Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
The Internet

The Internet is America-centric, But for How Long 609

joshamania writes "There's an article on Yahoo entitled "Why the Net doesn't belong to America." The article references some good examples of "side-stepping" government regulation on the Internet. " This is gonna become much more important in upcoming years. What will it mean, and how will it affect all of us?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Internet is America-centric, But for How Long

Comments Filter:
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @09:58AM (#1175115)
    What do will it mean, and how will it effect all of us?

    It do will mean we all do will stop do speaking English. Just like you do did demonstrate.
  • This was a fairly informative article, and it brought up a good point. How are they going to regulate information and services which are illegal in some areas and legal in others? There are quite a few ways that this whole thing could go, this isnt the first time that a new medium has had trouble on a global scale. I think that the most likely course of action to be taken, is that individual nations will have to work together when governing Internet relations. Joel is right, I can't see a single orginization on Earth that could effectively govern the Internet. But it could (possibly) work if the Internet-capable nations of the world worked together, instead of for themselves, as the author pointed out. Sharkey []
  • by Ebbesen ( 166619 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:00AM (#1175119)
    I think that Europe within a few years will surpass America (more specifically US) when counting the percentage of the population connected to the Internet.

    The information infrastructure of the European countries is far better developed than in most regions of the US. The major cities in US have great cable, but in Europe, 90% of the population, no matter where they live, will be able to connect through an xDSL connection within 1-2 years.

    In my country, Denmark, all telephone centrals are digital, but I think only about 40% of US' telephone centrals are the same.

    Anders Ebbesen

  • Artificial intelligence is the obvious answer.

    Countries with stricter porn laws, for example, will need to code computers to recognize the naked human (animal?) form, and ban such images/sites.

    This is equally likely to happen as changing the laws...

  • Is the Government hurting business by trying to regulate the internet (which seems pretty impossible), or should they be able to have export controls over encryption, or online gambling in the US. Seems like any regulations that they do make are going to be darn hard to enforce, so should they even bother...
  • Apart from economic reasons, I think one major reason why the internet is so "Americanized" is due to language. Our forefathers probably never thought of this when they invented English, but it turned out that English is highly "digital friendly." Foreign sites such as Chinese or Japanese are always at a disadvantage in terms of growth, due to the way their language is written out. Until that is resolved through technology, I predict the internet will continue to serve up mostly American (and British) content. It's a pity.
  • So do we 'own' democracy the same way we 'own' the internet?
  • Most citizens of non us countries hate the US to varying degrees, this is just another facet of that. The one good thing about US imperialism,
    as opposed to say, British, is free speech. At least the internet isn't being censored by the government within our borders.

  • i do have to agree on this point, it's ludcristly difficult to get DSL/cable or even ISDN here in the US. i live in dallas, texas (not a small city, and alledgedly a "high-tech center", whatever that means.) and only about 20% of the city can get cable/dsl, and even less can get ISDN.
  • by jimmyphysics ( 16981 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:06AM (#1175130)
    A quick thought....
    Because an American invented the telephone, does that mean that we own the telephones in England? Do we own all the world's radios? The software (that Americans, you say, made) that runs the internet was _purchased_. The infrastructure of the internet in other countries is not owned by the US. The ideas behind it may have originated in the US, but the US in no way owns the internet, any more than we own telephone communication.

    And you say that the US produces 99% of the hardware running the internet. This is completely untrue. I challenge you to find even one part of the computer you're sitting in front of that was made in the US.

    So there.

  • That's exactly my point. I know a guy, living on a small isle (about 100 all-year inhabitants), he is connected to the Internet by ISDN. Everyone, in Denmark, is able to connect by ISDN to the Internet, no matter where they live. xDSL is an option today in all cities with a least 10-15,000 in population (and some minor cities too).

    Anders Ebbesen
  • >Only trouble is, a number of Australian porn
    >sites have neatly sidestepped the regulations
    >by having their sites hosted on U.S. servers.

    Interesting point. I don't know if it was mentioned in a /. article before, but Canada has no restrictions regarding content on Internet sites, as stated in this document. [] Wanna set up a porn server? Try Toronto...
  • by ZebadiahC ( 125747 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:08AM (#1175134)
    There will always be some restrictions by certain nations on free speech, liberties, and the like. But what about the language?

    Right now some countries are complaining about how english-centric the web is. We will be seeing more of spanish ( ), Chinese, Japenese, German ( ), and the like.

    Maybe this will provide the stimulis that the Europeans have on learning more than one language. With them is has always been the proximity of the different countries and lanquages. Now it is being brought right to our computer screen.

  • I think you mean to say "at least the censorship the us government tried to impose within its borders was overturned."


  • so what if we did?

    this isn't some stupid product, this is for some people a major change in the world. and as more and more countries start to have a bigger presence on the internet, they will begin making large contributions whether they know it or not. there will be larger amounts of server set up in other countries, fatter pipes, etc. and the whole thing will spread, and the traffic will flow there to.

    anyhow, there's no reason for americans to be such uptight. the idea is to share information, right? it's hard to do that if we don't share access to the information, or if we discourage people from enjoying it and then making their own additions to this place.


  • by Trilliumjs ( 130864 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:09AM (#1175138)
    While various counties cooperating across international boundaries sounds like a good concept, this is a fairly rudimentary analysis of the problem. Just as regional variations of public decency exist in the US they exist in even greater abundance across the globe. Are the standards that apply in San Francisco going to fly in China?? Most likely not. Porn is only the tip of this iceburg. The prevalance of filtering software compounds this problem. (Latin = cum for example.) The solution is not as simple as saying everyone play nice.
  • I'm going to have to disagree on this one. I would say that English isn't digital friendly, but rather the digital codes that we invented and forced apon the world are English friendly.
  • of course, one of the major problems in the US, as far as i can tell, is that the telco's had very little incentive until recently to roll out any new technologies. the local baby bells were secure in that they owned the lines, and that the only large-scale networking stuff (all dedicated data and analog lines) were owned by them. DSL didn't take off until the cable companies came out with the cable modems here, and suddenly you see an industry that hasn't released much in the way of consumer inetnet conections suddenly decide that they need to hurry up, or they will lose a market.
  • Dunno what u in colorado my 24/7 dsl connection is only 30/month.....and a 5 hours on....5 mins off connection is 20/month.........i could afford that working at McDonalds....

    Why win9x really sucks []
  • I'm not sure if that will happen or not. What is the state of internet access in school systems in Europe? Libraries, etc? Are they are being installed and updated as quickly as here? That might be a telling factor, too.

    Although some of our infrastructure may be a little outdated with respect to Europe (not that I know any of this), I think with the current push of the media, government, and big business the US will stay on top simply because everybody here wants to. We are also impatient and jealous so if there is something faster out there, we want it now.

    I think, if anything, the large industrialized nations will even out in terms of who has the best access for its citizens, etc.

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:10AM (#1175145) Homepage Journal
    And as long as servers are somewhere, people will own (and be able to govern) the net.

    The US doesn't "own" the net as a whole, but US corporations own whopping big portions of it. And as long as that is the case, the net will be pretty US-Centric. And with inertia being what it is, this is not likely to change. Today, "getting on the net" in any kind of global manner means conforming to the current net culture. And current net culture is pretty damn US-centric, with some European culture thrown in for spice.

    We probably will see some more "local" subsets of the internet based on local languages. But I suspect that most of these will remain just that, local subsets, while the main streets of the internet will remain pretty much like they are now.

    Really, this is only one little piece of the cultural changes that are going on in the world. As the world shrinks, cultures get jammed together. And as they get jammed together, they tend to borrow from and/or absorb each other. This is really what the "Invasive American Culture" really is. And it isn't just a matter American culture swamping others. American culture itself is aquiring foreign elements. As "The Economist" noted last year, the two hot things among the eight-year-old set were a Japanese cartoon and a British book.

  • by dsplat ( 73054 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:10AM (#1175146)
    Allow e-commerce web sites to select the jurisdiction in which their agreements will be enforced (possibly based on the location of their servers, but not necessarily so), with several restrictions:

    1. They can't change jurisdiction without notice and any existing data or transactions continue to be governed under the customers' choice of the old and new jurisdictions.
    2. The must post explicit statements about privacy, refunds, security, etc.
    3. The jurisdiction they have chosen may collect a tax to cover the cost of this protection.
    4. Any jurisdiction may refuse to allow hosting by specific e-commerce sites or all sites based upon its own laws.
    5. No other taxation is permitted to be imposed through the site. Customers may be taxed based on where they purchase from or have merchandise shipped to. The business is not responsible for collecting information to aid in this effort.

    Jurisdictions will then have to compete to provide the level of protection that consumers actually want for their transactions and that the businesses want from lawsuits. The jurisdictions that can come up with the right amount of protection for the right price will attract the businesses. And businesses can actually set up servers in multiple locations and allow customers to select the level of legal protection they want.
  • "Socialized" is not necessarily a bad word. In the 5th largest city in Denmark, Esbjerg, the city council has etablished a WAN including all of the city and suburban areas, the people connected pays around $10 per month for a 256K full-duplex connection to both the Intranet and Internet.

    Anders Ebbesen
  • But the telephone was invented by a Canuck, Alexander Graham Bell.

    As were many other awesome inventions, including of course Poutine (those crazy frogs).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:14AM (#1175152)
    In my country, Denmark, all telephone centrals are digital, but I think only about 40% of US' telephone centrals are the same.

    Denmark is a tiny speck. When you can say that all of Europe is all digital (much more comparable to size/pop of US), then your stetement will mean something. Also, we had phone switches installed decades before much of EU, whil you guys were still doing IP over yodeling for long distance comm.

  • Or else the entire world can learn Esperanto and we can be one big happy community. But honestly it would be great for US citizens to finally realise the importance of knowing more than one language. Then after a while, all of the languages will merge into one.
  • The government is hurting the net by trying to regulate it...yeah I agree bouncing kiddie porn of the net is a good thing......but like the encryption stuff? Any stupid 5 year old in Irag can and will download military strentgh encryption over the net....u think if a terrorist wants to bomb DC.....he's gonna say....oh i can't download's illegal.....shoot....hell's only the legit businesses that get hurt by this.......and no matter what the government does...there will always be an underground to the internet.....and only the legit businesses will get hurt.... and since American thinks the internet is theirs......they are hurting the rest of the belongs to everyone..........correct me if i'm wrong....but didn't europe have an "internet" while america was developing this one?

    Why win9x really sucks []
  • Countries with stricter porn laws, for example, will need to code computers to recognize the naked human (animal?) form, and ban such images/sites.

    Content filtering is hard. With text, how do you recognize the difference between the real thing and a discussion on filtering that contains the phrases used for filtering? With images, how do you tell the difference between naked people being pornographic and a medical site with pictures of various medical conditions. Articles on skin cancer will get filtered out.
  • Only trouble is, a number of Australian porn >sites have neatly sidestepped the regulations >by having their sites hosted on U.S. servers. Yeah and if American says...this can be and this can't be on the net here.....anyone with half a bran..will go to ....hell .ru sites....and host it there.....that way both sides win...and US can't do anything...........same thing......if u gonna hack .mil sites.....take a vactaion in Iraq/Europe/Russia and u'll get out a bit....and have fun hacking......with no huge ass worries :)

    Why win9x really sucks []

  • Wanna set up a porn server? Try Toronto...

    Except that I'll probably have to have 20% naked Canadian chicks to meet that domestic content rule. Anyone wanna see Celine Dion naked?

  • Part of the problem with America trying to execute all of this control over the net, is the fact that USA at least is highly Eurocentric towards christian and puritan style beliefs. Our legistators believe that because they have one faith, then everyone else in the world, regardless of personal faith, should share the christian philosophy. It's all hogwash, anyone in another country need a Holos developer? Peace
  • An example: I attend a business school in a city with around 20,000 inhabitants. Approx. 350 pupils, and about 200 computers installed, all with Internet access (through a 2MBit connection). The public library (same city) do only have 5 computers or so connected, but doubling the amount every year. In the larger cities you have rooms with nothing but computer with Internet access. It is free of charge to use the public libraries connection. Also, when talking about "socialism", the state pays my education. The books, the computers, everything... providing all of the population with Internet access, even people who cannot afford a computer.

    Anders Ebbesen
  • I thought the net was supposed to
    be something that people could surf in,
    kind of like water. But utility companies
    sell water as a commodity, and governments
    own harbors and seaports and resevoirs.

    But rain effects all of us. I wonder
    how many people take their surfboards
    into international waters.

    Maybe spam=rain in the extended analogy.
    Everybody has to put up with rain.
    Or maybe the net in some places will become
    cause Montezuma's revenge.

    A greater man that I once said,
    "Water, water everywhere, but
    not a drop to drink"

  • And who pays for it? The taxpayers, whether they have a computer or not, or even want one. There lies the crux of the problem, what you pay out of pocket is not the only expense. Not to mention the fact that you now have a government buerocracy running your WAN. Sound like a great idea if you're a government and want tight control over your citizens.
  • Or Taco? I don't see how I could be a sellout without making any money off my site.
  • We had to exchange a few more switches than just 5.... I agree that some places in Spain, Italy, and other southern parts of Europe could use an upgrade but comparing all of Europe (EC), and America (US) it is pretty obvious that EC is in front.

    The reason for this is another "socialist" idea... After World War II a lot of the telecommunications companies was owned by the state. This meant that they thought of all of the population on not only where they could make profits...

    Anders Ebbesen

  • Considering that the internet is sure to become more global and hence more polyglot, content will (as others have pointed out) become more difficult to regulate. I have a question on this point for the here and now.

    Say you have a document that contains "questionable" material and is therefore blocked from your sight, due to a cromulent school administration or parent etc. Would it be possible to, through a mirrorsite or something, to e.g. babelfish the offending document and download it in translation, and then return it to its original language?

    This seems like a way to thwart censorware and pr0n blockers. Is there something I'm missing or is this a possible home remedy to censorware?

    As translation programs get better you're sure to have less lexicon errors and idiomatic strangeness, and you could get documents from english to german to english mit nur ein bischen of error. Purple monkey farmhouse.

    Just wondering. Flame away.


  • Ummm ... any legitimate firm will usually already be a company (with registered business number) and be subject to the securities and investment laws of the jurisdiction of incorporation (e.g. Delaware). It is the fly-by-nighters, the obscure off-shore locales and generally too-good-to-be-true places you should be wary of. Just like when you visit a new city, you take common-sense precautions (e.g. don't walk down certain Washington streets at night) and do some checking (e.g. by law, all invoices have to include the business registration number). Remember, despite all the hoop-la about internet taxes, many taxes do go to pay things like consumer protection authorities, fair trading groups and commercial courts. As for selection of jurisdiction, playing fast and loose with international law can easily get you into complications so unless there are compelling reasons to shift off-shore, it is better to spend your energies creating a business and worry about hiring the lawyers at a later stage. Of course countries which "get it" will have a slight advantage but then as it is an open field at this stage, nobody can bet what are the "best" laws (e.g. does privacy == bad for companies?). Three Rules for Thumb for success in e-business 1-don't invest in anything you don't understand 2-don't give money to people you can't trust 3-if you lose your shirt, stop whinging, take your lumps and learn from it LL
  • "let's face it, the piecemeal, state-by-state, country-by-country, corporation-by-corporation, approach to everything from data privacy to encryption to Net taxes isn't working."

    Who says? By all accounts, the Net is having enormous success across countless areas of human endeavor - in business, education, communication, etc. Sure, the hodge-podge of differing MO's can be frustrating to deal with, but it pales in comparison to the benefits that are being realized.

    Just another "the Internet is a globalizing force that will bring down the barriers... (blah blah blah)" article. Nothing new or interesting here as far as I can see... sorry!

  • Funny, after watching the slow-as-molasses action regarding the new TLD's over the past couple years, I've often thought of them as ICANN't.

  • England also has a totally digital system.

    Although England is also a much smaller area than the US. I think most European countries have a digital network.

    The point is that each country has their own network. Small networks can be upgraded much more quickly than large ones, and they were all upgraded at the same time. The other important point is that Europe has a greater population density which means that more people can be connected with less network infrastructure.
  • That link is supremely irritating. Ass.


  • Europe is a socialist state. the telcos are run by gov'ts. Here in the greatest country in the history of the world, the market determines who gets what. that's why we kick Europe's monkey ass every which way.
  • America only owns most of the internet used by Americans - ask a Frenchman, Japanese, Korean, Arab who owns their internet and they'll give you a different answer.

    It's like saying Russia owns the sky because there are more there than anywhere else

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:30AM (#1175188)
    It looks so because most sites from other countries that are non english are ignored. Ignored in search engines, ignored by readers. Another problem is domain naming. Most US based people believe that every site has to have a .com at the end, or its some type of a screwed thing. try to explain to someone that site is a valid site? I seen webboards that complained that I was spamming and not using my real email because it was @*.ca . Another trend that is bad, is domain squatting. Many sites haveto resort to .geographical sites (how many are there in the form of ?) Internet is US based because US people are used to have it available to them at any time. Many Euro countries charge internet by telephone impulse (per minute) so its pretty expensive. Links inbetween Euro ISPs on the other hand are not as much saturated as between US ISPs and Co-Lo.. Another problem is that US has not many backbones linking to EU and ViceVersa.. Thats were US feels that EU has big lag on their servers, and is therefore backwards in technology. I dunno but could it be that all links from US are so slow becase Echelon cant handle any more bandwidth? Just look into how much software and how many sites that are worthwhile are usefull.. And how much portal crap you have from US? What percentage of Spam is US based? Now who is using internet how it should be and who is polluting it? Does polluting Internet with crap make sure the only way to be visible? I hope that US clears up their act and stops polluting internet with their SPAM and Portals crap, and behave as any other civilized country.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just because the various governments of the United States cannot regulate every single aspect of the Internet does not mean the Internet will become less American. There is more to America than it's federal, state, and local governments. The largest infrastructure companies are all America-based and owned predominantly by American investors. The vast majority of "internet" companies are American ventures. Even the ones that aren't based in America and employing Americans are still more an reflection of imported American cultures and values than their native ones. Europe is full of exhortations to become more like America in order to be competitive. Even if the future Internet is run by companies based in Europe or somewhere else it will only be because they have traded in their European ideals for American ones. The Net is and will remain for the indefinite future "American".
  • That's an excellent analogy, thank you.
  • "Somolia" is located in Africa...

    Bjarne Stroustrup is from Denmark, he has moved to US... I'm able to mention several other Scandinavians who have moved to US...

    Bottomline: The Europeans have the brains and the developer spirit. The Americans knows how to make money. Together, they make som pretty good programs.

    Anders Ebbesen

  • They'd naturally have to work towards improving image filters. Initially, anything that looks like a breast will be left out, and you wouldn't be able to access a site with photos of, say, the US capitol building. After a while, the robots would catch on, and you'd find sites like [] mysterious bookmarked on you computer. Hmm, you're right. It just wouldn't work.
  • I'm sorry, but after living in Germany for 5 years (Heidelberg), I can say without a doubt that the telephone service sucked.

    Billed by the minute for local calls

    14.4 Connection on a good day

    And as far as free education...well there is no such thing. You do pay for it, the only difference is that you also steal money out of other people's pockets to pay for it

    Oooh, here's an idea! Let's vote for more bread and circuses!

  • Agreeded (sp)

    English is a dominant language used. How many other countries have as many users on the internet as America tho? I doubt many. The UK had only one isp and it cost per connection time (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong) or something similar. China musn't have a large amount of users if they could 'firewall' the New York Times, etc... I'm not sure the status of Japan and other countries, I just believe America has one of the largest followings...

    I can read Cantoneese, however, I believe by way computers were created, that it is much more realistic to use English.

    Oh welps.

  • From the article:
    and the first international gathering of Net industry groups is earmarked to take place in Australia this December.

    Are they going to allow reps from the adult industry, considering the meeting is in Australia? Like it or not, 'Adult' web pages are a huge part of the net.
  • Well I guess I should go back to 3rd grade... 'cause I rarely notice CmndrTaco make a grammatical error'... Who the hell cares anyway. We're not paying for Slashdot. I could see bitching if you paid 40 a day for /. on your door step :)

  • Not really. The reason why so many people use the internet in north america is because they don't have to pay for each local phone call.
  • Sounds like the same arguments used against gun control.

    Same problem, different domain

  • Must point out that at least per capita, the US is not the most connected country. Sweden surpasses all other countries both in percentage connected to the internet, and in number of wireless appliances.
  • Heh. :)

    Anyway, my original point was that all the content rules simply don't apply, as decreed by the CRTC (our version of the FCC) recently. The link on my original post has the full press release. Interestingly, the CRTC doesn't consider transmissions on the Internet as broadcasting. I wonder how this will apply to legal decisions in the future...

    It's all a damn good thing, too, since I sure don't wanna see that broomstick Dion naked. She needs to eat more.
  • You should have paid attention in history class....

    In Denmark we have approx. 20 major companies competing with local companies about a population of 5.2 million.

    Anders Ebbesen

  • by dsplat ( 73054 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:39AM (#1175210)
    Your comment is funny, but it illustrates a very real point. Language barriers are increasingly become a factor on the net because we are encountering people with whom we don't fluently share a common language more frequently. There are several consequence to this. The obvious one is the question of actually communicating with the people we do business with, or want to. Conveying our intentions clearly takes effort. The common vocabulary and context isn't reliably there.

    But that leads to other, less obvious consequences. With large transactions, business to business, it is worthwhile to have lawyers on both sides review contracts. There will be an understanding. The contract will specify the remedies if there are disputes. Those will be spelled out in detail at least as great as the contracts for similar transactions that don't cross borders and mix languages.

    For large numbers of smaller transactions, the cost of individually reviewing each contract in a number of languages would be prohibitive. That means that there will be some hassles when even well-meaning people have misunderstandings. Furthermore, the customer and the vendor aren't generally the only participants. There will be banks involved transferring funds and billing credit cards. The transaction has to pass muster in a language they can accept.

    What about disputes? The merchandise I received wasn't what I expected, or it was damaged in shipping. That isn't a far-fetched scenario. I get things from Western Europe fairly regularly. Magazines get opened, boxes get crushed. So far nothing I've paid for has been damaged more severely than a crease. I've been lucky so far. But how are those disputes going to be handled? Will there be customer service reps available in a variety of languages?
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @10:45AM (#1175223) Homepage Journal
    The entire world could move to Klingon, which would put many /. readers solidly ahead of the game.

    Someone said Esperanto, but it's obvious that's going nowhere fast.

  • how will it affect all of us?
    how will it effect all of us?

    CmdrTaco gets flamed for a lot of spelling errors (though he's no Hemos) but in this case, you're just plain wrong, and he's correct.

    Affect [] can be a noun or a verb. Effect [] can be a noun of a verb. They do have different but similar meanings. Furthermore, the meanings of both of these words vary greatly with the part of speech they are used in.

    Affect, as a verb, means "To have an influence on" (Your speech affected me!). As a noun, it means a strong feeling or disposition. (He made his comments with great affect. means he expressed his strong empotions well.) Affect is usually used as a verb.

    Effect, as a verb, means "To cause". (It will take more than this to effect a change in people's misuse of words!). As a noun, it means basically a result. (She made her comments to great effect means that these comments were effective, affecting their audience in the desired way.) Effect is more commonly used as a noun.

  • A German friend from high school (who spoke 5 languages to varying degrees of fluency) used to like to tell this joke:

    What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual.
    What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.
    What do you call someone who speaks one language? American. (badumpbump)

    But, for whatever reason, almost everyone puts up with it. I'm American. I can speak American English fluently. I know snippets of Russian from high school. That's it. When I travel, I can almost always find someone to accomodate me. Quite often on newsgroups, mailing lists, bulletin boards, etc you find messages from [obviously] foreign users posting in broken English. I doubt that there are many Americans posting in broken German on c't's discussion threads.

    Why are we allowed this "privledge"? I'm not going to project why that might be (mainly so as not to start a flame war), but it seems as though it is destined to stay this way (Americans, much to my embarassment, certainly aren't getting any smarter). The point isn't that Americans use more bandwidth or that a larger percentage of Americans are online. The point is that the Internet is set up and goverened pretty much however Americans (not that I mean to imply via popular vote) chose/choose.

    I think it's pretty lame, myself. I don't like being the big, stupid bully.


  • Maybe this will provide the stimulis that the Europeans have on learning more than one language. With them is has always been the proximity of the different countries and lanquages. Now it is being brought right to our computer screen.

    There's an old joke: "People who speak three languages are trilingual. People who speak two languages are bilingual. People who speak one language are Americans."

    There are two reasons for this joke. First, there has been little need for the average American to become fluent in a second language. The closest place I can go from where I sit now that I would need to speak a second language is Montreal. And in spite of its reputation, I found it to be quite a friendly place for non-French-speaking tourists if you are polite.

    The other reason is that in large parts of America it can be hard to find enough native speakers of a foreign language with whom to practice the skills you are building. And a second language isn't something you read a book about and then just do it.

    With the net bringing down the barriers of geography, maybe I can expect my children to be able to regularly interact with native speakers of another language when they start to learn one. And in all likelihood, they will need to do business across language barriers.

    Does anyone here have any guesses as to languages that will be gaining in importance for international commerce?
  • by sugarman ( 33437 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @11:17AM (#1175263)
    Yes the Web is US-centric, and will likely remian so until (among other things) the US-based TLD's are removed, or at least forced to append a .us to their names, effectively pushing them up a notch.

    AIR, the Russian parliament is also called the whitehouse, so why does point to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? Same with .mil. There is some cross-over in the .edu domain, but a number of the other will definetly have to be changed.

    Oh well, just one more in the list of things that need to be fixed with 'net. Put it up on the chalkboard.

  • I agree that it's a pathetic situation. I took two years of Spanish in high school (because that's all that was offered, and it happens to be the 2nd most common language of the US). I've forgotten most of it, though a little came back during a recent trip to Mexico. I've often thought it would be nice to pick up ASL (ranking 3rd in US) too. My sister was learning ASL for a while, but like me, she's forgotten most of what she knew.

    Why is this? Precisely what you said. Everyone lets us. There's no pressure or incentive for Americans to learn another language. My Canadian friends largely laugh at the French requirements there (but they're from BC mostly). Unless you have a large amount of self-discipline therefore, it's just not happening.

    Here in the Midwest, where there's less exposure to foreigners than the larger cities on the coasts, it's even harder. My TA adviser in grad school was from California, and told me (and the other 4 TA's, all foreigners) that many of these students might have problems with accents because they've never encountered them before. That's true! I didn't care for the spin he put on that, though. It's not our fault we're farther away from other countries than any other area of the US. I really don't like being looked upon as stupid.

    What's the solution? Better education in the public school systems. Get rid of all the junk being taught there and get back to basics. We're graduating kids who can't even read after 12 years. There's no excuse for that. Kids should be able to handle basic algebra (as a requirement) in junior high. Teach more literature and geography to expand the young minds to the world. More science to equip them for this high-tech world. More school choice, so parents can better take initiative in getting their children educated. I think my education was stuck on pause for 6 years while we covered and recovered the same old portions of American history again and again.

    But the education associations are in the pocket of liberal groups who would rather mold kids' ideologies rather than teach them to critically analyze the world and think for themselves, so this probably won't happen.

  • First, there has been little need for the average American to become fluent in a second language.

    Yeah - most already speak Spanish.

  • Is that the international nature of the internet is going to force countries to get their acts together, recognize technology, talk to and deal with eachother, and try to get things working. No country wants to have its carefully crafted laws broken, but the internet makes it so that breaking a law is as easy as moving your box to a country where the laws are different. Some sort of national consensus will have to be reached, and I can't imagine the more open countries letting go of their freedoms. In the end, I think that this will force international law into a more open and more freedom-friendly state. It won't be perfect, because governments never are, but it will be a hell of a lot better than it is now.

    If you're american and you want to make a difference now, learn another language, and make use of the parts of the net you normally pass over. Until I'm confident Babelfish doesn't mangle my words, and until it does Japanese, I will keep studying.
  • ROFL! I hope you aren't serious. Those little 26 signs are called the Roman alphabet, for obvious reasons. That was established before english was even a word, to paraphrase you.
  • by ugen ( 93902 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @11:43AM (#1175306)
    a) The main reason much of the world speaks english as a second and often first language is
    the fact that until some 50 years ago British
    Empire owned a multitude of colonies everywhere
    and therefore English was their offical language
    for quite a while. At the same time them brits
    being so important to world trade - their language
    also became a common trade language. Aided by the
    fact that english is very concise/precise as
    opposed to many others - it is and will stay a
    universal standard. But Americans got their
    language domination ready made.

    b) As to whitehouse issue, Russian parlament
    is "belyi dom" which can be translated as a
    whitehouse, but so can it be translated into
    "bait lavan" , "casa blanka" :) and btw i like
    the latter most..:) As long as domain name
    systems exists as it is (primitive single language
    mapping of names into addresses) nothing can
    solve real problems in it and changing suffixes
    won't help either. What will help is a global
    directory system where things are found as
    per multiple names and attributes. That will also
    help stop childish games of "whos the real Joe".

    c) Internet as of now is divided in little
    national nets with their own rules and lifes.
    Russian net is vastly separate both connectionwise
    and in terms of society from US which in terms
    separate from European (and more subdivided into
    other countries) and so on.
    Their "e-commerce" (damn the word) is different
    too with each country having their own products,
    own companies on the web, own payments etc.
    Just like you are not likely to order pizza from
    Japan by phone being in New York, there is no
    reason to do that just because you can access I am sure you can call them too...
    The internet is yet another tool that allows some
    collaboration among countries and cultures but not
    more then those cultures would *like* to
    d) Cultures do not like to collaborate. Show me
    one nation/country that *likes* any other
    nation/country? Likes as in "those nice/good
    bulgarians/indians/samoas/whatever" as opposed to
    "damn ...".. Just look at the variety
    of directly hateful US posts for details. People
    (in order to protect themselves) have to belong
    to some "society/group" etc and the easiest/most
    natural way to belong and differentiate from
    others is hate. It is basic reaction that
    evolution gave us for our own good.
    Internet is not about to change that...

    With this, i wish you all good luck and if you
    succeed in making world a better place i will
    come and visit.
  • That's because you were raised with english as your native language.... So the above should be (since my native language is french) Some would even say that French is much more friendly on people than say, English or Swahili, simply because of its simplicity.
    See? That's what we mean when we say America- and English-centric. It doesn't even cross your mind that the perceived simplicity of your language depends solely on your point of view.
  • The curse of implementing a new technology first is that you're then stuck with a lot of old legacy infrastructure when new and better stuff is invented.
  • --insert lame kangaroo joke here--

    But really, unless a porn site or any other business puts their address on the page, how do you know if it's Australian or American or whatever?

  • Well, considering that I don't subscribe to a paper and live about a 1000 yards from the main, I did say it was a warning shot. If it's a paperboy, walking around behind my house, looking in the windows etc he deserves what he gets. It's called personal responsibilty. Okay, so he's a minor. It's called parental resposibility.

    Plus, my wife would be more likely to use the rock salt rounds on some punk kid. She's a softy.

  • A German friend from high school (who spoke 5 languages to varying degrees of fluency) used to like to tell this joke:

    What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual.
    What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.
    What do you call someone who speaks one language? American. (badumpbump)

    The British (particularly the English) are almost as bad. It's even less justifiable for us. I can easily think of 7 languages (not incl. English) that are spoken within 300 miles of where I'm sitting (London) and I don't know any of them.


    Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes.
  • by goldmeer ( 65554 ) on Friday March 24, 2000 @12:17PM (#1175369)
    Very interesting read.

    I think that you will soon (within 5 years) see legislation passed on the federal level requiring all servers residing on USA soil to use the .us top level domain name. This would impact all commercial, government, non-profit and military organizations. You will also see sweeping state level legislation requiring all servers and user accounts to have a second level domain name with the state ID Someone in California will have an address of, even though AOL is not based in California (I think they are based in Texas?)

    Once that is in place, broad legislation will be enacted to regulate everything from taxes, gambling, warez and pron distribution. All US based servers will be required to conform to a self rating system. Sites that are found to be improperly rated will get the owner punished. There will be no anonymously hosted US based web servers.

    Once that is in place, Government Identification will be used for email addresses, regardless of ISP used. Your mail will follow you regardless of how you connect to the internet. Impersonation will be punishable. Anonymous browsing will be eliminated. Your government ID will be required for access to the internet.

    This will come to pass under the guise of International commerce regulation, and then under the guise of Interstate commerce regulation (both of which are the US federal government's responsibility spelled out in the Constitution) Then the States will use the Regulation of Intrastate commerce regulation clauses written into each state compact or constitution.
  • My house wiring is kitchen-centric, from a certain point of view, but I could plug the toaster in in any room. The 'net is America-centric if those are the only type of sites you visit.

    My concern is that the border-disregarding nature of the internet will so frustrate separate governments that they solve the problem by consolidating.
    Problem collecting sales tax on Oregan business's shipment to Louisiana resident? Wipe out all state sales taxes and replace with national sales tax. Might as well do away with state governments and make them all federal provinves while we're at it.
    Selling to France instead of Louisiana? If it's physical it has to go through customs.
    It's not physical? Better institute global telecommunications law enforcement authority.
    There's a slippery slope ahead.

  • You don't get it do you?

    Quoting wsabstract :
    the entire English language is based on the permutation of only 26 characters.

    Wow, so is French, German, Italian, Spanish, etc, etc. Nothing specific to English there, while he claimed it was the permutation of those 26 characters that made English (specifically) easy.

    So there's nothing about English which makes it digital-friendlier than all other character/word based languages, as opposed to glyph-based ones (like chinese), which are harder to encode, since the alphabet is much bigger. (I suspect that is the point he was trying to make).

    Back to you: The roman and Arabic charactersets have nothing to do with each other, except that european languages use some parts of both. We use Roman characters and Arab digits, ok?

    And there's no need to call me an idiot and a retard. I wasn't trying to insult him with my post.
  • &lt /begin ramble &gt I take objection to the general tone of arguments that americans know only one language because of a flaw in our national character. Language acquisition is like any other investment, and will be happily undertaken if perceived value is greater than economic cost.

    Note that value is largely a matter of taste here. I'm not simply talking about value from trade. I'll never make a dime off my knowledge of french, but I think the value it would add to a trip there is far greater than the cost of maintaining my level in French

    Europeans will place different values and costs of learning each others language depending on difficulty and frequency of contact, but it is not a matter of simply saying "I know 5 languages so I'm better than you".

    In Miami, if you want to do business you have to speak Spanish. Americans down there learn Spanish without being "made" to. It really comes down to free market economics, and the market for languages is no difference. People will learn a a language if the value perceived exceeds the costs. (Including the cost of having people laugh hysterically when you make certain mistakes)

    For another example, I have had a number of people tell me - don't learn Chinese - enough people speak english, and if you go over there (in this context, Hong Kong) it is easy to trade for the Chinese you need by hiring an interpreter. I guess what it comes down to is the cost of learning chinese (for me) is considerably greater than the cost of a Chinese to learn english. Ergo it is economical (for me, in my situation) to trade rather than invest time to learn.

    As far as the internet is concerned, and I hope this paragraph brings me back on topic 8), I definitely value being able to look around French sites to keep up my knowledge of the language, and having access to French markets, particularly for books and music. What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? I guess to say that there will be more language collisions. Which will survive? Will many languages borrow more from English? These are questions for the sociolinguists, I guess. &lt /end ramble &gt

  • First off the continental US is at least as large if not larger than Europe (not counting Russia). Not to mention the fact that the US population is much more dispersed than the European population and that would limit DSL right off. With so many people living away from the telecom's central office it is no wonder why DSL won't take off in most of the US. However don't discount cable by any means because cable companies are working hard to upgrade their infrastructures. I live in a fairly rural area of Virginia and we are supposed to be getting cable internet access 6 monthes to a year from now because we live in a neighborhood near a medium-sized ski resort. The biggest issue the US will have to face is rural and small town (50,000) users' innability to get affordable broadband access.
  • First, after reading the article and then through the posts - gotta love a full-blown flame fest on /. (made MY Friday aft - I was thinking about the international air-traffic control system. IIRC, isn't Enlish the standard for all international flights? So, the 'net seems to be a bit like that. Now, there certainly ain't the safety factor, but there is some similarity.

    Also, being a US citizen, I find it quite ironic that the US, being made up of folks from just about every other country in the world, is so isolationist and short-sighted when it comes to dealing with international issues like the 'net and regulation, etc.

    Thirdly, for all those flamers and trolls out there spouting ultra-nationalist stuff, I was married to a lovely girl from Venezuela - she is, alas, the current ex-Mrs. Mackga (sniff) - I found it quite refreshing and educational being married to someone who's world-view did not center on the US. It's a big, varied planet out there, and the folks in the US have, for the most part, no clue just how diverse. EOS (end of sermon).

    Once again, this thread has put a smile on my face and started my weekend off with a good chuckle or two. Thanks /.!!!!!
  • Countries with stricter porn laws, for example, will need to code computers to recognize the naked human (animal?) form, and ban such images/sites.

    Believe it or not, this is actually an area of research in computer vision. e.g. See 'Naked people skin filter' []. The opportunity for commercial exploitation of an effective porn search tool is ... great.
  • What is the tax rate (income and sales) in Esbjerg?

    How much did the city pay for the installation of this WAN? How much to maintain it? Is it breaking even?

    The problem with socialism is that no one ever asks these questions. My guess is that the actual cost per citizen is significantly higher than $10US per month, whether they use it or not. The actual cost per user would be even higher - again this is my guess, but I would love to see the numbers.
  • Things aren't just English-centric because other folks "let" them be that way, they contribute to it, and it benefits them. After travelling through some 8 or 9 European countries, I've ditched any guilt about not speaking other languages fluently -- people simply learn whatever is *necessary* to get through their daily lives. If the average European speaks more than one language, it's not because of some great cultural enlightenment, but because they needed to for some reason -- often economic, as others have pointed out. And since it probably began as a child, it really took little extra effort -- kids can easily learn several languages, while it's a much more daunting task for an adult.

    When I was in Italy hardly anyone spoke English, so you can bet I started to learn Italian pretty quick. When I was in Holland almost everyone spoke very good English, so attempts to learn Dutch were rather pointless. That area in Italy only sees a few tourists during parts of the year, mostly Germans. So if folks know any foreign languages it's usually -- you guessed it -- German. The Dutch, on the other hand, do business far and wide, so they've chosen to teach everyone English in school.

    Since a lot of European countries aren't any bigger than a mid-sized U.S. state, their economies have to be highly integrated with their neighbors. Now if you border several other countries, which languages are you going to learn? Instead of learning five or six, you might choose the language of your dominant trading partner, OR you'll choose a significant trading partner common to everyone.

    For example, if you live in Slovakia, you border on Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Ukraine. Which language should you learn? The answer is German, because all of you do significant trade with Germany. If you're going to learn another language beyond that, you'll pick English, because that gets you the Americans, the British, and let's not forget the Dutch. A Slovak interpreter I met did exactly this. He told me that the interpreters in his school always used to learn German and Russian. Once the Soviets left, everyone dropped Russian like a hot potato and started learning English. It's not some form of Cultural Imperialism, it's just being practical. When I was in Lithuania, I heard a Swedish businessman speaking to his Lithuanian counterpart in English, simply because it was a language common to them.

    Americans just happen to live in a pretty big country where it's not necessary to speak any other languages, though I bet if you live in the southern parts of California, Texas, or Florida you'll pick up some Spanish just by osmosis. In fact, the insertion of Spanish into 'American' English will probably accelerate in the coming years, and 80 years from now we might all speak some form of 'Spanglish'.

    Hasta la vista, Dude.
  • Thank You

    In that case:

    How much was the loan for?
    How much will the city pay out in total to retire the loan? (important)
    How much is that per tax-paying citizen?
    How much does the geek gang cost? What about the burly men in vans that go around maintaining/repairing the lines?
    How much is that per year/per tax-payer
    How long will the hardware purchased with the loan last?
    How much will replacements/upgrades cost.

    These are all fairly simple questions that the city should provide to any citizen upon request (preferably audited numbers) - after all they are carry on an enterprise on your behalf.

    Again, I don't mean to be negative, but I'd be willing to bet that the overall cost to the citizens is higher than if a commercial entity had provided the same service only to those willing to pay for it (plus a healthy susidy to lower income citizens and schools)

  • According to the National Post last week, every school in Canada is already connected to the internet. Not bad, eh?

    I'm stilling looking for a way to get connected to that national network that is 60 times faster than Al Gore's Internet 2.
  • I lived in Denver for three years. I spent many hours on international phonecalls. AT&T effectively charged my an extra 30 secs a phone call as they billed by the minute. My monthly US West phone bill was more than my quarterly phone bill from British Telecom. Somehow US West is a worse telephone company than BT. BT provided free standard features such as the equivalent of *69, for which US West charged 75c a go.

    Try a whois lookup.

    If that doesn't provide an Australian registered address for the addresses, go for the hosting web site, and then the same again for the next upstream computer from a tracer[ou]t[e].
  • I find the current situation of the internet (no one in charge) to be absolutely tremendous, and I'm counting on the combined incompetence of the world's bureaucrats to keep it that way.

    Really, what are the current harms?

    No taxation -- ooh, ouch, please stop!

    Too much porn/gambling/fraud -- like international standards are really going to cure this, and like it's worth having our free speech go away along with them?

    Too little consumer/privacy protection -- laws and regulations will do much less good here than tools, security, open standards (to ensure tools don't hide nasty surprises), and disclosure (remember the free speech bit?)

    The article ends with a comment about an international conference to deal with this: "let's hope it starts something."

    Let's not.
  • My point is, (above and beyond setting up a joke for someone else to complete) in addition to the "sameness" of porn sites, web sites in general don't have a "local" or "national" flavor (unless they're completely in a non-english language in which case most of us click away to somewhere else) the same way a radio or television show or station or restaurant or bar would. I can tell the "national" difference between a "britcom" and something from NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, etc. more easily and instantly than between The Register and Slashdot.
  • "on the contrary to US where the rich become richer, the poor poorer"
    This happens because the Rich keep doing the things that made them Rich, While the Poor insist on repeating the mistakes that made them Poor.
    "forcing them to commit a crime, just to feed their families"
    Far more often the crime is commited to feed their drug habit
  • The bad news, from my perspective, is that now our CRTC (controlling agency) has allowed "free market competition", we've lost control. What used to be a tightly regulated, tamed monopoly is now cut free. Can't tell 'em what to do any more... which, in the end, is a bad thing: we seem to be paying the same as always, but without the guarantee of consumer-benefits-oriented control. Bummer.

    You almost had me thinking that you were a rational human until that paragraph. A more frightening series of thoughts I've never heard expressed before. I think your sentiments are the exact reason Canada and all other socialist welfare states are destined to lag behind the US. You actually believe the suckling on the gov't nipple is the way to go. You actually think a bunch of know-nothing bureacrats know what's best for you. All i can say is you deserve what you get.

  • Over here in Australia, we have to pay to send data to the US, and then we have to pay to receive it.

    America pays nothing to send data to Australia, and then pays nothing to receive data from Australia.

    This is hardly equitable, and will continue as long as the Internet is centred on America. What incentive do they have to pay for any international transit?
  • Could you point us towards some evidence for you claims about Australian crime rates? And if you suggest something from the NRA or their Australian equivalent, I for one will laugh in your face (or should that be fart? Something disrespectful, anyway). You might want to try the Australian Beaureau of Statistics - they tend to have that sort of information redily available.

    Until you provide some evidence, I intend to keep on supporting the gun-control laws in this country, on the grounds that guns are too dangerous to be readily available - it should be difficult to get hold of a gun, for whatever reason you feel you need it. That should at least make it a little bit harder for depressed teenagers to top themselves, or for pissed off spouses to knock off their better halves, or any of the other common gun crimes. Armed robbery isn't that common, you know - possibly because we have a culture where the idea of using guns is considered a tad, shall we say, extreme . . . I rather like this culture, by the way, so telling me it's pathetic is going to go down like a lead balloon, as will telling me that it's not free, that I'm being repressed by my government (the ones that I voted against, by the way - when was the last time you voted?), or any of the other common arguments. I'm as free as you are, in pretty much the same way that any license that meets the OSD is free - past a certain point, the extras don't matter. Your freedom to bear arms is one of those extras, that just aren't important to me, so my lack of freedom in that respect doesn't count as an impingement of my freedoms, nor should it.

    Well, that was going to be a nice short disposal of you rather stupid post . . . Ah well, it's always nice to rant about something like this . . .


  • It's a bit scary discovering an American who actually has a brain attached to the fingers that do all that typing

    Yes, and even some of us try to use that brain to do something other than earn more money, not many, but some..

    Seriously though, is the US _really_ that insular?

    probably a lot worse than you think it is. Europe is a country, right? ;)

    Personally I enjoy immensely seeing my country through somebody else's eyes, if only for shock value (and it IS a shock). Defending the ideals you've been taught since birth is easy, admitting your faults is not.

  • For a number of reasons, your post is full of shit.

    "The spirit of America, the spirit that overrode the Nazis and Nippon, will spill into every place and every person - whether they acknowledge it or not."

    Wrong - what "overrode the Nazis and Nippon" was the fact that the US just happened to be a country with a total land mass larger than Europe, richer agriculturally and minerally, united, and very populous. It's the same reason that invading the USSR was suicidal - some countries are just too big to invade, and some countries are just too big and powerful to defeat in a conventional war. America's "spirit" had almost nothing to do with it's success in the second world war - in fact, it's entirely possible that the US wouldn't have gotten into the war if it hadn't been for Japan making the first move. So where was the American Spirit there?

    "I think the important heart of the argument is this: America is the source of a substatianly large portion of all ideas over the past century - it's been the most successful of all memetic cultural beasts because of its strong support of pluralism."

    Once again, you seem to be making the mistake of assuming that things caused by America's size and power are actually due to some wonderful thing fundamental to the US's nature - this is, of course, ridiculous. The US has the cultural clout it has because it can afford to produce an enormous amount of cultural product, and it is in a position where it can offer up that product to the rest of the world very easily. It's a lot harder for a popular Australian band to make it in the US than it is for an equivalently (in terms of percentages) popular American band to make it in Australia - the Australian band might sell fifty thousand albums here, where the American band might sell a million albums (the US population is about twenty times that of Australia). That size and economic power massively distorts the way that the US interacts with the rest of thw world, to the point where it can look like the US is somehow qualitatively different, as well as quantitatively.

    "But we should remember that Europe, for all its strong culture, history, and intelligence, is for the most part a very, very biased society. Racial purity is not that taboo a concept beneath the surface there, and as far as cultural pluralism... well, the forces coming to a head in Austria may be being censured, but their ideas are only unpopular because they are government sponsored."

    This from the home of the Ku Klux Klan? I think you're being just a tad selectively blind, here - there are stupid, bigoted people everywhere in the world, and the fact that some of them are getting considerable power in some parts of Europe doesn't mean that it's a problem unique to Europe. After all, aren't half of the Republican politicians in the US _really_ suspect in this sense?
    On the flipside, you can also find as much support for pluralism and so forth in Europe or elsewhere as you can find in the US, and in fact many places are much stronger in their support than the US. Australia, for one, is more multicultural than the US, and more successful (AFAICT) at having multiple cultures living together with minimal tension.

    And finally:
    "In a sense, no matter how much it changes, America will always remain the owners of the Internet.. maybe not the physical America of the future, but this technology has managed only to spread our ideas and concepts further and more quickly than any means before."

    "our" ideas? "our" concepts? I'm sorry, but you've got your head up your arse if you think that the ideas and concepts you are claiming as your own were not being circulated quite successfully without you. You didn't come up with them, and you haven't even perfected them. The only reason they sometimes appear to have originated with you is because you can make much more noise about things than anyone else can, so that you can drown out the other, quieter voices that were talking before.

    America, please get your head out of your arse and take a look at the rest of the world - we've been doing all these wonderful things for ages, and yet whenever you start up, you make like it was your idea all along.


  • It's that way for one very simple reason:

    As communication technology increases, it's increasingly important for everybody to speak the same language, because it's IMPOSSIBLE for everybody to speak every language.

    English-speakers invented or perfected most of the communications technology.

    Therefore, no other language makes sense as the universal language.

    How many languages you speak is unimportant. The only important question is:

    Do you speak English?

    If not, you're crippled technologically.

    It's not popular, it's not "politically correct", but it's an irrefutable fact, despite the best efforts of France to refute it.

    Now, will this change in the future? Sure, it might. The universal language used to be French, back when the best communication technology was sending messages by boat and France was conveniently located smack in the middle of "civilization". However, it'll take some major upheavals to change things.

    I don't think anybody currently has any way of accurately predicting what will happen with language. Some say China will change things, but I don't see everybody switching to a language that requires so many gyrations and triple-size keyboards, even if the Chinese could settle on one language.

    There seems to be little reason why English won't continue to be the universal language, at least until technology advances to the point where we can all learn a new language quickly and painlessly.
  • Yes I'm talking about that "bum", Who stands on the corner begging, instead of going to the day labor pool and earning the money that could get him a place to stay for the night.
    Yes I'm talking about that "bum", Who took the five dollars someone gave him and invested it in cheap wine.
    Yes I'm talking about that "bum", Who will visit the local crack dealer for a rock the minute he gets ten dollars.
    Yes I'm talking about that "bum", Who could raise to the level of the working poor. Don't try to tell me it can't be done. Every month thousands of Mexicans enter the USA as homeless undocumented aliens, and quickly advance to the level of the working poor.
    Yes I'm talking about the working poor too.
    Yes I'm talking about the poor, Who get paid on Friday and show up for work monday, Broke with a hangover.
    Yes I'm talking about the poor, Who buy a cheap steero, instead of a used computer. I have a friend who's buisness consists of refurbing used computers. A DX2/486 goes for about $100.00
    Yes I'm talking about the poor, Who would rather spend $20.00 for some pot, instead of a month's worth of internet access.
    Yes I'm talking about the poor, Who's only plan for getting ahead is to buy $10.00 worth of Lottery tickets
    Yes I'm talking about the poor, Who aren't willing to put the effort in to learn a trade that could advance them to the middle class. Visit your local US Army recruiter, and you will find someone who is willing to pay for your education. Another option is a Trade School, Often the cost is nominal to learn a skill that will raise you above the poverty level. Most of these courses only take a year. Just 1 year of 16 hour days, (School + Night Job), And you are lower middle class, at the very least.
    Want to go farther? Once you reach that level you have the income to take night classes at a Comunity College. Three or Four years of Part time Education, and you have an Associate's Degree.
  • I don't buy it. At least, not for the origins of the Cold War. The US was extraordinarily isolationist at that time. Roosevelt had to go through hell to get us involved in WWII in time to actually save Europe from Hitler. (who would have beaten Britain sooner or later if not for our support)

    But as the war began to close, and ideas were banged around for what would happen with Europe, there was a pretty common expectation of what Russia would try to do.

    Basically it was felt that they would try to expand their borders, or at least their sphere of influence whenever possible, if only to gain some sense of security. This has been a traditional Russian goal for centuries, at any rate, so it's not suprising. It's tougher when coupled with communism since to a communist a fight to overthrow capitalists is seen as historically inevitable. And the Russians in the 40's, particularly Stalin, did have some degree of belief in what they were doing.

    However, it was thought, while they do a lot of saber rattling, Stalin at any rate liked to keep his options open until the very last second. This had already been demonstrated in the events leading up to the Nazi-Soviet pact in the 30's, and Russia's rapid attempt to enter the Pacific Theater in the closing days of the war.

    In order to avoid a repeat of the inter-war period (especially as atomic bombs made it impossible to want another full-scale war) Europe, particularly Germany would have to be rebuilt.

    So we ended up meeting in the middle- our intention was to help *any* European country rebuild (even in the east, though Stalin wouldn't allow them to take it) in order for them to be sufficiently free and strong as to preserve their independence.

    Stalin took control of the East, expanding the USSR's borders, and instituting one-party governments which could be controlled by Moscow.

    But the idealism which the US was operating under (not too far removed from Wilson) _was_ clearly there. It permeates most of the major policy discussions and directives of the time.

    Kennan wrote about the goals Russia had, and the requirements that Russia would have to fulfill in order for there to be any kind of real peace (an end to Russian exapansion, an end to the communist doctrine that could be used to prop that expansion up).

    In attempting to set up the Atlantic Alliance (NATO) were constantly pushing the idea that it was intended to fight against any country that attacked a treaty member - not against any peaceful country, no matter who they might be.

    The same feelings are in any number of National Security Council documents. Consider our reaction to the Czech coup in 1948 - the country was already materially under Russia's control, but the loss of her political freedom was the real loss to US eyes.

    So please do realize that a lot of Americans, particularly in the 40s and 50s really were idealistic, viewing the fight against the Nazis and the Russians as a moral issue.

    The problem you're talking about was the unfortunate side effect of the containment policy. If we had to react against any Russian expansion, we'd sooner or later (sooner - South Korea was hardly a beacon of freedom or democracy) have to back someone we'd normally not want to deal with to fight a greater evil. There's really no answer to this problem; it's inevitable. But at least it set the stage for a slower rise to democracy later on (as is beginning to happen in some parts of the world) by giving them time to grow without being trampled by the Communists.

    Of course, there have been plenty of banana republics set up by Americans when abroad, much to my disgust. But given as how the Russians generally backed people trying to overthrow real bastards, these guys were often the same people who were involved in American business interests.

    Nor was this particularly helped by the loss of quite a bit of our idealism, particularly at high levels. What's really sad is to think that the CIA et al might just have become jaded, rather than being the natural gathering spots for unprincipled people.

    But I don't think that the US has ever wanted world domination. We've wanted people to be able to choose for themselves, without any outside pressure other than looking at historical example (e.g. you'd have to be pretty naive to trust Stalin), how they want to live. That's the foundation of it all. But we're not frickin' perfect.

    Still, would you have prefered what *did* happen, or would you have preferred that we pulled out of Europe and let the Russians expand westwards? There's not a hell of a lot of other options here.
  • Don't be stupid.

    Communism ideally is nice enough for those people that want to practice it. There's a fair number of communes and kibbutzes in the world even today. This is Communism #1.

    Communism as practiced by the USSR, PRC, and at least 99.44% of all countries claiming to be communist is radically different. Instead, it's more of a fascist dictatorship, not very stable, and frequently attempting to expand their influence wherever it'll take hold. This is Communism #2.

    I have no problems with the former, as long as people can freely enter it, or leave it, and as long as people's freedoms are respected.

    I have immense problems with the latter, as it's fundementally opposed to anyone's liberties except for the ruling clique, and has been demonstrated to fail in most cases when other options are available or at least to achieve stasis.

    The Red Scares of the 50's had a minute amount of justification (there really were a number of spies in western governments) but most of the people who are well known for having been persecuted as Communists were idiots that couldn't see that the Russians were not living in Communism #1, but were actually practicing Communism #2. (additionally, a fair number of them had been active years earlier, and had since seen the light)

    Mostly I pity them for being so easily fooled. But blame the Russians for redefining and practicing Communism #2, not the US.
  • The telcos don't suckle at the government nipple. They didn't get money or support from them, beyond the initial massive giveaway of land rights for their transmission paths (in BC, mainly small areas to put up towers; they generally piggybacked the land lines on the electrical utility poles)--same as in the US.

    What they did get is controlled. They couldn't fart or sneeze without needing clearance from the CRTC.

    This guaranteed that everyone got a standard level of service at a standard level of pricing. It ensured that prices dropped as costs dropped. It ensured that as communities grew, party line service would become private line service. It ensured that when line quality was poor, the telco had to look after fixing it.

    It was a good situation for the monopoly: they got a guaranteed, healthy income. And it was a good situation for the consumer: they got a good price on service with a guarantee of service.

    Now that we have open competition, we have lower per-minute costs, but higher monthly lease costs; we have outrageously expensive repair fees; we have no guarantee of service.

    All in all, we've broken even: what we save in one area, we pay for in another.

    What we have lost, though, is the control. The previously tame monopoly is now a mainly uncontrolled near-monopoly. Oh, joy.

    As far as "lag behind the US" goes, I don't think you have a clue about the advanced state of our communications systems, and the decrepit state of your own.

    You should go hang out in telecom newsgroups on Usenet for a while. You people are being seriously *screwed* by your communications providers. For gods sake, you still have mechanical switching stations, while we're getting fiber-to-home in new community developments.

    Lag behind the States? How about Internet access, then? Every sizeable town, let alone city, in BC has access to ADSL -- look at Telus HS Access [] for details. And at a price that's *cheaper* than having a second line with dialup access.

    Canada has a higher Internet usage, per capita, than the US. We have better access, more access and cheaper access than most of you.

    You haven't a fucking clue. You actually believe the American superiority myth that your government pacifies you with.

    Hey, it keeps you from every demanding something better.

    Ignorance is bliss. Welcome to 1984, America-style.


To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus