Nitwits Killed By Fire

Nice long weekend on Spanish island in the Med. Weather wasn’t the best but that doesn’t matter. We were able to get out from underneath the darkness of Germania for a at least a few hours. Fernweh, baby. And the air is fresher too. Speaking of fresh-air. Did you know that the US and most of Europe has terrible internet connectivity? No? I’m sure you knew that. But get this. There is hope. I was just on the Spanish island of Mallorca (Majorca) and not only did the hotel there have fantastic Internet, the whole island seemed to be in an Internet access frenzy. You could go almost anywhere on the island and connect to this provider who is putting wifi repeaters on house-tops, mountains, etc. Although it wasn’t always the best connection, the fact that they are doing this speaks for itself. The point is, the only other time I’ve felt so connected is at home using my shitty 16000mbps. (But I don’t want to complain too much about home because at least there are three other ISPs that offer the same shitty mbps.) But let me get back to the hotel where we stayed on the island. Once we checked-in we were given separate wifi access IDs for each device. It worked great. I was able to download podcasts, upload blog posts and even save a krapp load of money using messaging over TCP/IP instead of cellular. Wow! But none of that makes a who-ha-difference because some dip-shit corporatist in #americant has come out and appealed to the nitwits everywhere by making them think he’s on their side. Again. Wow! And so. How ’bout a bit of Tommi worst-interpretation of recent Net Neutrality ruling by the FCC? First. Tom Wheeler is a fool. Second. Those who think this “ruling” is a win for an open Interwebnet is a double fool. But this is exactly what happens when a nation of nitwits elect morons to public office who then appoint more morons to government agencies who adhere to the status quo of political conservatism based on the rhetoric of kill it with fire. This is also what happens when so much damage has already been done that to question that damage would mean also to question the entire system that enabled and facilitated it (the profitable damage). And so. How thick is the BS of Net Neutrality? Put simply: the recent FCC ruling on Net Neutrality is a smoke screen. The real issue is this: as long as Comcast can monopolise the last mile of Internet connectivity Net Neutrality and the corporatist FCC trying to regulate openness is fiction. Hence, just add more fiction to the fiction and krapp like “fastlanes” emerge. Why this issue has come to the forefront of the whole debate astonishes worst-moi even more. As long as Netflix’s costs of having to pay an ISP more money for bandwidth doesn’t trickle to the end user, I don’t care if there are fastlanes. So what’s the debate then about? People will get angry when they start seeing an increase in their interwebnet bill because Netflix is a friggin’ bandwidth hog? Or will Das Volk get pissed when they see an increase in Netflix costs because, well, Netflix has to pay Comcast more to stream movies? Btw, Netflix, Google (YouTube) and even Apple (iTunes) are already paying more to ISPs for bandwidth. Tom Wheeler represents corporate interests only. And that is the bottom line. He knows very well that the position cable companies and telecoms are in is where they’ve wanted to be from the get-go. The only thing this new FCC ruling does is say to ISPs that there is nothing left to monopolise. Put another way. In most of the US, which has shitty Internet to begin with, the last mile of data to your house is where the magic is. Until I have the choice of at least three competing ISPs via cable or at least three competing ISPs via ADSL/VDSL (phone lines), Net Neutrality and openness is a mute issue killed by fire. Wake up nitwits. Rant on. -Tommi

The Masters of the Switches

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Why is it, dear worst-reader, that the older I get the easier it is to distract me? I mean, it happens all the time. When I’m walking Beckett, the killer pug, I lose focus of the little guy whenever any female passes by in a pair of jeans. When I’m putting up a Xmas tree, hanging those obnoxious bells and whistles, I think more about the Mustang I’ll never afford myself. And then there are the moments, while reading what should be a great book, that has been on my reading list for a long time, I’m taken away from it because the author references an old movie that I swear I saw once but according to the distracting research I do regarding that movie, I suddenly can’t remember if I actually did see it. This was so distracting in fact, that I took a break from the book and found the movie on iTunes to watch (again). And while watching this three hour piece of movie making magic I was totally distracted by the thought that, even though, according to Wiki and various other sources, which all claim that the movie was only recently made available to the public on DVD, I thought: but I saw this movie way back in the mid 80s. Didn’t I?

Distraction.

The movie is called Heaven’s Gate. According to Tim Wu, the author of the book The Master Switch, which, after numerous interruptions and distractions I just finished, the movie is the reason for one of Hollywood’s greatest film studio failures. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m just perturbed by the fact that I can’t remember with enough exactitude where and when I saw this movie. For after (re)watching it the other night I’m sure more than ever I saw it before. And allow me to say this distracting thing about that movie: this second viewing left me more in awe than the first. But when did I first see it? Come on. Come on. Think! It was either a screening at my University cinema in 1985 or on VHS in the early nineties while researching a subject for a play that I would never write. So I broke away from the book that couldn’t keep my attention anyway and very much enjoyed watching a movie that everyone should see. A few more worst-thoughts on Heaven’s Gate here.

Back to the book.

Tim Wu uses the United Artist debacle of the 80s as an example of how and why vertically integrated industries fail. And I take issue with that. United Artist didn’t fail because of vertical integration. It failed because #americant hadn’t yet established the standard of credit/debt as the sole means of consuming to survive. Obviously that’s a bold statement and I’m too lazy to provide enough ammunition in this worst-post to battle Mr. Wu on the subject–because I actually do want to say a nice thing or three about his book. But allow me this: There is one very important thing that Wu misses while explaining how some companies die and/or fade away because of whatever strategies they employ to earn more money than god. If United Artist had access to credit in the 80s like film studios do today then the measly sum spent on Heaven’s Gate would have been a drop in the bucket. In other words, at the time the collusion of government and, let’s say the Federal Reserve and Wall Street banking, hadn’t yet been established. It took till the end of the nineties to get to that point–I suppose.

There’s actually a whole Wiki page on the issue of Film Finance. And keep in mind, the word “finance” today is synonymous with debt. Go figure.

mci cardBut I’m off subject. Again. Distracted. And so. Let’s worst-write further on Mr. Wu’s idear of Net Neutrality and the less coined Separation Principle, two nuggets that Wu does a great job addressing but I think fails to ram home. First. Let me say this about Net Neutrality: Bullshit. That’s what Net Neutrality has become in the short time since its coinage. And I’m really sorry for that.That there is a debate regarding how information flows through the Interwebnets is both disgusting and astonishing. I remember vividly the monopolistic abuse of AT&T in the 70s and 80s. I don’t know what I would have done in college without my MCI card that allowed me to use practically any phone anywhere at rates I could afford–all on lines provided by the previous evil Bell monopoly. That #americant allowed a company like MCI to be gobbled up by the very system that it broke up is, well… #AMERICANT. On top of that, it feels like, because of the complexity of technology, politicians and dysfunctional corporates elites have easily confused the debate by turning Net Neutrality into a stump when it could be a majestic tree. Not only that, #americant has murdered people because of the underlying truth that is Net Neutrality as a whole. One only has to look at what happened to Aaron Schwartz. As far as the Separation Principle goes, well, again, sounds great, makes sense, but how do you get stuff like this across to a public that uses the Interwebnets like it used to use girly magazines in teen-age tree houses?

With that bit of worst-non-sense, I digress. The Master Switch is a great read even though I was often taken aback with the amount of text Wu wastes on certain topics. That is not a criticism of his writing, though. He really does a great job of holding together what is essentially a huge and disparate amount of information. I say disparate because I do not believe that the telephone industry in anyway has anything to do with the advent of what the Interwebnets has become (is becoming). The technology behind this stuff is irrelevant because worst-writer believes that content will always be at least one step ahead of context. Put another worst-way, a sculpture or painter already knows her/his great work of art is in that block of rock or bare canvas. And so. I could have done without Wu’s narrative of #americant early 20th century monopolies–although the bit about how Hollywood was founded is a nugget I’ll keep with me forever. That said, I guess I wish Wu would have spent more time ramming more stuff down the throats of the powers-that-be who are re-monopolising everything and who are also currently lavishing in their ability to ruin life for the rest of us in the name of greed-limiting access to what should be free: information.

Rant on.

-Tommi

Interwebnet Insecurity

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Oh, dear worst-reader, here yet another exchange I recently had with a dear old friend. As you know, from other exchanges (here and here), sometimes we get places–intellectual places. But other times we just ramble on. The point is, ramble, worst-writer. Yeah, that’s the point. Anywho. I know you’re probably wondering if any of this is actually real. It could, obviously, just as well, be played out in my mind. Obviously. As I sit each wasted day, lingering in my demise and lusting in my failure, it is hard not to talk to myself. But that is neither here nor there. What’s important is that I’ve managed, thru therapy and other self-medicating means, to stop having these conversations in the bathroom and in front of the mirror. Or something like that. So here we go. Oh. Before I forget. This worst-works best if you start at the bottom. Rant on, baby. And good luck.

 

Dear Old Friend,

Well, then, I guess that about covers it. No good answers. (Even though I provided a pretty good one.) Nomatter. As usual, let’s pack it up then and go to the mall.

-ww

 

Dear Worstwriter,

Good stuff. So there are no real current answers. Maybe this is a place to throw some billions of those newly printed Fed Dollars. Invest in what it takes to move commerce to some “network” and open the “internet” to what it should be.

Your Old Friend

 

Dear Old Friend,
You have an interesting idea with ‘central registry’ but it’s not feasible at the IP level. I also wouldn’t trust a central repository of that kind of data–hence that’s why the Internet evolved like it did. Perhaps here we are back at a point you made a while ago, something about inventing a new Internet. Btw, the .com or .net or .gov, etc., domains are not constructed to manage information the way you’re suggesting. DHCP and DNS are already stretched to their limits. There are simply too many users of the Internet today and too many internet addresses to turn all that upside-down. The solution to privacy is much simpler, in fact. For one, the issue of privacy doesn’t start with Internet users or internet addresses–even though there is encryption. The whole problem is nothing more than law-makers in collusion with corporations–both trying to guarantee profits before anything else. So the solution is Net Neutrality. Making it illegal for cellular carriers to own cellular data would be a place to start. Making it illegal for ISPs to monopolize Internet access is another place to start. Also, it should be illegal for the government, without a due process (a warrant) to see where I’ve been on the Internet. And I should have the right to determine what information Google, Apple, ISP, etc., is allowed to keep from my Internet usage. As far as anonymous payment is concerned, PayPal is a no-go. Paypal emulates banks. Bitcoin and/or crypto-currency is the answer and it already scares the shit out of the status-quo. Combine crypto-currency with Torrent technology and you can over-ride the open-ness of the Internet when needed. Btw, the thing holding back Bitcoin right now is it’s complexity. I equate this somewhat to the complexity of the Gold standard (not Gold, persay, but the established Gold standard that Nixon got rid of). Bitcoin is gold. Someone will eventually turn it into a gold standard and then that standard will be superseded by something else, which is where we are today with monetary policy. But the thing with Bitcoin, or, more importantly, crypto-currency, is that no one can own the so-called blockchain or the way the codes is generated to create value, i.e. no central bank. Or maybe not. I still need to give that some more thought.

ww

 

Interesting WW,

Yea I see your point. Now every social media to commerce site needs all this personal information just to allow access. Then hackers steal it.

So why don’t you propose a “central registry” like the folks who house the .xyz databases. The central registry will have the necessary identification credentials for every participant. Then you get a user id number, like an IP number that IS your permanent internet identity, just a number. Every transaction you make or what ever you do, simply uses this number, which for monitory purposes can be linked to the central registry, where your preferred payment solution/s are stored. You could choose bitcoin or a credit card or a debit system or some virtual currency like a paypal account. Whatever you want.

Anyway, then all companies are off the hook, nobody knows who you are, all transactions are antonymous and only subpoena for a particular suspected criminal event can get records, which incidentally are all encrypted.

Thoughts?

Your Old Friend

 

Dear Old Friend,

I agree with “the Internet was never meant to handle secure transactions.” But I do not agree with “nor (does the Internet) preserve an individuals privacy.” When I first started using the Internet the multitude of ISPs alone enabled a level of security that most can’t even comprehend today. The problem therefore is the consolidation of Internet access. Whether I used Compuserve or some local German ISP back in 1994 that was routed through some guys basement server, my identity was never part of Internet access. I remember my first purchase on the internet, too. I bought a CD with a Linux install from the US. I was probably using Compuserve at the time and an analogue modem. Without having to register with the website (which is standard today) that was selling what I wanted, I just gave them my (German) credit card info and within ten days I got my CD (and had a blast trying to figure out how to install Linux on one of my old Macs). Anyway. The Internet could easily provide secure identity and privacy but users do not insist on it and because of that politicians have answered the beck and call of corporations to NOT make laws protecting privacy. Privacy could actually be easy.

ww

 

Hi WW,

Well it is still called a “crises” but I liked this point:

The Internet was never meant to handle secure transactions, nor preserve an individual’s privacy. Our rush to leverage the Internet for legit commerce has spawned marginally ethical business ventures while also creating vast criminal opportunities. (Links have been removed to protect the innocent.)

Ok, so is somebody actually saying what is obvious for a change?

Your Old Friend