Google's censored Chinese website raises a question: Does Google value profits over providing the best service to Chinese consumers? In China, Google's real customer is the government, not the people. Google should make full disclosure to the Chinese people of its compromised goods.
Homer E. Myers
Vancouver, Washington, U.S.
It hardly matters that when people in China Google "Tiananmen," the results do not include photos of rows of tanks. Google's different versions reflect the thinking of different people. In China, people prefer to look forward. But in the West, people like to look back. The Western media are full of stories about massacres, genocide and dictatorships in remote countries that most Western readers are barely aware of. China's Tiananmen Square is such a great place, the entrance to the magnificent Forbidden City. Why do Westerners prefer to see the tanks on the street?
Despite Google's refusal to turn over data on people's Internet use to U.S. prosecutors, the company is actually betraying its customers' trust by retaining information on every search and resultant Web-page retrieval. If phone companies logged the content of everybody's phone calls, consumers would be outraged. Perhaps Google's respecting the privacy of its customers is not congruent with the goal of Internet domination.
Ed R. Bauman
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Google is young, small and agile enough to create a unique culture of Web-use creativity that feeds its bottom line. I was impressed to learn that each Google employee is supposed to devote 10% of his or her time to exploring far-out ideas. I also like the company's emphasis on developing technology first and finding an economically viable business model second. Google could apply those values by entering the spam wars. If it could develop an antispam tool that defeats e-mail evildoers, Google would continue its growth while furthering its philosophy.
Kevin A. Keane
Lafayette, New Jersey, U.S.
Calling for Cooler Heads
I am still saddened by the events unfolding in various Muslim countries following the undesirable and unnecessary publication of cartoons of the Prophet [Feb. 20]. That mess could have been avoided if there had been sensible restraint and mutual respect. Although the delirious arrogance and insolence of the West have long perturbed me, the violence and vehemence whipped up by my fellow Muslims have caused me many sleepless nights. While people generally don't take religious insults lightly, we have overreacted, intensifying the long and undying conflict between two faiths of similar origin. Those tensions do not bode well for world peace in the next generation, let alone in the immediate future. Sometimes I wonder whether humans really need religions. Perhaps what we need is a humane education.
The reaction of the Muslim world to the now infamous Muhammad cartoons continues. It is clear that reason will never play a role in that. Zealots and moderate Muslims alike continue to denounce the cartoons as an attack on Islam. What they fail to realize is that a handful of cartoons intended to be published only once is not a war. The horrible irony is that the real war—the terrorists' war—is not just a war against the West. In the end, the overwhelming majority of victims will be Muslims killed by Muslims.
The violent protests in Muslim countries are not the correct way to oppose caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper. Offended Muslims should have written letters to newspaper editors and published articles on the life and teachings of Muhammad. We need a peaceful literary offensive to spread the teachings of Islam to the West.
Adeel Ahmed Qureshi
Why are Muslims who question Islamic traditions, history and dogma often persecuted? If Islam is a religion of peace, then why is it necessary for politicians from all quarters, including the U.N., to get involved to calm the situation? Islam has become a political ideology, and Westerners need to stop appeasing its adherents in the belief that the problem lies with a few extremists.
I am very frustrated with the way Pakistanis are protesting against the cartoons. No one has a right to burn someone else's property. Some people are urging the boycott of all products from European countries. Do any of those means of protest actually accomplish anything? The real solution would be not boycotting products but producing them in the first place. Just imagine if Pakistan were supplying medicines to Scandinavian countries and could withhold the supplies in protest. Muslims must become independent of Europe by making themselves strong economically and technically.
Cartoons Without Politics
"Tumult in Toontown" [Feb. 20] noted that none of the three animated feature films nominated for Academy Awards (Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Howl's Moving Castle) used computer-generated imagery (CGI) and reasoned that resentment of animation veterans toward CGI could have played a part. That is simply not true. CGI films had been nominated every year since the Animation Feature category was created in 2001. The awards are not about box-office grosses or whether a film is CGI or not; the awards are about quality. Without question, the three best films were nominated this year. In the future there are going to be more excellent animated features, and perhaps they won't be CGI—so get used to it.
Former Governor, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
"Abramoff's Kodak Moment" [Feb. 20] described a gathering of about two dozen people that included President Bush, Raul Garza—who was a client of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff—and Abramoff himself. The photo of the meeting that TIME published shows Bush and Garza shaking hands, with Abramoff in the background between a wall and some onlookers. You even had to draw a circle around his face to point him out. That photo goes nowhere near making the case that Bush and Abramoff were close; it makes the case that TIME was desperate for any picture that included the two. If a picture is worth a thousand words, that one says TIME has no sense of credibility.
Trade Pessimism for Peace
"An Island on the Edge" [Feb. 20] reported that Sri Lanka is drifting back into civil war between the Sinhalese government and the Tamil Tigers after a four-year cease-fire. Your story recounted the amazement of former Johns Hopkins visiting scholar Dayan Jayatilleka as he witnessed soldiers' donating blood for Tamils in the days after the tsunami. He said, "It was a magical moment. Then it was gone." Despite such pessimism, Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict could still be prevented from returning to civil war if everyone would reject the hollow argument that the Sinhalese and Tamils are fundamentally and irreconcilably different. That false division was based on the idea that the two groups could not live under a single administration because neither cared to learn the other's language. But today many people in the Tamil-dominated northern capital, Jaffna, do speak very functional Sinhalese. Many Tamils and Sinhalese have grown to respect one another's ethnic identity and language. If only the radicals and the ever pessimistic pundits would let the people decide their future, Sri Lanka could certainly creep back toward peaceful stability.
Kicking and Screaming
"Emotion in Motion" [Feb. 6], on Jet Li's latest kung fu film, Fearless, ought to have noted that no matter how hard the moviemakers tried to make Li's character seem intelligent, even philosophical, they could never mask the mindless violence the film embodies. It's hard for any thinking person to imagine that the movie continues the grand tradition of filmmaking, when all we see is a kung fu gorefest on the edge of lunacy. There should be a new rating for movies like this one: B.D., for brain dead.
Johan Adam Wong