mfioretti: eich*

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  1. The Web is always in trouble for some reason or other. I remember when Microsoft came after Netscape and threatened to lock Web standards into IE. Only the Web is so big, with such reach to billions of users, that no one owns it. This means it will always be contested ground.

    But the Web today faces a primal threat.

    Some say the threat to the Web is “mobile”, but the Web is co-evolving with smartphones, not going away. Webviews are commonplace in apps, and no publisher of note is about to replace its primary website with a walled-garden equivalent. Nor can most websites hope to develop their own apps and convert their browser users to app-only users.

    I contend that the threat we face is ancient and, at bottom, human. Some call it advertising, others privacy. I view it as the Principal-Agent conflict of interest woven into the fabric of the Web.

    You use a browser to find and contribute information, but you generally do not pay for the websites who host that information. Across billions of people, for most sites in most countries, it isn’t realistic to expect anything but a free Web. And as Ben Thompson points out, “free” means ad-supported in the main. Yes, successful sites and apps may convert you to a paying customer, but most won’t.

    You might object: “Hey, I’m ready to pay for websites I support”. I’m with you, but many people are not so well-off that they can support most of the commercial sites they use. Also, the Web missed an opportunity back in the early days to define payments and all they entail as a standard.

    Once you grant this premise, that the Web needs ads in the large, it follows that your browsing habits will be surveilled, to the best of the ad ecosystem players’ abilities. Also, depending on how poorly ads are designed and integrated, you may become blind or averse to them. Since the ‘90s, I’ve seen several races to the bottom along these lines.
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  2. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion, said the court now holds that same-sex couples may “exercise the fundamental right to marry.” He characterized this as a liberty that had been denied to them.

    Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito dissented and, in an unusual step, each wrote separate opinions.

    “The majority's decision is an act of will, not legal judgment,” Roberts said. “The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this court's precedent.”

    “Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law,” he said.

    Justice Antonin Scalia characterized the decision as a “threat to American democracy,” “hubris” and a “judicial putsch.”

    Justice Thomas said the decision means that conflict between the recognition of same-sex marriage and religious liberty appears “all but inevitable” as individuals and churches face demands to participate and endorse in these marriages. The use of the judicial process “short circuits” the political process that could consider religious freedom implications, “with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”

    Similarly, Justice Alito said the decision “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” He objected to the majority’s comparison of traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women, saying this analogy’s implications “will be fully exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”

    Parents in some school districts have faced difficulty in exempting their children from classes voicing approval of same-sex relationships, while small businesses with moral reservations about participating in same-sex ceremonies have faced discrimination lawsuits. Catholic-run adoption agencies have been forced to close because the law would require them to place children with same-sex couples against their religious beliefs.

    Those who supported efforts to defend marriage have also faced professional retaliation. In 2014 Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was forced to leave the company he co-founded after activist groups and media publicized that he had donated to support California’s Proposition 8.
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  3. "The ousting of Eich, the DRM problem -- all those imbroglios have tarnished the image of Firefox," said Google+ blogger Alessandrom Ebersol. So, on one side, "agnostic users left Firefox because they were told its new CEO was a conservative bigot. The folks who care about freedom, privacy and open Internet left Firefox because of the DRM module to play Netflix."

    First is "the 'problem' with CEOs -- one accused of sexism and the other bending over to DRM," he said. "The first issue was kind of forced into the community heart, since that person never brought that into the community, really; the second issue is there for all of us to see: FF is not the 100 percent FLOSS friend and flag-carrier it used to be. There is still time to review this decision, Mozilla!"

    In fact, "there is a huge danger in trusting Google -- or any other single large company, particularly one with interests in U.S. defense contracts -- with the responsibility to determine whether a certificate revocation is important enough to tell you about," he added. "With Chrome, you give up a lot of control over your own security."

    A COMMENT: "conservative bigotry". I don't think so! The only bigotry I saw was from the witch hunt created by the as-called "liberal progressives" (cultural Marxists) who showed complete and utter contempt for the freedom of expression of what is the majority view in California and of anyone who cares about family values. Such "liberal" bigotry was in complete contradiction to the values of freedom that Mozilla tell us they stand for defending, and if you read much of the feedback from people abandoning Firefox it's overwhelmingly from people disgusted at the treatment of Eich.
    Tags: , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-07-17)
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  4. Brendan’s biggest flaw, IMHO, was his inability to connect and empathize with people. I’ve seen and felt that over the years, finding Bredan brilliant, but distant. And you certainly saw it this past week, as many calm and reasonable people said “Brendan, I want you to lead Mozilla. But I also want you to feel my pain.” Brendan didn’t need to change his mind on Proposition 8 to get out of the crisis of the past week. He simply needed to project and communicate empathy. His failure to do so proved to be his fatal flaw as CEO.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2014-06-16)
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  5. There is no question, however, that the firestorm about Eich's political stance, which led to three Mozilla board members resigning and web sites banning the use of Firefox, hastened his departure. Eich himself simply stated that, "I resigned because I could not be an effective leader under the circumstances."

    His resignation, in turn, caused another backlash. This one against the "political correctness" that had forced him out of the CEO suite.

    Mozilla Foundation Executive Director Mark Surman gave perhaps the most nuanced explanation of why Eich left when he blogged that while Eich had "led a band of brilliant engineers and activists who freed the Internet from the grip of Microsoft," at the same time he wasn't able to "connect and empathize with people." In short, he was a fine CTO, but not CEO material.

    When the job called for the finesse of dealing with a major public relations disaster, he was unable to cope or to find enough allies within Mozilla to successfully support him. As Surman said, "Over the past three years, we’ve become better at being a Company. I would argue we’ve also become worse at being Mozilla. We’ve become worse at caring for each other. Worse at holding the space for difference. Worse at working in the open. And worse at creating the space where we all can lead."
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2014-06-16)
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  6. This is the same Baker who told the world that Brendan Eich was being sacked as chief executive because his financial support in 2008 for Proposition 8 in California - a measure to define marriage as a union only between a man and woman - did not match the Foundation's values.

    So one can kick out a co-founder of Mozilla, the person who invented JavaScript, a technical genius, in order to adhere to these so-called values.

    At the same time, one will incorporate DRM, even if it is in not in keeping with those same "values". A word beginning with "h" and ending with "e" suggests itself.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-05-16)
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  7. nothing (and I mean nothing) is more offensive nowadays than Christianity. It seems that being a believing Christian is offensive from the get-go nowadays, especially if one watches NBC News. It seems that Jesus, besides being the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is also quite offensive. Talking about your religion is like blowing smoke in people's faces without all the cancery ramifications.

    Just this week, a family in New Jersey was so offended by the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance they're suing to ban the pledge from public schools.

    Last month, an executive at Mozilla lost his job because of his beliefs on marriage.

    This age of totalitolerance has clearly taught us that sometimes tolerance means someone's gonna' shut up. Now.

    Here's the thing, I can think somebody's a jerk without being offended. Someone can be wrong without my needing an apology. I don't ever intend to offend anyone but I'm sure I have. I probably just did with this piece. Just my being Catholic, pro-life, and in favor of traditional marriage probably makes me the most offensive person on the planet. But hey, at least I didn't go to a Japanese war crime shrine.
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  8. The obvious point to make about Eich’s resignation is that it shows how much a part of the mainstream that support for gay rights has become, particularly in the technology world. Eich’s problem wasn’t that he took a political stance:’s C.E.O., Jeff Bezos, has weighed in on gay marriage, too, by donating more than $2.5 million in support of it. The problem was that Eich’s stance was unacceptable in Silicon Valley, a region of the business world where social liberalism is close to a universal ideology. At this point, a tech company having a C.E.O. who opposes gay marriage is not all that different from a company in 1973 having a C.E.O. who donated money to fight interracial marriage: even if there were plenty of Americans who felt the same way at the time, the C.E.O. would still have been on the wrong side of history. And since the role of a C.E.O. as a public face of an organization is more important than ever these days, Eich’s personal views were inevitably going to shape his ability to run the company.

    The real mystery here, then, is not why Eich stepped down but why he ever got hired in the first place. His unquestioned technical ability notwithstanding, this was a candidate who divided the board, who had already been controversial, and whose promotion was guaranteed to generate reams of bad publicity. In that VentureBeat interview, Eich said of the C.E.O. job, “I was asked to put my hat in, and at first I didn’t want to.” Everyone involved would have been better off if he’d just listened to that impulse.
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  9. Six years ago Eich donated to California’s Proposition 8, upholding traditional marriage. His recent elevation to CEO ignited a debate over that. Within days, Eich bowed to the pressure and stepped down.

    To the right, this was a "purge" carried out by the "thought police" and the "gay mafia" that banishes the "politically incorrect" to the "liberal gulag." Not quite government censorship—but certainly a dangerous stifling of dissent and an example of, in Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf’s words, "mob rule." On the other side, many liberals defended the ouster as entirely appropriate. As one piece in The New York Times put it, Mozilla had simply realized its "CEO’s worldview is completely out of touch with the company's—and America's—values and vision for the future." Companies have a right to live their values, after all.

    Really? As Jonathan Tobin pointed out in Commentary, that’s hardly the orthodox liberal view of Hobby Lobby. According to the liberal view, Hobby Lobby’s desire not to arrange contraception for its employees is not an expression of the corporation's viewpoint, because corporations aren’t people and they don’t have any rights. Rather, liberals say Hobby Lobby is forcing its owners' values down its employees' throats. By that reasoning, Mozilla was forcing its values down an employee’s throat—Eich's—and violating his right to have his own political opinions.

    Liberals have not been so understanding of other corporate entities, either. Two years ago the breast-cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure found itself instantly reviled when it halted grants to Planned Parenthood. The blowback was so intense 26 U.S. senators signed a letter urging Komen to recant—which it did only three days later. Komen's president and founder, Nancy Brinker, stepped aside. Conservatives were aghast.

    Nor were liberals overly worried about the free-speech implications of the backlash against Chick-fil-A two years ago, when president Dan Cathy provoked outrage by expressing his own personal opposition to gay marriage. Conservatives, on the other hand, declared this a dangerous development in a culture war that threatened to silence anyone who strayed from the progressive party line.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2014-04-19)
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  10. Il vero punto della vicenda è però più profondo e non può neppure essere ridotto ad una becera e tiepida disputa da salotto parigino, ciascuno brandendo forconi (o matterelli) gonfi di morale in difesa o a sostegno dell’omofobia. Semmai, negli stessi termini ipocondriaci con cui oggi ogni forma di rapporto con le cose sembra necessariamente tradursi in paura, direi che il reale e pericoloso problema che qui si pone è l’homofobia. Vale cioè a dire l’avversione contro l’uomo a partire dall’attacco a quel principio di unità che egli, per il puro fatto di esistere, afferma e implora con tutta la propria persona.

    Infatti l'uomo dorme, lavora, piange e ride - vive! - in seno a questa grande e dinamica possibilità: che la vita sia una e che sia una vita compiuta. A venti anni come a novanta. E che, in tutto quello che fa, egli possa non essere fesso, cioè diviso, ma intero e unito al suo interno. In gioco c’è nientemeno che la percezione di sé dentro l’universo. Per questo motivo il dualismo, nella sua forma più feroce e dittatoriale che è il relativismo, non si traduce mai come il passaggio “da uno a due” ma mina sempre alle radici di quest’unica possibilità; che tutte le cose parlino e risplendano dell’uno! Già Lewis intuiva la potenza di questo dato quando parlava di "armonia con sé stessi", riprendendo in questo modo un’idea tipicamente medievale espressa ancor prima da Aristotele. Il filosofo greco, pertanto, dopo aver definito l’uomo “animale politico” - cioè sociale -, chiarisce che “politica” è téchne architectóniche (arte progettuale) che è essenzialmente l’arte di condurre a realizzazione, di portare a compimento le cose in unità.

    In questo senso direi che la vera questione che è al fondo di tutta la vicenda prescinde coscientemente da qualsiasi discorso ideologico; anzi, proprio nella misura in cui ne rimane estranea, conserverà intatta la sua radicalità e non sarà così confinata nella vaghezza di un ragionamento ma vibrerà nell’esperienza dell’uomo comune. Quello stesso uomo comune al quale parlava Aristotele.
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