Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

O boy! Obama wants to regulate the internet!

On Monday the Obama administration declared its desire that the FCC should increase its regulation of the internet, embracing White House proposals for something progressives like to label “net neutrality.”

By backing a policy commonly referred to as Net Neutrality, President Barack Obama is advocating for that the internet to be regulated like any other public utility. “To put these protections in place, I’m asking the [Federal Communications Commission] to reclassifying internet service under Title II of a law known as the Telecommunications Act,” Obama said in a statement on Monday.

Since the issue of “net neutrality” became a hot button progressive issue several years ago, I have tried to figure it out, all to no avail. The issue is so complex that my first instinct is that the government should simply leave well enough alone, since any action the government takes is usually harmful.

Now, however, with Obama putting his brilliant support behind it I have no doubts — these regulatory proposals should be doused with gasoline, burnt to a crisp, then buried in a hole so deep no one will ever be able to dig them up.

I say this not because of any personal hatred of Obama, but because I have seen the disaster of Obama’s biggest regulatory effort, Obamacare. Why should anyone with any brains at all ever trust him again with any future regulatory effort in any area of public policy? No one should. He and the present generation of Democrats proved with Obamacare that their ideas about government regulation are bankrupt. They should quietly sit down and shut up, and let some adults who know how to think run things.

Readers! My Quick November Fund-Raiser for Behind the Black is now over

I cannot thank enough the numerous people who so generously donated or subscribed to Behind the Black during this fund drive. The response was remarkable, and reflected the steady growth and popularity of the work I have been doing here for the past ten-plus years.

Thank you again!

Though the find-raising campaign is officially over, and I am no longer plastering the main page with requests for help, if you like what you have read you can still contribute, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

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  • BSJ

    So, without figuring out what Net Neutrality is you’ll just condemn it. Well thought out plan, ole man of science!

    On the other hand, realize that if the net isn’t “neutral” you may end up paying extra for bandwidth that you already get for nothing. Or a small business wants to start up on the web, but can’t afford to get on the fast lane of the web and will therefore get no traffic. Or maybe I’ll have to pay a Nickel every time I want to view your site… Not!

  • wodun

    That may be part of it but it comes with other strings attached. Do you trust Obama tying strings to what you can do on the internet, especially when you wont be told what those strings are?

    Also, you ignore the ethical angle about the government telling people and companies what to do with their property. Will fios get to every neighborhood if the government says the ISP’s cant charge differently for it over DSL and cable?

    “Or a small business wants to start up on the web, but can’t afford to get on the fast lane of the web and will therefore get no traffic. ”

    Go to godaddy and look at their hosting plans. Websites already pay different prices depending on how much traffic they get and what type of website they run. A ecommerce site pays significantly more than a wordpress site. Their needs are different. Their infrastructure requirements are different. How are web hosting companies going to charge everyone the same?

    Price controls never work. Just look at Venezuela. This net neutrality thing basically asks ISPs and web host providers to give their services away for free. Why would they even bother staying in business?

  • Scott

    Having been in the cable and broadband communications business for 25 years I can tell you one thing for certain; “Net Neutrality” is progressive code language for “Net Conformity” and will quickly lead to “Net Control” by government bureaucrats. Of course, regulators will label their control “benign” – imposed strictly for the benefit of “The People” or some other shop-worn pap like “fairness”. But the ultimate goal of Net Neutrality is government distribution (actually re-distribution) of internet resources as THEY see fit. To Hell with the “free market” and competition. And THIS is why our progressive president is so anxious to move – Forward!

  • ted

    I agree that the government’s track record in this area is abysmal, but there has to be some way of ensuring a level playing field so the little guy can compete. If there were more competition there would be less need for regulation and the Comcast-TW merger is only going to make things worse.

    How is COX or DTV supposed to compete when Verizon gives cell phone discounts for its FIOS customer? Anyne think Comcast-TW is not going to give preferential treatment for its own content to its own customers over competitors?

    How is netflix or mom and pop ISP supposed to compete against Comcast-TW, which owns the content and the pipes, and lobbies washington with $million?

    The playing field is not level and it’s getting worse.

  • All of you seem to be missing my main point, which really had nothing to do with whether “net neutrality” would be good or bad.

    My point is that the last person or people we should want to institute these regulations is Obama and the Democrats who are presently elected or appointed to government. Their track record is worse then abysmal, their ideas routinely damaging and hurtful to the economy and to the businesses they try to regulate.

    “Net neutrality” might be a good thing. I am very skeptical, but I could be convinced. I will never be convinced however by Obama and today’s Democrats. They lie, they cheat, and their ideas are generally very bad.

    It depresses me that more people don’t see this.

  • Cotour

    I get your point about anything Obama has got to result in strangulation and the abuse of power. That being said the way I understand Net Neutrality is that internet company’s can slow down non subscribers service and direct paying customers to the company’s of choice which are owned by the suppliers.

    The internet can be considered to be a utility is Im sure the governments position even though it is owned by private company’s, much like Con Edison is a private company.

    I have not studied enough on the subject but I have been thinking about it and it seems that the government will in time have their point supported. We need someone to lay out the real arguments for both sides.

  • Edward

    From the article: “Obama is advocating for that the internet to be regulated like any other public utility.”

    Regulated public utilities are regulated because they are monopolies. Is the internet a monopoly?

    If the problem that Obama is having with the internet is that some providers are monopolies, then it isn’t the internet that he should be regulating but the companies that have the monopolies. Otherwise, he would not be advocating regulation of a utility but regulation of an industry. As we have seen in recent years, that has not worked well for the auto, finance, or the medical industries.

    It would be a real shame if one of our main forms of communication and sources of information were run as well as Amtrak. (“Nice internet you have there. It sure would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”)

    Although the Democrats have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with our rights to free speech (IRS and DOJ) or rights to bear arms (Fast and Furious from the DOJ), foreign affairs (Benghazi, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Russia and the “Reset Button”, etc. from the State Department*), border security (we don’t even have a guess for how many million have illegally come in the past six years), and a host of other vital areas (did I mention the Fed’s easy money policy?), the Republicans have not done that much better.

    Regardless of party, government is the problem, not the solution (who said that?).

    * BTW, next time someone tells you that there should be a department of peace as well as a department of war, tell them that there is one, it just has a different name, just as the department of war does. Of course, during this administration, it seems that the peace department has started more wars than the war department, but that’s government for you.

  • mpthompson

    Is there a problem today that the little guy can’t compete? The evidence is sparse. On the other hand, over the last decade a LOT of little web sites have become big businesses over time without the government having to put their finger on the scale.

    Like Robert, I’m very skeptical of “Net Neutrality” as it is indeed hard to understand exactly what it means as it seems to change from vested interest to vested interest. I am highly suspicious it’s a “bait and switch” where the idea of a level playing field is just a ruse for the government choosing the winners and losers (to the highest campaign donor of course) as they tend to do with everything else they “regulate”.

    If the concern is that Internet providers are going to give preferential treatment to certain content, the better way of addressing this is to prevent Internet access providers from also functioning as content providers to eliminate the inherent conflict of interest. Let companies such as Comcast and Verizon choose which business they want to be in and then sell off the other parts. There are already plenty of precedents from other industries of such government intervention. And such intervention would only be palatable because in many instances Internet access providers operate as a local monopoly.

  • Keith

    Perhaps Professor Jonathan Gruber is ready to take on the new assignment of helping plan internet regulations!

    If this government starts down this regulation road, it won’t be long before the internet morphs into a sightly different version of the US Postal Service.

  • Kevin R.

    Holman Jenkins has a good op-ed in the WSJ (Wednesday) today on just what you said about the Obama administration having anything to do with this.

  • Pzatchok

    Your not asking for net neutrality.
    Your asking for content neutrality.
    You want everyone to have the same access to the same content.
    Did you cry when M Jackson bought up the Beatles songs? Did you think MJ would hide them away or something?

    Even though my area only has one cable provider I can get on the internet in several ways. From ISDN, cable, cell phone and or dedicated optic fiber. It just depends on what I want to pay for.

    Your not asking for equal access costs are you? How about equal speeds for all, no matter how you get on the net?

    If you give the government any way to regulate any content on the net then you give them permission to regulate ALL content on the net. Including political speech. Including sights just like this.

    Welcome to China. Enjoy your new freedom.

  • Garry

    Not to worry, the President assures us, “If you like your Internet, you can keep your Internet.”

  • Max

    The old rams gathered in the corner of the field next to the high constitutional fence to discuss what to do about those young Rams that were getting a little feisty and how to keep control over the herd.
    A wolf overheard them talking and said excuse me gentlemen but I believe I can help you and cure all of your other problems if you just let me in. This sounded like a very nice gesture, but they needed to know how much it would cost them. Wolf said very little if anything but we can work out the details once we are inside.
    Asia and lots of Europe have faster Internet speeds at a much lower cost, and they want into our market. The existing providers do not want to retool and compete or they are unable to. With satellite Internet soon to be available and other competitors to offer faster speeds, The dominant providers will have to keep up over go the way of the telegraph.
    Government will help them at a price, and everyone always ends up having to pay! The only tool at its disposal is brute force. It’s only motivation is its continued Growth and survival for it and it’s young.
    With a level playing field comes regulations, and of course some of these regulations will be to control “terrorism” like tea party sites, GMO food haters, gun clubs, homeschoolers, Global warming deniers… If you pay your Internet tax you will have the freedom of speech, as long as it’s state approved speech.
    We complain now about too much government and how it micromanages our lives, with most transactions done through the Internet now, government will be able to nano manage our lives. 1984 were the good old days

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