Friday, May 19, 2017

Net Neutrality

As part of the Republicans march to eliminate every regulation that big business opposes, we move to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They are about to eliminate one of the pillars of the open internet. A practice that has been in place since the inception of the internet.

That pillar is net neutrality. Many people have no idea what that means or how it affects then. Simply put, internet providers like your cable or phone company can not discriminate against or favor any content. They can't charge more or less for providing Netflix over a local startup content. They also can't throttle or favor one content provider or website over another. All traffic is treated the same. 

The technicalities are more complicated, but once the content is on the backbone internet, it is all treated exactly the same. Getting the traffic onto or off of the backbone is where different levels of service have always been allowed although. It is the "last mile" or last 50 ft. or the cell network that we pay for. Netflix and Google have a need to dump mass quantities of data onto the internet backbone, so they have huge and numerous network pipes to do that. On the other hand, I have a TV, phone, tablet and PC which don't require huge bandwidth so I pay less for my connection. 

I realize that this is a technical issue and most people don't understand or care about the issue. You will care once net neutrality is eliminated. Internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner and others will be able to discriminate. They can charge more, prioritize, throttle or maybe even refuse content. An example would be Netflix. Many of the big internet providers also provide content that is delivered over their infrastructure. Either their own or on their cable/satellite TV services. So, they give priority to their own content and provide it for free. Netflix content get's throttled unless they pay a ransom. Netflix will pass that increased cost onto its customers. Will the internet providers reduce your cost because Netflix or YouTube are paying more? Of course not. 

There are other potential problems. Small startup companies may not be able to pay extra or may not get volume discounts to be able to compete with the big boys. 

Net neutrality gives everybody a chance. The big guys and the small fry. It's elimination only favors the big internet service providers. It is a typical Republican deregulation move. The big corporations profit and the consumers pay. The FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is a former Associate General Counsel for Verizon. One of the companies that will profit from the elimination of net neutrality regulations. Enough said. 


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Armed America

Don't Mess With Texas

It seems to me we are more and more arming the American population. It is definitely happening in Texas. Texas already has a relatively lax set of concealed/open carry laws. When the laws regulating gun carrying were first enacted, there were several restrictions. The handgun had to be concealed. There were many places where a gun could not be carried even with a carry permit. 

In 2015, the concealed carry laws were modified to allow open carry. That means a now License to Carry (LTC) permit holder could strap a six gun to their hip just like Matt Dillon did in the 1870's. When the law first went into effect in January 2016, I saw several guys walking around with exposed guns. I must say it was a little disconcerting, mostly because those toting a gun did not look like the most mature or intelligent folks. Since then, the openly exposed gun toters have decreased. I assume they are still carrying concealed guns. It has always been legal to openly carry a long gun (rifle) in public even without an LTC. That right is usually reserved for demonstrations of some kind. While the gun rack in the pickup truck rear window is now usually empty, I still see a few rifles or shotguns.  

One of the ironies today is that when I was growing up, I had very realistic toy and cap guns. No one every questioned 10 year olds walking around with a fancy holster and almost perfect replica of a Roy Rodgers six gun. Now, there are laws banning realistic toy guns and kids get shot by cops for having one. Progress? Safer? 

The Texas legislature has steadily reduced the number and types of places that can totally ban guns. Public Texas universities and colleges can no longer have a blanket ban on guns on campus. Private universities still have an option and most have opted to continue their ban on campus carry.

This year the Texas legislature voted to reduce the license fee for gun carry permits. First-time license fees will drop from $140 to $40 and renewal fees go from $70 to $40. 

Since guns are bulky, fairly expensive and require a license to carry, some Texans need another means of self-defense. Our legislature is working on a bill to allow carrying knives over 5½ inches long. A couple of years ago, Texas invalidated all local knife laws that were more restrictive than the state laws. I'm guessing Crocodile Dundee can now visit Texas. Maybe Jim Bowie can return to the Alamo too.

After the wild west faded in the late 19th century, side arms use drastically declined. Now it is ramping up again and I'm not sure why. That's a topic for another post. I am sure that there are far more people carrying guns in Fort Worth now than in 1900-01 when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid visited town. 

If I get shot or stabbed because of the loosening of the gun and knife laws, I'm going to be pissed. If I get killed, I'm going to be really... Oh, nevermind, I'm going to be dead. 

Next up will probably be legal grenade launchers and missiles on the legislature calendar.

Didn't Wyatt Earp ban handguns in Dodge City? Was he way ahead or way behind his time?


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - April 2017

  • Isn't draining a swamp environmentally destructive? Oh, nevermind, we no longer give a shit about the environment.
  • Why does the world get so upset when chemicals are used to kill people yet can ignore years of bombing and killing those same populations? 
  • Most things slow down as we age. One exception is how quickly I can now forget stuff.
  • No wonder nothing gets done in Washington. Every meeting, committee, panel, etc. is huge. Anyone who has ever been in business knows big meetings assure few or no results. 
  • We have become a society of victims. Victims looking to sue for a big settlement. 
  • Most conspiracy theorists are anti-government. They think our government is incompetent yet they believe that same government can pull off vast conspiracies and keep them a secret for decades. Seems contradictory. 
  • So let me get this right. Fox News released Bill O'Reilly because of sexual harassment allegations that were paid off to keep quiet. Yet, Fox News knew about the allegations and helped O'Reilly make those payments.  
  • Should we say "thank you" when Alexa, Siri or Google answers a question or performs a task? I think so.
  • Is Adam Sandler the most over rated, over paid comedian or is it Kevin James?
  • What's the difference between sauce and gravy?