Tuesday, March 10, 2015
I got a surprise message in my email this morning, although, come to think of it, it's not much of a surprise. Salon.com is shutting down its sister site, Open Salon as of, well.............they've already done it. No warning. No time to go in and pull out your dozens of blog posts. Just so long, farewell and sayonara!
The blogs will be up for another 14 days, but you won't be able to edit them or add new posts. This probably saves "Open" Salon from some really nasty comments. Much better to lop off the head of the beast than to give it time to speak. I will make an attempt to pull as much of the original material I posted there as I can. The process will be time consuming since I can't get at the html code anymore.
Uncle Tom's Traveling Salvation Show (the name of my Open Salon blog) will migrate to my already crowded Blogger.com stable and maintain at least an archival presence on the net. I'm really not surprised they've pulled the plug. I mostly wrote stuff for Open Salon to irritate my liberal fellow bloggers there. We've had some pretty lively discussions there and I actually convinced some of my liberal buds to change their opinions a bit. That may have been part of the problem. Apparently, conservative proselytizing is not permitted where there are people with unformed opinions.
Open Salon is a notable liberal site. Their stable of writers are by and large progressive socialist in their politics. They keep a few cartoon conservatives around for their select readers to snipe at, but the site is not noted for it's open-mindedness. The point of creating "Open" Salon, seems to have been to encourage amateur liberal pundits to chime in and create a kind of "Hallelujah Chorus" for the main website.
The problem is that nasty old conservatives found the site and set up their own blogs on it and began commenting on the blogs of their liberal brothers. Actually a moderate who is refreshingly open-minded invited me to come over to provide a balancing voice to the increasingly strident liberal screed that past for "dialogue" on the site. Other conservatives joined the site and began creating some surprisingly resilient networks that spider-webbed out through the liberal blogosphere of the Open Salon site and provided a dissident anti-chorus to the liberal cheer-leading.
Apparently Salon.com has had enough of all this "open" discussion and has lowered the hammer. Open Salon will be no more in just two weeks. They say you still have access to your blogs, but since you cannot sign in to your account, the only way you can see your blog is to do a Google search on the exact title and sneak in the back way. I managed to get to my blogs by entering the URL of my blog page ( http://open.salon.com/blog/twayneking/ ). I suspect the brainiacs at Open Salon didn't think mere conservatives would be able to figure that one out or else they'd have just shut it all down without warning. If they did that though, their liberal followers, who had lovingly crafted blog after blog built around DNC talking points memos, would have set up a howl and believe me nobody knows how to whine, howl, pitch and moan better than a liberal. Ah, the perils of allowing free speech to get just a tiny toe-hold in your propaganda machine.
Think of Open Salon's execution as a preview to the institution of the New America these guys hope to change us into - a progressive national socialist America. Here in the violent beheading of Open Salon, you get a little peek, if you will, at what will happen to the freedoms we enjoy now, when the inevitable collectivist state, that Salon's writers hope to create, comes crashing down upon us.
I suspect the FCC, having seized power over the Internet, will soon join the less sophisticated Salon.com in shutting down troublesome sites in short order. But for now, we will keep on writing and speaking truth to power; just not the truth that power had hoped we would speak.
Just one man's opinion.
And this old geezer ain't taking it quietly!
When old people get cranky, we sometimes forget our language and that children might be listening, so let me apologize in advance. Excuse my French!
It seems there's a movement afoot (among twenty-somethings, who else?) to close all zoos in America and around the world. When someone asked one of the leaders of this incredibly ignorant movement how children would be able to see wild animals without zoos, he blithely suggested that they could "...see them on PBS."
How impossibly arrogant can you get? What we're headed for is a world where these socialist jackasses (whoops there goes my French again) herd people into crammed-up cities, take away their cars and have them work in cubicles and in factories and tiny shops (no big Walmarts or Coscos remember) and restrict all access to nature to nature experts like the bloody fool that said our kids should be content with seeing wild animals on television.
There is no substitute for seeing an animal in the flesh for a kid. Ah, but the No-Zoos crowd managed to cobble together a dubious "scientific" study in which they turned a bunch of middle schoolers loose in a zoo without supervision and then asked them later if they "learned something". I could have told them what kind of dismal numbers they'd get from that rigged survey. Zoos aren't where you turn kids loose like it's some kind of government creche. You take your kids and grandkids there and you show them the animals and read the signs for them. If you're a good grandpa, you tell them what you know about the animals and pass along a little wisdom - elder to child.
These people are already trying to close waterparks and now they're after zoos too. In the name of sucking all the fun out of living, the progressive environmentalists claim zoos are cruel and not "natural". This is a gigantic crock of buffalo poop. Ninety-nine percent of all the animals in the wild die violent deaths. The rare few that do die natural deaths are eaten, sometime before they are quite through dying. In zoos, they are fed and cared for and loved by their keepers until they finally die of old age and are then respectfully buried or cremated. They are medicated when they are sick, their wounds get tended and modern zookeepers try to build habitats for them that are pleasant and stimulating. The old wire cages are disappearing as fast as the zoos can raise money to update them.
And one more thing you anti-human twits! Just because you are young and spry and can justify granting yourself the privilege to rush out into the wild and sneak up on bears and porcupines, doesn't make you somehow more deserving of a nature experience than tiny toddlers with short legs and old people with gimpy knees. Zoos pretty much the only place us old people can go with our grandkids to see wild animals safely. Out in the wilderness, wild animals eat the very young and the old and infirm. How long do you think we would last out in the wild?
And have you ever tried to watch PBS with a four year old? Cartoon animals and naturalists looking through long lenses and speaking in hushed tones is no substitute for handing an animal cracker to an excited gibbon or watching a crocodile swim lazily past you in the jungle river habitat. I've never had a tiny little girl squeel with delight over scenes of a lion breaking the neck of an antelope and then eating him on the Discovery Channel. But when a hungry giraffe snuffles a treat from her open hand, her face lights up with pure joy.
You know, I'm happy your bodies can carry you out into wilderness and bring you safely home. Ours aren't up to that anymore. We wore ourselves out long ago in raising you ungrateful pups. Years ago, I had to give up mountain climbing because my knees were damaged. It happened because I was trying to save a human life - the life of a child that was abused and mistreated by someone made crazy living in the kind of "sustainable" government communities you want to crowd all us humans into. These families were living all crammed up in cities, poor and without any way to escape their circumstances. They go crazy and they hurt their young. That's what's going to happen in these sustainable socialist hives you guys are planning for us.
I used to take groups of traumatized and emotionally damaged kids to the zoo. Ninety percent had never seen a wild animal in any context, much less in a zoo or wildlife refuge. The zoo was magical for the kids. They fed dolphins. They walked through bird aviaries where swarms of colorful tropical birds swirled around their heads. They ran excitedly around petting zoos - even a goodly number of the teens. Touching actual animals brought smiles to faces that had not smiled in a very long time. The kids were caught up in something incredible and life-changing and they shared the experience with adults, something few of them had ever done. Don't tell me the kids don't learn anything at the zoo. The researchers in that rigged study simply didn't teach them anything. You don't fault the book if the child has never been taught to read it.
We could never have gotten them together with these living breathing natural wonders any other way except by taking them to the zoo. When we took a group to Sea World, they were utterly blown away. Don't you tell me kids don't learn something at these places. We were made for living in harmony with nature. We should be living among the wild things of this world.
These people are seriously suggesting we give up all contact with the creatures of the wild and wall ourselves off from nature altogether so we don't disturb it. They're suggesting we close wild animal zoos and put ourselves in human zoos where we can sit in front of the television and watch pictures of all the beauty and magesty we are denied by these arrogant elitist nature Nazis!
Well I won't go, dammit! If they try to make me, I'll just hobble off into the wilderness and maybe get eaten by a bear. It'll be a damn-sight better than living in the "sustainable" communities you people are planning for us, where we can't even go to the zoo with out grandbabies and giggle together over the antics of the monkeys.
Tom King, Senior Person
Just thought you ought to know.
Friday, February 27, 2015
With the seizing of regulatory power over the Internet by the FCC yesterday, America has received the promise that the white knights over there in the guv-ment are a gonna tame the evil corporate Cable Company beasts and save us all from massive unfairness.
They will do so by turning these wild savage corporate beasts into nice tame and friendly little "public utilities". How has that EVER worked out to the advantage of consumers. Right now, if my ISP jacks around with me and gives me crappy service, I just go buy my service elsewhere. Let the free market sort it out. Haven't we learned from hard experience that the more the feds try to run things, the less competition there will is, the worse the service and the slower they become at solving problems. And innovation just disappears. When phone service was regulated about the only innovation we had during the first 80 years or so was automatic dial-up and push button phones that imitated rotary phones so we wouldn't have to do that dialing thing. Mobile phones required a limo-sized vehicle to carry them around in, huge deposits and year-long waiting lists. Long distance calls could easily run five to six dollars a minute. When the giant government regulation supported phone company was deregulated, long distance rates dropped to 10 cents a minute in practically no time, you could carry a mobile phone in your pocket and customer service reps began to treat you with respect.
The one great thing central planners hate is too many different utility companies to regulate. When we deregulated the electricity delivery system and provided consumers with choices, the prices dropped quickly. All sorts of cool electricity plans were offered that saved us all money.
Why, by all the chocolate fondue fountains in Hollywood, do we want to regulate an industry that's already mostly deregulated. This cannot end well.
If the FCC wants to help, then investigate the ISPs that do all this evil stuff to consumers that you say they do on a case by case basis. The FCC needs no authority to do that. Any citizen could conduct such an investigation if they wanted to do the detective work. If they want to make these guys quit screwing customers, let the FCC give them a consumer rating index where they can mark their scores down for jerking customers around. For those that pinch off bandwidth, let everybody know it and give them a bad consumer service rating. When my bandwidth dropped during the evenings, I complained to Centurylink DSL. Next thing I know they boosted my badwidth by more than 50%. It still runs slower when all my neighbors are streaming NCIS at the same time as me, but I'm hearing from Centurylink that the company is investing in more fiber and if we're patient, we'll like the results. I'm willing to be patient in exchange for the promise of innovation.
This whole thing is a case of the feds offering to fix a temperary problem with a permanent regulatory solution that freezes the problem in place with a half-ass solution. The issue is that there is only so much bandwidth. If the ISPs don't have some freedom to juggle customers around a bit, the whole thing is going to lock up. You can't change the amount of existing bandwidth by merely passins a regulation that says give everybody the same bandwidth. To do that the ISPs would have to cut everyone back. There's only so much bandwidth. Unlike the president, real world Internet Service Providers can't crap bandwidth unicorns on command - at least not ones that will do anybody any good.
If you don't let the ISP's juggle customer access speeds on the fly, you're just going to have to slow everyone down so that nobody is getting what they need. You can't tell an ISP provider, just to spend more money on fixing the problem without giving them a way to pay for it. All it means is that they cut other services and reduce everyone's bandwidth so that we're all equal, even if that means we're all stuck with inadequate bandwidth.
"So, just let them be satisfied with less of those nasty evil profits," say the manic-progressives on the picket lines. Just tell that to the stockholders and watch the Dow drop like a stone. And before you diss Verizon and Comcasts stockholders, you might want to check. You might just be one of those stockholders through your retirement plan, bank savings, money market accounts or savings accounts and not even know it.
Regulation is a sledgehammer tool and everything it touches is a spike to be smacked down. The providers are working hard to fix the problem you're talking about. Let's not tie the hands of the mechanic who is trying to fix our car. Do you want a temporary fix so you can drive while the right parts are coming or shall we all just sit in the garage and wait for the parts to arrive someday if the regulators don't decide that unless every car in the garage also gets the same part, the mechanic can't fix your individual car. After all, it wouldn't be fair.to the others if you had a newer carburetor than theirs.
Many non-cable ISP's, especially the independent ones are working to make wireless so good that you'll no longer need cable. There's talk of setting a geo-syncronous satellite overhead and beaming the Internet to you that way. When I don't have to pay $3000 to have a stupid cable run 500 yards to my house, I'm going with that ISP and Comcast be damned.
The cable companies are trying to figure out how to survive in a rapidly changing market. Consumers like me are sticking up antennas and plugging them into a hub that lets me switch between on-air stations, my computer's Internet connection, Hulu, Netflix, The Classic Movies streaming site, Youtube, Amazon Prime, two DVD players, a VCR and a hard drive full of movies I downloaded from Amazon. I'm happier than a dead pig in the sunshine and the cable TV guys get nada. I dont' think Net Neutrality bothers them at all. The cable companies would rather be public utilities. Their business gets protected that way and they don't have to work as hard to keep up with technology.
The straw man argument about changing bandwidth, unfortunately, convinces people that we need to regulate. The problem is consumers think if you subscribe to 12mbs, the ISP should deliver 12mbps 24/7. The problem is that the company doesn't have enough bandwidth for that. At some times of day it drops to 4mbps for an hour or two simply because lots more people are using the Internet. I just shift my tasks that demand a lot of bandwidth to times when the net isn't so busy. I can live with that while Centurylink builds out its bandwidth in my neighborhood. We all share the Internet. You deal with some issues when you're building something that's never been done before.
I'm working on the AI voice for a device that acts as a computer companion and helps run your house. It has what they are calling an "emotion" chip. It will attempt to recognize your facial expressions and speech patterns and learn to respond to you appropriately. It's hugely complicated and it isn't happening fast enough for some of the company's investors who heard "emotion chip" and assumed we could find one in some scientist's abandoned laboratory, stick it in Data and have him weeping or telling jokes in a couple of minutes.
Our gains are made in fits and starts, just like the incredible gains we've made on the Internet. Regulating in the way the FCC wants to regulate merely stultifies development. The Internet has thrived because it is flexible. Plenty of attempts to add new capabilities or create new capacity have failed miserably and been abandoned. The current spate of heads-up display devices that pull stuff off the Internet and flash it in front of your face is a case in point. Some looks promising. Some is just intrusive and stupid. It will sort itself unless the FCC decides it needs to "fix" heads up display technology through regulation and then *poof* innovation ceases.
Let the industry sort itself out. In the meantime, at least yesterday, if we didn't like your ISP provider you could change your ISP provider.
© 2015 by Tom King