FCC Closing Shop on Net Neutrality

FCC Closing Shop on Net Neutrality

According to Time (and The Washington Post, and everybody else), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing new rules today that would end even the most perfunctory nod to net neutrality — the idea that the infrastructure of the Internet should treat all data equally. Under the new system, says Time, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would be able to charge content companies for preferential treatment over the “last mile” to users. They would be required to offer a baseline level of service to their subscribers, and they would be prohibited from blocking or discriminating against online content. But large Internet companies like Comcast and Verizon would be allowed to strike special deals with Internet companies like Netflix or Skype for preferential treatment.

In a way, this is a codification of a US Court of Appeals decision earlier this year that ruled that because ISPs are not classified as common carriers — as communications utilities like telephone companies — they are not subject to requirements that they not discriminate against entities on their networks. So if you’re Ma Bell — back when landlines were a thing — you had to connect every call to every recipient with all due speed and quality, regardless of its point of origin. But if you’re Verizon or Comcast — in the broadband business today — there’s no such constraint.

2013 Holiday Gift Guide, Part II: Charitable Giving

2013 Holiday Gift Guide, Part II: Charitable Giving

A little while ago, I posted this guide to gifts for your friends and family in the 2013 holiday season. And I told you that by clicking through and purchasing any of them — or even by clicking this link to get to Amazon.com and then buying anything at all — you’d be supporting Twice Cooked, and helping me out with stuff like hosting costs for the year to come.

I stand by those recommendations, and I stand by that rationale.

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Hunger and the Holidays

As of November 1 — just in time for Thanksgiving — Federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been drastically reduced. The program had been living on funds from the 2009 stimulus for a while now, and absent the willingness of Congress to appropriate money for hunger relief, families receiving aid have seen their food stamps slashed by an average of $36 per month.

Now that doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot of cash. But here, according to the Daily Kos, is what $36 per month buys:

a gallon of milk, a pound of broccoli, a pound of bananas, a dozen eggs, and a pound of spaghetti every single week. Or two pounds of chicken legs, two pounds of rice, a pound of apples, a pound of tomatoes, and two pounds of iceberg lettuce.

Food banks and other charitable organizations are left trying to make up the difference. But the difference, according to this piece at CNN, is something like $5 billion. The charitable system can’t make up such a loss, one food-bank director in New Jersey told the Daily Kos. To put it bluntly, we can’t come in and make up $90 million across the state. We just can’t.

And that’s where all of us come in. Charity alone cannot close the hunger deficit in the United States this Thanksgiving. But every little bit counts. What I am posting here are links to the donation pages for my local hunger relief organization, Philabundance, and for one of leading national hunger relief charities, Feeding America.

It doesn’t really matter which you choose, as long as you choose to give. Charity may not solve the problem, but it will certainly help somebody have a happier Thanksgiving in 2013.

Supporting the Tor Project

I want to hit pause on cooking and eating for just one minute, folks, and take this opportunity to talk about a different kind of onion.

It’s been a while since I’ve used my little soapbox, here, to plug a cause. Ages ago, it feels like, I spent some time talking about Kiva. Almost as long ago, it was Creative Commons. Every now and then, I yank my head up out of the sand and implore you all to support something or another. Because there’s lots of super-easy push-button do-gooderism out there on the Internet that actually — you know — does some good. And because having the ability to drone on endlessly about the minutia of food and politics depends a great deal on a giant pile of privileged positions.

Philadelphia’s Fair Food Farmstand

Philadelphia's Fair Food Farmstand

It’s been a few months since I’ve made a soapbox post — like this one about Kiva, or this one about Creative Commons. This post, I would say, falls somewhere between that, an impromptu pictorial, and free advertising for a Philadelphia business that I admire quite a bit, and that I patronize as often as […]