May 4 Is More Than Happy Star Wars Day, Remember the Kent State Massacre

I know that today heralds the nth Star Wars media release, but we it is also a day of remembrance. 41 years ago today on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on demonstrating students at Kent State University. Four students were killed and nine others were wounded during the shooting. Read more about that tragic event herehere, and here.

Judge Rules Than an IP Address Does Not Necessarily Correlate to a Particular Individual

Slashdot linked to a District Court ruling that establishes that an IP address does not directly correlate with an individual. The judge applies good sense to the nature of modern networking technology that allows many people to share an IP address, especially wirelessly, and sometimes without the knowledge of an IP address’ “owner.” Find the original links and the decision’s ensuing discussion here: An IP Address Does Not Point To a Person, Judge Rules – Slashdot.

Apple Q&A on Location Data, Future iOS Update to ‘Fix’

While I am reading Apple’s Press Release website, I offer their official response to the iPhone tracking revelation: Apple – Press Info – Apple Q&A on Location Data. Short story: the supposed location data is a local cache of crowd-sourced location data that Apple uses to help your iPhone let you know where you are while providing Apple with additional information about location specific resources such as cell towers and wi-fi hotspots. With an update to iOS, you will be able to completely opt out of this by turning off Location Services, and for those of us who use Location Services, a future iOS update will stop backing up the cache and reduce its size.

Stonewall Uprising Documentary on PBS’s American Experience

Tonight’s American Experience program on the Stonewall Uprising ended with Seymour Pine, Deputy Inspector, Morals Division, NYPD, one of the police officers who barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall Inn, saying, “And they were, they were kids. You knew you could ruin them for life. And you felt bad that you were part of this, when you knew they broke the law, but what kind of law was that?”

The Stonewall Uprising is a documentary that reflects on what others have called the Stonewall Riots through moving interviews with people who were there at the flashpoint. The program ends with the founding of the first Gay Pride Parade, which highlights the importance of solidarity through a growing community awareness.

You can watch Stonewall Uprising online and find other resources (including a transcript) here.

A Look at iPhone Tracking Information

UPDATE: Wired Magazine covers why Apple is collecting this data here. Their reporting relies on Apple’s written response to congressional members here.

BoingBoing, Al Franken, and Slashdot (here and here–the latter says don’t panic and here–Android does it too) have all rang the alarum bells over Apple’s iOS 4’s storing information about where owner’s go while carrying their mobile devices. That information is stored on your iPhone and your computer (when the iPhone is connected to the computer for updates or syncing). Apparently, Apple has not used this information for any purpose yet, but the question stands: “Why collect this kind of personal information?”

Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden created an open source program that graphically demonstrates the information that iOS collects on the iPhone, albeit at lower resolution than what is actually stored in the database file. Their iPhone Tracker application can be downloaded from here. I used this app to generate the image above of my own movements since I installed iOS 4 on my iPhone 3GS. It looks pretty accurate to me–conferencing, vacationing, and schooling are all there.

My suspicion mirrors others that I have read that this could be a feature for a future release of iOS, but Apple wanted the data accumulated so that the feature would be immediately useful. However, I wonder: could this data collection be related to the MobileMe iPhone tracking service? Could location information be stored on the phone and retrieved when needed? If this is the case, why is it always collecting data? Does this make it easier or more assured that Apple can obtain information on a phone’s whereabouts without also have to remotely switching this data collection on? Whatever the reason, Apple will have to respond to the outcry since folks tend to not like being followed in a sense. However, The New York Times has already gone on record that cell phone companies track our movements anyways, but that didn’t seem to get the same level of attention that the iPhone issue did. I suppose that the difference is that we can see what the iPhone does, but we cannot see what cell phone companies do with the data that they collect of each of us who use and carry their phones. Personally, I am more concerned about the cell phone companies than the iPhone’s geo-data collection, but both are dubious rights issues that must be dealt with as this technology is further integrated into our lives and daily practices.

Ars Technica Story on Publishers Suing Georgia State University over Course e-reserves

Ars Technica is featuring a story today about a pending lawsuit against Georgia State University by publishers over the university’s use of course e-reserves. In academia, students might have some books to buy for each course, but professors might also give students some readings via handouts (okay by fair use doctrine). With the advent of personal computers and the Internet, universities have increasingly shifted toward a model of providing hosting for professors’ course reading handouts. So, instead of having the university or the professor pay for handouts, each student may download the readings to his or her computer and then them on-screen or print them out to read. Due to some professors giving students more and more materials to read rather than purchase or pay a licensing fee for a course packet (essentially an anthology of readings put together by the professor), some publishers have decided to sue one university in particular, Georgia State University, for their extensive e-reserves for students. The judge presiding over the case has already dismissed certain claims, but the publishers made an amended claim of contributory copyright infringement, which has yet to be resolved. This case could maintain the status quo or restrict options that professors have to put materials in the hands of students who otherwise might not or cannot purchase the readings that they need. Read the full coverage here:

Campus copyright: publishers sue over university “e-reserves”.

Kasich Rushed to Sign Anti-Public Union Law in Ohio

Governor John Kasich of Ohio couldn’t wait to sign the Republican-led anti-public union bill known as SB 5, which restricts the collective bargaining rights of over 100,000 public employees including teachers. Analysis of the overwhelming public opposition of the bill is available here on the Daily Kos. The Kent Stater has a good write-up of the vote today including how many signatures will be needed to initiate a referendum here. Kasich signed the bill at 7:20pm tonight according to WYTV here.

You Must Read Bob Herbert’s “Losing Our Way” –

Bob Herbert’s final column for the New York Times is a scathing rebuke of the decline of America at the hands of the right and the left. Herbert writes:

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely. (par. 4)

Increasingly, it does seem that we have lost our way as a nation. I don’t believe that the nation is full of deluded citizens who want to shitcan our great nation, but there are the powerful elites and their corporate backers who are engaging in a money grab while the nation is distracted by ideological pedantry. There are bigger issues that need to be dealt with and gutting insignificant-by-cost social services is not the answer. The wealthy and corporations enjoy the benefits of a powerful American nation, and they should pay their fair share of the costs that maintain our country and its place in the world (read about this here). Granted, the wealthy and corporations with the advent of globalization are more capable than ever to easily transition their wealth and holdings to other places. Perhaps they don’t need America as much as American needs them, and it may be that they realize that. However, there are many of us who are not wealthy and who are steadily losing any chance of a life that can support a family and an enriched existence. It is up to us, regardless of political alignment, to realize the big picture problem of inequality in America and do something about it that transcends ideological differences. I agree with Herbert’s conclusion to “Losing Our Way”:

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed. (par. 13-14)

Unfortunately, I don’t see anyone on the political horizon capable of leading America into a future where its people earn the benefits that they deserve. The outlook seems as bleak as the rock-tar covered scene out my office window at the Kent State library.

via Losing Our Way –

From Daily Kos: Wisconsin GOP Attempts to Use Open Records Law to Read Professor’s Email

As reported on the Daily Kos, the Wisconsin Republican Party has sent a request to Professor Bill Cronon, who wrote a critical blog post and Times op-ed piece of the GOP’s (specifically its backers) campaign to bust public unions, for his personal emails sent and received through his school email account. As a public worker, it would seem that on the surface this request is legal. However, there are many complicating factors in a professor releasing emails wholesale–particularly in regard to confidentiality with other persons and potential FERPA violations with student records. Professor Cronon provides a clear rationale about why this is a significant attack on the intellectual community regardless of what point on the political spectrum you inhabit. Please read Professor Cronon’s thoughtful and thorough response to the GOP’s request here. Personally, I support Professor Cronon, and I do not believe that he should be made to release his emails to any group including the GOP. Intellectual freedom is impossible if you have to look over your shoulder constantly, because you fear that your communication and exchange of ideas with others may be de-contextualized and employed to discredit your work as a citizen and a scholar.

Republican Tactic Ends Stalemate in Wisconsin –

More unfortunate news tonight according to The New York Times. The Wisconsin State Senators found a legal loophole to pass Governor Walker’s public union busting bill that takes away rights and money from Wisconsin’s workers to meet budgetary shortfalls created by his substantial corporate tax breaks:

The bitter political standoff in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s bid to sharply curtail collective bargaining for public-sector workers ended abruptly Wednesday night, as his Republican counterparts in the State Senate successfully maneuvered to adopt a bill doing just that.

After a three-week stalemate, Republican senators pushed the measure through in less than half an hour, with the Senate’s Democrats still miles away trying to block the vote. Democratic Assembly members complained bitterly, and protesters, who had spent many days at the Capitol, continued their chants and jeers.

I have written previously that I support the WI workers here, and I am concerned about what this loss and the other recent workers’ rights losses in Idaho and Ohio mean for us all (i.e., the ~80% of the American population that controls less than 15% of net worth according to G. William Domhoff here). These are radical attacks on the ability of public servants, who provide invaluable services for citizens, to get a fair shake against overzealous and ideologically motivated politicians and administrators who want to cripple public services and our educational system.

via Republican Tactic Ends Stalemate in Wisconsin –