Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Lions led by Donkeys.

Because you just have to read this piece to see how brilliant the guy is.

There is truth in the idea that soldiers are our designated warriors. But the accidental revelation in these attitudes is the bizarre concept that by soldiers choosing a life of taking risks on our behalf, these war supporters are somehow absolved of any responsibility to them other than emotional support and approval. There is the stink of ... the troops as employees. Like, say, gardeners. Not that I would ever make such a crude comparison.

But the fact is that soldiers make this choice in a specific context. They are not just entering a job. They are, to pull up my Catholic high school education, entering into a covenant with us. They take an oath to sacrifice their lives, if need be. That is, in my faith anyway, the holiest thing a person can do. In return, the civilian side of the covenant is a deep responsibility, a responsibility far beyond the emotional support one gives a sports team, or the minimal responsibility one has with employees. Our oath is simple:

We will make sure you have the equipment you need.

We will make sure have a clearly defined mission.

We will make sure that such missions are as well-planned as possible.

We will take care of your families while you are gone.

We will take care of you when you come home.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Net Neutrality and the COPE Act.

One of the worst things that can happen to a debater is to be caught unawares with a motion that's about an issue that is although relevant, is so out of left field as to leave said debater talking gibberish when it's his/her turn to speak. You're shit-out-of-luck because you don't know anything, and you can't really complain because it is a relevant and current issue (actually even if it's not you CAN complain, except you'd just sound like a whiny ass if you do). Refer to notorious ICANN and lawyer advertising debates in the last NDC as recent examples of this. Of course, every debater already knows the only way to prevent such a thing from happening, especially since every debate seminar almost always hammers in the point - matterloading. Problem is, you can't realistically matterload on EVERYTHING and still remain sane, so the chances of being caught with your pants between your legs is almost always a possibility.

Net Neutrality
is one of those issues.

In simple terms, Net Neutrality is a state wherein there is no discrimination of data across the network. In more relevant terms, this means that the largest network in existence, the Internet, flows freely from one user to another. No body, be it your ISP or your government, gets to decide what you do or do not do in the internet. They can't stop you from going to any particular site, nor can they stop you from downloading anything you want. On the other hand, they can't stop you from acquiring viruses either. Filtration of the Internet is completely in the hands of the end user. This is the way the internet has worked since its inception.

The COPE (Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement) Act is an act currently in the US Congress which aims to stop net neutrality. It wants the telecommunications industry to have the power to decide what you can or cannot do on the Internet.

As always, it boils down to a question of right and the extent of it.

More key concepts you need to google for:



"User-generated Content"

The future of Internet debates will be about these issues.