Guiding Questions

How can I bring silence and stillness into my hectic life as a law student? What drives me to seek this silence? How do I stay faithful to a contemplative practice when my daily life activities and obligations seem so all-consuming? What do I see in the Church? In God? Why go to Mass? These questions will change with time, as my journey progresses. This blog documents my struggle with practicing what I preach, so to speak -- my struggle to keep God in the center of my life. At times, I may fail; indeed, I often will. My hope is that both my successes and failures will lead me toward greater authenticity, understanding, and love.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Network Neutrality

The fundamental issue underlying the net neutrality debate is who gets to control the flow of information over the internet.

Google and Lawrence Lessig are two entities in favor of net neutrality. Proponents of net neutrality say it is important because it will keep the internet a neutral environment, so network providers will not be able to give content providers faster or slower service based on how much they pay or their subject matter. This will keep the internet on a level playing field, so the only thing that will determine whether a website will succeed is whether people like it and use it. If net neutrality is discontinued, network providers could greatly slow traffic to and from sites they deem less desirable, or those that are not their clients.

Comcast and AT&T are two entities that oppose net neutrality. Opponents of network neutrality say it impinges upon quality of service: packets of data all must be treated as equal, be they email, streaming video, or an online backgammon game. This means the network providers can make no guarantees as to timeliness of their service: for example, they cannot guarantee packets of streaming video data will all arrive quickly enough to ensure a smooth viewing experience. They believe this will stifle creativity and innovation because people will be less willing to invent applications that demand timely data arrival if they know network providers cannot guarantee this. Also, the infrastructure is quite dated, and it will be up to the network providers to replace it with faster, more technologically-advanced materials; these companies need some way to come up with the money to be able to pay for these improvements.

I am strongly in favor of network neutrality. I do not find the opponents of network neutrality's arguments to be convincing, in large part because a) they seem to already have more than enough money, and can surely afford to make upgrades to infrastructure; and b) it seems suspicious to me that it is the big companies who stand to gain financially that are against network neutrality, while it is the innovative websites and web-based companies (and a law professor from Stanford!) who support network neutrality. I know which side I'd rather be on! Also, I am a huge supporter of, a website which has been banned in a number of countries because many people find its content objectionable. I would be extremely perturbed if network neutrality were repealed and the network providers slowed down service to because they found its content objectionable. Content discrimination is not what made our country great! Innovation, and the ability of little guys to take an idea and make it accessible to the rest of the citizenry, even without buckets of money to begin with, is an integral part of our national heritage, and I believe this should be protected at all costs.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Artificial Intelligence

I do not think the Turing Test is a good test for determining whether someone (person or computer) is intelligent. Mimicry is not the same as intelligence; intelligence goes deeper than just being able to simulate a thinking being. I think intelligence must come from within the person (or animal, or computer), and not appear as a result of a program. For example, after Koko the gorilla was taught American Sign Language, she could then create her own phrases; a computer's phrases are the result of a program.

Many animals, such as dolphins and gorillas, are almost universally considered to be intelligent beings, yet they are not able to fool people into believing they are human; one drawback to the Turing Test is that it only measures intelligence in terms of human intelligence.

Another way to tell if a computer is intelligent would be if the computer spontaneously created dialogue, or spontaneously did something no one had programmed it to do. This would show that it could think on its own, which I believe is the true hallmark of intelligence.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I found the Vet Locator mashup to be extremely useful. When I take my pets (one dog and two rabbits) on trips, it would make me feel much more safe to know exactly where to find nearby pet hospitals. It is very convenient that the phone numbers are also listed. This application uses Google Maps and data from its own website ( The one thing I don't like about the Vet Locator application is that while there is a space for hours and service data, it seemed that most of them are not functioning. Still, a great application to have on a trip!

I just started training for a marathon which, if all goes to plan, I will run in March, 2008 (Napa Valley Marathon). I will be doing lots...and lots...and lots of running! I haven't been running very much recently, so I don't know off the top of my head many good runs. Whenever I used to go for runs around my neighborhood and town, I would either "guesstimate" how many miles I ran, or I would take my car out later and use the odometer to measure the distance. The main problem with this, of course, is that it only really works for road running, and I prefer trail running. Then, I discovered Gmaps Pedometer. This is awesome!! It combines Google Maps with the website's own data, a pedometer function created by a marathon runner. There are so many amazing functions all crammed in to one fantastic website: an elevation marker, calories burned, and I can even export the website to an external website. This will come in especially useful because I am doing the marathon with Team in Training, and have just created my own website; so people who are interested will be able to track my workouts and progress! This is definitely my favorite mashup so far.

The third mashup I really enjoyed is Soup Soup. This takes new stories from a variety of news sources (BBC, CNN, etc.) and combines them with related Wikipedia articles and blogs from Technorati, as well as pictures from Flickr. This is useful because it takes current news stories and makes it really easy to get much more information about them, just by rolling over the main story (a huge list of categorized links appears just to the right, instantaneously, as we discussed in class -- no waiting for the page to load each time I move my mouse!). Also, I can click on the story and be taken to the news outlet's version of the article. Easy to get a lot of information all from one place...what's not to love?