Cities joining to offer quality, affordable broadband — pissing off today’s FCC!

❝ This is a story that defies two strongly held beliefs. The first—embraced fervently by today’s FCC — is that the private marketplace is delivering world-class internet access infrastructure at low prices to all Americans, particularly in urban areas. The second is that cities are so busy competing that they are incapable of cooperating with one another, particularly when they have little in common save proximity.

❝ These two beliefs aren’t necessarily true. Right now, the 16 very different cities that make up the South Bay region of Southern California have gotten fed up with their internet access situation: They’re paying too much for too little. So they are working together to collectively lower the amounts they pay for city communications by at least a third. It’s the first step along a path that, ultimately, will bring far cheaper internet access services to the 1.1 million people who live in the region.

Maybe cities can cooperate and save money without compromising their local autonomy. At this same moment, though, the FCC is on a march to smother local authority by blocking states from regulating any aspect of broadband service, supporting states that have raised barriers to municipal networks, deregulating pricing for lines running between cities, and removing local control over rights-of-way that could be used to bring cheaper access into town…the FCC would like to bar other regions from acting in just this kind of sensible way.

The FCC has never been allowed much freedom to aid advocates of modern tech. Overlap of interests doesn’t signify choice. With a reactionary creep in the White House, options narrowed a lot more. Just another good reason to fight hard enough to elect alternatives that are competent technically, moderate or better, politically…and keep on trying for better.

Stone Selfie?


Geek tombstone for Rita ShameevaClick for reverse side

An unusual headstone has been discovered in a Russian cemetery that takes the form of a giant iPhone, a 5-foot tall recreation of the popular smartphone bearing an image of the deceased on the display…the stone iPhone commemorates the passing of 25-year-old Rita Shameeva, who died in January 2016 from unknown causes.

The iPhone measures 5 foot in height, is made from basalt, and features an image of the deceased on the screen area. The stone itself is quite detailed, with representations of the Home button, earphone speaker, volume and standby buttons, rear camera, and even an Apple logo on the rear, all in a black stone structure with white highlights.

Someone cares a lot. That counts most for me. Still, pretty cool.

Measuring human capital — US works its way from #6 down to #27

❝ The United States ranks 27th in the world for its investments in education and health care as measurements of its commitment to economic growth, according to the first-ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of human capital… In contrast, China’s ranking of 44th in 2016 represents an increase from its 1990 ranking of 69th.

❝ “The decline of human capital in the United States was one of the biggest surprises in our study,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “Our findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP – which policymakers here in the US ignore at their own peril. As the world economy grows increasingly dependent on digital technology, from agriculture to manufacturing to the service industry, human capital grows increasingly important for stimulating local and national economies…”

❝ “Clearly, China is on an upward trajectory, while the US, without more strategic investments, especially in education, risks falling behind even further,” Murray said.

I’m surprised that someone whose expertise is in education metrics…is surprised. I left structured education institutions decades ago. Curiosity, interest in society and progress, all combine within my lifestyle to keep me in touch with life in changing societies on this small ball of mud called Earth.

Decline in the character and culture of the United States has been visible enough to anyone willing to look critically since the days of McCarthyism, crushing the trade union movement [including buying a number of misleaders], assumption of the mantle of leading imperial power from the Brits while they dug out from the direct impact of World War 2 – all led rather logically, consistently, to the powerful ignoring most of the needs of the American working class. It was sufficient to provide scraps from a table groaning under so much wealth that maintaining power with two plastic political parties as game pieces was more like playing checkers than chess.

Junk Science can be as harmful as Fake News

❝ Brian Wansink may have helped shape our country’s relationship with food. As director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and in roles for the US Department of Agriculture, Wansink has led headline-grabbing research on healthy eating, portion control and food psychology.

…concerns about his research came to a head last week when leading medical journals retracted six of his articles, the Journal of the American Medical Association announced…

❝ The journal’s announcement nearly doubled the number of papers he’s had retracted — now 13 — according to a database maintained by Retraction Watch, a blog that covers retractions in the scientific community…

❝ Wansink is far from the only researcher to have more than a dozen retractions. Topping Retraction Watch’s “leaderboard” are scientists with 183, 96 and 58 retractions. Wansink doesn’t even make the top 30…

❝ Although retracted articles account for far less than 1% of published papers, they can have an outsize impact.

Famously, a retracted 1998 study reported that autism was linked to childhood vaccines. It was retracted after the lead researcher, who subsequently lost his medical license, was found to have altered or misrepresented information on study participants. Still, the paper led to some parents not vaccinating their children for measles, mumps and rubella.

“Famously” in the scientific community, perhaps. A significant chunk of folks silly enough to stop vaccinating their kids used reports of that crap study to justify their suspicion of science and forbade their children the protection of vaccination. And still do.