recovery from the economic sanctions imposed on Germany at the end of WWI).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Future is Now. Technology Won't Wait/Stop

Instead of a post today I bring you this link:
The Pencil Integration Blog post

Take a few minutes to look at the ridiculousness of questioning whether knowing how to use current tools properly is the smart thing to do for schools.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Insert your own witty/funny/entertaining and/or insightful post here.

Then have a nice long weekend followed by another. :-)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Road Reformation

The next big revolution in industry will be the "green" revolution.

We're running out of non-sustainable energy sources so we will HAVE to make the renewable sources work for us.

The sun is the biggest source of energy we can possibly tap into.

One of the problems with harnessing the sun is the lack of efficiency in converting the EM radiation it sends our way into electricity. HUGE leaps and bounds are being made in that area.

The other is surface area. Where can we put panels that will absorbs the sun without further destroying out oxygen factories (e.g. plants)?
One answer is the roads.

I'm not the first person to think of this:

Another answer is our houses.
I'm also not the first person to think of this: (a quick google search for "photovoltaic paint") and that's a different topic to the idea of reforming the roads.....

I often wonder what the total cost of roadways are. The cost of the "game fences" that keep animals off the roads; the cost of collisions with animals and the resulting cleanup. The cost of accidents from inclement weather. The cost of dropping telephone poles in the ground to run lines along the roads, the cost of guardrails, etc. The total cost of roads is MUCH more than the actual cost of installing them. In IT we call this "total cost of ownership" or "TCO" but it applies to everything. What is the TCO of an interstate highway? Is leaving the traveling on the surface the most efficient way to accomplish the goals of having such a system?

I'm not a civil engineer who specializes in roads so I don't know for sure and never will. But I do think that the idea of creating underground conduits is a good one to explore the TCO of. If the TCOs of underground conduits are similar to that of highways I am certain a case could be made to use them instead of above ground highways.

Here's a REALLY rough drawing of what I envision:

I envision this being placed in such a way as to have the upper part of the oval enclosure being about 2 feet above the surface. We could then run solar panels down the entire length of the highway that are angled both ways for maximum collection. The solar energy collected would power the lights and ventilation system as well as dynamic signs AND reserve power would be pumped into the grid.

The benefits? No more collisions due to inclement weather or wildlife on the road.
The drawbacks? Collisions due to driver error would be harder to clean up and a power failure would make the road unusable. Combine this with automated cars and we would only need to worry about power failures, which would be VERY localized if the entire surface is a solar array and there are proper storage mechanisms (batteries) to power lighting, etc during the night.

Just a thought.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Brain is Too Busy

Several times over the last two days I've re-touched on the same idea that I wanted to post about for THIS post (which is late). Each time the idea resurfaces at a point in time where I cannot get to a place to type up the idea.

As soon as I get a chance to type the idea I can't find it. My brain has swallowed in into the sea of many ideas that is filling my brain matter.

It's times like this that I contemplate how inefficient our brains are. How I marvel at the idea that we can accomplish ANYTHING at all. How I look up to and respect those that have put a strict mental discipline into play that allows them to have far superior recall than myself.

It also makes me wonder how much more I could do/be if I had a perfectly ordered "file" system for my brain so that each and every thought, idea and memory were perfectly cataloged and easily search-able when I needed the information.

The day is coming where that will be the case, but I don't think it will be through genetics or biological enhancement (at least not at first). It will be through wireless data plans attached to an implant that feeds directly into our brains. We'll think things and have them stored directly into a perfectly storable medium on an external device.

The question is: what format will they be in? Will we have to think in clear, concise langauge? Will imagery and full-motion imagined video be captured? How realistic will it be? Who will own the copyright? What if you imagine scenes/images with people that are rendered as completely photo-realistic but they never happened? How will the legality of that play out? Will the government be allowed free access to your thought-drive?

There are lots of things to think of about this. Would the pros outweigh the cons? How long would it be before it is assumed that your child has a data jack for schooling (removing the ability to freely CHOOSE to have one installed in an informed manner)? How long before they start installing them at birth by default?

This is a very exciting and scary time for many reasons. This is just one of them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ideas are Neutral: Implementaion is Where the Evil May Lie

Ideas, like tools, are completely neutral to their surroundings.

A handgun, for instance, is born of the idea of killing someone. Killing someone, we can safely assume, is generally not a good thing. Handguns, though, are also used for defending yourself when someone else is trying to kill you. Defending oneself is generally a good thing. Handguns, obviously, are fairly neutral. On the one hand they can be used for acts of evil but they can also be used to stop acts of evil.

A pencil is generally a useful tool. They are used to jot down important notes. Write books. Write letters, etc. Pencils, however, can also be used to stab people. Does the fact that pencils COULD be used to kill someone make them evil? Nope; it shows that they are neutral.

Fire consumes all that it touches and turns it to ash. Fire can inflict HUGE amounts of pain and generates toxic gasses that kill many things silently. Fire ravages the countryside in an indiscriminate way. Fire destroys homes and lives. Fire kills. Fire also provides the heat used to generate electricity in coal plants. Fire converts gasoline into kinetic energy we use to get around in our cars and cut our lawns. Fire is used to process dirty water into water that is safe to drink. Fire cooks our food and makes it a fantastic meal rather than a disease filled raw pile of meat.

Dihydrous Monoxide is a powerful substance that can eat through metal and rock. It destroy buildings. It turns stable ground into sinkholes that devour people, cars, houses, and many other things. It is used at some stage of production in EVERY toxic chemical known to man. It's found in the lungs of everyone who has ever drown. There is a large concentration of it in the bloodstream of everyone who has died from physical injuries. EVERYONE who has ever come into contact with dihydrous monoxide has eventually died. That's right; this substance is completely and totally lethal to mankind in the right dosage and placement. But this substance goes by another name. The other name is far more commonly known. That other name is water. Without water we die in three days. Without water we are nothing more than a few pounds of minerals. Without water life would not exist. Water, therefore, is neither evil nor good. It is essential AND lethal. Water just is.

Most ideas just are as well. Many ideas have inherently good and bad properties to them. I'm sure if you think about many of the ideas that you encounter in your daily life you'll find good and bad in all of them.

One such idea that is important is the idea of Natural Selection among mankind.

Natural Selection is a powerful "law" of nature. It is the engine that powers evolution. It is what allows the strong and the successful to thrive and survive while eliminating the weak and those who fail. Natural Selection is a force for optimization and efficiency.

We've reached a point in our development as a species where we have leveraged the natural world enough to not only counter the force of Natural Selection but move beyond it. We're working counter to the "law" of nature that allowed for all optimized life to evolve to the point that it is at now.

The idea of preserving the efficiency and optimization of life is not a bad idea. I, personally, think it is a GREAT idea. The problem is not in the core idea; it's in the execution of that idea.

The movie Serenity deals with this idea. (SPOILER ALERT) It deals with it by exposing 30 million people to a chemical to "make them better." It fails. They create a HUGE population of monsters.

History has shown multiple instances of this. The ancient Spartans did this by examining EVERY baby and leaving those they deemed inferior out to die from exposure. Is the core idea of trying to be the strongest, fastest, smartest, most well trained warriors ever a bad idea? No. Was their execution of that idea evil? YES.

Hitler was on a quest for the "super man" and he went about it by actively killing any and all who did not meet his image of that (ironically, he did not fit the mold, but he allowed himself to live through much of the war). Is the idea of killing MILLIONS of people who you deem inferior evil? Yes.

Is there a way to counteract the idea of counteracting Natural Selection without being evil? That is debatable. I think there is, but that would be a longer post that often enrages many people on either side of the debate.

The important thing here is that ideas are neither good nor evil. It is ALWAYS the execution of the ideas that is either good or evil. That includes the idea of this idea.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Everything We KNOW is Wrong

Our knowledge of how the Universe works is VERY limited and it is all wrong.
We have equations, LOTS of equations, LOTS of VERY complicated equations that model and explain how the universe MUST work. But they are all wrong.

Why are they wrong? Because they don't explain everything.

Our current understanding of the Universe fails to explain what gravity is (see my earlier post).
Our current understanding fails to explain what "Dark Matter" is and why we can't detect it.
Our current understanding fails to explain what "Dark Energy" is.

Our current understanding has upper and lower bounds of mass density. The upper bound is the just shy of the smallest mass that it takes to create a sustainable singularity (in the form of a sustainable singularity); the lower bound is the Hydrogen atom as a whole entity. Everything outside those masses (ALL sustainable singularities AND all sub-atomic particles) don't follow the laws of physics that we have worked out. The equations and mathematics break down. We have other models that seem to work in the sub-atomic space and, sometimes, in the singularity space but there is no way to bridge moving from one model to the other.

A quick explanation of the terms that currently make no sense to me and why I think so (skipping gravity because of the earlier post):
Dark Energy is the name for the mysterious force that shows NO evidence for existence other than the "Red Shift" of the stars that are very far away. The "Red Shift" is the effect that we observe for objects that are moving AWAY from us at incredible speeds. Different light colors have different wavelengths. Over millenia of traversing space the light seems to separate out into its different energy levels. The red arrives first and the other colors follow. This results in everything that is moving away from us to appear slightly more red than it should.
I find a problem with this because the other light would have to catch up with us eventually making a fuzzy (but color-wise complete) image. Only the FIRST light that reaches us should be clear and red-shifted; the rest should be slightly fuzzy (as the various colors will show a slightly different image) but all showing all the colors. The LAST image should show us only the lowest-energy color before no more imagery from that location arrives. When something is consistently red-shifted there is a problem: what happened to the other light? What if the universal expansion that red shift implies is NOT what is the reality of what is going on. What if there is something ELSE happening that generates the same apparent effect on the light?
Dark Matter is the term for the invisible, undetectable matter that we only believe to exist because we witness unexplainable things that can ONLY be explained by VAST clouds of matter that we cannot see exerting gravity on the surrounding space. The longer we go without any actual evidence for this Dark Matter (and there are experiments trying to locate it) the less likely it is that this mysterious substance actually exists. Right now it is the ONLY explanation that we can come up with. Until experimentation proves the existence of it I will remain skeptical of it being the actual explanation for the effects we see.

Because our models cannot account for everything all at once they are wrong. There may be parts of them that are accurate, but as a whole they are wrong.

I wonder what the reality of our universe is. Perhaps it's a giant simulation and when Voyager smashes into the outer wall of out we'll wonder what happened.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Glimpse into My Work World

This is a summary of ONE help ticket I had to work on this week.

Teacher: "I have a bunch of students who can't use their email"
Me: "Which students"
Teacher: < sends list, 5 of which include nicknames instead of real names >
Me: "for < list of kids with nicknames > what are their real names?"
Teacher: < sends list >
Me: "What does "can't use their email" mean?"
Teacher: "They can't login"
Me: "I've reset their passwords. Here's the list of proper usernames and corresponding passwords. < includes list >"
Teacher: "It still doesn't work"
Me: "I just tested it, it works on all of them."
Teacher: "It still doesn't work."
Me: "Are They using the passwords I just sent you?"
Teacher: "They have to use THAT password?"
Me: "Yes. Capitalization matters. Then they can pick their own. "
Teacher: "OH."
Teacher: "Works now. Thanks"

This is a summary of another:

Teacher: "< Student Name > can't use email."
Me: "OK. Can you explain what that means?"
Teacher: "No."
Me: "I need more to go on to know what I need to fix for the student."
Teacher: "OK. < Student Name > can't use email."
Me: "Can you just have the student come to the tech office?"
Teacher: "Why?"
Me: "So I can see what is not working with the email so I know what to fix."
Teacher: "Can't you just fix it?"
Me: "Not until I know what's wrong."
Teacher: "I'll send < the student > down at the end of the period."
Editorial Note: "end of the period" means the that the student will lose time from the NEXT class instead of that class.
< Student arrives in Tech office >
Me: "Hello. How can I help you?"
Student: "< Teacher Name > Sent me down."
Me: "OK. For your email problem?"
Student: "Yes."
Me: "How is it not working?"
Student: < Shrug >
Me: "May I look at it, please?"
Student: < Hands over laptop >
Me: "Can you show me what you are trying to do?"
Student: < Demonstrates >
Me: < Resets password; sets mail client up CORRECTLY; mail works > "There you go. Have a nice afternoon.
Student: < Leaves without even a "thank you" >

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dangerous Social Experiments

Recently there was a show on TV titled "The Colony."

It set a premise of a catastrophic viral outbreak having ravaged the planet. The show followed one colony of people who survived the outbreak as they tried to survive.

This was NOT a fiction show. This was a social experiment. The people on the show were REAL people. The lack of food was a REAL lack of food.

Did they KNOW it was fake? Yes. But when you're starving that doesn't matter.

As part of the show the production staff routinely had other people raid the colony to steal supplies (and people). One thing I noticed was that the colonists never built and made lethal-grade weaponry to defend themselves with. Obviously this MUST be a part of the rules of the show, but what would happen if they got SO defensive and desperate that they did actually harm or kill one of the paid extras who was playing the roll of a marauder?

The show in an interesting social experiment but past social experiments (see the Stanford Prisoner Experiment) have proven that people step outside the context of their normal behavior when put in abnormal situations. I am smart enough to know that if I were miserable AND starving AND sleep deprived AND cold AND wet AND under attack I might run the risk of defending back with a level of vengeance that would result in serious harm.

If that happened who is to blame?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Public Funding

One thing I think about a lot is the best way to accomplish revenue generation for public services and assets.

So far I can think of no ideal solution.
Currently the USA employs a mixture of taxation techniques to raise revenue.
The one that most people readily think of is the income tax. Our income tax is a graduated tax system that taxes people a greater percentage depending on the amount they make. This is, of course, completely unfair and it penalizes people for working hard to improve their own lives. In an effort to counter that unfairness we have many income tax deductions that allow people to deduct things that are costs of living for them to decrease their income tax burden. This, too, is completely unfair as it rewards people for having families and, indirectly, penalizes people who choose to have smaller (or no) families. Plus the deductions have a rule structure that is so absurd that people can spend thousands of dollars to private accountants to circumvent the taxation system with a net result of saving money.
Any system that is inherently unfair to start with that adds layers of complexity which create additional unfairness is a poor system that should be abandoned. If there MUST be an income tax it should be a flat percentage regardless of how much you make with no deductions. Unfortunately, there is a problem with this model, too. If your income is at the poverty level you end up requiring a greater percentage of your income to merely survive than those who earn significantly more than the poverty level. In addition, managing all of the income tax collection and processing requires a huge fleet of agents who are employed by the government. Their salaries and benefits and office space, etc all detract from the value of EACH AND EVERY tax dollar collected.
The income tax is, therefore, a conundrum that is a lose-lose situation for everyone.

The next most common taxation method is the sales tax. EVERYONE buys things. Rich people tend to spend significantly more than poor people because they have more money to spend. If there were a flat percentage sales tax then EVERYONE could control their level of taxation by choosing how much they spend. Of course, there is a minimum level of spending that anyone can accomplish because there is a minimal set of necessities for basic survival. This means that the poor would be taxed a higher percentage of their income than the rich in a minimalistic situation. Compounding this issue is the reality that the less the rich are spending the more they are saving or investing. The more they invest the more wealth they will accumulate, thus making the poor even poorer.

The third taxation method that affects people on a regular basis is the property tax. I, personally, find the property tax to be the least fair of the current taxation methods because it forces those who own property to pay for all of the local public services that are consumed by everyone. Renters don't (directly) pay for the schools their children attend: the landlords do.

I've thought about this a lot and the possible outcomes of changing the system. The conclusion I've come to is that a combined taxation system is necessary, but not one as convoluted and corrupted as the one we have now.

Here's the thought I have:

1. Eliminate the personal income tax and replace it with a 15% federal income tax. My paycheck currently sees more than 15% deducted for the variety of federal income-related taxes. If all of those went away and were replaced with a 15% income tax on everything the ultra-rich who avoid their income taxes would cease to be able to circumvent the taxation system so revenues would go up. In addition 85% (a complete guess that is unsubstantiated by any research) of the IRS would be able to be laid off (a one-time economic disruption) creating a large savings in cost. More revenue and lower cost means an improvement in the efficiency of the funds collected AND an expansion of the services that our tax revenues are able to provide. The majorirty of people for whom this additional taxation would become an overly large burden are probably already on some sort of assistance service. Their "benefit" could be adjusted upward to compensate for this and the difference in benefit would, essentially, be a neutralizing agent on the increased revenue for that segment of the population.
2. An investment / capital gains tax to prevent an increasingly larger and larger accumulation of wealth by the top 1% of the population. If we start with a fixed number for raw investment value (I will use $100,000 because it makes the math easy) as the baseline starting point we could apply an investment tax on the earnings that the investment makes. If your investment generates 10% return in cash each year ($10,000) then you pay the investment tax on the $10,000. The more cash dividends you earn on you investments the more raw volume of taxation you receive. Capital gains taxes work in a similar manner, but they are the value of the investment itself. Stocks and real estate are common examples of items that experience capital gains taxes. If you purchase an item for $100,000 but sell it for $1,000,000 then you have earned $900,000 on that investment. Capital gains taxes you on that earning. Because of the inherent inequality between being rich and being poor I think it is important to create taxation levels that help slow the general accumulation of wealth by the rich, but only to a point that is fair and equally applied to EVERYONE.

So, in short:
No income tax + 15% federal sales tax = more money in my wallet each week, more money for the government AND less cost.
Investment and Capital Gains task = limited wealth accumulation by the rich and a second taxation base to level the percentage of "surplus" income that is taken by the government.

Anyone have any additional thoughts on this?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On WikiLeaks

I am trying to be more positive so I am choosing to be amused rather than annoyed with the WikiLeaks controversy.

Why would I be annoyed? Because of the USA government's hypocrisy.
Why am I amused? Because things the USA government representatives said have, essentially, been turned back on the government.

Basically, when the USA passed The Patriot Act and put many (illegal) domestic surveillance and spying regulations and rules into effect there were many organizations that opposed the action as "draconian" and "going too far" and "an invasion of privacy." The government's response to this was, essentially, summarized as "if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear."

WikiLeaks has done the same thing to the government. If the government could be fully trusted and was fully transparent about EVERYTHING that did not relate directly to national defense then they would have NOTHING TO FEAR by WikiLeaks. Instead, we find that leaks of government documents are finding their way onto the internet and causing great embarrassment of government officials. That's right, EMBARRASSMENT. People are not dying (yet). Military operations haven't (yet) been compromised. Politicians are being embarrassed by the posted material.

Politicians need to grow up and realize that the things they say to the people about not doing things wrong apply to them, too. If they weren't doing and saying things that were wrong they would have nothing to fear about living in the public eye.

If you don't want public scrutiny don't choose a profession that requires it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

DNA is a Programming Language

We are on the edge of a fantastic technological break-through.
I am certain it will happen in my lifetime, but I'm not exactly sure when.
It could be VERY near or it could happen when I'm in my 90s but I am certain it WILL happen.

Whenever it happens it will be both AWESOME AND TERRIFYING.

This break-through is cracking DNA in such a way that we see it for what it really is: a programming language.

ALL computer operations are reduced to a binary instruction set. EVERYTHING on a computer is reduced to a string of digits that are all either a 1 or a 0.
DNA is the same, yet VERY different. It is the same in that it is a VERY long program that instructs our cells how to form, build, maintain, etc US. We, in essence, are the manifestation of that program. That is how DNA is the same as binary. Here's how it's different: is exponentially more complicated.

A string of two binary digits has four possible outcomes: 00, 01, 10, and 11.
A string of three binary digits has eight outcomes: 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111.
The pattern is the base (2) to the power of the number of digits (3).

DNA is, essentially, a base four system. A T C G are the four "numbers" that exist.
A string of two digits, therefore, has 16 combinations instead of 4.
A string of four digits will yield 64 combinations instead of 8.

So what does this MEAN?

It means that DNA is exponentially more complicated a base-language than binary. That is how it can do all of the things it does for biological beings.

How is this AWESOME?
This is awesome because when the code is cracked we will be able to program LIFE from scratch. We'll be able to make robots that are biological in nature (Arthur C. Clarke coined the term "Biots" with respect to this). We'll be able to cure diseases. We'll be able to get ANYTHING we need to be grown directly. Trees that grow in the shapes of chairs; algae that spews out oil as a waste product; flowers that compute, pretty much anything you can think of that we can BUILD we could grow.

How is that TERRIFYING?
For starters: watch the movie GATTACA.
But also look at all of the junk available for your computer. Look at all of the malicious code that exists to make pornographic pop-up windows on laptops, that fill your email box with spam, that hijack your search result links, etc. Look at all of the things that require computers to have security software and imagine having to have that type of software running IN YOU.

I am excited by the ideas that what good this type of development could bring the world, but I really fear the idea of having to purchase Norton Anti-Virus for my brain and body.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Automation is a Good Idea

There is a lot of debate about automation in society.
In fact I posted earlier about how it is training us to be helpless.
I believe this is true, but at the same time I find that there is still a HUGE volume of good to be done by automating dangerous things.

We've increased productivity and decreased costs by automating assembly lines and, while we've done that, we've decreased the volume of harm done to people through accidents caused by human error.

I work on trying to automate a great deal of things in my job because of the limited financial resources for person-power to do routine tasks.

If there is anything that computers (and thus robots) are REALLY good at it is repetitive and predictable tasks. They perform their tasks WITHOUT error. Robots and computers don't make mistakes; people do. The mistakes that appear to be made by robots and/or computers are actually mistakes made by people FAR upstream from the robot / computer. The programmers made the mistake. The people assembling the robot made the mistake. The operator of the robot made the mistake. A computer or robot is ONLY capable of doing what it is programmed to do BY A PERSON.

As we refine our programming we are also making systems that are FAR more capable. They are more capable of analyzing input and providing an appropriate output. They are more capable of handling error correction (e.g. conflicting input and/or part failure and/or programming errors in one section of their instructions) to provide the best output.

You might ask what prompts this post and I can quickly and surely answer that it is Google's automobile project. I mean "automobile" in the truest sense of the word: an automated mobile. That's right, Google has automated cars. They've run them on public roads without any accidents (except one, where someone else rear-ended the automated car) and with user intervention only a handful of times (like when cyclists and/or pedestrians walked out in front of the car against the light).

I have faith in the technology to be less dangerous than humans. I believe that computers could drive at faster speeds, in closer range to each other and for longer durations than people with fewer collisions. I believe that the automated cars are a good thing.

I especially believe that they would make my commute a heck of a lot more pleasant (nap, anyone?).

On the flip-side: I like driving. I imagine that once the majority of the cars on the road are automated I would have to go to a driving resort to be able to drive my own vehicle.


Network Neutrality is important

A lot of people don't know what Net Neutrality is and a lot more have heard the term but don't understand what it means.

If you have no idea what it is or what it means then you don't know how important it is to you.

"The Internet" is not a single thing. The internet is really an interconnected network of computer networks. It's MANY things. It's MANY things that all talk to each other and generally play nice together. Or, at least, that's what it USED to be.

Net neutrality is the concept that having all of the networks play nice to each other is the way it SHOULD be and that it is the way it should STAY.

If you enjoy being able to get on your computer and go to or or stream a NetFlix movie then you enjoy the benfits of Net Neutrality.

ComCast is trying to change all of this.

ComCast is trying to change a "peering agreement" with another of the networks that makes up the internet. The other network, Level3, is the network that is set to service connectivity to NetFlix. ComCast fears the overwhelming level of material that will, therefore, come FROM the Level3 network back into the ComCast network (at ComCast user request). ComCast is threatening to terminate their peering arrangement with Level3 unless Level3 pays ComCast considerably more money for this traffic.

If Comcast gets their way in this EVERYONE loses.
ComCast subscribers lose because they will no longer be able to reliably access traffic that is on the Level3 network instead of the ComCast network.
Level3's customers lose because they can no longer reliably provide services to customers of ComCast.
ComCast thinks they will have won, but they will have drawn the ire of EVERYONE in the world dropping their already terrible reputation even further.

And that's just the FIRST step.

This will open the door for EVERY network that is a part of the internet to re-evaluate how they want to manage the network traffic that YOU, the consumer, are paying to have access to. Contrary to the belief of the opponents of Net Neutrality the larger sites are NOT getting a "free ride." Every time you request information from Google you're using the connection that YOU pay for and Google is using the connection that THEY pay for on their end. Each bit of data being passed is paid for TWICE as it is now. ComCast wants Level3 to pay more for the traffic going into ComCast.

This might not SEEM like a big deal. But if the underlying structure of "playing nice" goes away we could ALL have internet service provider plans that look the like satirical graphic created and posted here.

I'd be fully in support of this if I actually had a CHOICE on who provided my internet. But very few people do. You have your cable company for fast internet and you have the phone company for slower broadband access. If you want selection I guess you could revert to a dial-up provider if you can find one.

(Note: this post was edited to change the abbreviation of Level3 that I used, L3 back into the proper name as there is a different company named L3)