Voice in the Wire

December 16th, 2008

Late in the evening of December 6th, in the Exarcheia district of central Athens, 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was out with friends. Shortly after 9pm the group became part of a confrontation with members of the Greek Police. Alexandros was shot and killed.

In the days following the killing Alexandros became a symbol of a growing frustration among Greek youth over the country’s growing economic problems, rising unemployment, and a general perception of an inefficient and corrupt Greek government.

Riots in Athens over the death quickly spread like through out the country and then through out the whole of Europe.

The speed at which the riots spread has in part been attributed to organizers using text messaging and the internet as a means of spreading their message and setting up meeting locations. In an article to the Associated Press, Paul Have wrote…

At least some of the protests were organized over the Internet, showing how quickly the message of discontent can be spread, particularly among tech-savvy youth. One Web site Greek protesters used to update each other on the locations of clashes asserted there have been sympathy protests in nearly 20 countries.

This isn’t the first time we have seen the internet become a tool of the disenfranchised as a means of organizing protests.

When California passed Proposition 8 on November 4th, a wave of Anti-Prop 8 web sites such as Join the Impact, appeared on the web as a means of directing information to protesters and to organize events such as the Nationwide protest of November 15th and upcoming December 20th “Light Up The Night For Equality“.

Even in tightly controlled China, the internet has been used to organize people to effect change in government policies and stop construction of a chemical plant.

The internet is still basically in its infancy and the genie is out of the bottle. It’s difficult to imagine just how the civil rights movement of the 1960′s would have progressed had the internet been available. Imagine watching Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech as a live web cast or if Rosa Parks could have texted all her friends to join her in sitting at the front of buses all over the country on the same day.

Often, as individuals, we feel somewhat powerless against those with power, whether it be government, or the vocal majority. We sit in our homes feeling sorry for ourselves and saying “I can’t do anything about my situation so I’ll just make the best of it.” What we don’t realize is that we are rarely if ever truly alone.

Cross posted at The Pajama Pundit

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Blogging

Personal Update

So, It’s been a while since I posted anything on this here blog thing-a-ma-jig, which means that I’ve been pretty active in other things.

Outside of work the one things that takes up most of my time is the game shop, Multiverse Comics & Games. Being a 1/3rd partner in the business for the last few months has certainly been an adventure, as well as a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to many more years with it.

I also just finished with the refinancing on my house. That was sure mind racking experience. At one point I thought I was going to be forced to practically triple the amount of insurance I have on the house. Fortunately that all worked out in the end. all in all I only ended up knocking about $100.00 off my monthly payment but in the long run the lower interest payment will be worth all the trouble. Now if I could just get my school loans consolidated I’d be a happy camper.

I spent most of last week and this weekend fighting my yearly spring cold. Wednesday I drove my office mates nuts with all my coughing, sneezing, and hacking. Thursday I broke down, called in sick, and went to the doctor. He put me on antibiotics. I’m not a big fan of doctors and hospitals, but I figure if the government is going to force me to buy health insurance then I might as well take advantage of the damn thing. Of course when I went to get a physical last August I didn’t expect it to turn into a four month odyssey through the world of blood tests and ultrasounds, just to come out the other side with the knowledge that I need to loose weight. Hell, I could have told them that for less money.

The unusually warm weather we are having this week has me itching to start get things together for this year’s garden. I really want to do one again and I really want to try that raised bed idea that Dad gave me last summer. Downside is, that with all the time I’m spending at the store, I have even less time this year to actually care for a garden. I may have to try conning my step-father into some “sharecropping.” Of course, I still don’t have a garden tiller. Maybe I should have bought one of them instead of a new bookcase. Oh well.

I loaded Windows 8 onto my desktop when the consumer preview was released. I have yet to really make up my mind on it. I did go back to Windows 7 over the weekend, and promptly fried my Ethernet port. At least cards are pretty cheap. I think my biggest issue with Windows 8 right now is that it is so new that very apps have been made that take advantage of the new Metro style start menu. I spent 90% of my time looking at the Windows 7 style desktop as I ran everything from FireFox to Star Wars the Old Republic.

Technical Difficulties

image Just as we were getting back to posting last week, my web host decided it wanted to have technical difficulties. So if you’ve stopped by and only gotten a pretty white load of nothing, that’s the reason. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty happy with my host service, Ipower.

Work, Work, Work…

When WordPress 3.0 went live I immediately went through and updated both Vast Variety and my other blog, Foederati. I should have known better to be honest. There are almost always bugs and holes any new software package no mater who it comes from and what it does. I should have waited a couple of months and let them clean all that up. But no, I didn?t.

Now don?t get me wrong, I?m not unhappy with WordPress or 3.0. In fact I actually greatly enjoy many of the new features that it has. Unfortunately, even after about 5 years of web site design work and a couple of years of blogging, I still have much to learn about security.

Within the last week or so both sites had somehow gotten a malicious script uploaded to them, I believe through a security hole in a plugin. The script would redirect anyone visiting either site to a third party site I have no connection to and would then proceed to run malware on their computer. Fortunately I was able to figure this out pretty quick and remove the attacking code.

Unfortunately however, this has forced me to start from fresh WordPress installations for both sites. I do have almost all of the old posts and content and will be uploading them to both sites over the next few weeks, but it certainly means a lot of extra work. Oh, well, the price one pays for not paying attention to web site security. I am also doing a significant amount of reading, intended of course to correct any security holes I may have on the site.

Post It

I want to apologize for my lack of posting activates lately. Work has been pretty crazy ever since I came back from vacation and I just haven?t had much time to sit down and actually write. I will be back however, starting next week.

A lot has happened recently, from the death of Senator Kennedy, to the special election in Iowa house district 90. I have lots of things to write about. So until Monday, I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend, and I look forward to getting back to writing.

Site Updates

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Word Press 2.8 was released recently and I finally went about the task of upgrading the site. Many of the changes in 2.8 had to deal with how Word Press handles themes, plugins, and widgets and that required a lot of updating in order to get everything to work properly. For a short time yesterday I couldn?t get my links widget to work. =(

Everything seems to be back up and operational now and I?ve also added a few new features to the site.

One new item is the Polling widget that you now see in the first sidebar. Scrolling down further you?ll find Three new RSS feeds, one is the PR Newswire USA feed and the other is the PR Newswire Iowa feed, and I?ve added a feed for The Pajama Pundit, a great political blog with a spectrum of view points. I?ve moved the Amazon MP3 download portal to the 2nd sidebar as well as the ?What am I reading? block.

You will also now find this navigation block at the bottom of the site to make browsing older posts a little easier.

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I?ve also added a new feature to my posts that should make it easier for folks to share them if they like them.

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I hope everyone enjoys the updates and be sure to tell your friends about us.

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