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Free speech only gets you so far [07 Oct 2005|01:19am]
[ mood | sad ]

The problem with free speech in the US is that it's only a protection against the government.

For reasons I've never really understood, we treat the coercive power of private non-person entities differently.

So, a woman gets kicked off her flight because fellow passengers don't like the political speech on her t-shirt. She's allowed to get on the plane, allowed to fly part of the way, but when it starts to bother the other people on the plane too much, she is asked to leave at the next opportunity.

The airline, Southwest, probably didn't do anything legally wrong.

In a country where we have no meaningful public transportation, it should be worrisome that people are denied transportation because of their political expression. Transportation and mobility are fundamental to the exercise of other rights.

It should also be worrisome that we are in fact only pretending not to have any public transportation. The airlines receive substantial public funds and support. Yet, they retain a private character, so they don't have to worry about little things like kicking a woman off her flight because she is wearing a t-shirt that insults the government in power.

Oh, and by the way. What kind of plane are these people riding? In what possible world could someone's t-shirt disturb another passenger on the plane once everyone is seated? You've really got to go out of your way to look at someone's shirt, and you'll probably get a neck cramp in the process. They must have been seated in those rare bulkhead seats where you face each other. How silly.

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Friendster fouls up [07 Oct 2005|01:57am]
[ mood | surprised ]

Friendster did something weird, that a lot of people probably still don't know about.

I found out, oddly enough, via the promising new U Chicago Law blog.

Others can now tell that you have looked at their profile recently.

You have to opt out if you don't like that, via the My Settings menu.

They should have made it opt-in, in my opinion. It didn't really affect me; I'm barely on Friendster anyway, and I can't say I'm sneaking around checking out people whilst they are unawares. But, still. I bet a lot of people got burned.

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Review of Murakami reading [07 Oct 2005|02:53am]
[ mood | tired ]

Well, I tried to go to the Murakami reading at MIT.

A lot of other people had the same idea.

The organizers, um, didn't anticipate the crowd.

The photo is awful. The important thing to notice is, you cannot see any stairs or aisles.

novalis and I arrived somewhere around 6:30pm. Reading scheduled for 7pm. All seats were full. I stood on the stairs. People sat on my feet. People walked between me and the people sitting on my feet. I think someone tried to sit on my elbow, but I'm not sure.

It was hot, because the air conditioning was broke.

Organizer came in, made jokes about Woodstock and acid.

The police showed up. They made everyone not in a chair leave. This included me. It did not include novalis, because he got a seat (he knows people who know people).

Went wandering, had trouble meeting up with One Less friends who were in town for the event. Later learned, they also were seatless. Eventually, we found each other, and an establishment with seats.

Disappointed in Poetry@MIT, for not having a plan to feed video or at least audio into an overflow room.

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