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  • Now Peace Talks, John Kerry, are "Anti-Semitic" in Eyes of Israeli Far Right
    • This is reminiscent of the debate over slavery in the United States, 1830-1860. There was a gag rule in House of Representatives in the 1830s to the effect that slavery could not even be discussed. Ex-president John Quincy Adams, then a Rep, fought major battles just to have anti-slavery petitions from his constituents placed on the table. Lincoln addressed this towards the end of the Cooper Union speech in 1860, that it wasn't enough to just shut up about slavery - to satisfy the South you had to sing its praises.

  • PBS, Self-Censorship and the Koch Big Oil Empire (Democracy Now!)
    • I saw "Citizen Koch" in Madison with friends from our recall action group, Dee was there (the SEIU Reagan Republican recaller featured in the film and trailer). It was a packed house. The film shows well what it was like on the ground in Wisconsin in those days, in particular the contrast between the astroturf Koch people on one side and us in our hundreds of thousands on the other.

      The trailer has a brief clip of Sarah Palin when she came to town for an event at the Capitol in April 2011. It was a secretive deal organized by Americans for Prosperity, the Koch people. Our groups heard about it just a couple days before. We showed up by the thousands and outnumbered the right-wingers maybe ten to one. AFP goons menaced people and ordered us off our own Capitol grounds until the Capitol police told them to back off.

      We started crowding in close, cowbells, cymbals, and every noise-making apparatus you can imagine blaring for all the world, energy to the max - I was hoarse for days after. Andrew Breitbart told us to go to hell, he could hardly hear himself think up there with Palin and the few local right-wingers they could scrape up.

      Cops for Labor was a big help, off-duty officers linking arms as a human chain between us and the right-wingers and keeping the violence-prone among the latter at bay. They started leaving early in frustration and as they thinned out the Cops for Labor line would move one big step forward in a coordinated way, arms linked. We were maybe fifty yards from the speakers towards the end.

      It was a peak life experience. Reading about it in the New York Times the next day, it was unrecognizable - like the journalist hadn't been there.


  • Isaac Asimov Predicts Interactive Internet 25 Years Ago
    • The ubiquitous Internet of today was foreseeable but far from foreordained in 1988. Of course Arpanet had existed for some time and was likely to spread in academia. Asimov's key insights were that:

      The network would be easily and cheaply reachable from every desktop in every home.

      Massive amounts of information would be available and retrievable from the above at each user's discretion.

      Like telephones earlier, such communications technologies need to achieve critical mass to be really helpful and usable. A series of fortuitous events shaped the process, including that businesses saw early that they would be able to capitalize on the technology, but no particular business was able to control it. Cheap PCs was another - acquired as a word processor or spreadsheet number cruncher, but with lasting value as an Internet portal.

      Search engines and especially Google were important in the evolution. Even the naked ladies helped drive the image technology, important in its own right and intuitively attractive to everyone (the more so once broadband was available, another thing driven by and driving the Internet).

    • This guy is so smart and genuine. And look at the young Bill Moyers. Some echos of Bertrand Russell re mysticism ("Mysticism and Logic"). The way he paused, I bet Asimov was about to compare mysticism to religion rather the more tactful "con men". Russell recounted that when his jailer asked his religion when serving conscientious time during WWI, he said "agnostic" and the jailer said, "Different faiths, but we all pray to the same God in the end." (From memory) That made his day.

      For the record, WolframAlpha and Wikipedia are pretty impressive on mathematics. This video is my prompt to read the Foundation trilogy again, Paul Krugman says that is what sent him on his path.

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