Just a speed test & some thoughts on internet access in the USA

Netflix internet streaming is finally good. I watched a movie two nights ago and it streamed to Super HD within in a couple of seconds. It stayed nice and swell for the entire thing too. Today I decided to see how much an internet upgrade would cost me. After trying to do it myself online with Verizon I hit an error where it wouldn’t let me do an internet-only plan without a bundle. So a couple of minutes in a chat later I get some idea of pricing for me as a current customer. I currently play $69.99/mo for 50/50 internet access. Today I upgraded to 75/75 internet:

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It’s a scary dangerous world we live in

And its not the people on the street that you need to be afraid of, it’s our own government: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/10/lavabit_unsealed/

More fallout from Edward Snowden’s revelations at the NSA, basically the government required the founder of lavabit to hand over all the keys to his user’s data. The order that was given to him could not be discussed in public and is worded in such a way that makes it a felony to mention or provide the letter to anyone. These are national security letters. But rather than providing these keys to his users data, he shut down his business. It’s dangerous to think that other companies have been compelled to provide the same keys and cannot talk about it publically in any way shape or form. Luckily this man has stood up and we know what the government asked. Now we can’t trust any US corporation to secure our data for us. This means the NSA has access to our bank accounts, our e-mails, and everything that is and isn’t secured with keys in the United States. And nobody can talk about it.

All it takes is one rogue NSA agent to provide the private information of a congressman, president, or supreme court judge that is captured with this program and the NSA will probably be shut down. But until that happens everyone one of us in the world that isn’t part of that class of persons must live in fear of our government reading our personal communications. So we must keep that in mind as we use the internet in this digital age.

Finland sounds Good!

Wow, what a nice country. I couldn’t imagine the US doing this, it’d be neat if they would though:

For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.

It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.

The maternity package – a gift from the government – is available to all expectant mothers.

From BBC News – Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes

Does anyone in the US Senate have a brain?

I already know the answer to that one. But they really need to get their act together, they’re US Senators for cryin’ out loud! It looks like they just passed an amendment to the yearly bloat called the farm bill to stop felons from receiving food stamps. Now, at first glance it sounds like a fantastic idea! Lets stop convicted felons from taking government aid! But if you stop for a bit longer and think about it you realize that it will likely just throw them back in prison. You see, if you’re eligible for food stamps you’re pretty down on your luck and if you’re a felon its nearly impossible to get a job. So you’re basically punishing someone for LIFE for something they already served time for. It really seems like a backward idea to make sure felons are stuck in prison forever. Let’s not forget as well that some prisons in the United States are run by profit-seeking entities.

I’m sure you’ve heard some variation of these:

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” — Nelson Mandela

“Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members ; the last, the least, the littlest.” — Cardinal Roger Mahoney

“…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. ” — Hubert H. Humphrey


I’m now a fan of Bill Moyers

I wish there were more sources that are as honest and straightforward as Bill Moyers is. This is the type of journalism we need, this is the type of news that people need to listen to and watch. Its not just because it appears to be honest, which some might call a liberal-bias, but talking with experts and asking hard questions. And taking the time to explain the complex world we live in. Here are two important episodes about the democracy in the United States being bought by special interests both at the federal and state levels. If you have some time please check it out or at least listen to a podcast while you do something:

Also, my two other favorite Journalists to read:

The internet, is it still a series of tubes?

It looks like congress had a hearing about net neutrality and they still don’t understand the issue: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/05/a-rube-goldberg-theory-of-regulation-net-neutrality-hearing-gets-testy.ars. What options do you have with limited options or in some cases a monopoly? How can you say one doesn’t exist when your DSL provider is limited to 256k upload download and the only cable company in town caps your monthly internet usage at 50GB? I’m fortunate to live in an area with Fios, with a pretty damn speedy 15mbps/5mbps connection for a reasonable price. But my parents are limited to Time Warner Cable and DSL clocked at 1.5mbps/256k for the same price I pay for my internet. I keep reading stories about the caps in Canada, as low as 50GB and in New Zealand, as low as 50GB. How can we have another Apple of internet services that starts in the garage if our home broadband is so expensive? And we’re still behind some other countries like South Korea where you can get a 100mbit/100mbit connection for US $30/month. But there is still hope! If only each city would invest like it does for water and sewer systems and bring in Fiber to the Home where an ISP can hook you up for no or minimal cost? And finally treat the internet like it is, a utility and not a service. Its the future for heaven’s sake! Just look at companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Netflix, and Amazon. If we allow the ISPs to do what they want with the monopolies they have where we don’t have any options of anything comparably different we’re screwed. I like what some cities in Utah have banded together to do, which is what I said before, that the internet should be a utility and open to competition. The city invests in the infrastructure and leases it out to ISPs when someone signs up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Telecommunication_Open_Infrastructure_Agency. Or is that too close to socialism or some other stupid argument?

Of course when you propose competition, the current monopoly steps up: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/10/want-50mbps-internet-in-your-town-threaten-to-roll-out-your-own.ars

NY Times Opinion Piece on the State of American Democracy

Having been reading tons of articles over the past year on politics and corporations in America and seeing all the money that was thrown around in the elections I reached the same conclusion as this op-ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/opinion/12herbert.html?_r=2&ref=opinion. That basically American politics is owned by the corporations who are sitting on a ton of money and bitching about high taxes. All the while making sure all profits go to the top and all risk goes to the bottom. We saw that with the wallstreet bailouts. They hardly knew what a CDO was and bragged that they did and didn’t have to explain it to the little guy because it was too confusing. The rating agencies basically rubber-stamped these investment vehicles when all one had to do was look into them and see the credit history of the people the loans were being made to was going downhill at an alarming rate. Then the government has to step in and bail them out with no strings attached and zero changes to the way the system is setup. The EPA just authorized the use of GMOs without proper investigations into long-term effects and basically giving the finger to small organic farmers who have to worry about the GMO seeds being spread to their fields and destroying the organic part of their crop. The EPA head is a former employee of Monsanto, the big large GMO Corn maker who just got approved to sell Organic Alfalfa. And you have the Republicans saying we need to cut this and that benefit to the people and the democrats going along with it because they have no spines. And cutting this and that regulation because it’s too difficult to keep up with all these laws and such that protect our air and water so instead of making $100 billion the company only makes $10 billion but allows us healthy air to breath and clean water to drink. And for some reason people still vote these loonies into office. It’s so depressing. I should take some drugs to help with that from the pharmaceutical companies who charge $100 a bottle of pills to Americans that they charge $0.50 some other company as a generic because the healthcare bill in America was worked out behind closed doors with these lobbyists. Hopefully we can get our democracy back and hopefully we can pass some amendment to the constitution to stop corporate money from invading politics and prosecute people who make these backroom deals for quick financial gains for the downgrade of society.

That became a bit of a rant, so be warned. But basically, we need to get out democracy back to help the people not the corporations.