I should be thankful that my local telephone monopoly, Qwest®: Spirit of Service®, is so kind as to give me a dial tone. With this dial tone, I can surf Al Gore’s Internet at speeds that would have made the Pony Express riders dizzy: up to 28.8 Kbps.
I would like to have DSL, and every time Qwest®: Spirit of Service® comes on the television or radio urging me to get with the program and sign up for their super-fast, super-reliable DSL Today!, I call them right up. “Gimme that DSL!” I say. “I have my credit card in my hand and I will be home between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to greet your technician with a cold soda and fresh-baked cookies.”
But after a few moments of furious key-clicking at their Spirit of Service® customer support center in East Timor, the kindly Qwest representative sadly informs me that DSL is not yet available in my neighborhood. Oh, but they’re working on it, I can bank on that! Could be any day now that a parade of shiny white trucks emblazoned with Qwest®: Spirit of Service® will roll into my suburban neighborhood and hook me right up.
They’ve been saying that for at least 10 years now. Hey, it isn’t easy running a multi-billion dollar monopoly. This fiscal year they had a hard choice to make: either recarpet the corporate jets or put DSL in my neighborhood. The jets won. But I keep calling because it makes me feel better. I’m a man of action, after all.
Anyway, I get a lot of SPAM on my 28.8 Kbps dial-up connection, and recently there has been a whole truckload originating from a tiny New Zealand territory called Tokelau. Most of it is pornographic. I know where it comes from because these emails all use domains ending in the country code .tk, for Tokelau.
Apparently the Tokelauans have discovered that exporting SPAM is more lucrative than exporting squid.
Here is the CIA World Factbook entry for Tokelau:
Originally settled by Polynesian emigrants from surrounding island groups, the Tokelau Islands were made a British protectorate in 1889. They were transferred to New Zealand administration in 1925.
Fascinating. These islands are roughly 4,000 miles SSW of Hawaii. According to the CIA,
[Tokelau] consists of three atolls, each with a lagoon surrounded by a number of reef-bound islets of varying length and rising to over three meters above sea level… [with a total land area] about 17 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC.
Think Gilligan’s Island and you’ve got the picture.
Most of you already see the problem here. Why does a coral reef in the Pacific inhabited by Polynesians have enough Internet bandwidth to SPAM me daily with porn come-ons, but here in the United States of America, the world’s greatest superpower, Qwest®: Spirit of Service® can’t do any better than 28.8 K dial-up?
Maybe I’ll ring up East Timor and ask them.