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100 Years Ago, No Free Broadband Pneumatic Tubes

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the when-brooklyn-was-a-considerable-city dept.

The Internet 293

TheSync writes "The Division of Labour blog spotlights a report written 100 years ago by a commission appointed by the Postmaster General, that came to the conclusion: 'That it is not feasible and desirable at the present time for the Government to purchase, to install, or to operate pneumatic tubes.' Here is a scan of the original NYTimes article. If only we had gotten the free government Intertubes in 1908!"

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Snarky article (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136307)

The reason the government wasn't into buying the pneumatic tube system is because there was no real standard and no guarantee the system would be worth installing anywhere else. I can't see how anyone who researched it at the time would come to any conclusion but that the last thing the government needed was to be saddled with an expensive, hard to maintain, experimental system...Especially given that they already had the postal service.

The modern situation is a bit different. Government owned local data infrastructure is actually a pretty good idea. Small towns who can't interest the big telecoms in investing have bought bonds and done it themselves with good results, and it really opens the door to local competition since the competition is based around providing actual service...not around providing infrastructure. The technology is also standardized, and much more mature.

Telecoms are getting too uppity these days. Some kind of smackdown is required.

Re:Snarky article (2, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136469)

>>>Government owned local data infrastructure is actually a pretty good idea.

I'm sorry: What? I was always under the impression that "monopolies are bad", at least that's what we learned in 10th grade social studies, and yet here you are saying a monopoly is a good idea. I have to disagree. The U.S. Mail monopoly is a bad idea, and so too is a U.S. Data monopoly.

What we need are MORE choices at the home, not whittled down to just one.

Re:Snarky article (5, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136551)

The last mile is going to be a monopoly, whether it be water, sewer, cable, electricity, phone, or fiber.
You aren't going to have people running a cable to your house in case you might want to use it. If there is already a cable TV connection to a house, the value of adding a second one is very low.

What shouldn't be a monopoly at all is the service provider. The last mile is going to be a monopoly, but the service provider doesn't have to be. Let any company hook up their DSL/phone equipment to the cable going to your house.

GNAA investigators make unprecedented breakthrough (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136561)

Hugo Atse (GNAP) Oakland, CA - Worldwide GNAA agency private investigators Gary Niger and Penny Sbird, trying to link two suspicious criminal cases to Mossad activity, described as "devastating horror" the new evidence they found in the Hans Reiser case.

Hans Reiser, a well known attention whore in the Opensores community who has been struggling for ages to get a pathetically underperforming and unreliable filesystem into the Linux kernel, is being detained for the murder of famous tramp Rob Levin (known as "liLOL" to the Internet community).

Niger and Sbird claim they have found stains of Levin's semen in Reiser's car. They also noticed the car, a large pink bus in the shape of a hypodermic phallus, was missing a seat. It is, according to Sbird, "evidence enough that Reiser brutally sodomised Levin to death, and had to dispose of the seat because Levin's massive body would not fit in the car otherwise".

Reiser's estranged wife, covert Jewish Russian agent Nina "Nenashat" Reiser from Moscow-based Vladimir Bonars hookers agency. was not available for comment. She was last seen celebrating the memory of 9/11 victims by flying her private airplane into a Manhattan building on 10/11.

Re:Snarky article (4, Interesting)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136695)

then the last mile should belong to the homeowner.

Re:Snarky article (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136833)

IMHO, the last mile should belong to the municipality. That way, you avoid arguments as to who is responsible for issues that happen to cables outside anyone's ownership, or in communal ownership.

Re:Snarky article (4, Informative)

ensignyu (417022) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136909)

Most people only own the land up to their driveway. From there on, it's usually owned by the city.

That's why if the water pipes break (due to an earthquake or something) in the middle of the street, it's not your responsibility to fix it. You'd have a hard time dividing up the bill, in any case.

And for obvious reasons, a company can't just dig up a road and install new pipes or cables. They need a permit, and the city doesn't want the road being dug up every other week so they grant exclusive rights for ONE group to do it once.

Now arguably since it's public land, the network connections ought to be owned and controlled by the city and leased out to any ISP that wants to hook you up, but that's much different from the homeowner owning the last mile.

Re:Snarky article (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137113)

Doesn't that just move the last mile a mile away ?

Re:Snarky article (1, Interesting)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136707)

The last mile is going to be a monopoly,

Why? Just because you cannot think of a way?

Re:Snarky article (4, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137029)

The last mile is going to be a monopoly,

Why? Just because you cannot think of a way?

No, because the last mile is a natural monopoly. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Snarky article (1, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136853)

>>>The last mile is going to be a monopoly, whether it be water, sewer, cable, electricity, phone, or fiber.

Actually I have choice for my electricity and my phone and my natural gas. Likewise the internet is NOT a monopoly where I live. In my home I have multiple options:
(1) Dialup
(2) Comcast cable
(3) Suburban cable (they were first, Comcast arrived later and ran in parallel)
(4) Dish
(5) DirecTV
(6) HughesNet
(7) WildBlue
(8) DSL
(9) Verizon FiOS

Please stop saying internet is a monopoly, when evidence clearly shows it is not. I am Pro-Choice, and having many choices is better than having just one government monopoly.

Re:Snarky article (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136917)

How many options do you have for phone, or power *cables* going to your house?

The service doesn't have to be a monopoly, and shouldn't.
If you abstract that service into "internet access", then it very much can have competition.

Where did I say that "internet is a monopoly"? I didn't even mention "internet" in my original post at all.
Note that I also said that choice is good, but I am also realistic. The service can easily be competitive, so it should be.

Companies should be barred from owning the service provider and the cable from the central location to the house where feasible.

Re:Snarky article (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137251)

Well that's fine. You do sound more open-minded than most "government is the only answer" persons. In the case of the internet though, I simply don't see why it's necessary. It has multiple ways of reaching you:

- cable
- phone/DSL
- fiber
- satellite
- cellular/wireless
- whitespace (coming soon)

There are almost as many internet companies as car companies. It's competitive. There's no need to have an "Uncle Sam Internet" just as there's no nee to have an "Uncle Sam Car Company".

Re:Snarky article (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137329)

Not everyone has all of those options or even most of them.

Personally I have: DSL, dial-up, or fixed wireless, and currently use the fixed wireless as the DSL maxes out at 256KBps up/down. Satellite isn't the same, due to the high ping, and if people live on the north side of a hill that also might not be an option.

If people only have DSL and cable as options for high-speed internet, and the cable and DSL provider both decide to charge $100/month, what options do you have?

"Uncle Sam internet" would be a very bad idea. I am saying that you should be able to say "I want XYZ internet to be connected to the * cable from my house", and that cable is physically switched to XYZ internet in the CO or wherever the cables terminate.

Re:Snarky article (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137305)

I have options for two different phone cables going to my house - BT and Virgin Media. I use the BT cable, but I don't actually pay any money to BT. My telephone service is supplied by Southern Electric, and my internet service is supplied by Eclipse.

Re:Snarky article (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136975)

The last mile is going to be a monopoly, whether it be water, sewer, cable, electricity, phone, or fiber.

It is? Why?

Look at data. Most people living in urban areas in the US have a choice of two "last mile" data providers: the phone company and the cable company. The fact that they use two different technologies is completely irrelevant in this day and age. You can get phone service from the cable company and internet service from the phone company. Now the phone company is laying fiber in many places which offers as much performance as cable, and they're certainly not restricting this to areas where the cable company doesn't have service!

You don't need people running cable to your house in case you might want it. You need people running cable to your house on demand, when you order the service. This clearly works, since it has been done. If you refute the idea, ensure that your refutation is compatible with the reality of the telephone/cable duopoly found in virtually every US city.

Re:Snarky article (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137263)

You aren't going to have people running a cable to your house in case you might want to use it.

They would if they were allowed to, but the majority of the time this is a forced monopoly, perpetuated by local franchise agreements. Before FiOS came, my home was served by two separate cable companies, that competed quite aggressively on price, bandwidth, and service. Verizon has effectively added a third competitor, further reducing price, increasing channel selection (2 years of free HBO), and significantly improving bandwidth. If they were unable to compete so freely in my county, I doubt we'd have been the first in the state with service installed (cable wasn't offered until much later), nearly 3 years ago now.

Re:Snarky article (3, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136573)

Strictly speaking, using a monopoly to abuse stifle competition or innovation is bad, monopolies themselves are acceptable and common.

The US Mail service doesn't have a monopoly, just ask Fedex Ground, and nether would a publicly-owned infrastructure either. It just sets a minimum standard of service. You're free to start Theaveng's Letter Service tomorrow, but it has to be either as reliable and cheap as the USPS, or charge more and compete on features.

Re:Snarky article (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136733)

The US Mail service doesn't have a monopoly... You're free to start Theaveng's Letter Service tomorrow

No. No you're not. The USPS has a government enforced monopoly on the delivery of letters. If you started a service that attempted to compete, you'd be committing a crime. The monopoly is supposed to help protect the funding for the USPS's universal service obligation.

Re:Snarky article (3, Informative)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136751)

Wrong.

The USPS has a government protected monopoly on mailing first and third class letters.

FedEx/UPS are allowed to ship priority letters, but not first class letters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service#Universal_Service_Obligation_and_the_Postal_Monopoly [wikipedia.org]

Re:Snarky article (1)

Unordained (262962) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136759)

For more on the monopoly status of USPS, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Letter_Mail_Company [wikipedia.org] set up by Lysander Spooner.

Re:Snarky article (1)

joranbelar (567325) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136837)

And don't forget about Virgania Horsen's Pony Express [hulu.com] . She got sued into oblivion for that one.

Re:Snarky article (2, Informative)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136575)

Did you read anything beyond that line?

GP's point is that in many rural areas, commercial data providers simply aren't willing to come into the town and install data infrastructure.

Additionally, even though it's a monopoly, chances are nearly every citizen of a given small town knows each other, knows their elected representative personally, and can actually have a say in town decisions, as opposed to big cities or countrywide monopolies, which are usually run by an oligarchy of some sort.

Re:Snarky article (2, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136899)

>>>GP's point is that in many rural areas, commercial data providers simply aren't willing to come into the town and install data infrastructure.

Then pass a law that obligates Comcast to run cable internet, Verizon to run DSL, Dish Satellite to provide satellite internet, Sprint to provide cellular internet, to any customer who asks for it. We have similar laws for electricity and phone, so why not internet.

Re:Snarky article (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136601)

So the government owned water and sewer pipes that serve your house are a bad thing? You want to see multiple competing water and sewer companies building multiple competing water and sewage treatment systems, and multiple and competing reservoirs, etc? How about competing highway infrastructure? No?

Or maybe you prefer the current system, where one company is granted a monopoly in exchange for shouldering the infrastructure cost?

If we own the infrastructure, we can actually HAVE competition based on service. We sure as hell can't have it when the telecoms own all the pipe.

Educate yourself.

Re:Snarky article (2, Insightful)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136789)

So the government owned water and sewer pipes that serve your house are a bad thing?

In not all cases are they government owned. There still exist private water companies that for the purposes of this discussion operate no differently than, say, PG&E.

And sewer and water are not perfect examples, because there are lots of folks who use wells and septic tanks, meaning that they are self-reliant. There even exist some folks who are self-sufficient for their electricity needs. I don't know of anyone who is "self sufficient" for their Internet connectivity. Indeed, it would literally be impossible.

Re:Snarky article (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137131)

Actually, I get my water from a private company, so I understand what you mean. And wells and septic tanks are a fringe case, so they don't invalidate the point.

I'm not arguing personal self sufficiency in terms of internet, I'm arguing that local informational infrastructure, local, not national, is often more efficient when treated the same as roads, water pipes, gas lines, etc. As it is now, you have an essentially national entity who has no particular stake in a local community deciding how that community is best served.

Once that local pipe is in place, you could easily have your choice of providers based out of some local datacenter, all of whom would be competing on an essentially even field, without being able to lock competitors out of the lines, or simply force local competitors to use their service by virtue of being the only game in town.

Re:Snarky article (1)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137337)

When, exactly, did septic tanks become a fringe case?

Re:Snarky article (1)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136895)

You already have that... It's called concessions and they are basically a timed monopoly.

Re:Snarky article (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136941)

Actually, there are 'competing' systems. Often multiple water providers feed a large municipal system; mutliple collection systems feed a regional sewer plant.

The system works because the infrastructure is very, very expensive, it is very heavily regulated at all levels and because it has citizen oversight in the form of various commissions, councils, and boards. And if you cheat you can go to jail. (Try bypassing the sewage treatment plant, or hooking up your own well to the municipal water system.

There is no analogy whatsoever to the internet where the infrastructure is relatively cheap, which is relatively unregulated, and where there is little citizen oversight.

Re:Snarky article (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136945)

>>>Or maybe you prefer

What I prefer is that we have a monopoly where there's no choice (water/sewer), and competition where it's possible (phone, electric, natural gas, cable, internet, hospitals, ambulances). It's not a black-and-white world. We don't have to be all all government monopoly or all competition - we can have a mix.

Re:Snarky article (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137277)

See, I'm hugely in favor of competition. The problem is the competition in this case is restricted by an artificial shortage of pipe. You're not buying pipe, you're buying data throughput, but they're sort of artificially merged because right now you can only buy data throughput from the people who own the pipe.

A few years ago there were laws that affected only the phone companies that restricted the amount that they could charge competitors to lease space on their lines. That meant small ISPs didn't have to own the physical lines between themselves and their customers, and they could offer better services (e.g static ip addresses, better bandwidth, more open ports) than the guys who owned the lines. This is no longer the case.

But by turning the lines into a piece of public infrastructure, no different from roads, you allow competition based on offered services rather than on who owns the actual infrastructure, so prices come down, more services are offered, and you can actually have competition within the local market.

The non-free-market piece, is, of course, that local governments could choose to wire areas that a private company couldn't cost justify. In my area, a little unincorporated town near here couldn't get AT&T (then Bellsouth) to wire their area for broadband, and couldn't interest a cable company either. So they took out bonds, did the wire themselves, and now they have better internet and cable than the nearby major metropolitan areas. They've been dropping rates lately, as the bonds have been paid off.

Re:Snarky article (1)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136665)

Saying that "A government owned X is a good idea" is not the same as saying "All X should be government owned without any competition".

You can have a government-owned business as well as privately owned ones, in competition.

Re:Snarky article (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137309)

That's true. We could have the government owned Trabant company make a comeback and compete against Ford, Daimler, Toyota, Hyundai, BMW, Volkswagen, and so on.

But why? We already have plenty of choices; we don't need to add a government company to the mix.

MOD ABUSE ALERT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136681)

There is no way parent should be modded flamebait.

Abuse of mod points.

Re:Snarky article (2, Insightful)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136819)

How about the government monopoly on the roads? Or on national defense? Currency? Courts? What they probably didn't teach you in 10th grade social studies is that everything is a trade-off, and while monopolies are bad sometimes and for some things, they are often good for other things.

The assumption that monopolies are bad is based on the idea that the only true value is progress and perhaps financial returns. Monopolies promote stability, predictability and ease of regulation. Personally I thnk that for communications infrastructure I'd value stability and predictability.

Re:Snarky article (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136829)

You didn't have a very good social studies curriculum then, or at least not enough to cover things like the history of electrification, or the subsidization of universal telephone service through government granted monopolies.

The advantage of possessing a monopoly is the ability to gain higher than normal profits, or (equivalently) lower profits at reduced risk. When such a monopoly is gained through private action, it is almost always a problem for the public, which is why we have regulatory restrictions on anti-competitive practices. On the other hand, the public sometimes creates or grants regulated monopolies as part of a quid pro quo.

Re:Snarky article (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137351)

>>>You didn't have a very good social studies curriculum then

Well of course not. Schools are a government monopoly, and monopolies have no incentive to provide better service. ;-)

Re:Snarky article (1)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136873)

Yeah, that's right! What if our roads were all owned by the government, it'd be a disaster! We certainly wouldn't have one of the world's best road infrastructures if that was the case.

Re:Snarky article (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137359)

Privately owned toll roads do exist.

Re:Snarky article (1)

Sleepy (4551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137023)

Monopolies ARE bad - you are correct -- but you throw all meaning out the window if you ignore the fact that municipal services ARE competition at a low common denominator level.

Monopoly players simply choose not to serve an area... then sue the dickens out of any town that tries to create municipal service. Monopoly player then announces intention to offer service, and goes to court OR the state capital. This drags out in court until the taxpayers get angry. Then the monopoly player moves on, never delivering the promised service.

Just Google on Nashua NH municipal wireless, protested by Verizon. Once successful at stalling that project, Verizon left the state (except for their wireless service, and their wireless data plan is a whopping $50/month for sub-DSL speeds).

A lot of folks have knee-jerk reactions against municipal service until they they discover they're operating on bad assumptions, such as untrue ones that suggest this excludes commercial ventures. All that really happens is that the bar is raised... if you want to pay extra for tailored service, you can... just like people do with bottled water, private security, or private education.

Of course some people realize this, but are seeking to protect their elite status or personal investments (boo hoo... tough shit on them for holding us back... America's been swept up with a patriotic "rebuild" fever, like it or NOT)

Re:Snarky article (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137101)

by theaveng (1243528) - (Score:0, Flamebait)

Labeling my comment as flamebait simply because you disagree, does not change my valid opinion - we should have Internet Choice, not Internet no-choice.

Nice try though to suppress free speech. Hister would be proud.

(Uh oh; Godwin; well we never agreed on rec.arts.startrek anyway. He liked Kirk; I preferred Picard.)

Re:Snarky article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137273)

I was always under the impression that "monopolies are bad", at least that's what we learned in 10th grade social studies, and yet here you are saying a monopoly is a good idea.

Some issues require more than a 10th grade understanding.

Re:Snarky article (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136749)

We had a government owned telecommunications infrastructure [wikipedia.org] . It was a complete failure.

Re:Snarky article (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136865)

In what way was AT&T "government owned"?

And to call it a complete failure? Hard to imagine Slashdot existing without Bell Labs in the past.

Re:Snarky article (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137035)

AT&T for a long time didn't own the phone network. It did at first, but then the infrastructure was nationalized in the interests of 'national security'. Read the link I provided.

The idea of a nationally-owned network was the failure, not AT&T.

Re:Snarky article (1)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136943)

Complete failure?

AT&T existed as THE phone company from 1879 to 1982. 103 years of servicing the communications of a growing USA. Creating a long distance infrastructure for an entire nation. Most companies would love to be such failures.

Re:Snarky article (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137055)

Again, you're conflating AT&T with the network. Read the link. Carefully this time.

Re:Snarky article (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136997)

>>>Government owned local data infrastructure is actually a pretty good idea.

I'm sorry: What? I was always under the impression that "monopolies are bad", at least that's what we learned in 10th grade social studies, and yet here you are saying a monopoly is a good idea. I have to disagree. The U.S. Mail monopoly is a bad idea, and so too is a U.S. Data monopoly.

What we need are MORE choices at the home, not whittled down to just one.

Re:Snarky article (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137151)

A competitive market is better than a government monopoly. But a government monopoly is better than a private monopoly. At least you get a vote.

Re:Snarky article (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137385)

I disagree that a government monopoly is better than private monopoly.

With a private monopoly you can simply stop paying the bill (for example: cancel phone service, or stop using Windows). You don't have that option with a government monopoly which, even if you choose not to participate, keeps sucking money out of your wallet via taxation.

Re:Snarky article (1)

punterjoe (743063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137293)

If the Interstate Pneumatics V6 standard had been widely adopted, compatibility would not have been an issue, and we'd be living in a very different world today. I'm imagining something like Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

Re:Snarky article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137317)

Actually, the US Post Office *did* operate a pneumatic tube system in New York and Brooklyn (the line ran across the Brooklyn Bridge)for mail and small parcel delivery right up until the early 1960's. It was a 12" carrier size (approximately 24" long) and allowed for same-day mail delivery within the service area of the system.

Most large European cities had the same kind of system, and Prague was using it's up until the floods of 2002, although part of the system is still under repair.

If there's a defined service area and a specific purpose for moving hard copy data or other items (cash, pharmaceuticals, lab samples), it's still the kost efficient method for doing so.

And in the case of the systems in use at that time, they were anything but expensive or hard to maintain, as the first automatic systems weren't introduced until the early 1950's, and were strictly point-to-point. So it was a terminal, tube and bends, a blower, and the receiving terminal. Nothing could have been simpler. JC Penney was probably the biggest early adopter as they used it for cash management. Most large department stores had them, as it allowed them to keep a small amount of cash on hand each day because it was managed through a central cash room. The ubiquity of credit cards has made them obsolete for that purpose now, but Costco and Home Depot still use them for that purpose.

So... (4, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136309)

Ted Stevens was right, just 100 years late!

Actually, Ted Stevens wasn't so wrong (4, Interesting)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136729)

From Wikipedia:

Technical analysis

Stevens's speech was analyzed by Princeton computer science professor Edward Felten, who said that he disagreed with Stevens's argument but felt that the language "series of tubes" was entirely reasonable as a non-technical explanation given off-the-cuff in a meeting.[12]

The term pipe is a commonly used idiom to refer to a data connection, with pipe diameter being analogous to bandwidth or throughput.[13] For instance, high-bandwidth connections are often referred to as "fat pipes."

Most routers use a data structure called a queue to buffer packets.[14] When packets arrive more quickly than can be forwarded, the router will hold the packets in a queue until they can be sent on to the next router or be dropped.[15] On links that become congested, packets typically spend more time in the queue than they do actually moving down wires or optical fiber...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Series_of_tubes [wikipedia.org]

I too disagree with Steven's argument. But people who jump on "tubes" often do not even know the concepts behind the analogy. In a lot of cases, the people that laugh at his comment are even less informed about the topic than Stevens.

Re:Actually, Ted Stevens wasn't so wrong (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136919)

In a lot of cases, the people that laugh at his comment are even less informed about the topic than Stevens.

I stand corrected, and will no longer laugh at the "series of tubes" quote.

Oh, who am I kidding? 8^D

Re:Actually, Ted Stevens wasn't so wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136973)

I think there's a subconscious connection between tubes and toilet. So sending a truck through the tube would be like taking a dump. And trucks clogging the tube would be like a massive dump that clogs up your toilet (you know the kind).

And I think people are secretly laughing at the imagine of their massive dump clogging up somebody else's toilet when they poke fun at the "series of tubes" comment.

Re:Actually, Ted Stevens wasn't so wrong (-1, Flamebait)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137347)

In a lot of cases, the people that laugh at his comment are even less informed about the topic than Stevens.

To the extent the "tubes" metaphor has technical validity, the context is typically the defining criteria. Put simply, your defense of Ted Stevens is cherry-picking. From the same article:

Most writers and commentators derisively cited several of Stevens's misunderstandings of Internet technology, arguing that the speech showed that he had formed a strong opinion on a topic which he understood poorly (e.g., referring to an e-mail message as "an Internet" and blaming bandwidth issues for an e-mail problem much more likely to be caused by mail server or routing issues).

I'm sure one could cite excerpts from a speech by George Bush or Sarah Palin that would indicate some degree of intelligence, knowledge, familiarity or even insight on the part of the speaker, but it would be more reasonable to dismiss what's said at face value as the product of a speechwriter before moving on to a more meaningful analysis, an analysis which focuses on the political aspects of what's said.

To paraphrase an old quotation: A non-technical person commenting on technology without sufficient briefing is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.

Ted Stevens is an idiot, and his comments (given his position at the time it was made) deserves the derision it's received. If the joke lives on for another decade, so much the better.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137191)

Ted Stevens was right, just 100 years late!

Google chrome has a feature about this, type about:internets in the address bar.

WTF? (0, Redundant)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136311)

Isn't this the kind of crap that Idle was created for?

Re:WTF? (5, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136745)

I actually think that technology history is a very interesting topic.

For example, in 1684 Robert Hooke presented a scheme to the Royal Society for setting up lines of towers to relay semaphore signals over long distances. This was an eminently practical suggestion. In fact the Royal Navy in the following century developed the capability of coordinating complex land and sea operations using semaphore. Still it wasn't until over a hundred years later that an attempt was made to make a practical land based network. By that time, the first practical demonstrations of electrical telegraphy had already taken place. Electrical telegraphy was both cheaper and nearly 8x as fast. Once electrical telegraphy was possible, semaphore was doomed.

What's interesting about semaphore is that it is intrinsically low tech. It's most efficient with some kind of mechanical shutter system, but you can make do with a pair of flags. The Romans certainly had the engineering ability to connect their empire with a series of semaphore towers; the only thing wanting was the idea. You can imagine how history would have been different if it had occurred to them. At the very least, the slow and easily intercepted nature of semaphore might have lead to many computer science and cryptography ideas being discovered thousand of years earlier.

A pneumatic tube system, on the other hand, is only possible for a civilization that has at least stem engine technology. Such systems were unlikely to scale beyond local service in any case. It's an interesting concept, but not nearly as potentially revolutionary as semaphore might have been.

Re:WTF? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137403)

The Persian Empire had the fastest information infrastructures of it's time, while not with semaphore, they used loud shouting from tower to tower to transmit orders and news across the empire.

In some alternate universe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136323)

"The USPS is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes."

But sadly, in this universe it is a big truck.

Top hats, and bow ties. (2, Informative)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136345)

The Victorian Internet [wikipedia.org]

congratulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136349)

you win the intertubes.

but you have to pay for shipping

A little jingoistic history here... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136371)

This just goes to show you: sometimes the niftiest gadgets are nothing new. If you use the drive-up window at your bank, you know about one of them. The contraption that slurps up your check and gives you back money. It's a pneumatic tube, and it's been around since the Victorian Age, back in the 1800s.

Pneumatic tubes use compressed air to move things. Sort of like a vacuum cleaner in reverse. A puff of air sends them away. Lower the pressure and they come back. In the beginning, engineers thought big pneumatic tubes might be a good way to move freight, even people.

In 1870, inventor Alfred Beach built New York City's first subway â" a 300-foot pneumatic tube big enough to carry wheeled vehicles. It ran for a block from City Hall. City officials decided to build elevated trains instead.

By the early 1900s, underground tube systems in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and other cities whisked mail all over town faster than a horse-drawn wagon could. The New York Stock Exchange moved orders with pneumatic tubes faster than messengers on foot. Rob Malda is a fucking asshole faggot. And sales clerks in almost every department store traded payments and receipts with cashiers at the other end of pneumatic tubes.

Today, banks, hospitals and some businesses use pneumatic tubes to send things quickly within their buildings. Paperwork. Machine parts. Try sending a bottle of antibiotics over the Internet.

Re:A little jingoistic history here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136803)

congrats! i almost fell for that

Smart decision by the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136373)

Being that the pneumatic tubes were in parallel instead of being in series. Otherwise we would never have come up with the Internet.

The steampunk Intertubes (3, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136381)

Here's [today.com] a picture by Joi Ito [tinyurl.com] of a mechanical router, on display in a Tokyo museum. The engine of the steampunk Internet. Imagine BBs being pumped through the series of pneumatic tubes. "ROUTER BLOWOUT! SEVEN SYSADMINS SHOT DEAD BY THEIR ANALYTICAL ENGINES!"

If you're browsing with Chrome, don't forget to click the special page about:internets [about] .

They could use... (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137281)

small, round, red gemstones, and have, wait for it, Rubies on Rails!

Alright, Officer, I'll go quietly.

100 years of saline scrot injections (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136425)

I buy my saline kits from Chase Union Ltd in Movi, Michigan. The cost of a 1000 cc bag of sterile saline, drip tubing, sterile wipes (to wipe down your sac and all around) and catheter needle is with shipping around $25.
You can call them at +01 (248) 348-8191 and ask for item "MF 100" a scrotal inflation kit.

To do the saline, take the bag of saline and put in a microwave for about 5.5 minutes at low heat to warm to a bit above body temperature;about 100 degrees or so. Unwrap the outer plastic packaging and put the saline bag aside. Unwrap the drip tubing which comes with the kit and move the clamping system down toward the end opposite the vial type thing and CLOSE IT SHUT. Take the larger end of the drip tubing and uncap the protective cap........open the warmed bag of saline and remove the clear cap. Insert the drip tubing nozzle into the saline bag opening. Find a curtain rod, pot rack (which i have and use in the kitchen) shower rod or something elevated above you. Hang the bag of saline with the tubing attached and shut off. THEN VERY IMPORTANT. SQUEEZE SOME OF THE SALINE INTO THE VIAL ABOUT HALF WAY -THEN OPEN THE CLAMPING DEVICE AND BLEED ALL AIR OUT OF THE TUBING. YEAH YOU LOOSE A LITTLE BIT OF SALINE BUT THIS IS A MUST. YOU DON'T WANT ANY AIR OR AIR BUBBLES IN THE DRIP TUBING! REPLACE THE CAP ON THE WORKING END OF THE TUBING.

Before hand, while the bag of saline is warming either take a hot shower, or fill a basin or kitchen sink with very warm water sit in it for 4-7 minutes. The idea is to warm your ballsac skin up and let it get loose and hang.

When you have finished warming your sac, and you have the bag of saline (BLED FROM AIR), you are ready to grow.

With your sac still very warm use the wipes provided with the kit to wipe down your cock and ballsac. By the way, you will want an adjustable leather cock ring , nylon rope, or other type of removable cock/ball ring to wrap around cock and ballsac after inserting the catheter needle.

With you sac still warm and wiped down with antiseptics, sit in a chair with a towel underneath. Open the catheter needle don't get pansy here but with one hand, take the catheter needle and the teflon sheath that covers it and WITH THE OTHER HAND TAKE YOUR BALLSAC MOVING YOUR COCK OUT OF THE WAY AND DECIDE ON THE LOCATION OF THE INTENDED CATHETER NEEDLE. YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON THE AREA EITHER TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT SIDE OF YOUR BALLSAC AND UP CLOSE TO WHERE THE COCK CONNECTS. YOU PLACE THE CATHETER NEEDLE RIGHT BELOW THE COCK OR A LITTLE LOWER BUT TO ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER OF THE DARKER SKIN DIVIDING SKIN WHICH IS IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SAC.

DON'T GET SQUEEMISH BECAUSE THIS DOES NOT HURT. BUT INSERT THE CATHETER STRAIGHT DOWN CAUTIOUSLY INTO YOUR SAC. MOVE YOUR TESTICLE ASIDE YOU ARE GOING TO GO INTO THE BALLSAC CAVITY NOT THE TESTICLE.

YOU WILL EXPERIENCE A PRICK SENSATION,THEN A POP SENSATION AS THE CATHETER NEEDLE PIERCES THE MUSCLE TISSUE OF THE SCROTUM.

KEEP PUSHING THE CATHETER NEEDLE IN. IF IT GOES IN AND YOU FEEL FROM THE OTHER/OPPOSITE SIDE OF YOUR BALLSAC THAT THE NEEDLE IS THERE, THEN STOP.

Pull out the needle itself leaving the teflon sheath inserted into you sac. Tie yourself (cock and balls) off with some sort of removable cock ring or rope or robe tie or whatever.

Sit down, don' t plan to move around too much for the next 30 minutes - hour. Have your beers/soft drinks or whatever already out of the fridge. You will want to stay idle and focused while you do this.

While sitting, and close to the hanging bag of saline and the drip tubing, remove the protective cover of the end of the drip tubing, connect the drip tubing to the catheter sheath in you sac. THEN START ADJUSTING THE CLAMPING DEVICE OPEN TO ALLOW SALINE DRIPPING TO APPEAR IN THE VIAL UP BY THE BAG OF SALINE. ADJUST FOR AN EVEN DRIP DRIP DRIP FLOW AND NOT A STEADY STREAM OF SALINE.

If the saline doesn't drip at first, try pulling the catheter sheath out a bit until you at first experience a small burning sensation;it goes away almost immediately.
Work on the sheath depth and the clamp until you get a good flow of saline going into your sac.

Don't move around too much......or be cognizant of how much you move around while the saline drips into and starts to bloat out your sac. You can always shut off the flow of saline with the clamp, disconnect and move around take a p, whatever......
If you disconnect, take the small stopper thing that is still attached to the needle and plug the teflon sheath to prevent leakage.

I like to use liquid vitamin E on my sac while it stretching and expanding;you should / can put oil or handcream on your sac while it is expanding. The sac is very stretchable but to expand up to 18-20 inches within an hour or so stresses the tissues,so things need to be lubricated somewhat..

GO SLOWLY.DON'T TRY TO REACH A MAX THE FIRST TIME. GO WITH WHAT YOUR BODY/SAC IS FEELING THEN STOP.

When you have finished doing the amount of saline you want to, feel comfortable with, can accept, close off the saline bag with the clamp, and disconnect.

Over filling/stress of the sac can cause osmosis leaking/sweating.. Do an amount of saline at first that is comfortable and not stressfull/hurting by all means. I have over done before and.you don't want to walk around with your sac dripping water out of it.and the after results cause chapping etc which takes a few days to peel and recover from.

Some of the saline is going to migrate into your cock. Your cock girth is going to become much larger than you have ever experienced.

AFTER YOU DISCONNECT FROM THE SALINE BAG, SIT AND WITH "SUPER GLUE", YES SUPER GLUE ON HAND, WITHDRAW THE CATHETER SHEATH.
AND WITH A TOWEL, PLACE SOME PRESSURE OVER THE HOLE THE NEEDLE CREATED......YOU MAY HAVE SOME BLOOD OR BLOOD MIXED WITH SALINE TRYING TO EXIT YOUR SAC! THEREFORE THE TOWELS

DON'T WORRY KEEP PRESSURE OVER AND DOWN ONTO THE HOLE FOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES TO LET THINGS REST AND ANY BLOOD COAGULATE.

REMOVE THE "PRESSURE" TOWEL AND WITH SUPER GLUE, PLACE A FEW DROPS ON THE HOLE TO HOPEFULLY SEAL IT UP QUICKLY. KEEP THE COCK RING OR EQUIVALENT ON DURING THIS AND CONTINE TO LUBE YOUR SAC.

IF ALL IS GOING VERY WELL, IN A COUPLE OF MINUTES, YOUR SAC AND THE HOLE IS SEALED AND YOU ARE DONE.

IF ALL THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL, YOU MIGHT NOT GET A GOOD SEAL THE FIRST TIME JUST PEAL OFF THE SUPER GLUE RESIDUE AND START OVER.

At first your sac will be very tight,but over the next few hours or over night, keeping the cock ring on less tightly or without a cock ring your sac will relax and begin to stretch.

The saline will take a couple of days or more to absorb into you body. That is okay,Saline is sterile water adjusted to normal body PH.

Enjoy it, flaunt it if you are inclined, watch the perm stretch and sac tissue growth that happens over time.

You will need to p a little more often than regular as the saline absorbs into your body, but just enjoy the weight and feel of what is between your legs.

I hope this helps....If your nuts and sac are normally pretty big or even small and you want more, this will blow you away with the results.

Take care
Read the rest of this comment...

Pneumatic tubes over long distance? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136427)

This seems to indicate that they were considering the use of pneumatic tubes over long distances. The technology simply wouldn't have been feasible, though.

First, you need to consider how much suction would be necessary just to move one packet over more than a few dozen yards. You'd have to set up repeaters at evenly-spaced points throughout the tube network just to keep up the necessary pressure.

With those repeaters in place, you'd still need someone on each end to receive the packet then route it to the next appropriate tube for further transmission.

You could never send anything valuable since any router could remove items as they saw fit. Not only that, but as the recipient, you couldn't know with certainty that the packet was unopened on the way to you.

That's not even considering the possibility of badly-routed packets which end up bouncing between wrong endpoints until they finally get routed to the correct destination. A packet that reaches an endpoint without a router to continue the sequence is likely to be lost and dropped. Without error detection, it is possible that you could never see your lost packet again.

What they should use is a big truck. Not a series of tubes.

Re:Pneumatic tubes over long distance? (1)

north.coaster (136450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136607)

I thought that long distance pneumatic tubes were already a reality. See here [idlewords.com] .

Re:Pneumatic tubes over long distance? (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137083)

First, you need to consider how much suction would be necessary just to move one packet over more than a few dozen yards. You'd have to set up repeaters at evenly-spaced points throughout the tube network just to keep up the necessary pressure.

Hmm, maybe some FireWire technology (detonating small explosives in the back of a packet) or Fibre Channel (mounting packets on a string, so they would be dragged inside tubes) would help?

With those repeaters in place, you'd still need someone on each end to receive the packet then route it to the next appropriate tube for further transmission.

They should use some form of BGP or RIP.

You could never send anything valuable since any router could remove items as they saw fit. Not only that, but as the recipient, you couldn't know with certainty that the packet was unopened on the way to you.

Good locks should be enough. Also pressurized systems with chemicals which change color on pressure change would indicate opening.

That's not even considering the possibility of badly-routed packets which end up bouncing between wrong endpoints until they finally get routed to the correct destination. A packet that reaches an endpoint without a router to continue the sequence is likely to be lost and dropped. Without error detection, it is possible that you could never see your lost packet again.

This is the same as with current postal service, many packages are badly-routed, many times even dropped (postal services actually have auctions where you can buy some "dropped" packages).

What they should use is a big truck. Not a series of tubes.

FedEx

Re:Pneumatic tubes over long distance? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137227)

You can have secure long distance tubes using IPSEC - Internet Pneumatics with Steel Enforced Cases.

What I want to know is what about Net Neutrality? Do I have to use their expensive pneumatic cylinders or can I buy my own?

Re:Pneumatic tubes over long distance? (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137249)

However, if you could maintain a perfect vacuum in a frictionless tube, you wouldn't need any pnuematics -- the earth's gravitation would pull the matter from one end of the tube to another in about 45 minutes, no matter how long the tube is.

At least that's what I recall from freshman physics back in 1982. Anyone got a 1980's vintage copy of Halliday & Resnick?

Re:Pneumatic tubes over long distance? (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137311)

With those repeaters in place, you'd still need someone on each end to receive the packet then route it to the next appropriate tube for further transmission.

Interesting. We would have routors instead of routers.

Wow (1)

No2Gates (239823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136429)

My god, Ted Stevens sure looks good for being over 100 years old. What kind of water does he drink?

Re:Wow (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136663)

He doesn't. Only vodka. Tell me, have you ever seen him drink a glass of water?

too bad... (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136491)

I would love to have a pneumatic tube delivery to my front door.. Would beat the crap out of the lazy mail carrier who drives down the street, sits in his truck for half an hour, then drives off without actually delivering any mail (I've seen him do this at least a dozen times). Not to mention it might drastically improve local delivery time.

Idle (0, Redundant)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136513)

Copy-pasting my previous comment about a story like this, that happened to get me a "+5 Insightful+"

Seriously, keep this shit in Idle, or get rid of Idle entirely.

Please.

Re:Idle (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136597)

At first I hated idle, but I came to love it. Idle is like a toilet; all the shit gets dropped there so I don't have to look at it in the morning.

Brooklyn Is a Considerable City (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136537)

You insensitive clod. By "insensitive", I mean your sensory nerves don't work. Why else would you insult Brooklyn [wikipedia.org] , which still has 2.5 million residents in what would be the 4th largest US city. Which anyone could know from watching _Welcome Back, Kotter [wikipedia.org] . Then you'd also know that failing to consider Brooklyn gets you "up your nose with a rubber hose", a private application of tubes as "neural interface".

Re:Brooklyn Is a Considerable City (1)

undertow3886 (605537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137357)

No comment on the Times' own slight of Brooklyn, as they mysteriously listed it last, as opposed to immediately following New York?

Clogging up the tubes would be a reality (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136625)

thanks the large volumes of mail spam.

Re:Clogging up the tubes would be a reality (1)

gooman (709147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136797)

Just think, Hormel could send real Spam as spam.

I love it. I'm having Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans and Spam.

Ninnle even back then! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136641)

Would you believe that Ninnle Linux was retroactively ported to even these rudimentary intertubes?

No I wouldn't... (2, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136717)

But I do wish Debian would take it off their list of supported architectures. I want a new stable by New Years!

Ninnle for Horses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136911)

Have you considered the Equine Ninnle distribution? It comes with its own stable.

Original idea in 1900 (1)

JeffSpudrinski (1310127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136647)

Wasn't this the original bill that was sponsored by a young freshman senator named Ted Stevens?

Lamson tubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136675)

Pneumatic or Lamson tubes [wikipedia.org] are really old news, in 1853 the London Stock Exchange was linked to the city's main telegraph station via such tubes, so 100 years ago this technology was anything but new. Pneumatic tube systems used to be very popular in Europe (read the Wikipedia article for details) and some banks in Europe still use them for intrabank cash transportation.

That's kind of strange... (1)

racecarj (703239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136701)

If they were never installed, how come people keep saying that things are going down the tubes? What tubes?

Re:That's kind of strange... (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136787)

Sewage tubes, what else?

And pneumatic tubes were installed in large numbers, but they were stand-alone systems that serviced a single building or company.

Fucking pathetic article (1)

exley (221867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136705)

Is this what Slashdot has become? So desperate to make fun of Ted Stevens that this shows up on the front page?

I am of course asking all this rhetorically.

The Real Questions is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136709)

WTF is the Amen Corner and what were they doing inaugurating a president and calling a special session of Congress!?!

Virus protection!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136831)

Think how easy it would be to deliver Influenza. I'm just sayin'

It's Different Now (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136955)

That was back before the government nationalized the economy.

The US just doesn't care anymore (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137059)

Is it just me or does the US not care anymore? The dollar is now 0.25% from free money. How long until more zeros need to be printed on the money? The Dollar in in free fall against Yen and Euro.

The tubes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137173)

are still full of hot air...

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