Fax Me That Internet, Whippersnapper! (Day Two)

« July 2006 »


If you're just tuning in, we spent all day yesterday discussing last week's Senate speech from Alaska senator Ted Stevens. But the column got so long, I feared I'd flood the Internet and break it if I didn't split the comedy across two days.

So we join Ted Stevens already in progress, having just told us that the internet his staff sent him on Friday took an unthinkable five days to arrive:

"So you want to talk about the consumer? Let's talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren't using it for commercial purposes. We aren't earning anything by going on that internet. Now I'm not saying you have to or you want to discrimnate against those people."

Bravo, Senator Stevens! It takes courage for a politician to come out so strongly against, um... mandatory discrimination against Internet users who don't make any money. It's like that woman from They Might Be Giants' answering machine got a sex change, moved to Anchorage, and entered public service. And yes, I'm aware that my precise age and sociological status can be derived from that one cultural reference, thank you very much.

"The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says "No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet". No, I'm not finished. I want people to understand my position, I'm not going to take a lot of time.

I like how those last two sentences sit next to each other. You know, like how Israel and Palestine sit next to each other.

"They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."

I sincerely hope whoever gets to write the obituary for the fucking CONCEPT of fucking METAPHOR includes Senator Stevens' role in its untimely demise. It served us well since, oh, the dawn of language itself, but I'm sure when it leaped off the Brooklyn Bridge, the only thing going through its mind was "It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes." OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER. The poor guy never stood a chance.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense internet now, did you know that? Do you know why? Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can't afford getting delayed by other people. Now I think these people are arguing whether they should be able to dump all that stuff on the internet ought to consider if they should develop a system themselves.

OK, I know this is difficult. We've spent the better part of two days lost in Ted Stevens' malfunctioning brain. The only maps we have to guide us are his pronoun referents, which are like unto Lovecraftian horrors scrawled in crayon on wet toilet paper. But given his vote, he's providing this as a rationale for why everyday Internet traffic should have a lower priority than big business's net traffic.

Which means that Ted Stevens, if I'm parsing this correctly, just suggested that those of us who'd like to, say, post a picture of a fern in tighty-whities for all the world to laugh at, to go and build our own goddamned Internet to do it on just like the Department of Defense did. Hold on while I design a packet-switcher that works with tin cans and string.


"Maybe there is a place for a commercial net but it's not using what consumers use every day. It's not using the messaging service that is essential to small businesses, to our operation of families. The whole concept is that we should not go into this until someone shows that there is something that has been done that really is a violation of net neutrality that hits you and me.

Ah, FINALLY something I understand and recognize from the real world. The legislative principle that if it ain't broke, make it legal to break it, and then have hearings on fixing it if enough people complain. That's classic Reagan-era deregulation right there.

Thank you, Ted Stevens, for allowing us to have a laugh at the senile ramblings of an 82-year-old Luddite, before a chill courses down our spine along with the realization that this senile, 82-year-old Luddite has more control over our collective destiny than he does over his own bladder. YAY DEMOCRACY.