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Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn Awarded Medal of Freedom 149

3l1za writes ""President Bush on Thursday announced the recipients of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award." Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn -- for their design of "the software code used to transmit data over the Internet" -- are among those to be honored next Wednesday. "
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Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn Awarded Medal of Freedom

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  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:18PM (#13963338) Homepage Journal
    This is newsworthy? This is the same President who gave [lewrockwell.com] George J. Tenet the Medal of Freedom.

    This is generally cronyism at its worst, and media attention getting at its finest. There is no Constitutional mandate or power. President Harry Truman enacted [medaloffreedom.com] the medal in 1945 and it was virtually ignored until JFK brought it back -- through an Executive Order [wikipedia.org] in 1963.

    That same Executive Order also expanded the size of unconstitutional government by extending the "Distinguished Civilian Service Awards" board -- yet another cronyist bunch given very nice salaries* by the President.

    I know the political spectrum is well covered here, but does anyone honestly believe a government that is trillions in debt needs a board to give out awards? Disregard any constitutional grounds and focus on the need of the governed. Can't an independent not-for-profit group do the same? BTW, Clinton also gave the award to some ridiculous recipients, so I'm not Bush bashing. This is just a waste of your money.

    *There's almost no oversight or budget restrictions on what the board can be paid: Expenses. Necessary administrative expenses of the Board incurred in connection with the recommendation of persons to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including expenses of travel of members of the Board appointed under Section 3 (a) of this Order, during the fiscal year 1963, may be paid from the appropriation provided under the heading 'Special Projects' in the Executive Office Appropriation Act, 1963, 76 Stat. 315, and during subsequent fiscal years, to the extent permitted by law, from any corresponding or like appropriation made available for such fiscal years. Such payments shall be without regard to the provisions of section 3681 of the Revised Statutes and section 9 of the Act of March 4, 1909, 35 Stat. 1027 (31 U.S.C. 672 and 673).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:27PM (#13963384)
      I think he's handing out the award now, because Vint Cerf (ICANN director) is backing Bush's proposal for US controlled DNS and taking Google with him.

      Whether you agree or disagree with the USA control of DNS, if Vint Cerf was deserving of the award then he should have got it years ago, not JUST BEFORE a meeting on the future control of the Internet on 18th November.
    • You make some good points, but I'm not sure that the idea of the government recognizing public service itself is bad. What's bad is the cronyism, the recognition of questionably deserving recipients (Jack Nicklaus? Is playing golf well and being paid millions for it really constitute distinguished service?), and maybe even a board whose compensation isn't given proper oversight. Although I don't know about that last bit for sure.

      What this feels like to me is a mix between Knighthood, the Hollywood Walk o
    • It looks like you missed copying the last sentence of the paragraph you copied from the executive order, which reads:

      "Members of the Board appointed under Section 3(a) of this Order shall serve without compensation."

      Or was this sentence intentionally left out because it contradicts your claim that the board is "yet another cronyist bunch given very nice salaries" ?
    • While Cerf is deserving of an award, its value is (IMO) diminished due to the number of people Bush has given it to. He's been basically giving them out like candy (and publicizing it) over the past two years, I'm getting the impression he's given out more than many of his predecessors combined. I hear about this medal in the media all the time now, it was never publicized much with previous presidents in recent history.

      And as another poster said, while Cerf deserves the award for past accomplishments, he
    • This is newsworthy because it appears on the Google blog [blogspot.com], which seems to be the main source of Slashdot news these days.
    • Very well said.

      For that matter, if they really wanted to honour someone who's responsible for the Internet as we know it today, then Tim Berners-Lee would also have deserved one. But of course, Tim's a European, and we can't give awards to those pesky foreigners, now can we?
      • For that matter, if they really wanted to honour someone who's responsible for the Internet as we know it today, then Tim Berners-Lee would also have deserved one.

        WWW != Internet

        You do realize that Sir Tim built WWW on top of the bedrock that Cerf and others created?

        But of course, Tim's a European, and we can't give awards to those pesky foreigners, now can we?

        Well, considering it's the US Medal of Freedom, I'd say the list of foreigners that have one is pretty small. I know two popes have recei
    • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:55PM (#13963841) Homepage Journal
      This is generally cronyism at its worst, and media attention getting at its finest. There is no Constitutional mandate or power. President Harry Truman enacted [medaloffreedom.com] the medal in 1945 and it was virtually ignored until JFK brought it back -- through an Executive Order [wikipedia.org] in 1963.
      Dude, get a life. Cronyism is handing out jobs to underqualified friends. Dubya has certainly done his share of that, but it's not the same thing as handing out commerative tchatchkas to people he deems important.

      BTW, there was only one president (Eisenhower) between Truman and Kennedy. So every prexy since Truman, with a single exception has done this.

  • KHAAAAAAAN.....yea someone was gonna say it, it may as well be me.
  • MM Ok (Score:5, Informative)

    by davro ( 539320 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:21PM (#13963355) Homepage
    "The medal was established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize notable service in the war.
    In 1963, President John F. Kennedy reintroduced it as an honor for distinguished civilian service in peacetime. "

    And this is considered peacetime ?
    • The development for which they are receiving the award occurred during peacetime.
    • I'm pretty sure it is peace time. If you check the records, I'm pretty sure you'll find we have no unresolved declarations of war.
    • Sure it is. Remember, the wars you guys are involved in are taking place on the other side of the world from you! You know, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Things are very peaceful for you, since you're isolated away from all of the fighting itself. No warring is actually taking place in the United States.

    • America is not at war with Iraq. America has never been at war with Iraq. Report to your nearest re-education centre immediately!

      (The US can't go to war without (IIRC it's congressional) approval, something the war against Iraq didn't have, hence the doublespeak used when discussing it.

      • IIRC, the War Powers Resolution of 1973 gave the President the ability to use military force for 60 days before the situation needed to be revisited by Congress to decide if a formal declaration of war was needed. You may want to note that Bush's infamous "mission accomplished" speech took place about 40 days after the invasion began, thus negating the need for Congress to revisit the situation. Since then it has been an "occupation."
    • Police action anyone?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:22PM (#13963360)
    Aretha Franklin won it, too. As long as we're talking about mighty national heroes, and such. Maybe we should show these two a little R- oh, god, I can't do it!
  • Woo! (Score:3, Funny)

    by failure-man ( 870605 ) <failureman@@@gmail...com> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:24PM (#13963369)
    A useless, nationalist-buzzword-laden award from the most dangerous man in the world! What an honor . . . . .
    If it were me I'd ask for the lesser award of "presidental medal of awesome." Also, it would come with double prize money.
  • I find it less impressive since its being given by Bush. I realize that its more than the president that desides who receives such an honor. But still, for them to receive a medal of freedom from such a tyrant is disheartening.
  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:29PM (#13963397)
    A boxer ... an actor ... a singer ... a different actor ... a baseball player ... a radio personality?

    The Medal of Freedom?

    So the requirements are ... what? It certainly isn't "distinguished service" anymore.
    • you've forgotten to mention the golfer :)
    • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Funny)

      by flyingsquid ( 813711 )
      So the requirements are ... what? It certainly isn't "distinguished service" anymore.

      What do you expect him to do? Awarding medals to people who've done the nation a real service will just show what a poor job Bush has done serving the country.

      He hasn't caught Osama, he's used false pretenses to launch us into a war in Iraq with no end in sight and turned that country into a breeding ground for terrorists, he screwed up royally on Katrina by appointing incompetent cronies, and he's created a massive bu

    • This is a PR event. American heroes are now TV personalities that the masses can relate to because they have already seen them on MTV. And emote.

      People that die in terrorist attacks are given hero status. Anybody that dies in the line of duty is assigned hero status.

      Popular culture tells us that firefighters and policemen "put their lives on the line every day", so they are necessarily heroes. That is nonsense. They do what they do, and they do not consider themselves as heroes, we pay them to do what
    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @03:18PM (#13963973)

      George Orwell referred to misuse of words like this as "swindles and perversions":

      Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Petain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive.

      -- Politics and the English Language [resort.com]

      Throwing words like "democracy" and "freedom" around as generic terms of praise is not just poor English, it actively clouds peoples thinking and is often deceitful.

      • An excellent post.

        Statements that are manifestly obvious:

        I'm in favor of good. I'm in favor of truth. I'm in favor of that which is noble.

        I'm against evil, wickedness, sin, and nastiness.

        The business of business is business.

        What I wish most for is WORLD PEACE, and a non-polluting, safe, reliable, cheap, compact, widely available, and infinite source of energy for humanity. (Have I forgotten anything?)

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:30PM (#13963400)
    the nation's highest civil award." Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn -- for their design of "the software code used to transmit data over the Internet"

    Shouldn't it have been Al Gore?
  • Internets (Score:3, Funny)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:36PM (#13963434)
    Shouldn't those guys get more than one medal? One for each of the internets?
  • by rdean400 ( 322321 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:37PM (#13963441)
    we'd still have a bunch of proprietary network islands floating in a sea of mediocrity.
    • No, more likely they would be wealthy from licensing their patents. Either that or companies would have ignored the patents and gone ahead with products, forcing them to spend everything they had in a desperate and likely unsuccessful attempt to defend their patent rights.
    • Either that, or we would all be islands floating in a sea of AOL. ;-)

      Seriously, its interesting how promoting standards as "the greatest common denominator" actually works to everyone's advantage. Even AOL wouldn't have grown to the extent it did, if it weren't an easy way to "get onto the Internet".

      Come to think of it, how many people bought Windows systems (or any computer) for the first time because they were easily bundled with Netscape and Trumpet Winsock?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is the reason they are being awarded the medal now a political publicity stunt connected with the ongoing row over who should control the Internet in the future i.e. George Bush saying to the public "Look, we invented it, we should control it !" ?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You mean TCP/IP wasn't developed and patented by a private company that invested billions in R&D?
  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:50PM (#13963500)
    It would be very noble of them to turn down the medals. Instead they should request that the money that would have been spent on the medals themselves, and any additional monetary award, be used towards the formation of an annual Nobel Prize-style award. The recipient could be an individual who has made a major contribution to computer networking.

    Everybody in the field knows (or should know) that they are amongst the Gods of the Internet. Their fame has peaked. That is why it would be very sportsmanlike of them to help highlight the achievements of others in their field.

    • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:00PM (#13963555) Journal
      Firstly, there is nothing wrong with them accepting the prize money, or getting other money from sponsors, and establishing such awards themselves. Alfred Nobel was just a prviate Swedish citizen. For that matter there is nothing preventing you or I from doing the same.

      Secondly, unless the money spent is in the neighborhood of $20 million (not likely), there would be no hope of setting up an annuity equivalent to a Nobel prize (which are worth about $1 million each).

      Thirdly, rejecting a prize is insulting and generally doesn't make people willing to hear your suggestions as to how the money should be otherwise spent.
      • rejecting a prize is insulting

        Thank you, Captain Obvious.

        and generally doesn't make people willing to hear your suggestions as to how the money should be otherwise spent.

        And? The point isn't that the people giving the money will listen, it's that the people who *aren't* giving the money will listen. And they do.
        • > And? The point isn't that the people giving the money will listen, it's that the
          > people who *aren't* giving the money will listen. And they do.

          And when they don't give money, they'll won't give it to places where it'll do the most good! Good thinking!

      • They wouldn't be rejecting the prize. They'd be putting the prize to a far better use. Money spent on a medal that'll sit on some bookshelf or mantle is wasted. Money spent to promote innovation is not wasted.

    • Given an 10% rate of return on investment, no overhead costs, 3% inflation rate, you could give out two prizes per year with a value of **seven percent** of whatever Vint and Robert are getting (which is a token amount, iirc). Not to mention there are overhead costs and inflation is a moving target.

      Besides, who are you to tell these two men what to do? I mean seriously, what credentials do you possibly have to think you can tell these two "gods" as you say what to do? please...

  • Jack Nicklaus? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Evro ( 18923 ) <evandhoffman@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:50PM (#13963501) Homepage Journal
    * Muhammad Ali. The three-time heavyweight boxing champion, who lives in Berrien Springs, Mich., successfully defended the title 19 times and was a gold medalist at the 1960 Olympic Games.

    * Carol Burnett. The actress and comedian debuted on Broadway in 1959 and starred for more than a decade on "The Carol Burnett Show."

    * Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn. They designed the software code used to transmit data over the Internet.

    * Robert Conquest. The historian is known for his work on Soviet history, politics, and foreign policy. More than 35 years after its publication, his book, "The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties," remains one of the most influential studies of Soviet history.

    * Aretha Franklin. The singer has nearly two dozen No. 1 singles and has won numerous awards. The Detroit native was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.

    * Alan Greenspan. He has been chairman of the Federal Reserve for the past 18 years.

    * Andy Griffith. The actor first achieved national acclaim in the 1950s for his standup comedy routines. He went on to star in television shows such as "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock" and numerous Broadway productions and films.

    * Paul Harvey. The radio personality's broadcasts started airing nationally in 1951.

    * Sonny Montgomery. A veterans' supporter during his 30 years as a member of the House of Representatives. The Montgomery GI Bill helped make education affordable for millions of veterans.

    * Gen. Richard Myers. He recently retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    * Jack Nicklaus. The golfer won 18 major tournaments as a professional and more than 70 PGA Tour events.

    * Frank Robinson. The current manager of the Washington Nationals, Robinson won most valuable player awards in both the American and National leagues. He broke the color barrier for managers, becoming the first black manager in Major League Baseball in 1975.

    * Paul Rusesabagina. The hotelier's life was the subject of the movie "Hotel Rwanda," which depicted his courage and compassion in sheltering people at the hotel he managed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

    Jack Nicklaus? How is playing golf now worthy of a "Freedom" medal? Sounds like a pretty worthless medal.

    • Muhammad Ali -No
      Carol Burnett -No
      Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn -Yes
      Robert Conquest -Yes
      Aretha Franklin -No
      Alan Greenspan -Maybe
      Andy Griffith -No
      Paul Harvey - No
      Sonny Montgomery -Yes
      Richard Myers -Maybe
      Jack Nicklaus -No.
      Frank Robinson -No
      Paul Rusesabagina -Probably
    • Yeah, gotta agree. Seems more like the Medal of People's Choice.
      Maybe there should be a whole awards show for something like this.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I agree - giving the award to Jack Nicklaus really demeans the achievements of more worthy recipients like Andy Griffith.
    • Here's a hint: all of these people have a secret CIA employment record in common. This medal is the only way such lifelong undercover agents can be publicly recognized for their heroic efforts against our country's enemies. Notice how all of them spent significant amounts of time travelling all over the world.

  • In other news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:58PM (#13963540) Journal
    API - Washington, DC. The FBI and local authorities today arrested Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn at the behest of the MPAA and RIAA. "Their design of the software code used to transmit data over the Internet has cost the entertainment industry hundreds of billions of dollars in annual losses." said MPAA president Dan Glickman. "These two thugs deserve what's coming to them in prison." added RIAA president Cary Sherman. Meanwhile, Sherman and Glickman, working with congressional leaders, have drafted a bill to add "design of internet software" to the list of federal crimes eligible for the death penalty. "The crimes of Al Gore will not go unpunished." said Republican House leader Tom DeLay. "He invented this internet thing and it's destroying our way of life."

    • If this were true... couldn't you see the collective heads of the MPAA and the RIAA shouting "KAHN!!!!!" while an overhead shot of their offices cuts higher and higher.....

  • by merc ( 115854 ) <slashdot@upt.org> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:58PM (#13963543) Homepage
    Yes, he [isoc.org] has passed away but he could have been given the award posthumously.
  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:30PM (#13963702)
    Bush's original draft read "that whole deal used to transmogrify data over teh Interweb"
  • Irony? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Drasil ( 580067 )
    The man at the head of the world's largest heirarchical power structure gives out "Freedom" medals.
  • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:41PM (#13963769)
    The Medal of Freedom is generally considered the Kiss of Death to any career. But consider that Cerf was already awarded the National Medal of Technology by Bill Clinton in 1997. At least Cerf and Kahn got the Turing Award, which came with a $100k cash prize.
    • by sheldon ( 2322 )
      That's only been true under the Bush administration, after he awarded the Medal of Freedom to the architects of the Iraq war.
  • by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:54PM (#13963829) Homepage Journal
    "This is newsworthy?"

    Well let's see, these people only helped create a system that has not only impacted millions of people worldwide, but changed the nature of information dissemination and business commerce for you, your kids and their kids. You tell me if this is news worthy. On second thought, let me tell you. It's nothing short of revolutionary. Then you go about discrediting an example of another award, as if it somehow makes this any less newsworthy or deserving of recognition when it really has nothing to do with anything.

    Yeah, some people will find the shit in anything if it's labelled Microsoft, Bush or [insertyourfavoritenamebrandehere], regardless of how deserving it is.. I thought we marked crap like this 'trolls'...
    • It's a joke because of the other people who get one, too. Actors? Golfers?
    • And remind me, what did these two bozos contribute to the "greater good" lately that makes them deserving of what was once a hallowed honor. Sorry, not gonna buy it. I'm against kneejerk Bush or Mr. Softee bashing, but when it's merited, gimme my $Hi+ kicking boots and I'll join right in.

      I guess it comes down to the fact that there's enough crap to hold against Mr. Softee, and definately Bush, that we shouldn't resort to the kneejerk attacks. It weakens our case for the many times we do have a reasona
  • Is it better than the Amulet of Yendor? What are the stat raises with one of these?
    • Dude. Anything would be better than the amulet of yendor. It makes you hungry faster, sucks out your engergy, causes you to mysteriously be sucked down several levels of hell as you try to climb out, and in return, all you get is some mild clairvoyance.

  • ......That Bush doesn't have a brain. I think this proves all of the naysayers wrong. Cheney must have had to stay up all night to come up with this.
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @03:59PM (#13964218)
    Bush is underscoring the US position: we built it; you furriners who want to control it [slashdot.org] can go install a CAT5 cable where the sun don't shine.
    • So, let me guess... If (and that's theoretical - http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1098.htm [uh.edu]) an American had invented the phone, the US should have retained control of telephony ? I mean, there's a number of infrastructures that have been created, not all of them are american, and the country the inventions originated from didn't retain control. Oh wait, come to think of it, it looks like decent transport was invented in Europe, and we obviously retained control of it, considering the state of US railways. Ah
  • by Goonie ( 8651 ) * <robert.merkel@noSpaM.benambra.org> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:34PM (#13966194) Homepage
    Look, if you're going to have awards specifically for people who contributed to Freedom, use the word "Freedom" in the award. But Jack Nicklaus was a professional golfer who went on to career in designing golf courses. He's contributed precisely zero to "freedom" (IIRC, he refused to play in South Africa in the 1970's when the sporting boycotts began to be enforced. That was the right thing to do, but hardly exceptional).

    Rename the damn award the "Presidential Medal of Achievement" or "Presidential Medal of Service", and then it won't be so incongruous to give it to golfers.

    I do have to wonder about giving the highest civilian award to Nicklaus, whatever it's called. He was a great golfer, sure. But he was very, very well renumerated for that, and won all manner of sporting awards. Did he do something exceptional beyond that to improve the lives of Americans in any way? I don't think so. But, hey, it's your country, and my own is hardly pure as snow on this kind of thing... The easiest way to become Australian of the Year is to captain the Australian cricket team...

  • Dubya presenting a medal of freedom.

    It's like Bill Gates presenting a medal of competition, or Mary Magdeline presenting a medal of promiscuity.

    Why couldn't Dubya give a medal to some of the thousands of fallen US soldiers that died executing his illegal war of aggression? Of course I don't expect it to go to anyone who works at Guantanimo Bay or anything, but what exactly do you have to do to get one of these freedom chimes again?

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears