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I’m still an idealist

HomeCommentaryI'm still an idealist

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.” — Tom Stoppard

“You’re an idealist,” he said, he who was my immediate superior.

He was right.

At the time I was a major in the U.S. Marine Corps serving at my last duty station before finishing that career and preparing to enter a new one.

That was 1978. I was about to move to Austin, earn my humanities degree from the University of Texas, and put my idealism to good use as a journalist.

Today I reached what Lincoln so poetically called four score years.

Tom Stoppard’s words inspire me still.

I was just three score and ten when I was preparing to launch the Bulldog a decade ago. I wrote in the FAQs for the website, “We’re small. We’re scrappy. We aren’t going to change the world, but we aim to make a difference in our little corner of it.”

That was my pledge to the community I chose to serve and will continue serving.

I’m still an idealist.

Thirty-eight years as a journalist, with a couple of national awards for investigative reporting and a Bulldog record of accomplishment behind me, I still believe this work can make a difference.

I will continue as long as I’m able. And I’m plenty able.

Each year I celebrate my new age by counting up the years and bicycling a mile for each. Two days ago, joined by many friends along the way, I rode the eighty miles.

The years add up. The miles go by. And I hold fast to the ideal that political candidates, officeholders and government officials should be held accountable. I will continue doing my best to make it so.

If you haven’t already done so this year, now’s a great time to become a supporter, because whatever you contribute by December 31st will be matched twice over during NewsMatch.

I greatly appreciate your support.

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Broadband Access Sure Way to Spur Economic Growth

Posted Wednesday June 30, 2010 8:31am

Broadband Internet Is a Sure Way
to Help Spur Economic Growth

But Do All Texans Have Access?
Commentary by Luisa Handem Piette

Luisa Handem PietteThe long-awaited broadband map of Texas was released to the public on June 16—well over a year since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus Package) was signed into law, with $7.2 billion in funds earmarked for broadband expansion. The map boasts the use of new interactive broadband mapping platform, BroadbandStat, which allows a street-level view of broadband availability. It also provides the ability to continually enhance and upgrade the data, and gives users the ability to search by address and see the type of technologies used in their service areas, as well as their choice of providers and costs.

The Texas broadband map was created by Connected Texas, a subsidiary of Connected Nation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that was hired a year ago by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

A fundamental requirement for the distribution of stimulus funds has been the determination of need and the geographical location of those who lack broadband access, particularly in rural and remote communities. Connected Texas says that the Texas broadband map—which includes data from 123 state providers—indicates that 3.5 percent of Texas households, approximately 257,000 residences, mostly in rural regions, do not have access to home broadband service. This, says Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, hinders opportunities for business development and access to telemedicine, higher education and e-government.

Broadband mapping errors

The much-anticipated findings are, at best, inaccurate and, in the worst case scenario, may be deceptive, due to multiple errors. One of the problems the map presents is that, in some instances, it shows coverage where there is none, and lack of coverage where there has been broadband presence for quite some time. Another difficulty the map presents is that it indicates wireless presence where there has never been any known provider, as is the case in Hood and Somervell counties.

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