Head of Russian Orthodox Church uses website to tell monks to stay away from the Internet

“I’ll give you the password to the new kiddy porn site after lunch”

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has urged monks not to use cellphones to access the Internet in order to avoid temptation.

“Now the Internet appears to be a great temptation,” Patriarch Kirill said during a trip to the Zograf monastery in Greece, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the church’s website.

“Many monks act, in my view, quite unreasonably. On the one hand, (monks) leave the world in order to create favorable conditions for salvation, and on the other hand, they take their mobile telephone and start to enter the Internet where, we know, there is a large number of sinful and tempting things…”

Kirill has in the past warned against “manipulation” on the Internet but an Orthodox Church official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has said the patriarch does use it himself to seek out information.

A Facebook page dedicated to Kirill was launched last year to feed growing interest in a religious leader who has openly supported President Vladimir Putin. Putin has portrayed the church as the guardian of Russia’s national values.

Any country requiring a national religion is in some kind of trouble. Even those who pay the maintenance on a comparatively tame state religion are guilty of wasting taxpayer dollars at a minimum.

When push comes to shove, the use of state religions – like the Russian Orthodox Church or the various flavors of Islam favored by monarchies in the Middle East – generally fills only one function. That is – keeping people obedient – maintaining the most reactionary of nationalist traditions, right-wing ideology is sanctified to support the narrowest possible claque of power brokers.

Tech Companies finally admit collaboration with snoops

When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world’s largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit.

Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. They opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. And in some cases, they changed their computer systems to do so.

The negotiations shed a light on how Internet companies, increasingly at the center of people’s personal lives, interact with the spy agencies that look to their vast trove of information — e-mails, videos, online chats, photos and search queries — for intelligence. They illustrate how intricately the government and tech companies work together, and the depth of their behind-the-scenes transactions.

And, legally, they haven’t a choice. Courtesy of a chickenshit Congress and a cavalier Constitutional lawyer for president.

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Helicopter refilling water for fire duty

water refill
Click to enlargeAP Photo/The Albuquerque Journal, Eddie Moore

A helicopter hovers over Monastery Lake as it takes on a load of water, Saturday, June 1, 2013 near Pecos, N.M. Fire crews in New Mexico on Saturday fought two growing wild blazes that have scorched thousands of acres, spurred evacuation calls for dozens of homes and poured smoke into the touristy state capital.

This is next to the Tres Lagunas fire about 20 miles east of where I live. The other major fire being worked at the same time is Thompson Ridge about 20 miles northwest of where I live. Often, the smoke collects in our valley overnight and I don’t even feel like going for a morning walk. The smoke is murder.

Eddie Moore’s photo is great. I see these choppers throughout the day as they come over to the Santa Fe Municipal Airport to refuel. Ain’t anyone complaining about the noise or frequency of their visits. They’re saving our buns. Each fire is up over 10,000 acres in size.

The internet is good for the planet – and let’s keep it that way

Is the net effect of the internet on the Earth’s environment positive or negative?

That’s the million dollar question that a group of about 100 people, including Vice President Al Gore and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, tackled at a Google event this week. It’s also the question that I’ve spent about six years thinking about as I’ve written about the evolution of cleantech innovation and how digital technologies can drive efficiency.

The rub of the internet is that it is a collection of data centers filled with computing gear, networks that weave across continents, and a growing amount of battery-powered devices; all of these things need energy to operate. The disturbing part is that the energy consumption of the internet will only grow as the population hits 9 billion in 2050, and all of these people get connected to the internet.

But on the flip side of that energy suck is the idea that the internet can make processes and systems significantly more energy efficient, from transportation to shopping to the electricity network itself. Sustainability wonks call that dematerialization, or replacing atoms with bits. A study called Climate 2020 found that information and communications technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors of the economy, below business-as-usual growth, by 15 percent.

Other than that seminal report, there’s been a trickle of research that has reached conclusions along the lines of the notion that buying digital music online is a lot more energy efficient than driving to the store and buying a CD. Data center energy guru Jonathan Koomey, who’s a research fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and Stanford University, has led a bunch of this research, particularly around how the trend toward cloud computing has increased the energy efficiency of the internet. The web sharing economy is another much talked about trend that is indirectly making the use of goods (like cars and apartments) more efficient…

Then there’s the soft effects of the internet on the planet that don’t have to do with energy consumption at all. The high level visionary speakers — both Gore and Schmidt — focused more on the internet’s ability to open up access to information and organize people, which could be used for environmental, and climate-fighting, causes. Gore said that the digital revolution and the explosion of data are some of the most powerful tools that can be used to help solve the climate crisis. It’s hard to quantify such soft effects, but they could still be very powerful.

The main issue now will be as internet access grows, mobile phones connected to the web proliferate and internet companies build ever more data centers, how does the industry maintain sustainable growth so that the equation doesn’t flip, and so that the internet doesn’t start to have a negative effect on the environment? There’s going to be 9 billion people on the planet by 2050 that could have a handful of connected devices each, and some of them will be spending their lives immersed in digital data 24/7…

Going forward, I’d like to see a hub grow at a university or research center that can act as a collection point to draw together this type of research, and also to help validate it. I’d also like to see more mainstream attention on this topic of the intersection of the Internet and the environment. At the Google event, it was invite-only and had about 100 people that had been thinking about these topics for years. This topic is important enough that is needs more mainstream attention and discussion.

This is why Katie Fehrenbacher is one of the core attractions at GigaOm. Though best known as an analyst and writer on subjects environmental, she has sufficient command of social and scientific matters to bring all the pieces together.

Or in this case, ask the right questions about how to bring them together.