Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Occasionally they tell the truth, part 11: SC lawmaker says immigrants work harder

Well, maybe I should clarify. I don't know if these comments are "the truth." Maybe more like "speaking what's really on his mind." From Yahoo! News and the Associated Press:
"Black SC lawmaker: Immigrants are hardest workers"

"An African-American lawmaker in South Carolina said Tuesday that stricter illegal immigration laws would hurt the state because blacks and whites don't work as hard as Hispanics."

"State Sen. Robert Ford ... said 'brothers' don't work as hard as Mexicans. He continued that his 'blue-eyed brothers' don't either."

"Once his ancestors were freed from slavery, he said, they didn't want to do any more hard work, so they were replaced by Chinese and Japanese."

Wow! Let the criticism begin!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Song of the Day: Wolf Parade - Yulia

Check out this video. Why don't they play stuff like this on the radio? Oh, who cares, I don't even listen to the radio anymore.

Wolf Parade - Yulia

I found this song on this list of the year's best love songs (posted on Valentine's Day, naturally). From Nerve:
"The Year in Love Songs"

There was one song on that list that stood out head and shoulders above the rest. And that is the song that I posted above.

Diamonds in the face of night time
Watch them as they float along
I was up there floating with them
And you know that I am gone
The radio sings a patriot’s song, it’s the devil that you know

We were standing on the platform
The favorite sons of history
While you’re back in Prostronaya
Writing in your diary
They flip on switch at mission control and I’m never coming home

Oh! I woke up from a fever dream
Oh! Of floating in the salty sea
I’m stranded up here floating along
and my heart beats slow and I hope they
Bring my body back

So when they turn the cameras on you
Baby please don’t speak of me
Point up to the dark above you
As they edit me from history
I’m 20 million miles from a comfortable home
And space is very cold

There’s nothing out here nothing out here nothing out
nothing out here nothing out here there’s nothing out here
nothing nothing out here nothing out here nothing nothing out

Egypt, Wael Ghonim, and the New Revolution

Did you watch 60 Minutes last night? Well, neither did I. Turns out, it was a good one. And not because of the Lady Gaga segment. Here's what we missed--the important part, I mean. The uplifting part. From CBS News:
"Wael Ghonim and Egypt's New Age Revolution", 60 Minutes, February 13, 2011

And the transcript:

Harry Smith (interviewer): "If there's no social network, does this revolution happen?"
Wael Ghonim: "If there was no social networks, it would have never been sparked. Because the whole thing before the revolution was the most critical thing. Without Facebook, without Twitter, without Google, without YouTube, this would have never happened."

It's not just one technology company that's involved, it's ALL of them. It's a new world.

Smith: "But isn't just the opposite then true? If I want to continue to suppress people, the last thing I'm gonna give them is access to the internet."
Ghonim: "Block the whole internet, you're gonna really frustrate people."

Ghonim also made a great point about Egypt blocking the internet at one point, something I believed before I heard this interview. Once the revolution gets started, it can't be stopped by pulling the plug on the internet.
Ghonim: "One of the strategic mistakes of this regime was blocking Facebook. One of the reasons why they are no longer in power now is that they blocked Facebook. Why? Because they have told four million people that they are scared like hell from the revolution by blocking Facebook. They forced everyone who's just, you know, waiting to read the news on Facebook, they forced them to go to the street to be part of this. So really, like, if I want to thank one, thank anyone for all of this, I would thank our stupid regime."

It is somewhat fitting that I do this post on Valentine's Day, a day of love. Notice that Ghonim forgave his captors, even kissing them all when he was released. He is a better man than I am.
Smith: "Did they hit you?"
Ghonim: "Yeah, but it was not systematic. Like, it was individual based, and it was not from the officers. It was actually from the soldiers. And I forgive them, I have to say. I forgive them, because one thing is that they were convinced that I was harming the country. These are simple people, not educated. I cannot carry a conversation with them. So, you know, for him, I'm sort of like a traitor. I'm de-stabilizing the country. So when he hits me, he doesn't hit me because, you know, he's a bad guy. He's hitting me because he thinks he's a good guy. I'll tell you a funny story: At the end of the last day, you know, I removed my...blindfold. And I said, 'Hi,' and kissed every one of them. All of the soldiers. And, you know, it was good. I was sending them a message."

I also like this part of his message.
Smith: "President Obama came out several times during the revolution, had things to say. Did it help? Did it hurt?"
Ghonim: "You know, it was good that he supports the revolution. That's a good stand. But we don't really need him. And I don't think that....I wrote a tweet. I wrote, 'Dear Western governments. You have been supporting the regime that was oppressing us for 30 years. Please don't get involved now. We don't need you.'"
Amen to that!

Here is the Facebook page (I think) that Ghonim started. Not sure if this is the original or not--seems like there should be more members:
"We are all Khaled Said"

Here is another great article on Ghonim, from Newsweek:
"The Facebook Freedom Fighter"

"Wael Ghonim’s day job was at Google. But at night he was organizing a revolution." Kind of makes my evenings seem boring. Really boring. And insignificant. :)

Yet another article on Ghonim, from CBS News:
"Wael Ghonim: A "One-Off" for Silicon Valley?" by Charles Cooper

This article explores Ghonim's relationship with Google as these events unfolded. For Ghonim his passion for Egypt was more important than his job--as it should be.

"Wael Ghonim, the Google product manager who helped pull together the popular demonstrations that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down as Egypt's president, is the hero of the hour. But not everywhere. For many in Silicon Valley, he's their worst nightmare.

"On the record, Google's not talking about Ghonim or the question of employee activism. For his part, Ghonim told CBS's Katie Couric in an interview on Friday that his participation in the protests had no connection with his employer.
'They did not know anything about this and actually when I took the time off and I went to Cairo, they did not know I was going to the protest,' he said. 'But when everything became public, I talked with the company and they suggested that I take a leave of absence and I also suggested that to them and I think it was a good decision for that. Google has nothing to do with this.'"

"Asked whether he planned to return to the office, Ghonim said that he'd be honored to return to Google 'if I'm not fired.'

"Maybe that was meant as a tongue-in-cheek comment. But there's a larger truth behind his quip. The key role played by one of Google's key executives in the Middle East revived a decades-old dilemma that many other technology companies face when it comes to the question of political activism: Where should they draw the line?

"'It's one of those things that companies don't want to touch with a ten foot pole,' a tech public relations exec told me on background.

"The obvious truth du jour is that tech companies don't want to take political positions - even when regimes use their products to oppress their own people."

But now the technology firms that played a role in the revolution might be seeking to capitalize on the publicity and goodwill that have resulted from this successful revolt in Egypt. From the Financial Times:
"Web firms aim to benefit from role in uprising" by Richard Waters

"'We hire incredibly passionate people,' a [Google] spokesperson said. 'Their values are the values of the web: access to information, freedom of communication, the power of people and democracy and we’re always incredibly proud to see Googlers take a stand on those issues.'

"Google’s new stance follows an outpouring of support among its own employees for Mr Ghonim and reflects a belief that its standing among younger internet users in particular will be boosted by his activism.

"Recent research in the US by JD Power, for instance, showed that people at an early stage in their career were drawn to brands that stand for strong values far more than those merely seen as 'trendy'."

On the other hand...

"While Google’s services are likely to be more popular in the Egypt, the company could suffer in other parts of the Middle East at a time when it has put a high priority on expanding there, said Mr Morozov. He added that political activists may baulk at seeing the internet companies try to take the credit, since some of their practices, like Facebook’s refusal to allow users to hide their identity behind pseudonyms, have made it harder for activists to operate, he added.

"Besides the immediate brand benefits, a person close to one of the US internet companies predicted that the recent events would greatly aid with hiring at a time when Silicon Valley companies are fighting over top talent, since engineers would be drawn to companies that are credited with changing the world.

"Another person said that giving overt backing to the protesters at an earlier stage might have hurt their cause, since it would have made it easier for the Egyptian authorities to claim the uprising had been fomented by US interests."

In answer to whether Ghonim would be welcomed back, Google tweeted:
"We're incredibly proud of you, @Ghonim, & of course will welcome you back when you're ready - cf. http://goo.gl/2BDGp"

Stuff like this makes me proud to work at Google. I am proud to have people like this on my team.

Finally, this post would not be complete without ... the song that Ghonim mentioned in his 60 Minutes interview! From YouTube:
"Sout Al Horeya صوت الحريه Amir Eid - Hany Adel - Hawary On Guitar & Sherif On Keyboards"

I don't understand a word of it. And yet I practically cry every time I hear it.

Song of the Day: Early Winters - Spanish Burn

I love it when my independent music feeds uncover a great artist I hadn't heard of. In this case the band is Early Winters, fronted by British singer Carina Round.

Unfortunately I didn't find an online version of the song performed by Early Winters. But here is a live version performed by Carina Round.
"Carina Round [Early Winters Side Project] - Spanish Burn"

And here is a more intimate version:
"Carina Round - Spanish Burn (Stripped Down Session 2010)"

Great stuff.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Astro and Scooby

Okay, here is a fun fact for you. Did you know that the voices of cartoon dogs Astro and Scooby Doo were done by the same guy? Yes, Don Messick did them both! I never realized that, although I don't find it surprising. Now that I think of it, they do sound a lot alike.

Here is a list of famous cartoon dogs. From Caninest:
"Famous Cartoon Dogs"