Saturday, January 16, 2010

China and Google cont'd

I just ran across a link to a great analysis of Google's political and economic incentives to pull out of China. The article is written by doctoral candidate Rogier Creemers who is writing his dissertation on Chinese media and copyright law. Check it out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Favorite love songs part I

I decided I would post a list of my 50 favorite love songs. My decision was based mainly on how much I liked the ideas they conveyed and how well they conveyed those ideas. What I found is that no one makes being in love sound more fun than the four lads from Liverpool.

Before I get into the countdown, there are some songs that were considered but didn't make the cut.

Got to Get You Into My Life
- Joe Pesci

This Beatles classic (which Sir Paul admits is partially based on his desire to start smoking pot), was murdered by Joe Pesci. It really ruins any kind of feeling that the original had.

Surprisingly with a countdown which is saturated with Beatles tunes, there were several Beatles tracks that didn't make the list:

Here There and Everywhere - it's a sweet song, but it's not one of Harrison's most compelling songs.

I Will - another sweet, simple love song. Compared with the masterpieces on the list by the Fab Four I couldn't justify including it.

Superstar - Sonic Youth

Another cover that takes an original to another realm. Thurston Moore transfers this saccharine 70's AM-radio favorite into an exercise in desperation and despair.

Art School Girl - Stone Temple Pilots

For all those art school girls out there.

Age of Consent
- New Order

Deserves mentioning for it's catchy up-tempo beat and the defiant chorus "I'm not the kind of guy who needs to tell you just what you want me to." My thoughts exactly.

Be My Wife - David Bowie

One of Bowie's quirky love songs allegedly written to persuade his then-wife to stay with him. She didn't, and I'm not sure if I blame her.

Drain You - Nirvana

Cobain's only real attempt at a love song aside from About a Girl.

Loving Cup - the Rolling Stones

Jagger shows his tender side on this Exile cut.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google talks with Chinese government

Google has entered into discussions with China regarding censorship requirements for their Chinese search engine, Google initially agreed in 2006 to allow the Chinese government to censor its searches with the promise that should Chinese restrictions substantially clash with Google's vision of disseminating information, they would reconsider their agreement. On its official blog Google has announced that although China has not increased legal pressure, recent attempts to hack into the Gmail accounts of several prominent Chinese human rights advocates has it reconsidering their policy.

Google reports that hackers recently broke into the Gmail accounts of several Chinese human rights advocates living outside the country. Google believes that the attacks were mainly thwarted, however subject lines and creation dates from a couple of accounts may have been stolen. It also alleges that these hackers targeted other internet sights including finance, Internet, media, and chemical businesses using malware downloaded onto the users' computers.

Google decided that the attempted-hacks compromise their company vision of promoting human rights and will discuss these matters with China.

Google's talks marks only one of many debates about internet censorship in China. This summer China considered requiring the censoring software Green Dam on all computers. After significant controversy and opposition from scholars and intellectuals China changed course.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Invictus and nationalism

Today I went to see Invictus with the fam. My brother is heading back to the Y tomorrow so we went as a family--sans one of my rebellious brothers-- to watch Invictus. Andy, the brother who is leaving, is a big sports fan; so I assume we chose it partly because of his tastes.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. I thought Morgan Freeman did a great job portraying Nelson Mandela and the subject--overcoming racism-- is something that is always touching and inspiring. Although at times I thought the music was a bit saccharine and the last ten minutes of the crucial rugby match are all in slow motion. (10 minutes of slow motion grunting and growling gets a bit annoying).

I found my self slipping into collegiate literary analysis mode at times about the nationalistic themes in the film. Nationalism is basically the belief that a nation, whether it be the U.S., South Africa, or China, has some distinct characteristic which it is based upon. Oftentimes you see nationalist sentiment rears its head in the form of ethnic nationalism--e.g. Slavic Yougoslavia-- but it can also appear as civic nationalism such as the belief the Founding Fathers had about a nation where all men are created equal and so forth.

I have conflicted views of nationalism. I see the benefit that it has in establishing higher civic codes like with our Constitution (and Nelson Mandela's nationalism in the film). But I also dislike how often nationalism becomes something that divides us. I happen to think that a person is still a person whether they are born in America or China or even Canadia [sic]; and to create artificial boundaries because of borders is harmful to collaboration between peoples.

In American political discourse, it seems the right uses stronger nationalistic discourse. I am not a huge of fan of the 'Mericah, love it or leave it, statements. I prefer some form of collaboration with the rest of the world. But that is me.

However, (back to my original point), I really enjoyed Mandela's take on nationalism. Here Mandela had been elected as the president of South Africa after apartheid was overturned and blacks finally allowed the vote. Instead of retaliating eye for an eye, he took the higher ground. Inspired by a vision of South Africa where everyone was equal he refused to use political power and to strike back at the white minority who used to rule the black majority.

So in the words of Jesse Jackson (and now Harry Reid), my take home message is "can't we all just get along?"