Elias presents ... a worm!    Thoughts on family, philosophy,
and technology


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chinese brutality is immutable

"Chinese brutality is immutable." That is the fundamental (and fundamentally wrong) premise underlying most of the defenses of Google's decision to build political censorship into their Chinese servers. Given the old Spanish prayer that goes (roughly): "God give me the courage to change the things that I can, the strength to endure that which I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference," some people are treating the PRC as that which can't be changed (or like Ayn Rand would say: as "metaphysical" rather than "man-made"). The result is a lapse of justice -- a form of injustice in which good people clench their jaws, shrug their shoulders, then go ahead and do business with known killers.

Last year I posted on this exact moral issue:

The destructiveness of an act of vice is never isolated. A moral transgression drags down everyone and everything it touches, in many different ways -- and it is especially corrosive to those who do not or cannot consciously reject and repudiate it.
It is the Age of Skepticism which makes the failure to morally judge possible on such a grand scale. The daily toleration for millions of acts of vice across the planet would not be possible without the worm of nihilism at the heart of modern culture.

The proper response to dishonesty is always to identify it, fully and honestly. The proper course of action is then contextual -- from a raised eyebrow, to a full public denunciation. There are too many factors to name here. But the principle stays the same in all cases, because the root fact is always this: an act of vice is destructive, so to "go along" with one is to go along with an act of destruction.

Let's make this very clear: the rule and law of the PRC is man-made and deadly, i.e., it can and should be repudiated and thrown out today. The only individuals who have a "right" to observe the rule of murderers for one more day are those who live under it, those who would risk imprisonment or worse were they to stand up to the oppression -- not individuals nor corporations nor governments in other countries.

A "we don't really like doing this" statement, such as on Google's blog, does not negate the moral sanction of existentially collaborating in a dictatorship's programme of oppression. Such a rationalization makes the situation worse, actually, because it confuses the issue.

Today I am wondering if the U.S. government should block U.S. corporations from contributing to the mechanisms of political oppression anywhere in the world. I'm too ignorant of the philosophy of law to convince myself of this, but it seems like it might be right.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Google evil in a nutshell

Google did not have to become the actual implementors of political censorship, but they chose to do it, to trade dissident blood for AdSense dollars. And there's no big gain here for freedom lovers in China to have access to a censored-but-faster Google, that is rationalization. So I'd say "shame on them", but it would be understatement, since the correlate of political censorship is murder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Lion spotted at restaurant

No Blood for AdSense!

In reaction to Google capitulating to the murderous PRC, the arguments going around that "the laws of a country must be obeyed" show a truly alarming ignorance of the life-or-death issue that some laws are good (they protect rights), some are bad (they violate rights). Google is a US company, so it has to comply with US law and nobody can criticize it for that -- but when companies like Google and Microsoft choose to implement the censorship policies of the butchers of Tiananmen Square, it is their choice to trade the rights of real individuals for money.

PS: The NY Times titles their news story Version of Google in China Won't Offer E-Mail or Blogs -- notice the omission of the 'C' word (censorship)? Today is a big day for spinelessness.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


We've been preparing the new house for several weeks, which has meant that most days I have been (a) working at job; (b) coming home and putting Elias to sleep by 8:30pm; (c) racing to Home Depot for supplies; then (d) working for a few hours on the project. Rinse. Repeat. (How's that for amateurish writing?) This has been very stressful, as it means I'm busy all the time and ingesting way too much caffeine, and Amy the pregnant mama can't get involved like she would like to. But we move in this weekend so I think the badness has peaked.

Last night Amy was crackin Elias up, it was great fun. That boy definitely has a sense of silliness. Not being thrilled to read a particular Dr. Seuss book for Elias (Dr. Seuss is really too nonsensical for a baby or toddler), Amy would say "blah!" or "blarp!", etc, in place of each word. Elias picked up immediately on the incredible silliness of this, and proceeded to laugh hysterically for the next 45 minutes of The Mama Show.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A reason to write non-fiction

"The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it." - Benjamin Disraeli

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Google future

After reading this and this, I think I finally understand why Google's stock is selling for $414 per share. In the future the network will be the platform, and Google will be the network.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Eve

Over for breakfast at Grandma's on New Year's Eve: