(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit, 9-27-12)
An Unhappy Pair – Google and the Muslim community have not had the best couple of weeks given that whole Muslim video thing. Personally, I find some of our responses hypocritical. We’ve been told for years that incredibly grotesque artistic expressions such as Piss Christ (btw, sponsored with tax dollars through the National Endowment for the Arts) must be protected at all cost. Yet we now have to apologize to the world and censor the internet because some whack-o creates a video disparaging the Prophet Mohammad? I’ve only watched parts of the video…it’s too ridiculously annoying to watch the whole thing…but in what I watched, I didn’t see anything worse than Jesus submerged in urine. (Just saying…) The world may not like it, but true freedom can be ugly. God Bless the United States while we still have it!
At any rate, Google unilaterally censored the video in Egypt and Libya, as well as blocked the video at the request of a number of other countries. Also, Iran has completely blocked Gmail and partially blocked Google search. I’m not sure where this is headed, but it’s not starting off in a good way.
Fighting Tyranny is No Excuse to Be a Tyrant – We still have problems with our own government continuing to take rights that we haven’t granted. Two weeks ago, the House extended the FISA Amendments Act. This act permits the NSA to collect electronic communications without a probable-cause warrant (“warrantless wiretapping”) as long as one of the parties is believed to be outside the United States. As with other power grabs, the scope of the law has been expanded through “interpretation” to allow collection of purely domestic communication if the real target is al-Qaida. The current law has no mechanism for public accountability, so we don’t have any real idea what is being collected. The government does not have to provide any information on the amount or type of information collected or the targets of the surveillance. Most disappointing to me is the reported unwillingness of the House leadership to consider basic reporting and surveillance safeguards to protect our 4thAmendment rights. Yes, we are fighting terrorist that don’t care about our Constitution. But we give up our freedom in the process, what’s the point?
Fortunately, not everyone is on the warrantless wiretapping bandwagon. Zoe Lofgren, representing Silicon Valley, recently introduced a bill requiring police to obtain warrants to obtain e-mail, cloud data and cell phone tracking information. Current police guidelines are based on legislation passed in 1986, well before internet technology was established. The new legislation is backed by a large group of technology companies, bipartisan and non-partisan advocacy groups called the Digital Due Process coalition. Members include Amazon, ACLU, Apple, AT&T, Electronic Freedom Foundation, Freedom Works, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and many others. The coalition’s objective is to update and simplify electronic surveillance rules to protect 4th Amendment rights while ensuring law enforcement retains its ability to protect the public. Law enforcement organizations have already voiced strong opposition to similar bills, so a heated debate is sure to come.
For the record, on the FISA Amendment Act vote, John Barrow, Jeff Duncan and Joe Wilson all voted against your freedom. Paul Broun didn’t bother to vote.
Goodnight, iPad – When our kids were younger, my wife and I conducted a night time ritual that included reading the classic Goodnight, Moon. After saying good night to the light, the red balloon, the cow jumping over the moon, and the bowl full of mush, we would say our good nights to the girls and quietly leave them to their dreams.
Times have changed, and Margaret Wise Brown no longer provides the framework for evening ritual. Our night time routine is more adequately documented by the story Goodnight, iPad written by Ann Droyd.
In the bright, buzzing room, there was an iPad…and a bird launched over the moon…
If you haven’t seen the story, the parody is available on You Tube (Google: Goodnight, iPad), however, I would recommend getting the book. For those of you that read Goodnight, Moon to your kids, this story describes how your precious and inquisitive children have been infected with technology-acquired ADD.
Spoiler alert: The old lady who says hush, 1. Technology, 0.
Until next time, I’m off the grid. @gregory_a_baker