What are the shiny circles on Thor’s costume?

1559112-thor

Asgardian Fashion 101

Writing for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange, I came across a question about the Mighty Thor that has piqued my interest only in that I had never seriously considered the classic Thor costume and its design. What are those circles on his costume supposed to be? <empty stares; looks of confusion>

I left the question alone for a few days while other writers on the site tackled the problem. My writing calendar was full and I was sure some of the site’s capable admins and moderators would find some worldly wisdom that I, even with all of my superhero history, did not have an instant answer for.

You know what they came up with? Nothing. Fan rumors. Suspicions. European Defense Initiative Bio-Mechanical Suit, from Earth 1610’s Ultimate Thor.

ScreenHunter_688 Jul. 24 15.15

I was compelled to intervene. Here I was a Thor aficionado and I didn’t know the answer but I knew the European Defense Initiative Bio-Mechanical Suit wasn’t it.

Here is what I discovered. <cue fanfare> Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Bupkiss.

My Official Answer

“There is little in the way of historical references in Marvel canon for the circles on Thor’s chest tunic. He has had this costume since his first appearance in Journey into Mystery #83 (1952).

ScreenHunter_684 Jul. 24 01.09

If you know anything about me, you know that wasn’t going to be enough. I did a cursory scan of the Journey into Mystery series and the early Thor comics with no results. Then I knew I would have to go meta.

What follows is my research and speculation about those circles. If you know something more concrete, please share it with me through the comments below.

Can history be our guide?

With that said, we can look perhaps into history and see if we can determine what the artist Jack Kirby was hoping to show in this costume design. If we can assume this design was inspired by Thor being an ancient god of war, then perhaps it would be considered a stylized armor design. Since Thor is a superhuman being, he might have little use for armor in his day to day life, but might want to remind his enemies of his valor with a costume that resembled an armor he may have worn at one time. It was a good idea but nothing in my historical rummaging in Journey into Mystery or early issues of Thor, showed this.

Case in point: Here is a picture from Tales of Asgard, Journey into Mystery 101. In it young Thor is seen wearing his costume as we knew it from the classic Kirby era. Since he is wearing it into battle, it is safe to assume it must double as armor for the young godling. Everyone else is festooned in armor that looks like armor, though they resemble classic Earth Vikings wearing platemail instead of chainmail.

ScreenHunter_689 Jul. 24 15.57

Tales of Asgard, Journey into Mystery 101

If his costume is indeed supposed to be armor, then perhaps what we should look for is an example of an armor with similar properties. Having a bit of history under my belt I remembered an armor accessory I thought might be a match. It was called the Lauersfort Phaelara.

1024px-Lauersforter_Phalerae_Museum_Burg_Linn

A closeup of the Lauersfort Phalera, Burg Linn Museum Center, Krefeld, Germany

One of the first and earliest potential armor designs which bears more than a passing resemblance would be the 120 AD, Legionary Roman armor. The phalerae medallions, the large shiny metal disks share a similar placement (though not exact) on the Roman armor. The disk were usually covered with the faces of prominent leaders or mythical beasts denoting bravery or skill in battle. Legion armies also carried them on their banners as group awards for the regiment.

Roman Legionary

From the Augustan period, both infantrymen and cavalry men received the same award when an opponent was killed and his equipment seized: a series of nine phalerae which gravestone reliefs show were worn on leather straps on the upper torso. Once again, these decorations were intended for soldiers up to the rank of centurions. –Armed Batavarians: Use and Significance of Weaponry and Horse Gear, by Johan Nicolay; Amsterdam University Press.

ScreenHunter_679 Jul. 24 00.56

Turkish, Antique char-aina, (chainmail with mirror plates), Russian Zertsalo (Ottoman inspired)

The phalerae medallions were not unique to the Romans. The Celts wore similar devices for religious reasons and similarities could be found in ancient Mongolian, Chinese, Russian, Ottoman and Japanese armors, often designated mirror armors for their shiny appearance.

Art Imitates Life

Thor has had many different costume designs, many actually resembling armor rather than the cloth or leather of his early designs. These later designs were more inclined to use actual armor plates to depict the circles in his early costume designs, strengthening the appearance to phalerae medallions, even including ornate designs in some of them. I suspect this was a design issue that came about when later versions of Thor’s costume were reimagined by new artists.

I am willing to be one of those artists knew what phalerae were and decided to incorporate that design element into the armor. We don’t know that Kirby wasn’t influenced by phalerae but some of these on the newer armors are too similar to miss.

ScreenHunter_681 Jul. 24 00.58

Conclusion

While we have no definitive proof the circles on Thor’s early costume were indeed a representation of phalerae medallions, it is at least historically possible the original design may have been inspired by early armors from the Roman, Ottoman and Persian armor designs which incorporated similar elements.

Note: While Vikings did wear armor into battle, it has not been shown to be an integral part of the armor designs to wear phaelara into battle. Most vikings wore leather furs, cuirboilli (boiled hardened leather) or chainmail tunics with shields into battle.

2390113-viking_soldiers

A fairly realistic depiction of Viking armor and weapons circa the 5th century AD.

3469162-1849783-asgard_by_mark_brooks__001__01_

Asgardians, warlike yet fashionable.

Un-affirmative Action: Marvel Style

Falcon and Thor

IN MARVEL NEWS:

Captain America has been forcibly retired and sent to an old folks home in issue 21 of his most comic series. He will be succeeded by long time friend, former sidekick and present day Avenger, Sam Wilson, also known as the first African American superhero, The Falcon. Sam will bring his trademark wings to the role of Captain America.

In related news: Thor Odinson has been determined to be ‘unworthy’ to wield the mystic hammer Mjolnir, his constant companion and signature weapon for over a thousand years. He will be replaced by a mysterious woman who will be calling herself Thor, at least while she is using Mjolnir.

This is not news. This is hype. Hype is a specialized form of propaganda which is expected to turn into money at the box office, store front or on the sales floor. Hype does not last, most changes that take place have little to do with the history of the characters being hyped or changed and in the end, things tend to return to their status quo. In other words:

MARVEL JUST WANTS YOUR DAMN MONEY

Neither of these MINORITY characters who have experienced this recent “promotion” in social status into the roles of long established legacy heroes.

Why?

Because it isn’t about social justice. It isn’t about opportunity. It isn’t about making things more balanced. It isn’t about promoting diversity in non-diverse ranks.

It’s about money. Plain and simple.

They want you (or someone who has not been frozen in the ice for 50 years) to obsess over the idea of Captain America being a Black man.

Anthony Mackie rocked the role of the Falcon in the Winter Soldier so the boys at Marvel Marketing and Development decide to take advantage of that and make Cap Black.

Sorta like they did with Nick Fury in the Ultimate Universe. For an entire generation of readers and the general movie going audience, Nick Fury is Samuel Jackson. Except he wasn’t.

movies_avengers_comic_to_screen_4

Marvel’s money grab is endemic in the nature of their promotion. But it is a fail before it has even begun because, in the typical new Marvel fashion, they have shown nothing but contempt for the characters and their underlying concepts.

In the case of the new Thor, she is a woman taking a man’s name as her Title. Yes, she is becoming the new THOR. But isn’t that the son of Odin’s actual name? Thor Odinson?

She may be acquiring Mjolnir and all of the powers that go with it, but what happened to her name and since when did being THOR become a title, not a name? When Beta-Ray Bill became Beta-Ray Thor. But note, he kept HIS name.

beta-ray-bill

Her adoption of the title of Thor, replacing her name is patriarchal without ever mentioning it. She will be less than the male white character in the role because for her to be more, there would have to be a woman somewhere in the development team to address those issues.

And we already know there won’t be. THAT isn’t the Marvel way.

And more importantly she would have to do things Thor Odinson would never do, in order to be recognized as equal. Her promotion was nothing more than a gimmick, something to bring in new readers. Note the level of promotion used.

For Christ’s sake she appeared on ‘The View’. How desperate is Marvel to appear more egalitarian especially in light of so many egregious articles discussing their lack of TRUE diversity? Who were they marketing the new Thor to? I can assure you very few men are watching the View unless someone has chained them to a chair…

MARVEL HAS BLACK HEROES, AND NOW ONE WILL BE CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Yawn. Big Deal.

Yes, Marvel can claim they have Black superheroes, (and I can name ten without breaking a sweat – Falcon, Black Panther, Cage, Spectrum, Storm, Blue Marvel, Battlestar, Goliath, the Prowler, and Bishop) but none of those heroes have the notoriety, fame, accolades or active titles of some of Marvel’s longest running white heroes.

And that is Marvel’s fault for not doing the work to create characters who could bring the imagination to life. To bring the concept of Blacks as equals to the mythology that is the superhero genre. We can imagine, aliens, Negative Universe, god-like men and men like gods, but we cannot imagine a Black Superhero with Powers that can shake the world. It is more than those comic creators want to be responsible for.

To make an equal Black superhero would imply there was an imbalance in the first place. Hence, the most famous of Black superheroes often have NO POWERS AT ALL.

Which brings us to the Falcon. If in the late seventies when Cap and the Falcon were nearing their combined title together, if you had suggested that the Falcon become Captain America, it would have been a significant idea. At that point, they had been champions of justice, trained together significantly (in fact, at that point, there had been no other hero who had trained to work with Captain America as much or as often.)

The two had developed a level of teamwork that was both seamless and amazingly efficient. The Falcon was his own superhero and had earned his wings (so to speak.)

The-Falcon

At that point, very few people had ever been Cap and he had never stepped away from the role. But today, being Captain America has been little more than a slot on a resume of superheroes. Hawkeye, Battlestar, Super-Patriot, and Bucky have all been the good Captain since the Falcon and Cap teamed up in the past.

So why now? By now, Marvel knows what both you and I already know. The Falcon is the Falcon and a Black man and Captain America is Steve Rogers. The seeds of the replacement are set in that very statement.

Every time they put someone in that Cap’s uniform, THAT PERSON IS DOOMED TO FAIL AND BE REPLACED BY THE GENUINE ARTICLE. The American Dream as embodied by the character means only Steve Rogers will ever hold that role successfully by the inherent prejudice of the character’s design.

America wasn’t ready for a half-white president. The reality caused a social schism that proved racism was not only alive, but happy living in witness protection in the flyover states.

Fans will tolerate their myth-space being overturned for a moment, for the sake of diversion. But think about the nerd-rage over Heimdall becoming Black in the Thor movies. The apoplexy over Johnny Storm being adopted and the brother to Sue Richards in the new Fantastic Four movie.

The nerd answer is always: this is the true depiction of these characters and there is no reason to change them.

300px-Avengers_Vol_1_181Except they were written in a time when racism and exclusion were the order of the day. Don’t be fooled. The day when a Black Character can represent America will come. But it isn’t today. It isn’t the Falcon dressed in Captain America’s uniform.

The day will come when a Black Hero can step up with their own name, without wearing the legacy of a white hero paving the way for them. When the respect of the efforts of Black Men and Women who paved the way for this nation to be the potentially great thing that it is acknowledged by presenting that character with dignity, flaws and the bravery we know Black Men and Women deserve for their time and treatment in the US.

That hero was the Falcon. One of the first non-legacy Black heroes.

If Marvel wanted to do something significant, they would give Sam some superpowers besides, to quote Hawkeye, when the archer was passed over due to color quotas in the Peter Gyrich Avengers, “besides flying and rapping with birds”.

Amen, Hawkeye. It’s about time.

————————————–

As an added treat, from Avengers 181(back when comics were 35 cents: When the government decided the Avengers could no longer operate without its mandate, it appointed their first liaison, Peter Gyrich. I hated this man but by the time the Civil War came about, I remembered every word he said had come true. This is one of my favorite issues because we watch Hawkeye, a long-time Avenger get temporarily ousted from the team by Gyrich since the Avengers had to conform to governmental hiring statues, including it seemed, affirmative action. The Falcon wasn’t too pleased with this either. Sam Wilson is many things, but he was not digging the Token Negro thing one bit.

avengers181-09

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (the science edition)

“Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”
― Jules VerneJourney to the Center of the Earth

Jules Verne’s famous classic postulated the center of the Earth was filled with fantastic monsters at the fridges of the Victorian Age imagination. The scientific truth of it removed the more romantic nature of a lost world filled with dinosaurs, giant plants and super-volcanoes but the core of our planet revealed new wonders, barely even imagined a century later.

The inner core of our planet Earth is filled with mysteries still beyond our understanding and far beyond our physical access. The deepest we have managed to penetrate the Earth’s crust before our technology gave out on us is the The Kola Superdeep Borehole which is 40,230 feet or a mere 7.619 miles (12.26 kilometers) below the surface.

journey-to-the-centre-of-the-earth_53b2ddbf3f84d

 

Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne – Courtesy of Project Gutenberg

The intrepid Professor Liedenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth’s very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet’s primordial secrets, the geologist–together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans–discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne’s imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor.

Project Gutenberg’s A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org.


			

30 Cubed is OVER!

My writing challenge for May, 30 CUBED, is OVER. 

You can partake of these stories here, while electron supplies last: https://storify.com/ebonstorm/30-cubed-speculative-fiction-for-the-…

30 stories in 30 days introducing 30 new characters has, as usually, been both grueling and gratifying. I also had four other writers who participated and I have watched their works improve every day. (You guys were great!)

For myself, I have completed 24 of the 30 days with a new or continuing tale of speculative fiction. As usual, I tried not to tackle low hanging fruit: no vampires, no werewolves, no zombies. To make it harder, I would not tell more than one tale of alien invasion (though I love them so). This month has netted me about 40,000 words, give or take.

I created or augmented four serials, one of which I will be entering into Jukepop this month as an ongoing story.

Serials (4)

Air Conditioning (Parts 1-5) – I always write a tale of alien invasion. In this story, the aliens are completely oblivious to the existence of Humans on Earth, since they never touch down on the surface of the planet and don’t appear to notice Humanity at all. Humanity’s reaction to the creature, however, varies wildly.

A Mistress in Thunder – The Spear of Heaven (parts 1 and 2) – Started as part of a serial I was writing elsewhere, I found the character of Radi, the Mistress in Thunder, warrior, titan and all around bad-ass, too compelling to not start more than one thread at the same time. I have three different points in the character’s life and it has been a excellent story so far.

Apostate, Magus, Barbarian (3) – I also added to the first Radi, Mistress of Thunder serial stream with the beautiful, fierce and oh so Black princess and her two future companions, Uriel the Magus, less than evil sorcerer of the Shattered Realms and Kom the Ukla who has a penchant for mega-violence and a love of fried human fingers…

More Tales of Tech Support – I added to the already over-the-top adventures of a technical support agent for Farnsworth’s Monster Emporium and Death-Ray dealership, Todd. In this selection, Todd is winnowing down the candidates for the next hiring wave. Like everything Todd does, he maintains his aplomb under the most difficult circumstances.

Writing Prompts (7)

Five of the stories were writers prompts from other publications or contests with strict limits on what I could produce. Limitations force me to be creative and to envision stories I might not otherwise try. Writing prompts can make you grow.

1. Come Forth the Rising Tide – required I take five random characters from a list on Chuck Wendig’s site and weave them into a short story. (I will probably make something much longer because I had so much fun with the characters.)

2. Yearning was a photo prompt from SciFiIdeas.com which has become one of their featured stories when I was done. It can be found on their site.

These three stories were written for a UK short story contest of 500 words and a sensory theme. I will be submitting them on Monday.

3. Betwixt: An avenger of a South American tribe takes the battle to his corporate enemies after being empowered by two opposing mystic forces.

4. Bismillah: An Middle Eastern son of a sheikh loses his vision and discovers his senses and mind growing more acute to compensate.

5. Damned Decent: A Good Samaritan meets an unusual stranded vehicle on the side of the road and offers to help.

6. Can You Make Room for the Impossible?: A biomech research officer, MX2 and Scoutship Pilot Alena Maximoff investigate a survey call from a planet with wildly conflicting data, unusual enough for a Scoutship to consider investigating. This story came from a writing prompt sent to me by a friend on StartYourNovel.com. I have written five other stories on his site, so we have become friends.

7. Adleiavde: A tale of a young man and his quantum-challenged feline, Addie who had a habit of appearing exactly as people wanted him to be… This was a writing prompt from my monthly writing group I participate with on LinkedIn Sci-Fi Readers, Writers, Collectors and Artists. I won the month of May with this short story and plan on submitting it to Daily Science Fiction for publication.

Clifford Engram, Paranormal Investigator (4)

Keeping Engram in my mind for his next adventures, I planted four seeds.

1. A Drink and A Smile: A rendezvous with an old girlfriend in order to get information on a case, leads to gratuitous violence, poison and death. Not a strange outing considering Engram used to date a Dweller-in-the-Dark.

2. With Just a Spot of Darkness: Introducing Ink, reveals another primary group of metaphysical entities who believe it is their duty to protect the human race by rendering judgement on it. Ink works for them but disagrees with the process. She and Engram are sure to butt heads in the future.

black_cat_5-wallpaper-1920x1080

3. The aforementioned Betwixt, where Paulo harasses the megacorporation which destroyed the rainforest where his tribe once dwelled peacefully. Now Paulo living between all concepts exacts his cruel revenge.

4. How the Other Half Lives: A tale of a family whose patriarch is unable to come home and meets his family for the first time on a trip to a very far away beach. Clifford Engram will meet this family in the future. They will not invite him to the beach…

One Shots (6)

Stories not related to anything else. They come, they go and blaze like meteors in a summer sky, brief but awesome.

1. The Moment of Truth: A knight on a long quest decides he has done enough for the world and wants to just go home free of predestined events. It is dark humor best suited for those who know a bit of roleplaying games and how gamemasters force players on adventures.

2. Sterlings: A hot-blooded scientist, after discovering a plant which can survive and transform water from saline to fresh, realizes he wants to try and woo his equally passionate wife back. His flower of choice is the sterling rose he created in his lab.

3. Sun Kings: A tale of aliens on a mission of mercy. They arrive near Earth to recharge within our sun and to inform us that an extinction-level-event is going to happen soon and there is nothing they can do to help us except…

4. Night Terrors and the Bears who Abet Them: A strange story of a legendary Teddy Bear and the Night Terror trained by him.

5. Humanity Redux: An alien intelligence watches Humanity as we go through a growth state without being aware of how far we’ve already come.

6. Uncovered: A writer has died and learned he was not quite good enough to get into Heaven. His only hope is for his work to be discovered in the future and inspire enough people to have his sentence changed. But almost all copies of his work have been destroyed after World War II…

What will I do after I come back from the brink of Madness?

Send stories to anyone and everyone who is interested. Retool my websites to account for these new stories and my latest work on Medium.com. I have written thirty stories there since the beginning of the year in addition to these.

Most importantly get my work out there. My social media work has paid off and continues to grow my readership. My blog/websites are slowly coming along and I hope the retool will increase my readers further. I will be extending several of my other serials as well, focuses on finishing them and putting them into print.

We are at the midpoint of the year and I had planned to sell 18 stories this year. I am up to number 10 and have eight more to go. It has been slow going but I am not about to give up now. We are going to INCREASE SPEED, not slow down.

LET’S KEEP WRITING. If you need a writing partner, look me up.

I have a writer’s group on Facebook: ‘Dammit, I’m a Sci-Fi Writer, Not a Doctor': and we are always looking for new voices of genre and speculative fiction to share ideas, blogs, and stories: https://www.facebook.com/groups/471829406194599/

You can find my speculative fiction at:

http://HubCityBlues.com

https://medium.com/@ebonstorm/latest

http://30cubedsf.wordpress.com

What the hell IS Net Neutrality?

15 Facts About Net Neutrality

Net neutrality has been part of the Internet language for years now. But recently, discussion of the sometimes difficult to grasp idea has ramped up significantly. What exactly IS, net neutrality? Why are people so worked up about it? (And if you aren’t you should be.)

John Oliver will help you understand what is really at risk. Yes, you will laugh, but he is deadly serious. But go ahead and laugh.

net-neutrality

 

Net Neutrality: Being Neutered by the FCC

12217_large_neutral-bits

IF YOU AGREE, I give you permission to send this letter to every Congressman and government official you can think of. Put your name at the beginning and the end and let them know how you feel. Go to the FCC site and make them aware of your feelings as well, while there is still time. Here is a link to finding the name and email of ANY Congressman:  http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

GO FORTH AND FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE!

TO: Federal Communication Commission
FM: Thaddeus Howze

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has come to my attention you propose to alter the arrangement of internet delivery for the entire nation based on the presupposition that corporations such as Comcast and Time-Warner Cable have the best interests of the citizens of these United States.

Nothing has been further from the truth for quite some time.

Both of these companies have had nothing but contempt for the common user of their services, treating them as little more than a $200 a month bill that can neither be negotiated for (offering smaller bills or ala-carte services giving users the option to pay ONLY for what they want) nor providing them with bandwidth comparable with other nations where the US is considered not only the slowest, but the least technologically innovative of the developed countries.

Singapore for example:
In January 2001, the Broadband Media Association was formed to promote the broadband industry. By April the same year there were six broadband Internet providers, with the total number of broadband users exceeding 300,000. Pacific Internet introduced wireless broadband services in October 2001.

In December 2006, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) introduced a programme named “Wireless@SG”. It is part of its Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure initiative. It offers everyone free wireless access in high human-traffic areas, including the Central Business District, downtown shopping belts like Orchard Road, and residential town centres. The access speed has been doubled to 1 Mbit/s since 1 September 2009 and the free service will continue until 31 March 2013.

In early September 2010, internet service providers in Singapore rolled out the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN) service plans. The Next Gen NBN is Singapore’s nation-wide ultra-high speed fibre network. It offers pervasive, competitively priced broadband speeds of up to 1 Gbps at comparable prices to ADSL and cable connection. Deployed 75% nationwide as of August 2011, Next Gen NBN is on track to achieve its target of 95 per cent coverage by mid-2012.

Singapore has NINE major cable company providers and the average internet speed is 100 Mbps. Citizens of this nation can get wireless communications for their technology almost anywhere. For free. They have some of the fastest connected services in the world for every citizen who has a place to live.

And just about anywhere outside of the US is faster than we are:

Net_Neutrality_US_MySpeed

Comcast is lucky when they can provide speeds at 1/10 that at anywhere near the same base cost. The government of Singapore ensures that internet monopolies like we see with Comcast and Time Warner (and their supposed merger) DO NOT HAPPEN, without giving the people of the nation an alternative. As government workers, it is incumbent upon YOU to protect the best interests of people in this nation from predation at the hands of corporations acting in collusion to exploit the vulnerability of a nation unaware of how corporate entities are able to buy access and control entities such as the FCC using lobbying.

From the point of view of common folk, it would appear that lobbyists have more say than citizens. More than 2 million citizens have spoken for Net Neutrality and yet it remains an issue for DEBATE, as if there was a MERIT TO EXTORTING THE CITIZENS OF THIS NATION for the profit of already fabulously rich corporations who act in collusion and are effectively a monopoly providing their services.

Let’s pause while we take a message from our sponsors:

screen shot 2014-05-16 at 9.55.28 am

In the case of Time Warner and Comcast, both companies act as monopolies on their separate sides of the country, strangling out innovative smaller firms by tying them up in court until they can no longer compete with them. These companies have managed to lobby their way into the Congress preventing even basic intelligent discourse about the nature of the services they provide and the people who are unable to effectively voice their concerns regarding this issue.

I am a 30 year veteran of the Information Technology Industry. From telecommunications to computer system network design, I have seen it all and I have watched the systematic manipulation of the technological infrastructure of this nation fall under the dominion of large corporations slowly and steadily, particularly as their previous means of making money (Radio and later Television) have fallen from grace as the primary sources of information retrieval for the average citizen. Every time the Telecommunication industry finds itself about to regulated as Common Carriers, they find a way to manipulate the system preventing this from happening.

I am also a speculative fiction writer. I have already written a short story where the world I am watching is playing out. The creation of a process by which companies are forced to pay to have their data accelerated while other data is slowed intentionally eventually causes an imbalance to the Internet.

Programmer rage across the planet is unleashed and eventually the large corporations who strangle the internet are thus eventually strangled out of existence with denial of service attacks and other such network shenanigans. I don’t even want to imagine how the rest of the world will respond to the idea of balkanizing the Internet for the sake of PROFIT.

In that future, eventually the Internet becomes a place of sterile corporate control. Small voices are left to revive older technologies because they simply cannot afford to connect via the Internet. The Internet itself eventually fades as the voices that made it vibrant and alive lose connection, lose money, and lose interest in maintaining a structure they can no longer afford to use.

How many resources are we dependent on that are maintained strictly by people who would not be able to afford to work with due to rising costs with the overturn of Network Neutrality? Use Wikipedia lately? Maintain a blog? Like Youtube? How much of the web’s content is maintained by volunteers who would have none of the financial access this future speed-lane version of the Internet network would require?

The internet’s core principle (at least in theory) was that everyone who used it had the potential to use it at the same level. No one would or could control or dominate how information was seen, distributed, accessed or utilized; this gave the same amount of priority to a young web designer in Australia as to a large media firm in London. What you are proposing now says ISPs and Corporate Providers will control, throttle and decide WHO SHOULD BE SEEN AND HEARD based on their income and willingness to part from that cash.

Aren’t Americans already paying FAR too much for cable services? The average cable bill in the US is at least $100 and in some places as high as $200 a month for lackluster performance at best, promoting the idea that in America, WE PAY MORE AND GET LESS. Why should you now reward corporations who are NOT performing at their peak AND charging an outrageous fee already, to further abuse users of the internet and increasing their fees even further because when the content providers who are using this network have to pay more to get seen by through the corporate chokepoints, they will pass their costs onto their customers.

  • $200 a month for Comcast cable
  • $15 a month for Netflix riding Comcast Cable
  • $15 a month for Hulu riding Comcast Cable
  • $15 a month for Amazon riding Comcast Cable

So we are looking at $245 right now. You allow this NETWORK EXTORTION PROTOCOL to take place and here is what happens:

  • $220 a month for Comcast cable (they have no competition and now they control the providers too.)
  • $20 a month for Netflix riding Comcast Cable (pay more or be left behind, spread costs)
  • $25 a month for Hulu riding Comcast Cable (huge library, need to compete with Netflix, charges more)
  • $20 a month for Amazon riding Comcast Cable (not making money yet, wants to appear competitive)

In a month, my bill will shoot to $285 and I will have receive NOT A SINGLE BIT OF IMPROVEMENT IN SERVICE!

Since Comcast/Time-Warner has no competitors, in the next year they can and likely will raise my bill again, WITHOUT A NEED TO IMPROVE ANYTHING. Since by definition, they are a MONOPOLY and don’t have any competition to speak of. In the area I live in THERE IS NO COMPETITION for Comcast.

So in less than a year I can expect to pay even more for cable than I do already, see no improvement in my services, increase the cost of my service providers who are being forced to pay more by a company that is already so rich it can afford to tie its competition up in court using nuisance lawsuits until they go out of business.

This has become the mantra of these United State: PAY MORE, GET LESS.

THIS IS NOT A BUSINESS MODEL, IT IS AN EXTORTION RACKET. Is this the business of our government? Because if it is, you are setting not only a poor example for business, you are perpetuating a crime against the American people by allowing big business to dictate to YOU, what laws should exist and how YOU BETTER ENFORCE THE ONES THEY LIKE. Extortion is the process government is supposed to PREVENT, not abet.

It is possible you have forgotten what Net Neutrality was supposed to be doing. I have included a video in plain English of what you need to consider when you talk about this issue and its ramifications to the common man. The common man who is depending on you to PROTECT HIM FROM BEING EXTORTED UNDER THE GUISE OF BUSINESS. Watch the link, learn something you never considered and if you have, then why am I writing this letter? IT CAN’T BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.

What Net Neutrality means in plain language:

http://bit.ly/1hS66sD

I say to you as the men and women who will direct the Congress’ decision on the need for Net Neutrality: While it is easy for you to look at the words of lobbyists and hear the dollars they offer you (however indirectly they may arrive at your doorstep) and feel you are making a good decision. I say to you, NAY. You have been lied to, with the blandishments of people who know more than they are telling you, are certain they are making the decision that will make THEM the most money, while providing the least quality service for everyone ELSE involved.

It is incumbent upon you all to go outside of your circles and ask not just the citizens, but the ISPs who are the middlemen in all of this, how they have been mislead and misused by telecommunication giants who, flexing their financial muscle control who sees what and why. Is this your fight? You betcha. You, as the FCC, are obligated to watchdog the foxes who are trying to take their place in the henhouses of American’s homes taking every last egg they can find while you stand outside wondering why don’t you see any foxes.

To be honest, I am ashamed of the corporate behaviors I see being enacted. They are short-sighted because when you look at the internet, the bounty it has given to everyone who has grown rich on it, has been because it has been CREATED EQUAL. That everyone using it, provided they can get access, has the same ability to communicate across it.

To undermine net neutrality is to tell everyone around the world, the alphabet may have 26 letters but you will only get to use half of them. Unless you pay us for the rest of the letters. How does America compete against a world where they have the rest of the alphabet and we don’t because Comcast, Time-Warner, Dish Networks, AT&T and any other major lobbying contributor thinks they should make money before the rest of the world should.

You want to change the world, ladies and gentlemen? You want to be remembered?

Then the decision you make today, must be the one that enables EVERYONE to continue to compete on an equal playing field with the entire alphabet, armed with the tools and the knowledge to shoot the foxes who might otherwise undermine our very nation’s future for the sake of profit.

Those corporations are unsustainable. They need an ever-increasing amount of cash to grow. Are you prepared to risk all of our futures on a corporation who by definition MUST DIE ONCE THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO EAT?

Consider the future, just this one time and tell these companies, our ability to communicate with each other, equally without being extorted, is simply not for sale EVER. At any price.

Thank you for considering my proposal. I would be happy to testify at any time if it would make this last bastion of communication able to remain free.

Sincerely,

Thaddeus Howze

22456 Sonoma Street,
Hayward CA, 94541,
510-910-3912,
ebonstorm@gmail.com

REFERENCES: WIRED Magazine: 

Websites Throttle FCC Staffers to Protest Gutting of Net Neutrality: http://www.wired.com/2014/05/fcc-throttling/

 

John Oliver will help you understand what is really at risk. Yes, you will laugh, but he is deadly serious. But go ahead and laugh. I wrote my article before he gave this skit BUT he agrees with me on almost EVERY POINT.