Archive for category the Internet

All Your ‘No Go Zones’ Are Belong To Us

Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down. The amazing Faux News Channel lie about the supposed existence of European “no go zones” where Sharia law applies and non-Muslims can never set foot wasn’t simply a mistake by one so-called “terrorism expert.” They are professional liars, it’s what they do!

To be fair, after two weeks of repeating the “no go zone” lie across multiple programs, Faux News offered an extremely rare on-air apology admitting there is “no credible information” for what they claimed was an everyday fact of life in England and France. But not before Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal latched on to this, with incredibly bad timing.

More info:
Fox ‘Expert’ Totally Wrong But How The Internet Responds Is A Thing Of Beauty (Video)
CNN Correspondent Confronts Bobby Jindal Over False Comments About Muslims
Fox Host Apologizes For Letting Muslim “No-Go Zone” Myth Go “Unchallenged And Uncorrected
French Comedians Parody Terrified Fox Reporters In Paris ‘No-Go Zones’

UPDATE:
The Man Who Spawned “#FoxNewsFacts” Also Advises the U.S. Government on Terror

Self-styled “terror expert” Steve Emerson set off a sort of global laugh track last week when he claimed that parts of the United Kingdom had been completely taken over by Muslims, and that the city of Birmingham no longer allowed non-Muslims to enter. Emerson’s fact-free rant spawned the Twitter hashtag #FoxNewsFacts, prompting users to conjure up outlandishly satirical tales that mocked with the farcical quality of Fox News analysis. “When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool’s Day,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said of Emerson’s remarks. “This guy’s clearly a complete idiot.”

…Emerson is a shadowy figure who levels ridiculously defamatory claims against Muslims on a regular basis, reaping millions of dollars in profits in the process. His analysis is highly suspect, and yet he has been repeatedly called upon as a knowledgeable witness by government officials. The question is whether the snafu that made him the object of global ridicule finally end his status as “expert.”

Maybe Emerson is a complete idiot, but he’s apparently smarter than the people who pay all that money to his “Investigative Project on Terrorism.”

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Candidate Obama Was Pro Net Neutrality: What Happened?

Slow Lane AheadAs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers allowing Internet “fast lanes” for the exclusive use of corporations and the 1 Percent, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is looking to hold President Obama accountable to the commitment he made to an online “level playing field.” In 2007, candidate Obama declared, “I am a strong supporter of net neutrality.” Sign the petition here.

According to the Washington Post, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will ask the commission to vote May 15 on a proposal to eliminate net neutrality. The new rule has not yet been made public.

The FCC’s Open Internet Rules were struck down in a federal appeals court this January, which left room to rewrite the rules to how the Internet works. Only a month after the rules were struck down, Netflix struck a deal with Comcast that would give the movie streaming service preferentially fast speeds.

On MTV in 2007, Barack Obama told Joe Niederberger that he’d defend Net Neutrality. Now, a new FCC Chair threatens to let cable and phone companies create an Internet fast lane for big corporations and a slow lane for everyone else.

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Convertible Laptops, Windows 8, and SkyDrives Oh My!

This last week, I had the opportunity to work with a convertible laptop running Windows 8.

Normally when I travel, I take my MacBook, it’s reliable, but heavy to schlep around, or my iPad, if I don’t expect to need to do much work.

I love my iPad.  It’s very useful, lightweight, handy and fast.  It goes with me almost literally everywhere.  It requires relatively little by way of maintenance.  The battery life is crazy good.  But it’s not really well suited for the work I often have to do.  The MacBook is powerful enough for work but gets very heavy after a day of travel.

I like the idea of the convertible laptop and given a chance, thought I’d give it a try.   I’ve been using a Lenovo Yoga.  For typing, taking notes and so on, I like the physical keyboard – I can type significantly faster on a physical keyboard.  For most basic tasks – email, watching a movie, checking the news, the tablet functionality is great.  It’s more powerful than a tablet, but less than a full blown laptop.  It weighs in at about three pounds so much less than a traditional laptop, but significantly more than a tablet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Metaphor, Meaning, and Tech

Forgive me, this gets a little geeky in a few places. But that isn’t the purpose, and hopefully the geek factor doesn’t scare too many people off.

After Glen wrote a piece about Microsoft possibly failing as it announces its latest foray into operating systems and hardware marriage, I sparred a bit with Nathan over Apple and the hardware mod community. I don’t actually think that the things I was discussing with Nathan in that thread are particularly meaningful, but I didn’t want to discuss what is to me a more important topic until I let the idea stew a little. I wasn’t, and am still not, entirely sure how I feel about the larger matter. Still, I thought it was about time to tackle the topic.

One of the reasons I was, and remain, a fan of Apple (even when they were not producing products I wanted I was still a fan, and watched what they did as a company) is that they seem to implicitly understand that the best tools work well because they work with human nature rather than against it. From the time that our first humanoid ansestor used a stick to bring something just out of reach to within grasp, we have used tools that work with our understanding and thought processes. The better they mesh with the way we work, the better the tool. We had telephones rather than telegraphs installed in our homes, in part, because it is more natural to the human brain to translate thoughts to words (if that even requires translation) than to translate words into taps and pulses. We invent tools like blenders, again in part, because the machines mimic methods we already use when doing the same tasks by hand.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Did Microsoft Waste the Last Decade?

Here’s an interesting longish article about Microsoft.

The article talks about the ways in which Microsoft, the computer giant of the 1990s, missed many steps in the last decade, releasing products after competitors, releasing poor products, and ultimately releasing products few consumers wanted.

I’ve critiqued the Windows platform before – it’s clunky, slow, freezes and sometimes just flat out crashed all the time.  Where the folks at Apple have a sense of aesthetics, their products are cool to hold and use, Microsoft manages to turn to products that somehow feel gargantuan and awkward.  The article talks about the ways in which Microsoft’s corporate culture has stifled innovation and how the company’s missteps have resulted in a lost time and marketing mojo.  To give one example, Microsoft had an e-book reader almost market ready, abandoned the effort and now the Kindle the is the biggest ebook reader around.  The article is worth a read.

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What we really need is a faster horse

John Gruber, a great tech blogger, posted this today:

Speaking of ill-considered government regulators, New York Senator Chuck Schumer wants the DOJ to drop its price-fixing suit against Apple:

The suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple. If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets. […]

The Justice Department lawsuit is also unsettling from a broader perspective. As our economy transitions to digital platforms, we should be celebrating and supporting industries that find ways to adapt and grow. By developing a pricing model that made e-book sales work for them, publishers did just that.

This needs some clarification coming from me. First of all I am an Apple fan, so there is some possibility of bias. I am also a bit of a tech geek, and like to see disruptive tech upset old standards and force change. So I have a tendency to agree with this sentiment. On the other hand I also firmly feel that regulation is an important part of a fair market, and I don’t want to see Apple, or anyone else, cheating the system.

The problem I see here is something we can break down into two major issues. First of all there is what I would consider a letter/spirit of the law issue. Secondly there is a question of who a policy is good for. Lemme try and explain what I am thinking here.

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President Obama Acknowledges Existence of Pakistan War

Predator firing missiles

For the first time, President Obama has officially acknowledged that the USA is waging war in Pakistan. It’s sometimes difficult to keep in mind that almost everything we know about drone strikes is based on anonymous sources. The U.S. government until now has refused to address the subject on the record. David Dayen on FDL:

It’s a sad commentary on our media that the President had to answer questions yesterday about drones for the first time, and the questions didn’t come at a White House press briefing or major print interview, but in a virtual YouTube town hall with members of the public.

The L.A. Times has more:

“I think that we have to be judicious in how we use drones,” Obama said Monday, adding that they have been used for “very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

Obama went on to say that “obviously a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA,” the acronym for Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas, and for “going after Al Qaeda suspects who are in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“This thing is kept on a very tight leash,” Obama said. The U.S. does not use drones “willy-nilly” but in a way that avoids more intrusive military actions.

He described the attacks as carefully targeted. But drone attacks known as “signature strikes” — which are not aimed at specific individuals but against vehicles, camps or houses believed to be used by militants — have expanded dramatically during his presidency.

Now that our government has admitted waging war in Pakistan, the next step is to ask how these attacks, and the hundreds of civilian casualties, can be justified. Maybe the Washington press corps will start asking some questions now that this is out in the open.

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The Internet and Politics

The political system and the way we do politics has changed. Since the dawn of time, politicians have been lying. All of them. They lie to boast about their achievements. They lie to slander their opponent and they lie about caring for the less fortunate. But with Youtube, we can shine a light on these liars.

Think about it this way. Occupy has been slandered and blacked out by the media and yet they are still around. It’s because of the Internet. Congress has a small approval rating,  from 9% down to 5% last I checked. It’s because of the Internet. The media panders to their corporate masters at the expense of real, unbiased journalism. The Internet allows us to find the truth. That is why the Democrats won in 2006 and 2008. It’s also why they lost in 2010 (And they rightfully deserved it).

Anytime a politician or the media lies to us, then someone out of the 350,000,000 Americans is going to call that person out and they will be seen as a liar or a hypocrite. Truthfully, it comes to no surprise that the Internet is under constant attack from politicians. The system was never accountable to the people, but that is changing. That is why we are seeing politics in a clearer light.  SOPA, PIPA, COPE, failed to pass because the web is too strong and we know who to blame if they did pass. So now we are seeing a miracle. The GOP is actually voting in the interest of the people because they can’t get away with abusing us anymore.

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Matt Dances In Salt Lake: Literally

Matt and I

I don’t know Matt. He allowed anybody to have their picture taken with him AFTER the event. That’s why my hair is “Matted” down. Sorry. :)

I estimate there were about 70 of us who showed up to participate in the latest “Where The Hell Is Matt” dancing video by wading into the water at the Salt Lake Marina and giving it our all, while sinking into the sand during our efforts. I would put the age range around 5 to 80 years old.

There are many people who have never heard of Matt’s 2008 video, but I would have liked it if the media had shown up to give it a boost. They are always looking for positive stories to tell and this had to be the best show in town. I don’t know what constitutes a “viral” video, but 37 million views of an utterly un-promoted video ain’t bad.

I think the people there felt the same as I did after seeing Matt’s efforts. I am proud that at least one American is portraying us in a positive light by bringing some much needed and harmless fun to the world. He gave some basic instructions, but let people be themselves. He asked for ideas, and then asked for a consensus. Very democratic.

Sure hope we make it into the new video!

Updates:

He he he!

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How Did They Do This?

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‘Yes We Can’ – PFC Bradley Manning Update

Yes We Can

What has happened to the Obama administration? Glenn Greenwald explains:

On Friday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denounced the conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention as “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid,” forcing President Obama to address those comments in a Press Conference and defend the treatment of Manning. Today, CNN reports, Crowley has “abruptly resigned” under “pressure from White House officials because of controversial comments he made last week about the Bradley Manning case.” In other words, he was forced to “resign” — i.e., fired.

…[I]n Barack Obama’s world … those who instituted a worldwide torture and illegal eavesdropping regime are entitled to full-scale presidential immunity, while powerless individuals who blow the whistle on high-level wrongdoing and illegality are subjected to the most aggressive campaign of prosecution and persecution the country has ever seen. So protecting those who are abusing Manning, while firing Crowley for condemning the abuse, is perfectly consistent with the President’s sense of justice.

Up to now, I haven’t written about the inhumane conditions of PFC Manning’s detention. It seems there is nothing we can say or do that can help him. I had hoped the criticism so far would convince President Obama to eventually order Manning to be accorded his rights as an American. Instead, our President has dismissed all pleas for fairness, saying that the cruel treatment of PFC Manning is “appropriate and meeting our basic standards.” And now, instead of relieving the officers responsible for the abuse, Obama fires the one guy in his administration who dared to utter the truth.

Bear in mind that this is a 23-year-old soldier who hasn’t been convicted of anything, who has been behind bars for nearly 10 months now. The U.S. Army is piling on charges that go far beyond any evidence — including “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Manning is imprisoned in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, and subjected to prolonged, forced nudity and other conditions tantamount to torture, that have been designed to humiliate and degrade prisoners.

The bottom line here is that P.J. Crowley deserves the thanks of a grateful nation. If PFC Manning is ever convicted of letting the proof of war crimes in Iraq get on WikiLeaks (unlikely, IMHO), or if it is later confirmed that he was responsible, he ought to be awarded the Bronze Star at least. President Obama, on the other hand, now has joined former President Bush and former VP Cheney as an admitted torture conspirator.

More info:

Saturday Night Massacre: Obama Axes PJ Crowley for Telling the Truth about Bradley Manning
As the Treatment of Bradly Manning Grows More Obscene, Reality Becomes Harder to Ignore


UPDATE:
In Resigning, State Dept. Spokesman PJ Crowley Does Not Back Away From Criticism Of Manning’s Detention

UPDATE:
From FDL: PFC Manning still not allowed to wear underwear, ordered to put on a rough and uncomfortable Cordura “smock.” “It’s stupid looking,” says the manufacturer.

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WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange In His Own Words

If you missed Cenk Uygur’s interview with Julian Assange yesterday on MSNBC, watch it now.

Transcript here: My Exclusive Interview with WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

If you want to know more about the off-the-charts hypocrisy and governmental malfeasance associated with the WikiLeaks revelations, I recommend two recent posts by Glenn Greenwald:

U.N. to investigate treatment of Bradley Manning
The NYT spills key military secrets on its front page

Finally, I learned on Rachel Maddow’s show last night that the CIA has a task force on WikiLeaks, which they have named the “WikiLeaks Task Force.” Known in the agency (and now everywhere) by its acronym, WTF.

UPDATE: FDL is asking everyone to add their name to a letter to the Commanding Officer at Quantico Brig to end the inhumane conditions of PFC Bradley Manning’s detention as he awaits trial. Private Manning has been in solitary confinement for more than seven months. Last July he was charged with leaking a highly classified video of American forces killing unarmed civilians in Baghdad and secret diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

UPDATE: Jane Hamsher: Bradley Manning and the Convenient Memories of Adrian Lamo

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