๐Ÿ‘Ž Cluttered Orbit

Too many satellites โ€” cannot social distance | The FTC fail to prove Facebook are a monopoly | 4g on the Underground

๐Ÿ‘Ž Cluttered Orbit

Well hi there you big bunch of lovable NERDS. Last week I announced that I've opened up donation channels for Horrific/Terrific. I write this newsletter for free, so if you can afford it please chuck me some money and this content will be EVEN JUICIER than it is now. Also you get this free mug.

Horrific/Terrific mug, complete with humorous quote and dynamic logo

Enough selling. This week was something I could have done without ๐Ÿ‘Ž. And that's because:

  • According to a crusty old judge in the US, Facebook should not be broken up and the FTC should just leave them alone
  • The London Underground is going ONLINE
  • There's too much rubbish on Earth โ€” put it into orbit instead!

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš–๏ธ If the FTC disappeared tomorrow, would we notice?

On Monday, a US federal judge was defrosted and dusted-off so they could reject the FTC's antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. The FTC say that Facebook have been engaging in monopolistic behaviour, citing the acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram as a couple of examples.

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿซ Fun cool fact about who approved those acquisitions: that's right, you guessed it... it was the FTC! So they are fighting against one of their own dumb decisions (a problem I NEVER have because all of my decisions are 100% correct).

Speaking of the FTC being utterly incapable: the judge who dismissed their complaint said it was because they failed to prove that Facebook hold a monopoly over the social network market in the US. They FAILED to prove that? Amazing work ๐Ÿ‘

To be fair to the FTC, they have two things working against them:

  1. Antitrust laws are designed to maintain competition in order to keep prices fair for consumers โ€” Facebook doesn't cost anything for consumers (not in money, anyway โ€” and this is capitalism so we're obviously only talking in money terms), because Facebook's true customers are advertisers. How do you apply a 150-year-old antitrust law to that??
  2. They don't know how to use Google; I pulled up these stats in seconds, and they clearly show that Facebook have the largest 'market share' of social media websites in the US, by a big margin. I'm not saying that this is perfect irrefutable proof but... surely it's a start?

In summation: I'm sure the FTC are good for something, but protecting consumers from Big Tech is not their strong suit. Maybe someone should invent the telephone again and establish a monopoly around that โ€” give them something to do while someone from this century tackles the whole Facebook problem.

๐Ÿ›ฐ๏ธ Have I told you about my new hobby? Sending junk into space

I like useless crap as much as the next person, but I'd prefer if it was taking up space in my house, and not orbiting the Earth like some maniacal modular planet-sheath, slowly gaining girth ย and eventually trapping us here forever.

You think I'm just messing around, but space junk is REAL, my friends: this week, both SpaceX and Virgin Orbit flung more of it up into the sky. They call this 'doing business' but I call it 'a threat to humanity'. It really depends how you look at it, I guess. Launch these facts into your mind's stratosphere, why don't you:

  • Companies like SpaceX and Virgin Orbit get paid to chuck things into space on behalf of others. That's how they fund their other projects such as Starlink (slow, expensive internet that no one wants), or Richard Branson's hedonistic lifestyle.
  • As per the norm in our current mode of late-stage capitalism, SpaceX and Virgin Orbit are not picky about who they take contracts from; the US defence likes to use them for spy satellites, for example.
  • While all these private companies fight for room at the orbit table, scientists (the abstract group of people we routinely ignore) warn that the space clutter is becoming unmanageable, and we aren't trying hard enough to clean it up.

โ˜๏ธ Don't forget: Amazon are a key player in the space junk game, but they just haven't made a tangible move yet. Project Kuiper will, at some point, spurt over 3k satellites into low-Earth orbit, for internet connectivity purposes. So if it all seems a bit scary and over-crowded now โ€” just you wait.

Note: many writers use the word 'constellation' to describe a bunch of satellites orbiting our precious Earth โ€” I have not done so, because constellations are generally nice, and I like looking at them. Satellites manufactured by defence departments and rich people are just space trash, there's no need to dress it up.

๐Ÿš„ The Tube now goes at 500mbps

In New York, the subway only comes every 15 minutes, even during rush hour. Also, the stations make no sense, and the trains are fucking slow. In London, the Tubes come every 3 minutes and go far and wide, very fast. New York still wins, because at least their sorry excuse for public transport HAS INTERNET. The Tube is great and everything, but it's basically a soot-covered sweat-pod of a waiting room, with no wifi to make it more bearable.

Until now: Sadiq Khan is finally giving us 4G โ€” well done lad, you made it into the 21st century!

Behind the scenes, BAI communications (who are contracted to carry out this work), have said the underground 4G network will lay the foundations for a smart city, and so will 'improve urban life'. Here are more words from the CEO of BAI Communications, about improving lives, and not about rapid commercial growth:

"We will also establish a new city-wide high-capacity fibre network throughout London and leverage the power of 5G and the Internet of Things to unlock new opportunities for technological innovation."
Billy D'Arcy

Honestly, if being constantly surveilled by IoT devices means that the London Underground can finally be powered by data-driven decisions, then COUNT ME IN. Please, build a smart road that can use AR to super-impose the most efficient cycle route to my office, so I get to work FOUR SECONDS earlier than normal! Yes, I would love Westfields to be full to billboards that tell me what to buy based on my current facial expression and gait!

Seeing as you're reading this sentence, I guess you made it to the end of my newsletter. Please express your gratitude for this intellectual boon by giving me money. You won't regret it.


โœจDo you disagree with me? Have something to add? Wanna just vent about how software is eating the world? โ†’ Email me or get me on Twitter.