Google The Conqueror

The open web is dying. Corporations are moving, almost silently, across the landscape, tweaking pieces here and there, closing doors and setting up walls. Chief among them is Google. The once proud standard-bearer of openness and standards, now a hunched, twisted reflection of itself. “Don’t be Evil”, it’s one-time motto, now a mocking phrase with a Wikipedia-esque “[Citation Needed]” attached to it.

Google has, by and large, won. The vast majority of browsers run some version of it’s Blink engine. Even that is an almost prophetic echo back to when they forked the WebKit engine from Apple; breaking compatibility. Now they forge forward, ignoring standards, intentionally breaking or slowing competitors down in whatever way is most effective while also giving them sufficient cover.

They publish new formats and standards, like WebM/WebP and SPDY in the name of speed and efficiency, when in reality they’re just looking to push the discourse of the web deeper into their own territory, where they can control more aspects. They offer free tools, like Public DNS to beleaguered Internet users trying to escape out of the, somehow even worse, ISP experience. CDNs to developers and website operators promising faster user access and lower bandwidth bills for the small price of adding further tracking methods to their already frighteningly powerful panopticon of surveillance tools.

People eat it up, too. Free email, office, calendars, contacts, voice chat, search and a whole raft of other services? All I need to do is sign up and agree to let you paw through everything I do? It sounds too good to be true! Tie it all in with your cheap smartphone and ChromeBook, also powered by their tools, and suddenly you’re enjoying the connected life with all of this sweet stuff. All it cost you was your privacy. Haven’t you heard, though? Privacy is dead. Besides, I’ve got nothing to hide…

Nestle Wants Free Water. How About No?

Nestlé wants a permit to drain about a million gallons of water a day from the aquifer in North Florida. The company will use it to bottle and sell water under brand names like Deer Park and Zephyr Hills.This is an opportune time to remind everyone that Nestlé Waters North America will pay nothing for that water. Zero.

Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board – Time to end the corporate giveaway of Florida’s water

I’m not even sure how to parse this. How would anyone just blanket agree that Nestle, the multi-national company who owns virtually all of the highly-waste producing water bottling companies, wants to take one million gallons a day from Florida’s aquifers and sell it to us. For nothing.

Hang on a second, I seem to remember something scummy about Nestle. Oh yeah. Water as a human right is “extreme”, let’s listen:

The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution. The other view says that water is a foodstuff like any other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe Nestlé’s CEO from 1997 to 2008

Oh. Yeah. We should totally just give it to them. What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, they did make him apologize, right?

Oh, please do. Clarify.

So, he walks himself back. Great. Still though, the state of Florida (and by that, I mean the residents) should just give Nestle 1 million gallons of water a day for… nothing? Water that could be, oh, I don’t know, used for some of the things that he thinks we shouldn’t be doing with it? Yeah, I’d like to wash my car. Oh, but I’m sorry, selling it in wasteful plastic bottles by the truckload, much better. My bad.

It’s not even easy to avoid Nestle. They own quite a bit of companies with their fingers in a lot of markets:

Nestle has it's ugly little tentacles in a lot of different comapnies
All the companies Nestle owns or controls.

While it may be difficult to do, we can demand more oversight from our Senators and Congress people. We can demand that companies don’t just get a free ride because they’re big and will “bring so many jobs”. Water isn’t something that we should be buying from a corporation. It should be part and parcel of our rights as citizens.

ICANN-T Believe This

It seems like the copyright train has made it’s way around to ICANN. You know, the guys you (on some level) buy your domains from? Yeah, they’re getting into the copyright enforcement game. Sounds like kismet if I ever saw it.

Oh wait. No.

Cutting to the meat of the EFF’s article on this, is a quote about a provision regarding URS, an accelerated version of the copyright claims “court” for .org TLDs. That means any company who owns a generic (or even specific, I’ll get into that later) enough company can run roughshod over a non-profit who owns a domain, like in this excerpt:

When nonprofit organizations use brand names and other commercial trademarks, it’s often to call out corporations for their misdeeds—a classic First Amendment-protected activity. That means challenges to domain names in .org need more careful, thorough consideration than URS can provide. Adding URS to the .org domain puts nonprofit organizations who strive to hold powerful corporations and governments accountable at risk of losing their domain names, effectively removing those organizations from the Internet until they can register a new name and teach the public how to find it. Losing a domain name means losing search engine placement, breaking every inbound link to the website, and knocking email and other vital services offline.

Beyond URS, the new .org agreement gives Public Interest Registry carte blanche to “implement additional protections of the legal rights of third parties” whenever it chooses to. These aren’t necessarily limited to cases where a court has found a violation of law and orders a domain name suspended. And it could reach beyond disputes over domain names to include challenges to the content of a website, effectively making PIR a censorship bureau.

Mitch Stoltz – EFF – “Opening the Door for Censorship: New Trademark Enforcement Mechanisms Added for Top-Level Domains”

“But Nathan!”, you cry, “why do you care so much? I know you have a .org domain, but ‘degruchy’ is pretty specific.”

Yeah, I thought so, too, for a while. When I registered degruchy.org aeons ago, I was only vaguely aware of degruchy.com, a jeweler in Indonesia. I was wholly unaware (until very recently) of a department store called “Degruchys” on the Isle of Jersey off the coast of France. Both of these companies would be able to make a claim to degruchy.org for any number of reasons. They may not win, but I’m not holding out hope.

The EFF has already asked that they reconsider this contract and change. Which was done behind closed doors. I hope that they are successful in getting ICANN to change their position on this.

NDT Should Close His Twitter

One of Neil’s insensitive posts

Neil has had some pretty awful tweets lately. This is, by far, the worst of them. I think fame has gotten to his head. Combine this with his intelligence and he suddenly thinks that his inane pure logic is somehow relevant or worth listening to. I think this tweet sums up my feelings.

Update: His “apology” (warning: Facebook) is just as tone deaf and insincere and non apologetic as I imagine a man of his massive ego would be. I’ve already written to the Hayden Planetarium. Apparently the only way to deflate this once great liaison to science is to threaten his position.


Whew, it’s been quite a week. I try not to monitor the news too much, I feel like it becomes this negative growth in your brain and with enough exposure, metastasizes more and more of your consciousness. Ultimately overwhelming your ability to care and connect with humanity.

We’ve been seeing some pretty radical hatred in the already contentious run up to the 2020 election (ugh, already?). People are not even rational anymore, they are just frothing at the mouth about some pretty racist stuff. Stuff that doesn’t even affect them. Why do people act this way? Is it some sort of tribalism to get all angry about some other disaffected group and blame them for everything? It seems so selfish and self-defeating.

I know if I had answers for the above, I’d probably be rich, or dead. People often don’t want to fix problems or to understand themselves. They just want to keep on doing what feels comfortable to them at the time.

I am, however, glad to see there is strong support for the other side of this. Acceptance for differences, integration of new ideas, cultures and viewpoints. We don’t all have to agree, but we do have to get along on this planet. It’s getting smaller and it’s just not viable to be so hateful toward people who are just trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Edit: Sigh. Even things that aren’t even political in nature are, apparently, fair game. Mr. Trump. Please drop out of politics and leave the country to people far smarter and more qualified for the position.