Promises Broken: Copperpocalypse Redux

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I have already warned you about the disastrous consequence of eliminating copper-based landline telephony (or POTS as aficionados refer to it―Plain Old Telephone Service). I won’t repeat those cogent and valid arguments here.

Let me blog-roll in a good discussion of the issue from Baker on Tech: Phones can’t go to POT(s) anymore!

This is another case of a broken promise. We, the people, gave the railroads 11 million acres in California alone, in exchange for the promise of passenger service in perpetuity. With the help of the supine federal Interstate Commerce Commission, we lost the passenger service and the railroads kept the land, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They didn’t keep their end of the promise. I want the land/money back.

AT&T has asked the California Public Utilities Commission to roll over and play dead, allowing AT&T to pull every inch of copper in the state, stop repairing existing lines, and refuse to install any new ones. The pretense phase of the hearing―excuse me―the comment phase―is a mere bump in the road on the way to allowing AT&T to abandon every Californian in a rural area, all those who live in areas with crap Internet service (usually the poor), and those who have no reliable cellphone reception (like me: hilly terrain).

The state will thus join such stalwarts of consumer protection as Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota in its craven capitulation to the corporation that co-owns it (along with the state’s other utilities).

Alas, those affected will either go uninformed about the “comment period” or uninformed about the consequences.

Why yes, this does infuriate me.

Find a professional examination of the issue here.

Here’s where the broken promise comes in. We gave AT&T and its successors a century of monopoly profits in exchange for providing universal service. We should ask for some of that money back. AT&T has cocked its snoot at the idea of universal service; who knows how many Californians will now be communication-free, and in danger for their lives in case of disasters and power outages. Landlines work in disasters. Cellphones don’t.

9/11 and Oil

Reader Stephen Coquet is not the first to point this out:


After the first shock, when we were all one, when the whole free world was one with us, I was optimistic. I thought we might have as much as three weeks before politicians started making political hay out of it. We didn't even get three days. Soon GWB was beating the war drums for war with Iraq, even though the attack came from nineteen Saudis, many with close ties to the Saudi royal family. But we went to war with Iraq. Because, are you really going to do that to people who have dined at your table, and whose tables you have dined at? And all that oil!


Which made me want to slightly modify a quote by Upton Sinclair:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his (oil) depends on his not understanding it.”

Heart Warmer

From my UPI chat group, this heartwarmer from Ron Cohen:

Daughter Zen got her initial COVID vaccination today in Israel. She is considered a critical health care worker.

A certified chaplain, she works a day or two a week at the hospital in Tzfat. She tours the whole hospital and sings to patients, accompanying herself with a variety of stringed instruments — guitar, ukulele, etc. Her visits are eagerly awaited by the patients — the highlight of the week for many.

Her specialty is singing to tiny newborns in the preemie ward. Even though they are separated by glass windows, the many monitors hooked onto their tiny bodies confirm they are involuntary responding. (Her singing improves their vital signs)

She always has intended her music to be palliative and comforting. As so many of my friends are well aware, I am very, very proud of her.

(Listen to a song she composed and performed for a cancer patient)

This and That

Kevin Sullivan wrote: Your [brain] meme made me recall a conversation I had during a management and leadership seminar. A participant (seemingly unaware of the Peter Principle) remarked managers must be good leaders because “Cream rises.” My comeback was, “So does bullshit. We've known since Archimedes ₋  the space they take up is greater than the mass of their contents!”

Hitler Movie Meme… Again
Yes, it’s a meme:
Hitler's "Downfall" Parodies | Know Your Meme. There have been hundreds of them over 14 years. Still, there’s room for one more: Counting the Vote. Thanks for the link, John Kavazanjian.

How Tall was Goliath?
Daniel Dern: While/after reading this (How Tall was Goliath), am I the only one who wondered "So how tall was Goliath in Smoots?"[Ed. Note: MIT Inside Joke. Answer: 1.5 using the most popular interpretation of Goliath’s Biblical height]

Sucker for a Survey
I just took a survey from the Bay Area CBT Center. Here’s what you can learn: “The following questionnaire will help you determine which schemas are most relevant for you in relationships. Schemas are core beliefs or stories that we have developed about ourselves and others in relationships. When we are unaware of these stories, we are more likely to engage in behaviors that create a self-fulfilling prophecy and reinforce these beliefs”

Alito An Honest Man?
I had this exchange with a lawyer friend of mine:
   Me: “I’m curious if you have an opinion on why Alito turned out to be an honest man.” (He declined to let Trump stop the certification of Pennsylvania’s results)
   Lawyer: “It would have been really hard to get that one wrong. I’m not sure that makes him honest.”
Simultaneous Ending
Wouldn't it be nice if both people in a relationship realized it was over at the same time? This has never happened to me or anyone I've known. Has it ever happened to you?  Email me your story

Covid Research

I did a brief on this last week, and on sober reconsideration, decided it was worth more than that. Steve Kirsch was sports editor of The Tech, and despite that has gone on to quite a career as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, with his own panel of expert scientific advisors. Best of all, he’s a guy who doesn’t get up in the morning without checking the best available science. You can look him up. He was interviewed on KCBS-AM (find it here, search for Covid Research). The whole interview is a good read; I recommend it. But as a content creator, I don’t like to reprint whole articles unless they seem in imminent danger of disappearing.


As the world awaits a corona virusvaccine in anticipation of returning to a "normal life," scientists are still seeking funding to find the most effective ways to treat the virus with existing drugs.

Steve Kirsch is the founder of COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund (CETF) [CLICK AND DONATE] and wanted to look at what's being done, and not being done, by talking to researchers he's helped fund over the years to try and find a way to treat the virus early as someone who faces multiple risk factors himself.

Kirsch said CETF needs $17 million more to test the eight different approaches it has identified for treatment.

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One listener donated $200,000 after hearing the interview. There’s a stretch goal. If you donate more than $200,000 let me know!

Federal Troops: Not The Same

As far as I know, I only have one Southern reader, and I doubt he will make the false claim I have heard, but can’t find on the Internet, that Northerners are being hypocritical—again—by objecting to uninvited federal troops when the same thing happened in the South in the 60s.

Not the same thing. That deployment was to protect rights, not destroy them. For the specifics, check this detailed opinion piece. Enforcing federal court orders is different than using the excuse of protecting federal property to allow unmarked militarized federal agents to arrest unarmed peaceful protestors and throw them into unmarked cars.

And, if you think a big old load of horseshit would make your breakfast go down easier today, check out the DHS unbelievable load of crap about the Waffen-SS… sorry… federal agents crushing protest in my home town of Portland, Oregon.

Trump’s lickspittles claim the troops have unique identifiers. I can’t find them on the Internet, protestors can’t find them anywhere on the masked gunmen who have invaded an American city. I found a single reference to “TZ1” as a unique identifier. I assume they all wear the same number for purposes of economy. TZ1=Enemy of the People.

Dan Rather on Facebook

Let me just say I agree with every word he says.

I sit locked in a self-imposed isolation as a deadly virus surges outside. Time frames for returning to any hope of a faint echo of normalcy stretch into the many months or years. This distant horizon strikes particularly deep for those of us at a certain age and stage of life. Our nation is adrift amidst rocky shoals with cruel incompetence as our captain and enabling cravenness as the first mate.

What a perilous time to live.

I know I am extremely fortunate. Neither the roof over my head nor the food on my table are in doubt. I have the privilege of protecting myself and my loved ones more than many. We don't work in meat processing plants, or distribution warehouses, or even in hospitals. I strive to keep habits and schedules, but hours bleed and to-do lists go unchecked.

What a moment to contemplate the future.

The basic tenets of decency, truthfulness, and compassion are torn across our political divide. We see scientists denigrated and charlatans exalted. We see the rule of law and the norms of our democracy debased for personal gain. We see our allies bullied and our adversaries coddled.

What a time to be an American.

But that's just it. It is a time to be an American, to contemplate our future, and to live. We have had very dark days in the past. We have had deep, systemic injustices. We have faced daunting odds. And women and men of courage, of ingenuity, of resolve have stood up time and time again. They have said some version of, "we will not abide." It is our duty to not abide either.

From the streets, to newsrooms, to online social and political activism, I see countless millions of Americans who are not abiding. We are living through damage, loss, and sadness that could have been avoided. Much trauma lies ahead. But I know most of my fellow citizens agree that this shall not be us.

I desperately wished this was not our lot. I wish so many things. I wish the hospital wards were empty. I wish kids were having a summer and could go to school safely. I wish small businesses weren't closing. Heck, I wish I was at a baseball game trying to not have the mustard drip on my pants. That's not where we are.

We must be true to ourselves to recognize that much of what we are seeing now was not only the product of the last few months or even the last three-plus years. We have big problems, wherever we look. But we see them now. And we must do the hard work to fix them, not only through the ballot box but through the energy of our hearts and power of our imaginations. Whatever despair I might feel is tempered with a hope that is growing within me. I will not abide, and I believe most Americans will not abide either. Courage.

The SF Chronicle on Covid

The Chronicle coverage of Covid has been detailed and first rate. This is much to my surprise, as I always considered the newspaper to be a newsprint comic book. I loved the fact that it was family owned for four generations and feared for its future when Hearst took over. Imagine my surprise when it actually became a better newspaper.

The Mercury News is OK, but I think the Chronicle has been untouchable on Covid, especially Covid in California. Good coverage of the TickTock that anyone can get as well as admirable enterprise coverage.