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Bloviating Zeppelin: Death of the Internet; Death of Blogging; Death of Equality; Death of Free Speech; Death of Free Ideas: HERE NOW.

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Death of the Internet; Death of Blogging; Death of Equality; Death of Free Speech; Death of Free Ideas: HERE NOW.


Ladies and Gentleman:

At no other time that I can recall in my, ahem, almost 60 years on this planet, is not only our American "freedom of speech" jeopardized, but the freedom of speech of many other western and/or European countries.

And it isn't the Right Wingers who are doing it; oh no. It is those on the Left Side of the American political aisle, or those on the Left in various European countries (to include England, Sweden, Denmark) and Canada as well.

I am a large, a HUGE supporter of Free Speech. I enjoy my blog. I enjoy the small audience I reach. I treasure each and every brief visitor or devoted reader. I consider it a blessing that anyone would touch down upon my very own personal slice of the Blogosphere when, in fact, there are SO many OTHER places you could be visiting, other places you could be going. The mere fact that YOU are reading this now: I find myself continuously in amazement. Bless you.

It is because of the FIRST AMENDMENT of the American BILL OF RIGHTS that I enjoy the ability to write what I will, when I will.

Short of decrying "FIRE" in a crowded theatre, publicly advocating for the death of whatever President is in office (with, in concert, the present will and the physical means coupled with an overt act), advocating for the violent and immediate overthrow of my country, I am free to write what I wish when I wish under the heading of OPINION.

My blog exists under the overarching umbrella of my OPINION. I suspect yours does too. I attempt to buttress my arguments with facts in evidence (with proffered links whenever possible) but, still, some of what I write merely reflects my feelings and emotions day-to-day.

I do not make myself to be anything close to the Second Coming of Journalism. I do not make myself out to be a "journalist" (though I in fact used to BE one whilst I worked for various Sacramento radio stations in the mid-1970s) and I do not portray one on TV.

One look at my blog would convince the most skeptical that I am NOT the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Atlanta Journal, the Sacramento Bee or the Chicago Tribune.

I do NOT enjoy hundreds (much less thousands) of readers per day. And yet, when everything is said and done, within some reasonable standards, my blog can somewhat compete, in terms of accessability, with the millions of other blogs available for perusal on the Internet.

This is called "net neutrality."

That is to say, with a reasonable HTML design team, the site for PlasticSheets& or can look every bit as professional and stunning as the massive corporate site for General Motors. Or Coca-Cola. Or McDonald's. Or Halliburton. Or the US Senate.

My support of free speech doesn't just stop there. I support the right of the Daily Kos to write what he does when he does. Or Smirking Chimp, or Democratic Underground, or many others. It doesn't matter. The Blogosphere will find its own water level. Those who succeed, succeed. Those who fail, fail. But because I may have a diametrically opposed opinion to other bloggers doesn't obviate their need to exist or to have a readership.

Clue in: if Free Speech works for me, it should work for everyone ELSE in America.

Blogging takes actual work. Consistent work. There are millions and millions of bloggers on the web who made an initial post and then, perhaps after three or four posts, let their blogs languish.

Free Speech means precisely that: speech that may be in conflict with a held or accepted norm in America. If I uphold MY free speech, then I must uphold YOUR free speech. And I DO.



My brother Don revealed to me a series of videos he happened to chance upon in YouTube and, oddly enough, via PBS. I watched them. And you'd best watch them too. Once you do, I ask:

Is it hyperbole? Or is the title of this post correct?

First, go here, which is Part I of a PBS Now show entitled "Net Neutrality."

And tell me that it isn't about "the bucks."

A smidgeon of the video, from the transcript:

MCCORMICK: We have said that in our industry we will not block, impair, degrade content, applications, services. So the experience that a consumer has today with the internet, a consumer will have in the future.

BRANCACCIO: McCormick says the companies he represents are in the business of making money and if consumers want to visit a given website, the telecom companies have every interest in letting that website through...He says the idea that they'd somehow restrict access to certain websites is overblown.

MCCORMICK: It's -- it's very difficult to deal with -- with "what ifs" and hypotheticals. There are enough problems in the country for congress to deal with that are real problems as opposed to worrying about "what if" scenarios.

BRANCACCIO: But it's not all hypothetical:

In 2005, a small phone company in North Carolina blocked their internet customers from using a rival web-based phone service. The federal communications commission said iks-nay, and fined them $15,000.That same year, the Canadian telephone giant Telus blocked their web customers from seeing a site that was supportive of union workers who had a beef with Telus.

And just this year, America Online was accused of blocking emails from a group that were waging a campaign critical of AOL.

McCormick argues these are isolated examples...and he points out that we already have a watchdog in Washington - the FCC -- that's promised to make sure these kinds of problems are rooted out.

MCCORMICK: The Federal Communications Commission has said that it has sufficient authority to disallow any company from blocking, impairing, degrading any kind of application or service.

BRANCACCIO: But advocates of net neutrality say websites don't have to be blocked or degraded to suffer from second-class treatment. Give the newest, fastest online service to a select few websites that have paid for the privilege goes the argument, and what you build-in is an unfair advantage for the richest, most powerful companies.

AARON: If they're allowed to get rid of network neutrality, then they can favor Verizon video or AT&T phone service or the new Comcast search engine over anything that I come up with, even if my product is better, even if I'm offering it for a lower price. By manipulating what happens over the network, they're allowed to favor their own content and those of their partners. And that means everybody else is left behind.

MARKEY: It's really not about the Googles, and the Yahoos of today. It's about the Googles and the Yahoos of the future. It's about the next Serge Brin. It's about the next Jerry Yang. It's about the next Bill Gates.


Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thus endeth Part One.

Are you yet beginning to Clue In?


Am I a "reactionary"?



Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Your language may be a bit reactionary but you are not.

I would more accurately describe you as vigilant.

Defining and defending free speech is an ongoing battle. The key to progress in that battle is to undo somethings for a change. It aint enough to get the ball back. We have to score points when we get it.

The regression of our free speech rights is not the fault of the left alone. It is also the fault of the right when they have regained power and not used it to restore this liberty.

Sat Aug 25, 11:25:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bushwack said...

Very vigilant BWH and were lucky to have BZ on our side....

Sun Aug 26, 02:08:00 AM PDT  
Blogger shoprat said...

Vigilance and moral resistance are the keys to defeating this.

Sun Aug 26, 10:21:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I am reading more and more about this, digesting the issues at hand, cogitation, and rumbling about for another post -- Part Two. I want to make sure I really have my hands firmly grasped around the concepts involved, so that I accurately portray them on my blog.

I find it amusing and disturbing, both at once, that I have not seen this issue literally BLASTED in BANNER HEADLINES around the Blogosphere. It would seem the consequences could be quite dire indeed should some of the ideas come to fruition.

Is this the tip of a huge, oncoming, unsteerable, deadly, looming iceberg? Or is it just a bit of fluff dressed up as sensationalistic?

I suspect it is in fact A; but I must eliminate B first.


Sun Aug 26, 03:37:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Gayle said...

I sincerely hope that you are unable to illiminate B, BZ, and I know you do too.

This is very scary stuff.

As the following is what I got off of the internet as the meaning of a reacionary, I think I'm one:

"of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, esp. extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change." When it comes to the changes liberals are bringing about, I don't think a "reactionary" as defined above, is a bad thing to be.

Sun Aug 26, 04:08:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Gayle: all this reminds me of the frog in the boiling pot.

And WE are the collective amphibians.


Sun Aug 26, 05:07:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous HOTI Dave said...

Mr. Zeppelin! I wish I had gotten to this thread a few days ago. I realize I'm a bit late, but figured it was still important to get in here.

My answer to your question is, yes -- you're jumping to conclusions, and I'm afraid some of your sources are unreliable. That PBS show, for example, that's from the show by hard lefty commentator and former Democratic aide Bill Moyers. So too are those videos assembled by left-wing activist groups.

But I don't rest my argument on their identities -- after all, I myself work for a group that includes some ISPs in our coalition. (I work for Hands Off the Internet.) The real point is that their examples don't hold imply what they indicate it should.

The Moyers show mentions the North Carolina and AOL blockings, and one in Canada. Now, for one thing, Canada is Canada -- different laws. Here in the US, "net neutrality" activists want to pass a law that would restrict ISPs from offering services that prioritize information packets. Kind of obscure, but their whole argument rests on the idea that ISPs are not to be trusted and will block your bits if they see fit.

But here's the problem -- the FCC quickly dealt with those issues, just as they should be expected to. Those activists can only point to a couple isolated incidents, which were promptly fixed.

Here's what this debate is about -- whether ISPs can offer faster service for a fee. That is, can they monetize their pipes and adjust pricing plans to get what they're worth? Do the ISPs have control of their own property?

In that way, I think it is a First Amendment issue -- but it's not the one you may have been led to believe.

Not only do service providers not want to block your bits (and recognize it is in their economic interest to have all the information they can get moving through their pipes) but if there was a problem, either antitrust laws or the free market would take care of it.

Hope that helps.

Fri Aug 31, 08:39:00 AM PDT  

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