CNN: the next terrorist.

The Summer Olympics of 2008 have brought up several questions that are dear to my heart.  They are questions of freedom of speech and the press, the questions of human rights, the questions of religion, government, and international relations.  Best illustrating these questions is the recent hackers’ attack and website slowdown of CNN and other international news sources reporting on the unrest in Tibet.

The first question that comes to me from the article referenced above is the angry of bloggers in China against the press of other countries.  What reports or articles in particular are viewed as unfair or biased, and for what reasons?  Are these accusations valid?

To answer these questions, I turned to the web.  This article tells a bit of the story – Jack Cafferty, a CNN commentator made some comments about China that were degrading and inaccurate.  Many Chinese people were angry at these comments and CNN as a consequence of these comments.  Nancy Pelosi was also criticized, though the article remained unclear on the details why.  I also accessed this page, translated by google, for more detail of the reasons behind the protests.  However, the translation was not accurate enough to give me much information.  I did watch the Youtube video posted on the page, which does show a bit of the riots in Tibet earlier this year.  It does little to show what actually happened, however.  It is not clear if protests began peacefully, if Han Chinese were a part of the early protests, if police acted as they should have.  The only things that can be truly determined are that things escalated, that people were killed or injured, that property was damaged on both sides, and that both Tibetans and Han Chinese are very righteously angry.

The second question is to the rights of the Chinese themselves.  Do they, as individual bloggers have the right to question the international press?  Should the Chinese government be reigning them in?  Do they have the right, or motivation, to question measures by the government in Tibet?  Do they have the access to judge?  Do foreign reporters have the experience to tell us the truth, to report honestly, if they do not know the history of the region?  Can they understand the anger of the people in Tibet or in China who feel so strongly about this issue?  Are they better, or worse, at interpreting the situation?  I am not sure of the answers to any of these questions, and I do not think they will be able to be answered for some time, if ever.  Perhaps with hindsight we will be able to clearly say who is right, or who is wrong.  Or maybe we will simply have to say that both sides have their faults, and hope that a peaceful agreement can be arranged.

I leave you with a final comment from another blogger on the danger of being caught in the middle, especially with such anger on both sides.  With such hatred, how can those sensible amongst us find our way?

The Woman at the Top

Lyn St. James.  Janet Guthrie.  Sarah Fisher.  Danica Patrick.  These are the four women who have taken a place in Indy car racing despite their sex, showing yet another place in which women should be taken as seriously as men.  Danica in particular became very popular as rookie of the year and as an almost girlish competitor as well.  Now her continuation in the Indy car circuit has paid off – she won her first race yesterday, the Indy Japan 300.

What does this mean for the future?  Will Danica, now that she’s won an Indy race, switch over to NASCAR (which has had about three times as many female drivers as Indy car racing) after the end of her current contract?  Will the 24-year-old pursue a new career objective in a different area?  Will she continue to be a draw for Indy car racing, which continues to shrink in popularity when compared with other racing types?  Why does racing continue to be a male-dominated sport?

I’ll attempt to answer the last question, which I seem to have the best handle on.  While it’s obvious that some professions (such as fireman or construction worker) are more difficult, though not impossible, for a woman due to a necessary physical strength, racing does not require this sort of brute power.  It does require certain skills, such as hand-eye coordination, which are often (but not always) more developed in men.  However, I would say the key skill has to do with risk and judgment.  From statistics on investing, it has been noted that men are more often risk-takers.  It takes a certain type of person to willfully risk life and limb by testing their nerves against machines, or nature, or each other.  Women do it every day, as skiiers and snowboarders, cliff divers, acrobats, stunt women, and race car drivers.  However, I would guess that many of these areas are and will continue to be male-dominated, for at least as long as the female mind is generally wired towards species preservation.  Perhaps someday, more than a few of us will be able to take that hindbrain in hand, and tell it once and for all just exactly what we are risking, and what we can afford to lose.

Patriot’s Day

There are few holidays in the US that are celebrated only at a state level.  Of course there are always local and municipal celebrations, but rarely do businesses close for them, especially in larger cities.  The only semi-local holiday I know of is the Massachusetts-wide celebration of Patriot’s Day, which corresponds to the Boston marathon.  It is for this holiday that I am typing at home today.

Other than allowing those thin little champions of the marathon a day to run, what is this holiday for?  Are there more patriots in Mass than other places?  Does the history of the area, in particular in relationship to its history during the Revolutionary War, give it the special status of an additional holiday that other less historical regions do not deserve?

According to Wikipedia, the holiday is a celebration of the start of the Revolutionary War in the battles of Lexington and Concord.  It is also celebrated in Maine, because Maine was once part of Massachusetts.  I suppose that’s a valid celebration of history, even though the actual battles took place considerably further south.  However, no explanation is given for the fact that public schools in Wisconsin also take this day as a holiday.  Perhaps it’s another name for teacher’s in-service there, or the public school students are just unusually cheesy.  Yum.

Anyway, regardless of the reason, I plan on holding this holiday of mine in style and cheer.