Thursday, February 8, 2024

human-made disaster

Of the several reasons I've never gone over completely to using a cell phone - dislike of holding one up against my brain for long periods of time, keeping track of charging and turning the thing off and on - one particularly stands out. It's the spotty reception service where I live. This is striking because I live in the heart of Silicon Valley, one mile from Apple world headquarters. But the cell phone reception here is weak.

Then there's our internet service. It's not so much weak as unreliable. It keeps going out, usually for short periods, especially but not only on summer afternoons. It used to be worse - hours on end - but it's never been entirely fixed.

We've been lucky regarding electric power. Outages are few. We had one a few months ago when some equipment went bad. But neighborhoods just like ours around here are still waiting to get their power back from the storms a few days ago that knocked out power lines.

You know what we don't lose? POTS. Plain Old Telephone Service, the landline. It doesn't sputter like the internet. When the electric power goes out, the phone always remains on. It's reliable. And the more unreliable the others are - especially in the mountainous areas, where power outages are especially likely, so are road blockages - the more necessary it is for emergency communication.

Which accounts for the widespread dismay at AT&T's proposal to discontinue it. For most of this region, AT&T is the legally-mandated default carrier, the one that has to maintain a phone line for anyone who wants it. (A few towns are designated for GTE, but mostly it's AT&T.) They find it a burden that prevents them from expending resources on other things. They want to be relieved of the responsibility, and have thus petitioned the state Public Utilities Commission.

Hearings are going on. I hope the PUC declines. Other human disasters going on - wars throughout the world, legislative breakdowns, the rising tide of bigotry which hasn't hit me personally yet though it affects many others, the continued presence of DT in our political discourse (what's he doing there? Surely universal revulsion should have driven him off the stage long ago?) - don't affect me so directly and are well-enough covered by other commentators that I don't have anything to add. (I particularly note the analysis of Supreme Court decisions before they're made or even argued before the Court.)

But this one has not been widely discussed, and hits me close and personal.

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