Archives For In The News

Things happening in the world today

2014-10-30_08-32-58AT&T has completed upgrading its fiber-network in Austin, Texas, to 1-gigabit-per-second broadband speeds, the carrier said Monday.The Dallas-based company, which started the Austin upgrade in August, has been working to increase the speed of its U-Verse with GigaPower fiber network from 300 megabits-per-second to 1Gbps. AT&T is racing to bring faster Internet to customers before its competitors.

SOURCE:  AT&T finishes rollout of 1Gbps connection in Austin – CNET.

I am one of the fortunate ones along my road in that I am within the 1.5 mile distance from the AT&T central office. I can get my Internet connection at 0.003 Gbps. That is 300 times slower than folks in Austin get.  To put that in perspective what takes them one second to get takes me 5 minutes. Sadly those north of me are limited to 0.0002 Gbps.So when I run across these types of announcements I often say “SHAME ON YOU”.

We all know that in the 21st century information is power. Those with it have opportunity; those without it have almost none and of course the Internet and access to it is fundamental to the 21st century information age.  Why are those of us in less populated areas denied access to the Internet speeds that our urban neighbors take for granted? Of course the answer is profits.

I look out my front door and see a couple of two-inch diameter cables strewn between two poles across my front yard. In some places along my road these cables sag to just a few feet above the ground. They have not been improved in many decades. The picture above shows that both of those cables could be replaced by a single small fiber-optic line but to do that would require an investment that currently goes to the owners as profit.

Looking at the history of utilities in rural America I see where this is nothing new. It wasn’t until the 1930s that electricity or telephone was widely available to the farmers who provide the rest of us with food.  The New Deal of the 1930s would finally help remedy that situation via the REMC. Here is a little about that from my friends at Wikipedia:

Many such cooperatives exist in the rural United States, and were created by the New Deal to bring electric power and telephone service to rural areas, when the nearest investor-owned utility would not provide service, believing there would be insufficient revenue to justify the capital expenditures required. Many electric cooperatives have banded together to form their own wholesale power cooperatives, often called G&Ts for generation and transmission, to supply their member-owners with electricity.

If we had a functional government in place, instead of the gridlock that is there, maybe this issue could be resolved like it was then. I guess I should be grateful for my 0.003 Gbps Internet connection even though my city neighbors had connections three hundred times faster. At least my snail like speeds are several times faster than all my neighbors north of me.  It is about time for AT&T to spend a little money and put all of us on a fiber-optic system so that we all have a more or less level playing field for the future.  I thought that was the FCC’s mandate but if it is it is being totally ignored. Shame on AT&T for not having done so already…. And shame on the FCC for not having forced them to do it already….

Common Sense…..

November 14, 2014

2014-07-25_08-48-31Call them the invisible rich. How do they do it? Sure, money like that sometimes comes from an inheritance or another fortuitous break, but more likely it’s the result of diligence, smart choices and, well, deferred gratification.

SOURCE: Wealth-building secrets of the millionaire next door – Yahoo Finance.

Wealth-building secrets of the millionaire next door

It seems like there are thousands of articles and books lately to tell you how to become rich. But do any of them actually have anything unique to say? I am not going to go into the details about the above article other than to give you the topic titles.

* They Don’t Spend Beyond Their Means

* They Educate Themselves

* They Pick the Right Field

* They Save (and Invest) Early

* They Don’t Swing for the Fences

* They Keep Themselves Covered

* They’re Wise About Windfalls

* They Hang Onto Their Cars (and Houses)

* They Avoid Debt

To this old Midwestern boy all these things just seem like common sense. Sure some like picking the right field are more luck than anything, but most are achievable by most of us if we just stick to it.  I really don’t know what keeping myself covered has to do with anything but I figure I must have done a good job at it since I am pretty well covered today. :)

Never had a windfall except for the new fishing reel I got as a young boy from my grandfathers estate. Now I am not a millionaire but I think I do have enough to keep me going for the final years of my life. But to me the point of life is not financial wealth building (easy for someone to say who has enough) but more along the lines of morality building and trying to treat the other guy with respect whether he deserves it or not.

But given the statistics lately it seems that most just can’t seem to live by the standards above. Maybe they should be teaching more about that in our school systems? I don’t know about wealth-building but I think I have done a pretty fair job of paying forward for all the good fortune I have had in my life. I might have had it tough in some regards, losing my mother in early life and losing hearing at mid-life was no joyride, but I had it a lot easier than many folks I came across in life….

 

A Dreamer Or A Fighter…..

November 12, 2014

2014-10-29_08-38-29I still vividly remember the election season of 2008. It was the year that I for the first time in a long time held out hope for a change in our political system. George Bush’s reign over the country was finally ending but the wars he put us in were still going full bore and still greatly affect us even today. He left the new guy with a total mess in our financial system. The worst mess in fifty years. I had confidence that this new-on-the-scene young guy could give us back our social conscience that George stripped away from us. I contributed frequently to his campaign and was totally overjoyed when he won the presidency even carrying my State of Indiana!!

I knew the GOP opposition to anything that seems progressive would come full force against this new president but I dreamed that he like FDR and several other democratic presidents before him would stand his ground and eventually win some hard-fought gains for our country and especially for those on the economic margins. I dreamed things would be better ahead of us as a country…

Things started out pretty well when this new administration went full bore to give us a universal healthcare system that much of the rest of the world had already realized. Of course there was drastic opposition to this plan as there is for anything of a progressive nature from the expected quarters. But I dreamed that our new leader would fight the fight… and eventually win…

Looking back, of course that is always easier than looking forward, I have come to realize that this first time president of color who reeked of dreams and hope was just not up to the challenge of the fights necessary to accomplish them. His fighter to dreamer ratio was just not up the job ahead.  In today’s world it takes a gargantuan fight to accomplish anything worth doing. A fight he, looking back, seemed incapable of doing. Yeah, he did get a very watered down version of universal healthcare that no one really likes, some because it went too far and for some because it didn’t go nearly far enough. I am part of the later group.

I have learned my lesson. In the coming presidential seasons I am looking for the fighter not the dreamer.  While dreamers are absolutely necessary they are just not the political leaders we need right now.  We need someone with a strong backbone and the tools necessary to push or maybe even ram change down the oppositions throat. We need a fighter who has a base level of dreamer within her/him and can back it up with some strong actions. The problem seems to be that those qualities are totally lacking in so many currently in the inner circles of politics.

This election cycle I am looking for a fighter not a dreamer to lead our country forward …..

2014-10-27_07-54-31It’s an early battle, so it is premature to say who will win in the long run. Apple appears to have created an ingenious and obviously superior mobile payments system. But retailers control their own checkouts — they get to say who pays with what, not Apple. And Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is backing the retailers’ system via a company it is partnering with called MCX.

Apple Pay is an elegant, universal, simple-to-use system that can be used by any retailer. You just touch your finger on the iPhone Touch ID fingerprint scanner, wave your phone near the NFC checkout device at the store, and approve the payment.

What Apple gets and what no one else in the industry does is that using your mobile device for payments will only work if it’s far easier and better than using a credit card. With CurrentC, you’ll have to unlock your phone, launch their app, point your camera at a QR code, and wait. With Apple Pay, you just take out your phone and put your thumb on the Touch ID sensor.

SOURCE: Wal-Mart Is At War Against Apple Over The New iPhone Payments System — And Apple Is Losing – Yahoo Finance.

Let’s face it, many people resist change at every opportunity. Innovators must have a serious sense of bull dog to get things into the main stream. As Steve Jobs once said people don’t know what they want until you show it to them and Apple has been very successful at that. I believe that Apple Pay and systems similar to it will eventually replace our old magnetic strip credit cards and maybe even cash to a large degree. Those who are battling against this trend will eventually be forced to come around.

I am old enough to remember the VHS vs Betamax wars of a few decades ago. This was during the time that video recording via magnetic tape was coming on the scene. Eventually VHS won the day and Betamax disappeared. The same thing will likely occur with this latest technology.

2014-10-19_09-42-23I have taken leave of politics. I think little of them and say less. I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid, and I find myself much happier.

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams January 21,1821

I always get a certain degree of pleasure to find that my recent decisions were tried by my heroes before me. About a year or so ago, maybe longer as time seems to be flying by lately, I decided to take my leave of politics. To me that venue has taken a dark turn that I seem to be unable to tolerate now. I decided to leave how we get out of this gutter to those who can actually effect a change. I decided that until things improve, if they even can, I will be voting against anyone currently in office at the State and national level. I see it as the only remaining way to get through to those hard-hearted, spiteful people who have gridlocked our political processes.

Jefferson had been out of political office for about 15 years when he penned this letter to Adams. He finally had enough of it. I find myself in the same mental state.

VOTE….

November 4, 2014

Duct taped mouthToday is election day in the U.S. If you want to see change in our totally gridlocked government this is the way it happens. We can change over two-thirds of our federal government representatives today if we want. But that can’t happen as long as so many ignore their responsibilities in how our nation is governed.

Anyone who doesn’t vote today should have their mouth duct taped. If you don’t exercise your critical right to vote then you should give up your other critical right to complain about how our government that you didn’t vote for or against is doing.

VOTE…..

Its All About Fear….

November 3, 2014

2014-10-25_06-26-31“Apparently Republicans really are either stupid or insane, since they seemed surprised to learn that their rightward lurch into an all-white, anti-everything party of fear was a big loser in the 2012 presidential election. They promised to lick their wounds and think hard about immigration and ‘the Latino vote,’ but that did not prove to be necessary, since they now find themselves in another midterm election with a bunch of spineless purple-state Democrats on the defensive and an electorate of ‘highly motivated’ base voters, meaning the old, the frightened and the deeply Caucasian.

Ebola and ISIS are pretty much the perfect issues for a GOP midterm victory: They’re scary things from scary foreign places that we don’t really understand and can’t do much about; they call forth alarmist rhetoric and the prospect of wasting lots of money in the name of national security. (All this was manna from heaven for Republican strategists, because Benghazi and ObamaCare had pretty much stopped paying dividends.)”

SOURCE: GOP Takeover Panic: Why the left fears ‘insane’ Republicans running the Senate Fox News.

It is all about fear isn’t it and as the article says we have ISIS and Ebola around now so maybe that is a “perfect storm” for the Republicans. The stock market dropped dramatically in October and so has voter sentiment, or at least white voter sentiment. That fact will likely bring out the WASP vote more than others. We white folks seem to just love to be fearful about almost everything. If there is not something obvious to fear then we invent something.

As a footnote the quote above while contained in the Fox News article was actually from the Salon website. Lord knows Fox News would never make such admissions.. :)

If you do nothing else tomorrow please go to your polls and vote, PLEASE……

It Is Never About Race….

November 1, 2014

2014-10-31_08-07-37

In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Landrieu was quoted as saying that the South “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”…

State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere issued a statement late Thursday calling Landrieu’s remarks “insulting to me and to every other Louisianian.”

“Louisiana deserves better than a senator who denigrates her own people by questioning and projecting insidious motives on the very people she claims to represent,” he said. “Senator Landrieu and President Obama are unpopular for no other reason than the fact the policies they advance are wrong for Louisiana and wrong for America.”

Being that we are three days away from our two year congressional elections I am going to forego by picture post today for more politics. Anyone who says that part of our political partisanship is not motivated by race is in my mind the most naive person on earth. Of course race bigotry is still very much present in our country in the north, east, west and particularly in the south. I am old enough to remember when the south changed wholesale from the Democratic party to the Republican party totally due to race. When a Democratic president (LBJ) started pushing civil right as one of his highest priorities a very large portion of the southern States population made the shift. It was all about race. To somehow believe that all racial bias somehow evaporated since those years is utopian dreaming.

I admire Mary Landrieu for blurting out the truth even though she probably didn’t intend to do that. It doesn’t take a political scientist to figure out that some hate our president primarily because of the color of his skin. Now, I am not saying that all people of the South are racial bigots or even a majority but I am saying that it is still present especially in the older pre-Civil Rights southern population. Racism is not an in-born thing so I’m sure some of it was passed down to later generations.

I personally saw racism at its worst when I used to visit Senator Landrieu’s State on business during my corporate life. I was totally embarrassed to see how blatant it was back then and am thankful that it is at least moved under the radar now. That is definite progress but I know it hasn’t miraculously disappeared for the entire southern landscape.

If you want to see change in our political system then you must do two things. Get out to vote next Tuesday and to vote the “In” “out”.  That seems to be the only message they will not be able to twist into some political spin. If you are really disgusted with the politics of today you can change it wholesale with your vote on Tuesday. Now I realize that my reader base is small especially compared to all those radical pundits but that doesn’t mean that my reader can’t do their part to affect changes needed in our great country…

2014-10-24_07-43-33With the approach of the 2014 midterms, perhaps the least consequential American election season in a generation, it’s worth asking a perennial question: should you even bother to vote? Many people have basically given up on the democratic project, arguing that the American system is completely rigged by the rich and that nobody on the ballot truly represents their interests….

Still, we know for a fact that low-turnout elections dominated by the enraged white paranoiacs of the Fox News set will keep power in the hands of the rich. If America had a turnout rate of 100 percent, our political situation would look very different than it does now….

Republican attempts across the country to disenfranchise voters and suppress Democratic efforts to register and organize black and brown voters. The fact that the party of organized money thinks the right to vote is worth taking away says that it must be worth quite a lot.

SOURCE:  The case for voting even if America is a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich – The Week.

I wanted you to notice this message so I gave you an extra large image to go along with it.  The reason that America might have a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich is because too many of us don’t take our right to vote seriously enough. This fact is not lost on the Republican party. They are doing everything they can to stifle the vote, especially those who will probably be voting against them!

As the quote above says if America had a turnout rate of 100 percent our political situation would look very very different. Sadly at least half of us seem to only want to shout very loudly about how corrupt and rigged things are but they are not willing to take a half-hour of their time every couple of years to actually do anything about it. If only their actions matched their words…

2014-10-16_07-36-09You know the more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. – Will Rogers, 31 December 1922

You know Will it took me a lot of years to discover what you did. I finally gave up on both political parties after it was obvious that those yahoos in congress were not going to allow President Obama to accomplish anything beyond ACA. Forget that it would have made us a better nation. Forget that much of it would have solved many of the driving issues of today. They simply won’t allow anything of any meaning to happen in that gridlocked city.

I started out as a Republican when I voted for Richard Nixon and moved to a Democrat after I saw the effects of Reagan. Now I am an independent I suppose but more to just vote the “ins” out. We gotta send a message to those who currently represent us that they have failed miserably. The only way to do that is to keep voting them out of office until they finally get it.

Round 1 next Tuesday……