Thursday, October 20, 2005

Political Censorship at DePaul

A blog has been started about the recent suppression of political dissent at DePaul University. For those of you who haven't heard the story:

For those of you reading that are new to this story, this post is meant to provide some background information regarding DePaul University’s strange relationship with Ward Churchill.

Ward was invited to speak at the university on the topic of Human Rights. There are very many people out there that find this disgusting and offensive. Here is one of his famous quotes about the victims of 9/11:

They were targeting those people I referred to as ‘little Eichmanns.’ These were legitimate targets.

-Ward Churchill

And here is another:

“[I want the] U.S. off the planet. Out of existence altogether.”

-Ward Churchill

Here is how DePaul University describes him:

A dynamic and prolific speaker with politically unique views

Most people might be shocked to learn that this is not the first time that DePaul University has invited Ward Churchill to speak. More on that soon.

A group of DePaul students objected to having Ward Churchill lecture at DePaul University, let alone on the topic of human rights. When they tried to voice their complaints, the University stonewalled them, refusing to answer basic questions, for example, how much Ward Churchill is being paid to appear. More on that soon.

These DePaul students have experienced abuse and hostility from more than one university department for doing nothing more than trying to make their fellow students aware of some of the basic facts and quotes attributable to Ward Churchill. More on that soon.

These DePaul students have tried to engage in dialogue and take part in the events originally open to all student organizations. When DePaul administrators learned that there would be dissenters at the event, they changed the rules to exclude the undesirable students.

The restrictions for attending Ward Churchill's Human Rights discussion were changed after their original publication once the university learned that dissenters were planning on attending. All recording of the event has been banned. The woman who invited the speaker refuses to give the reason for the invitation. Does this sound sketchy to anyone else? I hope the DePaul administration chokes on the bad PR this will bring them, and I hope they will be less likely to exclude dissenters from participation in the future.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Kelo 2.0

If you loved the SCOTUS Kelo decision this summer, you ain't seen nothin' yet:

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Officials of a poor, predominantly black Florida town plan to relocate about 6,000 residents to make room for a billion-dollar yachting and housing complex.

The coastal community of Rivera Beach in Palm Beach County may use eminent domain, if necessary, to claim 400 acres of land for the project, The Washington Times reported Monday.

"This is a community that's in dire need of jobs, which has a median income of less than $19,000 a year," Mayor Michael Brown said. "If we don't use this power, cities will die."

Great. Fantastic. Evict 6,000 people to build a fricking YACHT CLUB! I don't know about you, but this does not seem to me like a "public use" as specified in the US Constitution. Just another fun result of the "living constitution" BS that liberal judges keep trying to feed us. If the result of a "living constitution" is that it allows us to redefine its terms as we see fit, I'd like mine dead as a doornail, please. What happened to sticking up for the "little guy?" He's just been run over by a YACHT and nobody even let out a peep of protest. Disgusting.

The UN wants to take over the internet

Great. Just what we need. A bunch of micromanaging bureaucrats who want to get their hands on the net. What exactly do they need it for? If they want to control a network so bad they should build their own "root servers" and come up with another form of networking. They admit that it was designed, funded, and built by America, but they want to take it over anyway. That seems just a bit unfair. This is not a "global resource, it is mostly privately owned and operated. Besides, as one Instapundit reader put it:

It's like I posted to Slashdot: why would the EU and the UN want to grab control, when that control right now is only being used for laissez faire? Because they want to /stop/ the laissez faire!

China wants to take down Tibetan and Falun Gong sites. Germany wants to ban neonazis from the internet. The arab nations would want to kick off Israel until it "fulfils its international obligations". Etc etc. This is nothing less than an attempt to stuff the information genie back into its bottle.

At all costs, they must be prevented from claiming the spurious moral high ground! Confront them with the question: what would you change? And, why not go through process at ICANN? What would you want to do,
that they would refuse? And why?


Concurring opinions from Roger L. Simon and the WSJ:

We favor the nonregulatory approach. But where laissez-faire is not an option, the second-best solution is that the legal standards governing Web content should be those of the "country of origin." Ideally, governments should assert authority only over citizens physically within its geographic borders. This would protect sovereignty and the principle of "consent of the governed" online. It would also give companies and consumers a "release valve" or escape mechanism to avoid jurisdictions that stifle online commerce or expression.

The Internet helps overcome artificial restrictions on trade and communications formerly imposed by oppressive or meddlesome governments. Allowing these governments to reassert control through a U.N. backdoor would be a disaster.

No offense, San Franciscans, but...

... your mayor is totally nuts. He apparently said that "he considered wireless Internet access a fundamental right of all citizens." I'm sure that will be news to 99.999% of the human population. Seriously...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Onion is Hilarious - Again

An article in The Onion just cracks me up: Guy In Philosophy Class Needs To Shut The F*** Up.

Just read it. It's fantastically funny, even if it does hit a bit close to home...

How journalism uses photography

As ZombieTime notes, there has always been bias in the presentation of facts through the media, but with the advent of the internet, it's becoming a lot easier to spot:

...this simple analysis reveals the very subtle but insidious type of bias that occurs in the media all the time. The Chronicle did not print an inaccuracy, nor did it doctor a photograph to misrepresent the facts. Instead, the Chronicle committed the sin of omission: it told you the truth, but it didn't tell you the whole truth.

Because the whole truth -- that the girl was part of a group of naive teenagers recruited by Communist activists to wear terrorist-style bandannas and carry Palestinian flags and obscene placards -- is disturbing, and doesn't conform to the narrative that the Chronicle is trying to promote. By presenting the photo out of context, and only showing the one image that suits its purpose, the Chronicle is intentionally manipulating the reader's impression of the rally, and the rally's intent.

$100 Laptop?

This is really a brilliant idea, with only one small hitch. First, the goods:

The $100 laptop computers that Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers want to get into the hands of the world's children would be durable, flexible and self-reliant.

The machines' AC adapter would double as a carrying strap, and a hand crank would power them when there's no electricity. They'd be foldable into more positions than traditional notebook PCs, and carried like slim lunchboxes.

For outdoor reading, their display would be able to shift from full color to glare-resistant black and white.

And surrounding it all, the laptops would have a rubber casing that closes tightly, because "they have to be absolutely indestructible," said Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT Media Lab leader who offered an update on the project Wednesday.

One of their ideas is:

To keep the $100 laptops from being widely stolen or sold off in poor countries, he expects to make them so pervasive in schools and so distinctive in design that it would be "socially a stigma to be carrying one if you are not a student or a teacher." He compared it to filching a mail truck or taking something from a church: Everyone would know where it came from.

As a result, he expects to keep no more than 2 percent of the machines from falling into a murky "gray market."

But, as The Speculist notes, this is ridiculous:

This 2% grey market projection is naive. If there is a demand, the supply will flow to the demand. Certainly it would be shameful to take a school-bus-yellow laptop marked "For school use in developing nations only" to work. But these computers could be quickly absorbed into a home use grey market.

This problem could be addressed by offering a commercial version of this cheap machine. If a $150 or $200 version of this machine was offered to the rest of the public at the time the $100 student versions come out, much of the grey market demand could be satisfied honorably.

People are going to sell them on the "gray market." Fact of life. Besides, why not sell a slightly more expensive consumer version? They'd make gobs of money off of US parents buying them for their kids, and could reinvest the profits into refining the design and distributing to even more impoverished places. Good idea with the laptop, but their ideas about the market a bit fuzzy.