Archive for the 'Society' Category

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Taking passwords to the grave

Taking passwords to the grave – what happens with your online accounts after you die


Zimbabwean First Names

Here’s a short list on display with rather particular first names in Zimbabwe, definitely worth a look on Antonia’s weblog.

50 books for thinking…

…about the future human condition. Check out the list:

50 books list from the Rand corporation.

Prejudice Map Expanded

A telling 11 days after CA, Spiegel Online reports about the prejudice map.

Kushibo, a regular reader and commentator at CA who said that national pride would be the #1 stereotype mentioned about Koreans, made me curious enough to find it out myself… this is the top ten I got, using the same modus operandi (results can differ since the web changes every second):

  1. “The Koreans are known for solving for low cost, and the Americans? Nah, they’re petrol heads.”
  2. “Avi, the North Koreans are known for playing hard and nasty on the soccer field.”
  3. “Koreans are known for liking their food very very very hot and spicy..yuMm!”
  4. “North Koreans are known for bluffing and running there mouths off to get attention.”
  5. “The Koreans are known for wanting everything yesterday!”
  6. “Typically, the Koreans are known for churning out low-cost cars from basic platforms and exporting them globally.”
  7. “Koreans are known for hiding their age well.”
  8. “Koreans are known for their boat-shaped shoes.”
  9. “Koreans are known for separating their family members, such as separating the sexes and the young from the old.”
  10. “Koreans are known for their negotiating skills, and they often do not look for absolutes, as most things are subject to change.”

Surprisingly, nothing about national pride, but cars, food and soccer.

Unbelievable: Death Row for Self-Defense

Reading The Peking Duck, I find this story:

It’s in the middle of the night in Mississippi. A black guy, the name’s Cory Maye, never had anything to do with the police, is alarmed by intruders in the middle of the night. He shoots one of them out of angst for his baby daughter and himself. Turns out, the intruders were the police who broke into his house by mistake and the intruder killed the son of the police chef. The police were on a drug raid but got the wrong guy. A (mostly) white jury sentences him to death since the police rather chose to change their story about drugs, saying they found traces of it in Maye’s possession during the raid which they first concluded wasn’t the case.

If the facts are as reported, this was self-defense. I don’t have a gun at home and never would want one, but I’d be crazy if I don’t defend myself against any intruder who endangers me or my family. Maye gets the death penalty. Unbelievable.

I’ve written before about capital punishment, and my opinion didn’t change at all since then. In the contrary, almost every news item I read about capital punishment confirms my conviction that a flawed system must not be allowed to execute irreversible decisions about life and death.

Battlepanda: Outrage

Challenge Intelligent Design

There’s a lot of people who don’t think much of the ACLU, and there are others. But – in the case against Intelligent Design a.k.a. Creationism they’re doing 100% the right thing, no doubt about it. Combat it on all fronts, fight back, don’t let it pollute the hearts and minds of children. If this fails, another American key freedom is in dire danger.

The ACLU Challenge to Intelligent Design

Money Out of Thin Air

After reading that some neighborhood Jon Doe bought an ice-cold rock in a virtual universe for 100.000 real dollars, elsewhere players die or merry online, now the next step comes in form of Second Life. Following Will Wright’s vision of new forms of entertainment, Second Life’s virtual world promises that

…built-in content creation tools let you make almost anything you can imagine, in real time and in collaboration with others.

Companies like Linden Lab are on the safe side with their bussiness plan, there’ll be always people who have a reason to escape their real life just to enjoy a virtual one they can control better – or at least have such an impression. I can’t think of another reason why people play excessively. Nevertheless, I think this feeling of a better grip on one’s (virtual) life is an illusion, the only difference is that you can choose the starting point yourself. After that, you’re on your own, like everybody else and usually rules don’t hinder players to harm each other. In real life, you’re born without having a say in anything, be it outward appearance, character, (future) profession, etc., but in the end, a real life is more intense, diverse and fascinating than any virtual universe could ever be.

Taking a closer look at Second Life’s website, I noticed that you can buy a complete island, so, in other words, they’re making money from thin air – how does their price translate in bits and bytes? Would you buy a virtual beach resort?

Support Free Speech on the Internet

From the EFF‘s website:

EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit group of passionate people—lawyers, technologists, volunteers, and visionaries — who depend on your support to continue successfully defending your digital rights. Litigation is particularly expensive; because two-thirds of our budget comes from individual donors, every contribution is critical to helping EFF fight —and win—more cases.

You Have the Right to Blog Anonymously. EFF has fought for your right to speak anonymously on the Internet, establishing legal protections in several states and federal jurisdictions, and developing technologies to help you protect you identity. With your support, EFF can continue to defend this right, conducting impact litigation to establish strict standards to unmask an anonymous critic in more jurisdictions.

You Have the Right to Keep Sources Confidential. In Apple v. Does, EFF is fighting to establish the reporter’s privilege for online journalists before the California courts. With your support, EFF can defend news bloggers from subpoenas seeking the identity of confidential sources in more jurisdictions.

You Have the Right to Make Fair Use of Intellectual Property. In OPG v. Diebold, Diebold, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic voting machines, had sent out copyright cease-and-desist letters to ISPs after internal documents indicating flaws in their systems were published on the Internet. EFF established the publication was a fair use. With your support, EFF can help fight to protect bloggers from frivolous or abusive threats and lawsuits.

You have the Right to Allow Readers’ Comments Without Fear. In Barrett v. Rosenthal, EFF is working to establish that Section 230, a strong federal immunity for online publishers, applies to bloggers. With your support, EFF can continue to protect bloggers from liability for comments left by third parties.

You Have the Right to Protect Your Server from Government Seizure. In In re Subpoena to Rackspace. EFF successfully fought to unveil a secret government subpoena that had resulted in more than 20 Independent Media Center (Indymedia) news websites and other Internet services being taken offline. With your support, EFF can hold the government accountable for investigations that cut off protected speech.

You Have the Right to Freely Blog about Elections. EFF has advocated for the sensible application of Federal Election Commission rules to blogs that comment on political campaigns. With your support, EFF can continue to protect political blogs from onerous campaign regulations.

You Have the Right to Blog about Your Workplace. EFF has educated bloggers on their rights to blog about their workplace and developed technologies to help anonymous whistle bloggers. With your support, EFF can help shape the law to protect workplace bloggers from unfair retaliation.

You Have the Right to Access as Media. EFF has educated bloggers on their right to access public information, attend public events with the same rights as mainstream media, and how to blog from public events. With your support, EFF can fight for bloggers’ right to access as media.

Know Your Rights and Prepare to Defend Them. EFF has created the Legal Guide for Bloggers to give you a basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger and a guide on How to Blog Safely. With your support, EFF can expand and update these guides.

Support EFF by Becoming a Member Today!


Why do so many people smoke on a fair about medicine and health? Germany desperatly needs air for breathing, enter Irish smoking laws!

Any person found guilty of breaching the ban on smoking in the workplace may be subject to a fine of 3,000 euro. The owner, manager or person in charge of the workplace is legally responsible for ensuring that the ban on smoking in the workplace is complied with.

Even Irish smokers like them, that must count for something? Here’s BBC’s global overview on smoking. A complete ban on tobacco like in Bhutan would be even better, but in no way enforceable and surely wouldn’t be backed by the majority of the population in Germany. One can still dream, though.

Dangerously Unique

It’s pieces like this one, written by Moisés Naím, editor in chief of Foreign Policy that bring back into mind what normalcy is.

You are not normal. If you are reading these pages, you probably belong to the minority of the world’s population that has a steady job, adequate access to social security, and enjoys substantial political freedoms. Moreover, you live on more than $2 a day, and, unlike 860 million others, you can read.
At a time when values have become so common in political discourse, it is important to remain alert to when our advice is built on faulty assumptions about what is normal. When that happens, values lead to bad decisions, not moral clarity.

Foreign Policy: Dangerously Unique

update: check out this discussion at

Reporters sans frontières

Very useful, if you’re in a country with oppressive legislation…

Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they’re tremendous tools of freedom of expression.
Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.
Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

The handbook is available in Chinese, Arabic, Persian, French and English. WordPress is mentioned as well.

Reporters sans frontières – Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents

Dead Men Walking

A friend of mine is in Swaziland right now. She told me about how beautiful the country is – but also, how trouble riddled it is. Take a look at this. The top seven countries, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa have between 20% and 38% HIV/AIDS infected among adults. Those are estimations, but considering the condition of the listed countries I’d be surprised if there were solid numbers. The data from Virtual HIV test comes mainly from UNAIDS and other international Organizations.

In Botswana, I’ve been told, companies take three times the number of apprentices because chances are, two of them will die soon. I can hardly imagine what’s going to happen in the next two decades. I don’t believe the international community is prepared for it though. In Germany, the number of new infections is rising again, with a total of about 44,000 people currently suffering from HIV/AIDS, but it is nowhere near such disastrous conditions as Africa.

HIV Statistic

Newspapers and Movies – Both Fading Fast

Exactly what comes to my mind every time I go to the movies: Newspapers and Movies – Both Fading Fast


Call for Help

Famine in Niger (source: AFP)The famine in Niger escalates: About 2-3.5 million people are affected by it, around 150,000-800,000 children already suffer from undernourishment and might die in the near future. The numbers vary a lot, but considering the situation it’s not surprising. Milton Tetonidis of Medecins Sans Frontieres has been quoted that response has yet been very low – spread the word.


Spiegel Online
Ärtzte ohne Grenzen
Plan Deutschland


United Nations – OCHA IRIN Africa News
Doctors without Borders
Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN
Relief Web