the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Net Neutrality – Phooey!


My blog friend, Communicatrix, is very concerned about the issue of Net Neutrality.

“You should write something about it,” she emailed me.

I have noticed that it seems to be an important issue among bloggers. Patry Francis just wrote about it, mentioning a recent PBS special with Bill Moyers about the issue.

Last night, I decided to read up on the issue, since I honestly knew very little about what it was all about.

From what I gather, internet providers want to make more money from consumers by creating a tier system on the internet similar to the one they already have with cable TV. You would pay one fee for basic service, but extra for easier access to the higher-bandwidth of more popular sites, much like you pay extra for HBO and Showtime.

Advocates of Net Neutrality oppose any changes because it would undermine the free flow of ideas. For example, what if only those who could afford a “special package” could search on Google? A three tier-system might look something like this:

Gold Service
can search on Google

Silver Service
can only search on MSN

Basic service
stuck searching on Barry’s Search Engine

No, I may lose Communicatrix as a reader, but I say “Net Neutrality, Phooey!”

So, poor people can’t search Google? So what! They can’t afford to eat in Ruth Chris Steak House either and I don’t see you complaining.

Yeah, I know:

“Neilochka, Neilochka. What has happened to you? Are you really so heartless? What about the educational value of the internet?”

I’m not being heartless. I’m being smart. Think about it. A three-tier system is perfect for personal bloggers like us. Just imagine this:

Gold Service
can read Dooce

Silver Service
can only read Blogography

Basic service
stuck reading “Citizen of the Month” and most of us

You understand now? A tier system will increase our readership ten fold! Think of all the poor people and the cash-strapped families who won’t be able to afford to read Dooce anymore, and can only read YOU!

Be selfish! Fight Net Neutrality!

(ok, you’re right Deezee — it is a serious issue. I am definitely for net neutrality. Imagine what would happen if our children got a better education based on how much money their parents could afford?! Oops.)

Tons of links about Net Neutrality (via Liz Strauss)

This is from Bill Moyer’s special:

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Citizen of the Month Wants a Cure


  1. Churlita

    Then you would have the readership to put ads up so that you alone could afford to read Dooce.

    Hey, I can comment from work, but not from home. Which probably means it’s an issue with my computer. Just know that if I don’t comment, it’s because I’m at home.

  2. CrankMama

    Totally agree… Dooce doesn’t need more readership anyway.

    And I finally linked to you on my site because you’re funny & nice. So THERE!!

  3. deezee

    I like the humor of this post, but I do hope that your loyal readers will investigate and realize that this is really a very serious issue. I’m with Communicatrix as far as my concern!

  4. Roberta

    I do not understand the name “Ruth Chris Steak House”. Why is there no apostrophe? Who is Ruth? or Chris? Are they one person?
    Me, I always ask the hard questions.


    I love the name “Ruth Chris Steak House” specifically because there is no apostrophe. Posessive names bother me.

  6. mmariem3


  7. Neil

    Is this one of your poems?

  8. Edgy Mama

    Well, I don’t read Dooce, so it’d be no loss to me. At least until you hit it big, Neil.

  9. Postmodern Sass

    Forgive me, but what does the hegemony of American Internet service providers have to do with the issue of “Net Neutrality?” It’s the World Wide Web, remember? You (Americans) don’t own the thing.

  10. Neil

    Sass — I’m sure you know a lot more about this issue than most of us. I’m not sure I really understand your comment. Are there any good arguments on the other side that I don’t know about?

  11. Mist 1

    If my blog is in the premium package, I have no problem with this. If I have a basic package blog, I strongly object.

  12. Nance

    Er…It’s “Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Sorry, but it is.
    Here’s the website

  13. Neil

    I didn’t realize that. For years I’ve been calling it Ruth Chris Steak House while eating at the Sizzler. They don’t have 2-1 coupons also, do they?

  14. Lou P.

    I strongly support Net Neutrality, and so should everyone who cares about the internet. The Moyer piece has an excellent explanation of it… though it doesn’t identify Mike McCurry as being in charge of the AT&T-funded lobbying effort against Net Neutrality.

  15. Hilly

    LMAO Neil, drive down here to The OC and we will take you to Ruth’s Chris; we go there every year for my birthday and love it! Of course, no one could eat there daily or weekly cause hi, money and clogged arteries.

    I don’t read Dooce either because well, I just don’t. However, I wish I could stay at home and make money just by blogging; that’s the American Dream is it. And why does Dave get to be Silver and the rest of us “basic”? I kid, I kid.

  16. K.Leigh

    The very idea that this is even becoming an issue is just terrifying. Only individual sites should be able to control things like know, like the TimesSelect section of the NYT.

    I hate the idea of these corporations running our country.

  17. Caryn

    Excellent point, Neil — I think that would take some wind out of certain sails of windbags that need their wind taken out of said bags. Or something. Plus, I love Barry’s search engine! It doesn’t get all uppity trying to suggest what it THINKS I mean…

  18. marcail

    Devil’s advocate once again. Thanks.

  19. Viscountess of Funk


    Will the tier system require payment for the search engine or to access certain sites, or both? The difference between the Ruths Chris example and possible internet tiering is that the more people that eat at Ruths, the more money Ruths makes. Under a tiered internet approach, I don’t make any money from the folks who are charged to access my highly popular site. That sucks.

  20. Neil

    The search engine example was more a joke than reality. I think they are talking more bandwidth than popularity. So, things would go back a little to the early days of DSL, when a lot of people still had dial-up and it was a pain to see video, etc. So, I think if you wanted all the bandwidth to watch “Lost” on Youtube in the future, you would need to pay extra for the extra bandwidth.

    The scary thing is less that some can’t watch video, but that this gives too much power to the provider — especially since we really can’t forsee the future of internet. Look at how sleazy the cable providers are, making you buy all these unnecessary packages just for the ability to watch the Comedy Channel.

    I hope I didn’t steer anyone in the wrong direction. Does anyone else know more about this issue than I do?

  21. Postmodern Sass

    Sorry, Neil. I was commenting on the “name” of the issue, rather than the actual issue of the issue. Yes, I think it would be deplorable were Internet Service Providers to start charging for levels of content (though, being myself a blogger several levels beneath your shoes, I see your point; for selfish reasons I should applaud the idea). But “net neutrality” implies two things: one, that the issue is to do with the net (the Internet), and two, that it is to do with the entire Internet. In fact it is no such thing. It’s just bloviating by American media giants and frightened cable and Internet providers in America.

    The rest of the world laughs at AOL, didn’t you know? 🙂

  22. Postmodern Sass

    Truth be told, I’m more interested in the Ruth Chris issue. I heard that there was originally a place called Chris’s Steak House, and that a woman named Ruth bought it, and renamed it Ruth’s Chris Steak House; then later dropped the apostrophe+S for fear of having customers who tried to pronounce it, then swallowed their tongues, sue her.

  23. patry

    My understanding is that it’s even worse than that. It wouldn’t be about purchasing levels of service for the consumer. It would be the Website that would have to pay exhorbitant charges or lose easy access to readers. In other words, our little blogs would load so slowly and inefficiently that we would be effectively silenced.

  24. Neil

    Thanks, Patry, for making me think about the issue. I’m hoping to watch the PBS special. I think I may even be able to watch it online.

    As for the steak house (is this becoming a food blog now?) the weird name is because of a fight between original owners Ruth and Chris (what else?)

  25. Dave2

    Blogography is actually going to be reserved for Platinum Service. It will require a direct connection to the Blogography server via secure satellite link. Sadly, it will require $10,000 worth of customized uplink equipment… but I think we can all agree that it is SO worth it!


  26. better safe than sorry

    i’ve never even heard of this and i have no idea who dooce is or this steak house. i really am in another country.

  27. Neil

    Better Safe — Of course you don’t know about this stuff. You spend too much time filling your refrigerator with leftovers.

  28. Dagny

    From what I have read on the subject over the past couple of months, I think that Patry has it right. The providers would make the connections from certain sites slow. For instance, the provider may have a deal with Yahoo. Therefore, any other search engine — although Yahoo technically is not a search engine — would be slower. This would also effect any of this companies other sites. That means that maybe they have decided that Google should load slower and therefore the blogs under Blogger would also load slower. Part of the reason for all of this is that apparently some internet providers have already tried to make some moves in this direction — unbeknownst to their subscribers.

  29. Postmodern Sass

    Been reading a bit more about this issue (here). “Save the Internet!” blah blah. This isn’t about saving the Internet. The Internet is just fine, thank you very much, and will continue to be so. This is about a bunch of groups wanting to control AT&T’s (for example) ability to charge what they see fit for their services. Isn’t your country all about free enterprise? This is not a “first ammendment” issue. Stop waving that flag; you’re going to poke someone in the eye with it. America is all about operating on a tiered (god forbid we say “class”) system. It exists for health care and education, not to mention for all electronically delivered media. Come to think of it, for all media. Why not for Internet access?

  30. Erin


    Today I saw a dog on Dooce… A dog with spaghetti on it’s head. Today on your blog, I saw no dog, no spaghetti, and not one single conversation involving either of your your heads. Why isn’t your penis wearing spaghetti? Maybe then this whole net neutrality thing wouldn’t put you down here with the rest of us “tuna fish” listers. More spaghetti. that is the key.


    p.s. Maybe you should get a gold fish to start off with. Try balancing a fusilli on it’s head.

  31. Neil

    Wow, Sass! I love when someone takes an unpopular stance. Good for you. There is something fishy when MoveOn and the Christian Coalition get in bed together.

    Since I do have a bit of a libertarian streak in me, I might agree with you in principle. But I do think the internet is something special, even going beyond the amazing communication advancements in radio, television, etc. I frankly think mass media has been somewhat of a disappointment in what it COULD have become. Rather than being a great tool, something like TV broadcasting is most used so we can watch Charlie Sheen in a sitcom.

    I think the internet is something that should NOT go the way of cable TV. ATT deserves to make decent profits for all the work they’ve done in cabling the country and creating bandwidth, but I honestly think the internet should be thought of more as a public utility like water and power than HBO and Showtime.

  32. Postmodern Sass

    Let’s talk about important stuff. I’m with Erin. I want your penis to wear spaghetti.

  33. Neil

    I actually watched that video and thought it was pretty cute.

    And sorry, finished the spaghetti for dinner.

  34. Jeff

    It’s hard for non-technical people to get their panties in a bunch over something like this.

    Anyone remember the Clipper Chip and its respective legislation. At the time it was introduced, relatively few people understood the ramifications. How about Microsoft’s Paladium/TCPA initiatives or the CBDTPA and the SSCA bills, both of which were killed in committee.

  35. Neil

    Jeff — I don’t even understand what you wrote. But I think this issue is a little easier to understand. I think consumers are used to a unrestricted internet that is pretty much the same anywhere you go. And since my service, like my cable, is pretty much a monopoly where I live, how do I know that Time-Warner isn’t going to give special attention to their internet affiliates while slowing down their competitors or slow down Citizen of the Month after I make fun of their latest HBO movie.

  36. V-Grrrl

    V-Grrrl in the Middle, in a bold move, has planned custom content for its multi-tier readers!

    V-Grrrl on the Bottom will include my depressing posts about weather, homework battles, gaining weight, and parental annoyance

    V-Grrrl in the Middle, still in its original package, will add travel and blog lists to the Bottom package.

    V-Grrrl on Top will include photos of V-Grrrl with Colin Firth, European fashion tips, posts with BIG words quoting FAMOUS intellectuals with French names, reviews of restaurants in London, Paris, and Rome, AND a direct link to bootleg Citizen of the Month content.

  37. BA

    My personal favorite is the quotation from Ted Stevens (R-AK), who is the chairman of the committee that governs the Internet, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. He not-so-eloquently stated:

    “And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.”

    Proving senility is a prerequisite for the position of Senate Pro Tempore (remember, only three heartbeats away…)

    And with that kind of understanding of the issue, who wouldn’t have faith the Internet is in good hands?

  38. 2nd Pearl Past the Post

    The US population isn’t the world but is large and is a major content producer for Canadian’s idle surfing needs.

    I look at all the porn sites that shut down from US threat or legislation. That affected Canada. Now we have to outsource to Europeans, or so I’ve heard.

    If the US became non-neutral net, we’d be in the grey legal area of illicit programming like for unregulated satellite dishes.

    Canadians could hack top tier content and set up alternate underground feeder networks back into the US. This could be a money maker for Canada.

  39. Roberta

    Er…It’s “Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Sorry, but it is.
    Nance, you wrecked my rant, but it’s still a dumb name.
    Neil, thanks for taking the time to research the backstory.

  40. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Morton’s has better steak. And it’s easier to pronounce. Plus, their sommelier is hot!

  41. Alexandra

    Who’s not to say that your blog won’t be for gold members only? I’m rooting for you but will need you to give me a coupon/free pass as all my spare money these days is going into cute leg warmers, books, & moving into my new castle. (see my new post for more details on that!)

  42. Roberta

    Perhaps easier to pronounce, but they are “Mortons The Steakhouse” with no comma.
    I work for an ad agency and we were doing an event invitation that was being held at a Mortons and the back-and-forth on this (to comma or not to comma) was endless.
    Such is my life. Try not sweating the small stuff.

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