Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dark Crystal (1982) ★★★★★



The plot:

A thousand years ago, a crystal cracked and two races appeared simultaneously: The evil scheming Skeksis and the wise and good Mystics. The Skeksis have waged war and destruction, and committed genocide on the Gelflings, a race of good-spirited elf-like creatures. Jen, a young Gelfling who initially believes he is the last member of his race has been raised by the Mystics. As a stellar event is about to happen, with the conjunction of the 3 suns, Jen is sent on a quest to retrieve a shard of the crystal and prevent the Skeksis from obtaining the power that would give them immortality and allow them to rule the world forever.


My verdict:

This movie is broadcast almost every year on French television during the Christmas holidays and it is an all-time classic by Jim Henson, creator of the Muppet Show. If you've somehow managed to avoid it up until now, it's not too late. Of course, a full movie with muppets might be off-putting, especially considering the still faces that sort of fall in the Uncanny Valley but the story is compelling. The quest is epic and gears are in motion towards a cathartic ending. The characters are very stereotypical and evil characters are depicted as ugly, even frightening... which is why I would not recommend this movie to children under 8 years old. But this is the epitome journey of a hero and it appeals to everyone. So, 5 stars deserved.


Also, it needs to be mentioned: in the title, I listed the date of this movie as being 1982 but several re-releases on DVD and BluRay have provided improved graphics, so these versions may have your preference.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Red (2010) ★★★★☆



The plot

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) retired from the CIA. His retirement, too calm to his liking, takes a new turn when a CIA squad breaks in his house to assassinate him. Reuniting with other ex-agents being tracked to death, Frank will try and uncover the reasons that got them on a kill list.


My verdict

First remark: Bruce Willis jumps into the heart of action just as well as he used to more than 20 years earlier. The rhythm of the movie is perfect. As in most action movies, the scenario is rather simple and not of prime importance. As one would hope, the action is at its best, and sometimes a bit over the top, but that's what you want in a comedic action film. The acting is good and it's a must-see for all Bruce Willis fans. Whatever you might expect of it, RED delivers. 4 stars.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Teeth and forks



In a past article, I mentioned how the story of bones truly started with teeth. Here's another story about teeth.

If you check your teeth, chances are that when you clench them, the upper row of teeth covers the lower row and your upper incisors end up in front or the lower ones. This is the case for the vast majority of humans today and is referred to as an overbite. The reason I was interested in this subject is because I was born with a genetically-caused underbite aka. mandibular prognathism of which I've been operated since.

But overbite appeared in humans only about 250 years ago all over the world. As archaeologists have found with ancient skulls, up until 250 years ago, upper and lower incisors reached exactly on top of each other. No row of teeth was in front of the other. Also, because the change happened so suddenly and so widely all over the world, the explanation is not likely to have genetic origins.

So what did change? Forks! The usage of forks for eating became common in Europe and in the Americas about 250 years ago. And that's the time when the morphology of teeth started changing. In other places like China, the usage of chopsticks for eating is more ancient and also coherent with the change of teeth. What is more, there were period when eating utensils were reserved for privileged classes of society while the rest were still eating with their hands. And that is reflected by different teeth on the bones of dead people from different social classes.

The explanation it seems, is that eating with our hands increased the usage of incisors and eroded our upper incisors. Nowadays, our incisors are less solicited and the upper ones simply outgrow the bottom ones.

You can find references to this subject in this article of The Atlantic and that mention of QI since this appeared in a recent episode of the British tongue-in-cheek trivia show.


Conclusion

What is surprising with this subject is how something seemingly mundane like using a fork modifies the shape of our body.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The bothersome man (2006) ★★★★☆


Plot

Andreas throws himself in front of a subway train. When he regains consciousness, a bus takes him to a strange city. Upon his arrival, he is expected and the city has everything for him: an apartment, a job, a wife. Life in the city is dull. Everything is smooth, tidy, tasteless. There is no ill but also no true pleasure. This kind of life is not what Andreas aspires to, and he will do everything to break free from the city.


My verdict

This is a surrealist fable. The divide between the city and our reality creates a comical effect. And still, there is something in common between the city and our world. Maybe the danger of living outside the norm. Or our complacency to live easy lives and keep away from any risk. The main character is a go-getter. He's the one we want to be, yet his experience is terribly unpleasant. He gives other people a fair chance to enjoy the things he enjoys, though. The main actor plays wonderfully and the whole script is wittily brilliant. 4 stars.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The video games of my youth




I have a fondness for some of the video games of my youth. As I was reading Sam & Max's blog article about their own history with video games, I simply decided to copy their idea and recount my history of playing video games.

My very first video game was an arcade inside a café, and I must have been around 3 or 4 years old. I remember it was space-themed and I remember the screen was embedded in a table and facing up, and allowed 2 players to sit at opposite sides of the table. But I can't remember the title of that game nor the details of gameplay. Was it more like Comets or Orbits or Space Invader? I don't remember.


Later in my youth, for Xmas or some birthdays, I got some LCD games. The one where you have a car, 3 lanes, and you must avoid other cars as you drive faster than them. The one with a building in flames, people jumping through the window, and you move the firemen who must catch the jumpers. And a few others. These games were rubbish, but still you were driven to try and try again to beat your own high score.

Around 8 years old, my school organized a trip to the opposite side of France and the family of my penfriend had a video game console. Back in the day, in 1986, it was pretty rare. It was an Atari 2600 and there were 2 games:

  • Space Invaders
  • Some cowboy game. I can't find the title but I think it wasn't Gunslinger


And then came the era of "real" video games for me. It all started with a friend inviting me over to his house and showing me his Sega Master System games. 2 of them stick in my mind.

  • PsychoFox
  • R-Type


I have such a fondness for PsychoFox! It is very similar to Mario but your character can transform from 1 type of animal to another in order to gain special abilities, which in turn let you access to new places. And where Mario's level design was very horizontal, PsychoFox had much more height which gave a feeling of freedom.

So I saved money from birthdays and Xmas and bought myself one of these Master Systems when I was 11 years old (or maybe 12?) and I played quite a few of the titles available. Considering the cost of these games and the small amount of money available to a child, I bought only 6 of these but exchanged often my games with friends for 2-3 weeks at a time, so I could play quite a lot.

  • Action Fighter
  • After Burner
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World
  • Alex Kidd in Shinobi World
  • Altered Beast
  • Battle Out Run (I loved this one!)
  • Black Belt
  • California Games
  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  • Choplifter
  • Double Dragon
  • Fantasy Zone
  • Fire & Forget 2
  • Gauntlet (wicked! 512 levels without saves nor password and I once died at level 256 after 12 hours)
  • Ghostbusters
  • Ghouls'n Ghosts
  • Golden Axe
  • Hang-On
  • Impossible Mission
  • Populous
  • R-Type
  • Rampage
  • Rastan Saga
  • Rescue Mission (game using the Light Phaser gun)
  • Sagaia
  • Shinobi
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Strider
  • Vigilante
  • Wonder Boy in Monster Land

In parallel of my Master System bonanza, I also played on a variety of other systems when I had the opportunity at some friend's place or when visiting cousins. So I played some Gameboy, Sega Megadrive ("Genesis" for people in USA), a few arcades, MO5, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, PC1512 and PC1640, Atari 2600, Game Gear...



And then a new console rocked my world: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Depending on location it is either called Super Nintendo, Super Famicom, or SNES. I bought one of these second-hand, exchanged a lot of games, and years later I also played emulated SNES games on my PC. The list of games that I've played includes (green=good, red=bad):
  • ActRaiser
  • ActRaiser 2
  • Addams Family
  • Aero Fighters
  • Axelay
  • Bahamut Lagoon
  • Bass Masters Classic Pro Edition
  • Brain Lord
  • Breath of Fire
  • Breath of Fire 2
  • Bust-a-move (Puzzle Bobble)
  • Cacoma Knight in Bizyland
  • Cannon Fodder
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Clock Tower
  • Contra 3: The Alien Wars
  • Cool Spot
  • Darius Twin
  • Demon's Crest
  • Disney's Goof Troop
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension
  • Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan (RPG)
  • Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Menace
  • Dragon Quest 6
  • Drakkhen
  • EVO: Search for Eden
  • EarthBound
  • Equinox
  • F-Zero
  • F1 Pole Position
  • Final Fantasy 4
  • Final Fantasy 5
  • Final Fantasy 6
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
  • Front Mission
  • Gods
  • Harvest Moon
  • Illusion of Time
  • Inindo: Way of the Ninja
  • Justice League Task Force
  • Killer Instinct
  • King of Dragons
  • Lagoon
  • Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Live a live
  • Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
  • Mega Man 7
  • Monopoly
  • Monstania
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Mortal Kombat 2
  • Ogre Battle
  • Paladin's Quest
  • Parodius
  • Pinball Dreams
  • Pop'n TwinBee
  • Radical Dreamers
  • Raiden Trad
  • Romancing Saga 3
  • Secret of Evermore
  • Secret of Mana
  • Secret of Mana 2
  • Secret of the Stars
  • Shadowrun
  • Shin Megami Tensei
  • SimEarth
  • Sonic Blast Man
  • Soul Blazer
  • Star Fox
  • Star Ocean
  • Street Fighter 2
  • Street Fighter 2 Turbo
  • Street Fighter Alpha 2
  • Sunset Riders
  • Super Castlevania 4
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's island
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Off Road
  • Super Street Fighter 2
  • Super SWIV
  • Super Tennis
  • Super Valis
  • Tales of Phantasia
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4
  • Terranigma
  • Treasure Hunter G
  • Treasure of the Rudras
  • U.N. Squadron
  • Ultraman
  • Uncharted Waters 2: New Horizons
  • Violinist of Hameln
  • Wonder Project J
  • Young Merlin
  • Ys 3: Wanderers from Ys

My PC looked like this. 386sx25 (25 MHz), 2MB RAM,
40 MB HDD, 2 floppy drives 3.5", no sound card, 14" SVGA monitor


While I was still playing regularly with my SNES, I got my first PC. It would be too tedious to try and check all the games that I played on PC. I probably played more PC games than SNES games, and I don't expect to find a list of titles easily. So I'll only recall some of the most influencing ones that I got to play:

  • Civilization
  • Counter-Strike
  • Day Of The Tentacle
  • Diablo
  • Frontier: Elite 2
  • The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall
  • The Incredible Machine
  • UFO: Enemy Unknown


Conclusion

Hopefully, this will describe well enough the games I've been exposed to, before coming to the PC.

I have been a dedicated player for a long time but nowadays I spend less time playing since I have other things to do, including writing this blog, reading news, listening to science-themed podcasts and reading books (or listening to audiobooks).

Maybe someday I should try and list the PC games that I can remember playing.

For the future, I am unsure of how my relation to games will evolve. I spend less and less time playing on PC and I feel drawn to the Playstation Vita as well as Nintendo's portable console (either 3DS XL or 2DS).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blood donation





Hospitals never have enough blood. Or rather, they may have enough blood sometimes, but blood can only be preserved and used for 6 weeks. That's why people are encouraged to donate blood on a regular basis.

2/3 of the blood will be used for people over 60 years old and the increase in life expectancy is driving this statistic upwards. In parallel with this increased demand, the supply is stable, with 1 in 38 people donating. The highest usage of blood seems to be targeted at people with cancer or leukemia undergoing chemotherapy.

After you donate blood, there are several things you should do:

  • press for 5 minutes on the part of your arm where the needle was, to prevent swelling
  • consume sugar, honey, or any other source of glucose to fuel your brain and prevent dizziness and a vasovagal response
  • drink a lot of water so it can be used to create new blood
  • eat blood pudding, blood sausage or other iron-rich foods to create new red cells
  • stay away from efforts, sport, driving

Saturday, December 14, 2013

On the uniqueness of individual perspective



In philosophy, the word solipsism refers to the idea that one person's own mind is the only sure thing to exist. Though I'm not interested in discussing solipsism itself or the degree to which I agree or disagree with it, I think it's a good starting point to think about the idea that we are alone in our heads.

I am me, and I am not anybody else. Anything that you tell me about you and your experiences, I will understand it and perceive it through my own filters. Some of my filters can be similar to yours if we have some things in common, like growing up in the same country and the same culture. But there is necessarily a number of differences between you and me. If you are a woman, then I will miss all of the filters associated with the experience of being a woman. For sure, I have been told some things about what it's like to be a woman. So I can try and understand things the way you do, but it will never succeed 100%. It will only succeed to the degree that I can mimic some of your filters.

Being an individual means that there are unique aspects of experiencing certain things and not experiencing other things. If I celebrate my 35th birthday in country A, then I don't get to know what it's really like to celebrate my 35th birthday in country B.

We are also slaves to our physical bodies. We only require a change in hormone concentration to obtain different results from a single stimulus. If we take diazepam (Valium), we will react with less anxiety. And that is not just a physical response but a change within brain activity and therefore experience. Our hormones fluctuate without the need to take medication. The most notorious example being probably women's behavior changing along their menstrual cycle.

Also, in order to try and understand the experiences of another person, we need to know things about that person. We tend to easily pass judgement on other people whom we don't know. But since we don't know them, we presume (without reliable evidence) what filters they have. This is often the case on subjects of politics. Recently, I have been debating quite a lot with people who are on the far-right of the political spectrum. When having these debates, I found that the communication problem did not lie only with the difference of knowledge. There is also a difference of filters. We wrap similar words in different contexts. For example, I view free-masons as communities emulating the spirit of the Enlightenment. But people from the far-right see free-masons as a conspiracy of elitists hellbent on taking the power for their organization and establishing a new world order dividing society between the elite and the mundane. We do not use the same tools to analyze what the other person tells us. It would certainly be one-sided to claim that my approach (science or epistemology) is the only good one or the best one, even if I think so. And they probably think the same of their thinking process, which I would describe as driven by fear and anger.

Sometimes, we wonder what it would have been like to grow up in a different family or in a different socio-economic status. The answer is: we have 1 experience only and we cannot have others so we can simply never know and it renders the question pointless. What would it be like to be an only child? or to have a single parent? or to be rich? These questions are pointless. Well, of course they can develop our imagination. But they don't have a real answer. They're only a support for more questions like "What, in my childhood's environment, contributed positively or negatively and what can I offer to my own children for their development?".


Conclusion

Sometimes, I meet people who are very different from me. And I wonder how they think, or why they think a certain way. Or why they have the opinions that they do. This is a matter of perspective. I can never get a 100% understanding of them. And vice-versa: they cannot understand me 100%. I suppose it's part of why I write big articles: just to make my own filters more understandable to others.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Time magazine: a magazine of traitors

Photo used as a "fair use" illustration


Time magazine has announced its "Person of the Year 2013": Pope Francis.

WHAAAAAAATT????

In one of the most spineless moves in the history of journalism, Time magazine decided that it's best to be traitors to the people and remain friends with the establishment. Because you know... being a counter-power and fighting for the truth, it's not what journalism is about anymore.

I have no criticism at all about Pope Francis, and I appreciate him for a handful of good things he did this year. He spoke favorably of non-Christians and was inclusive of agnostics and atheists. He spoke against the corrupting power of money and how in the USA particularly, and in the world in general, we should modify the society to bridge the divide between the poor and the rich. Some of his words also suggested his opposition to the corruption going on in the bank of the Vatican and Banco Ambrosiano... a topic that can remind us about the strange circumstances of Pope John Paul the 1st's probable assassination.

So Francis is a good guy! But let's be honest! Whatever he did in 2013 cannot compare with the Snowden leaks. We're still figuring out new spying programs every week or so. A few days ago, we still learned that NSA had infiltrated online video games for spying on users' talks. This is nuts! All phone calls are recorded. All letters and parcels sent by post are monitored. All the websites you visit are monitored. All your Skype calls are monitored. All your emails are copied to the NSA. The type of porn you prefer is analyzed (pun not intended). I mean: I was already thinking about the Time's "person of the year" a few weeks ago and I was certain that nobody else could be chosen. And I stand by that!

I think Pope Francis was not chosen. I think Snowden was simply and purely demoted as a political maneuver from Time magazine. RIP journalism!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Online identity, privacy, and personas



Definitions

Let's leave aside the government spying for the duration of this article.

Privacy is not a simple matter. Around the notion of privacy and identity revolve a few other notions.

  • name / legal identity
  • identity
  • pseudonym
  • persona


Your name is the set of words (first name, last name) by which the administration refers to you in legal documents. As I understand, the USA is quite open to people changing their name every now and then. It must be hell for people to find long lost relatives but giving people the freedom to be called whatever they want to be called: that sounds good.

Your identity is the real you inside your brain. It is your psychology, your likes and dislikes, your passions.

Your pseudonyms, with an "s" because you're likely to use several of them on the internet, are like names. You'll probably use a different one on each internet website. Or maybe you'll reuse each pseudonym on websites related to similar activities. In my case, I use a certain pseudonym for computer-news websites and I use a different one for video games.

Last but not least, personas are to identity what pseudonyms are to name. As you use different pseudonyms on the web for different services, you might even assume different online identities with distinct personalities. These online identities are called "personas". You may assume a persona of a different gender than what you are in real life. You may "play nice" on certain websites and behave like a jerk on others. But personas may also simply reflect the fact that when we live in communities, we display a different side of our personality depending on whom we are facing. If you've ever been a student and that you've been drinking alcohol with your friends, you know that the side of you that you show to your friends is not the same as the side of you that you'll show to your grandparents.


The point

There's a couple of reasons why I wanted to talk about privacy and persona.

The first one is: this blog! Aside from the need to express myself, the urge to communicate the ideas boiling in my mind, I also had the distinct idea that having a blog would be useful to show a side of me to people like potential future employers. When your work is part programming and part mobile telecoms engineering, my feeling is that you should exist on the internet. Upon receiving a CV, prospective employers will google your name. It is criminal of them to do so, since this constitutes an intrusion within the private sphere for the purpose of a professional evaluation, but they do google your name and no police forces are checking that they refrain themselves from doing so.

But here's where it gets frustrating! Expressing myself on a blog is about sharing part of my identity. But if I don't censor myself, the recruiters will find the less politically-correct side of me. Just an example: in real life, I cuss and I feel that cussing is absolutely appropriate to express adequately my feelings. On my blog, I don't cuss, partly because I want to show a different side of me than the one I share with my closest friends. One thing I can do, but which I likely won't because of the time it takes for writing articles and keeping a blog alive, is creating a new blog under a new persona concentrating the parts of my identity that I don't unveil here. It could include cussing and topics like sex, partisan politics, disparaging whatever groups or topics I dislike in no unclear terms... This "solution" has even more drawbacks since writing under a different pen name would deprive the real me of the credit derived from the new blog. So a frustration exists.

The second reason to discuss this subject is a suggestion from Google's CEO Eric Schmidt. Because of all the mistakes made by children on the internet who reveal embarrassing parts of their lives on social networks or blogs without realizing the consequences, Schmidt suggested that future laws could naturally emerge to grant people a new name upon reaching adulthood. This would separate a person's new identity from the embarrassing past. Similarly, for people who keep doing foolish things on the internet into their adulthood, a name change every 6 or 7 years could be a legitimate tactic to "start fresh" with a blank slate.

I feel like the ideal solution doesn't exist. Or rather, the ideal solution might exist technically (some sort of self-hosted social network) but I don't believe this kind of solution will be favored by the public.


Conclusion

We got to discuss about online privacy in more refined and precise terms than we often see. Hopefully, you can now discuss such subjects with the ability to distinguish between identity, pseudonym, name, and persona.

I shared some of my frustrations.

Maybe it can inspire you to also think about your own perception of online privacy and identity.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dirty Wars (2013) ★★★★★



Plot

This is a documentary. Kabul, Afghanistan: NATO publishes lists of night raids carried out by the coalition. Who exactly carries out these night raids? NATO doesn't know. Is it the American army? NATO doesn't know. Is it the CIA? NATO doesn't know. The narration shifts towards Gardez, in the South-East Afghan countryside. A family organized a party to celebrate a birth. Men are dancing a traditional dance to the rythm of drums, in a crowded room. As noise is heard outside the home, one of the men, a police officer goes out to see what caused the noise. As soon as he steps out, a salvo of bullets meets his chest and kills him. 2 pregnant women will meet the same fate, as well as 9 other people. To cover their tracks, the Americans who carried out this operation will use knives to pull out bullets from the corpses. No evidence, no guilt. This will pass as a night raid against militants in the newspapers and in the White House's statistics. But cell phone cameras record evidence. On a photo, the journalist, however familiar with war journalism doesn't recognize what unit the American soldiers are from. After a search, he discovers a unit that was previously unknown to him: JSOC. And the investigation continues, uncovering the direct relationship between JSOC and the president of the USA. And the documentary pans out to the whole world, including ally countries, where JSOC is launching missiles and cluster bombs, leaving civilians in such despair and disgust that it creates more terrorists than it kills. A perpetual war is in motion and very real, hidden behind the cloud of the official war.


My verdict

This is an essential documentary. It is so rich in details that people unfamiliar with the topic might even feel suspicious. But I personally already knew about several of them and can attest that they're not a fabrication. There is a war against journalists, but that's almost a side subject. There is a war fueling war. The documentary doesn't address the question of "why", and I'd guess it's a combination of corporate greed from the military industrial complex, geostrategic domination of the world by Washington, and recklessness from the most hard-boiled killers trained by the army.

The narration is well constructed, as we follow clues leading from Kabul to Gardez, and from the photo of a man to the man himself, his unit, and the president of the USA, then from the man's unit to all the places where it strikes. The story takes us also to the order given by Obama to assassinate an American man and his 16 year old son, without due process, without charges, without justice. This documentary is a dark but painfully pragmatic picture of a war the USA have been carrying out beyond Afghanistan and Irak, using torture, spying on journalists and jailing them, calling them liars when they reported the truth, murdering civilians, women, children, babies and calling them "militant" until proven innocent. It's a must-see documentary film worth 5 stars.

Friday, December 6, 2013

freedom of speech: a duty




In many countries, freedom of speech is a right. I want to argue that it doesn't come free of charge. Freedom of speech comes with duties ; Burdens so heavy that we know not everybody will be able to carry them. Burdens so meaningful that not everybody will be willing to even try and shoulder them.

We all know the quote wrongly attributed to Voltaire and actually written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

It is easier said than done. France has freedom of speech. But a limited freedom. People who deny the holocaust or try and minimize it are evil or ignorant. They are people I hate and I will fight their ideas. But in France, they're actually not allowed to speak their mind.

I hate these people but I love freedom of speech. The world is not an ideal world and you have to make difficult choices. In France, a member of the far-right has been sued for his writings about the holocaust. Should I blame his words? Of course I should. I do. But should I support him being sentenced for speaking his mind, however hateful his speech is? No. If I chose to support his condemnation, I would be sacrificing freedom of speech.

Impeaching freedom of speech is easy. You pass a law, and if you're the majority, you can enjoy the pleasure of a life where all you want is within your reach. While you enjoy your nice life, people will be prevented by law from speaking up against what you think. You'll have peace of mind and they will have shackles. But realistically, have you never made mistakes? Will you never make mistakes? Can there never be a time when you are wrong and someone else holds the right answer? If we allow total freedom of speech, many will come disturb your peace. You will feel that more often than not, they're just idiots wasting your time and not open to an honest exchange or arguments. And it will weigh on you heavily. It will anger you, depress you, bore you, drain you. This is the weight of free speech.

But wait a minute! Not everybody is sitting at the top of society. You could be the one at the bottom. Is there nobody who has power over you? Are you not subject to laws passed by lawmakers? Are you not limited by the rights of other people? Freedom of speech is not just the right to speak. It is also the right to be heard. It is the right to anger, depress, bore and drain other people with whatever truth you think they have not taken into consideration.

There will always be fools incapable of accepting the truth even when it hits them in the face. And there will always be fascists who will stand against freedom of speech, even when freedom of speech itself is what lets them have their opinions heard. However heavy the burden is to let them speak, we have this duty for the sake of freedom of speech itself. And on top of that, we will have the additional burden of fighting the ideas of the fools and the fascists. But if we don't spend these redoubled efforts, it only makes us like them. We would be like them, sacrificing an essential freedom on the altar of an easy win. When we claim that we love our country, what is it for? Do we love the name and the color of the flag? If so, then our country is just an empty shell ; a name tag and a beautiful image. Do we care for that? Or instead, do we love a set of freedoms and ideas that our nation globally recognizes as worth standing for?


Note:

This article is a reaction to a handful of things.

  • One of them is the outrageous question that Alan Rusbridger, editor of the newspaper The Guardian, was asked about the Snowden leaks by the Home Affairs Committee. He was asked if he loved his country. This question suggested that revealing the crimes of the government is in itself a form of attack against the country, which is a rhetoric often employed by criminal governments like the UK and the USA
  • Another one of them is the viewing of Jeremy Scahill's documentary "Dirty Wars", which I'll review soon on this blog, where there is evidence of a war on journalism by Obama's government.
  • Another cause is an unresolved discussion, and I'm sure it will remain unresolved, with a friend who would suppress freedom of speech to fascists. An opinion somewhat ironic, I find.
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