It's almost charming how little our legislators know about the topics they're writing into law. In recent memory, there is no greater example of this than Ted Stevens, Alaska's 82-year-old Republican
Senator. In late June, he tried to explain the inner workings of the Internet during a speech against Net neutrality--the idea that all Web traffic, no matter how much bandwidth it requires, should be
treated equally. "The Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck," Stevens snapped. "It's a series of tubes!" As soon as he delivered his speech, MP3's of Stevens'
performance were widely distributed on the Web to those in favor of net neutrality. "The Internet is a Series of Tubes!" spawned a new slogan that became a rallying cry for Net neutrality advocates.
They created T-shirts and satirical PowerPoint presentations, and sent them to friends. It even resulted in a MySpace fan club for the Alaskan senator. The Stevens' overly simplistic description of
the Web's infrastructure made it easy for pro-neutrality activists to label the other side as old and out-of-touch. Consider, as another example, Stevens' personal anecdote about a recent experience
with the Internet: "An Internet [sic] was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the
Internet commercially." Stevens' speech has even inspired a dance remix. DJ Tubular's "Ted Stevens Techno Remix" takes three minutes of Stevens' address and sets it to a cheesy techno beat. To date,
the remix has been downloaded more than 70,000 times from Tubular's own blog and more than 175,000 times from YouTube.
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