Obama Supports Net Neutrality

31 10 2007

From the Huffington Post:

“I am a strong supporter of net neutrality,” said Obama. “What you’ve been seeing is some lobbying that says [Internet providers] should be able to be gatekeepers and able to charge different rates to different websites…so you could get much better quality from the Fox News site and you’d be getting rotten service from the mom and pop sites. And that I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet — which is that there is this incredible equality there…as president I’m going to make sure that is the principle that my FCC commissioners are applying as we move forward.”

I would be interested to hear the positions of all of the candidates (both Dem. and Rep.) on this issue.

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The Bigoted Brain

31 10 2007

From Salon.com:

For me, real bigotry begins with the hubris and arrogance of those like Bill O’Reilly who insist that their assessment of others is purely based upon reason and conscious deliberation, as opposed to being colored by involuntary and unrecognized elements of prejudice. For us to treat others with real trust, we must begin by acknowledging our biases and consciously doing the hard mental work to overcome them. We may not be able to prevent biased opinions from arising, but we do retain the veto power over whether to believe in and act on them.

We are left with two options. We can pretend we are free of bias, and avoid thinking about how to deal with our own deeply ingrained tendency to discriminate. Or we can take a lesson from neuroscience, and even from dumb computer agents, which can switch from noncooperation to cooperation if they learn that it is in their best interests.

The article deals with new evidence supporting the idea that there is a biological process behind bigotry.  I would say that it is sensationalistic to put it like that – there is in fact a biological process behind recognition of differences – that doesn’t translate necessarily to hate.  Today, hate is primarily a result of nurture, not nature.





California Burns . . . Cheney Naps

25 10 2007

From CBS:

A news crew was taping a cabinet meeting at the White House as the president was giving a briefing on the California wildfires.

The news crew caught Cheney as he appeared to be nodding off.

Follow the link above to see the video.  Apparently he had had a late night Halo 3 session.





Obama’s Ex-Gay Friend

24 10 2007

From The Hill:

The nation’s biggest gay rights group is trying to force Sen. Barrack Obama (D-Ill.) to cancel presidential campaign event with a controversial preacher who claims he was homosexual but has been cured.

The Human Rights Campaign has expressed its strong reservations to Obama over his campaign-sponsored tour that features gospel singer Donnie McClurkin.

Obama issued a statment(also a great op-ed from Earl Ofari Hutchinson) that didn’t directly address his tour with Donnie McClurkin, but did reaffirm his stance on gay rights:

“I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.

I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin’s views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division.”

Ideally he would toss McClurkin out to the curb.  Well, ideally he wouldn’t have scheduled anything with him in the first place.

But this is not the best of all possible places in the best of all possible times.  As long as Obama is clear on where he stands on the issue I’m not sure that he should throw out McClurkin.  Admittedly, I’m not familiar with McClurkin or how important he is to the voting public – but if he can help Obama get elected and Obama makes it clear that he does not in any way support McClurkin’s reported gay bashing – then let them speak together.

You can appear at the same event as someone without endorsing their beliefs. 





Comcast and BitTorrent; a Complicated Relationship

23 10 2007

From wetmachine:

So, in the short term, Comcast’s efforts to control its “quality of service” merely make life miserable for its users. Longer term, it also shifts the problem of moving large files around to every other network, trashes a legal delivery system that content providers have started to embrace, boomerangs back on Comcast, and sets the stage for either an extraction of monopoly rents or a standards war that imposes massive costs and inefficiencies on the internet economy as a whole. And that’s accepting Comcast at its word that it is merely trying to manage network traffic (without engaging in those pesky and expensive network upgrades) and that it is not (yet) trying to force users to stop using BitTorrent so they will buy video programming through its rival Video on Demand (VoD) system.

I offer up this article as a follow up to my post about Comcast blocking some internet traffic, including BitTorrent.  The article does a great job at looking at the implications of Comcast’s move – and they’re not good.





Search Terms

22 10 2007

Here’s a sample of some of the terms people typed in search engines yesterday and that lead them to this site.

Dr. Fazale Rana

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Dr. Fazale Rana

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Maynard James Keenan Quotes

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Can’t go wrong when you’re getting traffic from both “aristotle on ignorance” and “black men suck dick”.





Circumcision and the Barbarous Bris

22 10 2007

This weekend I was lucky enough to attend a bris.  According to http://www.circumcision.net/,

It is written in the Torah: “This is My covenant that you shall observe between Me and you and your children after you, to circumcise your every male. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall become the sign of a covenant between Me and you”

I’ll forgo the ‘why is god so interested in your penis’ jokes.  The bris gave me a good opportunity to consider something that I honestly hadn’t spent much time considering.  To cut, or not to cut?  I was born in a generation where it was standard to circumcise due partly to bad science and partly to cultural pressures.  Today however, the medical benefits of circumcision are seen as non existent – and many even find that there are medical benefits to leaving the penis intact.

The Platform of the Fetus and Newborn Committee of the Canadian Paediatric Society (the PFNCCPS) calls into question the belief that intact males are more likely to develop penis cancer, and notes that the financial and emotional costs of complications arising from circumcision make it advisable to not circumcise.

Ultimately I think that performing non-necessary surgery on new-borns demonstrates not our devoutness but rather our barbarousness.  Cosmetic surgery should be the decision of the boy and should not therefore be made until he is old enough to make the decision for himself.

This issue is not one of life and death (in most cases).  Therefore I attended the bris and was respectful.  The boy will grow up and be fine.  But watching a grown man in white robes suck the foreskin off of an eight day old baby didn’t do much to make me change my mind about religion in general. 

 That being said if circumcision were to stop we would be deprived the websites of such organizations such as the National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males (NO HARM). 

I would also point the reader to these websites:

The Lost List – part of the “intactivism” movement

Natural Family Online– which has two useful charts on the pros and cons of circumcision.

The Circumcision Reference Library – which has fun “Genital Integrity” graphs

Jewish Circumcision Resource Center– for a Jewish perspective, duh.

UPDATE:

I’ll have to correct myself – there is some evidence that removal of the foreskin cuts the risk of infection of HIV.  I should know, I blogged about it <a href=”https://fearofignorance.wordpress.com/2006/12/13/foreskin-anyone/” rel=”nofollow”>here</a>.

 UPDATE II:

There’s a follow-up post to this one, which you can read here.