The Verizon squeeze play

I’ve thought for a long time that a broad-based consumer movement that went after the phone and cable companies for anti-trust activity would be unstoppable:

Verizon is consciously making DSL less attractive just as they’ve signed a new co-marketing arrangement with cable — driving unwanted DSL users into the arms of cable operators, with the understanding they can sell these users more expensive LTE connections later.

There’s numerous reasons for wanting their DSL services to die off, including the fact that newer LTE technology is cheaper to deploy in rural areas and easier to keep upgraded. But one of the larger driving forces is that Verizon is eager to eliminate unions from their equation, given that Verizon Wireless is non union. None of this is theory; in fact it has been made very clear by Verizon executives.

[…] In other words, Verizon will cut off copper in FiOS markets first (which makes sense given the lower maintenance costs of fiber). They’ll then leave users in DSL-only markets un-upgraded, forcing them to buy a costly landline so that remaining on Verizon DSL becomes less attractive. Those customers will flee to the same cable companies Verizon just signed a massive new partnership with, with Verizon planning to sell those users more expensive LTE connection later. Verizon will continue to “compete” in FiOS areas for now, if you call winking and nodding when it’s time to raise prices competition.

Rural areas could see the biggest impact from the shift, as Verizon pulls DSL and instead sells those users LTE services with at a high price point ($15 per gigabyte overages). Verizon then hopes to sell those users cap-gobbling video services via their upcoming Redbox streaming video joint venture. Expect there to be plenty of gaps where rural users suddenly lose landline and DSL connectivity but can’t get LTE. With Verizon and AT&T having killed off regulatory oversight in most states — you can expect nothing to be done about it, despite both companies having been given billions in subsidies over the years to get those users online.
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Extremist whack jobs

Isn’t that nice. As C&L’s Dave Neiwart has pointed out again and again and again, Jerry Boykin is a right-wing nutjob of the most dangerous kind. The fact that he’s been hired by the Family Research Council underlines their own extreme positions:

The conservative Family Research Council has named a former top Delta Force commando and outspoken culture warrior, retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, to run its day-to-day operations.


Boykin’s appointment as executive vice president of the FRC, a mainstay of the Christian right, is designed in part to highlight conservative opposition to President Obama’s military policies, particularly his decision last year to repeal the Pentagon’s ban against gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces.


“The Obama administration has undermined our nation’s security and increased the risk to those who serve by systematically using our nation’s military to advance a liberal social agenda,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in announcing Boykin’s appointment on July 16.


“There is no one better equipped to speak on behalf of those who serve our nation in uniform and advocate for policies that uphold our national security than General Boykin.”


Boykin’s presence at the FRC is also likely to spotlight his many controversial statements about Islam.


Boykin first came to national attention in 2003 when it was revealed that the decorated battlefield veteran then serving as a top adviser at the Pentagon under President George W. Bush regularly told church audiences that the post-9/11 “war on terror” was a spiritual battle between Muslims and “Christian America.”


In one talk, Boykin recounted how he pursued a Muslim warrior in Somalia who claimed he had Allah on his side. “I knew that my God was bigger than his,” Boykin told the church in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2002. “I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

Is abortion fight about male control of family life?

Go on, read it all:

George Lakoff and Elizabeth Wehling think it’s highly unlikely that Catholic leaders and the religious and political right are going to admit that they’ve been wrong about the “morning-after” pill now that exhaustive research shows the pill delaying ovulation rather than preventing the implantation of a zygote. One of the central claims in the Catholic bishops’ attack on the Obama administration’s HHS guidelines is that the “morning-after” pill is an abortifacient, and the administration is requiring Catholic institutions to participate in abortions via its new HHS guidelines.


Lakoff and Wehling argue that scientific research and scientific truth simply don’t matter to those promoting false arguments about abortifacients and the “morning-after” pill. What matters is using overblown rhetoric about zygotes as persons to try to build up in the culture at large the emotional sense that a just-fertilized ovum is a baby, and should be treated as such if we don’t intend to succumb to barbarism.

I’d just like to add here an idea that’s been incubating in the back of my mind for a while. My mother was a “right to lifer”, as she called it. She had the little rose insignia on her handbag, she gave money to anti-abortion groups. I told her I thought she was being silly. It drove her nuts that she couldn’t make me agree.

Now, here’s the thing: By the time my mom got married, she was 28 and dying to be a mother. She gave birth to five children, delivered one still-born child, and had two second-trimester miscarriages, due to Rh negative incompatibility. If those pregnancies hadn’t gone wrong, she would have a brood of nine.

My mom was smart. She also wanted to be a singer, and she wanted to be a writer. (My dad gave her an electric typewriter one Christmas, but I don’t think she used it.) She told us there was no way you could do those things and be a mother at the same time. But then I proved her wrong, and I think she really resented it.

She had to make motherhood the most important thing, because it was the only thing she did.

So I wonder – not just with my mom, but with a lot of women, of all ages – if treating conception as a sacrament isn’t, on some level, a psychological sidestep to evade growing up, and evolving. And I don’t mean that as an insult to housewives. There are plenty of ways to mature and grow in that position, but some women cling to gender roles in the extreme. For example, my mom didn’t know much about the family finances; a lot of women do. Instead, she clung to some rather infantile ways.

When I got married, I was the same way about money. All of that logistical stuff was overwhelming, and I was happy to let my husband have all the power in exchange for his taking all the responsibility. (The irony of that was, I later realized that I’m the one who was good with money and strategy, not him. My problems grew mostly out of scarce resources, not out of poor judgment — and when I did make poor choices, I didn’t make the same mistake twice.)

The trap of putting all your intelligence and intensity into your children is that you can use it to justify your inability to function as an adult. And I wonder if that isn’t where all the anti-abortion fervor really comes from – that women are using motherhood as their rationale for existence. That it’s the only currency available to measure their sense of worth.

I dunno. What do you think?

Monkey see, monkey do

Nope, no problem with guns in this country, none at all:

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Maine State Police seized an arsenal of weapons from a Biddeford man who told police he brought a loaded gun to a showing of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises” in Saco on Saturday night, according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland.

Timothy Courtois, 49, was arrested in York about 10 a.m. Sunday after state police Trooper Phillip Alexander clocked Courtois’ Ford Mustang traveling at 112 mph on the Maine Turnpike. Other motorists had called police to report the vehicle was speeding southbound on the turnpike with its hazard lights flashing.

Inside the car, police found an AK-47 assault rifle, four handguns and several boxes of ammunition, McCausland said Monday afternoon.

Also in Courtois’ car, police found newspaper clippings about the mass shooting Friday during a showing of the same Batman movie at a Colorado movie theater, according to McCausland.

Courtois told police he had attended the Batman movie at the Cinemagic Theater in Saco on Saturday night with a loaded gun in his backpack and that he was on his way Sunday to Derry, N.H., where he planned to shoot a former employer, McCausland said.

“He didn’t speak to any intent to harm people [at the theater], but I’m sure a lot of this is going to continue to come out” as agencies including the state police, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continue their investigations, Maine State Police Lt. Kevin Donovan said Monday.

“We don’t know what his true intentions were” when he brought the gun to the theater, and investigators are trying to determine his reasons for doing so and for having a large collection of firearms, McCausland said.

Penn State

I think the NCAA statement sums it up well. Penn State is only the most egregious example of a sports program that has outgrown and overshadowed the academic mission of a public university. I don’t believe they’re the only school that has looked the other way at questionable and even criminal activities, and I don’t believe the taxpayers have either a moral or a financial responsibility to supply a farm system for the NFL. We have some very real problems in our economy right now, and it would be nice to see academia placing their full attention on them.

As to the tearful Penn State students seen crying as the news was announced, I would like to offer some motherly advice: Don’t pick your college on the basis of its sports teams.

(Reuters) – The governing body of U.S. college sports fined Penn State University $60 million and voided its football victories for the past 14 seasons in an unprecedented rebuke for the school’s failure to stop coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children.


NCAA President Mark Emmert said the school had put “hero worship and winning at all costs” ahead of integrity, honesty and responsibility.


Penn State was not given the so-called “death penalty” that could have suspended its football program but it was banned from post-season bowl games for four years and had the number of scholarships available to players reduced from 25 to 15.


Penn State officials were accused of not taking action after being alerted that Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, was sexually abusing children. The scandal tainted one of college football’s leading coaches, the late Joe Paterno, and led to his firing last year along with other top school officials.


The punishment, announced by the National College Athletic Association at a news conference in Indianapolis, was unprecedented for its swiftness and breadth. It was the latest blow to an institution still reeling from Sandusky’s conviction last month on child molestation charges.


The case was another blotch on the diminishing legacy of Paterno, who until Monday’s action had held the record for victories among big-time U.S. college football coaches in a career that spanned more than 40 seasons. Paterno lost that status since the NCAA’s punishment includes voiding the Nittany Lions’ victories between 1998 and 2011 – the time period covering when allegations against Sandusky were first made and Sandusky’s arrest.


The Paterno family said on Monday the NCAA’s actions “defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator without any input from our family or those who knew him best.”


“This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did,” the statement said.

Actually, I think it’s a rational response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Joe Paterno didn’t do.

Fighting tyranny

From Hecatedemeter, some common sense:

When those men wrote the Second Amendment to our Constitution, America didn’t have a standing Army, Navy, Air Force (they could never have imagined!), Marines, National Guard, and Coast Guard. We didn’t have a police force in every town equipped with tasers, drones, heat sensors, electronic spies, and the ability to nab your cell phone and entrap your friends. We can argue, as an esoteric exercise, about whether or not all of those abilities are good things, but they are, right now, facts. We, the people, have turned over to the government, our need for a “well-regulated militia.”


Here’s what I do know.


I do know that no matter how many guns any one person or group may purchase, if the United States government decides to take you out, they are going to take you out. They will, literally, out-gun you. Until you can, Dune-like, employ the family atomics, (not to mention the family chemical weapons, the family heat sensors, and the family ability to cut off water) and, really, even then, you are not going to hold off the firepower of the United States government, which spends more money on weapons than any other country on the face of the globe. Maybe that’s good; maybe it’s bad. But it’s a fact.


I know that letting every nutjob in America load up on automatic weapons is inimical to the “security of a free state.” People can’t be free if they are constantly at the mercy of an armed nut. Ironically, the reaction to the tragedy in Aurora isn’t to limit the ability of crazies to purchase arms. Instead, theaters are going to limit the freedom of patrons to wear costumes. Let’s be clear: costumes. Costumes don’t kill people. Guns kill people. But we apparently can’t limit the ability of nutjobs to buy guns, so we’re going to limit the ability of free people in a “free state” to wear costumes. Some underpaid usher at a movie theatre is going to decide whether or not your pentacle, or your Goth make-up, or maybe just your beard renders you unable to see a movie. Because we can’t tell nutjobs that they can’t buy automatic weapons. And you can now surrender your bodily freedom and allow, again, some underpaid usher at a movie theatre to grope you in order to allow you into the theatre.


I know that letting every nutjob in America load up on automatic weapons is inimical to “a well-regulated militia.” Ask any police force in America what they think about reasonable gun control and they’ll tell you that they are all for it. There’s nothing “well regulated” about letting every nutjob out there buy all the automatic weapons s/he can buy.

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