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Zombie in LA Times

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LGF operative zombie is quoted in this LA Times article, and with that patented, many-layered system of fact-checking for which the mainstream media is famous, writer Jim Puzzanghera blindly assumes that zombie is a “he:” Google logo tweak sends critics into orbit.

In May, the website www.zombietime.com started a Memorial Day logo contest to “show Google that it’s not so hard” to make respectful ones. It has received about 250 entries, including ones that replace the second “o” with a Purple Heart medal and the “l” with the flagpole in the Iwo Jima flag-raising.

“I have no problem with Google commemorating obscure holidays or some of the trivial anniversaries that they note,” the site’s owner, who declined to give his name, said via e-mail, “just so long as they also make special logos for the more significant holidays.”

UPDATE at 10/9/07 9:47:22 am:

Since they cut nearly everything zombie said out of the article, here’s the complete email interview:

Were you offended by the Google’s decision to honor the anniversary of Sputnik?

Interestingly, I was at first not offended by their decision to honor Sputnik. Considered all by itself, there’s nothing offensive about honoring a human technological achievement. However it becomes offensive when considered in context of what Google won’t commemorate. There was no special Google logo on July 20th to mark mankind’s first landing on the moon. Google did not commemorate Mariner 4, the first spacecraft to explore another planet, nor Pioneer 10, the first human object to exit our solar system into the universe beyond. And so on. Why not? Because those were American achievements. Or at least it would seem that was Google’s motivation. Google appears to have a conscious strategy to “internationalize” their public façade, both as a business decision to gain global customers, and as a political agenda to minimize and downplay America’s prestige.

Would you be ok with some of the choices Google makes for altering their logo if they would start commemorating Memorial Day?

I have no problem with Google commemorating obscure holidays or some of the trivial anniversaries that they note (such as Edvard Munch’s Birthday on December 12, as a good example) just so long as they also make special logos for the more significant holidays. Memorial Day is only symbolic of the problem, albeit one that touches a raw nerve with a lot of Americans, because Memorial Day is (along with July 4th and Thanksgiving) an almost sacred holiday for those who consider themselves patriotic.

Do you think the company is biased politically and may not want to do anything for Memorial Day because of the Iraq War?

It’s well-known that Google has a political bias toward the left side of the spectrum — their corporate culture is “progressive,” or “internationalist,” or “liberal,” or whatever the label of the week is. And there’s nothing wrong with that in principle: companies like Ben & Jerry’s can proudly wear their left-wing politics on their sleeves, and no one complains. It only becomes a problem with Google in particular because they’re not selling ice cream — they’re selling access to information. Google has become more than just a company: it’s become the gatekeeper of knowledge. So their responsibility to be unbiased is much greater. When the information gatekeeper has an agenda, they can have a huge influence on the course of society.

And that’s the reason why the Memorial Day logo controversy is so significant. It’s not that Google failed to note a holiday; it’s that their failure to do so gives us a glimpse into the company’s anti-American mindset, a concrete manifestation of their bias. Because the Google political agenda is often hidden from view, and can’t be so easily proven. The best known example of this is Google’s ridiculous slanted decision-making process for inclusion or dis-inclusion in the list of news sources that are indexed by Google News. It’s been documented repeatedly by conservative and neo-con bloggers that Google includes all sorts of marginal and partisan “news sources” in its news index, just so long as they are left-wing or anti-American; yet they intentionally exclude many conservative or pro-American sources which in many cases are more reliable or popular. (We’re speaking here of news sources on the fringes of the information stream: blogs, wire services that reprint press releases, foreign sites, and so on.) Yet this bias, while much more important and troublesome, does not have not a catchy and visceral “hook.” So the Memorial Day logo controversy has become essentially the symbol of the ideological struggle — the Spotted Owl of the internet.

I don’t know if Google’s bias is due to the Iraq War or to George Bush’s presidency: there’s no way to rewind history and see how things might have turned out differently if there had been no Bush election and no 9/11 and no war and so on. But I suspect that Google’s political arc would have been much the same regardless who was president or where American troops were located.

What do you think of their argument that it would be hard to honor Memorial Day without being disrespectful?

Their argument that it’s too “challenging” to design a logo for Memorial Day is utterly laughable. And one of the most feeble and transparent excuses I’ve ever seen. After announcing a contest on my site for readers to come up with their own Memorial Day logos, within half an hour I started getting excellent — in some cases brilliant — new designs, all made by average people who were not professional artists. Within 24 hours I had dozens of designs, any one of which was of high enough quality to use as the Google Memorial Day logo. And yet Google has entire departments staffed by highly-paid graphic artists. How difficult could it have been? No, it was patently obvious that Google was lying, issuing an offhanded and lazy rationalize to excuse their self-evident political bias.

Do you have problems with some of their other decisions, such as not specifically commemorating Christmas, instead using non-religious images and the generic Seasons Greetings?

I’m not personally offended by that too much, because I’m not religious, but I do recognize how it would be immensely offensive to others. Yet it’s simply more of the same out of Google. I mean c’mon, they had a special logo for Persian New Year, still they couldn’t bring themselves to mention Christmas? Google is completely infected by the multicultural bug, and that means they’ll honor anything that isn’t part of the “traditional” culture or power structure: American, Christian, conservative, and so on. I’m neither Christian nor do I consider myself a conservative, but even I bristle at Google’s hubris.

What prompted you to start the Memorial Day contest?

I generally pay no attention to Google’s special logo designs, and was only made aware of the issue by various blogs. In particular, Little Green Footballs has had several postings noting Google’s logo shenanigans, and that’s what inspired me to start the contest.

Can you be specific about how many entries you’ve gotten? Have you shown them to Google or gotten any feedback from them?

So far, I’ve received over 250 designs for Google Memorial Day logos from readers. In fact, they’re still trickling in even today, five months after the contest was over. This issue has apparently struck a nerve with Americans — in particular those Americans not ashamed to admit that they’re patriotic.

After a week or so, I closed the contest and submitted the eight or so best designs to Google, giving them a link to the contest results page, challenging them to use any one of the designs as the basis for next year’s Memorial Day logo, and asking for a response.

So far, the only response I have gotten from Google is silence.

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