Check out the Thursday Meetings blog.
Real Live Preacher posts part eight.
Kevin Werbach on Cory Doctorow.
Cory Doctorow: “The last twenty years were about technology. The next twenty years are about policy.”
A nice formulation, but, with all due respect, a wrong one. Technology and policy are always intertwined. Both of them always matter. Was the Napster saga “about” peer-to-peer technology, or the current state of copyright law and the music industry? Was the rapid growth of the commercial Internet in the US “about” advances in data networking or enlightened FCC policies? The danger lies in thinking about either element in a vacuum. Geeks and the technology industry love to think they can ignore policy battles, which is just as misguided as policy-makers thinking they can adopt laws without regard to technological reality.
Al3x responds to the same Cory Doctorow.
Being a student of technology policy (or, if you prefer, technology and policy, since there are but a handful of courses that really overlap the two) I’m pretty chuffed by this prediction All humor aside, Cory’s is an insight that I’ve noticed for some time, and what pushed me to ultimately focus more on policy than technology. I like Cory’s prediction because it codifies a place for people like – mediators between geeks and government, as new technological possibilities and the code that powers them will inevitably be met with legislation and policy.
“An important note for 2004: stop trying to build an Internet without malefactors, parasites, freeriders and inefficiency. There is no such thing as a parasite-free complex ecology (thank you Kathryn Myronuk for this formulation). Some organisms lamented the existence of mitochondria. Others adapted to exploit them and integrate them. Some lament the existence of spammers. Spammers will always exist: stamping your foot and demanding their nonexistence won’t change that: adapt or die.”
While hardly near-and-dear to me, this is a fine point as well. Being everyone’s “tech guy” they know I get many the spam question: “can I stop it? Slow it? Will it end? Can’t they do something about this?!” My answer: no, no they can’t, not really. If they (the government, the lawmakers, the G-men, the fuzz, etc.) can’t stop physical domestic junk mail, dream on. People who have been sold the Internet as a service fundamentally don’t understand it as an ecosystem; they just see a flaw in the service they’ve been sold. But is it easier to convey the true nature of the ‘Net, or try to combat the flaws that plague it with bug fixes and laws? Well, how easy was it to explain email to your grandmother? Case closed. I’ll been looking for that Sendmail patch right after I’m done reading this anti-spam legislation.
Dean Allen on bagels and Heaven.
Not really one for rituals, but on frequent bleary Sunday mornings back in Vancouver I’d journey far across the Burrard Street bridge to the Siegel’s on Cornwall, to buy bagels just out of the oven, lox, and tubs of Winnipeg cream cheese.
It is a salient truth that every human should find the bagel to which they are aligned by fate; for me it was plain (sometimes the poppy) at Siegel’s. I could foghorn on about texture and crumb and a balance of salt and sweet, but they were just really good. With lox, cream cheese, capers, and red onion they were heaven.
(Note: Check out this funny picture of his home in Pompignan, France.)
Rob likes the same type of woman I do.
I want a woman who can show good manners in an expensive restaurant and still sit out a thunderstorm under a raincoat on the side of the road with me when we get caught riding bicycles after dinner. I want a woman who doesn’t primp for thirty minutes in the bathroom mirror after I told her that she looked good when she woke up in the morning.
I want a woman who likes herself and doesn’t feel the need to prove that point to anyone else. I’ll pick that virture up right away, when I meet such a woman. They are easy to recognize.
Mike Pence on Kuro5hin interviews Dennis Kucinich.
Are you frustrated by the national media already discounting your candidacy as irrelevant before the first primary has even been held?
No, I think that the fact that they have done that has now become a story [laughs]. It kind of takes care of itself. After a while people are saying, well, why did they do that? Especially when people hear me. [They say,] “This guy makes sense! Why wouldn’t you hear him?” When that happens people start saying, what is the motivation of not wanting this candidate to be heard? It is not the proper role of the media to tell people, these are your candidates, and these are not. It just isn’t. This is a democratic society and people have the right to their own choices. Americans are particularly sensitive to stuffing the ballot box, whether it is electronically or with hanging chads. So, we have to be careful about the role of the media in a democratic society. The American people don’t want the media telling them who to vote for.
Jane writes about videogaming and how it can be better at Salon.
Gothamist links to the Times on the Italian nympho book.
“One Hundred Strokes” has obviously changed her life. She said she was planning to move away from Sicily, which bores her, and had already stopped going to her high school there.
“The obligations of the book do not leave me much time,” she said, adding that she also had problems with her teachers after the book’s release.
“It wasn’t only because they thought the book was scandalous,” she said. “It was also the envy. You know, those teachers are the most frustrated people in the world.”
Justin comments on the Howard Dean for Iowa game.
The Howard Dean for Iowa game does remind us that the political process is made up of rote tasks performed by dedicated followers – the earlier in the process the better. So as a political education project, it is rudimentarily successful – recruit early and often. As a game? It’s good for about ten minutes. Which ain’t bad I guess. The game begs a strategic element – something to give it replay value. Having more detailed modelling of citizens and neighborhoods would have been exciting – playing politics with social networks, targeting hubs. It is the first US political promotion game I can remember playing, so for curiosity it scores points. And points for reaching out to young audiences with a young medium.
Ultimately I was curious for more – I wanted to stop the rote tasks, and play Joe Trippi, commanding my followers in the political power pyramid. Version 2.0 – South Carolina perhaps?
Outsiders detect the pyramid best.
Don Park writes about learning english “virtually.”
Learning English is a big deal outside America. For Koreans, whether or not you speak English affects your career. English is taught in school but learning English in America is considered to be essential to properly learn English. So kids of all ages are sent to America.
So I started thinking about a cheap solution. I thought about a variation of a Rent-A-Sub idea I had long time ago that lets anyone connected to Internet control a little remotely controlled submarine. You get a little mobile robot with video camera and speakers that a lets Internet users control. Imagine little robots running around town trying to engage in conversation with townfolks. There will be lots of problems, but lots of fun also.
I would talk to a Korean student over iSight and help him/her learn English in exchange for help learning Korean. I think that would be a neat service – like a Match.com for students of languages to find pen pals and video conferencing mates.
Wendy links to a random blog post of disturbing magnitude.
I need to pass on a very important life lesson. One I learned the hard way. One that you should not continue reading if you’re squeamish.
If you need to vomit and you aren’t near a toilet, do NOT cover your mouth with your hand. You will only create a spew spray.
Ryan Overbey links to the What kind of postmodernist are you? quiz. I’m a tortured conceptual artist.
Dave Winer writes about the Dean and Clark campaigns developing open-source software.
One of the reasons American programmers aren’t competing here (in America) is that users expect to get software for free, and in that environment little new stuff gets created, and we have to keep creating to justify the greater amount of money we make (over Indians). But if all we make are commodities, then Indians working for low pay beat Americans working for free. (People who work for free have no incentive to please users, or even create usable software.)
How sad to see two leading Democrats fall for, even feed the lie that they can create user-oriented software for free. Shame on both Dean and Clark. They went after the little guy. Who wants a president who does that. Not me. Still looking for someone worth supporting.
Michael Feldman writes about Philip K. Dick, copyright laws, and media companies.
Well, what about the publishing company. Aside from the fact that they are a major media corporation, they had nothing to do with the creative or technological process that made these words available to me. They bought the rights to something they probably didn’t even read and wouldn’t understand or care about if they did, from another company, and now they want to profit from repackaging, binding and marketing the content. Fine, for them and for people who want to pay them for the convenience of a back-pocket paperback. But do they have the right to say people can’t access the words in other ways, from other sources.
Plus, these are the same companies that screwed Philip K. Dick during his entire creative life. Dick hated his publishers, even as he depended on them. We owe them no moral obligation for making these words available.
This was a great read. Michael is totally a NBB.
Matt Stoller posts a guest post from a Clark supporter against Dean.
In a recent debate, John Kerry was asked the question, “what has Howard Dean done right?” The simple answer to that of course is that he hired the right campaign manager. Joe Trippi has run the Dean campaign with Karl Rove like efficiency and has run a very effective campaign, for the wrong candidate.
In Dean’s speeches he often states that his success thus far is because of the people, telling them that they did this, they can take our country back, they have the power to bring change. They do, and it’s good to see a candidate say these things, but Howard Dean is exploiting that. He is exploiting the inherent desire in each of us to bring about change in this world. He is exploiting it because his grassroots effort, through their own house parties and blogs, have created a candidate in their imaginations that Howard Dean is not and Howard Dean is too afraid to tell them that.
So why is all of this attention surrounding Dean? [...] Because of the great grassroots support that he has raised? If you are going to base it on that then cast a vote for Joe Trippi. You aren’t voting for a campaign, you are voting for a candidate. I would hope that we should all be intelligent enough to vote for the candidate who has the best leadership qualities, diplomacy skills, foreign policy experience, and domestic ideas that fit in most with our own beliefs about the environment, civil liberties and the economy without being duped into the hype of the size of a campaign.
Dean supporters have been misinformed about their candidate and the media has eaten it up. Dean is an empty shell of a candidate who relies on his anti-Bush stance for support but with no real vision of how to deal with our country once Bush is out. He wants regime change without any clear set of goals as to what to do once the current leader is out. Where have we heard this before?
The Yeti has a revelation.
TheYeti: I don’t mind the compliments. I like them. I may be a big strong man, but I still have a fragile male ego.
Yetiette: Have you noticed what the initials for male ego come to? ME!!!!! Pay attention to ME!!!!!
Update: All of a sudden, this makes a lot of sense. Young men are all about sex. Older men are all about attention. Young women are all about attention. Older women are all about sex.
Richard writes about blinding yourself with Partisanship.
Partisanship gets the better of everybody, even Josh Marshall, but at least he’s skeptical when he reads information that would tend to confirm his partisan leanings. It bothers me when people read news that confirms their already-held beliefs (e.g. that Bush lies—as if to suggest that those opposing Bush don’t lie) and dismiss out of hand information that would go against their partisanship. I would be interested to see Lisa Rein (and others) link to and critically evaluate (which doesn’t mean you have to reject) what they read in the newspaper and even more importantly, on the Internet.
I try to link to stuff I don’t necessarily agree with but that is argued forcefully or eloquently. Most of the stuff that gets linked here is linked without endorsement, and although it would be safe to assume that I agree with unendorsed quotations, it’s not necessarily always the case. A truly nuanced weblog links to things that challenges the weblog writer’s leanings, not one that merely reinforces them.
Richard Tallent asks us to think this holiday season.
Something to think about over the Christmas holiday: how much of your present money went to imported finished goods? Where were these presents manufactured? How are those countries doing on the global scale of civil rights, healthcare, education, and the environment? What contribution, other than cheap assembly lines, has their society given to the rest of the world? Where will displaced American workers get the money to buy their kids’ presents? Sorry if that sounds a bit harsh for the holiday, but if we are going to collectively put hundreds of thousands of Americans on the street this year by closing factories and offices and telling them their degrees and training are useless, I think a quick mental accounting is the least we could do.
Charles Miller has great gift buying advice.
If on a major holiday or birthday you buy a girl a gift from The Body Shop, you may as well be writing “I didn’t have the faintest clue what to get you, so I ended up taking the path of least resistance” on the wrapping paper. Because that’s what the gift be interpreted to mean, and lets face it guys, that’s exactly why you ended up in The Body Shop in the first place.
James Robertson links to Anomalistic History on John Hanson, the first President of the United States.
The Articles of Confederation only allowed a President to serve a one-year term during any three-year period. Hanson served in that office from November 5, 1781, until November 3, 1782. He was the first President to serve a full term after the full ratification of the Articles of Confederation. Why then does he not hold a more prominent place in U.S. history? Like so many of the Southern and quasi-Southern Founders, he was strongly opposed to the concepts of a strong central government that was to be eventually implemented under the new Constitution of 1787. Until his death in November 1783, he remained a confirmed Anti-Federalist having stalwart apprehensions about the Federalist vision of a dominating federal government.
Winners write history. The Federalists prevailed over President Hanson and the Anti-Federalists. The once feared centralized government emerged with the new constitution and the powers of the individual states guaranteed under the Articles of Confederation gradually eroded. Unfortunately, the erosion of state’s rights ultimately culminated into the Civil War in 1861.
Seven other Presidents were elected after Hanson – Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), John Hancock (1786), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788) – all prior to Washington taking office. Why don’t we ever hear about the first eight Presidents of the United States? Besides the truism that victors write history – The Articles of Confederation didn’t work as well as it should have. The individual states had too much power and disagreed on numerous issues. To make the states more conciliatory toward one another the articles needed to be revised. A Constitutional Convention was first convened in 1786 to consider altering portions of the Articles of Confederation; however, what followed after numerous meetings and months of heated debate was a complete revision. An almost completely new constitution, which is still utilized today, began its path to augmentation. For some inexplicable reason the implementation of this new Constitution also seems to be the starting point for United States Government history taught throughout this country. The American education system has sadly neglected this critical period in American history, an era in which the very nation itself was shaped from the sword to the plowshare.
Kaye Trammell advises us to let our audience know what is going on.
No matter what some bloggers say, we all know that there is an audience out there. A few days ago Will linked toPat’s take on the difference between writing & publishing. Blogging is about publishing. Publishing is about audience.
But what happens when real life takes over & you can’t give your audience that content they so desire? What happens when you — gasp! — know you won’t be able to blog for a bit?
Joi Ito replies to Marc Canter who says he’ll eventually start drinking again.
Well maybe those days are over, but there’s one thing for sure – Joi will have a drink – again. Maybe on New Year’s Eve – maybe 20 years from now – but once an addict, always an addict. I mean that in a nice way.
We can try and intellectualize our way out of our problems, manipulating our actions and behavior to suit our health – mental, physcial or economic – but you’ll always go back to being – just you.
I would beg to differ on this point Marc. Since I announced that I wouldstop drinking, I’ve been contacted by a lot of people who have chosen to stop drinking and that was the end of that. I realize that it’s quite difficult and you can’t go back to NOT being addicted, but that doesn’t mean you have to end up drinking again or that you don’t have a choice.
It is strange to define yourself by what you don’t do and think about that a lot. I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, eat meat, eat dairy, etc. I wonder at what point you stop ‘recognizing who you are’ and start hiding who you are?
I think Joi, and anyone, can do what they put their minds to. And Joi seems to have put his mind to it.
Bentley posts an adorable picture.
I asked Bentley if he had anything he wanted to post before Christmas. He ignored me but magically this photo appeared on my desktop.
Who knew Phoebe could use the camera? She apologies for the redeye.
Jay Fienberg wonders how the Peter Principle interacts with weblogs.
At a certain point, if the competency that attracted readers to the blog in the first place get lost, does the blog author not notice this because their past status is persisting into the present? In particular, for a blog with a mass audience, can incompetence be realized and the blog author not notice (e.g., because so many people still read it and seem to like it)?
This may be simply comparable to popular fame which often seems to surround, say, an artist with “yes-men” who infect the artistic perspective with a status-concerned perspective. And, with artists or blog authors, obviously, when you have “someone whose opinion you can really trust and who is willing to kick your ass” that you listen to, that maybe makes all the difference.
You have no idea how often I type <blockquote> when my outliner is broken. I seem to recall that <bq> used to work in some earlier HTML… bring it back… please.
Norman Geras replies to Ken MacLeod‘s criticism of supporting the Iraq War.
The ending of the Baathist regime is not just an incidental side-effect of what happened. It is the main story. I therefore don’t accept that the war was ‘overall reactionary’. I think that the freeing of the Iraqi people from a decades-long political darkness was – as Ken himself appears to allow – ‘progressive’. It was a boon, a great release for the Iraqi people, a national liberation, no less; and then, more than this, an opportunity for the region and the world. Therefore, I don’t regard support for the war as ‘abstracting these effects from their context’ – as if the context was already pre-defined by something else more general, with the progressive ‘bit’ being merely by the way. It’s a skewed version of what the war was about, WMD and all the rest of it notwithstanding. I would hold this view even if I thought (as in fact I do not) that George Bush and Tony Blair fought the war for wholly cynical reasons. To give a crude analogy here: if someone burgles a house and her only motive in doing so is greed, I will approve of her action if, in order to bring off the burglary, she finds she has to release a terrified family from the grip of a bullying, violent and child-abusing patriarch. I will not think that what happened was overall bad because it was – ‘in essence’ – a burglary; or worry, in my approval, about the burglar going on to burgle others. If she does, we can disapprove of – and oppose – that.
Ken also makes the point that ‘the occupation itself could be the catalyst for a slide into a worse situation than that before the war’. I’m not going to engage over it, because he doesn’t know that this will happen, and I don’t know that it won’t. It’s relevant to say that supporters of the war will have reckoned that the baseline for comparison about better and worse was such that it was improbable that the war would make things worse.
I suppose the most that can be said is that while maybe the result of the Iraq War was good, it may lead to worse consequences. We don’t know that those things will happen, but we do know with reasonable certainty that it will be harder to stop the “bad burglary” after we’ve allowed the tools to be developed for the “good burglary.”
The Binary Circumstance on the government’s fear mongering.
If they keep this up, their warnings will cease to be credible. We’ve had these warnings based on “chatter” before and they haven’t turned into anything. Like in story of the boy who cried wolf, too many warnings about threats that don’t materialize desensitize people to warnings. Then when there’s a real threat, people won’t believe it. Maybe that’s al-Qaida’s plan; increase the amount and detail of the chatter to force the government to issue warnings. Once people start to ignore the warnings we would become very vulnerable.
It’s getting to the point that as horrible as a flu epidemic, a mad cow panic, or another terrorist attack would be, if something like that happened at least we would know that the government wasn’t just making this stuff up to create a psychological need for their promises of protection and their increasing assaults on our civil liberties. We would know that the threats are real and this “chatter” can be trusted as a source of intelligence.
Tom White on the same.
And the impression left with me is this. There is a terrible and real danger of a terrorist attack somewhere in this giant land, or perhaps in several places. Nothing new there. But now that we have this Alert is it fair to ask, What places? Don’t know. So what to do. Nada. What is anybody going to do? Nada. Change travel plans, if any, to Portland Oregon, Portland Maine, Sioux Falls South Dakota, Houston Texas, New York City? By no means, says the President. Go about your business as if nothing were up. All this is precisely where we were before the Alert went out.
But then why the Orange Alert? Think. So we’ve got Orange Alert, and I go to Portland, Oregon, and blooey, Madame Muhammadine or somebody blows up the city by some new and highly creative means. As I speed to the afterlife, will I have been better off in any eensy teensy tiny way for having known of Orange Alert? No.
So what was the point of the whole thing? Announcement: Be scared to death. Next Announcement: Don’t mind us. Next announcement: For heaven’s sake, go right ahead to Portland, Oregon, or wherever; that’s your duty as a true-blue, red-blooded Amurrican. And of course I go to Portland and nothing happens, and Akron, Ohio, is leveled in a blast of some kind. All the people in Akron should have cleared out and gone to Portland, but how could they have known?
Dan Darling writes about why the terror alert is warranted and goes into detail about terrorists threats.
His theory of why there have not been attacks focus on internal problems in al-Qaeda and the success of the War on Terror.
In any case, I think that one of the reasons as to why the US has yet to experience a second wave of terrorist attacks since September 11 is due in large part to three unique factors: al-Qaeda’s grandiose visions of death and destruction, the arrest and later detention of Ali Saleh al-Marri, and the fact that US law enforcement has finally gotten their act together. Let me go through these one-by-one to show you what I mean.
1. The Downsides of Meglomania …
For better or worse, by carrying out attacks like 9/11, the Bali bombings, the Poshipnikov Zavod Dubrovka theater seige in Moscow, and more recently the Istanbul suicide bombings sets a very high bar for the terrorist network as far as its operational planning goes, which is one of the reasons as to why there is such a lengthy gap between major al-Qaeda attacks. While smaller organizations like Hamas or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are generally content with killing only a handful of civilians in reasonably simple attacks such as suicide bombing a bus, al-Qaeda favors sophisticated simultaneously mass casualty suicide attacks designed to inflict a massive amount of damage as well as to spread a maximum amount of fear to the civilian population. More to the point, al-Qaeda leaders such as Abu Salma al-Hijazi have previously promised the network’s supporters that the next major attack on the US will kill as many as 100,000. Chopping that figure down by a factor of ten by filtering out the hyperbole, we arrive at ~10,000 casualties, which would be well within the network’s capabilities of achieving – Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing originally hoped to kill over 100,000 in his plan to cause one tower to crash onto the other, creating a kind of giant “domino effect.” However, by committing itself to such astronomical figures, the network cannot easily resort to Hamas-style suicide bombings inside the US because to do so would be to grant America a tacit admission that its capabilities have become extremely degraded since 9/11.
This was sent by me by one of my favourite bloggers and now that I know the site I’m subscribed. Woo!
Gina Smith posts a great quote.
“As long as people continue to believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities.” Voltaire.
Seth Gordon points to Sean Collins who says “what everyone else is too polite to say about Strom Thurmond.”
The revelation of Thurmond’s fathering a child with a black woman makes him even more loathsome in my eyes, if that’s possible; to him, black people may not have been good enough to go to the same schools or eat at the same counters or drink from the same water fountains and probably even to vote, if that were possible, but they were good enough to fuck and then discard.
Joey deVilla calls me Boston’s deepest blogger and I call him very lucky and haught.