September 24, 2006

This Blog Is Rated PG-13

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:01 pm

….. which is why I’m not going to comment about this (HT Michelle Malkin), except to say how bleeping stupid it is.

UPDATE: And I can’t even believe I’m seeing these things as parts of what is supposed to be a 9/11 Memorial in Arizona. “Sacrilege” is probably the right word.

Overdue Housekeeping Notes

Filed under: General — Tom @ 6:46 pm

I’ve added some things to the site that should have gone in long ago:

  • A brief Comments disclosure and policy you’ll see in the second-to-right column.
  • Clear disclosure at each post that comments are moderated.
  • More clearly flagging the direct e-mail addy at the very top.

I haven’t bothered to permanently disclose common-sense things like the following because, well, they’re common sense:

  • If you feel that you need to know why your comment wasn’t posted, you need to give me a real e-mail addy to communicate to. Sometimes I choose to tell people why just because I’m trying to be courteous. If you don’t leave a valid addy, you’ll never know why your comment didn’t post unless I’m so irritated that I call you out in my own comment.
  • Comments at Positivity posts are limited to the strictly positive.
  • You use language harsher than PG-13 at this blog at the risk of your comment getting cleaned up by yours truly, or not being posted at all.

I’m getting inundated with more comment spam than I can tolerate. Because of that have decided to stop my blog’s internal e-mail notification when a comment appears. This means that my response to real comments will be slower, and that there is unfortunately a slightly higher chance that I will accidentally delete real comments. On the other hand, there’s a greater chance that I will retain what’s left of my sanity.

With the boring stuff out of the way, hopefully in a week (or two) I’ll have something legitimately newsworthy to report about what’s going on here.

Weekend Question 4: Do the Belgian Publishers Suing Google Understand What They’re Doing?

ANSWER: Thanks to Google’s reaction, they may understand that they are undermining their ability to viably function on the Internet.
____________________________________

From the “You Asked for It, You Got It” Department: Google Totally Removes Belgian News Sites

Those who follow this blog know that there is generally not a lot of love lost between yours truly and Internet Wall of Shame member Google. But when they’re in the right in a fight over free access to information, I have to defend them.

Last week I posted on a Belgian court’s ruling that “Google ….. (must) pay 1 million euro a day if it does not remove all news articles and pictures from French and German language newspapers on its news site ….”

The ruling also required that Google post the full text of the Belgian court’s order on the home page of Google’s Belgium web sites. Reuters reported Friday that the company has done that, and indeed, it has, for both the main Belgian search engine and Google News Belgium (scroll down, it’s there).

The Search Engine Watch Blog (HT Techdirt) reported last week that Google threw the plaintiffs and the court a major curveball over the previous weekend — In addition to removing roughly a dozen sources from Google Belgium News, it removed them from Google Belgium and Google News worldwide entirely:

Google says it interpreted “all their sites” as being all sites that it views the court having jurisdiction over, anything using the Google.be domain. In addition, Google has removed the sites from Google News worldwide, saying it is treating the ruling as it would any request to be removed from Google News. In those cases, you’re dropped entirely, not on a country-by-country basis.

I think what Google has done is necessary to comply with the court’s ruling, and consistent with preventing what the plaintiffs said they objected to: taking a sample of copyrighted content from their web sites for indexing purposes without compensation.

Danny Sullivan, the Search Engine Watch blogger, thinks this a “laughable” overreaction by Google, but I totally disagree. I hope the plaintiffs enjoy their Google invisibility. I also hope they lose this battle, because I see it leading to a direct assault on “fair use” against any site that earns even minimal revenues. If the Belgian publications win, I’m hard-pressed to see why they and other content providers couldn’t sue to keep bloggers and others from excerpting any of their content beyond a very few words.

____________________________

Conservative Culture Suddenly Sunday trackbacker.

Weekend Question 3: What’s German for ‘Backlash’?

Filed under: Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 10:04 am

ANSWER: Freetranslation.com says it’s “Rückstoß.” My Mac Widget says it’s “Zahnflankenspiel.” Regardless, Germans are concerned about mediocrity, violence and religious instruction in their education system, and appear to be close to doing something about it.

_______________________________________

From Expatica:

Foreign kids should take German test: Koehler
21 September 2006

BERLIN – President Horst Koehler called Thursday for a reform of Germany’s education system, following a report which showed it had dropped behind those of other leading industrialized nations.

“Whoever saves in the field of education is saving in the wrong place,” the president said in a keynote address at a secondary school in the working class Berlin suburb of Neukoelln.

Another school in the same multi-ethnic district made national headlines six months ago when its teachers made a public appeal for help, saying they could no longer cope with violent pupils.

I don’t know exactly where Koehler stands in the pecking order below Angela Merkel, but I can’t imagine he said these things without notifying her first.

And it gets better, especially the last para:

….. “One needs to be educated to stand up to populists, extremists and religious fanatics,” he said, adding that the education system was a matter that concerned the entire nation.

Koehler also called for more money to be invested in pre-schooling and said children from immigrant families should be given a language test before starting school.

“A good knowledge of German is essential for success at school and during further education,” the president said, urging immigrant parents to learn the language as well and practise it with their children.

He also emphasized the need for religious education at schools even in a pluralist society like Germany.

“The time has come for children of the Muslim faith attending our schools to be offered Islam instruction in German from trained teachers,” Koehler said.

In this case, regardless of the proper translation, “backlash” also means “return to sanity.”

Positivity: A Hero at Least Three Times Over

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:02 am

The Ft. Myers, Florida News-Record covered a number of heroic acts that have taken place in that area over the years on September 18. One person who stands out in that story is Hector Mendoza:

No ordinary hero
Originally posted on September 18, 2006

Hector Mendoza doesn’t consider himself a hero.

But, the Cape Coral resident has run into a burning building to rescue someone inside. He has helped to free a woman trapped in her car. And on Labor Day, he was one of four men who saved an elderly couple from drowning after their car crashed into a pond.

“I don’t feel like I am a big hero,” said Mendoza, 56. “God just put me in the right place at the right time. It is no big deal.”

Like Mendoza, ordinary people perform heroic acts each day. They make split-second decisions when faced with emergency situations to try to help another person.
….. “I believe my higher power puts me in places where I am needed,” Mendoza said. “It wasn’t a choice. It was God’s will for me to be there and do what he asked.”