“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, June 08, 2009

China demands computer makers install internet censoring software. Not our problem.

I have been back and forth on this, but have come to the conclusion that this is simply none of our business and not our problem. 

The US government restricts all sorts of things US manufacturers can and cannot do. It demands what ingredients can and cannot go into products that we eat, sleep in and drive.

What the Chinese do in their country is something that is for the Chinese to endure, accept or reject.

If the US wants to stop prohibitions on the internet, it can start by lifting the ban on online gambling.


New China Web-Filtering Rules Still Murky

Researchers Caution 'Green Dam' Censorship Could Extend Beyond Pornographic Sites

By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER and BEN WORTHEN, Wall Street Journal

Computer makers and researchers are seeking answers to questions about Internet filtering software that the Chinese government is requiring PC manufacturers to ship with computers sold in the country beginning next month.

The software -- dubbed "Green Dam-Youth Escort" -- could give government censors additional control over the information that Chinese Internet users see online.

Though the company that makes Green Dam, China-based Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co., has said it is designed to let parents block access to Web content inappropriate for children, Internet freedom advocates have questioned whether it could be used to block politically sensitive sites, given China's history of censoring Web content.

The software works similarly to models long used by companies that sell security and parental-control software. Such programs come with a "black list" of Web sites that have previously been categorized as pornographic, violent, or containing hate speech, as well as words or combinations of words that appear on such sites. Each time a user tries to visit a Web site the address is checked against the list. When a Web site is blocked, a message will appear saying it contains prohibited content.

Jinhui founder Bryan Zhang says the company compiles the list of sites to be blocked, which he says is limited to pornography. The software also could be used to block other types of content and collect private data -- but he says the company had no reason to do so.

Seth Young, spokesman for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, said initial testing indicated that the system only blocked pornography and not politically sensitive Web sites. However, he cautioned that the list of blocked sites could be changed in the future.

Such software is usually programmed to receive updates via the Web to the black list at regular intervals. The computer owner doesn't need to do anything to load these updates, which are delivered directly from the software publisher to the computer.

An important question for computer manufacturers -- facing a July 1 deadline to comply with the order -- is whether installation of the software is mandatory. The order from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology mandating the software left vague whether it had to be pre-installed on a computer or simply distributed on a CD with the computer.

The agency also didn't specify what penalty companies might face if they don't comply.

It also remains unclear whether the software can be turned off, or circumvented. Mr. Zhang said the software could be uninstalled, but requires a password to do so in order to make it difficult for children to uninstall it themselves. He also said blocked sites can be accessed either with a password set by the software's administrator, or by adding addresses to a "white list" of allowed sites. Similarly, addresses can be added to the black list on the user's hard drive.

The two largest U.S. PC makers, Hewlett-Packard Co., and Dell Inc., said they were evaluating the software. A spokesman for Dell said the company is still "working to understand the application."

Last year, researchers discovered that a Chinese version of eBay Inc.'s Skype Internet calling software contained the ability to block politically sensitive words in instant messaging chats, and to keep a record of the use of such words.

—Loretta Chao and Amy Schatz contributed to this article.

Write to Geoffrey A. Fowler at and Ben Worthen at


  1. That's what we need, more gambling. Why worry about saving, when you might hit it big?

    Those two guys sure looked like a couple of cretans to me.


  2. Sell'em what they want. It'll give'em something to do - trying to "censor" the web. Rots'a Ruck, Amigos.

  3. The Elmore County Commission deliberated for about an hour Monday, June 8, before deciding it needed more information to make a decision on rezoning 1,300 acres of land. Specifically, the Commission asked their attorney for an opinion as to whether or not they can restrict future uses of the land. The Commissioners are concerned that if they rezone the land for industrial use and the nuclear plant isn’t developed, the landowner could apply to build a coal plant or some other undesirable use and the commission would have little ability to stop it.--

    Well they'll vote for it at the next meeting, after hearing from the lawyer, they are just covering their ass. Haven't they ever heard of a conditional use permit?

  4. heh--

    By now you may have caught wind of the fodder surrounding Newsweek editor, Evan Thomas and his comparison to President Barack Obama as God. Last Friday, Thomas was speaking on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews (surprise, surprise) about Obama’s speech in Cairo when he began to verbally elevate the 44th president to the status of creator and chief.--


  5. heh--

    State Rape--

    This afrocity girl is pretty good.

  6. The US demands auto makers install safety glass and sealed beam headlights, while placing no limits on engine displacement.

    Not China's problem, either.

    Each nation sets its own standard for products sold in their markets.

    Those standards are not universal, it is the height of hubris to think they should be universal, and that the standard, of course, should be ours, not theirs.

    As to gambling, whose money is it?

    What rights should bob have to limit anyone else's use of their own money? Or their land?

  7. How did this young man's risk of a dollar impair his community?

    Neal Wanless, 23, reads a statement as he claims a $232 million Powerball lottery prize, Friday, June 5, 2009, in Pierre, S.D. Neal Wanless, who lives on his family's 320-acre ranch near Mission, S.D., bought the winning ticket in the nearby town of Winner late last month during a trip to buy livestock feed. He will take home $88.5 million in a lump sum payment after taxes are deducted.

  8. Free Traders of the Whirled Unite!!

    After all, Karl Marx, in an 1848 speech in Brussels, had declared: "But in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade."

    Post-Marxist neoliberals dropped revolution and class war but retained the idea that global capitalism is progressive because it "breaks up old nationalities."

  9. Thanks to the morphing of many international socialists into champions of international capitalism, some of the most ardent advocates of free trade and economic deregulation nowadays can be found on the center-left. At a recent summit that I attended in Chile in advance of the G-20 summit, center-left elected officials and thinkers from Europe, Latin America and North America, some of them veterans of Marxist politics in the 1960s and 1970s, sounded like the Wall Street Journal editorial page, so vigorous were their denunciations of "protectionism" in any form, particularly "Buy American" provisions.

    A few years ago, I dined with a leading French socialist who opined that, now that national barriers to the free flow of capital and goods have been largely eliminated, the next barrier to go should be national immigration laws that prevent the free flow of labor across borders

  10. The right just won all across Europe, thanks to nationalism, populism and recession. It could happen here too.

    By Michael Lind

  11. It's their own money, but, knowing a bankruptcy attorney here I know the rate of filings of bankruptcy went up a lot--a lot-- after the Casino opened. Additionally, local businesses took and are taking a real hit as people have thrown their money away at the Casino, causing trade to diminish. Here it all started with the state lottery, that was the camel's nose under the tent. Then the Indians claimed slot machines were just a form of lottery. Government has no business encouraging gambling. Rather they should be encouraging saving, and investing. Though I go to the Casino myself occasionally, out of bordom mostly, like many others, I voted against it when it finally was on the ballot. This idea--whatever happened to it--of putting 8 billion dollars into the Desert Debtor--well, if we have a government that goes out of its way to encourage people to lose their money we'd be better off with no government at all, really. After folks lose their money, they turn to--what?

    The vote was about 55% in favor. Indians claimed they needed the jobs, etc. Having followed it closely, a few jobs have been created, on the other hand precious little of the real money is getting into the average tribal members hands, and, what does, they generally take to the Casino and immediately lose. I have seen no overall improvement in the lives of most of the tribal members. Additionally, three, count 'em, three, of the managers were fired for stealing funds, one walked out in handcuffs.

    Society does have a right to enact laws governing behaviors. If some feel gambling is an overall big negative to society as a whole, they have the right to vote against it, for what they think of as the better for the whole society. That's what rights I, or anyone else have, to limit how others can use their money. To vote against it. It's legislation, like any other. You have the right to vote for it, if you wish. I think society is a net loser by the whole scam. The society would be better off if the money were given to charity.

  12. Why Is the Right Doing So Well in Europe?
    For a start, they don't spend like drunken sailors
    By Anne Applebaum.

    In France, Germany, Italy, and Poland—four of Europe's six largest countries—center-right governments got unexpectedly enthusiastic endorsements. In the two other large countries, Britain and Spain, left-wing ruling parties got hammered, as did socialists in Hungary, Austria, Estonia, and elsewhere. In some places the results were stark indeed: In London this weekend, I could hardly walk down the street without being assaulted by angry, screaming newspaper headlines, all declaring the Labor government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown weak, corrupt, tired, arrogant, and, yes, very unpopular. In some constituencies, European candidates of the ruling Labor Party finished behind fringe parties that normally don't get noticed at all. So rapidly are British ministers resigning from the Cabinet that it's hard to keep track of them (four in the last week—I think).

    But how is it possible that the European right is doing so well—and so much better than their U.S. counterparts—during what is widely described as a crisis of global capitalism? At least in part, the Europeans are winning because their leaders have the courage of their economic convictions. While it is true that the continental European welfare states have kicked into high gear over the last six months, there are few equivalents of either George W. Bush's budget deficits or Barack Obama's spending binge. And where there have been—in Britain, for example—the high spending has hardly bought popularity. The theoretical version of this Euro-American policy gap is the recent public spat between economic historian Niall Ferguson and economist Paul Krugman, both of whom are at least as well known for their newspaper polemics as for their academic writing. Very crudely, Ferguson and the German government think massive deficits and government borrowing will lead to inflation and ultimately the collapse of the currency. Equally crudely, Krugman and the U.S. administration think he's wrong.

  13. The same can be said, and has, for beer and spirits.

    A bane upon society that does not maximize economic output, for the individual or society. Yet you plan for a bar, in your little developmental community.

    You see a societal need for such nonproductive behaviour.

    Something that had been demonized and prohibited. To no good end.

  14. Where do you stand on banning cigarettes, for the public good, bob?

    The economic costs of smoking far out weigh any advantages they provide.

    Based upon cigarette related health care costs, alone.

    If we should not ration health care, should we ration cigarettes?

  15. A Texas-Size Medical Lesson
    By Froma Harrop

    McAllen, Texas, spends more per person on health care than any other metropolitan area in America, except for Miami. Why would this poor border town spend $15,000 a year per Medicare enrollee? Rochester, Minn., home to the famed Mayo Clinic, only spends about half as much. Find the answer, and we have the formula for national health-care reform -- that is, controlling costs without cutting quality.

    Atul Gawande, a Boston surgeon writing in The New Yorker, has landed on an explanation. It's the different medical cultures, and with them, the incentives for prescribing care. "The most expensive piece of medical equipment, as the saying goes, is a doctor's pen," Gawande notes.

    Over-treatment is not necessarily harmless. More Americans die of complications of surgery than in car accidents.

    My conservative friends resist this response. They believe that the market provides the best incentive system and that the government should keep its nose out of health care.

    Let's first consider other possible reasons for these numbers:

    Malpractice suits. The Rio Grande Valley is supposed to be one of those "judicial hellholes," in which doctors order extra tests to protect themselves. Actually, it's home to few medical malpractice suits, thanks to a Texas law that caps pain-and-suffering awards.

    Unhealthy people. McAllen has high poverty and obesity rates.

    True, but so does nearby El Paso County, where Medicare spending is half that of McAllen. Their populations are similar in size and numbers of non-English speakers, illegal immigrants and the unemployed.

    Superior care. McAllen's facilities do offer superb technology. But on the Medicare rankings for quality of care, El Paso's hospitals outperformed McAllen's on 23 of the 25 criteria.

    Dartmouth College's Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice compared treatments ordered in McAllen and El Paso. Patients in McAllen received 60 percent more stress tests with echocardiography, 200 percent more tests to diagnose carpal-tunnel syndrome and 550 percent more studies to diagnose prostate problems. They provided two to three times as many pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, cardiac-bypass operations and so on.

    The Dartmouth researchers found that patients in high-cost areas were less likely to receive inexpensive preventive care, such as flu shots. They had longer waits in emergency rooms and were less likely to have a primary-care physician.

    "They got more of the stuff that costs more," Gawande writes, "but not more of what they needed."

    The lower-cost centers had adopted measures to discourage doctors from piling on unnecessary treatment. Doctors at Mayo work on fixed salaries. Well-performing centers where physicians are paid by the procedure had taken other steps. For example, their doctors couldn't cherry-pick patients with good coverage and send them to specialty hospitals that they own.

    McAllen is an extreme case of what routinely goes on in American health care. In 2006, U.S. doctors performed one surgical procedure for every five people! Furthermore, it's not true that Americans are especially unhealthy. They may be fatter than others, but they smoke and drink less.

    The Obama administration believes that shrinking the expenditure gap between the Mayos and the McAllens will free up resources to insure everyone and curb growing federal deficits. Its critics argue that this is the road to rationing health care.

    OK. Suppose you report heartburn symptoms to your doctor. Would you rather be started off with an antacid or have an endoscope shoved down your throat, with the risk of puncturing your upper GI tract? More than 70 percent of doctors in high-cost cities said they would immediately send you to a gastroenterologist and-or order an endoscopy.

    The Tums-first route would seem more rational than rationing.

    The simpler treatment is also less expensive, but let's not hold that against it.

  16. ...I think society is a net loser by the whole scam. The society would be better off if the money were given to charity.

    You surprise me, bob.

    Time for some fly fishin'...mellow out.

    The casinos here, and they are numerous, seem to overall have done well for their owners. They're all drivin' on average better cars than I, and seem to be healthier and happier. There's some rivalry between rancherias, but there always has been. On the whole, the casino gambling industry does a better job of providing for the tribes than the BIA and Congress ever did.

    Once you start the moral restrictions, where do you stop? I remember dining table conversations as a child when the Catholics were pilloried for running bingo games and taking hard earned Protestant money away from their children.

  17. The casinos here, and they are numerous, seem to overall have done well for their owners.--

    For the owners. For everybody else it's a ridiculous waste of time and money.

    If your Casinos are providing for the tribes, it's different than here. I haven't seen much trickle down. Last time I drove through beautiful downtown Lapwai, Land of Butterflies, it was still the same old beautiful downtown Lapwai. A lot of the money goes back in rent to the machine owners in New Jersey, what the local Indians get they mostly lose at the Casino themselves.

    Great deal for those few at the top, however.

    I expect soon we'll be hearing from the whites, "if the reds have Casinos, why can't we whites"--actually a hard question to answer.

    So, before my days are out, I expect to see, say, Coeur d'Alene turned into crap like Vegas or Reno, complete with Mexican maids, hookers, drugs and Trump Towers.

    In other words, it will be--"was good, now heap shit"

    "What the whole world would become if the Nazis had won the war"--Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

    I liked it better before.

  18. And, one might consider, if the Indians do get some money in the mail, they are just getting money in the mail, which doesn't exactly conduce to a culture of get up and do.

  19. The only thing I can see that has actually been positive about the whole experiment is there's been more interaction between the reds and the whites and others. Everyone seems to be getting along well, some friendships made all around, etc.

    But if the reds can have a casino, I want one on my land too!!! :)

    Fair's fair, equal protection, equal rights.....

  20. And, one might consider this. I can't think of any religious leader or religious tradion, or mystic, or philospher, that recommended gambling as the way to enlightenment. (Maybe there's some Zen monk out there) Our model Jesus Christ didn't start or end his day with a trip to the local casino. A trip I am about to take myself, with my weekly free $25 worth of wampum bucks.

    So if there is something finally serious about human life, the religious traditions at any rate don't seem to recommend gambling as a life's way to realize it.

    There are patron saints of woodcutting, sailing, medicine, farming, mining, etc. all down the line. But, gambling? Not that I can think of unless St. Cayetano be considered such.

    My copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about "Games of Chance"

    Section 2413

    Games of chance (card games,etc) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant.--

    Which doesn't exactly seem particularily enlightening to me. As a description of Las Vegas it doesn't even come close.

    An internet trip to the unclaimed/unidentified department of the Clark County morgue seems more to the point. A trip I recommend for everyone.

  21. St. Cayetano

    I've learned something new from you again today.

    My earlier advice still holds. Mellow out and go fishin'.