What's All This Then?

commentary on the passing parade

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Monday, January 09, 2006
I’m not sure why but GOOGLE WORRIES ME!!!

I like Google. I use it for my home page. It doesn’t always zero in on what I’m looking for - but then, it isn’t an intelligent search engine - just a fast one. This isn’t the Enterprise with it’s talking computer that’s so bright it even knows where everyone aboard is at any given moment. It isn’t even Hal of 2001 A Space Odyssey.

But whatever its limitations - Google is unquestionably a behemoth as I said back in June of 2004 when I wrote a piece titled Beware the Google Juggernaut

Now we are apparently going to have a clash of the Internet Titans to see who will rule the world of cyberspace.

In the summer of 2004 I expressed concern about Google becoming too powerful. Many people were similarly concerned about the power of Microsoft and the company has had to face court challenges at home and abroad. I’ve become reasonably comfortable with Microsoft over the years - but there’s something about the ever increasing number and size of Google’s tentacles that leaves me with a very uneasy feeling.

I don’t know enough about the Internet and cyberspace and the world’s dependence on computers to put it into words. I just hope the people who run Google aren’t as bedazzled by their power as I am concerned about it.

On disparate views of Ariel Sharon…

The response to Ariel Sharon’s stroke has I suppose been predictable. The west is concerned. The Palestinians too - though only because they know they’ll have to deal with the devil they don’t know in the future rather than the devil they believe they do know.

The reaction of Palestinians that was brought to us through television images and newspaper articles was not unexpected - but still disappointing. To most Palestinians, Sharon is and was indeed a devil and a war criminal. The two conflicting views were well expressed in the print media this morning - one by staunch Israeli supporter Charles Krauthammer and the Palestinian/Arab world view by Rami G. Khouri, editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star.

What struck me as sad and an indication of how far apart Israelis and Palestinians are in their perception of the problems and how to solve them were the "man on the street" interviews of Palestinians in Jerusalem. One woman in particular who had no use for Sharon, looked upon him as some kind of monster for building the wall/fence that separated her from her husband. I don’t think I caught the reason why they were living on different sides of the wall, but there was no disguising her bitterness and the blame she assigned to Sharon for this disruption of her life.

But as I watched and listened to this scene unfold, my mind went back to a radio interview I heard with a female American reporter in Jerusalem. It was at a time when suicide bombing attacks were at their height and while the discussion between the reporter and the state side interviewer covered a wide range of topics, the attacks was the central issue on both their minds. Before the conversation ended, the state side interviewer cautioned the reporter to be careful and asked - wasn’t she afraid. "Not really" the reporter answered - "I’m staying in East Jerusalem.

The implication was crystal clear.

East Jerusalem, where no Israelis walk into crowded cafes or markets and explode bombs strapped around their waists. East Jerusalem, where no Israelis board busses and explode bombs attached to their bodies. East Jerusalem, where no masked Israeli gunmen suddenly appear and fire indiscriminately into a crowd.

There was no wall in those days but the reporter made it clear that she felt that East Jerusalem was a safer place for her headquarters than the rest of the city. Today she might feel differently because there is a wall. Today she might feel comfortable headquartering elsewhere in the city. And perhaps if the Palestinian woman who wished the ailing Ariel Sharon nothing but ill will because the wall that he authorized was disrupting her life could have spoken to that reporter, she might not have held the opinion that he and the wall were the personification of evil.

But I doubt it. There’s a very, very long and rocky road still ahead and a tough one to traverse by whoever lands the Herculean task of succeeding Ariel Sharon.