Provo doesn’t know where its fiber is, Google makes city spend $500,000 to find it.
On Tuesday, the Provo city council formally approved the transfer of its iProvo fiber network to Google, making the city the third metro area to gain that sweet, sweet gigabit service. Google is only paying $1 for the network, but in return it will have to provide a “basic 5-megabit” connection to all residents for seven years and provide free gigabit service to 25 public institutions.
As it turns out, though, it’s not such a good deal as it might seem. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Provo Mayor John Curtis also revealed Tuesday that the city now owes a total of an additional $1.7 million to keep those fiber-optic lights on.
The city must also pay “about $500,000 to a civil engineering firm to determine exactly where the fiber optic cables are buried, a requirement by Google,” the Tribune reported. “Curtis admitted that the construction company that installed the fiber cables underground did not keep records of where they buried all of them.”
One part of this story in particular grabbed my attention because of Google’s recently announced plans to bring fiber to Austin:
As we reported previously, Provo taxpayers are still on the hook to pay off the city’s $39 million bond that was used to fund the network’s construction—the city still collectively owes $3.3 million in payments in the next 12 years.
If Google wants to be an honest business and make an investment in fiber infrastructure here in Austin, followed by charging people money to use it, great! But if they’re expecting the city government to steal money to pay them to do business here, then thanks but no thanks.
It’s official: Google Fiber is coming to Austin “by mid-2014”.
Just days after Google sent out a sneaky little announcement inviting the press to the Texas capital, the company has now confirmed what we’d all long suspected. Austin is slated to receive the gigabit speed of Google Fiber “by mid-2014,” with a “similar choice of products as our customers in Kansas City,” priced at “roughly similar to Kansas City.”
Google has been reticent to say what its broader plans are for bringing Google Fiber to other communities around the US—on Monday, two Wall Street analysts concluded that Google likely wouldn’t bring it to the rest of the country.
Currently, in the Kansas City area, the service comes in three options: a $120 per month package (which includes TV-over-IP and a DVR to go along with it), a $70 per month package (same gigabit speed, minus the TV), and an option to get your house “Google Fiber”-ready at a one-time construction cost of $300 (which can be split up over 12 months)—that will bring 5Mbps, for free, over seven years.
There’s no mention of where, exactly, they’re going to be installing it. If it comes to my neighborhood I’ll certainly pay for the $70 package.
Your Dreams of Owning a Dire Wolf Can Finally Come True (Sort Of). You?ve been reading or watching Game of Thrones. You?ve lovingly lingered over the descriptions of Gray Wind running into battle with Rob, Summer sleeping on Bran?s bed. You cried for Lady and light a candle every night for Nymeria. And lately, you?ve caught yourself looking back over your lease agreement and wondering if “dire wolf” qualifies as an exotic pet. [Wired News]
I’m more of a cat person. I’m holding out for a sabertooth tiger.
Here’s a rather unusual story: California teen girls charged with drugging parents to evade Internet curfew. Millions of young Americans are routinely drugged into submission by their parents, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it going the other way around.
God Damn You, America, and Your White, Privileged Grief [Once Upon a Time…]
An excellent (if typically long-winded) article on the rather disgusting displays of hypocrisy and narcissism in response to the recent murders in Connecticut. Let’s not forget that the very same people who today are claiming to be oh-so-upset about a couple dozen murders were, just over a month ago, actively and enthusiastically endorsing the mass slaughter of many hundreds of times as many people by the vile, monstrous tyrant who rules in Mordor on the Potomac (and this includes the people who voted for his phony “opponent,” who made it clear that he would do the same things).
From the BBC News RSS feed:
A man from Kent is found guilty of trafficking three teenage girls from Nigeria into mainland Europe using African ‘juju’ witchcraft.
I can’t tell from this summary whether someone did a really poor job of summarizing the case and it was really something entirely different from what this sentence describes, or if it’s actually as appalling a miscarriage of justice as that sentence makes it appear to be. The link in the feed is broken, so I can’t find any more details.
If this really is what it sounds like, well, the British used to have a much better perspective on witches.
‘Plain Jane Bandit’ Continues to Rob Banks Despite Unkind Nickname. The woman who has been somewhat unkindly nicknamed the “Plain Jane Bandit” by the press isn’t letting her newfound moniker deter her from her chosen line of work: She was recently spotted robbing a Chase bank in Cerritos, her eighth SoCal robbery in about a month. [LAist]
From the story:
ABC 7 reports that she used the same method in the Cerritos robbery that she always uses, whereby she simply walks in, shows a teller a note asking for money, and leaves. She reportedly has never been armed or shown a teller a weapon, but she does sometimes say that she has an accomplice waiting for her outside.
How exactly does this constitute “robbery?” It sounds more like unusually successful panhandling to me. If banks want to put a stop to this woman’s “crime” spree, I suggest the following approach: on being handed a note asking for money, determine whether the woman has an account with that bank with sufficient funds. If not, tell her “no” and call for the next customer.
The Weekend Interview with Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus. And things will only get worse in the coming years as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and his green cadre implement their “smart growth” plans to cram the proletariat into high-density housing. “What I find reprehensible beyond belief is that the people pushing [high-density housing] themselves live in single-family homes and often drive very fancy cars, but want everyone else to live like my grandmother did in Brownsville in Brooklyn in the 1920s,” Mr. Kotkin declares.
“The new régime”—his name for progressive apparatchiks who run California’s government—“wants to destroy the essential reason why people move to California in order to protect their own lifestyles.”
Housing is merely one front of what he calls the “progressive war on the middle class.” Another is the cap-and-trade law AB32, which will raise the cost of energy and drive out manufacturing jobs without making even a dent in global carbon emissions. Then there are the renewable portfolio standards, which mandate that a third of the state’s energy come from renewable sources like wind and the sun by 2020. California’s electricity prices are already 50% higher than the national average.
Oh, and don’t forget the $100 billion bullet train. Mr. Kotkin calls the runaway-cost train “classic California.” “Where [Brown] with the state going bankrupt is even thinking about an expenditure like this is beyond comprehension. When the schools are falling apart, when the roads are falling apart, the bridges are unsafe, the state economy is in free fall. We’re still doing much worse than the rest of the country, we’ve got this growing permanent welfare class, and high-speed rail is going to solve this?”
According to Mr. Kotkin, these upwardly mobile families are fleeing in droves. As a result, California is turning into a two-and-a-half-class society. On top are the “entrenched incumbents” who inherited their wealth or came to California early and made their money. Then there’s a shrunken middle class of public employees and, miles below, a permanent welfare class. As it stands today, about 40% of Californians don’t pay any income tax and a quarter are on Medicaid. [The Wall Street Journal]
A good article from a few months ago on the exodus of the productive class from California, and why it’s happening. I’m looking at leaving myself in the not-too-distant future.
Officer Regina Tasca Goes “Rogue” [Pro Libertate]
Every so often I run across a story about a good cop. These stories inevitably include a mention that the good cop isn’t a cop anymore because he or she was fired for being good. This particular article includes an unusually clear example of why it is that cops all seem to be vicious psychopaths–in Regina Tasca’s case, she stopped other cops from beating a defenseless man for no reason, and was then fired for being “psychologically unfit” to be a cop. Or in other words, cops tend to be vicious psychopaths because that’s a requirement of the job.
The Shadow Superpower. System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call them débrouillards. To say a man is a débrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are doing business on their own, without registering or being regulated by the bureaucracy and, for the most part, without paying taxes, are part of “l’economie de la débrouillardise.” Or, sweetened for street use, “Systeme D.” This essentially translates as the ingenuity economy, the economy of improvisation and self-reliance, the do-it-yourself, or DIY, economy.
Today, System D is the economy of aspiration. It is where the jobs are. In 2009, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a think tank sponsored by the governments of 30 of the most powerful capitalist countries and dedicated to promoting free-market institutions, concluded that half the workers of the world — close to 1.8 billion people — were working in System D: off the books, in jobs that were neither registered nor regulated, getting paid in cash, and, most often, avoiding income taxes.
The total value of System D as a global phenomenon is close to $10 trillion. Which makes for another astonishing revelation. If System D were an independent nation, united in a single political structure — call it the United Street Sellers Republic (USSR) or, perhaps, Bazaaristan — it would be an economic superpower, the second-largest economy in the world (the United States, with a GDP of $14 trillion, is número uno). The gap is narrowing, though, and if the United States doesn’t snap out of its current funk, the USSR/Bazaaristan could conceivably catch it sometime this century. [Foreign Policy]
This article, published just six months ago, is generally credited with the widespread adoption of the term “System D” in place of older terms such as “underground economy” and “grey market” among English-speakers with an interest in the subject. I expect it will become more prominent in the future, as the US becomes more oppressive and its “official” economy heads down the drain.