Open Thread for Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Yeah, it was dopey, but back in the century when I was a kid, we watched 'The Time Tunnel.'

Yeah, it was dopey, but back in the century when I was a kid, we watched ‘The Time Tunnel.’

When you type the date “2017,” do you ever, just for a second, think you’re living in, or writing, a science-fiction story? I do, every once in a while. How can that date belong anywhere but in the future? Of course, I’m still adjusting to 1984 being in the distant past, instead of the distant future the way it was when I first read it. In fact, it’s farther in the past now than it was in the future then — which seems impossible. Maybe time travel really IS a thing, only instead of jumping over years to get to the future, you just fast-forward, which mean you store “memories” of the intervening years as though you had lived them, when you really haven’t. Maybe I’m onto something. Or not.

Here are some more down-to-Earth things to talk about:

  1. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe resigns, ending 37-year rule — I’m going to go with the BBC and lead with this, even though the denizens of Trump’s America are all like, “What’s a Zimbabwe?”
  2. FCC plan would give Internet providers power to choose the sites customers see, use — OK, would one of y’all please explain “net neutrality” to me one more time, and see if I can hold onto it long enough to form an opinion?
  3. ‘I feel so good about myself doing this.’ says Trump — He was pardoning his first turkey.
  4. Trump Defends Roy Moore Amid Sexual Assault Allegations: ‘He Totally Denies It’ — Well, OK, as long as he denied it “totally;” otherwise I’d doubt him. When this republic started, we had presidents who were conversant in Latin and Greek. This one is fluent in Valspeak. (Look it up, kids — it was an ’80s thing).
  5. Former SC first lady, widow of Carroll Campbell dies — The end of an era — one that had just begun when I came home to SC to work at The State. Back to my time-travel theory, above.
  6. Indie rock group cancels Columbia show after singer is accused of ‘sexual coercion’ — Does it count as a celebrity scandal if I’ve never heard of the celebrity?
Ya know, I never FULLY realized how surreal the turkey-pardoning thing was until Trump did it...

Ya know, I never FULLY realized how surreal the turkey-pardoning thing was until Trump did it…

46 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, November 21, 2017

  1. bud

    This is a big story. Uber like Yahoo and Equifax before it has been hacked and it’s customers data stolen. Worse, they paid 100k ransom to the hackers! Doug will simply say that all is well in the world of capitalism since a couple of mid-level guys were fired. In libertarian world that makes everything all right. Sort of like putting a band-aid on gunshot wound.

  2. bud

    3. This whole turkey pardoning thing really needs to go away. We slaughter millions of turkeys every year when we should be eating something that doesn’t involve the barbarity of killing.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, a lot of people keep saying that. I ignore them.

      Very much looking forward to my turkey and dressing tomorrow. I’m already worried about whether there will be enough leftovers to eat it all weekend.

      Turkey is great, as long as it’s not dried out. I’ve gotten to where I like turkey burgers better than beef. But turkey sausage, it turns out, was a terrible idea…

  3. Mark Stewart

    Net Neutrality: Yet another reason to be sure that Trump‘s presidency is the worst this country has yet experienced.

    But I get why it doesn’t register with many voters. And it frankly pales in comparison with the other ongoing scandals. However, like the tax “reform” situation this effort is one aimed squarely at the Trump “base” – yet is just another of a long list of stuff they seem not to understand; or to get just how badly they are being played…

  4. Mr. Smith

    4) Now we see a poll showing that the bulk of self-identified Republicans don’t think sexual harassment should be a deal breaker when it comes to voting for one of their own – even if the allegations are proven:

    This reminds me of the lines from one of my favorite musicals, 1776, sung by John Adams late in the show as he soliloquizes on the vote for “independency”:

    “Burn the bridge behind me,
    come what may,
    come what may.

    Of course it’s all a matter of WHAT you’re committing yourself to.

    1. Bart

      And guess what Mr. Smith, it was never a deal breaker with Democrats either. If you are going to post something like the article from the WaPo at least be fair and acknowledge BOTH sides adhere to the same twisted and sick acceptance of sexual harassment when it comes to their favorites.

      This is really getting tiresome from both sides. Grow up and get over yourselves.

      If you want to “throw some shade”, try this. Who lined up to support Bill Clinton after he wasn’t convicted during impeachment proceedings and applauded his “victory”? It damn sure wasn’t Republicans. Yes, bringing up Bill Clinton again. Why not? Is he protected by Democrat’s coating him with Teflon? Maybe check a few other pardonable Democrat sex scandals along the way, make a list for each party and see who comes out on top?

      None of this is news by a long shot, it has been going on since the forming of both political parties and members of both sides have been and are still guilty of sexual harassment of women and for the most part, each party will circle the wagons and support one of their own for the reasons Trump won’t speak out against Moore. To keep the other side from winning – period!!

      Care to dispute me on this Mr. Smith?

      1. bud

        What annoys me is this ridiculous false equivalency. No Bart, Bill Clinton doesn’t count. That was resolved 20 years ago with impeachment. Time to move on. Same with Anthony Weiner. He’s in jail. And he never touched anyone! On the other side of the ledger we have Trump and Moore who by all accounts are about as foul as any 2 individuals when it comes to sexual predation. One molested a 14 year old girl, the other has an admitted history of misconduct including charges of rape. The Democrats on the other hand have a senator with relatively modest charges of a frisky nature but only with adults. I’m fine with Franken resigning. I think he probably should but only after an investigation substantiates the charges. But damn it POTUS absolutely MUST be held accountable for his horrible actions.

        Congress should absolutely come to grips with the sexual harassment issue. And guess who controls congress? If Moore wins in AL and Trump stays on as POTUS then there really is a double standard at work.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Of course Bill Clinton counts.

          And the subject shouldn’t be dropped until every Democrat who defended him back in the day has admitted they were wrong. That was unconscionable — the same people who applauded the sordid spectacle of the Clarence Thomas hearings, which were just about a guy talking inappropriately, didn’t hesitate to defend Clinton, who had done far worse. It was a disgusting exhibition.

          1. bud

            Who defended Bill Clinton? He was guilty of inappropriate behavior not a crime. It was litigated just like Iran Contra, Vallarie Plame and Ws “misleading” statements about WMD. And it’s in the past. Reagan, Clinton and W are all irrelevant today.

            1. Bart

              bud, Clinton did commit a crime when he lied about his liaisons with Monica Lewinsky after the fact.

              However, will you stand by your comment, “Reagan, Clinton and W are all irrelevant today.” in the future? If you will stop commenting about “W”, I will stop commenting about Clinton. Agreed? Will let both of them RIP from this point on.

        2. Bart

          So, the charges against Moore have been substantiated and proven in a court of law? As for Weiner, he was found guilty of on-line pedophilia whether he touched anyone or not is not the issue. Talk about a false equivalency, damn bud, get real for a moment. So a Democrat have a senator with “relatively modest charges of a ‘frisky’ nature but only with adults and this is somehow less accountable? No wonder politicians and supporters like you have little or no credibility.

          As for the double standard, it may be time to re-evaluate what exactly is your standard for morality when it comes to your political heroes.

          And Bill Clinton set the standard for politicians who abuse women and get away with it. We are now living in an age when a favorite politician can do exactly what Trump said they could before the election. To paraphrase, they can do anything and get away with it because of their wealth and power. If you want to set precedent for Trump, begin with Bill Clinton.

          1. bud

            Moore’s charges have not, nor will they ever be adjudicated in a court of law. Ditto POTUS. That’s not the point. But these charges are credible and if true are much worse than the Lewinsky event. Franken should probably resign. (I have a bit of skepticism). But Trump most assuredly should be impeached. Serial groping is a crime.

          2. Barry

            BIll Clinton as scum. I never supportd or defended him

            Donald Trump is scum. Anyone supporting him is in the same bucket.

      2. Mr. Smith

        Yeah, Bart, you need to come down off your high horse, which you tend to spend a lot of time on (always spouting a whole heap of words while you’re up there) and actually look at what I posted. Do you see any claim there about Democrats being immune to some of the same tendencies? Nope, not a word of it. You jumped to a conclusion and came off sounding either like a fella whose ox just got gored, or else like somebody who’s eager to show how superior he is compared to everybody else.

        So before you start spouting off again in that condescending and judgmental way you have, just let me point out to you that I actually sent a letter to the White House at the time calling on Clinton to resign. We had perfectly good replacement in Al Gore. And for me, that’s all that need be said about that.

        All I was actually saying was that folks who commit themselves to ideas or people ought to first check out what it is they’re signing up for and see if it’s worth it. And those same folks sometimes need to look at themselves in the mirror and see the hypocrite staring back.

        1. Bart

          “4) Now we see a poll showing that the bulk of self-identified Republicans don’t think sexual harassment should be a deal breaker when it comes to voting for one of their own – even if the allegations are proven:

          Now, show where you even remotely referred to Democrats in your post?

          Read what you posted and then get back to me. Was there any way for anyone to interpret your post other than the way I did? Did you say Democrats were guilty of the same thing? No, lyrics from a Broadway musical don’t do it at all. And I am not a mind reader nor did I have knowledge of you sending a letter to the White House calling on Clinton to resign. Why? You didn’t mention it in your post. No need to “jump” to a conclusion, you drew it yourself and it was obvious. Now, IF you had included in your post a reference to your letter, then I would have not responded. But you didn’t.

          If you don’t want to read my comments, then you have the option to move on to the next one. In the meantime, I will continue to ride my high horse, spouting off a lot of words, and coming to obvious conclusions when there are no others to come to. For instance, like the one you posted? And apparently the ox that was gored was yours, otherwise you would have actually defended your position without engaging in a personal attack.

          1. Mr. Smith

            “Now, show where you even remotely referred to Democrats in your post?”

            Well, there you go again, hammering on that poor dead horse.

            Sorry weren’t unable to suss out the intent of the original post. But there was nothing “obvious” about the conclusion you jumped to. Sometimes you just have to take things at face value and read the words that are there rather than get distracted by what’s banging around in your own noggin. Even now, AFTER I’ve explained it to you, you STILL insist your interpretation was correct. So sad.

            Oh, and not reading your comment wasn’t an option in this case, because it was directed at me. So don’t give me that guff either.

            1. Bart

              “Well, there you go again,..”
              “So sad.”

              WOW! Reagan and Trump in the same reply. Way to go Mr. Smith!

              Congratulations, you have won the “Guff In Your Face Award” for the day. Good way to end the week, right?

            2. Bart

              Mr. Smith,

              I owe you a sincere apology. I allowed my sense of fair play to be overplayed in my original comment to you. Then took it further after your reply and again this morning. There is a place for civil discourse and this blog is one of the few that allow it. In my attempt to make a point, instead of replying to you this morning, I should have let it go and moved on.

              Instead, I engaged by posting a sarcastic reply that has no place in any exchange and ended it with a comment that was out of character.

              I am neither a Democrat or Republican for many reasons. This was not an overnight decision but one brought on by being alive as long as I have and watching with dismay as each side of the aisle has engaged in destructive behavior that each side truly believes is in the best interest of the country. Each side will circle the wagons and at times will go to any extent to protect one of their own. Not so much because they agree with or like the person but because they share the same political ideology. It matters not that the person may be of low character or a hypocrite, the only real matter of importance is they are political bedfellows.

              My background includes years as a systems analyst and programmer. When I see or read a comment that on the surface appears to be a clear indication of one’s position and I have no other information available to reach alternate conclusions, I reach the one that is the most obvious. Nuance in a comment does not always work.

              So, I hope you will accept my apology and it is my sincere wish for you and your family to have a great holiday weekend.

  5. Phillip

    I loved Time Tunnel as a kid! Watching the shows again recently all I can think of is:

    They must have started to smell bad after awhile, hurtling back and forth across the centuries with with that wooden actor in the same stiff suit and James Darren in what seemed like the same turtleneck, and…

    If they didn’t have control or foreknowledge where they were headed, how come they always turned at some pivotal moment—and place—in history?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Where and when do you see “The Time Tunnel?” I ask because, cheesy as it was, I’d watch it again. I’d go over to spend Friday night at Tim Moorman’s house, and he and Bart and I would watch it — unless we watched “The Wild, Wild West” or “The Man from UNCLE” or “Hogan’s Heroes” (there was an embarrassment of riches on Friday nights), followed by maybe “T.H.E. Cat,” then we’d get up in the morning and watch “Space Ghost”…

      1. bud

        Hogan’s Hero’s was a travesty of a show. Depicting the Nazis as bungling morons really does a disservice to all their victims.

        1. Richard

          Bud I hope you never watch F-Troop.

          I wish they could make shows like that today, but sitcoms all have the same demographic. A group of four guys, one married guy, one black guy, one questionably gay guy and one brother-in-law. And the major networks wonder why they’re getting kicked up and down the Nielson ratings by Amazon and Netflix. Let’s see them remake Hogan’s Heroes or All in the Family today. Can it be any more offensive than Two Broke Girls?

        2. Barry

          No. HOgans Heroes was great.

          Portraying them as idiots was funny, and appropriate. Especially when Werner Klemperer,a German, said the only way he would be in the show was that they portray them that way.

  6. Dave Crockett

    Net neutrality?

    Do you like watching Netflix and get riled when the buffer exhausts and the video stutters? Get used to it when your ISP cuts a deal with Hulu to give them extra bandwidth for streaming and the deficit strangles Netflix. Want to lose viewership because the homepage loads like molasses and can stream videos off their homepage because of a deal The State has the bucks to cut a deal with their ISP to put you out of business.

    Net neutrality keeps those scenarios from happening. Net neutrality goes away and they start to occur.

    Got an opinion now, Brad?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, sounds like I’m for it. But will I remember that next week? :)

      Here’s a question: Is bandwidth necessarily limited? Are there ways to expand it, say with more sophisticated hardware and software that enable more to be transmitted? I ask because I don’t know how it works.

      Or is there a limit, a barrier? I mean, 20 years ago it was possible to view video on the Web — if it was no more than about 10 seconds long, and very low-res, and you didn’t mind stopping and stuttering. And now we can watch HD video and binge on it all weekend.

      Can new technology make net neutrality irrelevant?

      1. Dave Crockett

        Bandwidth is limited by the kind of hardware used by the providers along the way between you and your source of Internet information. At any given time, the combined available bandwidth of the Internet carriers is X and divided among all the data coming down the pipe from all the many content providers ( to to and uncounted others).

        Increasing X takes additional capital investment to keep up with increasing demand (your HD video binging…). So the folks controlling the pipe would like to be able to prioritize who gets what proportion of that available bandwidth (not hard to do, technically) and let them charge for that priority rather than treating all the providers equally. Doing so would at least slow the need for more capital investment to keep up with the increasing volume of Internet traffic. Your website’s data is on an equal footing with right now for access to the Internet and eventually to me.

        If net neutrality goes away, that equality would quickly evaporate unless players are willing to pay for priority treatment. New technology has kept the price of Internet access from going through the roof (as has the skyrocketing number of Internet end-users at both ends of the pipe paying for access) but carriers would prefer a higher profit margin that ending net neutrality would offer.

        1. Richard

          Net Neutrality also can be blamed for choking down streaming like Netflix. We’ll see all of the streaming services now being able to offer more 4k video. Static sites like this blog won’t be choked down to the point where it’s noticeable. If it takes an extra millisecond to load, who cares. Providers will need to step up their game to keep the competition from stealing customers. In the end this will be a good thing.

      2. Richard

        Just to give you an idea, the average household probably has a 20MB connection, USC is putting 10GB (or 10,000 MB) connections in all of it’s new buildings. The bottleneck is still with hardware, I’ve never seen a desktop or laptop with a 10GB network card, most servers don’t even have them… yet.

    2. Richard

      All the while bandwidth to the household keeps increasing, we’re not talking about everyone having dial-up or 5MB connections. In another 5 years we’ll be able to get 1GB download speeds at reasonable prices. Fiber is going to the households as we speak.

  7. Frank

    From the 11/23/17 Guardian: Net neutrality: why are Americans so worried about it being scrapped?

    Most of the world won’t be affected by the changes, so are they a problem? No, if you are a tech monopoly – but yes if you don’t want a two-tier internet

    The regulations, put in place by the Obama administration in 2015, enshrined the principle of “net neutrality” in US law. Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should not interfere in the information they transmit to consumers, but should instead simply act as “dumb pipes” that treat all uses, from streaming video to sending tweets, interchangeably.

    Net neutrality is unpopular with internet service providers (ISPs), who struggle to differentiate themselves in a world where all they can offer are faster speeds or higher bandwidth caps, and who have been leading the push to abandon the regulations in the US.

    On the other side of the battle are companies relying on the internet to connect to customers. Their fear is that in an unregulated internet, ISPs may charge customers extra to visit certain websites, demand fees from the sites themselves to be delivered at full-speed, or privilege their own services over those of competitors.

    The fear is well-founded. Outside the US, where net neutrality laws are weaker and rarely enforced, ISPs have been experimenting with the sorts of favouritism that a low-regulation environment permits.

    In Portugal, mobile carrier MEO offers regular data packages, but it also offers, for €4.99 a month, 10GB “Smart Net” packages. One such package for video provides 10GB of data exclusively for YouTube, Netflix, Periscope and Twitch, while one for messaging bundles six apps including Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime.

    In New Zealand, Vodafone offers a similar service: for a daily, weekly, or monthly fee, users can exempt bundles of apps from their monthly cap. A “Social Pass” offers unlimited Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter for NZ$10 for 28 days, while a “Video Pass” gives five streaming services – including Netflix but not YouTube – for $20 a month.

    Even British carriers are experimenting. Virgin Mobile doesn’t charge extra for its packages, but does offer free data on three apps – Facebook Messenger, Twitter and WhatsApp – for subscribers. Three’s “Go Binge” plans do similar having “teamed up with Netflix, TVPlayer, Deezer, SoundCloud and Apple Music” to exclude them from data caps.

    Supporters of net neutrality cite two major concerns about these practices. The first is that breaking the internet down into packages renders pricing confusing and difficult to compare, providing cover for mobile operators and ISPs to increase overall costs and pocket the difference.

    The second is more systemic: an exclusive list of apps and services that receive preferential treatment divides the internet into haves and have-nots. Sometimes referred to as a “two-speed internet”, this runs the risk of entrenching incumbents at the top of the field, while making it very hard for startups to grow to the same scale.

    Consider, for instance, trying to advertise a new video-streaming service to New Zealand’s Vodafone customers. As well as beating Netflix on its own terms, perhaps by offering better programming or a cheaper subscription, the new service would have to deal with the fact that some Vodafone subscribers will get Netflix without affecting their data caps, but streaming from the startup will eat up their limit very quickly.

    But if net neutrality is already weak around the rest of the world, without such negative outcomes becoming widespread, why has the US reacted so strongly – and negatively – to the changes domestically? A glance at Reddit, the self-proclaimed front page of the internet, reveals the scale of the response: 16 of the 25 stories on the site’s homepage are about net neutrality, with all but two of them linking to the exact same page.

    As San Francisco-based, British-born, venture capitalist Benedict Evans noted, the biggest distinction is competition. “When I lived in London I had a choice of a dozen broadband providers. That made net neutrality a much more theoretical issue,” Evans wrote.

    In the US, much of the population has essentially no choice over who to buy broadband from, with local monopolies enshrined in law and a nationwide duopoly providing access to high-speed connections for three quarters of the nation. That gives ISPs much more power to wield net neutrality in an extractive fashion, forcing customers to pay extra to access their favourite sites at full speed – or forcing companies to pay for access to customers.

    This back and forth has been going on for over a decade, with the term net neutrality coined in 2003, but in recent years the landscape has changed. The most obvious driver has been the election of a US President whose largest motivation for policy decisions appears to be simply undoing the actions of his predecessor.

    But the power dynamics between the large internet firms and ISPs has also shifted, in a way that has lessened the institutional support for net neutrality.

    In May 2017 Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, once one of the largest proponents of the principle, noted that it didn’t really matter for the firm anymore. “Neutrality is really important for the Netflix of 10 years ago, and it’s important for society, it’s important for innovation, it’s important for entrepreneurs … It’s not our primary battle at this point.

    “[For] other people it is, and that’s an important thing, and we’re supportive through the industry association, but … we don’t have the special vulnerability to it.”

    If an ISP slows down the traffic to a small startup, that startup looks bad. If it slows down the traffic to Netflix, though, it’s the ISP that looks incompetent.

    Other internet giants have an even weaker support for the principle. Facebook has actively contributed to the erosion of net neutrality in the developing world, through its Free Basics programme. That offers free internet access, but only to a selected list of low-bandwidth websites (Facebook, naturally, is included). For the company that wants to ensure that all human communication is piped through its channels, whether or not other websites have good connections isn’t a great concern.

    With the US regulations scrapped, the door is open for service providers to begin experimenting with their offerings. The new normal may go no further than those packages offered in the UK or New Zealand, or it may finally realise the nightmares the campaigners have been warning about all this time.

    The fight now moves from the regulatory sector to the market: if ISPs try to introduce a two-tier internet, will consumers vote with their feet? Will they have the freedom to even do so?


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