NBC employee who distributed “What is the internet?” video fired

The NBC employee who distributed the “What is the internet?” video was fired this week for doing so. First, if you haven’t seen it, here’s the video:

Though this video is hilarious, and does illustrate how completely contemptuous TV news anchors can be about new things they haven’t bothered to do any research about, it is also unfair to laugh at them with 20-20 hindsight. At one point or another we were all as ignorant as they are. Note also that we do not know the whole story about why NBC fired this employee.

Judge holds Interior Department in contempt over offshore oil drilling moratorium

A Louisiana judge has held the Interior Department in contempt over its offshore oil drilling moratorium. Key quote:

After [the judge] overturned the government’s moratorium in June, the agency issued a second nearly identical suspension. “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt of this court’s preliminary injunction order.”

The Obama administration might not realize it — as well as many politicians from both parties in DC — we are a nation of laws, not men. It thumb your nose at the law it will eventually come back to bite you. Especially if the citizenry becomes outraged at your arrogance.

Remembering Boris Yeltsin

A monument to Boris Yeltsin was unveiled today in his hometown on the 80th anniversary of his birth.

In this week of memorials to American space tragedies, this event in Russia brings to mind the far more important and significant events, affecting millions of people worldwide, that unfolded in the Soviet Union during the late 1980s and mid-1990s. The communist superpower was collapsing, and there was the real possibility that that collapse could lead to worldwide war and violence.

Yeltsin, far more than any other man, helped shepherd the former Soviet Union out of that chaos, and he did it as a civilized man, with relatively little bloodshed. As he shouted defiantly as he stood on a tank in front of the Russian parliament building on the day of the August coup, “Terror and dictatorship . . . must not be allowed to bring eternal night!”

Unlike many former communist leaders, Yeltsin had the openness of mind to recognize that the state-run centralized command society that he had grown up in and had helped run for years simply did not work. “We have oppressed the human spirit,” he noted sadly during a press conference shortly after the coup. More importantly, he also had the courage to take action on this realization, and force the painful changes that were necessary to save his country.

Yeltsin was no saint, and the Russian transition from dictatorship to freedom was far from perfect. No one even knows if that transition is going to hold, today, twenty years later. Nonetheless, the world should remember Yeltsin for his success, and honor that memory.

finding out what’s politically correct

Want to know what the academic elite think is or is not politically correct? Make two different Freedom of Information Act requests at the same university for two scientists who just happen to be on opposite sides of the global warming debate and see how the university responds.

Not surprisingly, the university was glad to do whatever it could to hurt the global warming skeptic, while stonewalling any requests for information about the global warming advocate.

Egyptians brace for Friday protests as internet, messaging disrupted

The triumph of freedom: Protests spread to Egypt and Jordan.

We should recognize that though the overthrow of these Middle East dictatorships is certainly not a bad thing, the regimes that replace them are very likely not going to be much better, and could very well be worse. However, the free flow of information in the Arab world can only be a good thing, and in the long run can only lead to freedom and peace between nations.

Arab world shaken by power of Twitter and Facebook

The truimph of freedom: The Arab world, shaken by the power of the internet. Key quote:

On Dec. 17, in Sidi Bouzid, deep in the interior, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself aflame in front of a government building, in protest after police confiscated his produce stand. Horrible images of his act circulated lightning-fast on the Internet. Protests followed.

“Thanks to Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, images of those first protests went around the world instantly, and everyone knew about it,” says Tlili. “Even 20 years ago, you could have had those uprisings in the interior and few would have known.”

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