Friday, October 10, 2014

WHAT IS THE "QUAKER CLOUD," FOR 15TH ST MM IN 2014?

Note the contents of this post include:  

  • The Appendix to the Nov 2014 15th St MM Library Committee Report.
  • A How-To for registering on the Quaker Cloud, and receiving access to 15th St Meeting's documents that are private to members/attenders

------------------------------------------
Appendix to 2014 Library Report:
------------------------------------------

Dear Friends,

Our meeting has a website.

Imagine the website is a door, like in Harry Potter.


That door opens to an antechamber, with doors linking to many places. One of those links will lead to our meeting's Quaker Cloud. (Here is a copy of the link!)


In the cloud we will put, simply, the documentation of our meeting's governance.


From anywhere connected to the internet, we can conveniently access the latest versions, and older versions, of our key governance documents. This has many advantages.

First and most importantly, it enables our institutional memory. It is (will become) a common and always-accessible repository of our historical documents, and we can routinely back-up its new content through Swarthmore.

Second, the accessibility of the records will help us live and work as a community. It lets us leverage principles of Open Governance to help us achieve spiritual unity.

Putting documentation of our governance into the Cloud opens it to our members. A meeting cannot truly find unity where most of its members lack access to information. Poorly-informed friends cannot discern well, and are left to defer to well-informed Friends. The Spirit-Led nature of our community is sustained by our common knowledge of the issues facing us, and limited by a lack thereof.

This is already easy for the minutes of our Monthly Meeting. We have been posting them online for years,

and the newsletter has emailed out a link to a folder of the most recent years' newsletters for the past year. [EDIT: That link was replaced by this Quaker Cloud page]

It is somewhat different for private governance documents like the minutes of our Pastoral Care Committee, Ministry and Worship, Nominating, Property, etc. These committees' works include records that should not be made available to the general public. But, the Quaker Cloud is designed to support precisely this kind of combined privacy-and-convenience. How?


The solution, designed by FGC, has a feeling of simplicity. Public Meeting documents are accessible for any visitor to the Main Quaker Cloud page.

For the protected content, you can login to the cloud with your email address and a password. Without registration and vetting by the Administrator(s), there is no access.

When you login, FGC's computer server recognizes you, and remembers which committees you are on. It provides you access to the content you have permissions to see.

Each committee gets a Quaker Cloud "group," which is basically like a blog, which is a very simple webpage. Making a post to a blog (or "group") basically feels the same as sending an email. Then, instead of the content popping up in the recipient's email, it pops up as a webpage on the group-page within the Quaker Cloud website.

So then, when you log-in to the Quaker Cloud, you will see the list of only the groups you have access to. Some of the groups' content you have view-only access to, and some you can edit, depending on your current committee membership.

And that's it! And now it's time for... gratuitous Quaker dancing!




Baby Shower for Iranzi Elisa in 2011. Parents Etienne Harerimana and Damange Chantal, members of Gisenyi Evangelical Friends Church, are pictured.

Better Informed Community = Better Unity = Better Fellowship and Ministry.

-15th St Library Committee

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How-To for Registering on 15th St MM's Quaker Cloud
---------------------------------------------------------------------

  1. Go here: https://www.quakercloud.org/cloud/fifteenth-street-friends-meeting.  You should see a screen that looks like this: 
  2. Continue on to "3" if you don't have an account yet. 
    • If you do already have one, click "Log in" (in the upper-right) and login to your QuakerCloud account, then return to the page linked above. 
  3. Click on the "Request Access" button to the right.
  4. Click on "Request to Join this Group".
    • If you are already logged-in to a QuakerCloud account, then you should see a page that says that your request is "pending approval". 
    • Current 15thSt Q.Cloud admins are Steven Bhardwaj and Steve Smith. They/we will see your registration request and register you within a day or two.
  5. Otherwise, you'll need to register a QuakerCloud account. The process is like registering for an email account. In this case, you'll come to a page that looks like the following. 
    1. Click on "Create One Now" to register.
  6. Once you're registered on the QuakerCloud, return to steps "1" through "4" and "Request to Join this Group". Hurrah!









Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crunchbang forum contribution! Kingsoft WPS

Installed (Kingsoft) WPS Office Suite on my Crunchbang Linux OS. The first time I installed something where I contributed to a forum showing how I did it.

Screenshot from WPS spreadsheets:


EDIT: I subsequently found the dialog box that enables the feature I needed in LibreOffice. So now I don't need Kingsoft WPS anymore for now.




Link to my post on the #! forums.


Friday, September 26, 2014

RT @BBCAfrica: In pictures: Mali's motorbiking eye surgeons http://t.co/hVe3Pdb2Yt http://t.co/qHV9aLYMLf

The rich and the hoarders


Image shared on Facebook by a Quaker friend:

https://www.facebook.com/esaimoralesfb/photos/a.305348077202.154276.126835322202/10151875188092203/?type=1

2014-09-26
Comments:
V***: Indeed greed is an illness or an addiction.

D***: Rich people, and those on the cover of Forbes magazine do NOT hoard cash. B. Lester has no clue what he is talking about. In fact, most rich folks have very, very little cash - and they make money through leverage - that is, by taking on large amounts of debt. Debt is good! It allows rich people to grow richer by using other people's money.

Mr. Lester needs to free his mind and think.

Steven Bhardwaj: Interesting comment D***. True, private wealth management funds, like any investment fund, tend to use illiquid investments as they are more profitable to everyone concerned. I agree that private individuals decreasing the velocity of money by holding cash doesn't create large economic externalities. As to debt, I won't assign a value judgment, as its value to society depends on the quality of the investment the debt is used for.

More to the point are the dysfunctional institutions [institutional practices] used to amass the assets of many rich individuals, and the societal dysfunctions they create on the way there. There is a balance between the strength of the rule of law which creates property rights to define a fair market, and the strength of individual capitalists who bend and warp the laws to personal advantage. As the capitalists become strong enough relative to the law, the law becomes less of a tent to keep rain out of the public marketplace, and more like a maze of sheep handling chutes to manage the population and enforce rich privilege.

Corporate lobbying is isomorphic to smaller-scale corruption. Intellectual capture of financial regulators, military officals, and other industries' public servants by corporate interests is endemic beyond cliche.

For every Salman Khan there is a dozen or a hundred Sam Zemurray's. And, for every Madoff scandal, a dozen more white-collar criminals keep their impunity. [Regulatory policies are inherently stochastic - so regulation cannot effectively mitigate the governance effects of gross inequality.]

Guns can't kill people without people killing people. Riches can't cheat people without people cheating people. But when the guns are too deadly and prevalent, and the riches too unequal and [poorly] unregulated, then you sure know what's coming.

AccidentalRacialProfilingPoliceBrutality, and OpenCarryingSemiautomaticFirearmsInStores

It seems to me that most police brutality in the USA may be accidental, at point of contact. While such brutality-through-gross-negligence may be somewhat less-reprehensible, it is still very reprehensible. Somewhat better than very-very-horrific, still remains very-horrific.

Recent cases like last week's Sean Groubert and Levar Edward Jones make me glad that accurate flash sight marksmanship is hard to train.

Unfortunately, some officers are further away from their innocent but subconsciously-racially-profiled targets at point-of-contact, and are thus more accurate. This week's tragedy of John Crawford highlights that point.

John Crawford's tragedy also points out a serious often-neglected problem with open carry. It would make things much easier for assessing the danger of armed suspects, if there were strict laws restricting open carry of high caliber and automatic weaponry in public areas. Stores offering deadly-looking toy guns should clearly mark the packaging, "Removing toy gun from packaging in the store may be a violation of State or Federal Law. Read the attached manual on public carry of toy firearms before opening package." But under current laws, carrying a toy automatic weapon in a store is not an offense of any kind. 
But, open carrying in a store while black, toy or real, is effectively a capital offense.

This reminds me of a recent forum discussion I had about open carry in stores, which I will re-post below:


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Study Finds: 98% of English-speaking brides are Caucasian

The following is original research by Steven Bhardwaj conducted on 09-03-2014.
Claim of Veracity: Nothing below is a blatant lie.

I analyze a large sample (n=324) of bridal photographs, and analyze the summary statistics of the sample. I find that, utilizing a set of assumptions about market behavior of firms and consumers, the data supports an estimation that approximately 98% of English-speaking brides are Caucasian.

I make the following assumptions, most of which are reasonable:
  • The vast majority of women who get married wear wedding dresses.
  • They and their families purchase or rent those dresses from companies who provide the dresses.
  • The companies who advertise the dresses use the English language to reach English-speaking brides.
  • Those companies also advertise online in addition to other marketing efforts.
  • Photography is a personal service, requiring significant communication between the photographer and the wedding party.
  • The competitive market drives wedding dress vendors to aggressively sell to the whole bridal consumer market.
  • Thus, photographers using real wedding photos to advertise their photography on English websites will tend to present photos representative of English-speaking brides, and the ethnic demographics of photographers' online portfolios will reflect the demographics of their customers.
  • And, consumers appreciate when dresses are modeled by models of similar ethnicity. Thus the distribution of observable racial characteristics of online bridal models will reflect the corresponding distribution in real-world brides.
  • This sample of the 324 top results from Google Image Search is a representative collection of these companies' marketing efforts.
I find that, as only 5 out of 324 brides in the sample were non-Caucasian, the data supports the estimate that approximately 98% of English-speaking brides are Caucasian. Data is included in the appendix below. The author will refrain from using these results to extrapolate inference on the extramarital personal conduct of non-Caucasian women, in this report.

Appendix:
(click on image to enlarge)
















  • Source: 
    • https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=656&q=wedding+dress&btnG=Search+by+image&oq=&gs_l=
    • Accessed Sep 3, 2014 20:00


Friday, August 29, 2014

US Military Hero WODs

There is no more fitting tribute to a hero, than to train oneself while focusing on the memory of a hero. Whether it's academic study, athletic training, or drilling life/safety-critical situations, such action honors and renews the hero's legacy.

Let me not write a blog post on this subject, because I can already tell it will become far too long for my schedule today. Instead, let me write my ideal outline for this post as if I could spend a week on it:

  • What is a hero?
    • Warlike heroes
      • Warrior heroes from tribal mythology
      • Warrior heroes from tribal society
      • Warrior heroes from imperial society
      • Warrior heroes from democratic society
      • Warrior heroes in modern film and literature
    • Non-warlike heroes
      • Non-warlike heroes from tribal mythology
      • Non-warlike heroes from tribal society
      • Non-warlike heroes from imperial society
      • Non-warlike heroes from democratic society
      • Non-warlike heroes from modern film and literature
    • Christian Saints
      • Connection with ancient heroism
        • http://www.overcomeproblems.com/saints.htm
      • Canonized saints:
        • Martyrs
        • Confessors
    • Other modern religions' active sainthood systems
      • Wow, I have really hardly even started thinking about this
      • Chinese ancestor worship?
      • Boddhisvattas?
      • Hindus?
      • Muslims?
      • Jews?
  • From a global humanist perspective, how should society honor different kinds of heroes?
    • Claim that strict global humanism would conflict with many prevalent definitions of Just War
      • The humanism de-emphasizes the importance of subjective survival and self-defense.
      • This would throw out almost all the warlike heroes and saints, as no recent interstate conflicts can really be considered as truly justifiable humanitarian causes on one side or the other.
      • List many examples, and address the WWII counterexample.
      • Note that domestic police actions, even those involving force, are much more feasible to have fully humanistic aims and methods.
    • A less-strict global humanism allowing more self-defense, and respecting the importance of preserving subjective cultures and moralities, would still overrule many canonized saints and modern heroes
      • Many canonized warlike heroes were pretty horrible to their vanquished. 
        • http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.html
      • Many saints are canonized for their proselytizing efforts, despite their sometimes inhumane treatment of populations targeted for conversion, or communities under their authority.
      • This poses an interesting question concerning the heroism of modern soldiers:
        • Claim that soldiers often have high moral ideals, and/or were indoctrinated into high ideals, but successful military and political policies around the globe have been overwhelmingly cynically self-serving to individual governments, in general.
        • Should we consider the idealistic sacrifices made by individual soldiers heroic, even when the overarching policy of the war they serve in is cynical?
        • The first basic moral experiment that I confront myself with concerns direct military combatants: 
          • Should a pious, devout, loving, 10y/o girl, trained as a suicide bomber, who does so willingly for fully idealistic reasons, killing only military personnel, be considered a hero by her people?
          • How is she different from the 19y/o American marine with similar moral quality, killed in action?
          • What about the Japanese kamikaze pilot?
          • Seems to me that, insofar as the overarching political and military architecture of the conflict is similarly immoral on each side, and insofar as a global humanist perspective is adopted, then these youthful combatants have all achieved similar levels of heroism, or lack thereof.
        • The second basic moral experiment considers more realistic warfare which features collateral damage.
          • What if the 10y/o girl knows she may likely kill some innocent civilians in her attack?
          • What about the American lieutenant of high morals who reluctantly follows orders to supply arms to an allied group knowing they will likely be sold to market, which increases the general arms proliferation destabilizing the region. If he is subsequently killed in action, would he be considered a hero by global humanists?
          • It is somewhat more difficult to consider this category of people as heroes, because they they lack the "perfect virtue" which characterizes the description of saints.
          • Even popular secular morality draws much of its richness from older moralities, which were mainly expressed through religion. So although a utilitarian secular humanist need not require heroes to possess saintly virtues, the predominant trend is to prefer heroes who display a package of moral virtues. So humanists would likely tend to look at this category of candidate heroes as a difficult category, if not disqualified.
    • Under either global humanism system the main heroes left remaining are
      • Policemen, firefighters, EMTs, and others who risk their lives for others while dodging moral dilemmas like those of war.
      • Those who sacrifice of themselves to care for less advantaged people, while dodging moral dilemmas like those of war.
      • Those who confront a warring combatants from the moral high-ground of nonviolence, thereby mitigating the negative effects of war while personally avoiding facing its fundamental moral dilemmas.
        • Some advocates of nonviolent political methods propose that nonviolent methods are sufficient to mitigate war.
        • Their arguments are appealing and can be quite convincing, especially for longer time-frames.
    • However, the global humanist moral system seems insufficient for dealing with immediate issues.
      • Difficulties coordinating outlined in game theory prevent coordination on nonviolent and equitable solutions to problems.
        • communication problems
        • uncertainty
        • inability to make credible commitments
        • direct conflicts of interest / no mutually beneficial equilibrium
      • Uncertainty of the stability of equilibria approached by coordination on nonviolent methods.
        • Recognizably successful precedents are rather rare:
          • Costa Rica is the shining example of a government employing nonviolent methods as a state defense policy
          • , Indian independence, USA Civil Rights, South African Apartheid, Taiwan 2014
        • Well-publicized failures of nonviolent action are less frequent:
          • Myanmar, Falun Gong, Syria
        • More common is where repression, racism and other violent dynamics are so dominant that nonviolent protest has little scope to operate. 
          • Most of these are Western client states or colonies, so don't get righteous. I won't bother differentiating.
          • Ethnic cleansing of natives in the Americas, African Slavery in the Americas, African Colonies including "Congo Free State", China / Tibet, Iraq under Saddam, Iran under the Shah, Iran after the Shah, Zaire under Mobutu, dozens of African Cold War client states...
          • Less currently-violent examples where nonviolent action is difficult because of authoritarian regimes include Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Laos, check the long list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index
        • Also common is cases where nonviolent actions achieve limited or uncertain gains
          • Palestine is the poster child for this case. 
          • Certainly the efforts of communities like Budrus, the flotillas, the international journalists, the Jews protesting against the occupation, all qualify as heroism.
        • There is a perceived or real lack of nonviolent tools and options.
          • How can nonviolence be applied as a tool of the state?
          • During the French and Indian War, the British threatened to dissolve Pennsylvania's largely Quaker parliament if they refused to pay war taxes.
          • Some Quaker legislators chose to resign their position, leaving few enough Quakers remaining in Parliament that the war tax would pass, without Quakers voting for it.
          • Is that nonviolence? Or is it throwing in the towel?
          • Colonies and nation-states have found it difficult to exercise nonviolence as a political tool to assert themselves against other nations.
        • Finally, there is diverse contemporary experience with well-intended social experiments gone awry. People may avoid ambitious nonviolence just because it would be such a big and opaque change away from their comfortable status quo. Some examples of idealism thwarted by human fault and insufficiency are:
          • Communists: Stalin, Great Leap Forward...
          • Shakers: petered out
          • Jonestown: leaders got addicted to meth
          • Liberia: turned into another colonial misadventure
    • But I don't blame nonviolent action for the confusion. 
      • Let me try blaming our blunted moral frameworks.
  • I claim that fully-global humanism is insufficient as a complete practical moral stance. 
    • Humanism fails to provide practicable guidelines for operating the ship of state, the role of politics, in a dangerous world.
    • Courtesy toward neighbors requires assigning them certain amount of moral priority
      • holding doors open for nearby pedestrians, 
      • listening communication protocol during a conversation
      • recognition of next-door neighbors when you encounter them in public
    • We spend time on being courteous to our neighbors because 
      • our existence in a fragile and needy human body requires it
      • our fates are linked with our neighbors' fates
    • Generally, the closer a neighbor is to us in terms of information and influence, the more linked our fates.
      • This link operates through four mechanisms:
        • A: I know things about my neighbor
        • B: My actions can influence my neighbor's life
        • C: My neighbor knows things about me
        • D: His actions can influence my life
      • When we are close to someone in a basket of the four mechanisms ABCD, then
        • If we share intimate across-the-board mutual knowledge and mutual influence with a person, then we will almost necessarily be the person's opponent or friend.
        • It becomes more likely that we can achieve positive mutual gains by cooperating in some way, or mutual losses through war.
        • Our identity becomes more related to the other person's identity.
    • Let's consider "low" and "high" levels of each type ABCD of information or influence
      • Considering these four mechanisms as dimensions of proximity, then there are 2^4 = 16 "types" of subjective relationships that I can have with a neighbor.
      • Each of these 16 "types," numbered 1 through 16, will have different characteristics.
    • In addition, to those four dimensions, there are more specific kinds of proximity that my affect morality of behavior in relationships.
      • I may have physical proximity to someone, but communicative distance from them, as I don't speak their language. 
      • I my have emotional proximity to my sister, but a long physical distance as she lives across the country. 
      • Physical, racial, socioeconomic, emotional, cultural.
    • In all, we may identify dozens of important dimensions of proximity relevant to a moral question, and a resulting diverse typology of relationships.
      • Each type may suggest a different type of courtesy, and a different type of ideal relationship.
      • This resulting diversity of ideal relationships would contradict the moral uniformity of humanism.
    • I do not abandon morally uniform humanism as irrelevant,
      • Rather describe it as a reasonable approximation for many situations
      • But the complex modern externalities like climate change, nuclear weapons, global pandemics, globally imperial military adventures, etc, make humanism alone insufficiently nuanced for planning and prioritization purposes.
    • That is, humanism remains an important gut-check.
      • I think that if humanism strongly rejects a choice, then that's a pretty bad choice.
      • But we need more from ethics and morals than just binary decisions
  • Thus, I am proposing a system of limited moral relativism
    • I imagine the need for moral relativism is somewhat like the need for "modern physics". 
      • Let's say that the selfish nature of "homo economicus" is like Newtonian physics. It's a great useful model, you can build huge bridges and grand structures with it. But you can't run a washing machine with it; Newtonian physics completely ignores electricity.
      • Almost all of the world we interact with operates on "classical physics": kinetic, solid, and fluid mechanics; electromagnetism, acoustics, thermodynamics, etc. All this is analagous to a more behavioral economic model that includes humanist morals and ethics.
      • But now we also have "modern physics," with nuclear fission, quantum theory, and how near-light-speeds affect the passage of time with via special relativity.
      • Nowadays, engineers working on GPS satellites even have to deal with "special relativity" in their calculations.
      • In a similar way, I think that society has become as complex as the calculations needed for the precise timing of a GPS satellite's orbit. To deal with the morality of complex global issues, we have to be really careful to consider all the moral nuances!
    • So I am considering how my moral obligations to others change dynamically based on my "proximity" to them.
      • The proximity distance metric has many component dimensions.
      • It could have four (ABCD), or it could have dozens.
      • I haven't thought out yet what each of the possible categories would entail, 
      • but that enumeration/visualization project is for another day!!!
  • Figuring out this system of limited humanist morality,
    • could help me more clearly define my moral relation to soldiers with:
      • diverse morality, risking their lives in ...
      • combats structured for diverse political ends, with... 
      • diverse levels of risk to innocents... 
      • fighting for a diverse set of nations and causes...
      • when I am articulating my morality before interlocutors or audiences claiming diverse moral standpoints,
    • could help me form a process for evaluating the heroism of those soldiers...
      • That project is also for another day.
      • But I am grateful for this opportunity to engage the in this deliberative process.
      • And I affirm that that the self-sacrifice, hard work, loyalty, and lofty ideals, of soldiers, does not go unnoticed or unthanked, in me.
This rumination came about due to my review of U.S. Army First Lieutenant Dimitri Del Castillo, before the "Del: Hero WOD" today at CrossFit Breed

http://crossfitbreed.com/friday-8-29-14/

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"...not a thief, or vicious man... among them..."

From the Wikipedia article on Túpac Amaru:

"In Cuzco in 1589, Don Mancio Serra de Leguisamo — one of the last survivors of the original conquerors of Peru—wrote in the preamble of his will, the following, in parts:

We found these kingdoms in such good order, and the said Incas governed them in such wise [manner] that throughout them there was not a thief, nor a vicious man, nor an adulteress, nor was a bad woman admitted among them, nor were there immoral people. The men had honest and useful occupations. The lands, forests, mines, pastures, houses and all kinds of products were regulated and distributed in such sort that each one knew his property without any other person seizing it or occupying it, nor were there law suits respecting it… the motive which obliges me to make this statement is the discharge of my conscience, as I find myself guilty. For we have destroyed by our evil example, the people who had such a government as was enjoyed by these natives. They were so free from the committal of crimes or excesses, as well men as women, that the Indian who had 100,000 pesos worth of gold or silver in his house, left it open merely placing a small stick against the door, as a sign that its master was out. With that, according to their custom, no one could enter or take anything that was there. When they saw that we put locks and keys on our doors, they supposed that it was from fear of them, that they might not kill us, but not because they believed that anyone would steal the property of another. So that when they found that we had thieves among us, and men who sought to make their daughters commit sin, they despised us."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Plover Song of Sixpence

Learning to type with Plover, an open-source stenotype program. Here is an auto-updating chart of my progress learning to type the "Song of Sixpence" as fast as possible. Each timed repetition is a point on the chart. Untimed repetitions are less than 20% of total reps.



Here are the incredible lyrics to the Song of Sixpence:

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie,
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing,
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the King!

The King was in the counting house,
Counting out his money,
The Queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey,
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
There came a little blackbird,
And nipped off her nose!

And here is a 1-year Stenotype progress chart from Mirabai Knight, stenotypist and guru of Plover. Note that:

  • The axes are flipped between my chart and Mirabai's
  • I'm such a beginner that my WPMs aren't even on Mirabai's chart yet! (As of this writing.)  ;)
Mirabai Knight's progress in steno school 2006-2007.  (Link to her blogpost.)



Friday, June 6, 2014

Wikipedia Language Barrier: The Great Wall

There was an important (and awful, as such things are) battle on the Korean peninsula in April 1951. The Chinese PRC army attacked UN positions held by troops from the USA, UK, South Korea (ROK) and other nations, but was held back by the UN troops. Casualties were heavy all around, especially for the Chinese. This and the subsequent few battles were important in delineating the modern border between the Koreas.

Youths playing the roles of soldiers on all sides should have been able to re-purpose all that war-cortisol toward cramming for exams, applying for jobs, awkwardly courting girls, and otherwise learning about and building their worlds.

But I'm not here to talk history, but meta-history. The English-language Wikipedia article is drastically different from the Chinese-language one. In particular,
  • The Chinese-language article includes exclusively quotes from Chinese politicians and generals, while the English-language article includes only quotes from American and British figures.
  • The English-language article describes how the battle is remembered by British communities for their fierce fighting, and how they defended their positions in certain battles with much fewer troops and fewer losses while causing large numbers of Chinese casualties. The Chinese-language article emphasizes the provocation created by Allied bombings of Pyongyang and other cities, the Western advantage in logistics, and marginal territorial gains from Chinese attacks.
  • The Chinese-language article follows the decision-making process through the battle of the Chinese side, and the English article follows the Allied side. For instance, the English article reads "The Royal Ulster Rifles were unable to secure the bridges. This development meant that the Belgian battalion on the north bank of the river was in danger of being isolated from the rest of the 29th Brigade." The English article does not explore similar tactical considerations from the Chinese army's point of view.
  • The distribution of content among these and other related wikipedia articles are structured differently in the two encyclopedia versions, reflecting the priorities of the authors in each language. 
  • The English wikipedia pages are larger and include more detail than the relevant Chinese pages. But, remember that Wikipedia is banned on the Chinese mainland. And, the corresponding page on the battle on the probably-censored but also collaboratively-written Chinese BaiDu/BaiKe encyclopedia website is similary detailed as Wikipedia, and also has a considerable political slant.
All in all, these articles could use a great deal of cross-pollination between language versions, but Google Translate isn't really up to the task yet, and has a long way to go. Chinese-proficient contributors in the diaspora and Taiwan express diverse political viewpoints, and often help balance the content across the languages for more important Wikipedia articles. But it seems that in an obscure historical article like this one, we can actually observe history being told by two sides. (Not that there are only two!) Wikipedia is doing its best at NPOV, but it's a tough world out there.

I haven't seen this kind of thing on Wikipedia much yet, but that's probably because I haven't really started looking for it yet. I bet it's everywhere...

In the future, these Wikipedia and BaiDuBaiKe articles will be very different from the way they are now. But here is my folder of pdfs of these articles and talk pages as they were today, for future reference.

Links to the articles: English-Wikipedia, Chinese-Wikipedia, Chinese-BaiDuBaiKe.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

TPP and Intellectual Property

I find that communication is the most important "Alternative to Violence". As such, my largest concern about the proposed TPP trade deal is its grave impacts on modern communication methods and intellectual property.
  • TPP has provisions to criminalize basic aspects of downloading and streaming content. 
    • That chills internet communications that all of us, including social reformers, depend on for our work. 
  •  TPP internationalizes extension of copyrights more than 50 years after the author's death, curtails "fair use" provisions, and more.
    • Extended copyrights don't encourage authors, they merely prevent access and re-use of works that publishers don't want to bother making available at a reasonable rate. For instance, you still can't play "Happy Birthday" on the radio without paying a hefty fee to Warner Bros. 
    • This puts barriers and frictions in the work of our educators and inter-cultural communicators. 
  •  TPP enables more frivolous patents, and makes them more enforceable in more countries. 
    • Computer software is the worst jungle of "patent trolls," that could be impacted by the TPP.
    • But the TPP would even make surgical procedures patentable. Imagine a doctor unable to perform a procedure because she fears a patent lawsuit!
    • Intellectual property regulations can also enable or undermine agricultural green revolutions in low income countries. QUNO has been studying this recently. 

Sources:
Wikipedia
Electronic Frontier Foundation statement (like the ACLU for electronic communications)
International Business Times article on TPP
NYT on Patent Trolls
QUNO on Intellectual Property in Agriculture