Letters for the week of August 30-September 5, 2006 

Google: Friend or foe? In defense of Ron Dellums; Game makers should respect culture; Get your legumes straight, dude.

"Publishers vs. the Censorbot," City of Warts, 8/2

No Google AdSense affiliate has to settle for public service ads! The AdSense program specifically offers every affiliate the ability to replace PSAs with their own ads. All an affiliate has to do is specify an image or ad server of their choice — voila, no Google public service ad. The notion that Web site owners are at Google's mercy is ridiculous.
Bill Thompson, Baltimore

Don't click Google ads
Google is the most irritating thing on the Web. Doesn't matter whether it is the search engine, their ads, or their deal with China. Google's search engine has helped create the need for validation codes on Web sites. Its "most sites linked to" criteria means that blog comments, guestbooks, and threads all over the Web are filled with software-generated links to try and get that oh-so-important high Google ranking. I never click a Google ad. I know they use filters to keep Web site owners in line, and that the site owners have no recourse if Google is advertising something they find objectionable. The news is more important than Google will ever be. I hope that the people running news sites will stand up for their readers and journalism and switch ad services.
David Dahlgren, Seattle

Change is coming
Can Google, my love, harm publishing? Yes it can. How? A publisher's value is its content. As a middleman, between the content producer and the consumer, publishers handle the cash, passing it from the consumer to the producer. Google provides content that bypasses the middleman. The content attracts consumers, Google collects cash based on the attraction, but Google does not act as a middleman.

But there are far more problems. A single article can be replicated multiple times. If this were paper-based, the consumer could only select what's immediately available — say, what is in a community newspaper. But through Google, a consumer can be satisfied with any point of information as long as the information is the same. The thing is, Google is not going to go away. At this point, the entire publishing and media system is going to change radically.
Karen Little, New York City

Who's really to blame?
If bloggers or news Web sites expect that they can "monetize" every topic they cover, then they are flawed in their thinking. Good news sites or commentary deal with messy issues: war, crime, civil rights vs. skinheads, abortion rights vs. right to life, etc. You cannot expect everyone to buy into every single story or topic every day. In cases of particular topics, newspapers and broadcast media know they have to pull airline ads when a commercial airplane crash is front-page news. You justify value and make the value in the total, not in every particular case. If the bloggers or sites have the mindset, that is the way it has to be, then I fault them rather than Google or the advertiser.
Steve Fawthrop, Orange

Stop whining
Google explicitly states their policy before you sign up for their advertising. I signed up anyway, got censored a couple times, and still got a couple checks out of them. It isn't like they hide this policy. If you gloss over this when you're looking to join and sign up anyway, don't whine about things later.
Dan Sylvia, New York City

"New Boss, Same as the Old Boss," Cityside, 7/26/06

These things take time
I think you're missing something. [Ron] Dellums has a very strong belief in "separation of powers." I'm pretty sure he would find it inappropriate to intervene into the election for city council. Remember, also, that historically he has been very good at working with a diverse group of congressmembers, many of whom disagreed with almost everything he believes in ... and ultimately, most of them respected him. He will probably use those lessons with the city council. In terms of the lack of petition drive, at this point, in regards to the strong-mayor modifications, here are three things you might consider:

1) He is in the process of setting up various advisory, etc., groups and he is moving slowly and carefully. I suspect he won't try to put anything on the ballot until he's sure he has a careful, correct proposal.

2) He thinks he'll be here for two terms, so there's lots of time.

3) He believes it is inappropriate to do this until he is actually in office.
Barbara Ginsberg, Oakland

"Prey should be called Dances With Tedium," Game On, 8/2

Back to school
It's really upsetting to see that our culture is being exploited for monetary gain. It shows a lack of respect for a culture and our people. I think the person who made this video should learn more about our history.
Nancy Giordani, North Miami Beach, Florida

"Scramble for Lentils," The Kitchen Sink, 8/9

Respect the legume
Once again, your food writer has stumbled over an "exotic" (to him) veggie. Dal is not lentils, but a much larger category, legumes or pulse (British): botanical family Leguminosae, of which some sixty kinds are eaten in India. The confusion arises because "lentil" in some Indian speech and cookbooks is used as a general term for all pulses, a colonial mistranslation we had best avoid. For more on dal, visit one of the East Bay's many Indian markets: you will find them welcoming and helpful.
Jeffrey M. Dickemann, Richmond

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