Archive for December, 2017

Can We Afford Net Neutrality?

2017/12/07

People seem to believe that the internet/World Wide Web exists independently of society, a magical system which is just there, without anybody having to do anything to make it be there.  They are apparently unaware that all the activity in the cyber world requires machines to make it possible,  Lots and lots of machines, racks and racks of them, filling buildings the size of Wal-Marts, connected by hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber optic cable and radio links.  All of this costs money, which comes out of our pockets.

And some of us cannot afford premium Web service, but we still need access to the Web.  Schools now communicate with parents via the Web, students get homework assignments over the Web, and have to turn them in via the Web. Many companies request that applications, orders, returns, and other business be conducted over the Web.  Banks often charge customers extra if they want to do business in person, or severely limit the opportunities to do so.  Web service can be more important than having an automobile, and can serve in place of autos by allowing so much to be done electronically.

My internet provider is constantly improving the download speed that their system runs at, in part to justify charging more for their service.  However, they do not offer tiers of service levels, instead insisting that one size fits all.  So I am charged the same amount for my occasional YouTube videos, text content, and emails as the guy down the street who is streaming several hours of video every day, downloading movies, and online gaming.  Sure, it is nice to have blindingly fast Web service, but I would rather pay less and get slower access.

Sure, it will take longer for my video to load, but I would tolerate that if my bill could be cut in half.  Web service is becoming as vital as electric service, an essential utility, and it should be assured to everyone, not just those who can afford top-of-the-line bandwidth.  Toll roads are beginning to charge more during high-traffic periods, when demand is highest.  Electric companies sometimes charge more for energy during peak demand times.  Allowing Web service providers to charge more for faster access is part of making ever faster service possible.  But we don’t all have to use it.

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Throwing away Jerusalem

2017/12/05

President Trump has stated his desire to see Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in spite of conflicting demands by the Palestinians and Muslims.  Jerusalem is a holy city to several faiths, including Christians, and it makes little sense to cede it to one group.  Instead, the city should be declared an international city, and be governed by a coalition of interested groups.

No one group has a preeminent claim on Jerusalem, as it has been under the control of various religious groups over the centuries.  Ceding control of Jerusalem to one faction is certain to foment conflict, something which the Middle East already has too much of.