Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

I like WordPress a lot. It is, in my opinion, one of the best content management systems on the market, and being available as a free and open source tool is a big added bonus. WordPress is also a big internet site, of course, hosting many thousands of blogs and sites. That is another matter, and it’s also what makes this article more than bit frightening: “WordPress ignoring terrorist propaganda, campaigners say” (on www.telegraph.co.uk). Core of the message:

One of the world’s biggest blogging websites is turning a blind eye to pages run by Isil, even after they have been reported, anti-terrorism campaigners say.

I hope Automattic, the owner of WordPress, has a good answer for that situation; better yet: I hope they can change their stance on this. Even freedom of speech has limits, and should not be an excuse to allow hate speech and terrorist exhortations on the internet.


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Having just bought a car with the somewhat strange designation ‘g-tron‘ made me pay attention when I noticed an article in The Atlantic, titled “The Suffix That Tells the Story of Modern Science. Why did words that end in “tron” once sound so futuristic?“. Here’s an interesting quote: in the twentieth century, the suffix ‘tron’ was…

…a proud and optimistic emblem of the electronic and atomic age. It was a totem of high modernism, the intellectual and cultural mode that decreed no process or phenomenon was too complex to be grasped, managed, and optimized. The suffix emblazoned the banners of nuclear physics’ Cosmotron, modern biology’s Climatron, and early AI’s perceptron—displaying to all our mastery over matter, life, and information.

It is too soon to know whether the Audi ‘g-tron‘ range will turn out to be future-proof. Electricity will be the fuel for vehicles, factories, and more at some point in the future. But I am not convinced that the current battery technology will be enough to make that possible. And anyway, Audi also has the ‘e-tron‘ moniker to cover that part of the future.

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In Spain, “… detention of secessionist leaders sparks large protests” (as written by The Guardian) – the word “political prisoners” seems applicable.

In Malta, according to the late Daphne Caruana Galizia, democracy is even treated worse (source: The Guardian):

In a post from May this year, Caruana Galizia noted: “I don’t know why we should be surprised that organised crime has insinuated its tentacles into the highest echelons of government in Malta, using democracy for the purpose while undermining it thoroughly. If it happened in Italy and eastern Europe, it can happen here, where the institutions of state are so much weaker.”

In case you didn’t know: Daphne Caruana Galizia, Panama Papers journalist, was murdered on October 16th, probably by someone of the circles she called the Maltese mafia.

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A Challenge For USA Politicians

I found an interesting analysis on the Politico website, comparing recent mass shootings in the USA with the city riots of the 1960’s: “Mass Shootings Are the Systemic Crisis Of Our Time“. It’s a serious read; let me just cite two quotes in an attempt to explain what the historian in me sees as the core of the text.

We think of urban rebellions as a defining crisis of 1960s America. Today, it is mass shootings, which are far more common than riots ever were back then—and far deadlier.

Why, then, is it taking us so long to see mass shootings as a systemic crisis, as we did 50 years ago when one city after another exploded into violence?

© Copyright Jim Hubbard | jim@jimhubbardphoto.com

You can’t have a good solution if you do not know the real problem, and that requires analysis. Which politician will try to answer the questions raised by Anna Clark?

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Julia Reda is a member of the European Parlement. In a recent publication she writes about an important subject that has just become part of a recommendation by the European Commission: “automated upload filters” should be used, according to the Commission, to stop illegal uploads and copyright infringement.

Click to read the full communication by Julia Reda

Julia Reda first clearly states what that means:

Installing censorship infrastructure that surveils everything people upload and letting algorithms make judgement calls about what we all can and cannot say online is an attack on our fundamental rights.

I agree with that: in a democracy, there is no place for preemptive censorship.

In addition, she gives 9 clear reasons why it is silly to think that that automated filters will be able to achieve what the Commission wants: those filters don’t work very well. Unless you think cats can sing pop songs, or unless you’re OK with the voice of war victims in Syria being stifled, etc…

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At least 17,723 Syrians have died in custody, according to Amnesty International. Since 2011, more than 65,000 people have disappeared, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

Not by the hands of Daesh, mind you. No, he was killed by the hands of the Syrian regime (or what’s left of it). Wired published the story of one of those victims, Bassel Khartabil, in an article titled “How One Syrian Fought To The Death For A Free Internet“.

Bassel Khartabil said “…a phone with a camera is a hundred times more powerful than a gun“. Clearly, a dictatorial regime must believe that, or they wouldn’t have executed him when he was barely 34 years old. No one seems to know for sure, but it probably happened on or about October 5, 2015.

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Sad, But True

These are not my words:

Terrorism is a racist term in the US. It means white people were harmed by people who aren’t white. If the shooter is white, he’s just crazy.

But how true, and not just for the USA.

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