On violent protests and censorship

This week has seen a continuation of what seems to be a national theme for those of us in South Africa: the violent protest. The latest has come from students down in Durban, protesting for better bus transport and food at the university, but my personal favorite was a couple years ago when a group protesting against poor public transport burned trains and buses… it’s utterly fantastic… I find that I’m simply not able to grasp the mentality that would be capable of such dark humor.

At first I thought that a stronger police action was needed. Break up unregistered protests before they turn violent, deny protest permits to groups or organisations that have a history of violence and come down HARD on anyone who does get violent. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well… maybe not.

Violence, as Asmiov wrote, is the last refuge of the incompetent, but sometimes it may be necessary. It can be argued that for a long time in South Africa it was necessary, and so it will take a long time to filter out of out society. What worries me is that it’s the youth that is getting violent… far more violent than their preceding generation, this has to be a failure of education… which imperils our fragile outlook for the future.

On the other hand, we have the case of Google vs China. The search mega-corporation has finally stood up the dictatorial state, redirecting all users in China to the unfiltered search of their Hong Kong site. China has since censored these results, blocking searches or results as suits them. Did the Chinese students embark on a violent protest to reclaim their right to information (which, personally i think is far more important than an earlier bus ride or easy access to sandwiches)? No… there has been, as far as I can see, zero reaction from the Chinese public.

There must exist some reasonable middle ground somewhere between the mob ruled chaos and the Orwellian government control, but how do we judge? And once we’ve found the blueprint for such a prefect society, we need to introduce it to the single greatest problem facing good governance….. people.

In the news:

First Flight For SpaceShip Two – Virgin Galactic’s new spaceship did it’s first atmospheric test flight on Monday… we’re getting close to the fabled commercial space flight.

Does This Headline Know You’re Reading It? – the building of Text 2.0, where whatever you’re reading can tell where you’re looking and add video, sound, translation or explanation as needed. It also raises some question about how much we really want our computers to know. Cool article.

Has Emily Howell Passed the Musical Turning Test? – WOW!!!!!! you have to read this, and listen to the music! An AI computer program that creates wholely original, beautiful music!

To Mars and back — as real as it gets – a group of astronoughts do a full scale simulation of a mars mission.

Hey… I managed to post before friday, Woot! I haven’t done much work on the Necromunda board, and my internet connection at home is down (thank you telkom), so I haven’t been playing wow…. missing my gorgeous lady.


The three laws of journalism are:

1) Inform the public of matters of public import.

2) Entertain the audience, when it does not interfere with the first law.

2) Sneak in puns when it does not interfere with the first two laws, unless it’s a really good one.


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