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R.I.P. Net Neutrality

The internet is the greatest invention in the history of mankind. Information has never flowed more freely in the 5,000 plus years of recorded history. The advent of the internet has allowed more ideas to be shared than previously thought possible. Art, science, literature, cinema, and any number of creative works are shared with ease. Billions of dollars are made and lost. People conduct important work and, at the same time, preform mundane tasks like caring for a virtual garden. We connect with old friends and long lost relatives. Grandmothers view pictures and videos of their grandchildren instantly from thousands of miles away. That may all be changing very soon.

Imagine an internet where the information we see is controlled by the same people who deliver it to your home. Do you want to watch a video on YouTube? Too bad! AT&T might demand an access fee from Google. Maybe Google doesn’t want to pay the fee. Maybe you want to go to Fox News’ site. Well, guess what, Comcast owns NBC. MSNBC could be the only news site you get to access. Why should they allow you to look at their competitor’s site? Why would Fox or CNN pay an exorbitant toll to get through? Do you think they want to prop up their competitors? Who do you think will actually pay these fees? The companies? Yeah right. It’s going to get passed on to the consumers.

I know what you might be thinking. That’s all impossible. That could never be allowed! Well, think again. The Appeals Court for Washington D.C. has struck down the FCC’s ability to enforce net neutrality. Of course the service providers are thrilled about this. While they say they won’t do it, the fact remains that this now allows them to charge extra for access to certain areas of the internet. If there is one thing I know about corporations, it is that they will never pass up a chance to make more money off their customers.

Of course, congress could pass a bill enforcing net neutrality. They could pass legislation giving the FCC control over internet communications again. I for one would like to see something like that happen. Part of me has a doom and gloom feeling about it. Can I trust our senators to do what is right? I hope so. I am asking my elected officials to do the right thing. Hopefully, you will too.

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Goodbye Blockbuster!

Blockbuster Video, I knew you well.

On November 6th Dish Network announced plans to close the last Blockbuster stores. An era has ended. I put in a good three years at Blockbuster. I even made my way up to a glorified whipping boy otherwise called a Shift Leader. Some days it was the greatest job in the world. Other days, not so much. What I do remember most was the camaraderie I had with my fellow employees. While I may not keep up with most of them anymore, I can name just about all of them. We were in the trenches together and we counted on one another.

The memories of weekends still send shivers up my spine. Friday and Saturday nights were our game nights. Most of the time we didn’t leave until 2 a.m. because the store looked like a bomb had gone off. We could always count on lines that stretched to the back of the store. People regularly yelled and screamed obscenities at us that would make sailors blush in shame. Inevitably, every other customer would be upset about the latest hit not being available for them. This was usually around 9 p.m. On a weekend. The stupidity of people never ceased to amaze me.

Some nights would be so busy that we would actually start trivia games with the customers in line. The winners would get free popcorn or candy or possibly even a rental. Whatever we had to do to keep a riot from breaking out. Really, it was more fun than it sounds. Usually the violence was kept to a minimum. Usually. God forbid it rained or snow. Those were the days when everyone in the city of Fort Worth decided to show up at the very store I was working at. On those days, we ran out of everything. Seriously, I watched a guy rent Gigli out of desperation. Good times.

One thing that was guaranteed was that you had to work every holiday. The stores just didn’t close. Ever. No, you could look forward to working Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and everything in between. In fact, my first day was on Thanksgiving. I signed up as seasonal help. How the hell it wound up being three years is completely beyond me, but I digress.

Well, now it’s time to say my permanent goodbyes to the big blue ticket. The late fees, the endless lines of customers, the Blockbuster Rewards Cards, the trip after trip with the movie cart, all of those things are gone forever. One day I will be over the trauma. One day I will have fond memories instead of nightmares when I think about a video store. I can start the process of recovery now. Blockbuster, I’d like to say I’ll miss you, but really I’m just going to try and forget you.

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Technology Is Amazing!

I wanted to share with everyone an epiphany I had today: technology is amazing. More specifically, how quickly we have advanced technology in the last 100 years is amazing. Today we take so much for granted. Computers, cars, airplanes, televisions, cell phones, phones in general, and many, many other pieces of technology are treated as if they have always been there. In fact, we have gotten so used to having these things around that sometimes we treat them like nuisances. I think if we take a step back and really think about how today’s technology developed then we might find a new appreciation for our electronic contraptions.

The fossil fuel burning car as we know it today has only been around for about 120 years or so. The the technology that makes radio possible has been around for about 200 years, but a commercially viable radio was only invented about 120 years ago. Same with the motion picture camera, 120 years, give or take. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Seems to me that something just clicked with humans about 120 years back and we haven’t stopped since. Airplanes, televisions, satellites, space crafts, rockets, nuclear weapons, computers, cell phones, satellite communications, microwave ovens, refrigerators, and particle accelerators have all been invented in the 120 years that have followed.

The list goes on and on and will continue to grow. So my epiphany was that something happened with humans in the late 1800s that caused a rapid expansion of technology. Granted, most of it was built upon existing technology, but no period in human history before then ever had such rapid development. What I haven’t figured out is how we made that leap. Was it just the perfect combination of socioeconomic conditions? Maybe there was some sort of mystical conscience shift. I don’t really believe in things like that, but I guess anything is possible. Any comments or enlightenment on this would be greatly appreciated. I know I don’t have an answer.

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Starting Up or Starting Over?

Apparently this will be the first of what should be many posts here. Whether it be for writing reviews of assigned materials or just giving my two cents, this will be my place on the intertubes for a while. I really don’t have much to say at the moment, but I hope to be adding much more in the future that will entertain, inform, and perhaps even enrage!

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