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Commentary

When Politics And Porn Collide

If the measures of effective protest include chaos and noise, then yesterday's anti-Chinese demonstrations in San Francisco were modestly successful. I inadvertently waded into the mayhem late Wednesday morning trying to make my way to the RSA Conference going on at the Moscone Center this week.
If the measures of effective protest include chaos and noise, then yesterday's anti-Chinese demonstrations in San Francisco were modestly successful. I inadvertently waded into the mayhem late Wednesday morning trying to make my way to the RSA Conference going on at the Moscone Center this week.First I tried Muni, the un-Bart subway that everyone here loves to hate. After standing in one of the stuck train cars for 10 minutes, I decided to try the options on the street. Public transportation -- above and below Market Street -- was shut down well short of where you get off for Moscone. There wasn't an empty taxi to save my life. I even began asking motorists at stop lights if they were headed anywhere near the convention center -- between fire engines and police motorcades, pedestrian hordes carrying Tibetan flags, and throngs of office workers gawking at the mish-mash of humanity.

Dammit all, I was on my way to a porn event. Let me explain: I'm here all week covering the show with my old colleagues at Dark Reading, and a vendor was doing a noon-time test of filtering vendors' porn-blocking capabilities. And they were doing it all over lunch.

Food and porn -- all I can say is that the sponsoring vendor, Untangle, sure knows how to get reporters to attend an event that's half a block away from the convention center.

And it wasn't all that titillating, unless your idea of log files scrolling by is, uhh, sexy. There were some four-letter words, and references to body parts, blogs for every taste and predilection. As I remarked to one of the PR people, "What a multitextured fabric of humanity is out there."

Sorta like out on Market Street. From most accounts, it sounds like a pretty un-sexy demonstration as well. The Olympic flame apparently never got anywhere near the protesters, or the supporters. Just lots of bullhorns and placards and anything else to be heard and seen and send a message. Mostly though, it was chaos and noise.