The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Even good guys can do bad things

The motto “Don't Be Evil” of Google is well known. And in general, I think that Google is a good company. I use their Gmail mail service, and I'm impressed with their excellent spam-filtering and I enjoy the fact that since they introduced large amounts of storage, others, like Yahoo!, have had to follow suit. But even good guys like Google can do bad things.

Recently, the fellows at Google seem to have decided that they want Gmail to look better, and they upgraded their interface. The new version does not work with older versions of the web browsers people use to access the Internet. I suppose that the folks at Google figured that the newest versions of most major browsers are free, so there is no barrier to installing them. What they did not allow for is that not everyone uses their own computer to access Gmail.

Most of the time, I read Gmail on my own computer, which has on it the latest version of Internet Explorer. (I will not get into the discussion as to the merits of IE versus other browsers like Firefox, Chrome, etc. I have IE on my machine as my only browser because I've gotten used to it, and none of the alternatives is enough better for me to bother downloading it and learning to live with its quirks — and no piece of software is without its quirks that anyone needs to learn about.) But there are times when I will want to read my e-mail on a computer that is not mine — at a public library, for example. And in my county, the libraries are hurting for money. Many branches only open their doors, on some days, at 1:00 PM, and all branches have shorter hours than they did a couple of years ago. They just don't have the money to pay someone to install the latest versions of software such as IE, especially since most sites work just fine with the version they have. Some people have to use library computers as a matter of necessity, as they can't afford their own. In either case, whether it's just because I don't want to wait till I get home to read my e-mail or because someone has no alternative, I think cutting them off from the ability to access the latest version of the mail system is not a good thing. And this is why I have a bone to pick with Google.

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