"the dumbest blog i've ever seen."

    "Get out a little more dude."

    "Is it more conservative to write about Red Bull, spelling errors, or whining about liberal teachers?" -Former contributor

    "a well-kept and activist-orientated blog"-Chris Collins, Seattle Times

    It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.

    -Samuel Adams

    Comments are only subject to editing in case of spam or malicious, unrelated content. Dissenting opinion on this blog will never be censored

Monday, January 30, 2006

Cowering giants

Google et al. isn't exactly reacting favorably to calls from the Capital to attend a congressional briefing on February 1 about it's cooperation with Chinese censorship:

Microsoft and Cisco Systems have refused to attend the event, while Google and Yahoo are non-committal, officials said.

The firms were asked to attend the February 1 briefing by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus following uproar caused by search giant Google's decision last week to censor websites and content banned by China's propaganda chiefs.

"We have heard from Microsoft that no representative from the company will attend the briefing. So, with Cisco Systems, this makes two companies that have confirmed they're opting out," [said] Lynne Weil, spokeswoman for caucus co-chairman Democratic Representative Tom Lantos.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Google: the big engine that couldn't?

Here is a facinating piece from the UK Times--a long read but I was riveted. Frankly it is the best "problem of Google" coverage I have read.

Some excerpts from John Lanchester's analysis:

Until now, Chinese net users who were blocked from accessing a site knew that the information was there and was being kept from them by their own government. From now on it is Google which will be keeping data from them, in direct contradiction of its own declared mission “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. ...

...It seemed that the company’s real motto was something more along the lines of “don’t be evil unless the Chinese government asks you to and there’s serious money in it”. ...

...Google is cool, but Google has the potential to destroy the publishing industry, the newspaper business, high street retailing and our privacy. Not that it will necessarily do any of these things, but for the first time, considered soberly, they are technologically possible. The company is rich and determined and is not going away any time soon. It knows what it is doing technologically; socially, though, it can’t possibly know and I don’t think anyone else can either.
Lanchester weaves in plenty of history and context so it is not entirly a Google bashfest.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Spanking Google

From the Financial Times:

Google will be called to task in Washington next month following a controversial decision by the internet search engine to launch a China-based version of its website that will censor results to avoid angering the country’s Communist government.

The decision by Chris Smith, a Republican congressman from New Jersey who chairs a House subcommittee on Human Rights, to call for a February 16 hearing to examine the operating procedures of US internet companies in China, represents the first signs of what could become a serious backlash against Google and other internet companies in Washington that are perceived as capitulating to the Chinese government.

I was livid when I heard of Google's decision to placate China for a bigger buck. After canceling my Google ads account, and sending them a letter about it, I sat back and bemoaned my own continuing reliance on such a beautiful search engine.

For that matter, as this UK Sunday Times article points out, bloggers in general are guilty of hypocrisy, even without relying on the Google big block engine.

Many of the bloggers who are most critical of China's human rights policies make their voices heard using Chinese-made PCs. Probably wearing cheap Chinese-made trainers while they're at it.
(Cheap trainers? huh? I thought these were pajamas I was wearing!)

Point taken--I can still be mad can't I?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Predicting the climate

As a photographer for The Planet (Western's environmental journalism publication), i get the rare privilege of sitting in on a humorous discussion now and then. Some of the most interesting are the ones that cover how global warming should be reported objectively. The common argument I hear over and over is "since it's so hard to find scientists who question global warming and human causes, it's unobjective to include them at all cost in an article--especially since global warming is a scientific consensus."

Well, it's a consensus in the classroom no doubt where the hot air certainly seems to increase exponentially every time the topic comes up.

The latest news on the issue is hardly promising for these assumptions. While LiveScience.com is not what I would call a scientific journal, it's also plain to see they don't have a conflict of interest. The article states that scientist are "baffled" that less sunlight is reaching the earth, likely because of increased cloud cover. A few other articles bemoan the fact that clouds are so hard to predict. You've got to love the headline on this one in particular: Scientists Clueless over Sun's Effect on Earth.

I don't know, but I thought simple physics said that if you heat water it not only melts from a solid, but evaporates into gas,...ehem...clouds. Someone can now put this lowly ignorant journalist in his place.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Privacy: uncompromised

I thought so.

The recent firestorm regarding the justice department subpoenas of Microsoft, Yahoo and now Google, has not been as dangerous as the fear mongers of the left (think a certain professor), would like to harp about.

Both Microsoft and Yahoo complied with the Internet search data subpoena and claim the data does not endanger personal privacy of internet users. Google has other motives besides the privacy of users for not complying with the subpoena it seems.

For more reading.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Souter v. grassroots

The effort to oust Supreme Court Justice David Souter from his house and property has remained on the march. Although few honestly think it will work--it's certainly a worthy effort since no one is breaking any laws of course.

The effort is in response to the Kelo v. New London case, in which some home owners were evicted from their properties for the "greater good" of having a business established on their property and having higher tax productivity on the area: It's called "eminent domain" in law-speak; another way of stretching the beyond recognition. I thought I posted on this last year when it hit the news...but I haven't been able to turn it up in the archives.

Here's the Associated Press piece on the latest (admittedly retaliatory) efforts.
The group, led by a California man, wants Justice David Souter's home seized for the purpose of building an inn called "Lost Liberty Hotel."

They submitted enough petition signatures — only 25 were needed — to bring the matter before voters in March. This weekend, they're descending on Souter's hometown, the central New Hampshire town of Weare, population 8,500, to rally for support.

"This is in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party and the Pine Tree Riot," organizer Logan Darrow Clements said
Here's a few links for info on the Kelo decision.

A good abstract at Oyez.org
Justice John Paul Stevens, the majority held that the city's taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a "public use" within the meaning of the takings clause. The city was not taking the land simply to benefit a certain group of private individuals, but was following an economic development plan. Such justifications for land takings, the majority argued, should be given deference. The takings here qualified as "public use" despite the fact that the land was not going to be used by the public.

Complete opinions (Steven's majority opinion and Kennedy's concurrence plus O'Connor's dissent and Thomas's concurring dissent)

Crossposted at Meneltarma

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Noise from the jungle (vol. II)

Last Wednesday, I came to a particular class half asleep. I will admit to not remembering what we covered during those two hours.

Today however, I came to class energized somehow (the coffee?), and lived to regret it. I've never felt more like punching a wall than I did as I left the room. What could it have been that made an easy-going guy from the laidback rainy Northwest Washington so impassioned (I'm not sure I can describe it that way because I kept vacillating between being incensed, shocked, disturbed and amused in the extreme--like I could hardly keep myself in check)?

File under "Methods of Textual Analysis" (read: methods the professor endorses): Marxist Analysis and (here's a word for you) Hegemony:

"Refers to the process by which those in power secure the consent of the socially subordinated to the system that oppresses or subordinates them. Rather than requiring overt force, the elite, through their control of religious, educational and media institutions attempt to persuade..."
etc, etc.

Examples of hegemony a patriarchal society: Catholic, Mormon, and most Protestant church order... (yes there was a professing catholic present in the class). Another example: Promise Keepers--i.e. a group of men who get together for support in reaffirming their leadership role in their family (such a sickening idea you know).

I don't have the time to do more affirmation of what I will be tested on (oh, there's so much more I haven't mentioned). Professor BH (blowhard) insisted we don't need to accept these methods of interpretation--we just have to "know them cold."

Leave me alone! I'm busy sucking on gas!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Smoke in your eye

Oh? Bellingham isn't so apathetic after all?

One local establishment is under siege for defying the smoking ban passed by voters in November. The Western Front has some good coverage here--take note of the feedback that has already been posted online. Dr. Chris Covert-Bowlds was the primary sponsor and spokesman for the ban campaign.

For what it's worth, I already wrote a piece on the ban last quarter--focusing kind of on the way everyone was falling for the utilitarian arguments of the left. A commenter on that string noted an interesting possible conflict of interest regarding Dr. Covert-Bowlds.

I'll be honest: I hope they keep up the protest (if I can do so without having to think about moral obligations to government)--at least it will keep the issue out in the open. Our constitution was not based on utilitarian "majority rule" ideals.

Do I sound libertarian yet?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Winter quarter stretch

It's cold out--and so is the posting on here recently. But why not? No one needs to know about Western when no one is there for the holidays.

Winter classes start this very morning, though, so welcome back and Happy New Year!