Google on a search-and-destroy mission against online child porn

GoogleplexwelcomesignThis is a great piece of news to start the week with:

[Google] is creating a database of images depicting child exploitation – to be shared with tech companies, law enforcement, and charities – in order to scrub the images from the Internet. …

Google’s plan is to build a database of child porn images that can be shared with other tech companies, law enforcement, and charities around the world. The database will let these groups swap information, collaborate, and remove the images from the Web.

Part of the technology behind this database comes from a technique Google already uses called “hashing,” which tags images showing sexual abuse of children with a unique identification code. Computers can recognize the code and then locate, block, and report all duplicate images on the Web. Google plans to have the database up and running within a year.

Google’s Jacquelline Fuller wrote on the company’s blog Saturday:

We’re in the business of making information widely available, but there’s certain “information” that should never be created or found. We can do a lot to ensure it’s not available online—and that when people try to share this disgusting content they are caught and prosecuted.

Undoubtedly some of the criminal-minded will find ways to hide their online “work” from Google, but the search engine’s efforts toward making child pornography harder to post and to find is a giant step in the right direction. We are delighted to see Google using its massive resources to fight this unspeakable abuse of children.

Politics of nihilism

St_johannis_fire_goettingenAt a recent discussion sponsored by the invaluable John Adams Center, someone remarked on the seeming incoherence of current progressive politics. As I understood the analysis, the progressivism of the early 20th century had reasonably clear (if tragically misguided) aims, but the progressives of today seem only interested in promoting the next novelty.

The nihilist Basarov in Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons accepts the charge of wanting to “destroy everything.” He says “the ground wants clearing.” Specifically, he challenges his interlocutor to “bring forward a single institution in our present mode of life, in family or in social life, which does not call for complete and unqualified destruction.”

This calls to mind the Occupy “movement” with its incoherent and idiosyncratic demands, but that is only a more colorful manifestation of the “relentless cult of novelty” (Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s phrase). Nor is it confined to the more paranoid segments of street activism. The official positions of the national government and of politicians of both parties, not to mention the entertainment and media cultures, reflect hostility to fixed standards (e.g., the left’s family policy). They are increasingly “striking at restraints without considering what they preserve” (Richard M. Weaver, Visions of Order 50 [ISI edition 1995]). Read more

On an earlier April 18 in Boston

reverepaintingListen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

From Paul Revere’s Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

As described in the explanatory note accompanying this online version of Longfellow’s classic poem:

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere set out on his now famous ride from Boston, Massachusetts to Concord, Massachusetts. Revere was asked to make the journey by Dr. Joseph Warren of the Sons of Liberty, one of the first formal organizations of patriotic colonists. The purpose was to warn Samuel Adams, John Hancock (who were also members of the Sons of Liberty) and the other colonists that the British were preparing to march on Lexington.

Revere was taken by boat across the Charles River to Charleston, where he then borrowed a horse from a friend, Deacon John Larkin. Revere and a fellow patriot, Robert Newman, had previously arranged for signals to be given (lanterns in the tower of the North Church) so Revere would know how the British had begun their attack. This is where the famous phrase “one if by land, two if by sea” originated. While in Charleston, Revere and the Sons of Liberty saw that two lanterns had been hung in the North Church tower, indicating the British movement. Revere then left for Lexington. Read more

Sutherland Daily among best state-based political blogs

Thanks to The Washington Post for putting us on their list of the nation’s best state-based blogs! The newspaper’s campaign politics blog, The Fix, compiled the list based on reader nominations.

After weeks of combing through, literally, thousands of nominations we are ready to unveil the Fix’s 2013 list of the best state-based political blogs!

Click here to find out more at The Fix blog.

Whew! 'Global warming' saved us from global cooling

In a New York Times article highlighting a recent climate study which found that global temperatures are the highest they’ve been in at least 4,000 years, there was an interesting quote from the author of the study, also highlighted, in part, by the Weekly Standard blog:

Though the paper is the most complete reconstruction of global temperature, it is roughly consistent with previous work on a regional scale. It suggests that changes in the amount and distribution of incoming sunlight, caused by wobbles in the earth’s orbit, contributed to a sharp temperature rise in the early Holocene.

The climate then stabilized at relatively warm temperatures about 10,000 years ago, hitting a plateau that lasted for roughly 5,000 years, the paper shows. After that, shifts of incoming sunshine prompted a long, slow cooling trend.

The cooling was interrupted, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, by a fairly brief spike during the Middle Ages, known as the Medieval Warm Period. (It was then that the Vikings settled Greenland, dying out there when the climate cooled again.) Read more

Why George Washington deserves to be celebrated

Portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale

Are you old enough to remember when George Washington’s birthday was celebrated as a separate holiday in February? An ebook at What So Proudly We Hail looks at why our nation used to (and still should) celebrate Washington’s life in particular. Here’s an introduction from the website:

On the third Monday in February, Americans set aside a day to honor and celebrate the birthday of America’s first president. Or that’s the idea. Over time, the significance of the day has waned, as we now celebrate Presidents’ Day sales more than we do the presidents. And although the federal holiday remains “Washington’s Birthday,” the change in the popular conception of the day to “Presidents’ Day” has caused some confusion regarding whether we are honoring only Washington (and perhaps his fellow February giant, Lincoln), or all presidents, regardless of merit. So why should a nation that loves equality single out one man for special honors? Read more

Contest to win iPad closes tonight!

If you haven’t given Utah Citizen Network a try, today’s a good day for it. In fact, there’s still time to win an iPad – but the giveaway closes tonight!

The first 50 UCN members who play the Freedomville game on the UCN site and reach the level of City Mayor will be entered into the iPad giveaway. So get started now.

Utah Citizen Network gives you the tools to be informed and influential as the 2013 Utah Legislature begins. Inform yourself on the many topics there – you can learn more about conservative environmentalism, for instance, or gun ownership – and use the super-easy contact app to email your legislators.

Win an iPad: Utah Citizen Network launches!

A powerful new tool for lasting change is now at your fingertips as Sutherland Institute announces the beta launch of UtahCitizenNetwork.org. In two words, the Utah Citizen Network (UCN) is “Citizenship Simplified.”

The UCN site is incredibly fun, informative and easy to use. Utahns can learn what they need to know to create positive change as we work together to have the highest quality of life and most freedom possible, while helping our local and state elected officials be accountable, transparent, effective and efficient with our tax dollars.

Freedomville is a game on UCN designed to help you learn and take action. You’ll start off as City Recorder and work your way up through 22 levels to become Governor of Freedomville! Along the way, you’ll learn about principles, civility, key issues and how to truly be influential.

Plus you have a chance to win an iPad mini or iPad 2! The first 50 UCN members who reach the level of City Mayor of Freedomville on the UCN site will be entered into the giveaway. So click here to take a spin around the site and get started.

Governor Herbert: a gut conservative

In the course of my career I’ve met many politicians. I have seen the worst of them and I’ve seen who I consider to be the best of them. Personally identifying with a politician – seeing them as friends or enemies – is precarious at best because political character is often so temperamental and unpredictable. We can support a candidate today only to find out tomorrow that he’s a fraud. Likewise, we can dislike a politician for years only to wake one day to the reality that the person we disliked so much turns out to be a man of true character – even in our disagreements.

Utah’s elected officials are better than most in my experience. Even as I often wonder what they’re thinking in promoting laws and policies that I feel diminish freedom, rarely have I run across a Utah politician who is not only wrongheaded but corrupt.

I attended the inauguration of Governor Gary Herbert and was delighted to see our democratic processes working so well. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a cheerleader – it’s just not a part of my personality. Just ask my kids – my sons can have a great basketball game and, predictably, at some point that evening of the game, instead of basking in their success, I’ll remind them how they can make improvements. It’s not an endearing quality of mine but it is what it is. I’m not a cheerleader.

And because I’m not a cheerleader, I hope you’ll take special note of my thoughts about Utah’s governor, Gary Herbert. Gary is Utah’s biggest cheerleader and proudly so. Read more

Placing politics ahead of faith

Progressives’ favorite go-to Mormon gal is Joanna Brooks. She has secular credentials they like (associate professor in English at San Diego State) and she passes the key test of being a female progressive who enjoys sharing provocative ideas about her LDS faith.

Sister Brooks recently blogged about “Wear Pants to Church Day,” a feminist spectacle designed to highlight supposed gender inequalities in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She writes,

Fifty-two Sundays a year, Mormon men and women who wrestle – sometimes mightily – with such questions stand in unity with their fellow Latter-day Saints. We pray, sing hymns, teach Sunday School lessons, lead youth activities and pay tithing. Most of us have watched parents, siblings, children, friends, college roommates and former missionary companions walk away from the LDS Church, often out of frustration over lack of dialogue about or respect for matters like traditional gender inequalities that concern them deeply. Read more