Saturday, July 23, 2005

TiVo, China, Dalrymple down The Well of Bad Decisions

The great thing about pulling up a cup of stupidity from this well is that it never runs dry. I just accumulate accounts of poor decisions in my favorites list until the overflow forces me to share from my plenty.

1) TiVo, of which I was an early adopter and ravingly enthusiastic advocate, continues to falter. They have not provided the interface changes we'd like (see some from Lileks' rant halfway down the page), and have been unforgivably slow in rolling out an HD version. Perhaps the last and fatal sign of their dancehall floozy's betrayal of us that brung 'em is that ignoring one of the features that people love most, TiVo's finding new ways to force us to see ads. Unlike other of their technical "upgrades" which roll out behind schedule if at all, I'd just read about this new development when I saw annoying flashing in the top-right of my screen, nagging me to hit the thumbs-up to learn more about Saturn. It wasn't an educational segment about the planet. It's like TiVo's begging to be put out of its misery.

2) In other bogus technical news, if you hadn't heard, companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Cisco are actually helping China to implement its censorship policies against its connected citizens who use forbidden words like "democracy" online. I am not one who believes every corporation and its leadership are simply evil, grasping immoral sociopaths. However, on this issue, these companies are DEAD WRONG. Aside from the moral backwardness of companies that flourished because of America's open environment helping enforce repression, China has proven to be an inconsistent respecter of the give-and-take business model. You help modernize their businesses, but they don't allow you open access to their consumers. I think this decision is short-term greed overwheming prinicipal and even commercial prudence. It's a mistake to dance with the devil and think he won't do you wrong. It's a sin to help him.

In better news, here is the spankin' fresh Carnival of Chinese Blogs, where you can support and read the content that leaks through the filters. Also, in the listed Adopt a Chinese Blog program, you can mirror a Chinese blogger's content on your pages or server. That way, if they get shut down locally, they still have an online forum that can't be erased by the Party.

3) Theodore Dalrymple, the British doctor who's practiced in prisons and among the impoverished, whose cultural commentary and writing I adore, has been booted from book reviewing for being too old. It seems impossible to me that his successor could do anything but worsen the content of the "august journal." Here's an example from last month of Dalrymple's review of One Nation Under Therapy for the New Criterion. In fact, Dalrymple's authored several books himself which were critically well received. Whoever prefers a sassy, edgy review written in postmodern pablum has proved themselves both insipid and optional. Dr. Dalrymple is neither.

No comments: