Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 31, 2005

ACLU Corrects First Amendment (Update #3)

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:49 pm

Never let it be said that Different River never gets results!

About three weeks ago, I posted this item noting that the ACLU had misquoted the first amendment to make it seem that freedom of speech was “freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment,” when in fact freedom of religion is. (Freedom of speech is the second.)

Well, this item made it from here to Clayton Cramer to The Smallest Minority to Stephen Rider at StriderWeb, who sent the ACLU an e-mail he posts here.

It’s not clear if the ACLU ever responded to Stephen Rider’s letter, but on January 27, he posted an update saying the ACLU has corrected their web page. (Hat tip: The Smallest Minority.)

Here’s how they changed it. Deletions are in {strikout text} and additions are in boldface.

It is {probably} no accident that freedom of speech is {the first freedom mentioned} protected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law {…} respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Constitution’s framers believed that freedom of inquiry and liberty of expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society.

NASA readies possible space rescue

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:10 pm

Why didn’t they think of this 20 years ago?

Safeway Club Card Leads to Bogus Arrest

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:00 pm

From Richard M. Smith, via Slashdot: A firefighter was arrested for arson because purchases on tracked with his Safeway card indicated he bought some stuff that could have been used to start a fire that occurred at his house.

Of course, it’s pretty easy to fake purchases on someone else’s card if you know some information about them (with some stores, just the person’s phone number), and you claim to have forgotten your card.

Fortunately, the charges against the firefighter were dropped when somebody else admitted to the crime.

Mathias Döpfner on European Thinking

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:00 am

David Kaspar has a translation by Hartmut Lau of a article in Die Welt by Mathias Döpfner, head of the German publisher Axel Springer AG (English page), on the cowardice of Europe in the face of the Islamic threat.

Europe – Thy Name is Cowardice

Commentary by Mathias Döpfner

A few days ago Henryk M. Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, “Europe – your family name is appeasement.” It’s a phrase you can’t get out of your head because it’s so terribly true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to agreements. Appeasement stabilized communism in the Soviet Union and East Germany in that part of Europe where inhuman, suppressive governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities. Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo and we Europeans debated and debated until the Americans came in and did our work for us. Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word “equidistance,” now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians. Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore 300,000 victims of Saddam’s torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, to issue bad grades to George Bush. A particularly grotesque form of appeasement is reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere by suggesting that we should really have a Muslim holiday in Germany.

While the alleged capitalistic robber barons in American know their priorities, we timidly defend our social welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive. We’d rather discuss the 35-hour workweek or our dental health plan coverage. Or listen to TV pastors preach about “reaching out to murderers.” These days, Europe reminds me of an elderly aunt who hides her last pieces of jewelry with shaking hands when she notices a robber has broken into a neighbor’s house. Europe, thy name is cowardice.

German government tries to force women into prostitution

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:30 am

No, I am not making this up! Libertarians often argue for legalizing prostitution on the grounds that it’s a “victimless crime,” and if some people want to pay for sex and others want to have sex for pay, why should anyone else object?

Here’s one reason.

Germany legalized prostitution in 2002. The idea was to cut back on “combat trafficking in women and cut links to organised crime.”

Now, if you are an unemployed woman, and a brothel lists an opening at the unemployment office, you can lose your unemployment benefits if you refuse to take a job as a prostitute.

The story is here, in the London Telegraph. Some excerpts:

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing “sexual services” at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

Under Germany’s welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer.

“There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry,” said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. “The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits.”

Tatiana Ulyanova, who owns a brothel in central Berlin, has been searching the online database of her local job centre for recruits.

“Why shouldn’t I look for employees through the job centre when I pay my taxes just like anybody else?” said Miss Ulyanova.

Why, indeed. Maybe because the point of legalizing prostitution was to prevent “trafficking in women,” not transfering that trafficking to government job centers? Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to legalize it in the first place…

London man jailed for using wrong browser

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:15 am

Apparently, if you don’t use Microsoft Windows and a well-known browser like Internet Explorer or Netscape or Firefox, you run the risk of getting arrested!

A fellow in London used a Sun computer running the Solaris operating system, lynx, a rather old text-based web browser for Unix-based systems like Solaris, to make a tsunami-relief donation.

Apparently, someone thought this was an attempt to breach security, so London police broke down his door and arrested him.

Hat tip: Wezzul via Slashdot.

Iran’s Killing Fields

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:21 am

Not for the faint of heart.

Will someone please explain to me why American feminists aren’t up in arms about this?

January 30, 2005

Iraqis Vote for Democracy (2)

Filed under: — Different River @ 9:58 pm

Check out the view from Iraq! The following Iraqi blogs (in English) have accounts of their writers’ personal experiences with the election. I’m just quoting some brief excerpts; read the whole posts!

Omar at Iraq the Model:

We would love to share what we did this morning with the whole world, we can’t describe the feelings we’ve been through but we’ll try to share as much as we can with you.

We woke up this morning one hour before the alarm clock was supposed to ring. As a matter of fact, we barely slept at all last night out of excitement and anxiety.

The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted “vote for Allawi” less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said:

“You’re a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people’s choice. This is Iraq’s army, not Allawi’s.”

This was a good sign indeed and the young officer’s statement was met by applause from the people on the street.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq’s freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they’re not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

Ali at Free Iraqi, who uses the tagline, “I was not living before the 9th of April and now I am, so let me speak!”

[J]ust as I care about the outcome of this election and that democracy would work in Iraq, I cared no less about voting on a personal level. This was my way to stand against those who humiliated me, my family and my friends. It was my way of saying,” You’re history and you don’t scare me anymore.” It was my way to scream in the face of all tyrants, not just Saddam and his Ba’athists and tell them, “I don’t want to be your, or anyone’s slave. You have kept me in your jail all my life but you never owned my soul.” It was my way of finally facing my fears and finding my courage and my humanity again.

I saw no one on the streets but as I got near to the voting center I started seeing people in groups heading the same way. Most of them were women. I saw a crippled man and my old neighbor and his older wife leaning on their walking sticks going to vote. An old woman cleaning her door step stopped me, “Say son, can I go and vote?” She asked after she saw many people going to vote. “Sure Khala (aunt)! Everyone can.” She thanked me and went inside apparently to change and get her IDs.

The voting center that was chosen in our district is a high school in the middle of the Neighborhood . This was the same place I went in 1996 to cast my vote in a poll asking if we wanted to have Saddam as a president for life or not. I had to go at that time. The threats for anyone who refused to take that poll were no less than the death penalty.

I’m stil[l] overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions that I don’t know what to say more. The only things I can feel so strongly now are hope, excitement, pride and a strange internal peace. I have won my battle and I’m watching the whole Iraqis winning their battle too. I’ll try to write to you later my friends.

A’ash Al Iraq, A’ashat America, A’ash Al Tahaluf. (Long live Iraq, long live America and long live the coalition)

Alaa at The Messopotamian:

I bow in respect and awe to the men and women of our people who, armed only with faith and hope are going to the polls under the very real threats of being blown to pieces. These are the real braves; not the miserable creatures of hate who are attacking one of the noblest things that has ever happened to us. Have you ever seen anything like this? Iraq will be O.K. with so many brave people, it will certainly O.K.; I can say no more just now; I am just filled with pride and moved beyond words. People are turning up not only under the present threat to polling stations but also under future threats to themselves and their families; yet they are coming, and keep coming. Behold the Iraqi people; now you know their true metal.

My condolences to the Great American people for the tragic recent losses of soldiers. The blood of Iraqis and Americans is being shed on the soil of Mesopotamia; a baptism with blood. A baptism of a lasting friendship and alliance, for many years to come, through thick and thin, we shall never forget the brave soldiers fallen while defending our freedom and future.

This is a very hurried message, while we are witnessing something quite extraordinary. I myself have voted and so did members of my family. Thank God for giving us the chance.

Iraqis Vote for Democracy

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:30 pm

Anyone who thought that the U.S. was imposing Democracy on Iraqis without their consent (and I’ve received several e-mails to that effect) should be convinced now that Iraqi people want Democracy, even in the face of all sorts of terrorist threats to kill them if they voted. I haven’t heard any results yet, but early reports show voter turnout at 60-72% — and every vote for any candidate is a vote for Democracy.

Note that that’s higher than the turnout in a typical U.S. presidential election; if the correct number is 72%, it’s much higher. And in the U.S. we normally don’t have lots of terrorists threatening to kill us for the “crime” or “heresy” of voting. According to Zarqawi, anyone who votes is an infidel, and al-Jazeera reports that bin Laden agrees.

Let’s not forget, however, the ultimate sacrifice made by 28 voters who were killed by suicide bombers at polling stations.

More at PowerLine.

No more AIDS babies

Filed under: — Different River @ 12:12 pm

Well, almost. The New York Times reports that the number of AIDS babies born in the U.S. is down 90% from the where it was in 1990. From about 2000 a year to 200 a year.

Michael Newdow, We have a job for you!

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:52 am

A man was arrested on December 17, 2004. For refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem. On August 1, 1972. In Akola, Maharashtra, India.

The story is here.

Michael Newdow, I’m sure you’ll want to defend this guy. And not just on statute of limitations arguments.

Hat tip: Ashish’s Niti.

EU Spurns Dissidents

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:35 am

The following three items epitomize the difference in world-view between the United States and Europe. They also shows how certain European countries like the Czech Republic (part of what Donald Rumsfeld call “New Europe”) are more like America in their world-view than the elites of the EU bureacracy and the “traditional” countries of Western Europe (Rumsfeld’s “Old Europe”).

President Bush made a specific statement of support for unspecified dissidents in his inaugural address: “America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains.” And last month, James Cason, the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba put up a huge display supporting dissidents at the U.S. mission in Havana. It must have been good, because the Castro regime ordered Cason to take it down. Cason has also been holding reception and events for Cuban dissidents, designed to show support for them and call attention to Castro’s treatment of people with opinions.

On the other hand, the EU has just decided to stop inviting Cuban dissidents to their embassies. Only four EU countries objected: the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Three of these are “new Europe” — they know what communism is like because they lived through it.

As usual, former Czech president Vaclav Havel got it right. According to Czech radio,

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has sharply criticised the European Union for deciding to no longer invite Cuban dissidents to receptions at EU states’ embassies in Havana. The EU has reportedly adopted this position so as to facilitate increased dialogue with the Cuban authorities. However, in an article in France’s Le Figaro newspaper Mr. Havel described the EU’s stance as “diplomatic apartheid.” He said the Union could not have found a better way of tarnishing the ideals of freedom and respect for human rights.

Hat tip: Gongol for the Havel link.

India is Improving

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:16 am

Ashish Hanwadikar reports from a recent visit to India that many practical aspects of daily life have improved substantially in the last two and a half years.

Perhaps the most interesting thing (to us health economists anyway) is that he had to get some medical treatment, and found the quality of physicians and their equipment to be on par with that in the U.S. — but the process of getting treatement was much faster than in the U.S. This is particularly interesting, because treatment in the U.S. is much faster than in most (rich) countries, which have nationalized health care and formal waiting lists for services.

Still, in the U.S. it often takes from a few days to a few weeks to get an appointment with a specialist, particularly if you want to see a particular individual. In a moderately large city in Maharashtra (Akola, 1991 population 328,000) Ashish was able to see a primary care doctor, a specialist, and get a sonogram and treatment in a single day. In the U.S., this would probably have taken a week to a month, unless the problem were considered urgent enough to get the coveted “OK, I can fit you in at the end of the day” appointment(s).

This suggests that doctors in India are working at less than full capacity, which probably means that lots of people can’t afford to see them. It could also mean there are too many doctors, but I really doubt that, since India has only one-fifth as many doctors per 100,000 population as the U.S.

Still, it is better to have a service for people who can afford it, than not to have it at all — and the rest of Ashish’s post suggests that more people can afford more things than before. If a service is affordable and easily available to the middle class, this provides increased incentives to work, save, and invest to enter the middle class — if it seems possible to do so. If something is only available to people much richer than oneself, and/or the system makes it unlikely that hard work, savings, and investment will be rewarded, then people won’t find it worth the trouble to do those things. So often in developing countries, the difference between stagnation and a virtuous circle is whether or not economic policy allows upward mobility. The issue is not just how well the poor live, but how hard or easy the system makes it to join the middle class.

This certainly speaks well of India’s economic reforms in the last 10-15 years.

January 28, 2005

Call it the “Botax”

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:01 pm

Lawmakers in several states are considering imposing a “vanity tax” on cosmetic surgery and botox injections. In Illinois, they want to use the money for stem-cell research. In Washington, they want to use it for childrens’ health insurance.

“We could do Botox-for-babies parties. It might be the new thing,” [Seattle Democrat Karen] Keiser said. “Anyone who can afford the money for cosmetic procedures, I don’t think they would be deterred by a little sales tax. You pay it on your lipstick.”

Apparently, Keiser doesn’t know what happened when Congress imposed the “luxury tax” on yachts back in 1990:

[A]ccording to a Wall Street Journal report, “Congressional Democrats [were] eager to show they were being tough on the rich.” A ten percent tax was added to the cost of luxury yachts. Since a yacht today costs anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000, this means that at least $10,000 had to be paid to the government before a potential buyer could get his first whiff of salt air. With the economy already heading for trouble, this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Ocean Yachts in Weekstown[, NJ] trimmed its workforce from 350 to 50. Egg Harbor Yachts entered Chapter Eleven bankruptcy, going from 200 employees to five. Viking Yachts dropped from 1,400 to 300 employees. According to a Congressional Joint Economic Committee Study, the boat industry nationwide lost 7,600 employees within one year. As Bob Healy, president of Viking Yachts explained on NBC News, “Every six or seven years, you have a down cycle. You might be off 20 percent, 30 percent, or 40 percent at maximum. Our industry is off 90 percent nationally.”

Apparently, Congressional Democrats figured that anyone who could afford to buy a luxury yacht could afford to pay an extra 10% tax. It turned out that anyone who could afford to buy a luxury yacht could also afford not to buy a luxury yacht. If you have lots of money, there’s always something else you can spend it on, whether it’s a yacht in the Bahamas (assuming they don’t have the tax there) or something else entirely (a bigger house, an airplane, a used yacht). Unfortunately, that other spending doesn’t help the workers who build yachts, because Congressional Democrats apparently forgot that when some rich person spends $100,000 on a yacht, that $100,000 goes to somebody else — usually somebody who’s not rich.

I suspect that anyone who can afford cosmetic surgery in Seattle can also afford not to get cosmetic surgery in Seattle — either by skipping it altogether (remember, it’s a “luxury” because it’s “unnecessary”) or by going to another state to get it.

The above account of the luxury tax is from an article called “Shipwrecked in New Jersey” by Robert A. Peterson. Peterson basically predicted that we would see similar incidents in the future, like the Botax:

The 1993 budget finally repealed the luxury tax, but it was the result of a political deal rather than an acknowledgment of what really makes the economy work. At the same time Congressmen and Senators were voting to repeal the luxury tax, they were voting in new taxes against the rich. Since the repeal of the luxury tax was a political deal rather than an economic one, look for continued attacks against America’s most productive citizens.

Energy Independence?

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:29 pm

There are many potential solutions to the problem of dependence on foreign oil and gas for our energy needs. This one, however, is quite literally a large pile of b—s—. And the amazing thing is, it just might work!

Traffic Tickets Cause Accidents

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:11 am

Many places now have “red-light cameras” that take pictures of cars going through red lights. Tickets are then mailed to car owners. No police are involved (at the time of the incident anyway). In Virginia at least, intersections with such cameras have signs prominently posted announcing the presence of the cameras.

The idea is either (a) to prevent accidents by discouraging drivers from running red lights, or (b) to generate revenue. Or both. Apparently, they do neither. They encourage people to stop short at red lights, causing rear-end accidents — and they don’t prevent enough cross-traffic accidents to make it up. According to a study by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the net result is an increase in crashes, and an increase in injuries. Similar results have been found in Australia and North Carolina.

Furthermore, a legal loophole makes it entirely legal for drivers to ignore tickets mailed to them — because Virginia law required an “in-person summons” to compel a person to appear in court. Apparently, Arizona has the same loophole.

Details are here.

Hat tip: InstaPundit.

Chinese Police Beat Mourners

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:56 am

Remember this the next time someone mentions Abu Ghraib.

Zhao Ziyang was the Secretary-General of the Chinese Communist Party in 1989 when thousands of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators camped out in Tiananmen Square in downtown Beijing. After several days, after opposing a military crackdown on the unarmed, nonviolent demonstrators, Zhao went to visit to protesters, implicitly showing support for their cause. He was of course, immediately deposed as head of the Party, but unlike thousands of demonstrators, he was not killed but was rather placed under house arrest. Where he remained for more than 15 years, until his death January 17 at the age of 85.

AFP reports:

BEIJING (AFP) – China has detained dozens of people, some of whom have been severely beaten, for trying to mark the death of former leader Zhao Ziyang, witnesses said.

“A man from Henan province was beaten badly. His left eyeball looked like it was beaten out of its socket and he had a one inch cut to his right eye,” said the man who requested anonymity.

“An elderly woman from Shandong province was beaten to a point where she couldn’t move and a man from Hunan province was also beaten,” he said.

This is for trying to attend a funeral. What a crime.

January 27, 2005

Public School Priorities

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:45 pm

James Taranto over at OpinionJournal quotes a story in the Almaden (Calif.) Times Weekly:

The San Jose Unified School District has started a crackdown on truancy in schools, a move that has many parents of truant students confused, frustrated and questioning the district’s motives.

The district loses $39.68 [of state taxpayer money] for each day a student misses school, whether the absence is excused or not. But San Jose Unified School District officials insist the crackdown isn’t about money, it’s about the kids.

“We’re being bombarded right now with ‘it’s about the money,’ ” said Nancy Danziger-Brock, an attendance improvement programs administrator for elementary schools at the San Jose Unified School District. “Until about two or three years ago, nobody even brought that up. And for me, when I started this program, which has become my passion, it’s about kids getting to school, getting fed, getting health care, getting their vision checked, getting their hearing checked, having counseling, getting their two meals a day and getting their education. . . .”

(The link includes a picture of the letter some parents received, summoning them to a meeting with “a representative from the District Attorney’s Office.”)

Taranto says the only thing that really must be said about this:

That list of what “it’s about” is quite something. We’re glad “getting their education” made the list, though its placement at No. 8 makes us wonder about the SJUSD’s priorities.

I went to a public high school in California — a lot more than “two or three years ago,” and I remember teachers and administrators discussing attendance and its connection with state money rather frequently. They discussed it openly in front of students, such as me, and parents. It’s no secret that people running schools care about money; they are always asking for more of it. Then again, that doesn’t make them much different from anybody else, does it?

Albert Shanker, then president of the American Federation of Teachers famously remarked in 1985, “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

Lilly Story Retracted, Medical Journalistic Ethics

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:18 pm

Bogus articles based on anonymous sources are common; apologies for such stories less so.

In its January 1, 2005 issue, the British Medical Journal published an article claiming that Eli Lilly & Co. withheld 52 pages of documents from a trial court relating to possible links between the antidepressant drug Prozac and violent and suicidal behavior. The documents came to the BMJ from an “anonymous source,” and the BMJ promptly handed them over to the FDA and to a congressman, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) — an outspoken advocate of proposals to require drug companies to publish results of all clinical trials. Indeed, Rep. Hinchey was quoted in the BMJ article as saying, “This case demonstrates the need for Congress to mandate the complete disclosure of all clinical studies for FDA-approved drugs so that patients and their doctors, not the drug companies, decide whether the benefits of taking a certain medicine outweigh the risks.”

Lilly denied that they had withheld anything, and publicly criticized the BMJ for refusing to show Lilly the documents it claimed Lilly should have disclosed (does that even make sense?). When they finally found what what documents the BMJ was talking about — not from the BMJ, but from Rep. Hinchey — they were able to provide a detailed chronology of their communications with the FDA showing that Lilly had not, in fact, withheld the information in question.

The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that the BMJ has retracted the story and posted an apology on their web site.

I saw that article, and went to the BMJ web site to read the retraction. Trouble is, I couldn’t find any retraction or apology anywhere. I had no problem finding the original article, or the article reporting that Lilly denied the charges, but the retraction/apology was nowhere to be found. The “current headlines” included the article reporting the Lilly defense, but not the retraction/apology. I even searched on “Lilly” in the search box on the web site, and came up with lots of articles about Lilly, but no retraction or apology.

I was beginning to wonder if they’d posted the retraction just long enough to take credit for it, then taken it down to avoid embarrassment and/or encourage people to believe the original. I finally found the retraction here, linked from this news story on the website of my local news radio station. (I later found the URL in a press release on Lilly’s web site also.)

I should not have had to go to such lengths to find the correction, and if the BMJ really intended for the correction to be noticed, I wouldn’t have had to. The correction should be prominently linked, with at least a one-sentence summary if not more, on their home page. It should be accessible through their search feature. And, in the age of the Internet, it is inexcusable not to include the correction on the web version of the original article. This doesn’t require reprinting the journal and sending it out to thousands of libraries (though they really ought to send errata stickers); it just requires a few minutes at a keyboard putting in a box that says “This article has been retracted” with a link to the correction on the web version of the article.

It is bad enough that Lilly had to spend time tracking down the documents and money for ads in 12 major newspapers to refute the original story. They should not have to do it again to publicize the retraction. The BMJ publicized the bogus story, and they should publicize the retraction.

In the Internet age, there is still time for the BMJ to fix this. Let’s see if they do.

January 26, 2005

End of an Era

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:52 pm

I’ve been on the Internet long enough to remember it before AOL was connected to it in 1994. (AOL was originally a self-contained service with its own content, separate from the Internet.) I remember when CompuServe (now owned by AOL) was first connected to the Internet around 1990 (anyone else remember those e-mail address with the numbers and commas?)

Though I was never particularly active on USENET (“newsgroups”), I also remember the USENET purists decrying the “commercialization of the ‘net” when all these non-tech-geeks who were unaware of USENET etiquette (“netiquette”) and history came into the newsgroups, some of them apparently unaware that they weren’t just another service of CompuServe or AOL.

Well, the wheel has turned, and AOL is disconnecting from USENET, which is to say, no longer providing newsgroup feeds to its users. Of course, the Internet being what it is now, people who want newsgroups will be able to find other sources. But as the article notes, “the event nonetheless represents a milestone in Internet history.”

Slashdot discussion here.

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