A couple of weeks ago, I was scheduled to take a trip from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles on JetBlue. Every year, my family goes on a one-week pilgrimage, where we put our work on hold and spend time visiting temples, praying, and spending time with family and friends. To my Jewish friends, I often…
Now that’s how you begin a new year!
Last week, I awoke to find Aaron with me. He was sitting next to my bed, grinning his cheekiest grin, holding my hand.
For a few minutes, I savored a sweet uncertainty: Were the last few weeks all a nightmare, and Aaron was still with me? Or was I awaking inside a dream state, and in the real…
1. Police assault a gay man. It is reported and framed as an “anti-gay” attack. White gay people say “look at the terrible violence we face!”
He is a black man.
2. Feminists decry the horrific new developments in regard to the criminalization of pregnancy, i.e. people with uteri…
“If someone is in need of knowledge and you can provide it, but you don’t, you are guilty of a crime against the human spirit…”
Since Saturday morning I have been deeply affected by Aaron Swartz’s death by suicide at age 26. Because I never met him, this reaction has taken me by surprise, and I am trying to explain to myself why I was on the verge of tears all day and dreamed about him all night.
I think part of it is that he was the same age as many of my graduate students. In the same way that you imagine, “what if that was my child?” after a school shooting, I could almost imagine what the suicide of one of my students would mean to me.
Another part was the point stressed by Lawrence Lessig and Glenn Greenwald in their columns on Aaron: that this person of immense talent and crazy brilliance devoted himself almost completely to public goods— like the RSS 1.0 specs, the Open Library, and the fight against SOPA. He could have tried to develop the next YouTube and sell it to Google for a billion dollars, he had the skills for that, but the only thing that really mattered to him was the fight for internet freedom, which included taking part in democratic politics. That conception of the good, in someone so young, is deeply moving to me.
A third part of why I was so affected by his death is captured in this photo of Larry Lessig meeting Aaron Swartz when Aaron was a teenager. Here is a world renown Stanford law professor listening to a 14 year-old because the 14 year-old could help the professor realize one of his dreams. And he did. Swartz was the initial architect of Creative Commons, the licensing system that has done so much for sharing knowledge on the web. Aaron had lots of substitute parents looking out for him, Lessig included, but he also looked out for them in the work he did.
Then there is the utter frustration that the prosecutors who have behaved so badly and ignorantly in Aaron’s legal case—United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz and her deputy Stephen Heymann—will never have to pay, they will never face any public accounting, they won’t even have to answer honest questions about how they see their actions now. That’s depressing and infuriating, and it makes me feel powerless and stupid.
On Sunday, MIT announced that it will review its own decision-making in the legal case that arose from events Aaron initiated on its campus. “Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT,” said its president, L. Rafael Reif in a statement.
I guess that’s the another reason I was so affected by this loss. Reflecting on my actions, I haven’t done nearly enough for the causes I shared with Aaron Swartz. In 2012, I declined to serve on the board of this academic journal because it was not open access. But that is… not nearly enough.
I didn’t know Aaron, though I knew of his legend, but from what I have read about him he was one of those people (Timothy Berners Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web and Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement, are both like this) who believe that if someone is in need of knowledge and you can provide it, but you don’t, you are guilty of a crime against the human spirit. (See this.)
The cause of Internet freedom, which is very often a radical cause, is radical in just this sense: let all who are hungry eat. Farewell, Aaron, my child. Your cause is just.
(Photo credit: Rich Gibson.)
Essay from the Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? book collective, published by Centre for Internet and Society, India and HIVOS, The Netherlands
Review of ‘Digital Natives and the Return of the Local Cause’ by Anat Ben-David |Samuel Tettner
Ben-David’s piece is a…
One day I will have good, authentic Chinese food in a restaurant in Bangalore….
But till that day arrives, Shitakke will do as well. We went on a whim to Shittake, because it was new, because it sounded interesting on the menu, and more than anything else, it was right next door and we were tired.
So we plodded our merry way to the Bangalore Central (Bellandur) and were skeptical about a fine-dining restaurant in a mall. Much to our surprise, once we crossed the threshold of the firmly padded doors into the restaurant, it was like entering a different world. The decor and ambience at Shitakke is beautiful, though perhaps a little too bright. The Buddha effigy in the centre, the delicate Thai paintings on the walls, the tables by the big glass windows overlooking the chaos of the road below - it all works and works well.
The menu tries hard to be more than just the run-of-the-mill Indian Chinese variety with some interesting pan-Asian influences. Like we do with any restaurant, we decided to try out all the ‘test’ dishes from China (having spent a considerable time there, there are some dishes we know which tell you what the cook is up to) along with Mocktails. I had a Mango Chill which was beautifully blended - I could taste the mango, the orange and the mint, and it was do delicately flavoured that it put a smile on my face.
We ordered four dishes between the two of us - a roasted tofu salad, water chestunuts in roasted butter garlic, a mapo tofu and some jasmine steamed rice. And while all of it was edible, nicely presented, well portioned and served with care, it was, at the end of the day, just another Indian interpretation of what Chinese food is.
The tofu salad was interesting but had a spice palette that was not Asian. It seemed like a regular American China Town fare, though the crispness of the salad and the texture were great.
The waterchestnuts were the highlight of our meal - cooked to perfection, crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside and tossed with a beautiful garlic butter. Unfortunately, it was served with carved carrots and lettuce and other decorative elements which had no place on that plate. If you can’t eat it, don’t serve it is my mantra for plating and so while pretty, it was sad that they couldn’t think of serving it with a korean kimchi or some pickled vegetables.
The Mapo tofu was a huge disappointment. It fell into the usual trapping of “all Chinese food is garlic” flavouring and the sauce came on too strong of the garlic and not enough of the ‘Ma’ that gives it the name. The tofu in itself was a disaster - I was craving for the smooth, flaky, soft caresses of a mapo tofu and instead got something that felt like really good paneer. This is a test dish for me, for any restaurant that claims to have good Asian food - a simple dish that requires so much care and skill.
The rice was another no-no. It seemed like a mediocre quality Basmati when I was hoping for a nice Jasmine aromatic grain cooked to the right consistency of sticky. It was ordinary and unappealing, with not even the pretence of a garnish in its presentation.
We ended the evening on a good note because the ambience is lovely - although it is a little freaky to be the only customers for two hours - and the service was nice and we were in a mood to be happy. But all in all, Shitakke, for all its efforts is a rather generic Asian food restaurant where the chefs are trained, the Maitre De informed us, under the best chefs in China. Unfortunately, he couldn’t tell us which part of China, or what region inspired the menu and the cooking, and that is all that you need to know in terms of tailoring your expectations.
Would I go there again? Probably, considering that it is practically next door and is still better than the chilly-paneer variety of chinese food that the area boasts of. Would I say it is the best Chinese food restaurant in the city? No. And yet, it is a good space to find yourself on a tired evening, to have a peck at what passes of as Chinese food in most of Bangalore.
For more details on the restaurant: Shittake Restaurant: http://www.zomato.com/bangalore/restaurants/south/sarjapur-road/shitakke-52372
Rating: 3 on 5
Adventurer Mark Moffett has found the world’s biggest insect - which is so huge it can eat carrots. The former park ranger discovered the giant weta up a tree and his real life Bugs Bunny has now been declared the largest ever found. He came across the cricket-like creature, which has a wing span of seven inches, after two days of searching on a tiny island. The creepy crawly is only found on Little Barrier Island, in New Zealand. The species was wiped off the mainland by rats accidentally introduced by Europeans.