Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stress on Flying to a Foreign Land

My great adventure of going to Vienna and Israel is in progress. While I have already been in Vienna for 2 days, I think I will start out with a short story of paranoia about flying to a foreign land.

Actually the trip was pretty much uneventful. I left Sioux Falls on time and because of fog in Munich and Vienna, I arrived an hour and a half late. In the scheme of things that really is not too bad for a 5000 mile trip that was supposed to take about 14 hours.

My stress, self-inflicted, was flying from Munich to Vienna on Lufthansa Airlines. As all of the announcements started coming out in German, I started to question whether I was in the right place at the right time. They were usually followed in English so why should I have been concerned? On flying into Vienna and being an hour and a half late, I wondered what had happened to Deb and Josh who were supposed to meet me in baggage claim. How was I going to get hold of them if they were not there? Was I going to be able to get the information of where we were staying off of my computer? Was there wifi at the airport to access my gmail account? Of course, I had not printed a hard copy out of where we were staying.

To make a long story short, I got my bag and walked out of baggage claim into the terminal. There, Deb and Josh were waiting for me. My stress was over and our adventure could begin.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Investments in Iran endanger troops

I get to do a little self-promotion. I had an Op-Ed piece printed in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader today. The Op-Ed is very similar to an earlier post on this blog. The piece is timely as the bill, Senate Bill 134, was taken up by the South Dakota Senate State Affairs Committee yesterday. The committee gave it a unanimous "Do Pass." Thank you to all of the senators on the committee. To read my Op-Ed, just click on the link below:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Topsy Turvy World

Several months ago, in the hopes of renewing Israel –Palestinian peace negotiations, the United States demanded that Israel halt all construction in areas outside of its pre-1967 boundaries. I find this unilateral demand amazing.

We demand that an ally, Israel, with a democratically elected government with a fragile coalition take actions that we know are against the principles of its coalition. On the Palestinian side ruled by a dictatorship, we demand nothing because we are afraid it will hurt the popularity of the leader and therefore the government. Doesn’t something seem wrong here? You demand unilateral action by a government that is popularly elected that goes against its stated self-interest. You refuse to demand anything of a government that maintains its position by the gun.

Our thinking is topsy-turvy. Our policy is just backwards. One government does everything by fiat but cannot do anything is this regard because it might be unpopular. The other who rules democratically is demanded to do something that we know is unpopular. I just don’t get it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Duty

On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic.
Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton
January 21, 2010

Some of these challenges are very useful, particularly for the new generation, in whom the essential fervor of the Green Movement (Mr. Mousavi’s Political Movement in Iran) is found. The true achievement of the Islamic Revolution is the struggle against a return to dictatorship and the resistance of the people on this path. The refusal to conform to lies, cheating and corruption, which we witness today (in Iran), clearly shows the presence of this ongoing and everlasting achievement, just as the tightening choke hold on the media and press, the filling up of prisons and the merciless killings of the innocents on the streets, whose only wish is to peacefully obtain what is rightfully theirs; clearly shows the existence of the roots of oppression and dictatorship which are leftovers of the tyrannical monarchy.
Mir-Hossein Moussavi
February 2, 2010

To me, the issues are clear cut. Our Secretary of State says in eloquent terms that access to the internet is a human right. Mr. Moussavi describes the situation in Iran as one in which the ugly head of dictatorship is raising its head.

Today is the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and the ousting of the shah. For anyone who is interested, we watch the attempts of thousands of brave men and women trying to stand up to this dictatorship. For the past six months, we saw the people of Iran demand that their votes in the last presidential election be counted. As with the demonstrations today, these people face tear gas and beatings and being shot. They are rounded up and thrown in jail. Some are tortured and some are murdered. When they are rounded up, their families are not told.

What can America do to help? Are we still the great bastion of Democracy or not? Do we have the power to help these people? I think we can help without sending our troops which would have the wrong affect. In the name of promoting the Democracy that we hold dear, we should find a way to open the internet to the people of Iran. The Iranian people need an internet that is not censored by the Iranian government. Do we not have the technology to get something similar to wifi for the Iranian people? How does Google provide free internet in Mountain View? Madame Clinton speaks of an uncensored internet as a basic freedom. We must insure that these freedom seeking people have access to sending and receiving information.

If this revolution succeeds, will the new Iranian government be pro-American? I wish I could answer that positively but I cannot. If we are seen as an ally helping Iranians claim their freedom, we have a good chance. But whatever the outcome may be, a new government can hardly be worse either for us or the Iranian people than what they have now. As Americans, we have a duty to help people seeking freedom. Most Americans believe this. I hope our government does as well.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


First, as an aside, the title is not original to me. I saw this in the first article and loved it. Second and much more importantly, if you are concerned about internet privacy and protection of your First Amendment Rights, I suggest you take a little time and read both articles. As I have discussed with many people, I am very concerned about what information the government has on me. I am not worried that I am breaking the law today but what happens if the laws change. If the government has access to everything that I have written or looked at, something lawful when I did it may not be lawful in the future. You may think that I am paranoid, and maybe I am, but I know of incidences in other countries where that is exactly what happened. I hope that you will take time to read the articles and forward them to others who might be concerned as well. Of course, as I have said before, if you are reading my blog you are probably already in trouble.

Police want backdoor to Web users' private data – Cnet News

Google to enlist NSA to help it ward off cyberattacks – Washington Post

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is this the Future of Computing?

I think that like many people, I am fascinated by new technology. Without it, I would not be in the printing business. Desktop publishing and simple accounting allowed me to be in business these past 22 years. Likewise, technology may be the destructor of this business with more internet use and less paper. Well, I will stop crying in my beer.

This morning, I came across 2 interesting articles in the Gadget Lab at While each one is interesting in its own right, taken together they are mind blowing.

Not that the order to read them is important but I have listed them in the order that I read them. The first one is about a Portuguese company that is developing a film that turns anything into a touch screen. The second is about the new iPad. I did not think of the iPad as being revolutionary but after reading this article, I am having second thoughts. If the iPad could eventually be made so thin by using the film in the first article, people might be able to carry around a huge computer in their pocket. I realize that we are along way from there but to me the potential is fantastic.

I hope that you enjoy the 2 articles. They are not too long. You might find that you spend more time just thinking about the possibilities and the future of computing.

Thin Film Turns Any Surface Into a Touchscreen

What the iPad Means for the Future of Computing