AT&T’s fiber-to-the-home rollout: 1Gbps for the rich, 768kbps for the poor — surprised?

❝ AT&T’s deployment of fiber-to-the-home in California has been heavily concentrated in higher-income neighborhoods, giving affluent people access to gigabit speeds while others are stuck with Internet service that doesn’t even meet state and federal broadband standards, according to a new analysis…

❝ California households with access to AT&T’s fiber service have a median income of $94,208…By contrast, the median household income is $53,186 in California neighborhoods where AT&T provides only DSL, with download speeds typically ranging from 768kbps to 6Mbps. At the low end, that’s less than 1 percent of the gigabit speeds offered by AT&T’s fiber service.

The income difference is even more stark in some parts of California. “For example, in Los Angeles County, the median income of households with fiber-to-the-home access is $110,474, compared with $60,534 for those with U-verse availability, and $47,894 for those with only DSL availability,” the report said.

❝ In 4.1 million California households, representing 42.8 percent of AT&T’s California service area, AT&T’s fastest speeds fell short of the federal broadband definition of 25Mbps downloads and 3Mbps uploads…

❝ As copper networks increasingly become outdated, the FCC is seeking to eliminate regulations to make it easier for ISPs to retire copper networks. However, the copper could be replaced by wireless networks instead of fiber in areas where fiber rollouts aren’t cost-effective. AT&T is deploying a 10Mbps fixed wireless service in order to meet its Connect America Fund obligations.

As if AT&T cared a rat’s ass about service to folks in rural America. They won’t even sort out democratic access in urban areas – and if the experience in other Western nations is a model, that’s simply short-term greed overcoming good sense.

Drones used for first time in a major search at Grand Canyon


Brandon TorresAP Photo

❝ The desperate effort last week to find two hikers who disappeared at the bottom of the Grand Canyon represented the National Park Service’s most extensive use yet of drones in a search-and-rescue mission.

The Grand Canyon is the only national park with its own fleet of unmanned aircraft for locating people who have gotten lost, stranded, injured or killed. Under a program that began last fall, it has five drones and four certified operators.

While the aerial search for the two hikers came up empty, it threw a spotlight on technology that can enter crevices and other rugged spots unreachable by foot while sparing searchers the dangers of going up in a helicopter.

❝ The aircraft were used Monday through Wednesday in the search for LouAnn Merrell, 62, and her step grandson, Jackson Standefer, 14. The park also sent out three ground search teams of about 20 people in all, an inflatable motor boat and a helicopter.

Merrell and Standefer vanished last weekend after losing their footing while crossing a creek near the North Rim. They were on a hike with Merrell’s husband, Merrell Boot Co. co-founder Randy Merrell, and the boy’s mother.

The park soon scaled back the operation and stopped using the drones but continued the search. In a statement, the hikers’ families backed the decision and said they were “still praying for a miracle.”

❝ Other national parks use drones, but for wildlife research. The use of private drones is prohibited in national parks.

James Doyle, a spokesman for the park service’s Intermountain region, said other national parks will probably seek their own drone fleets, too. He said the Grand Canyon’s extreme topography — it is a mile deep — makes it a perfect candidate.

Even unsuccessful, this latest use of new technology cost less and endangered a fewer folks than traditional means. Which, BTW, were revolutionary in their own time.

Wife’s Fitbit leads to husband’s murder arrest


That’s hubby in the middleMark Mirko/AP

❝ A Connecticut man accused in his wife’s murder might have gotten away with it — if not for the victim’s Fitbit fitness tracker and other electronic devices…

Richard Dabate, 40, was charged this month with felony murder, tampering with physical evidence and making false statements following his wife Connie’s December 2015 death at their home in Ellington…

❝ Dabate called 911 reporting that his wife was the victim of a home invasion, alleging that she was shot dead by a “tall, obese man” with a deep voice like actor Vin Diesel’s, sporting “camouflage and a mask,” according to an arrest warrant.

Dabate alleged her death took place more than an hour before her Fitbit-tracked movements revealed. CCTV footage also showed her visiting a local gym the morning she died.

❝ Investigators uncovered text messages between the couple, as well as the suspect and his reported pregnant mistress — thought to be a main motive behind the suspected domestic homicide.

One year before the murder, Dabate texted his wife saying, “I want a divorce,” around the time bank statement records obtained by the Hartford Courant showed credit card charges from hotels, strip clubs and floral purchases for his girlfriend.

❝ State police used an analysis of the home’s “alarm system, computers, cellphones, social media postings and Connie Dabate’s Fitbit to create a timeline that contradicted Richard Dabate’s statements to police,” the warrant cited.

Gotta love it when family gadgets testify against you. 🙂

Climate change stole a Yukon river almost overnight

❝ Its water rerouted by a retreating glacier, the Slims River offers researchers an extreme example of ‘river piracy’ – one with far-reaching implications for northern waters, Ivan Semeniuk explains


Click to enlargeDaniel Shugar

❝ Daniel Shugar knew his research trip was in trouble when he arrived at Kluane Lake last August.

A Canadian geomorphologist based at the University of Washington in Tacoma, Dr. Shugar’s plan had been to study currents at the mouth of the Slims River, which spills down from the mountains of Kluane National Park and feeds Yukon’s largest lake from its southern end.

There was a problem: The river was gone.

❝ In what appears to be a first for the scientific record books, the Slims has become an extreme example of what geographers call “river piracy”: when the drainage of one watershed is stolen by another. But on this occasion the shift occurred virtually overnight.

❝ In a report published…in the journal Nature Geoscience, Dr. Shugar and his colleagues provide a detailed analysis of how an atmosphere warmed by fossil-fuel emissions has led to the river’s dramatic disappearance.

“To me, it’s kind of a metaphor for what can happen with sudden change induced by climate,” said John Clague, who holds a chair in natural hazard research at Simon Fraser University and was a co-author on the report.

While people may think of climate change as a gradual process, its effects need not be, Dr. Clague said, adding, “I think that has important implications for society.”

RTFA. Entertaining as journalism – not the processes which our most ignorant politicians continue to ignore. As one sign said in this past weekend’s March for Science during Earth Day — Accepting science as a fact or not doesn’t change the facts.

Unless you’re a fool. Sorry about that. I know it ain’t polite. But, I’ve been a student of science for several decades. Understanding has changed, knowledge has deepened, even changed direction. Facts don’t change.

Trump fires Surgeon General – who will be permanent replacement?


Dr. Vivek H. Murthy was fired on Friday

❝ Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, an Obama administration holdover, was asked to resign by the Trump administration on Friday. He was replaced by his deputy, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, one of the first nurses to serve as surgeon general.

Admiral Trent-Adams will for now be in an acting role. As of Friday evening, she had already replaced Dr. Murthy on the surgeon general’s Twitter account, and her portrait had replaced his on the agency’s Facebook page. One of the first comments on that post asked, “Where is Dr. Murthy?”…

❝ Alleigh Marré, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in an emailed statement on Friday that he was asked to step down “after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration.” Ms. Marré said Dr. Murthy would continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service.

Dr. Murthy’s wife, Alice Chen, said…her husband had refused to resign and was fired

❝ Surgeons general have little staff or power but generally use their positions to call attention to important public health priorities.

Dr. Murthy has for years made headlines for calling gun violence a public health threat. In 2014, the National Rifle Association urged the Senate not to confirm him.

Who will our so-called president name as permanent replacement?


The leading candidate is an NRA member

How Much Are We To Spend For Trump’s Wall — Instead Of Schools, Healthcare, Safe Water?


David McNew/Getty Images

❝ During the campaign, President Donald Trump promised to build a wall across the southern border some 1,000 miles long. The number of miles the president currently has money for: seven.

United States Customs and Border Protection officials delivered the startling news…at a conference in San Antonio for businesses eager to win contracts for beefing up security along the border.

❝ Although estimates to build the wall soar past $20 billion, the agency has so far managed to scrape together only about $20 million, according to its top contracting official. The rest of the cash will have to come from Congress, which so far has proven reluctant to foot the bill.

That amount of cash would not go very far to build a real wall — existing fence along the border costs roughly $2.8 million per mile.

Instead, the agency plans to spend the money on eight model walls, planning, engineering, and early-stage land acquisition…

So, the money will either come out of taxpayers’ pockets directly – or the usual way favored by Congressional conservatives, e.g. rip it from budgets already dedicated to education, healthcare, etc. You know. Stuff that benefits ordinary people. Not corporate elites.

❝ The contracts for the prototype walls — some made of concrete, some made of other materials, all to be “aesthetically pleasing” per Trump’s wishes for a beautiful wall — will be announced later this summer…

Like most of everything Trump owes obedient voters, True Believers in our nation unwinding time back to some 19th Century myth – it ain’t going to happen. It will cost exponentially more than promised. It will take money stolen from healthcare, decent roads, education, a poison-free environment. Nothing the Republican Party has cared about in decades. Everything this generation and those to follow will require if America is to keep from falling backwards compared to the rest of the developed and developing world.

Cannibals weren’t just lazy — they also lacked good nutrition…

❝ Note to the prehistoric party planner: One dead mammoth can feed 25 hungry Neanderthals for a month, but cannibalizing a human would provide the crowd with only a third of a day’s calories…Essentially, you’re a walking lunch.

❝ A study of ancient cannibalism estimated the food value of humans and Paleolithic animals…The findings: People are not so nutritious.

Humans have a low percentage of muscle and little caloric value.

❝ A new look at the nutritional value of human flesh shows that, compared with other Paleolithic prey animals, humans weren’t especially packed with calories for their size.

…Study author James Cole of the University of Brighton says…boars and beavers pack about 1,800 calories into each pound of muscle compared with a measly 650 calories from a modern human. That’s about what would be expected based on our overall size and muscularity compared to other animals…So…if humans aren’t especially valuable in terms of prey, why eat them? After all, unless they are sick or dying, they wouldn’t be easy to hunt…

Instead, Cole argues that perhaps not all ancient cannibalism was for filling bellies; it may have also served various social functions for early humans and their ancestors.

Gimme that old time religion!

❝ Archaeologists have found evidence of cannibalism in the human family tree at least as far back as 800,000 years. And though cutting and gnawing marks on bones can’t reveal motivations, ancient remains do offer a few clues to how widespread cannibalistic practices were throughout human evolution…

❝ Perhaps, anthropologist Erik Trinkaus says, the real message is that ancient people had more of a mix of motivations for cannibalism than we’ve given them credit for. After all, human cannibalism in recent centuries has many roots, including warfare, survival, spiritual beliefs, and psychosis.

The article is interesting in the diversity of patterns examined around the archaeologic world. Including conclusions about how and what cultural patterns contribute to the practice.

Turns out “Hobbits” ain’t our close cousins after all

❝ Researchers who studied the bones of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, say their findings should end a popular theory that it evolved from an ancestor of modern humans.

The study, led by the Australian National University researcher Dr Debbie Argue from the school of archaeology and anthropology, found there was no evidence the diminutive 1.1-metre-tall Homo floresiensis evolved from the much larger Homo erectus, the only other early hominid known to have lived in the region…

❝ Argue was overseas and unavailable to comment but a member of her research team, prof Colin Groves, said the theory of a link with the Asian Homo erectus, the first of our relatives to have modern human proportions, was “a good scientific hypothesis”.

“But we believe it has now been thoroughly refuted,” he told Guardian Australia.

❝ Groves said the researchers had gone into the study of the species with an open mind. But their findings support another popular theory: that Homo floresiensis was in fact far more primitive than Homo erectus and had characteristics more similar to Homo habilis, which lived between 1.65 million and 2.4 million years ago, and which is the most ancient representative of the human genus.

Way cool. RTFA for details on the research and analysis that led to this conclusion. I have no idea how Tolkien fans feel about this finding. 🙂

Thanks, Honeyman