Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Wretched muscovites." That was good.
"What for did you give Ukraine to wretched muscovites?"

Ukraine has not yet died,
The glory and the freedom!
Still upon us brave brothers,
Fate shall smile!
Our enemies will vanish
Like dew in the sun;
We too shall rule
In our country.
Soul and body we will lay down
For our freedom
And show that we brothers
Are of theCossack nation,
Hey, hey dearest brothers
Onward take to battle
Hey, hey, time to rise,
Time to gain freedom!

And Taras Triasylo
Call us from beyond the grave
To the holy battle.
Recall the famous death of
Chivalarious Cossacks
Not to lose vainly
Our youth.Soul and body ...

Oh Bohdan, Bohdan
Our great hetman
What for did you give Ukraine
To wretched muscovites?!
To return her honor,
We lay our heads
We shall call ourselves Ukraine's
Faithful sons!
Soul and body ...

Our Slavic brothers
Already took up arms
No one shall see
That we should stay behind.
Unite together all,
Brothers Slavs:
So that enemies perish,

And freedom comes!

Soul and body ...

(Original lyrics by Pavlo Chubynsky, 1862.)

Our enemies will vanish Like dew in the sun;

They called this type of fighting "guerrilla warfare"...always successful as history shows...

Our enemies will vanish Like dew in the sun;

One of the most palpable and advantageous departures from the so-called rules of warfare is the action of scattered groups against men compressed in a mass.

Our enemies will vanish Like dew in the sun;

The battle of Borodino, with the subsequent occupation of Moscow and the flight of the French without further engagements, is one of the most instructive phenomena in history.

Our enemies will vanish Like dew in the sun;

"What is the use of that, when one third of their army has melted away in the road from Moscow to Vyazma without a battle?"

Our enemies will vanish Like dew in the sun;

He could not tell them what we can say now: "Why fight, why block their road, losing our own men and inhumanly slaughtering the poor wretches?"

Our enemies will vanish Like dew in the sun;

"Moscow must be abandoned. The army must retreat, and the order for it must be given." 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our enemies will vanish Like dew in the sun;

One terrible question absorbed him, and to that question he heard no answer from anyone. The only question for him now was: "Have I really let Napoleon reach Moscow, and when did I do this? When was it determined?...When, when was this appalling business decided?"...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

David Moyes was fired today as manager of Manchester United. The club made the move with five games left in the season and United out of all cup competitions. Perhaps most importantly United are in seventh place in the EPL and will not qualify for next year's lucrative Champions League tournament. The American Glazer family owners are huge pursuit-of-happiness types and not being able to pursue in the UCL makes them unhappy. Hugely unhappy. Curls their ponytails.

Farewell to Russia.

: Russia is increasingly called upon to save southeastern from chaos. We are in a very difficult position  

10:02am - 21  Apr  14

That tweet from that twit would normally be posted here under the title, "Ukraine Has Not Yet Died," and Ukraine is going to get carved up--at best. But Ukraine will survive (at least a carving up) as it did Stalin's famine, the rape by the Nazis, as a satellite of the Soviets. Ukraine will live to fight another day. Post-Cold War Russia will not. There is no going back from 2014. Russia will never be trusted again, never be invited back to the Big Boys table. So this is another "Farewell to Russia" post.

If Vladimir Putin follows his hallucinogenic vision of "Greater Russia" into the Balkans it may be literally Farewell to Russia (But I hope not.). If Putin follows it into Poland, yes, that will bring war, war with NATO, war with the United States, nuclear war. From the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, Russia has been marked, war in the back of American policymakers minds.  The Rape of Ukraine has slightly edged the obliteration of Russia forward. There is no going back, Russia is marked. Farewell to Russia.

Monday, April 21, 2014


A round of Pomp and Circumstance for these recent visitors to Ye Olde Bloge per Sitemeter:

"UCOP" has been here before, the China posts of course, and me thinks there is some association with mystery author "Sonia Song," Donkey Baby.

Defence Research Establishment-Ottawa (No logo :o)

Weili Ye taught, or teaches, there. 

Not an option.

Russians take. 

Austrian women, suicides, anticipating the Red Army, and rape, near the end of World War II.

"...the Russian zone where the Prater lay smashed and desolate and full of weeds, only the Great Wheel revolving slowly over the foundations of merry-go-rounds like abandoned millstones, the rusting iron of smashed tanks which nobody had cleared away, the frost-nipped weeds where the snow was thin."

Eerily uncanny. Two "Russian zones:" the amusement park at Chernobyl and occupied post-war Vienna, Graham Greene, The Third Man.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

There was no Easter truce. Five dead in a shootout near a checkpoint manned by Russian separatists near Sloviansk. So much for last week's Kerry-Lavrov deal too. The Russian's don't want a deal, they don't want peace. They want Ukraine. Looks like more sanctions next week.

It becomes our disagreeable duty to announce that there is a successor to DeAntae Prince for the Public Occurrences award for "Worst Writing on the Internet Not on a Blog."  "Bryan" "Rose" of fansided, I think it is, wins it for this embarrassment:

"The Indiana Pacers might be one of the most shaky one seeds ever entering the NBA’s postseason and the hope is that Indiana will be able to exercise those demons and have a productive playoff campaign.


Both George Hill and Paul George are signed long term and neither is likely to go any place via a trade, so that leads to speculation that it could be a player like David West or Roy Hibbert (both of whom have been very vocal about the Pacers struggles) could be on the chopping block if the Pacers struggle."

Professor Putin's History Class.

In his 2005 class lecture Professor Putin said:

"Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century."
Teacher! Teacher! For whom? Not for Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Germany, etc. etc. & etc. I'm missing others Teacher, but for those mentioned and those not mentioned, I'll mention one more, Russia, the fall of your totalitarian predecessor was the lancing of a  boil on the anus of mankind. The pus of the contamination that is the Russian people was drained from the world body. The world was, and is, a healthier place and would be still healthier if the Russian people had never existed. Would be healthier permanently if every Russian-speaking person disappeared, preferably in a nuclear fireball, which may come teacher!

 "Above all else Russia was, is and will, of course, be a major European power. Achieved through much suffering by European culturethe ideals of freedom, human rights, justice and democracy have for many centuries been our society's determining values.

For three centuries, we – together with the other European nations – passed hand in hand through reforms of Enlightenment, the difficulties of emerging parliamentarism, municipal and judiciary branches, and the establishment of similar legal systems. Step by step, we moved together toward recognizing and extending human rights, toward universal and equal suffrage, toward understanding the need to look after the weak and the impoverished, toward women's emancipation, and other social gains.
I repeat we did this together, sometimes behind and sometimes ahead of European standards."
Teacher! Teacher! Your country did not participate in the Enlightenment, your vodka-besotted people's hands were on the bottle, filled with essence of rye or petrol; your Molotov cocktail is your signature contribution to world culture. While the Western democracies mastered the "difficulties" of parliamentarism, the Russian people's hands were on rifles and pistols and bayonets, shooting, stabbing, and bludgeoning your Czar and his family in Yekaterinburg and burying their mutilated corpses in a mine shaft. From there Professor Putin you and the Russian people constructed your monstrous Soviet blot on mankind's history, man-making the famine in Ukraine, "extending human rights" via typically creative Russian enterprises like the gulag archipelago, and giving the benefits of steel to the humans in Eastern Europe. You and the Russian people were "ahead of European standards" only in the extension of the human right to slavery.
Very soon, on May 9, we shall celebrate the 60th anniversary of victory. This day can be justly called the day of civilisation’s triumph over fascism. Our common victory enabled us to defend the principles of freedom, independence and equality between all peoples and nations.
From 1939-1941 your predecessor and your people tried to win the heart and the friendship of 
Herr Hitler. It was to be ten years of peace between the freedom-loving peoples of the Third Reich 
and the people of Marshal Stalin's Workers Paradise. On May 9 Professor Putin will you also be remembering August 23, 1939? Here your historical ancestor celebrates with Herr von Ribbentrop.
Professor Putin have you ever seen Stalin so delighted? This May 9 will you and the Russian 
people be celebrating the "secret protocol" of that happy occasion in 1939 when Romania, Poland,
 Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Finland were divided between you and Hitler? I'll remind you.

It is clear for us that this victory was not achieved 
through arms alone but was won also through the strong 
spirit of all the peoples who were united at that time 
within a single state.

"Welded," into that "single state" of your predecessor, in the words of your national anthem when you were a
KGB colonel. correct, Professor?
We consider international support for the respect of the rights of Russians abroad an issue of 
major importance, one that cannot be the subject of political and diplomatic bargaining. We 
hope that the new members of NATO and the European Union in the post-Soviet area will show 
their respect for human rights, including the rights of ethnic minorities, through their actions.
A threat Professor. In 2005 when you made this 
speech "the new members of NATO, admitted in 2004, included...1939 victims Romania, Latvia, 
Lithuania, and Estonia. You know, Professor, that 
many people in America, including the undersigned, did not then and do not now want to go to war with you over those countries. I would refuse to war with
you over those countries, would abrogate the NATO treaties with those countries, rather than war with you over them. You are counting on that. But, Professor, there are many others, infinitely more influential than this writer, who will honor those treaties and who will war with you over those countries. If war comes between you and your despicable people and America you and the Russian people will be blotted from the anus of mankind permanently, your territory given to other peoples, 
your country outlawed, as was Prussia after World War II, your ugly language banned. And as the 
corpses of your race burn, Professor, I would not 
debase myself to piss on them to extinguish the

Enjoy your Easter, Professor Putin. Perhaps it will be the last for you and for the Russian people.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Putin's Greater Russia.

This is the official Kremlin English translation of Vladimir Putin's 2005 "state of the nation" speech.
It is this speech that is the source for Putin's characterization of the significance of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Almost invariably Putin is quoted as saying that "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century." In researching this tonight, I learned that those words are an Associated Press translation. The official translation is:

"Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century."
I have not thought through the significance of the difference in wording because I have read the entire speech and find more significance in these passages, entirely new to me, perhaps to you also:

"I consider the development of Russia as a free and democratic state to be our main political and ideological goal."
"Many thought or seemed to think at the time that our young democracy was not a continuation of Russian statehood, but its ultimate collapse, the prolonged agony of the Soviet system."

[I have only read the entire speech once. I have read this passage several times. Both in context and standing alone, I do not understand it.]
"Above all else Russia was, is and will, of course, be a major European power. Achieved through much suffering by European culture, the ideals of freedom, human rights, justice and democracy have for many centuries been our society's determining values.
For three centuries, we – together with the other European nations – passed hand in hand through reforms of Enlightenment, the difficulties of emerging parliamentarism, municipal and judiciary branches, and the establishment of similar legal systems. Step by step, we moved together toward recognizing and extending human rights, toward universal and equal suffrage, toward understanding the need to look after the weak and the impoverished, toward women's emancipation, and other social gains.
I repeat we did this together, sometimes behind and sometimes ahead of European standards."
[I understand "we" to refer to Russia and Europe "together," but it may be he means "we the Russian people."]
Very soon, on May 9, we shall celebrate the 60th anniversary of victory. This day can be justly called the day of civilisation’s triumph over fascism. Our common victory enabled us to defend the principles of freedom, independence and equality between all peoples and nations.
[Civilization: The WWII Allies, Europe, the world, not just the Soviet Union.]
It is clear for us that this victory was not achieved through arms alone but was won also through the strong spirit of all the peoples who were united at that time within a single state.

[Now he switches! Immediately he switches from "civilization" to "a single state," the Soviet Union!"]
But the terrible lessons of the past also define imperatives for the present. And Russia, bound to the former Soviet republics – now independent countries – through a common history, and through the Russian language and the great culture that we share, cannot stay away from the common desire for freedom.
["Russia bound to the former Soviet republics...through the Russian language!" This speech then is an early, if not the, source of the basis for Putin's vision of Greater Russia.]
Today, with independent countries now formed and developing in the post-Soviet area, we want to work together to correspond to humanistic values, open up broad possibilities for personal and collective success, achieve for ourselves the standards of civilisation we have worked hard for – standards that would emerge as a result  of common economic, humanitarian and legal space.
While standing up for Russia’s foreign political interests, we also want our closest neighbours to develop their economies and strengthen their international authority.
Our objectives on the international stage are very clear – to ensure the security of our borders and create favourable external conditions for the resolution of our domestic problems.
[And here an articulation of the paranoia behind Greater Russia: "to ensure the security of our borders." In the post-WWII era, Russia's borders have NEVER been threatened. Not by an expanding NATO, not by an expanding EU, not by America, not by the West. Never!]
Also certain is that Russia should continue its civilising mission on the Eurasian continent. This 
mission consists in ensuring that democratic values, combined with national interests, enrich and strengthen our historic community.
[Here, the threat of Greater Russia to the east, to the "stans," to China.]
We consider international support for the respect of the rights of Russians abroad an issue of major importance, one that cannot be the subject of political and diplomatic bargaining. We hope that the new members of NATO and the European Union in the post-Soviet area will show their respect for human rights, including the rights of ethnic minorities, through their actions.
[A direct threat to NATO! Putin's Greater Russia writ runs to wherever Russians live, to Russian-speaking people and their land: "Russians abroad," who "cannot be the subject of political and diplomatic bargaining." The new members of NATO and the EU must "respect," must treat Russian speakers wherever they live, as Russian subjects!]
Countries that do not respect and cannot guarantee human rights themselves do not have the right to demand that others respect these same rights.
[Or we will invade and conquer you as we have Ukraine. Lithuania is on the clock. Roger Cohen is back hiding under the bed.]

Ich Bin Ein Frankfurter.

Why we fear Google
Dear Eric Schmidt,

In your text “Die Chancen des Wachstums” (English Version: “A Chance for Growth”) in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, you reply to an article which this newspaper had published a few days earlier under the title “Angst vor Google” (“Fear of Google”). You repeatedly mention the Axel Springer publishing house. In the spirit of transparency I would like to reply with an open letter to highlight a couple of things from our point of view.

(Deutsche Fassung: „Warum wir Google fürchten“ - Mathias Döpfners offener Brief an Eric Schmidt)
We have known each other for many years, and have, as you state, had lengthy and frequent discussions on the relationship between European publishers and Google. As you know, I am a great admirer of Google’s entrepreneurial success. In just a few short years, starting in 1998, this company has grown to employ almost 50,000 people worldwide, generated sixty billion dollars in revenue last year, and has a current market capitalization of more than 350 billion dollars. Google is not only the biggest search engine in the world, but along with Youtube (the second biggest search engine in the world) it also has the largest video platform, with Chrome the biggest browser, with Gmail the most widely used e-mail provider, and with Android the biggest operating system for mobile devices. Your article rightly points out what fabulous impetus Google has given to growth of the digital economy. In 2013, Google made a profit of fourteen billion dollars. I take my hat off to this outstanding entrepreneurial performance.

Google doesn’t need us. But we need Google

In your text you refer to the marketing cooperation between Google and Axel Springer. We were also happy with it. But some of our readers have now interpreted this to mean that Axel Springer is evidently schizophrenic. On the one hand, Axel Springer is part of a European antitrust action against Google, and is in dispute with them regarding the issue of enforcement of German ancillary copyright prohibiting the stealing of content; on the other hand, Axel Springer not only benefits from the traffic it receives via Google but from Google’s algorithm for marketing the remaining space in its online advertising. You can call it schizophrenic – or liberal. Or, to use one of our Federal Chancellor’s favorite phrases: there is no alternative.
We know of no alternative which could offer even partially comparable technological prerequisites for the automated marketing of advertising. And we cannot afford to give up this source of revenue because we desperately need the money for technological investments in the future. Which is why other publishers are increasingly doing the same. We also know of no alternative search engine which could maintain or increase our online reach. A large proportion of high quality journalistic media receives its traffic primarily via Google. In other areas, especially of a non-journalistic nature, customers find their way to suppliers almost exclusively though Google. This means, in plain language, that we – and many others – are dependent on Google. At the moment Google has a 91.2 percent search-engine market share in Germany. In this case, the statement “if you don’t like Google, you can remove yourself from their listings and go elsewhere” is about as realistic as recommending to an opponent of nuclear power that he just stop using electricity. He simply cannot do this in real life – unless he wants to join the Amish.
Google’s employees are always extremely friendly to us and to other publishing houses, but we are not communicating with each other on equal terms. How could we? Google doesn’t need us. But we need Google. And we are also worlds apart economically. At fourteen billion dollars, Google’s annual profit is about twenty times that of Axel Springer. The one generates more profit per quarter than the revenues of the other in a whole year. Our business relationship is that of the Goliath of Google to the David of Axel Springer. When Google changed an algorithm, one of our subsidiaries lost 70 percent of its traffic within a few days. The fact that this subsidiary is a competitor of Google’s is certainly a coincidence.

Not only economic, but also political

We are afraid of Google. I must state this very clearly and frankly, because few of my colleagues dare do so publicly. And as the biggest among the small, perhaps it is also up to us to be the first to speak out in this debate. You wrote it yourself in your book: “We believe that modern technology platforms, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, are even more powerful than most people realize (...), and what gives them power is their ability to grow – specifically, their speed to scale. Almost nothing, short of a biological virus, can scale as quickly, efficiently or aggressively as these technology platforms and this makes the people who build, control, and use them powerful too.”
The discussion about Google’s power is therefore not a conspiracy theory propagated by old-school diehards. You yourself speak of the new power of the creators, owners, and users. In the long term I’m not so sure about the users. Power is soon followed by powerlessness. And this is precisely the reason why we now need to have this discussion in the interests of the long-term integrity of the digital economy’s ecosystem. This applies to competition, not only economic, but also political. It concerns our values, our understanding of the nature of humanity, our worldwide social order and, from our own perspective, the future of Europe.

The greatest opportunity in the last few decades

As the situation stands, your company will play a leading role in the various areas of our professional and private lives – in the house, in the car, in healthcare, in robotronics. This is a huge opportunity and a no less serious threat. I am afraid that it is simply not enough to state, as you do, that you want to make the world a “better place.” The Internet critic Evgeny Morozov has clearly described the position that modern societies need to take here: This is not a debate about technology and the fascinating opportunities it presents. This is a political debate. Android devices and Google algorithms are not a government program. Or at least they shouldn’t be. It is we the people who have to decide whether or not we want what you are asking of us – and what price we are willing to pay for it.
Publishers gained their experience here early – as the vanguard for other sectors and industries. But as long as it was simply a question of the expropriation of content (which search engines and aggregators use but don’t want to pay for), only a few were interested. But that changes when the same thing applies to people’s personal data. The question of who this data belongs to will be one of the key policy issues of the future.
You say in your article that those who criticize Google are “ultimately criticizing the Internet as such and the opportunity for everyone to be able to access information from wherever they happen to be.” The opposite is true. Those who criticize Google are not criticizing the Internet. Those who are interested in having an intact Internet – these are the ones who need to criticize Google. From the perspective of a publishing house, the Internet is not a threat, but rather the greatest opportunity in the last few decades. 62 percent of our corporate profit today comes from our digital business. This means that we are not talking about the Internet here, but only about the role that Google plays within it.

The „fair criteria“ are not in place

It is in this context that of the utmost importance are competition complaints submitted four years ago by various European publishers’ associations and Internet companies against Google at the European Commission in Brussels. Google is a prime example of a market-dominating company. With a seventy-percent global market share, Google defines the infrastructure on the Internet. The next largest search engine is Baidu in China with 16.4 per cent – and that’s because China is a dictatorship which prohibits free access to Google. Then there are search engines with market shares of up to 6 percent. These are pseudo-competitors. The market belongs to a single company. Google’s share of the online-advertising market in Germany is increasing from year to year and is currently around 60 percent. For comparison: The Bild newspaper, which has been considered as market-dominating by the German Federal Cartel Office for decades (which is why Axel Springer was not allowed to buy the TV company Pro Sieben Sat.1 or regional newspapers), has a 9 percent market share of printed advertisements in Germany. By comparison Google is not only market-dominating but super market-dominating.
Google is to the Internet what the Deutsche Post was to mail delivery or Deutsche Telekom to telephone calls. In those days there were national state monopolies. Today there is a global network monopoly. This is why it is of paramount importance that there be transparent and fair criteria for Google’s search results.
However, these fair criteria are not in place. Google lists its own products, from e-commerce to pages from its own Google+ network, higher than those of its competitors, even if these are sometimes of less value for consumers and should not be displayed in accordance with the Google algorithm. It is not even clearly pointed out to the user that these search results are the result of self-advertising. Even when a Google service has fewer visitors than that of a competitor, it appears higher up the page until it eventually also receives more visitors. This is called the abuse of a market-dominating position. And everyone expected the European antitrust authorities to prohibit this practice. It does not look like it will. The Commissioner has instead proposed a “settlement” that has left anyone with any understanding of the issue speechless. Eric, in your article you talk about a compromise which you had attempted to reach with the EU Commission. What you have found, if the Commission does decide on the present proposal, is an additional model for Google of advertising revenue procurement. There will not be any “painful concessions” but rather additional earnings.

A betrayal of the basic idea behind Google

The Commission is seriously proposing that the infrastructure-dominating search engine Google be allowed to continue to discriminate against its competitors in the placement of search results critical to success. As “compensation,” however, a new advertising window will be set up at the beginning of the search list, in which those companies who are discriminated against will be able to buy a place on the list. This is not a compromise. This is an officially EU-sanctioned introduction of the business model that in less honorable circles is referred to as protection money – i.e. if you don’t want me to kill you, you have to pay me.

Dear Eric Schmidt,
You know very well that this would result in long-term discrimination against and weakening of any competition.

Meaning that Google would be able to develop its superior market position still further. And that this would further weaken the European digital economy in particular. I honestly cannot imagine that this is what you meant by compromise. But I do not want to reproach you and Google for this. You, as the representative of the company, can and must look after its interests. My criticism is directed at the European Competition Commission. Commissioner Almunia ought to reflect once again on whether it is wise, as a kind of final official act, to create a situation that will go down in history as a nail in the coffin of the already sclerotic European Internet economy. But it would above all be a betrayal of the consumer, who will no longer be able to find what is most important and best for him but what is most profitable for Google – at the end a betrayal of the basic idea behind Google.

A remarkably honest sentence

This also applies to the large and even more problematic set of issues concerning data security and data utilization. Ever since Snowden triggered the NSA affair, ever since the close relations between major American online companies and the American secret services became public, the social climate – at least in Europe – has fundamentally changed. People have become more sensitive about what happens to their user data. Nobody knows as much about its customers as Google. Even private or business emails are read by Gmail and, if necessary, can be evaluated. You yourself said in 2010: “We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” This is a remarkably honest sentence. The question is: Are users happy with the fact that this information is used not only for commercial purposes – which may have many advantages, yet a number of spooky negative aspects as well – but could end up in the hands of the intelligence services and to a certain extent already has?
In Patrick Tucker’s book The Naked Future: What Happens in a World that Anticipates Your Every Move?, whose vision of the future was considered to be “inescapable” by Google’s master thinker Vint Cerf, there is a scene which sounds like science fiction, but isn’t. Just imagine, the author writes, you wake up one morning and read the following on your phone: “Good morning! Today, as you leave work, you will run into your old girlfriend Vanessa (you dated her eleven years ago), and she is going to tell you that she is getting married. Do try to act surprised!” Because Vanessa has not told anyone yet. You of course are wondering just how your phone knew that or whether it’s a joke, and so you ignore the message. Then in the evening you actually pass Vanessa on the sidewalk.

Can competition generally still function in the digital age?

Vaguely remembering the text from the phone, you congratulate her on her engagement. Vanessa is alarmed: “‘How did you know I was engaged?’ she asks. You’re about to say, ‘My phone sent me the text,’ but you stop yourself just in time. ‘Didn’t you post something to your Facebook profile?’ you ask. ‘Not yet,’ she answers and walks hurriedly away. You should have paid attention to your phone and just acted surprised.”
Google searches more than half a billion web addresses. Google knows more about every digitally active citizen than George Orwell dared to imagine in his wildest dreams in 1984. Google is sitting on the entire current data trove of humanity like the giant Fafner in The Ring of the Nibelung: “Here I lie and here I hold.” I hope you are aware of your company’s special responsibility. If fossil fuels were the fuels of the 20th century, then those of the 21st century are surely data and user profiles. We need to ask ourselves whether competition can generally still function in the digital age if data are so extensively concentrated in the hands of one party.

There will be a winner

There is a quote from you in this context that concerns me. In 2009 you said: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” The only sentence that is even more worrying comes from Mark Zuckerberg when he was on the podium of a conference with you and I in the audience. Someone asked what Facebook thinks of the storage of data and the protection of privacy. And Zuckerberg said: “I don’t understand your question. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.”
Ever since then I have thought about this sentence again and again. I find it terrible. I know that it was certainly not meant that way. Behind this statement there is a state of mind and an image of humanity that is typically cultivated in totalitarian regimes – not in liberal societies. Such a statement could also have come from the head of East Germany’s Stasi or other secret police in service of a dictatorship. The essence of freedom is precisely the fact that I am not obliged to disclose everything that I am doing, that I have a right to confidentiality and, yes, even to secrets; that I am able to determine for myself what I wish to disclose about myself. The individual right to this is what makes a democracy. Only dictatorships want transparent citizens instead of a free press.
Officials in Brussels are now thinking about how the total transparency of users can be avoided by restricting the setting and storage of cookies on the Internet (with which it is still possible today to find out which website you clicked on at 10.10 a.m. on 16. April 2006), in order to strengthen consumer rights. We do not yet know exactly how this regulation will turn out, any more than we know whether it will do more good than bad. But one thing is already certain – if it comes to pass, there will be a winner: Google. Because Google is considered by experts to be the absolute leader in the development of technologies which document the movements and habits of users without setting cookies.

Something the EU has so sorely missed in the past

Google has also made provisions as far as the antitrust proceedings in Brussels on fair search are concerned. It is expected that the whole procedure will be decided in Google’s favor. But if not, it would also be safeguarded. Concessions and restrictions that have been wrung out in lengthy proceedings, limited to Google’s European domains, would be ineffective in an agreement because Google is able, using Android or Chrome, to arbitrarily determine that the search will no longer be carried out from a web address but by using an app. This means that Google will be able to withdraw from all the commitments it has given, which to this day are still bound to the Google domains such as
Will European politics cave in or wake up? The institutions in Brussels have never been so important. An archaic question of power is to be decided. Is there a chance for an autonomous European digital infrastructure or not? It is a question of competitiveness and viability for the future. Voluntary self-subjugation cannot be the last word from the Old World. On the contrary, the desire of the European digital economy to succeed could finally become something for European policy, which the EU has so sorely missed in the past few decades: an emotional narrative.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist

16 years of data storage and 16 years experience by tens of thousands of IT developers has established a competitive edge which can no longer be offset with economic resources alone. Since Google bought “Nest” it knows in even more detail what people do within their own four walls. And now Google is also planning driverless cars, in order to compete in the long term with the car industry from Toyota to VW. Google will then not only know where we drive our cars but how we are occupying ourselves when we are in the car. Forget Big Brother – Google is better!
Against this background it greatly concerns me that Google – which has just announced the acquisition of drone manufacturer “Titan Aerospace” – has been seen for some time as being behind a number of planned enormous ships and floating working environments that can cruise and operate in the open ocean. What is the reason for this development? You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to find this alarming, especially if you listen to the words of Google founder and major shareholder Larry Page.

What impact does it have on our society?

He dreams of a place without data-protection laws and without democratic accountability. „There’s many, many exciting and important things you could do that you just can’t do because they’re illegal“, Page said back in 2013, continuing „ ...we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out what is the effect on society, what’s the effect on people, without having to deploy kind of into the normal world.“
Does this mean that Google is planning to operate in a legal vacuum, without troublesome antitrust authorities and data protection? A kind of superstate that can navigate its floating kingdom undisturbed by any and all nation-states and their laws?
Until now the concerns were the following: What will happen if Google continues to expand its absolutely dominant market power? Will there be even less competition? Will the European digital economy be thrown back even further compared to the few American super corporations? Will consumers become even more transparent, more heteronomous and further manipulated by third parties – be it for economic or political interests? And what impact do these factors have on our society?

It is not the fear of old analog dinosaurs

After this disturbing news you need to ask yourself: Is Google in all seriousness planning for the digital supra-state in which one corporation is naturally only good to its citizens and of course “is not evil”? Please, dear Eric, explain to us why our interpretation of what Larry Page says and does is a misunderstanding.
I am aware that the problems which are caused by new digital super-authorities such as Amazon and Facebook cannot be solved by Google alone. But Google could – for its own long-term benefit – set a good example. The company could create transparency, not only by providing search results according to clear quantitative criteria, but also by disclosing all the changes to algorithms. By not saving IP addresses, automatically deleting cookies after each session, and only saving customer behavior when specifically requested to do so by customers. And by explaining and demonstrating what it intends to do with its floating group headquarters and development labs.
Because the fear of growing heteronomy by the all-determining spider in the web is not being driven by any old analog dinosaurs, who have not understood the Internet and are therefore afraid of everything new. It is rather the digital natives, and among them the most recent and best-informed, who have a growing problem with the increasingly comprehensive control by Google.

Impressive and dangerous

This also includes the fiction of the culture of free services. On the Internet, in the beautiful colorful Google world, so much seems to be free of charge: from search services up to journalistic offerings. In truth we are paying with our behavior – with the predictability and commercial exploitation of our behavior. Anyone who has a car accident today, and mentions it in an e-mail, can receive an offer for a new car from a manufacturer on his mobile phone tomorrow. Terribly convenient. Today, someone surfing high-blood-pressure web sites, who automatically betrays his notorious sedentary lifestyle through his Jawbone fitness wristband, can expect a higher health insurance premium the day after tomorrow. Not at all convenient. Simply terrible. It is possible that it will not take much longer before more and more people realize that the currency of his or her own behavior exacts a high price: the freedom of self-determination. And that is why it is better and cheaper to pay with something very old fashioned – namely money.

Google is the world’s most powerful bank – but dealing only in behavioral currency. Nobody capitalizes on their knowledge about us as effectively as Google. This is impressive and dangerous.

Is it really smart to wait?

Dear Eric Schmidt, you do not need my advice, and of course I am writing here from the perspective of those concerned. As a profiteer from Google’s traffic. As a profiteer from Google’s automated marketing of advertising. And as a potential victim of Google’s data and market power. Nevertheless – less is sometimes more. And you can also win yourself to death.
Historically, monopolies have never survived in the long term. Either they have failed as a result of their complacency, which breeds its own success, or they have been weakened by competition – both unlikely scenarios in Google’s case. Or they have been restricted by political initiatives. IBM and Microsoft are the most recent examples.

Another way would be voluntary self-restraint on the part of the winner. Is it really smart to wait until the first serious politician demands the breakup of Google? Or even worse – until the people refuse to follow? While they still can? We most definitely no longer can.

Sincerely Yours
Mathias Döpfner

God Friday Homily, Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

Judas was...not born a traitor and was not a traitor at the time Jesus chose him; he became a traitor! We are before one of the darkest dramas of human freedom.
Why did he become a traitor? 
The Gospels—the only reliable sources that we have about Judas’ character—speak of a more down-to-earth motive: money. Judas was entrusted with the group’s common purse; on the occasion of Jesus’ anointing in Bethany, Judas had protested against the waste of the precious perfumed ointment that Mary poured on Jesus’ feet, not because he was interested in the poor but, as John notes, “because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it” (Jn 12:6). His proposal to the chief priests is explicit: “‘What will you give me if I deliver him to you?’ And they paid him thirty pieces of silver” (Mt 26:15).
But why are people surprised at this explanation, finding it too banal? Has it not always been this way in history and is still this way today? Mammon, money, is not just one idol among many: it is the idol par excellence, literally “a molten god” (see Ex 34:17). And we know why that is the case. Who is objectively, if not subjectively (in fact, not in intentions), the true enemy, the rival to God, in this world? Satan? But no one decides to serve Satan without a motive. Whoever does it does so because they believe they will obtain some kind of power or temporal benefit from him. Jesus tells us clearly who the other master, the anti-God, is: “No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:24). Money is the “visible god”[1] in contrast to the true God who is invisible.
Mammon is the anti-God because it creates an alternative spiritual universe; it shifts the purpose of the theological virtues. Faith, hope, and charity are no longer placed in God but in money. A sinister inversion of all values occurs. Scripture says, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23), but the world says, “All things are possible to him who has money.” And on a certain level, all the facts seem to bear that out.
“The love of money,” Scripture says, “is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Behind every evil in our society is money, or at least money is also included there. It is the Molech we recall from the Bible to whom young boys and girls were sacrificed (see Jer 32:35) or the Aztec god for whom the daily sacrifice of a certain number of human hearts was required. What lies behind the drug enterprise that destroys so many human lives, behind the phenomenon of the mafia, behind political corruption, behind the manufacturing and sale of weapons, and even behind—what a horrible thing to mention—the sale of human organs removed from children? And the financial crisis that the world has gone through and that this country is still going through, is it not in large part due to the “cursed hunger for gold,” the auri sacra fames,[2] on the part of some people? Judas began with taking money out of the common purse. Does this say anything to certain administrators of public funds?

But apart from these criminal ways of acquiring money, is it not also a scandal that some people earn salaries and collect pensions that are sometimes 100 times higher than those of the people who work for them and that they raise their voices to object when a proposal is put forward to reduce their salary for the sake of greater social justice?
In the 1970s and 1980s in Italy, in order to explain unexpected political reversals, hidden exercises of power, terrorism, and all kinds of mysteries that were troubling civilian life, people began to point to 
the quasi-mythical idea of the existence of “a big Old Man,” a shrewd and powerful figure who was pulling all the strings behind the curtain for goals known only to himself. This powerful “Old Man” really exists and is not a myth; his name is Money!
Like all idols, money is deceitful and lying: it promises security and instead takes it away; it promises freedom and instead destroys it. St. Francis of Assisi, with a severity that is untypical for him,
describes the end of life of a person who has lived only to increase his “capital.” Death draws near, 
and the priest is summoned. He asks the dying man, “Do you want forgiveness for all your sins?” and 

he answers, “Yes.” The priest then asks, “Are you ready to make right the wrongs you did, restoring things you have defrauded others of?” The dying man responds, “I can’t.” “Why can’t you?” “Because I have already left everything in the hands of my relatives and friends.” And so he dies without repentance, and his body is barely cold when his relatives and friends say, “Damn him! He could have earned more money to leave us, but he didn’t.”[3]
If we have imitated Judas in his betrayal, some of us more and some less, let us not imitate him in his lack of confidence in forgiveness. There is a sacrament through which it is possible to have a sure experience of Christ’s mercy: the sacrament of reconciliation. How wonderful this sacrament is! It is sweet to experience Jesus as Teacher, as Lord, but even sweeter to experience him as Redeemer, as the one who draws you out of the abyss, like he drew Peter out of the sea, as the one who touches you and, like he did with the leper, says to you, “ I will; be clean” (Mt 8:3).

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Ghost of Francesco Schettino.

Twenty nine people are confirmed dead and 270 "missing" after a South Korean ferry capsized. The captain, Lee Joon Seok, is under arrest for causing the wreck by not slowing down and turning too sharply. He's charged with abandoning ship, negligence, etc. Those 270, or nearly all, are going to end up in the dead column, of course, unless you're Malaysian, in which case you hold out "hope" they swam to an island and are safe. By comparison, 32 died on the Costa Concordia. 
Oh wait. We just saw something that gives us further cause to honor Muslims today: a new library for girls in Islamabad! Congratulations. Pakistani girls can now get a formal education in preparation for their rape and murder. The name of the new library is:

"Library of Osama bin Laden, the Martyr."

Inspired choice. Inspired choice, that.
It is Friday, the weekly Muslim holy day, which we honor per our custom...

...Thank you. Today, the Muslim Sabbath also falls on one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, Good Friday, and during the sacred Jewish festival of Passover, to whom observers of each our Muslim brethren and sistren wish a sincere "Molotov." We here at Public Occurrences honor Muslims who honor Christians and Jews and reciprocate the sentiment.

We honor Christians who honor the great religions of Islam and Judaisim,

thank you, who do such credit to their own religion and to the advantages of successive generations of inbreeding.

And we honor Jews who honor Christianity and Islam, like Dr. Steven Greenblatt, Stevie take a bow...
...Thank you, who see in the endlessly reiterated images of the bloody murdered Christian son of God beauty so affecting that it makes them want to go out and get hair implants, which they do, accounts of which in the King James Bible throw them into dramatic ecstasy, as they do Dr. Harold Bloom. Harold...
Thank you. Thank you all. And thanks to Public Occurrences pageviewers from me, Benjamin Harris:

Friends and enemies, now this chap is having a bad day:

"I'm too young to die! I want my mommy!" Look at the two guys on the right of the condemned man, they're almost laughing! "Hey girly-man, look on the bright side: At least it's your last bad day! Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!"

It'll all be over soon, sonny.

Now, the murder victim's mother will be called up to kick the chair out from under him.

And the bitch slaps him!!! OMG!!! Insult to injury, the bitch slaps the bitch before kicking the chair which kicks his bucket! OHHH!

BUT WAIT! What's going on? KICK THE CHAIR! What are they doing?? KICK...They're taking...THE FUCKING...the noose off...CHAIR!!! THEY'RE TAKING THE NOOSE OFF!! Slap-Mom is helping them take the noose off!!!

And Sonny-boy's mommy thanks the victim's mom AND GIVES PRAISE TO ALLAH!

Bet those two guys who were laughing were disappointed, though. :(