All These Moments

All These Moments

Random ramblings in writing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Great Firewall of China Blocks Plurk

Plurk Layouts and Amix.dk report that Plurk has fallen victim to the Great Firewall of China, just like WordPress, YouTube, and parts of Wikipedia. This is not very surprising. The Chinese government has a considerable history of censoring websites with content they find politically undesireable.

What leads to a bit of head-scratching is that Twitter remains accessible in China. No one knows for sure why there is such a difference in enforcement, and the difference is confusing since Plurk is one of the websites introduced as, "It's like Twitter but..."

The difference in enforcement may just lie in the last word of that phrase. How is Plurk different from Twitter? Plurk pages are more customizable and the UI utilizes a horizontally scrolling timeline to surf posts, but these are merely aesthetic differences. Another major difference is that Plurk threads responses to a post instead of having a response posted on the user's timeline. (That is, a response is posted as a comment in a thread and not like an individual post, in case any non-Plurkers are confused.) I suspect that this is the reason why Plurk is blocked while Twitter remains accessible. The response structure on Plurk lends itself more to ongoing discussion, whereas responses on Twitter are usually kept to one tweet.

"[P]lurk is like a mini UN," Matthew Hughes once posted. Although most Plurks don't usually lead to intense political discussion, Hughes is still correct in asserting that there is a community on Plurk that is pretty dedicated to political discussion. I cannot speak for the (former?) Chinese Plurk community, since I don't know any Chinese, but I assume that this trend remains true despite language or region.

This could all be completely wrong though. Although it sounds like a reasonable explanation, we have to keep in mind that this is the People's Republican of China we are discussing. It is just as likely that I am looking for reason where there is none. Perhaps some Chinese official saw a single Plurk that displeased him and brought the hammer down on the whole website. No matter what reason the PRC has for blocking Plurk, it doesn't change the fact that practice of internet censorship is ethically reprehensible. I feel bad for the Chinese Plurkers who will now be left to find a new site to have discussions on. (I hear that Twitter site isn't too bad...)

Click here if you want to check out Plurk and join the fun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh What a Circus Posted at College Republicans (With Problems)

So, this was my first article posted to the College Republicans at Texas blog, regrettably the Youtube videos were not embedded properly. This is most likely my own fault; I probably need to become more familiar with posting in WordPress. I can't edit my articles at the College Republicans at Texas blog as easily as I can hear, (not complaining, just stating) so in the meantime here is the same article, complete with my Youtube videos of the event:

I'll give the protesters credit: they were rather successful at interrupting David Horowitz's speech (before they were told that any further interruption would result in arrest, that is). No doubt they consider their protest a result because of this, but if they took some perspective they would realize their protest was a complete failure. Their protesting methods did nothing but to hurt their cause and reveal just how indoctrinated and foolish they were. Rather than being proud, they should be ashamed, and no one should be more Ashamed than Dana Cloud.

Before addressing Dana Cloud, one must first understand the methods of the protesters that she condoned. There is nothing more ironic than seeing a mob chant "free speech" in order to drown out a single disstening voice. One cannot watch such a scene without being taken back to the bleating sheep in George Orwell's Animal Farm. The message these protesters were sending is pretty clear: Free speech is free until someone starts making a point they don't like, at which point the person must be silenced by chanting. "Free speech" was far from the only chant they had.

The protesters would also yell "Fact check!" at Horowitz. This can actually be an effective protesting strategy, but only in moderation and only if his facts were, in fact, incorrect. Instead, it seems the protesters chose the exact opposite strategy. At one point during the speech the protesters would yell fact check at Horowitz at the end of almost every sentence. This spam was not due to an inundation of dubious facts being used by Horowitz. Actually, every time I fact checked at the suggestion of the protesters, the fact they were disputing was correct. At one point we became so frustrated that we sent someone over to inform a protesters that Horowitz was correct when he had previously called for a fact check. "Ok," was his response. Apparently it is not the actually reality of the fact that they care about, but rather they use the appeal to fact checking as another chant to interrupt Horowitz. If the protesters ever decide that they'd rather have their "fact check" strategy be persuasive to some degree, they should learn to yell fact check only when the fact Horowitz is referring to is actually incorrect.

Another common chant was "No more witch hunts!" Perhaps it is my turn to yell: Fact check! Horowitz has never actually called for a professor to be fired, but rather, he has only highlighted professors who are guilty of radical bias in the classroom. Horowitz even said during his speech (not that the protesters were giving it a close listen) that he has no problem with Marxist professors, his only problem is if they teach "Marxism…as if it is Newtonian physics." Dana Cloud said that Horowitz was still guilty of "leading" a witch hunt, and the protesters agreed saying that he provided "ammunition" for the witch hunts. This is incredibly weak reasoning. There is an enormous difference between "leading" a witch hunt and writing a book with facts that are used as "ammunition" to go on a "witch hunt." A few further facts about witch hunting need to be clarified as well. "Witch hunts" are generally an angry, irrational mob. Also, witch is used in the term witch hunts very intentionally, because witches do not exist. However, professors who use their classroom as a platform for political activism do exist, so comparing a professor being fired for legitimate reasons to an angry mob burning a woman for being something that she couldn't possibly be is a fallacy.

I took a video of the behavior of the protesters at the speech. Apparently some protesters think we were photographing and videotaping them in order to identify them later and retaliate. This is not true at all. All I plan on doing is sharing the video online so that people can see just how irrational and obnoxious the protesters were. We are guilty of their accusation only if you equate with "posting on youtube" with "retaliation."


Note: This is actually a video of Horowitz's introduction, but it still accurately represents the behavior of the protesters.

Who could be counted among these protesters? The esteemed professor Dana Cloud of course. She declined the opportunity to co-host the even with David Horowitz in order to take the high road and support irrational and obnoxious protesters. It seems to me that any respectable UT professor would discourage the Orwellian tactics of the protesters and encourage them to engage in rational political discourse. Regrettably, this was not the case at all. Horowitz condoned the behavior while at the same time claiming to be opposed to the "hysteria" that Horowitz supposedly encourages.

Cloud stepped up to the mic during the Q&A section of Horowitz's speech, and I recorded her speech and Horowitz's response.


A number of things need to be said to put this video in context. The applause at the beginning happened at the urging of David Horowitz, who politely introduced her by saying, "Professor Cloud, lets give Professor Cloud a round of applause everyone." Perhaps I am crazy, but it seems to me that the person who condones the frenzied chanting of protesters is the one guilty of promoting hysteria, not the person who politely asks a round of applause be given for his or her opponent.

When you listen to Cloud in the video you may get the impression that Horowitz spent his whole speech trashing her. This is not true at all. In fact, Horowitz never once singled out Cloud in his speech. The only time Horowitz mentioned her was when he was being interrupted, and described the protesters as "Dana Cloud's circus."

Cloud begins her speech by making an excellent point, but also by presenting it in a very disingenuous way. She says, "I think it's important to notice that faculty can separate their activism from their teaching. … [W]e have separate arenas for our lives. I have a family. I go home and cook supper. I don't cook supper for my students." This argument is entirely reasonable. I absolutely agree with Cloud. You know who else does? David Horowitz, except he was booed when he made the exact same point. I mentioned earlier that Horowitz specifically said that he has no problem with Marxists professors, as long as they don't teach their students Marxism "as if it is Newtonian physics." This is exactly the same point that Cloud made. They both agree on the same point that activism should be kept out of the classroom (a point that many radical professors do not agree with, by the way). The only point of disagreement is whether or not Cloud is guilty of allowing her activism to creep into the classroom or not. The honest thing for Cloud to do would be to acknowledge that she and Horowitz agree on this point, but disagree on where the line is drawn. Cloud was disingenuous and chose to present this as an opposing view instead.

Next Cloud uses passive voice, a staple strategy of politics. She says, "The hysteria that gets whipped up around these figures like myself … that hysteria actually has consequences in the real lives of people." Her sentence never specifically identifies who has whipped up the hysteria around figures like herself. This is because she is guilty of whipping up this hysteria. Horowitz has written about Cloud, and in his book he accused her of activism in the classroom. Dana Cloud sat with the protesters and condoned their protesting methods. She did nothing to discourage their behavior, even as a UT representative had to ask the protesters multiple times to allow Horowitz to give his speech. Dana Cloud intends for the target of this quote to be David Horowitz, but the only person who was guilty of whipping up hysteria that night was herself. I agree with her general point, and I suggest that if she really feels this way that the next opportunity she has to whip up hysteria she should decline the opportunity rather than encourage it like she chose to do that night.

Cloud's final argument relied entirely on emotional appeal. She described UT students as brilliant. "Since the students at UT are so brilliant how can one believe they can be indoctrinated?" That was essentially the argument she made. This kind of "rah-rah, UT is the best" rhetoric is wonderful for football games and March Madness, but it has no place in a serious political discussion. I love UT, but it is ridiculous to suggest that every student her in immune to being indoctrinated. It must have taken a severe lack of irony to suggest that students at UT cannot be indoctrinated while she stood 20 feet away from more than a dozen examples of just how brainwashed some students can become.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh Snap! People Actually Read My Blog

It's true, I actually have readers, and some of them even like my blog! When I was asked if I'd be interested in blogging for College Republicans at UT I immediately said yes.


My first article was posted, but it is just the same as my Horowitz Liveblog post on here. I'll be sure to update you guys on here whenever I post again.

So basically I plan on posting my thoughtful political entries at utexascrs.org, while all my boring, nerdy, and personal entries will remain here. You should totally keep your RSS subscription to this site and add the UT College Republicans RSS as well, because they have tons of other awesome articles.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Liveblog from Horowitz's Speech

This may seem redundant since I linked to my twitter profile in the previous entry, but it makes sense if you think long-term. My twitter profile has non-political stuff as well. (A.k.a. boring personal crap.) So I decided to post my Horowitz liveblog here in order to make it accessible without forcing people to click "back" repeatedly on my twitter profile.

Also, these are just my immediate observations during the event. I will post my analysis and reactions as soon as I can.

6:55 - I just overheard someone say, "Don't you think it would be fun to be a conservative here?" Yes, yes it is.

7:09 -
Protesters are inside now, chanting very loud.

7:12 -
They're delaying his speech with their chanting.

7:16 -
There's something Orwellian about chanting "free speech" in order to drown out someone else.

7:20 -
I will give the protesters credit, their presence is much more obnoxious than when we host John Ashcroft.

7:21 -
I talked with a woman who was a part of College Republicans in Wisconsin, she said when Horowitz visited they were spit on.

7:23 -
Some of the older conservatives are very upset and demanding that the protesters be thrown out for their third violation. (It's way past 3.)

7:24 -
The younger conservatives are less irritated, but we are becoming less amused as it goes on.

7:25 -
Horowitz says he has never personally called for a liberal professor to be fired. They say he is still guilty for providing "ammunition."

7:25 -
Horowitz reminds them that there is a Q&A section if they want to rant at him, but apparently they don't want to wait.

7:27 -
The protesters keep making snippy remarks and overlaughing. Someone goes "hur hur hur." It made me laugh.

7:30 -
The talk just got completely shut down. Now they're talking about ejecting the protesters.

7:31 -
"Who's the censor now?!" They're chanting. Well... aren't they guilty of censorship?

7:31 -
An uneasy quiet just went over the room.

7:33 -
He says he has no objection to Marxists teaching at a University, provided that they do it professionally.

7:34 -
He says, "I think teachers should teach students how to think, not what to think."

7:36 -
"Students are presented with political doctrine as if it is the truth."

7:37 -
"A teacher is obligated not to indoctrinate his or her students."

7:40 -
A protester just said something about the Iraq War. Seriously?! I guess no matter what the issue is liberals are right because of the Iraq War.

7:41 -
Horowitz said he read countless Marxist and socialist literature, and never once read a chapter on how to develop wealth.

7:42 -
Someone shouted, "How many people are unemployed now?"

7:42 -
Third strike. (Officially.) They were told that any further disruption will result in removal and possibly arrest and academic discipline.

7:45 -
"I have an objection if a University claims to honor the principles of academic freedom if it indoctrinates students."

7:46 -
A lot of protesters are leaving. Looks like their fun is over if they can't chant like sheep.

7:47 -
"The students who suffer most in such an academic setting are the liberal and left-wing students."

7:49 -
"If you teach Marxism in a university as if it is Newtonian physics, you are guilty of indoctrination."

7:51 -
"How many of you hear have been taught that gender is a social construct?" - "Because it IS," one girl interjects.

7:51 -
Hopefully that girl means "gender roles" are social constructs, because there are clearly identifiably biological differences for gender.

7:52 -
A pic of the protesters from earlier: http://i40.tinypic.com/2nlzi9j.jpg

7:53 -
Of course, the protesters have calmed down a bit now: http://i42.tinypic.com/6p86cn.jpg

7:56 -
If you believe sexual hierarchy is so prevalent, why have three of the last four Secretaries of State been women?

7:57 -
If you believe the racial hierarchy is so prevalent, then why is the most powerful man in the world black?

7:57 -
Now he's talking about Oprah Winfrey, who is the only person that can make any book a bestseller by recommending it. (Something I loathe.)

7:58 -
He describes Oprah as the most powerful figure in the private sector. He's probably right.

7:59 -
He mentions that Oprah has all this power and respect over an audience that has largely never been to any sort of "sensitivity training."

8:00 -
One girl among the protesters was briefly crying.

8:03 -
He just said that some of the classes teach that we're a, "racist, sexist, classist, homophobic society." Someone murmured, "True that."

8:08 -
"Cornel's CD is a watershed in the history of rap recording." A quote from Cornel West's brother. LALS.

8:08 -
"Cornel West has not written a scholarly paper in 20 years."

8:09 -
I wish he had mentioned Richard Thompson Ford, my personal favorite black intellectual.

8:11 -
Horowitz says that it's a shame to blacks that jokes like West are held up while real black scholars are ignored. Amen.

8:12 -
He mentioned one class titled "Great Religious Thinkers" which included scholars such as... Tupac Shakur.

8:13 -
"I was called a racist for objecting to a black professor who was an idiot." (Referring to the professor he criticized for including Tupac.)

8:23 -
Marxism doesn't work because "you can't get someone to work for somebody else the way they work for themselves."

8:25 -
"We can't all think if we're just going to chant together." Loud applause after that statement by Horowitz.

8:26 -
Q&A time. Our fearless leader Mike Garcia is defining for people where the line starts.

8:27 -
The line looks mostly filled with crazies. Should be fun.

8:27 -
"Marxism is a church itself."

8:29 -
Someone from the Daily Texan is here to ask a question.

8:31 -
He brought up the example of a military hierarchy having mobility while still being a hierarchy to explain the positions of Oprah and Obama.

8:34 -
He said women control most of the wealth in America, and they yelled "Fact check" at him.

8:35 -
Here's the fact check: "Women control 51.3 percent of the private wealth in the United States." http://tinyurl.com/2vvyne

8:36 -
Oh snap! Dana Cloud is about to ask a question. She is a professor he has written about previously.

8:36 -
He said, "Lets give Dana Cloud a hand." Very polite.

8:50 -
Speech is over now.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Liveblogging David Horowitz

The David Horowitz speech has been pretty intensely interrupted by protesters making fools of themselves. It's been going on for awhile and I neglected to give noticed at the beginning. Anyway, I am currently liveblogging the event on my twitter page.

http://twitter.com/allthosemoments

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Overdue Data Pop Entry

So, two weeks ago I mostly stayed in Austin for Spring Break. (I also had a two-day visit to Sea World.) During the break I went to some awesome SXSW stuff like Screen Burn and the AMoDA Showcase. However, the best event at Spring Break was not a SXSW event, it was Data Pop 2009. It was awesome.

Data Pop was a chiptune concert. If you are not familiar with this genre do not despair. Chiptune is nay one of those douchey terms that hipsters will judge you for not being familiar with, rather it is the complete opposite. If you don't know what chiptune music is it just means you're not a nerd. (You are missing out, by the way.) Chiptune music is music composed using sound chips from game systems. The most popular choice is the Game Boy, which has had the most extensive cartridge development for artists and is featured on the logo for 8-bit Collective. A good, quick explanation and demonstration of 8-bit music is the trailer for Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet, a documentary about chiptune music.


There were tons of good acts at Data Pop. The first band was the favorite act for two of my friends. The band was called 8-bit OK, and we talked to them later and found out this was their first ever performance! They're real new and don't even have a website yet. Anamanaguchi was awesome too, and I actually spent $10 on their new album Radiant Dawn. (So worth it.) The two closing acts were Bit Shifter and Nullsleep, who are two enormous names in chiptune music. If you see them perform it becomes pretty clear why; those guys are amazing.

We were right up by the stage for most of the performance, so I got some amazingly good concert footage. In fact, Anamanaguchi put one of my videos of them in a blog entry. Awesome! Here is the link to their blog entry, and my video is below. (In their blog entry they say I took the video from onstage, but that is not true. Now I wish I had gone on stage since it seems they wouldn't have cared.)


I have more videos on my youtube page of Bit Shifter, Nullsleep, and a few other artists from the show if you want to check it out.

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about me
My name is Jared and I'm an English major at UT. Politically I'm a mix of libertarian and neocon with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Otherwise I'm just a typical nerd.

recent entries
The Great Firewall of China Blocks Plurk
Oh What a Circus Posted at College Republicans (Wi...
Oh Snap! People Actually Read My Blog
My Liveblog from Horowitz's Speech
Liveblogging David Horowitz
The Overdue Data Pop Entry
Ashcroft at UT
Obama's Special Olympic Hubris
The UT Student Government Controversy, or What Can...
The Pro-Israel Rally & Pro-Palestine Protest at UT...
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