Toward an opening from the crisis in Madagascar (LM)

photo of Andry Rajoelina

Andry Rajoelina, transitional head of state of Madagascar since March 21, 2009

It’s not just animated animals from the New York Central Zoo in Madagascar.

Right now the Malagasy president is the former mayor of Antananarivo, the island nation’s capital. Andry Nirina Rajoelina is the self-proclaimed head of state after youth protests forced the resignation of an authoritarian ruler, in power since the 1990s. Now elections have been called for next year.

Things you learn from Le Monde.

(Click here for story. Original headline: Vers une sortie de crise politique à Madasgascar.)


Kin of Human Ancestor Lucy May Have Been Early Butchers, Using Tools to Eat Meat (NYT)

Not much has changed in the past 3.4 million years, has it? Even then, a good steak, was a good steak. Our ancestors had their priorities right.

Read story here.

Lower East Side Has Less to Offer Jesuits Who Teach the Poor (NYT)

Uplifting news, for a change. New York City’s Lower East Side is gentrifying, pricing out the poor children served by a middle school run by the Jesuits. So they’re moving to follow the priced-out to a needy neighborhood by 2012.

If there is one bias all journalists share, it’s against good news.

Still, the Times didn’t quite bury this one: teaser on the front page, story in the front section, not in ghetto of the local news section. maybe it’s August, or maybe it’s what great papers do.

And, yes, I did see it in print first.

Click here for the story.

Google hedges its bets on openness: Pact with Verizon on Internet-access rules marks new use of clout (WP)

Here’s the knell sounding: the model-T days of computing are coming to a close. In the first three decades of the last century, when Ford produced its Model T and Model A cars, engines were simple enough that almost anyone could be a mechanic.

The Tin Lizzie could be modified and souped up very easily—with a screwdriver. Similarly, since the 1970s anyone with a screwdriver and a little gumption could re-engineer a computer. Do it on an Apple and you void your warranty—but it can be done.

I had a computer from 1991 to about 2001 whose innards I gradually changed until it really wasn’t functionally the original 16MHz 386 at all. I could also write programs for it. In a sense, that computer is—I still have it in a corner of my office—my Ford A (I had an XT—my Ford T—before it).

Now, with the iPad and iPhone, you can’t fiddle with the innards—and with this Google-Verizon deal, it’s all over.

The future computer will be like the robot-made new Chryslers: you really can’t dabble in the internal computer systems or their firmware or practically anything else, besides replacing a windshield wiper—unless you’re a “certified” something (cybermechanic?).

Now Google has agreed that wireless phones need not have “net neutrality” so that Verizon, say, could block Yahoos’s search engine on phones, if the company so chose.

I understand the logic and the economics. When the average consumer stops being able to build his or her own computing environment and everything about it becomes proprietary, the corporations can give us whatever they want at whatever price they choose on whatever terms they like.

The new consumer ‘puter—just push a button and it’s done—will be efficient and very, very profitable thanks to built-in obsolescence. All information will be back in the hands of  corporations.

Welcome to the new cyberspace—you won’t be able to tell it apart from network television.

Read the story here.

Obama Takes Off The Gloves [The Presidential Address We Will Never Hear]

What if a presidential speech began with “I’m goddamn sick and tired of all this Republican-rigged obstructionist crap! Who do those conservative dingle-berries think they are, holding up employment benefits to millions of Americans who are out of work because of a recession for which they are directly responsible?”

That would be news; and it is.

The piece appears today on Swan’s Commentary, an online magazine founded in 1996 devoted to “thinking, questioning, observing, and providing ideas that are lacking in the mainstream media.”

Now all we need is for Obama to get on television and read it.

State aid bill a gamble for Dems (Politico)

Finally, the Democratic majority acts like one! Cutting spending now is bad math.

Read the story here.

Judge’s ruling gives boost to same-sex marriage (WT)

Homophobic Californians were only trying to protect gays and lesbians from nagging, adultery, domestic violence, divorce and alimony.

Read the story here.