Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Liberty Again Denied - It is Sad How Little We Seem to Care

When I was growing up I knew the world wasn't perfect.  The government had plenty of problems.  And politicians were often more concerned about their egos than the good of the country.  And things like the McCarthy witch-hunts, Japanese internment, denying voting rights to blacks, Watergate were not far in the past.  But I never imagined how far the government would move to eliminate liberty.  I remember thinking how sad it was that perfectly fine books were banned in the past.  And yes, some silly little town here or there would remove books from libraries or schools.  That was sad but fairly minor.  But it seemed to me we now had finally learned how horrid our actions in things like the Japanese internment and McCarthy witch-hunts were.

Watergate was something plenty of politicians did to some degree or another but they had the sense to be ashamed and hide it.  That is different from endorsing and pushing policies to deny liberty to people.

I remember thinking how strange it was how concerned our founding fathers were with protecting us from government.  I understood why historically.  But it seemed like those days were long past.  Yes, occasionally government would overstep but that was getting cleaned up or just some corruption that is likely to always exist to some extent.

The sad fact is, today I am in the position of our founding fathers and much more worried about what the government will do to us that inspired by what the government provides us.  This is sad.  The types of behavior Homeland Security has been engaging in can be stopped if we elect people that care about liberty.  I am much more disappointed in the last 10 years than Watergate.  We are currently on par with Japanese internment and the McCarthy which-hunts.  That is in extremely sad place to be.  I think we are probably a step below those embarrassments but we are not far from them.

We need leaders that can steer us away from the path we have been taking.  I am scared for where we will be soon, if we don't find them.

Feds Falsely Censor Popular Blog For Over A Year, Deny All Due Process, Hide All Details...
Imagine if the US government, with no notice or warning, raided a small but popular magazine's offices over a Thanksgiving weekend, seized the company's printing presses, and told the world that the magazine was a criminal enterprise with a giant banner on their building. 
Then imagine that it never arrested anyone, never let a trial happen, and filed everything about the case under seal, not even letting the magazine's lawyers talk to the judge presiding over the case. And it continued to deny any due process at all for over a year, before finally just handing everything back to the magazine and pretending nothing happened. I expect most people would be outraged. I expect that nearly all of you would say that's a classic case of prior restraint, a massive First Amendment violation, and exactly the kind of thing that does not, or should not, happen in the United States.
But, in a story that's been in the making for over a year, and which we're exposing to the public for the first time now, this is exactly the scenario that has played out over the past year -- with the only difference being that, rather than "a printing press" and a "magazine," the story involved "a domain" and a "blog."

This type of behavior (ignoring liberty, acting like citizens and the constitution don't matter, acting like the governments our founding father's were afraid of) makes it extremely hard to give the government the benefit of the doubt in cases where the issues are more debatable.  I'll agree some issues the government has to deal with are challenging.  But if you want to have our understanding on the difficult choices and tradeoffs the government has to make you can't consistently trample on our rights for no reason.

Denying the first amendment rights should be an action the government takes in only the most extreme circumstances.  But instead we have a government that believes it should be free to deny first amendment rights consistently and if people fight really hard maybe the government will give in after awhile and no-one in government will care about the complete abdication of the bill of rights that is suppose to protect us from a government that could seek to act on the principle that might makes it right.  How any politician accepts seeing the constitution shredded like this is beyond me.  But then again it seems we don't elect people that care about what our founding father's did.  That is our fault.  And it is very dangerous.

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me."
Martin Niemoeller

Related: Freedom Increasingly at Risk - Society is being shaped for us while we are busy making other plans - Bikinis For Liberty - Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Most Popular Post on the Curious Cat Comments Blog

One of the updates, with the suite of updates earlier this year by Blogger, was to show you the number of views for each blog post (I haven't even bothered to add Google Analytics to this blog though maybe I will soon).  Here are the 11 most popular posts on this blog (based on page-views since May 2009 - the latest data Google seems to use):
  1. New President's To Do List (2008)
  2. Designing Cities for People, Rather than Cars (2007)
  3. Viewing Unpersonalized Google Search Results
  4. Programmable New York Times On the Way (2008)
  5. More Evidence of the Bad Patent System
  6. Wordpress Plugins: Super Cache and Bad Behavior (2009)
  7. How to Install Anything in Ubuntu! (2007)
  8. Davidson Students Get Free Sweet Sixteen Trip (2008)
  9. Last Google Toolbar PageRank Update of 2008
  10. Watch the Full I Have a Dream Speech (2009)
  11. They Will Know We are Christians By Our Love (2010)
It is sometimes odd what posts are most popular. Sadly several of these are not the most useful posts (in my opinion - but I guess the oracle of Google thinks otherwise, I would imagine greater than 80% of traffic is from searches on Google). The traffic has actually been building lately (which is nice). I think the post in the last couple of years are significantly better - many of the previous posts were largely just to post a link so I could find it again when I wanted it. Last month had 16% of total page views (in just 3% of the time period). There is a bit of spike last month, but it is mainly just an upward trend over the last 6 months. Popular posts on other Curious Cat blogs: popular management blog posts - popular investing blog posts - popular engineering blog posts

Thursday, December 01, 2011

New YouTube Website - Good Progress, But Late

YouTube is an amazing web service.  From Google's purchase of YouTube I was convinced they would do very well with their investment (even with the majority opinion being that they paid way too much).  I think most know appreciate how valuable YouTube is (as a service and a profit center for Google).

I have been amazed how poorly done the YouTube web site has been.  They have put in place a new site design today.  It seems like a big improvement.  Still, most of it seems like stuff that could have been done 3 years ago.  I don't understand why they have been so slow to improve the website.

The home page is much better for seeing what new content has been added on those channels I am subscribed to.

It will take me some time to see if they have done better at showing me content I might enjoy.  I can't believe how bad the existing site had been at doing this - showing me content I might like.

The definitely should let me remove useless buttons like Facebook (connect).  I guess the popularity of Facebook makes defaulting to including the button ok, but don't make everyone that has no intention of using Facebook (or linking YouTube and Facebook accounts) have that button in prime navigation location.

I should be able to decline a suggested channel (and get new suggestions).

I can't see that browse has been improved much (it seems a bit of a UI improvement at the top).  Which is very lame.  This should be extremely valuable - instead it is lame.

Netflix is so cheap now ($3.5 billion market cap), maybe Google should be buy it and use their preference matching and content suggestion technology.  At the very least hire a great team of engineers (money should essentially not be an issue - they could have all the money they would need - doing this well should bring hundreds of millions to Google) and have them create a much much much better job of suggesting YouTube content for users.

Related: 6 years Later Goolge Acts To Let Me Block Sites I don't want to see - How Google Should Improve (2006) - Web Search Improvements (2005) - YouTube Uses Multivariate Experiment To Improve Sign-ups 15% - Google Stock Price Rises 5.7% Today (to $255), Why? (2005)