Archive for category the Internet
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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
Today the Federal Communications Commission is expected to hand over the Internet to corporate control, giving AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cisco, Qwest, and other companies carte blanche to discriminate against different forms of content. The two Democratic FCC commissioners, Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn, caved to the corporatists on Monday.
Net neutrality is an essentially conservative idea – meaning that it seeks to preserve a core principle of the status quo. Remember just three years ago, when candidate Barack Obama pledged to support the principle of a free and open Internet?
“I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality. Because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way.”
From Barack Obama’s address at Google in November 2007
In a Senate floor speech last Saturday, Senator Al Franken explained what the FCC is doing:
“Maybe you like Google Maps. Well, tough. If the FCC passes this weak rule, Verizon will be able to cut off access to the Google Maps app on your phone and force you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it is not as good. And even if they charge money, when Google Maps is free.
…If corporations are allowed to prioritize content on the Internet, or they are allowed to block applications you access on your iPhone, there is nothing to prevent those same corporations from censoring political speech.”
So, we’re losing the freedom of the Internet and a Democratic administration is responsible. Once again, President Obama is making all the people who voted for him feel like they made an embarrassing mistake.
UPDATE: Conservatives Freak Out Over Mild Net Neutrality Laws: ‘It’s Total Government Control Of The Internet’ Note to right-wingers: the Internet was created by the U.S. government and corporations don’t own it.
More info: Democracy Now!
Messenger: No man — Persian or Greek — no man threatens a messenger!
King Leonidas: You bring the crowns and heads of conquered kings to my city’s steps! You insult my queen. You threaten my people with slavery and death! Oh, I’ve chosen my words carefully, Persian. Perhaps you should have done the same!
Messenger: This is blasphemy! This is madness!
King Leonidas: Madness…? This! Is! SPARTA!
— “300″ (2006)
Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. Today he is behind bars because the messages WikiLeaks has brought to the world make some powerful people — particularly in the U.S. government — unhappy. The actual charges against Assange, often reported as “rape,” amount to having sex in Sweden without a condom. One of his accusers has ties to the CIA.
WikiLeaks has done more in recent weeks to protect freedom and democracy than the entire U.S. military and all of the politicians.
The Department of Justice is threatening to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917 (U.S.C. Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 37). This law is so broad that it can be construed to apply to foreign nationals overseas. Of course, if anyone at WikiLeaks is prosecuted for revealing secret information, then logically the DOJ would have to also go after a number of more established news organizations.
Glenn Greenwald, as you might imagine is all over this. Here he explains the logic of the Obama administration:
If you create an illegal worldwide torture regime, illegally spy on Americans without warrants, abduct people with no legal authority, or invade and destroy another country based on false claims, then you are fully protected. But if you expose any of the evils secretly perpetrated as part of those lawless actions — by publishing the truth about what was done — then you are an Evil Criminal who deserves the harshest possible prosecution.
Note that neither WikiLeaks nor Assange has yet been charged or indicted by the DOJ.
Contrary to some wild assertions of irresponsibility, WikiLeaks has posted to its website only 960 of the 251,297 diplomatic cables it has. Almost every one of these cables was first published by one of its newspaper partners which are disclosing them (The Guardian, the NYT, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Speigel, etc.).
UPDATE: Lieberman: ‘I Don’t Understand’ Why The Department Of Justice Hasn’t Charged Australian Assange With Treason (Get a clue, he’s not an American citizen!)