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30 May 2006

Save the Internet

You may or may not know about the push by telecommunications companies to require payment for better service (faster transmission and such) on the Web. To put it simply, AT&T and its ilk want more money for “more” service. “More” means that they’ll give preferential treatment to those who give them more money, while those who don’t pay up will be demoted.

Here’s some of what’s at stake:

That open architecture is what has allowed for the extraordinary growth of Internet commerce and communication. Pierre Omidyar, a small-time programmer working out of his home office, was able to set up an online auction site that anyone in the world could reach — which became eBay. The blogging phenomenon is possible because individuals can create Web sites with the World Wide Web prefix, www, that can be seen by anyone with Internet access.

Last year, the chief executive of what is now AT&T sent shock waves through cyberspace when he asked why Web sites should be able to “use my pipes free.” Internet service providers would like to be able to charge Web sites for access to their customers. Web sites that could not pay the new fees would be accessible at a slower speed, or perhaps not be accessible at all.

A tiered Internet poses a threat at many levels. Service providers could, for example, shut out Web sites whose politics they dislike. Even if they did not discriminate on the basis of content, access fees would automatically marginalize smaller, poorer Web sites.

Cruise on over to Save the Internet, to sign the petition and send an e-mail to your representatives. Here’s mine:

As a researcher and political scientist,I rely upon the resources of the Internet and the World Wide Web to complete my work on the international politics of HIV. Should the Internet become less democratic, reliant upon payment for preferential information provision, my work and that of every researcher dedicated to improving the public good will be severely impacted. The Web works like science does–all information is assessed only on the basis of its quality and reliability, not on its ability to pay.

Along with Google, Microsoft, the Christian Coalition, and, I urge you to vote for the Sensenbrenner-Conyers internet neutrality bill.

The bill, BTW, is HR 5417.

Posted in Politicks on 30 May 2006 at 9:27 am by Nate

I don’t enjoy being right sometimes

As I noted, in our society, some of us are more equal than others of us.

Today’s news:

In advance of his speech and a wreath-laying at America’s most hallowed burial ground for military heroes, Bush signed the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act.” This was largely in response to the activities of a Kansas church group that has staged protests at military funerals around the country, claiming the deaths symbolized God’s anger at U.S. tolerance of homosexuals.

The new law bars protests within 300 feet of the entrance of a national cemetery and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery. This restriction applies an hour before until an hour after a funeral. Those violating the act would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

Now, let’s leave aside the obvious abridgment of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. (Loathsome and hateful as I find Fred Phelps and his group, I can’t quite be convinced to limit their right of “expression.” Once Fred can’t speak against us fags, we won’t be allowed to speak up for ourselves when the time comes.) This administration has proven all too willing to leave the Constitution aside when it suits the admin’s needs.

But where was your outrage and need to involve the state when it was just us fags getting slammed? Or when it was religious conventions getting tarred with “Fag priests” and “dyke nuns”? But now that it is our fallen heroes getting tarred, we act.

Forget that this is unfair, unjust, and passively hateful. Question why it occurred when the Phelps controversy touched our military people. We’re obsessed with keeping our military “fag-free.” We discharge vital personnel (such as Arabic translators) in the war on terror because of whom they love. (We have spent more than $364 million dollars getting rid of just under 10,000 military personnel in the last ten years. That’s the cost of more 11 F-16 fighters.) And the thought that Americans might claim that military servicemembers died because America is a “fag nation” proves just too much. Somehow, it is so much that we must repress the hatemongers.

In essence, this latest action says that the military is too afraid of sex and too weak to protect itself and its people from extremist fringe groups. At the very least, the action says that the military is weaker than a bunch of sissy gays and religious people, who could apparently protect themselves.

I’m sorry to see that nothing is off-limits in our political atmosphere.

Posted in Politicks on 30 May 2006 at 9:24 am by Nate