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Noted with Interest, February 2010

Feb 28, 2010

We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change
by Al Gore. Into how deep a circle of hell will be condemn the next generation? From the New York Times, Feb 27, 2010. Accessed Feb 28, 2010.

Chris Hedges on ‘The Death and Life of American Journalism’
Pulitzer Prize-winner Hedges reviews the new book by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, and fears their solutions for reversing the decline of American journalism come too late. From Truthdig.com, Feb 26, 2010. Accessed Feb 27, 2010.

Boycott FedEx
by Chris Hedges. FedEx: The poster child for what is wrong with American labor. From Truthdig.com, Feb 22, 2010. Accessed Feb 25, 2010.

The Information Super-Sewer
by Chris Hedges. Have we created a monster? From Truthdig.com, Feb 15, 2010. Accessed Feb 18, 2010.

Obama vs. Obama
by Michael Brenner. Let the post-mortem begin. From the Huffington Post, Feb 12, 2010. Accessed Feb 12, 2010.

The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News
by Chris Hedges, whom we all should be reading. “The symbiotic relationship between the press and the power elite worked for nearly a century. It worked as long as our power elite, no matter how ruthless or insensitive, was competent. But once our power elite became incompetent and morally bankrupt, the press, along with the power elite, lost its final vestige of credibility.” From Truthdig.com. Accessed , 2010.

tags: Noted with Interest

The Way We Live Today

Feb 27, 2010
Update (Feb 27, 2010): As reported in the Pakistan Daily Times,2 a number of lawyers have allegedly threatened to “burn alive” any lawyer who would dare to defend the family of Shazia Masih. Leaving for the moment why the family should need defending more than the man in whose custody Shazia died, the article points up the hypocrisy emanating from a body which only recently gained worldwide admiration for their brave stand for justice.


Originally published Feb 6, 2010.
She is about 6 in the picture here. She was 12 when she died, probably of a combination of a skin disease, torture, and poverty. She was earning $8 a month—minus the employment agency’s commission—working 12 hours a day cleaning floors, cars, and toilets for a fatcat lawyer, to help her family pay off its debts. Her employer claimed that her 17 injuries “caused by blunt means” were the result of a fall down stairs. The case is pending.

This is how we live today, and if the world can’t manage a massive attitude adjustment, things are going to get worse and worse. Pakistan may “seethe”1 all it wants at the death of Shazia Masih, but Pakistan killed that little girl as surely as if her execution had been inscribed in its nation’s statutes.

All over the world, nations are abusing and exploiting and terrorizing their own. The U.S. not only does it at home, but exports their terror to the entire globe. A small global contingent of fabulously wealthy individuals have co-opted their body politic, and are destroying the golden goose in a headlong dash for more and ever more lucre.

That this world was made for all; that each life is precious and must be nurtured and given every opportunity to make its unique contribution to the future; that poverty, want, and ignorance are eradicable; that vast inequities in income breed violence on a scale the world can no longer afford to contemplate; these are attitudes which the world must adopt or we are doomed.

How far we are from adopting these attitudes is starkly clear in the Times story, the horror of which is repeated millions of times over across the world every day.
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1 Bruised Maid Dies at 12, and Pakistan Seethes, by Sabrina Tavernise, from the New York Times, Feb 5, 2010, accessed Feb 6, 2010.
2 View: Reassessing the lawyers’s movement, by Ayesha Ijaz Khan, Feb 26, 2010, accessed Feb 26, 2010.
tags: Poverty | Governance | Labor

Happy Daze, February 2010

Feb 17, 2010
As awful as things seem to be, nationally and globally, it is heartening to see that life (for the time being at least) does go on, and humanity continues to regale us with its unquenchable variety. Happy Daze will report only good news on a monthly basis, rather like Noted with Interest provides monthly short takes of interest, usually of a less entertaining nature.

Send us happy news we missed and we will add it to our monthly listings. Here comes this month’s so far:

The Known Universe
Mind-blowing and gorgeous. From The American Museum of Natural History, via manhattanusersguide.com. Accessed Feb 17, 2010.

Hiromi Uehara
Whew! From YouTube, with 462,000 views! Accessed Feb 11, 2010.

Liu Bolin—The Invisible Man—Exhibits in Paris
Is this guy cool, or what? And you gotta love the front-loader. From Grafica Real, Aug 20, 2009. Accessed Feb 11, 2010.

tags: Happy Daze

An Open Letter...

Feb 08, 2010
...to our 535 esteemed legislators:

Today, the Association for Computing Machinery (the world’s largest group of computer professionals) announced the winners of the 2010 ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition.1,2 And guess what? The only non-Russian, non-Chinese school in the top ten was the University of Warsaw (Poland, not Indiana). That’s right. Not only did we not finish in the money, we didn’t even finish with honor.

If you cannot see that these results are the canary in the coal mine, auguring disaster for the future of American innovation and competitiveness, then you are even more clueless than you have led us to believe over the past year. While states are busily disordering their legislative framework in a headlong rush for $4.35 billion in federal support, the pittance for which they are competing3,4; while a lone representative (enabled by the Speaker) threatens to destroy the most successful program of technological innovation in history in order to keep her re-election campaign chest stocked with corporate lucre5,6; our nation has gone from an overwhelmingly dominant position in computer science only a few years ago to tying for 14th place with the likes of the Belarusian State University and the Universidade Federale de Pernambuco.

While you Lilliputian Neros fiddle, Rome burns. If we can’t compete with Russia or China in computers, we can’t compete in biomedicine, weaponry, space applications, finance, manufacturing, entertainment, or any of the other industries which, today, are absolutely dependent on computing know-how. And if our programming and computing skills are not up to those of our two giant totalitarian antagonists, then our national security and our hope for spreading democracy across the globe are in dire peril as well.

This is the pass to which you have brought us, and we have no one to thank but ourselves for not taking you all by the collar and heaving you out that magnificent panelled doorway into a snowdrift.

Update: We are responding! See Want a job? Get a computer science degree. Enrollment in computer science is back on the way up!
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1 Chinese and Russian Universities Claim Nine of Top Ten Spots..., accessed, as were all items footnoted in this entry, Feb 8, 2010.
2 Results World Finals 2010.
3 Race to the Top funding faces obstacles, by James Rufus Koren and Canan Tasci, from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Feb 7, 2010.
4 Pressing for changes to charter school laws, by Nicole Fuller, from the Baltimore Sun, Feb 7, 2010.
5 SBIR Insider Newsletter, by Rick Shindell, Jan 11, 2010.
6 Full Disclosure: I work for a company that contributes its expertise to the SBIR program.
tags: Computers | Education | Governance

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