The New Yorker: My Last Day as a Surgeon. “In May of 2013, the Stanford University neurosurgical resident Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic lung cancer. He was thirty-six years old.”
I had been arguing this issue on the grounds of basic fairness of freedom and speech. After reading the FCC’s own statement on the value of an open Internet -“This design has made it possible for anyone, anywhere to easily launch innovative applications and services, revolutionizing the way people communicate, participate, create, and do business – think of email, blogs, streaming video, and online shopping” – I realize that was too limiting an observation.
One might suggest that fighting cancer (the disease the main character in Nester’s book has) or climate change or war are more significant than net neutrality; after all, they are issues of life and death. But Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said recently:
We don’t know who is going to have the next big idea in this country, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to need to get online to do it. Reports that the FCC may gut net neutrality are disturbing, and would be just one more way the playing field is tilted for the rich and powerful who have already made it. Our regulators already have all the tools they need to protect a free and open Internet—where a handful of companies cannot block or filter or charge access fees for what we do online. They should stand up and use them.
Maybe those innovators will create cleaner technologies, or develop devices to absorb some of the pollutants or invent a better cancer detector. Just maybe those creative folks will make our lives better and safer and smarter.
Is net neutrality less important than other issues? Maybe. But I cannot do anything about cancer or climate change or war in the next ten days, and beyond. The FCC is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rule making on May 15, addressing the new net neutrality plan after an appeals court struck down FCC’s net neutrality rule. “The commission will release a set of proposals and asks for public comment on them. It’s the first step in a long process for the FCC to pass new regulations.
Broadband providers insist they need to do things like prioritize some traffic in order to deal with network congestion, but that’s bogus. It’s only the non-technical management who makes those claims. Ask the technology guys, and they will quickly say that basic upgrades can easily accommodate all traffic. But the broadband providers are now like the airlines. They could very easily offer a better overall service, but they’re quickly recognizing that by offering a crappy service, they can charge more to get a select few to pay up for a “fast lane” approach. So the incentives are totally screwed up. There’s little incentive for airlines to improve the boarding process, so long as having such a crappy process leads people to pay extra fees to avoid the crappy process.
Those who can pay for the “deluxe” Internet, will. But everyone else, the common citizen, small businesses, nonprofits, libraries, will get a lesser service, likely at a higher price. “Because of the controversy over the proposal, the FCC has already begun taking email comments at email@example.com”. Or direct a tweet to the chair of the commission: @TomWheelerFCC. I shall do so, and I invite you to do likewise.
After the meeting, there will be a “public comment” period of 30 to perhaps 45 days before they start finalizing any new rules. Speak up. You have a chance to tell both Obama and Wheeler what you think, so that the will of the people, not the power of money and predatory interests, is heard.
Someone lied to my child that she’ll otherwise flunk third grade, and this caused her undue stress, which really ticked me off.
There’s a columnist for the Metroland weekly newspaper, Miriam Axel-Lute, who wrote on her Facebook page the middle of last month: “Good luck to all the parents and kids who are refusing this crazy high stakes testing tomorrow. Stand strong.” My daughter had been stressing over these same tests, but I was unaware of this “opt-out” thing. I replied, “Damn test is ticking me off.” She then asked me and a few others: “Would you guys talk to a Metroland reporter about this? I’m going to be opinionated about it in my column next week, but I think they are also interested in maybe doing a reported news story.” Another guy said likewise, adding “Albany schools get enough unwarranted BS, and removing my kids from the mix will cause more.” True enough; if fewer than 95% of the kids take the test, the school could be taken over by the state, as I understand it.
I hope it’s clear that I believe my daughter would/will probably do well on the test. It’s just that someone lied to my child that she’ll otherwise flunk third grade, and this caused her undue stress, which really ticked me off. We HAVEN’T opted to opt out – yet – because it’s unclear what it would mean to my child. Would she sit in the classroom silently for 70 minutes at a time while others take the test? Would there be some type of retribution against her? Indeed, after the fact, I worried about participating in the article.
Also, my wife’s teaching schedule – she’s an iterant teacher of English as a Second Language – has been mightily disrupted. If I thought the end was worth it, I wouldn’t complain. But this No Child Left Behind/Race To the Top stuff, to my mind, is bogus.
Seriously, I think the Mayans are getting a bad rap. A lot of what OTHER people said they said doesn’t appear to be true. The NBC News story I saw suggested that December 21, 2012, wasn’t apocalyptic in their tradition; it was just another cycle.
It appears that others have superimposed their own dystopian values on the Mayans. It made for not-so-clever comic fodder, of the “How can they predict the end of the world when they couldn’t even foresee their own elimination?” variety. Though JibJab had some fun with it, and this picture WAS rather humorous.
There’s also the issue that these end-of-days pronouncements, and particularly the one for December 21, 2012, actually have an effect on people. I’ve seen educated, otherwise rational adults express uneasiness over the predictions; it just gives off a negative vibe. Children are particularly vulnerable to the noise. I think it’s probably like how kids of my vintage fretted about the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) of the Cold War, US v. the USSR. I DO wonder, though, if we’ve hit a global warming tipping point.
Cheri of Idle Chatter mused about what if it were the last day. What would I do? Wouldn’t bother bearing grudges, but would make sure that as many people I knew were aware of how much I cared for them, especially those I didn’t tell often enough. *** The End is Nigh, Look Busy
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