Friday, July 22, 2005

Quote of the day:

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security

-Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Infections may kill 100 patients a day. Something to keep in mind if you ever visit hospitals.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blame the Internet
Reporter Richard Lloyd Parry asks an interesting question:
But what about Naomi and little Koyuki Tanaka and the 14 teenagers who are known to have died in cyber suicide pacts? Would they not be alive now, if it were not for the Internet?
Mr. Parry here refers to a mother who apparently strangled her own six year old child before travelling to meet strangers to participate in a suicide pact. It's easy to think that if people didn't have access to the net, they wouldn't participate in pacts and that they would therefore still be alive. And one would like to think that in such a situation a mother wouldn't turn and kill her own six year old daughter. But there's no way of knowing for certain that that is how it would turn out; who is to say that Naomi wouldn't have decided to kill her kid and then go hang herself somewhere alone? And more interestingly, why is it in all this alarm about pacts made on the net that people appear to be essentially ignoring those aspects of the lives of those who suicide which motivated them to suicide in the first place? I've yet to meet anyone who simply woke up one day and decided, out of the blue, that it was time to die.

What's the message here? Mr. Parry clucks that the Japanese have not found a "balance" of the Internet's potential to facilitate "communication and destruction" If both entities being compared to each other are in "balance", then they are effectively canceling each other out; that is, there is as much of the one being promoted as the other. Is that what Mr. Parry wants? Is that what he and people who agree with him are willing to accept? How would one quantify the two aspects to determine whether or not they are even close to being balanced?

I would like to suggest to the critics of the Internet and how people use it that if there is an imbalance in how the net is being used that it is an imbalance inherent in the human culture, and that attempts to stifle what one considers to be a misuse of a tool of communication by censoring that tool in no way addresses whatever underlying problems there are with how people behave toward one another.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Japan to censor websites that provide information about suicide pacts, among other things.

This is actually rather old news, but it seems to me that it's finally time to ask a couple of questions:
  1. Will they also censor news websites, since rather often the story of a suicide pact has included useful tips on how to copy the method used?

  2. Unless the Japanese government is planning to ban all websites that are meant to encourage meeting/socializing, how do they plan to deal with the development of euphemisms such as "catching the bus" which would slip past software designed to identify material that discusses suicide?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It seems that accused kidnapper Joseph Duncan kept a blog. Wired wrote an article about it and all the attention it's been getting lately.
Perhaps the most common sentiment wonders how Duncan's increasingly disturbed postings failed to draw law enforcement attention before his arrest.

Given that he was also apparently a convicted sex offender, that's a very good question, since supposedly the Law keeps closer tabs on people like that. But then, in a country where even restraining orders don't appear to be worth the paper they're printed on, perhaps the inattention by law enforcement officers is understandable. The blog didn't even appear to get much attention from ordinary people, either--until the media called it to their attention. Now, in addition to documenting the thoughts of Mr. Duncan, the blog also records the reactions of hundreds of people who wouldn't know him from Adam if the news hadn't brought him to their attention in the first place.

It's entirely possible the blog escaped the attention of the Law because there's such a proliferation of data on the net that it simply isn't possible to sort through every byte in search of material that potentially breaks a law, much less for any and all information that potentially incriminates a person. It's also possible that the Law was actually aware of the blog before his arrest, but if there's nothing in it that amounts to confession of a crime or a violation of a law, then what of it?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Suicide pact in Taiwan leaves two dead

What is interesting about this story is that it claims that suicide pacts made over the internet started in Japan, whereas the first instance of this that i've heard of was in Europe. Has anyone who reads this blog heard of a pact made over the net that occurred before 2000 in Japan?