Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day Thoughts

It was a quiet Fourth of July in my part of the world, and for this I am most grateful. We were able to enjoy some quiet times with family this year, which seemed a suitable way for those in a free country to celebrate their freedom. I enjoy the parades and fireworks and all of that, but sometimes I enjoy not doing those things. Being able to stay at home, if that is what I please, is part of the wonder of this great country.

In recent posts, I have highlighted developments in China. There have been several hopeful developments in human freedom, but we are also reminded that the heavy hand of the state impacts daily life there, and sometimes in scary ways. A story in Monday’s Wall Street Journal by Geoffrey A. Fowler, “An Arrest in China Spotlights Limits to Artistic Freedom” (Page A1, available online to subscribers in the July 3 edition) follows filmmaker Hao Wu, who was arrested and detained by the Chinese government after reentering the country. His supporters and family have not been told of his crime. Some speculate that it involves a documentary film about unregistered home churches. But Beijing police only say it involves “state secrets”. That cannot be good.

Filmmakers like Wu have benefited from technology, as they can use digital cameras to distribute their films on a shoestring. Digital copying allows them to get their message out. Oddly, similar technology is undermining the IP rights of U.S. filmmakers. I guess you’ve got to take the good with the bad. It is interesting to note that such filmmakers have a significant following in the university communities. As much as people like to make fun of academics (and rightly so in many cases), universities potentially play an important role in moving new ideas. It all depends on whether people are open to the truth.

Meanwhile, in North Korea, Kim Jong Il decided to help celebrate our Independence Day by launching some fireworks of his own. Apparently six missiles were launched, including one long range missle – a “Taepodong 2”. (Do you find it funny that all of their missiles have “Dong” in their names? Or did that ring a bell with you?) Unfortunately (not!) their Taepodong 2 missile malfunctioned forty seconds into the flight. Perhaps their recent threats of nuclear annihilation were a bit overstated? Coverage of this story can be found here:

I trust all of you had a Happy Fourth of July.

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