Once again Big Brother rears its ugly head as the Senate has just passed a bill that would make it mandatory for automobile makers to include a "black box", like those used in aircraft, in all new cars by 2015. While the primary reason is to record and use data if assistance is needed, this gives the government access to that information with a court order. The bill is expected to pass in the House as well.
We don't quite get it. The recently released Hunger Games carries an MP-13 rating in spite of its violent plot while Bully has an R for "strong" language and an adult must accompany the age group that is targeted. The film cannot be shown in schools with that rating and although there is a movement afoot to get it changed, that hasn't happened as yet. You can sign the petition online and send it to friends and Facebook to help the MPAA change their mind.
We noticed that the cause of Kony 2012 has caused quite an uproar in the past few days. This is an excellent example of the true power of the internet and networking on it.
But here's the thing. We know someone who made some documentaries in the cause of justice. And although she tried to use them as learning tools, they were not magic bullets. Even with multiple viewings at film festivals, colleges and other public institutions, the problems were not fixed. There are still people who go against the paramilitary in Colombia who end up "disappeared." They continue to struggle over water rights in Bolivia even after thousands fought against it and we bet that if you go into a Walmart, you will not be able to find a soccer ball that was not hand-stitched by a child in India at slave wages.
So watch the video and do what your heart says but remember that large problems do not have an easy fix. Get involved but do not get carried away to the point that you forget that although the medium is the message, it is not a cure-all, no matter how many celebrities back it. And most of all, use this experience to make your own change for the better in the grand scheme of things. Use that energy to fight hunger, work to end a debilitating disease, keep children as children or help those who have even less than you.
The Digital Advertising Alliance is composed of more than 400 Internet companies that are supporting a do-not-track button for browsers. Complete implementation will take place by the end of the year and is already in IE, Firefox and Safari, with Google planning to update its own in Chrome.
This is not a definitive end-all as users will still have to endure customized ads, some market research and law enforcement snooping. And note that every time you push that Like button on Facebook, Big Brother is watching.
Parents concerned with their kids meeting strangers online have an alternative to the usual channels with Kidsocial. The system works by friendship codes that can be given to real-world friends. Parents of those who are younger than 13 are automatically notified with when a connection is made. Chatting, posting images and video, and game playing is encouraged. Because codes can be also given by texting, monitoring is probably still a good thing.
Instead of cramming their heads with Saturday morning cartoons, kids in grades K - 12 with AT&T'S 3G network may soon be opting for TVTextbook. They get access to both educational and entertaining content on any TV, PC, tablet or other device. Debuting with Florida's Duval County Public Schools, this will be especially useful to those who cannot get the interweb otherwise. Eight hundred accessible dongles will connect the TVT service through USB to start.
Let your loved ones be remembered online with two new sites. At I-Tomb, you can create a "virtual cemetery" with images, videos, music, text and documents that memorialize a loved one's life. I-Memorial is for the living that want to let their relatives know how they would like to be remembered as well as what to do upon their demise. We are not sure whether we applaud the sites (run by the same company) for letting folks reminisce or plan ahead, or we find it a bit odd that there can be a place to glorify those who never made it to Wikipedia.
9/11 is one of those events that you remember where you were and was somehow altered by the catastrophe. We suggest you not spend the day watching the boob tube and reliving the evil of it via the courtesy of the networks. Instead, plant a tree or hang with friends and/or family. Take the time to personally remember and be glad that we are Americans and better than the petty bickering that has consumed our lives of late.
SETI is a go again, thanks to $200,000 in funding from supporters that include actor/director Jodi Foster. The organization managed to gain enough funding (~$200,000) in 45 days to restart its Allen Telescope Array, thereby making it possible for ET to phone away from home. You can still contribute to this hopeful organization, although they are seeking permanent funding from the US Air Force.
The UK's prime minister, in addressing Parliament last week, told them that he was considering limiting social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to help curb the violence. Part of PM David Cameron's speech claimed,
"And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."
We want to believe that this is a threat more than a promise as anyone who believes in freedom knows that this move will not hinder the problem, but feed the flames. We do not believe in violence, but this type of action smacks of Big Brother, don't you think? You can read the entire speech from the link.