Archive for February 2004

Gay marriage amendment: a lose-lose scenario

February 26, 2004

I don’t like the implications for the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. If it is passed, it will be a victory for social conservatives and religious zealots who want to manipulate our lives. If it is defeated before November, it will rally the Republicans to vote out any politicians that impede its progress. In either case, I see a dim future for social libertarians.

Timely commentaries

February 25, 2004

In light of current events, here is recommended reading from the San Francisco Chronicle:

On the evolution of marriage in the USA
On truth and fiction in Mel Gibson’s Passion

The decline of Google

February 18, 2004

As I’ve written before, I love Google. It works on every level. The information is highly relevant. It’s free of visual clutter. And the advertising is innocuous yet relevant — in 2003, I probably clicked through more Google ads than every other site combined.

Google did two things right. First, they showed that you can build a top-notch website without garish graphics, annoying animations, pop-ups/unders, and other childish visual clutter. Then, they developed an algorithm that ranks pages based on links. In other words, every web page is a vote for the importance of other web pages. (Computer scientists call this pointers). It revolutionized the search engines so that links were really relevant. That’s clever, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t think of it first. Google has made a strong business out of this, and I’m pleased to use their service.

But the decline of Google has begun. Once people discovered that Google ranks pages by links pointing to it, they simply developed a bunch of dummy pages that link to the site they want. This started as a joke called Google whacking so that searches for “miserable failure” would target politicians. But marketers have hijacked Google so that your search points to their website, regardless of whether that’s what a rational person would want.

For example, I recently wanted to find some recipes for Baked Chicken with Sesame Seeds. But Google returned a number of links for pages like: “Looking for information on sesame chicken? We have the best recipes for sesame chicken. Click here to get recipes for sesame chicken.” When you visit the page, you are taken to some website promoting some cookbook. You don’t get a website with recipes for sesame chicken, and you don’t even know whether the cookbook contains recipes for sesame chicken. All you know is that you are annoyed for wasting time seeking but not finding.

You can help by reporting spam to Google. But frankly, it’s not my job to do quality assurance for Google.

Now to get the information I want, I often have to specify words to exclude in my search. (Tip: to find pages that do not include a specific word or phrase, simply put a – symbol before that word).

This is a sad, sad development. If it gets much worse, I am going to have to start looking for another search engine.

More recommended reading

February 6, 2004

An article about the decline of the major airlines. Well written.

Booby prize

February 5, 2004

I feel like the only one in the US who thinks the whole Janet Jackson superbowl flash is a bit, er, overexposed. First, it is a terrible double standard. We embrace the titillating fact that sex sells, yet we are offended when we see a barely naked breast? Get real.

Why is graphic violence OK and nudity offensive? In Europe, it’s just the opposite: graphic violence is offensive and brief nudity is OK. Which will have a greater effect on children?

The only thing offensive to me is the thought of Michael Jackson’s naked breast.

Got RSS?

February 4, 2004

The RSS feed for Greg’s Rants is Enjoy!