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Matt McHugh
Matt McHugh.com - Blog - January 2006

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SUBJECT:
Google China
DATE:
January 28, 2006

Google recently announced that it would work with the Chinese government to produce a censored, state-approved version of its search portal, enabling filters that block search terms such as freedom, democracy, political protest, etc., and prevent the engine from finding certain websites. It will also not offer its blog or e-mail services in China, again to comply with government restrictions limiting free speech.

This is just one more recent example of American tech firms kowtowing* to China. Recently, Microsoft shut down the U.S.-hosted, pseudonymous blog of a Chinese journalist, and Yahoo turned over to the Chinese government personal e-mail files of a online dissident who was subsequently sentenced to ten years in prison. All over America, corporations are scrambling to get a slice of the money pouring from the rapidly emerging superpower that is China. Ten years ago, the U.S. had no trade deficit with China. Now, it's over $200 billion.

The actions of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and many, many others are only hastening that, not to mention undermining fundamental American principles that our current president claims are literally worth going to war for--though not actually worth putting limits on business expansion (he is a Republican, after all). And never mind that China is still one of the most repressive countries on Earth (Remember tens of thousands of jailed dissidents and political prisoners), the lone great survivor of militant communism (Remember the enemy before Islamic terrorism? Of course not. No one seems to anymore.), and has committed the largest mass exterminations in world history (Remember Chairman Mao--you know the guy who's picture is on the yuan. Depending on whom you ask, his regime is responsible for 800,000 to 40 million political deaths).

Nah, forget all that and just keep your eyes on short-term profit growth. In that spirit, I offer Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin--who have proclaimed as their unofficial corporate motto "Do no evil"--this slightly modified concept for the Google China logo:

Google China Logo

(I'll have to pay attention to see what effect this has on my Google ranking.)

-- mm

* - "kowtow" is a word of Chinese origin referring to the custom of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of respect or submission. Appropriate, huh?


SUBJECT:
Breakfast at Epiphany
DATE:
January 8, 2006

In the traditions of Catholicism and the Orthodox Churches, the Feast of the Epiphany is a holy day of some significance. Celebrated on January 6 (the final of the Twelve Days of Christmas), it is popularly thought of as the day when the Magi arrived to visit the infant Christ. I remember as a kid, in the big, electric Nativity set our church had, the Three Wise men were just backlit silhouettes on mechanically rocking camels until this day. I've heard tell that some families had traditions where the Three Wise Men in the household nativity set actually had to travel from room to room over the course of the twelve days, getting closer to the creche each day.

Here's one thing about the Magi that I've never understood. You often hear them given names-- Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, usually--but I have no idea where those names came from. Not from the Bible, at least not from any of the four canonical gospels (and only Matthew and Luke have any description of the Nativity). And one is always depicted as black, as in African-African. I seem to recall they are supposed to be the kings of Persia, Ethiopia, and...darn, can't recall the third--but that would explain the skin color.

So where do the names and countries come from? I'll have to poke around and fine that out. I remember hearing somewhere that it actually comes from a Islamic writings, but I have no further detail. It's believable, though. People seem to often forget that Islam is, in fact, largely built upon Judeo-Christian beliefs. If the traditional identities of the Three Wise Men are of Islamic origin, that would be an interesting example of something flowing back to the source from the offshoot. I'll let you know what I find.

-- mm


SUBJECT:
2006 Begins With a Fart
DATE:
January 1, 2006

Well, 2006 is underway and I'm making a good start of it by watching the South Park movie on Comedy Central. What, you think that's not a very productive use of my new year? You say I'm just indulging a juvenile, bad habit. Ahh, shut your f***ing face, uncle f***er.

-- mm




 





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