Behold the Daily Monkey, a blog that brings you a monkey photo and some monkey reference, every weekday!
Five monkeys a week!
I think I'm in heaven.
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According to Nielsen ratings, 46% of American web surfers use Google. According to the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences, 8% of the Chinese population uses the Internet, and 27% of those use Google. (By comparison, 46% of Internet-users use home-grown Baidu.) That means only 2% of the population is affected by what Google does. I think we get a skewed impression of how important Google is in China because of how important it is here.
I'm not sure how many blue-collar workers our trade policies affect, but I'm sure it's a hell of a lot more than 2% of the population. Just some perspective. Consider also that while Congress is making such a big deal about Google infringing on the civil rights of 2% of the Chinese population, their NSA wiretapping investigation is being derailed. And that's something that actually affects the civil rights of their constituents!
Btw, I do despise the censorship in China, but I just think we need to prioritize our own problems first. The first rule of propaganda is to focus negative attention toward other countries to divert it from your own. Just look at how the rest of the world, be it Europe, the Middle East, or China, loves to focus negative attention on us. :P (At least the Middle East was blaming their problems on the Scandinavians for a while, but somehow, they turned to us again and burned down a KFC recently. :P)
Besides, it seems the Internet censorship in China doesn't really work that well anyway. I mean, China's Internet censorship is more effective than I would've thought possible, mostly due to sheer will and investment, but in the end, the Internet is still just so damn big and distributed that even the Chinese gov't can't prevent leaks, and that's what I love about it. :)
Also, that somewhat upbeat article on censorship in China is from the Washington Post. Compare it to their usual human interest stories on China, which are invariably about the terrible conditions of the working class.
P.S.: And, speaking of surveillance, here's the new trailer for A Scanner Darkly.
Two stories for you: One that will provide you with some promise for the future, and one which will cause you to lose some faith in humanity. The best part? They're parts of the same story!
A tourist lost her camera in Hawaii, so in a fascinating example of the promise of "Web 2.0" aka "The Semantic Web", she went on Flickr and found pictures other people took in Hawaii that are similar to the ones she lost, thus recreating her vacation photos. She could do this because people "tag", or index, their pictures on Flickr, thus making it easy to search for what she wanted.
And thus, a cool example of the Internet of the future.
And now for part 2: She got a call from a park ranger. It seems her camera was unlost, but not quite found. A Canadian lady found her camera and called it in because she wanted to teach her nine-year-old son a lesson in "doing the right thing". But then because her son was diagnosed with diabetes, liked the camera a lot, and thought finding it was "good luck", she decided not to return it.
I was incredulous. "This is an expensive camera, you know."
"Oh, we know, we looked it up."
When the owner of the camera asked to at least get her memory card back, and $50 to call it even (on a $500 camera), the finder just sent back some CDs with the note:
"Enclosed are some CDs with your images on them. We need the memory cards to operate the camera properly."
When the camera owner called up the finder to complain, the finder said:
"You're lucky we sent you anything at all. Most people wouldn't do that."
The owner called up the police in the finder's town, but they can't do anything because she lost the camera in Hawaii, outside of their jurisdiction.
Olympics-watching is a very social activity. It's fun in a group, but it's utterly boring alone. I miss hanging out with a bunch of guys in the dorm watching live ice hockey during the 1998 Winter Olympics.
I don't have any friends on this coast who care about Olympic ice hockey. That, and the games are either during working hours or at 6 in the morning, anyway. :P
In other news, this article on the Craigslist guy talking to NYC entrepreneurs is hilarious. I found it via SSR's debut in Business 2.0 online! [Update: Apparently she only wrote the Feburary 15 items and didn't write that bit from the day before.]
Today is the the day when two guys bathe themselves in the blood of a dog and two goats and then run around with bloody goat skins in their hands, while girls lined up to be whipped, to ensure fertility and ease the pains of childbirth! [Wiki link]
Man, Valentine's Day is such a shadow of its former self...
Discovered via the Valentine's Day video on the awesome Zefrank's page. My favorite is Red Alert. He also has a blog, where he had this insight: "it occurs to me: flowers are the only things you can kill, wrap up in paper and give to someone without it being creepy." :P
I have a question for my Gentle Readers. Now, I understand you might have privacy concerns, and in fact for that reason I might not even going to fully answer this question myself here, but I'd still be interested in what you all have to say. Comment under a pseudonym, if you wish. The question:
What's your goal in life?
I mean, what gets you up in the morning? What drives you? What do you want to do with your life?
(Incidentally, when asked what the Meaning of Life is, I usually answer that I think everyone makes up their own Meaning of Life. I don't think there's any objective answer, and I don't think life has any inherent meaning, independent of the observer, so I think we all create our own Meaning of Life. So maybe I'm really asking you what you think the Meaning of Life is, but by my definition of it.)
P.S.: If that was too serious-like, please loosen yourself up by watching this music video of David Hasselhoff covering Oingo Boingo's Hooked on a Feeling. Check out that wire work! I especially love the bit on the motorcycle.
Keep in mind that this is apparently the same man who helped to bring down the Berlin Wall. :)
Now, I'm not a fan of Internet censorship in China. In fact, all of subjunctive.net is blocked by the Great Firewall, probably because I've said negative things about the Chinese gov't on this very blog. However, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) is drafting legislation to keep US company's servers out of China, and I think that's misguided. (Here's Ars Technica's report.)
The short version is: Google and Yahoo are setting up servers in China that have to abide by Chinese laws, and so Google is censoring search results on Google.cn, while Yahoo has handed over identities of online dissidents, which has led to their arrests. So the Congressman wants to forbid them from locating servers in China that are subject to Chinese laws.
I think engagement is better than isolation in the recent cases of Google and Yahoo. If they don't do business in China, people will either use the products of Chinese companies or other foreign companies who are willing to play by Chinese rules. As it is, these deals have kept uncensored Google.com accessible in China, at least for now. (It's Google.cn, with servers in China, that's censored.) By getting their feet in the door, American companies can influence Chinese politics far better than if they were locked out of the country.
Also, how many US companies in China are employing Chinese labor that's subject to harsh and anti-union conditions? I'm sorry, but if you're talking inequities, then the labor situation there is a far bigger problem than the plight of dissidents. I bet no Congressman is going to try proposing that US companies not be allowed open factories there! I mean, you could easily argue that those companies are being unethical, too, but the policy there is that engagement will lead to more freedom, and the policy should be the same with regard to Internet companies.
P.S.: In other news, a list of late night TV jokes about Dick Cheney shooting a man in the face.
SSR tagged me with a 4s thing. My answers:
Four jobs I've had:
(The scary thing is that I'm perfectly honest... I can't recall ever getting paid for something other than programming, unless you count the $15 a day I got for jury duty.)
Four movies I can watch over and over:
I have to say I can't think of any movies I can truly watch over and over, but I guess some movies I've seen an unreasonable number of times (excluding the Star Wars Trilogy in high school) would be:
The Abyss: Special Edition (also Aliens, the best action movie ever made) (Yes, I'm totally obsessed with James Cameron, and I'm so excited that he's finally going to make a new feature film soon)
Run Lola Run (It's basically an 80 minute music video anyway.)
The Usual Suspects (I wrote a shot-by-shot analysis of the last 5 minutes for a class once.)
Babe: Pig in the City (I've seen it at least 5 times and still have not seen the first Babe once!)
Four places I've lived:
BOS LHR SFO SHA
Four TV shows I love:
These are the shows on TV right now that I tape:
Boston Legal (I love modern-day William Shatner)
The Daily Show/The Colbert Report
(I actually also tape The Office, but that doesn't fit here; I'm already stretching it with that Daily Show/Colbert Report thing. :P)
Four places I've vacationed:
CTU EDI GRZ PTY
Four of my favorite dishes:
"Smoked Stewed Savory Soup" (My rough translation of a signature Shanghainese soup with pork, smoked ham, bamboo shoots, and tofu knots.)
Sea snails (I think) cooked Chinese style
Hotpot with assorted internal organs (yum!)
KFC (and I recently discovered that I like Popeye's even better!)
Four sites I visit daily:
Only four?!??!! :P I'm going to cheat.
Oh, and my paper of choice is also the Washington Post, and I visit my friends' blogs, of course!
Four places I would rather be right now:
Space (within a habitable craft, of course)
Another (habitable) planet
New Jersey (Just kidding! :) And um.. just kidding about the just kidding; please don't kill me.)
I don't know enough bloggers to tag in turn, so that's it!
Just a couple of days before the new Curious George movie premiers in theatres, coauthor Alan Shalleck was murdered by two guys who robbed his home.
I found out about this from what is perhaps the best blog possible, the Daily Monkey.
Update Feb-08: I'm glad to see that someone's getting something out of this:
When entrepreneur Ahmed Abu Dayya first heard that Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad were being reprinted across Europe, he knew exactly what his customers in Gaza would want: flags to burn.
Abu Dayya ordered 100 hard-to-find Danish and Norwegian flags for his Gaza City shop and has been doing a swift trade.
Oh, and this part is precious:
Abu Dayya sources some of his flags from suppliers in Taiwan, but he buys Israeli flags from a merchant in Israel, even though he sells them to be burnt at anti-Israeli rallies.
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This violence over political cartoons is in some ways scarier to me than the terrorist attacks that have happened in the last couple of years. It's scary enough that large numbers of people from many different countries are in an uproar against entire countries over the actions of newspapers in those countries. What's even scarier is that they're destroying entire consulates. (Oh, and let's not forget that while the Scandinavian countries involved do not deserve that kind of treatment, they're also not completely innocent, since anti-Muslim sentiment is quite strong in Europe.)
So optimists like me tend to think that information flow is a good thing, that the truth will find its way... But I'm not sure any more. I feel like the Internet and the globalization of media has led to faster dissemination of propaganda and the easier creation of larger mobs. This recent global mobilization of anti-Danish riots would likely not have happened in the days before the Internet and satellite TV. Brave new world...
Incidentally, I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this bit:
"We do not print the papers -- the government does not print the papers," [Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller] said. "There's freedom of expression."
He repeatedly explained that Denmark has a law against blasphemy, and it is up to the courts -- not the Danish government -- to decide whether a newspaper is guilty of blasphemy."
(1) Denmark has a law against blasphemy?! (2) If they do, how can they claim freedom of expression as a defense against, well, blashphemy?!
I'm taking a drawing class, where we're working with charcoal for now. Our first homework assignment is to pick a "concept or idea" and draw it. The teacher gave "war" as an example of an idea we could draw. :P It's a very freeform assignment. I didn't use many of the techniques from the actual class here, but it's my first personal charcoal drawing!
I picked "insignificance".