back to article Plane crash kills 'series of tubes' Senator Ted Stevens

Former US Senator Ted Stevens was killed when a plane that carried him, ex-NASA chief Sean O'Keefe and seven others crashed in Southwest Alaska on Monday night. He was 86. Both O'Keefe and his teenage son, who was also onboard, survived, bringing the total number of survivors to four. Stevens, who is best known in tech …


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  1. Assumed Name

    Series of tubes

    The internet is, in fact, a series of tubes.

    Bandwidth is finite. That bandwidth exists on interconnected paths. That was his point.

    Wrap that fundamental truth in layers of complexity until you achieve nerdgasm if you like, but at the end of the day it was a perfectly reasonable way for an 86 year old man to describe the internet.

    Specific technical knowledge is often wielded as a shield or sword against common sense. It always loses.

    FWIW, Al Gore mispronounced "router" in front of an industry group. Does it really matter?

    Are you planning to hire either one of these guys to write code? No.

    Give the guy a break. He's dead.

    1. wheel


      Has the tech community reached agreement on how to pronounce 'router'? Why wasn't I informed?

      1. SuperTim


        In the UK, it's pronounced Rooter. The other way of pronouncing it makes people think you are trying to mill slots in your computer.

        If the Americans can't decide, then that's their problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Paris Hilton


          Sounds like you have sexual issues

        2. George of the Jungle

          Roto Rooter

          In the States, we have a company called Roto Rooter. They clean out sewer pipes. Maybe that's why we pronounce it RAU-ter.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Paris Hilton

            Ah, memories...

            ...of the time I managed to blag in on a migration project in Austraila. First day on the site, big meeting with all involved, and I started talking about how email was "rooted" by the mail "rooter". Then I wondered why they were all laughing...

            A "roto rooter" in Australia would be something altogether far more Paris-friendly. And very NSFW.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The colonials from across the pond say it wrong as Raow ter (raow as in row as in argument)

      This the the term for a wood working tool.

      The correct way is Router as is router as in path

      1. No, I will not fix your computer


        Woodworking Router - Routs out (therefore rowTer)

        Networking Router - Routes traffic (therefore rOOter)

        The reason that the septics pronounce it wrong is that Route gets the u replaced by a w sound because of the influence of the German language, the most common first language during colonisation was German (hence Pennsylvania Dutch, which is a German dialect, not in fact Dutch), the most common, common language was English, therefore English became dominant but not because it was a first language. Of course we should stop this silly idea that Americans speak English, they speak American, the American language to English is as Cantonese is to Mandarin, i.e. more than just a dialect.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Uh oh...

      Here I've been pronouncing it "switch". Jeez. I bet -that's- been confusing people...

  2. JoeyG

    Not a big truck

    He said, "the Internet is not a big truck - it's a series of tubes," causing everyone to wonder what kind of an Internet a "big truck" would be a metaphor for. That, and Jon Stewart's animation explaining how racehorses and poker chips have no problem getting through said tubes (since they are fast and round, respectively) (and Stevens was promoting online state gambling in Alaska), while all the crap the "little people" try to download is pointy and gets jammed.

    Plus, his point was one against net neutrality.

    Therefore, no matter how apt a "series of tubes" is as a metaphor, there was no way he could avoid being lambasted for that quote.

    1. Geoff Campbell


      Presumably Stevens was a student of data networking theory with his "big truck" comment. No lesser a man than Andrew Tanenbaum, in the foreword to his seminal work on data networking, very wisely observed that one should "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of mag tape driving down the highway" (I paraphrase, from memory).

      Of course, this was in the '80s, when bandwidth came in kilobit-sized chunks and cost serious money, but the point stands.


  3. Anonymous Coward

    ace metaphor

    > the Internet is not a big truck - it's a series of tubes

    ...Beautifully put. if Steve Jobs had come out with this metaphor you journos would have been wetting yourselves over it - see how he recognises the bandwidth conundrum!

    1. Captain Jack


      Seriously? In a totally unrelated article you felt you had to shoehorn in a joke about Apple?

  4. MacRat

    Was Palin Hunting again?

    Was she in the area hunting for deer from a helicopter?

    1. Tom 35

      No but she could see Russa from where ever she was

      At least that's what it said on her hand.

  5. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    FYI, GCI is a telecommunications company up in Alaska, they have a fairly widespread cellular phone network, and I think also some landline phone, high speed internet, and cable TV.

  6. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    In before the cretins

    I may not approve of ex-Senator Stevens' politics, but neither will I celebrate his possible demise. In a world with millions of power-grabbing, self-serving politicians, he was just one more, and I'm sure even he had people who cared about him and who will mourn his passing. On their behalf and on that of the relatives of the others killed in the crash, I extend my condolences.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      @Tom Maddox

      Agreed. There are a very, very few people I would truly cheer the death of, and he is not one of them. I disagreed with the man in every way imaginable, but there is something deeply wrong about actually cheering someone's demise.

      That said, I will cheer the fact that he no longer has influence, even while I am greatly saddened it took his death to achieve said result.

    2. Graham Bartlett

      @Tom Maddox

      You're not the same Tom Maddox who wrote the novel "Halo", are you...?

      1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

        No . . .

        . . . but I am related to him.

  7. Charles King

    Good riddance to bad rubbish

    $450million of federal funds wasted on the infamous 'bridge to nowhere' (a huge payday for his cronies). Hundreds of thousands of dollars accepted in bribes and kickbacks (and that's just the payola that could be proven).

    Stevens was a gangster who engineered the longest succession of scams and rackets in American history. It's ironic, but not really surprising, that this fine specimen of how big federal government can fail was a stalwart of the GOP. Corrupt to the core, he will not be missed.

    BTW, you forgot to mention that he died while on a trip to yet another junket at a fishing lodge paid for by a telecoms company. The trivial matter of losing his seat in disgrace wasn't about to stop him peddling influence for personal gain.

  8. JaitcH

    What the courts didn't achieve, Alaska's ATC did

    Stevens was an influence pedlar from the Republican camp who grabbed millions of dollars for worthless projects instead of getting Alaska's air traffic control to work in areas where traffic demanded better coverage.

    He was a greedy politician whose hunger for 'appreciation' knew no limits.

  9. Alexander Rogge

    The good news about the crash

    I'm glad that O'Keefe and his son survived. That's the name that I heard most prominently on the radio report about the plane crash.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll steer clear of the politics

    ...but do any statisticians out there want to tell me what the odds of surviving one plane crash and then being killed by another are?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      At a wild guess

      it'll vary quite wildly depending on how much time he spent on small planes in the arse end of nowhere.

  11. Andus McCoatover

    The movie "Final Destination"..

    ..springs to mind. Barely survive one crash, and another eventually gets him.

    Sad, tho'.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    ATC Who needs it when there are bridges to be built ?

    Guess it was needed after all.

    No mine will not have a black armband.

  13. Sean Kennedy


    He was on a plane to nowhere?

    <puts on shades>

    Ah yeah...

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Bridge to nowhere?

    The Humber Bridge anyone?

    Well really nowhere to nowhere

    1. Yorkshirepudding

      lol wut

      only if your crossing into lincolnshire from yorkshire.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        I did write this sitting at work wearing my Hull City top

  15. Magnus_Pym

    3rd Most dangerous job in a the US

    Small aircraft pilot. After lumberjack and deep sea fisherman. (QI book)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It always kind of bugs me that network engineers took a useful word like bandwidth and made it means something completely different.

    And I don't see how likening the internet to a series of tubes has anything to do with bandwidth unless it's a very poor analogy.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Second Time lucky !!!

    i wonder how many other republicans will be rooted out (by hook or by crook) of office for corruption and other illegal activities once the full extent of the voting fiasco with bent die-bold machines and foreign enemy activities are fully uncovered.

    Hang the lot of them, of failing that, make full use of that Boeing with the starwars laser on the front, i mean it cant be that difficult to knock a civil aircraft down.

    Crash n Burn Baby...

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