Forget Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets. Let’s Save the Humans.

The GuardianI ran across a story today regarding modern day slavery and even though I knew the problem still existed I didn’t know (Or didn’t want to know) that I most likely helped contribute to the enslavement of my fellow man. This story in The Guardian reports on slaves being used to prop up Thailand’s shrimp industry. Major retailers such as Walmart and Costco sell this shrimp. It’s abhorrent to think that any food that I have consumed has contributed to the continued enslavement of other human beings. I will do my best to avoid purchasing these items.

The supply chain works in this way: Slave ships plying international waters off Thailand scoop up huge quantities of “trash fish”, infant or inedible fish. The Guardian traced this fish on landing to factories where it is ground down into fishmeal for onward sale to CP Foods. The company uses this fishmeal to feed its farmed prawns, which it then ships to international customers.

The alarm over slavery in the Thai fishing industry has been sounded before by non-governmental organisations and in UN reports.

But now, for the first time, the Guardian has established how the pieces of the long, complex supply chains connect slavery to leading producers and retailers.

Valuable resources and energy expended to save cats, dogs, and other animals need to take a step back until human slavery has finally been exterminated from the world. It’s unconscionable to think that slavery still exists and that it is so infrequently reported.

Right to be Forgotten is Folly

The European Union has declared a war on public information. Their top court ruled that people can request removal of links from Google that they deem no longer relevant or invades their privacy.

The court decision stems from a case brought by a Spaniard, Mario Costeja González, who was concerned about the prominence given by Google to a short newspaper notice from the 1990s about a house he owned being sold off to pay debts.

Via: The New York Times 

This idea is ludicrous. Public information on a publicly accessible web site is PUBLIC. Anyone anywhere can link to this information. Search results are just links and in no way push information to the fore.

The laws in places like the EU are so backwards. Mr. Gonzalez should have petitioned the newspaper that kept the text of the story on their web site. They are the ones responsible for keeping his name alive as needing to sell his house to pay off debts.

The ironic result is that Mr. Gonzalez, as a result of this case in the EU, has caused his name and the item he wanted removed to forever be searchable on the web for as long as the web exists. Think about this for one moment. The New York Times wrote about it, I put it in a block quote on this post, and now Google is able to find my site and the post on The New York Times’ site.

Here’s more on the story.

My Re-Education on Net Neutrality


I’ve written a couple of blog posts regarding video over the Internet and Net Neutrality. The posts I wrote were based on what I was reading in the technology press and some main stream news sources. I was always skeptical to the idea of reclassifying Internet Service Providers (ISP) as common carriers mostly because of the intense push for the concept. It felt like a knee jerk reaction that might possibly cause more harm than good.

I started reading more into the Netflix-Comcast deal in which Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for so-called “priority access” to Comcast’s customers. As I dug deeper I found articles by Dan Rayburn on that clearly explained the Netflix-Comcast deal has nothing to do with Net Neutrality at all and has to do with what’s called peering.

Commercial interconnect relationships, also referred to as paid peering agreements, have been around since the Internet started, and it’s how the Internet works. Commercial interconnect deals haveNOTHING TO DO WITH NET NEUTRALITY. Implying otherwise shows a complete lack of regard in understanding how traffic is and has been exchanged across networks for the past twenty years. The media as a whole should stop trying to insinuate or imply that everything that happens between two networks comes down to Net Neutrality. It doesn’t.

Dan Rayburn

These peering arrangements between CDNs and ISPs or CDNs and other CDNs many times involve sharing. They agree to send and receive data across each other’s networks in a fair and equitable manner so no one network is sending an inordinate amount of data to any other network. If one network is sending way more data than they are receiving then the arrangement is lopsided and some type of payment may be necessary to balance the scales.

Content creators contract with CDN’s to help keep their costs down when serving content. For example, if I was trying to start a service out of my office to stream movies across the Internet and it was successful I could not afford the bandwidth or the servers necessary to accomplish that goal. A CDN would be necessary so the people using my service receive a quality stream.

Here’s an even better description of what CDN’s do via Ars Technica:

Video providers typically pay third-party CDNs to ensure that traffic is delivered along the most optimal route to each consumer and that heavily accessed content is cached for quick retrieval. CDNs themselves often pay ISPs for direct access to their networks. When Netflix built its own CDN, it tried to get free connections to ISP networks. While Netflix succeeded in some cases, it was forced to payboth Verizon and Comcast.

What wasn’t reported in most of the technology and main stream press is that Netflix was already paying other CDNs to manage and distribute their content. Then Netflix made a business decision to create their own CDN. Netflix’s CDN does not sell service to other content generators all it does is provide its traffic to other CDN’s or ISPs.

I’m sure there’s much here that I’m not precise about as the entire subject is highly technical and complicated. I think I’ve got the big picture though. Everything smells bad to me  with what’s happening with the FCC and the net neutrality debate. What concerns me the most is the clamoring from the technology press for the FCC to declare ISPs common carriers. The last thing anyone should want is government regulation of the Internet. Regulations create just as many barriers to entry as any other fact of doing business. If you have ever started a business or even tried you know how many certifications, licenses, and other processes and fees you have to pay before you hang your shingle above your door.

Asking the FCC to regulate ISPs as common carriers may lead to consequences we don’t want. The FCC keeps throwing around the term “legal content”. If the FCC is going to regulate “legal content” on the Internet this could lead to Internet licensing.  A person would need a license to post or distribute content online. Do we want this?

I keep scouring the Internet for someone to write a column on the negatives of the FCC declaring ISPs as common carriers. I haven’t found one yet. There has to be a danger here and I’d like to know what it is.

Here are links to Dan Rayburn’s posts that were eye opening and taught me a lot on how things actually work on the Internet.

Inside The Netflix/Comcast Deal and What The Media Is Getting Very Wrong

Netflix’s Streaming Quality Is Based On Business Decisions by Netflix & ISPs, Not Net Neutrality

Here’s What The Current CDN Landscape Looks Like, With List Of Vendors

Michael Jackson Hologram Seems Wrong

Holographic Michael JacksonA hologram of Michael Jackson was created to use at the Billboard Awards for the performance of the song, “Slave to the Rythm”.  I find it ironic the song they chose for this because in watching it somehow felt wrong. It was like the spirit of Michael Jackson was no longer free. He is now a slave to the producers and owners of his likeness and music catalog to jump when they say jump. The “King of Pop” had no say whatsoever in this performance.

Maybe it feels so wrong to me because this is the first time this has happened to an artist of which I’m a fan. Maybe I’ll get used to it as they continue to do this to more performers. But, it just doesn’t feel right.

Watch for yourself.

Wages Don’t Exist in a Vacuum

Attribution: JimIrwin at the English language Wikipedia
Attribution: JimIrwin at the English language Wikipedia

The State of Illinois plans to put a referendum on the ballot to see if the people in the state want to raise the minimum wage to $10.00. A referendum will show that the vast majority of the population will want it. Why?

There are almost 13 million people in Illinois. Almost 10 million of the 13 million live in the Chicago metropolitan area. A little over 5 million live in Cook County Illinois (this is the county where Chicago and it’s close in suburbs are located).

The population of Cook County are politically aligned with the Democrat Party. Democrats traditionally want to increase the minimum wage. In recent times, what Cook County wants the State of Illinois gets. This blog post on WMAQ-TV, Chicago’s NBC affiliate, explains it all:

Illinois’ GOP has become irrelevant because of its association with the national Republican brand: white and rural, with a desire to bring religion into public life, and a belief that the government has no business telling people how many guns they can own.

Unfortunately, the Republicans’ last gubernatorial nominee, Bill Brady, embodied those values. Brady campaigned as though he lived in the Illinois of the Republican Party’s dreams — an Illinois that does not include Cook County. He counted on Downstaters’ resentment of the Colossus of the North carrying him to victory. The result: He won 99 of 102 counties, and still lost. Pat Quinn would have been elected to a full term even if he’d just carried Cook County.

If the referendum passes and legislation becomes law this is going to have a negative impact on State of Illinois. Wages don’t exist in a vacuum. They are a business expense. When wages go up so do prices. When wages go up so does unemployment.

What business is going to take a chance on a teenager, at $10 per hour, with no experience doing anything? Illinois is already a bad labor market for teens.

A report by the non-profit organization Chicago Alternative Schools Network says the employment rate for both Illinois and the entire U.S. dropped to 27 percent in 2012. In Chicago, the numbers are even worse, dropping from 24 percent to 19 percent. Released this morning, “Trends in Teen Employment in Chicago, Illinois and the United States” says Illinois is now one of the 10 worst states for youth employment.

Young African-American men are in even worse shape.

A study commissioned by the Chicago Urban League found that, among African-American men ages 20-24, in Chicago only 33 percent had jobs, in Illinois 41 percent, both much worse than the national average 51 percent.

Professor Walter E. Williams has studied the minimum wage and its origins and has found them to be protectionist and possibly racist. Here’s Professor Williams in his own words:

Price controls don’t work and the minimum wage is setting a price floor on labor. There is no unlimited pot of money at the end of every business’ rainbow.

Google Craps on RSS Again

Google keeps cutting off RSS for its various services. The biggest shot at RSS was when Google shut down Google Reader. Now they are shutting down RSS for YouTube. According to Ars Technica:

If you’re a news junky, you probably use an RSS reader like to keep up with stuff on the Web. One of the nicest ways to consume YouTube subscriptions was to use an RSS feed of new videos, allowing them to show up just like news articles do. You might not have noticed yet, but Google quietly shut down this feature a few days ago.

This is not good for an open and decentralized web. Instead of using apps or applications of our choosing we’re being corralled like cattle into using what the big online services want us to use.


Quadcopters Are Not Drones

Quadcopters (when did they stop calling them quadrocopters?) are remote controlled model helicopters. They are not “drones” in the traditional sense of the word. I wish the general public and the news media would stop referring to them as such.

The use of the word drone has a negative connotation because of the military’s use of them to bomb people in other countries.

U.S. seeks new bases for drones targeting Al Qaeda in Pakistan

US drone kills seven in east Afghanistan

When you see a headline that says, “Drone Strikes Downtown St. Louis Building“, it conjures up the image of a military drone crashing into a skyscraper. This is wrong and misleading.

If you read the news story above (which I suspect many people do not) you’ll find out that the “drone” in question was actually a quadcopter that looks something like this:

Phantom 2 Vision

The news report didn’t even use the correct picture for the quadcopter. It still looks a little scary though, until you see it in context. Here’s a video from the company’s web site showing off some features of this quadcopter.

It’s small. Really small. It looks nothing like a military drone. Here’s a picture of what I consider a traditional drone.

Predator Drone

I know that I’m one man whispering in a screaming stadium here, but please,  for the love of Pete, can we stop calling quadcopters drones?