May 2004 Archives

Passion of the present is covering the genocide in Sudan.

See Jim's blog for more information on how you can help googlebomb to stop genocide.

iwatogarbage
May 30, or 530. 5 3 can be read "gomi" in Japanese which means garbage. So what does May 30 mean in our village? Garbage 0 day. This morning, I participated with most of the village in picking up trash and junk around the village. Along one of the roads, there was an area that was clearly being used as an illegal garbage dump by many people. There were mufflers, car batteries, toilets, beds, bicycles and even a car dumped there. We spent the morning hoisting this junk out of the mud and carrying it in trucks to a location where the local government would come and collect it for us.

There were many children helping out as well. Hopefully this annual garage day will help educate them not to dump trash by the road.

I got a chance to meet more of my neighbors so it was nice. I still have a hard time remembering everyone's name but sharing this massive chore with the whole village was quite a bonding experience. These village chores are called gyoji and there are many others including trimming hedges and trees, cleaning common spaces and fixing roads.

Today I met the founder and president of Sensaphonics, Michael Santucci. He is a hearing conservation expert and audiologist. He is one of the few audiologists who work with the music industry. The relationship is interesting. Hearing conservation is about protecting your ears from continued exposure to loud sounds in order to preserve your hearing. He told us that baby boomers have a higher rate of hearing loss than senior citizens, probably because of devices such as portable music devices. He shows us pictures of a healthy inner ear and a damaged inner ear and had the same effect on my as the healthy lung and smoker lung photos we often see.

The traditional logic behind headphones and earphones is to increase the volume of the music reaching your ears for better sound. The brain compensates for background noise so, as most people have experienced, music in your car stereo suddenly sounds loud when you come to a stop and the background noise disappears. The damage to your ear is based on the total amplitude of the sound, whereas the perceived loudness of the signal is based on the amplitude above the background noise.

One way to have great earphones and not lose your hearing is to isolate and block the outside sound. Then you can listen to music at much lower volumes and it will still sound loud and clear. This protects your hearing while providing super high fidelity.

This is the theory behind the Shure E2cs and the E5cs that I've written about before. Michael takes this a step further and replaces the ear plugs that come with the Shures and replaces them with custom silicon molds. Sensaphonics also makes their own earphones.

Today, my second cousin Cornelius and I got molds taken of our ears. They are going to send me their ProPhonic Soft 2X earphones as well as molds that will work with my E5cs. They're also going to send me the TC-1000-totally-overkill ear set and the Elacin/Sensaphonics ER-9/15/25 high fidelity earplugs. I look forward to my future ear-mold-a-rama lifestyle, comparing the E5cs with the Sensaphonics and protecting my hearing.

kendo
I recently started Kendo and had a sore left pinkie after my first practice. The proper grip of a Japanese sword relies on a grip focused on the pinkie of the left hand. Today, I learned that the tradition of chopping the left pinkie as punishment for disgrace was based on this fact. Without a left pinkie, it's quite difficult to grip a Japanese sword.

In the May 15 incident the Prime Minister of Japan, Tsuyoshi Inukai was assassinated by eleven young Naval Officers. After the court martial, eleven severed fingers were sent to the court house.

Today, the Yakuza continue this tradition, even though swords are no longer the weapon of choice.

Planning on arriving in the UK on June 6th. Anyone want to get together in the evening?

I've set up a wiki page to plan this.

After considering a lot of the feedback and statistics from the original Creative Commons licenses, we (I personally was only a small part of this) have launched the 2.0 licenses which I think make them easier to use and easier to understand. Congratulations and thanks to the team for all the work and an excellent step forward.

The details are on the Creative Commons page.

I have changed the license for this blog from the 1.0 Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike license to the 2.0 Attribution license.

Suw has a nice essay describing Lessig's Free Culture and the audio book project that emerged from that. It describes the whole process and really helps show Free Culture in action. It's a longish post, but worth reading, even for those with short attention spans. Her 15 word summary of this essay is:

Suw
For the terminally short of attention out there, here's my Free Culture audiobook essay in 15 words:

Lessig++
RIAA--
Free culture = more creativity
New publishing models
Download, read, buy = sales up
Discuss!

The CNN "Transcript: Ashcroft, Mueller news conference" story has travel ads from Overture. "Targeted" advertising at its best.

via redheadatwork

UPDATE: Hmm... Seems the travel ads are gone now. ;-)

RTMark
FBI ABDUCTS ARTIST, SEIZES ART Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body DEFENSE FUND ESTABLISHED - HELP URGENTLY NEEDED

Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911 early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest and died in her sleep.  The police arrived and, cranked up on the rhetoric of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies were actually bioterrorism weapons.

Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated his computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body.

Like the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim lawyer from Portland imprisoned for two weeks on the flimsiest of false evidence, Kurtz's case amply demonstrates the dangers posed by the USA PATRIOT Act coupled with government-nurtured terrorism hysteria.

Kurtz's case is ongoing, and, on top of everything else, Kurtz is facing a mountain of legal fees. Donations to his legal defense can be made at http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/

It reminds me a bit of when the Secret Service came after etoy.

RTMark is nortorious for social hacking, but this story appears to have at least two supporting news stories.

WKBW Local News - Local Investigation Into Ub Artist Continues
WKBW Local News - Bio Hazard Or Art?

The weird thing is that these news articles are archived on RTMark's site and I can't seem to find them on the WKBW site. Having said that, a search on Google News shows an article about this, but it has "expired" and can't be accessed.

IF this is true, it's another example of patriotic stupidity, but it's often the role of artists to help us understand this stupidity.

Anyone else heard about this? Lately I'm becoming more wary of single source news stories. ;-) Any help in veting this story before I get really excited would be greatly appreciated.

via Scott

UPDATE: Email from artist, Steven Kurtz.

I blogged about a woman taking a motorcycle through Chernobyl and her web page. It looks like it was a fraud.

Neil Gaiman
A fraud exposed, and a true thing...

Found this on the infiltrate.org forum - thought you might find it interesting. You'd wonder why somebody would go to the lengths to fake something like this.
dee

Chornobyl "Ghost Town" story is a fabrication TOP
e-POSHTA subscriber Mary Mycio writes:

I am based in Kyiv and writing a book about Chornobyl for the Joseph Henry Press. Several sources have sent me links to the "Ghost Town" photo essay included in the last e-POSHTA mailing. Though it was full of factual errors, I did find the notion of lone young woman riding her motorcycle through the evacuated Zone of Alienation to be intriguing and asked about it when I visited there two days ago.

I am sorry to report that much of Elena's story is not true. She did not travel around the zone by herself on a motorcycle. Motorcycles are banned in the zone, as is wandering around alone, without an escort from the zone administration. She made one trip there with her husband and a friend. They traveled in a Chornobyl car that picked them up in Kyiv.

This sucks. It was such a cool story. One thing that I realized when thinking about this is, how do you fact check the fact check on something that so far away... Is there anything other than this post to e-POSHTA debunking this story?

via Xeni @ Boing Boing

Overstated
Weblogs and Authority

This week I'll be presenting a paper at the International Communication Association Conference in New Orleans titled Audience, Structure and Authority in the Weblog Community. The paper is an analysis of two different metrics for measuring authority within weblogs:

* Blogroll: A link from one weblog to the top-level of another, (e.g., links to http://overstated.net, http://www.overstated.net or http://overstated.net/index.asp). I assume this is a proxy to popularity.

* Permalink: Any link from one weblog to deep content on another (e.g. a link to http://overstated.net/04/05/24-weblogs-and-authority.asp). I assume this is a proxy to influence.

The following table shows the top 20 for each measure. One observation is that many of the top ranked sites are community weblogs (e.g. Slashdot or Memepool). These sites play the important role of hubs, maintaining ties to more weblogs than a single person would be able to. They allow information to diffuse quickly between distant parts of the network of readership.

Blogroll Degree RankPermalink Degree Rank
linksurllinksurl
1.2581metafilter.com1322boingboing.net
2.2434slashdot.org1270diveintomark.org
3.2146boingboing.net1096metafilter.com
4.1825kottke.org1073slashdot.org
5.1604instapundit.com982kottke.org
6.1527scripting.com976weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor
7.1307evhead.com956instapundit.com
8.1220andrewsullivan.com828andrewsullivan.com
9.1062memepool.com827themorningnews.org
10.1007doc.weblogs.com826rathergood.com
11.977megnut.com819textism.com
12.961littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog683denbeste.nu
13.899diveintomark.org626doc.weblogs.com
14.880littleyellowdifferent.com625asmallvictory.net
15.848textism.com582rightwingnews.com
16.846rebeccablood.net577microcontentnews.com
17.758plasticbag.org568joi.ito.com
18.737dashes.com/anil560buzzmachine.com
19.719ftrain.com553waxy.org
20.714plastic.com522a.wholelottanothing.org

A second observation is that the lists are fairly distinct. While some webloggers hold top positions in both ranks, the list diverges considerably as the position increases. While Blogrolls tend to support the weblog elders (scripting.com, evhead.com, etc.), permalinks suggest a different set of authors as influencers (joi.ito.com, buzzmachine.com, etc.). Looking at the differential between the ranks in the figure below, it is apparent that as soon as the rank passes 100, the correlation between Blogroll and Permalink rank becomes less defined.

Interesting paper which has an impact on the power-law discussion. The chart shows that I'm not popular, but I have influence, whereas Anil may be popular, but doesn't have influence. ;-)
About freekaneko.com
this web site 'freekaneko.com' was created by official Isamu Kaneko supporters. We are consisted by software engineers who deeply concern our freedom to create and research software.

We are conducting a publicity, and fund raising. We need a lot of attention from the people of the world. You can help us by telling the issue to your family, friends, and co-workers. Also, translation volunteers (and English proof readers) are needed to let the people know this issue.

Freekaneko.com marked a million hit only a day after an opening. Also, we raised 10 million yen ($100,000) in 2weeks

Isamu Kaneko is the guy who got arrested for developing P2P software. More details about that in my earlier post.

via yonderboy

News24.com
Rumsfeld bans phone cameras

London - Cellphones fitted with digital cameras have been banned in US army installations in Iraq on orders from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, The Business newspaper reported on Sunday.

Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US defence department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

"Digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones with cameras have been prohibited in military compounds in Iraq," it said, adding that a "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.

via Smartmobs

The increasing reliance of this administration on secrecy is really disturbing. When your government starts to strip the people of their privacy and civil rights and consistently marches forward with a variety of efforts to hides its own movements, you know you're in real trouble.

I've worked on whistleblower protection bills and thought a lot about the importance of the ability for people to come forward outside of the chain of command. It is an essential protection measure against coverups and corruption. I can understand arguments about why allowing random photos could be bad, but I'm sure the importance of having "eyes on the ground" outside of the "main channel" out-weigh the risks.

UPDATE: There are many media sites and blogs running this story, but they all seem to quote the same source. We still have no corroborating original sources. Please see comments on this entry for more.

UPDATE2

This morning, I asked a Defense Department spokesperson whether or not the reports of a phonecam ban were true. This spokesperson said that these reports were technically inaccurate -- that the Pentagon is not issuing a new ban on camera phones per se, but that a Directive 8100.2 was issued on April 14 establishing new restrictions on wireless telecommunications equipment in general. The text of this directive is available online here in PDF format: Link. The intent of this April 14 directive, and how commanders in the field will be expected to enforce it, are matters I'll be reporting on in more detail for the NPR program "Day to Day," later this week.

Last minute change in plans and I'm off to Helsinki for two days... too much travel...

Lawrence Lessig will be giving a public Creative Commons presentation in Helsinki. It will be at Korjaamo organized by Aula. It will from 5:30PM on May 24. It's open to the public and will be in English. Details are on the Aula web page. I'm leaving for Helsinki tomorrow and will be there.

Reuters
Microsoft's Gates Touts Blogging as Business Tool

Gates described to his audience, which included Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell, Carly Fiorina, Barry Diller and other top business executives, how blogs worked and suggested that they could be used as a tool for businesses to communicate with customers.

[...]

Microsoft, which has already amassed more than 700 employee bloggers talking up its products and software in development, is embracing blogs and RSS technology because they are yet another potential threat and opportunity, said Joe Wilcox, analyst at Jupiter Research.

[...]

Instead of RSS, however, Google is also promoting a rival syndication standard called Atom.

So, we already knew that Microsoft knows about and cares about blogs. Does the fact that Bill Gates explained blogs to a bunch of people who already knew what blogs were mean anything substantive?

Scoble, can you give us the inside skinny? Is this going to turn into a Google-Atom vs. Microsoft-RSS war as the article insinuates?

via Gen Kanai

To use the requisite automotive analogy, if Six Apart were a shiny new car, I feel like I was the person who put the first dent in it, and then a couple thousand people stood around pointing and saying "It's totalled!"
It's been a hard week for everyone at Six Apart with the difficulty with the launch of the Movable Type 3 and the licensing and communications about this. Anil seems to feel quite responsible. It sounds a bit like Rummy getting set up to be the fall guy, but fine. It was Anil's fault. ;-)

Having said that, I think everyone at Six Apart feels very responsible and is working really hard listening to all the feedback and fixing the licenses and communications of them. They're sincerely trying to be "good" so I'd appreciate any slack people are willing to cut them. Also, please continue to send them and myself ideas and feedback on how we can make the MT 3 license better for everyone. Thanks!

I've been having email problems and have been missing email the last few weeks. I'm pretty sure I'm caught up on my email so if I haven't responded to an email you've sent, can you try sending it again? Sorry about this!

Dave Sifry, the CEO of Technorati is coming to Tokyo next week. We're having a meeting for users and developers. Dave and I will speak and Dave will give some cool demos etc. If you are a Technorati fan, want to know more about Technorati or just want to hang out with Dave, please sign up and come. We will be charging 2000 per person for simple drinks and snacks. There will be wifi. The details are below:

5/27 Thursday, 18:00-21:00

18:00-19:00 Demo, Talk & Discussion
19:00-21:00 Reception with drinks & light snacks

Place, Tokyo 21c Club, 7th Fl of Marunouchi Building

Speakers
David L. Sifry, CEO, Technorati
Joichi Ito, head of International and mobility, Technorati

2000 yen fee for participation

Deadline to apply, May 24th Mon, 18:00

Please RSVP to Kenta Ushijima. We have a 50 person limit.

Please promote this on other blogs, particularly Japanese blogs. Thanks in advance and see you there!

As you can see, I have to be in Naples on June 4 and Helsinki on June 10. It's kind of a waste to fly back to Japan and turn around and fly back to Europe again. Is there anything interesting going on, or can we make something interesting happen in Europe between June 4 and June 10? I've started a wiki page to think about what to do between the 4th and the 10th. If you have any ideas, let me know. Thanks!

I will be on a panel at a conference in Helsinki on June 10. It is the Annual Meeting of the International Network of Private Business Organizations - COMPETITIVENESS THROUGH CREATIVITY. I will be representing the Keizai Doyukai (The Japan Association of Corporate Executives) and will be speaking about "Creativity and Innovation - Rare Virtue or New Standard?". I'm not sure who they're inviting to participate, but if you're going, please let me know.

I will be speaking at a Conference in Naples on June 4. The conference is called: Culture Digitali: I WEBLOG E LA NUOVA SFERA PUBBLICA, or Weblogs and New Public Opinion. The Conference has a blog and here is the entry with the program.

The conference registration is not yet open, but I will blog about it when it opens.

Some of us are thinking about getting together for lunch on June 5. If you want to hang out with us, please fill out this form. Look forward to meeting everyone.

italiaspeed
13.05.2004 Lamborghini have donated one of their Gallardo sportscars, complete with siren & flashing lights, to the State Police on the occasion of their 152nd anniversary

For the first time, Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) will use a Lamborghini Gallardo Police Car.

The supercar, in State Police colours, with a siren and flashing lights on the roof, has been donated by the House of Sant’Agata Bolognese to the State Police on the occasion of its 152nd anniversary, held in the customary setting of the Piazza del Popolo in Rome on the 14th, 15th and 16th May 2004.

The Gallardo Police Car will be used by the traffic police (Polizia Stradale) during emergencies and alarm situations on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway, also under the powers of the special safety operative which is already being employed along this tract of highway.

The Gallardo will also be used in first aid activities – thanks to its special defibrillator equipment, which performs electrocardiograms and automatic diagnoses of arterial pressure and the presence of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, as well as the transportation of plasma and human organs for transplants.

Apart from being fitted with medical equipment, the vehicle will also have advanced technological apparatus’ for receiving and transmitting information and images relating to particularly critical situations, such as road traffic accidents, fires and other disaster situations.

Those Italians... ;-) I'm looking forward to visiting Italy again next month. This articles reminds me of some of the reasons why I love Italy.

via Louis

CubeSolver1_sm

This robot solves the 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube®.

I started to think about this problem in about August of 2000. In Jan 2001 fellow Mindstorms forums user 'agiecco' announced his intention to work on a robotic solution and, simultaneously, I saw that Rubik's Cubes were on sale at www.target.com. So I bought a couple of cubes and started getting down to business...

I produced a 'late beta' version in mid-April 2001 that was a little clunky. The final version (presented here) is smooth and fairly reliable.

Amazing.

via Brian

Just finished reading the Galley Proof of We, the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People by Dan Gillmor. O'Reilly is the publisher and it should be coming out mid-July. The book will be published under a Creative Commons license and you will be able to download it free for non-commercial use.

Dan is one of the few professional journalists that really understands the impact of blogs and other new technologies on journalism. It's amazing how many professional journalists I know pooh pooh blogs and keep on chugging like nothing is changing. We, the Media is a excellent book that should be enlightening and humbling for professional journalists. It is also a great guide for us little "j" journalists about what the possibilities are as well as what the difficulties will be. Anyway, it's an amazingly important book for anyone interested in journalism and democracy. It goes well with Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture and Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs.

Lauren Weinstein
Report: "Rumsfeld and Rice Approved; Bush Knew"

Greetings. Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker, who exposed so many aspects of the Iraqi prisoner abuse story, now reports that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice secretly approved the expansion of a clandestine program that encouraged physical coercion, sexual humiliation, and blackmail of Iraqi prisoners, setting the stage for the abuses that these same officials have recently been condemning so publicly.

According to the report, President Bush was kept informed regarding this program. The Department of Defense called the accusations in the story "outlandish, conspiratorial, and filled with error and anonymous conjecture."

How accepted is this view in the US now?

Most people are aware that Six Apart got a lot of feedback on the release of Movable Type 3.0 and there was a bit of confusion as well. Mena has a good post that addresses many of the issues people have been asking about.

I'm sure most people have seen it, but the full Red Cross report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse is online on Cryptome.

Red Cross Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse

Another funny example of scamming a scammer. This time on eBay. (PDF file of the scam | Web Site)

via user0

UPDATE: The links above seem to be blocked now. Maybe they got too much traffic. I'm uploading the PDF here.

I'm off to Tokyo today. See you later Switzerland and thanks for all the cheese!

etoydaycare
"etoy.DAYCARE is operating. A first group has been graduating from our camp in Amsterdam." - etoy.TALK
Unique use of 2D barcodes by etoy. Using them to match parents with their kids at etoy.DAY-CARE in Amsterdam.

etoy is an art group that won the Golden Nica in the net category at Ars Electronica in 1996.

jeanodermatt
Our host Jean Odermatt
As usual the etoy.AGENTS arranged an interesting excursion this year. This year, we tried to go to La Claustra in Andermatt. (Check out the video on their site. It's the last link on the left.) Unfortunately, there was 8 meters of snow at La Claustra with avalanche warnings so we couldn't go. We stayed at a nice chalet in Andermatt instead.

La Claustra is this amazing project that Jean Odermatt just completed. He purchased an old Swiss Army base built into the mountains of Gotthard. Inside of these caves, he built an extremely modern hotel and meeting room that looks like a scene from James Bond. It fits 26 people. Our plan was to have our super-secret etoy.MEETING at La Claustra, but since we couldn't go, we had our meeting at Jean's offices in Andermatt instead.

For dinner we had Raclette, kind of a precursor to cheese fondue where they shave slices of Raclette cheese of as they heat the surface. The trick is not to drink a lot of cold water with the cheese or it turns into a hard ball in your stomach. It was great though. Yum.

Anyway, our host Jean Odermatt, his assistant and his team were extremely hospitable and we are DEFINITELY going to come back to La Claustra to have a retreat soon. It's truly amazing.

I'm here in Switzerland at the University of St. Gallen ISC-Symposium again. I spoke at a leadership session last year about Emergent Democracy, but felt I didn't get the most out of the conference because I didn't get a chance to get to know the students who were attending, which is why I came. The 200 or so students attending this conference are chosen from hundreds of paper submissions from all over the world and they are an diverse and interesting group. In the addition to the students, there are a lot of government and business big-shots, but I get a chance to hang out with most of these guys at other conferences. I later found out that my friend Martin has been giving the pre-conference talk to just the students to prepare them for the conference and he said that this was a blast because he got to know the students.

This year, I asked the organizing committee and was able to get them to let me participate in the pre-conference too. Martin and I got a chance to do our respective rants about politics, racism, war and a variety of other topics. We asked the students to talk about what they thought was wrong with the world and their respective regions. It was quite enlightening and we had a great mixing dinner afterwards. There were people from just about every region, but the small number participants from the Middle East and North America was interesting. I could tell that the students were actively networking and I think this process can form the basis of a really important channel of communications for the future.

I talked a bit about the possibility of using social software to support this sort of global networking so I hope everyone takes a look at blogging, wikis and other tools.

I woke up at 7:30AM when my phone beeped with an incoming SMS. It was a message telling me that Min had just checked in. I forgot to turn off dodgeball and the SMS was telling me where Min was in SF and that she had checked in. Now I know why they call it "dodgeball". ;-p For those who haven't tried it yet, dodgeball is a cool new service that is a location based SNS that lets you "check in" and it sends a SMS to your friends to tell them where you are. But it's not very useful when I'm in Madrid and Min's in SF. ;-)

iranclothes
photo from Hoder's photo blog
The New York Times
Those Sexy Iranians

...True, girls and women can still be imprisoned for going out without proper Islamic dress. But young people are completely redefining such dress so it heightens sex appeal instead of smothering it.

Women are required to cover their hair and to wear either a chador cloak or an overcoat, called a manteau, every time they go out, and these are meant to be black and shapeless. But the latest fashion here in Shiraz, in central Iran, is light, tight and sensual.

"There are some manteaus with slits on the sides up to the armpits," said Mahmoud Salehi, a 25-year-old manteau salesman. "And then there are the `commando manteaus,' with ties on the legs to show off the hips and an elastic under the breasts to accentuate the bust."

Worse, from the point of view of hard-line mullahs, young women in such clothing aren't getting 74 lashes any more — they're getting dates.

Iranian blogger Hoder has started a photo blog and some of the recent images show us what they're talking about.

The Japan Times
Kidnap crisis poses a new risk

In Japan's case, laws are being proposed to punish those entering designated "danger zones" without an official reason.

Victims -- or their families -- will foot the bill for their rescue, which will amount to airfare, if not more. "This is standard practice for mountain rescues," one line of reasoning goes.

But consider two things: One is that an aid mission to a danger zone is not a forest stroll gone astray. The very comparison indicates a misunderstanding of what aid missions do.

The second is policy overstretch and political abuse. This law would place a degree of government control over aid organizations, something many don't want. Particularly NGOs (by very the nature of their title) eschew government support, especially when they take on problems governments would rather avoid.

Under this law, they would effectively need official permission to work in some places overseas. Those "unsponsored" who get unlucky will face a "rescue fine" -- which could bankrupt the person or the organization. Thus this new system of rents will curtail Japanese volunteerism.

The Japanese government is taking this way too far and totally agree with the author of this article that this is a bad bad thing. As I've said before, legislation during emotionally charged times often ends up being stupid and poorly thought through. The ramifications of such a law would be devastating for NGO's and aid workers from Japan, just when such activity is becoming recognized. It almost feels like some stupid conspiracy to use this incident to squash the NGO's in Japan. Bah. I have less and less respect for the Japanese government every day.

Off to Switzerland in a few minutes. See you on the other side. Going to St. Gallen.

Today, an associate professor at the most prestigious university in Japan, Tokyo University was arrested today for developing a tool that enables piracy. The program is a P2P system cally Winny. Previously two of the users had been arrested. I got a call from Asahi Shimbun (Japanese newspaper) today asking me for a comment for the morning news tomorrow. I hope the print it. I think it's an absolute disgrace to Japan. While the US is fighting in congress, Hollywood pushing to ban P2P and Boucher et al are fighting for DMCRA, Japanese police go and arrest someone developing P2P software with a VERY sketchy case. The thing is, it's quite likely he will be found guilty.

I once served as an expert witness on the FLMASK case. FLMASK was a program that could be used to allow password protected scrambling of areas of an image so that porn sites could post pictures that passed the Japanese censors, but allowed users to unscramble them. The police were so upset that they cracked down on the hardcore porn sites with the argument that even with FLMASK'ed "clean" images, they would be deemed hardcore. The problem was, this left the developer of FLMASK free from claims that his software enabled anything illegal. So they busted him for LINKING to these porn sites that got busted as users of his software. They deemed linking to a porn site as the same as actually running a porn site. I was the chairman of Infoseek Japan at the time so I obviously had a lot to say about that. The amazing thing is... after overwhelming evidence of the stupidity of the allegations, the guy was found guilty.

Anyway, Japan is yet again leading the world in stupid Internet policing.

more on slashdot

Kathryn Cramer
Halliburton Pulling the Plug on GI Communications

A week after a scandal broke involving photos of American troops torturing Iraqi prisoners, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, & Root is pulling the plug on private electronic communications with the folks back home, apparently at the request of the Department of Defense.

via Jim

Oh right! If it weren't for that pesky Internet...

I haven't seen this in mainstream media so I may be jumping the gun. Anyone who finds any other information about this, please let me know so I can update.

Congressional Hearing Called on Fair Use; 321 Studios President Asked to Testify

Now Is the Time for Consumers to Effect Change Through www.protectfairuse.org

WASHINGTON, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A Congressional Hearing for H.R. 107, the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA), has been set for Wednesday, May 12, at 10:00 AM Eastern. The DMCRA has been acknowledged and endorsed by major industry players like Intel Corp., Philips Consumer Electronics, Sun Microsystems, Bell South, Verizon, SBC, Qwest, Gateway, and the Consumer Electronics Association, among others, as a necessary balancing mechanism to restore consumers' fair use rights in the digital era. The hearing will take place before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The DMCRA, introduced by Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and John Doolittle (R- CA) and co-sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), would re-affirm consumer fair use rights and balance the otherwise one-sided protection afforded copyright owners under current interpretations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

321 Studios Founder and President Robert Moore has been asked to testify at this historic fair use Congressional hearing. 321 Studios is the developer of the award-winning DVDXCOPY series of DVD backup software -- a product now banned in the United States after a group of Hollywood studios sued the company, and two federal judges decided that DVDXCOPY was in violation of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

I've been a big fan of Rick Boucher ever since I first met him in Tokyo and he helped me understand how the US Congress worked on Internet issues. He's been one of the few US politicians I've met who understands the Internet and the variety of important issues including the problems with the DMCA. This bill that he and John Doolittle have introduced is a REALLY important push against the DMCA and all the might of Hollywood will be resist the new bill. If the DMCRA is successful, it will be an important blow against the insanity of the DMCA which will reverberate all the way to Japan and the EU. Americans. Contact your representatives and rally around this important issue. Please.

Via Juche

UPDATE: DMCRA EFF action center

edwardsaidorientalismJust finished reading the famous introduction to Orientalism by Edward Said. Said was a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University and was a well known Palestinian scholar who died in September of last year. Orientalism was written in 1978, but probably continues to become more relevant.

Basically, he argues that the whole notion of the "Orient" or "Orientalism" is a body of culture, academic work and politics that tries to identify the East as "them" in terms that have evolved through Western imperialism. He makes the point that even work that doesn't appear immediately political had political impact and was part of the larger process of the development of Orientalism. Reading it brings back memories of Trader Vic's and pictures from British Museum exhibits of "Headpiece from dead savage."

He points out some important issues which ties into the racism as stereotype discussion we had about Lost In Translation. The simplistic stereotypes and the images of the the East leads to a kind of fascination with the Orient, but also creates a false sense of understanding and fake academics upon which many ignorant, racist and imperialistic political decisions are made.

A version of the introduction is available on The Guardian Unlimited Books web site so I'll give you a few quotes from there.

Edward W. Said
...Orientalism is very much a book tied to the tumultuous dynamics of contemporary history. Its first page opens with a description of the Lebanese civil war that ended in 1990, but the violence and the ugly shedding of human blood continues up to this minute. We have had the failure of the Oslo peace process, the outbreak of the second intifada, and the awful suffering of the Palestinians on the reinvaded West Bank and Gaza. The suicide bombing phenomenon has appeared with all its hideous damage, none more lurid and apocalyptic of course than the events of September 11 2001 and their aftermath in the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. As I write these lines, the illegal occupation of Iraq by Britain and the United States proceeds. Its aftermath is truly awful to contemplate. This is all part of what is supposed to be a clash of civilisations, unending, implacable, irremediable. Nevertheless, I think not.

I wish I could say that general understanding of the Middle East, the Arabs and Islam in the US has improved, but alas, it really hasn't. For all kinds of reasons, the situation in Europe seems to be considerably better. What American leaders and their intellectual lackeys seem incapable of understanding is that history cannot be swept clean like a blackboard, so that "we" might inscribe our own future there and impose our own forms of life for these lesser people to follow. It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar. But this has often happened with the "orient", that semi-mythical construct which since Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in the late 18th century has been made and remade countless times. In the process the uncountable sediments of history, a dizzying variety of peoples, languages, experiences, and cultures, are swept aside or ignored, relegated to the sandheap along with the treasures ground into meaningless fragments that were taken out of Baghdad.

[...]

The major influences on George W Bush's Pentagon and National Security Council were men such as Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, experts on the Arab and Islamic world who helped the American hawks to think about such preposterous phenomena as the Arab mind and the centuries-old Islamic decline which only American power could reverse. Today bookstores in the US are filled with shabby screeds bearing screaming headlines about Islam and terror, the Arab threat and the Muslim menace, all of them written by political polemicists pretending to knowledge imparted by experts who have supposedly penetrated to the heart of these strange oriental peoples. CNN and Fox, plus myriad evangelical and rightwing radio hosts, innumerable tabloids and even middle-brow journals, have recycled the same unverifiable fictions and vast generalisations so as to stir up "America" against the foreign devil.

[...]

Think of the line that starts with Napoleon, continues with the rise of oriental studies and the takeover of North Africa, and goes on in similar undertakings in Vietnam, in Egypt, in Palestine and, during the entire 20th century, in the struggle over oil and strategic control in the Gulf, in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Afghanistan. Then think of the rise of anti-colonial nationalism, through the short period of liberal independence, the era of military coups, of insurgency, civil war, religious fanaticism, irrational struggle and uncompromising brutality against the latest bunch of "natives". Each of these phases and eras produces its own distorted knowledge of the other, each its own reductive images, its own disputatious polemics.

My idea in Orientalism was to use humanistic critique to open up the fields of struggle, to introduce a longer sequence of thought and analysis to replace the short bursts of polemical, thought-stopping fury that so imprison us. I have called what I try to do "humanism", a word I continue to use stubbornly despite the scornful dismissal of the term by sophisticated postmodern critics. By humanism I mean first of all attempting to dissolve Blake's "mind-forg'd manacles" so as to be able to use one's mind historically and rationally for the purposes of reflective understanding. Moreover humanism is sustained by a sense of community with other interpreters and other societies and periods: strictly speaking therefore, there is no such thing as an isolated humanist.

[...]

Speaking both as an American and as an Arab I must ask my reader not to underestimate the kind of simplified view of the world that a relative handful of Pentagon civilian elites have formulated for US policy in the entire Arab and Islamic worlds, a view in which terror, pre-emptive war, and unilateral regime change - backed up by the most bloated military budget in history - are the main ideas debated endlessly and impoverishingly by a media that assigns itself the role of producing so-called "experts" who validate the government's general line. Reflection, debate, rational argument and moral principle based on a secular notion that human beings must create their own history have been replaced by abstract ideas that celebrate American or western exceptionalism, denigrate the relevance of context, and regard other cultures with contempt.

[...]

The terrible conflicts that herd people under falsely unifying rubrics such as "America," "the west" or "Islam" and invent collective identities for large numbers of individuals who are actually quite diverse, cannot remain as potent as they are, and must be opposed. We still have at our disposal the rational interpretive skills that are the legacy of humanistic education, not as a sentimental piety enjoining us to return to traditional values or the classics but as the active practice of worldly secular rational discourse. The secular world is the world of history as made by human beings. Critical thought does not submit to commands to join in the ranks marching against one or another approved enemy. Rather than the manufactured clash of civilisations, we need to concentrate on the slow working together of cultures that overlap, borrow from each other, and live together. But for that kind of wider perception we need time, patient and sceptical inquiry, supported by faith in communities of interpretation that are difficult to sustain in a world demanding instant action and reaction.

Humanism is centred upon the agency of human individuality and subjective intuition, rather than on received ideas and authority. Texts have to be read as texts that were produced and live on in all sorts of what I have called worldly ways. But this by no means excludes power, since on the contrary I have tried to show the insinuations, the imbrications of power into even the most recondite of studies. And lastly, most important, humanism is the only, and I would go as far as to say the final resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.

I just picked out some paragraphs there were particularly interesting to me, but the whole thing is really interesting so I suggest you read the intro in its entirety.

Louisiana to ban saggy, butt-crack-exposing pants via Boing Boing.

This is really funny because many years ago I had the honor of being with the mayor of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I distinctly remember the mayor talking about his new "moon pants". They were pants that you could easily zip down the back of and moon people from the balcony. I guess he can't wear them anymore...

ffii
EU Council Plans to Scrap Parliamentary Vote without Discussion

2004/05/07

For immediate Release

The EU Council of Ministers is demonstrating that the concept of democracy is alien to the EU. This Wednesday, the Irish Presidency managed to secure a qualified majority for a counter-proposal to the software patents directive, with only a few countries - including Belgium and Germany - showing resistance. The new text proposes to discard all the amendments from the European which would limite patentability. Instead the lax language of the original Commission proposal is to be reinstated in its entirety, with direct patentability of computer programs, data structures and process descriptions added as icing on the cake. The proposal is now scheduled to be confirmed without discussion at a meeting of ministers on 17-18 May, unless one of the Member States changes its vote. In a remarkable sign of unity in times of imminent elections, members of the European Parliament from all groups across the political spectrum are condemning this blatant disrespect for democracy in Europe.

I think software patents are a bad American idea. Japan has followed the US and now Europe is planning to pass one of the worst versions software patent law discarding many of the amendments to limit its power without discussion. Although I'm for many types of patents, I think that software patents are generally bad and in particular hurt small companies and innovation.

via xcasex on IRC (or should I say, I.R.C.)

AP, Reuters, NYT
Scandal drives out Koizumi aide

Fukuda, 67, the son of a prime minister, had been widely regarded as a conservative pillar in a government dominated by Koizumi's freewheeling style. His resignation highlighted the damaging disclosure over the past two weeks that a third of the cabinet members have failed to pay their pension premiums - just as the government is trying to pass a bill that would increase most citizens' premiums and reduce retirees' benefits.

I rarely say "fuck" on my blog, but "Fuck you Japanese politicians!" (Lucky the FCC doesn't control my blog... yet.) I've paid about 1/2 of all of my life earnings in tax to the Japanese government and have paid my premiums to the national pension system even though studies that I worked on at the Association of Corporate Executives showed that I would most likely not benefit from these pensions. Now it turns out many Japanese politicians don't pay their national pension premiums. Actually, a third of the cabinet members haven't paid their pension premiums. The "Vice President" of Japan, Yasuo Fukuda just resigned for not paying his premiums. This is all amid a move by the government to increase premiums and lower pay-outs. The study we did showed that unless you were about retirement age today, would would most likely not benefit from the pension system.

What's worse is that they use strong arm tactics like using the agricultural union (which hires retired bureaucrats and takes a commission) and other semi-public organizations to collect premiums from average citizens.

This is totally disgusting and I really wonder why I live and pay taxes in such a corrupt country.

Japan Today
N Korea's Kim criticized at home for apology to Japan

Friday, May 7, 2004 at 04:00 JST

WASHINGTON — North Korean military hardliners have been critical of leader Kim Jong Il for apologizing to Japan for the abduction of Japanese nationals, a U.S. expert who visited North Korea in April said.

This makes it difficult for the North Korean leader to make a decision to break the impasse over the abduction issue with Japan, said Selig Harrison, Asian project director at the Washington-based Center for International Policy. He said the hardliners were angry because they think North Korea should never apologize to Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. (Kyodo News)

Thank you Kim Jong Il. Japan has done many things that I think requires apologies, but the abductions of Japanese by the North Koreas is an issue that I believe required an apology. I think this is a important first step, even if it is causing him some grief at home. I'm not sure what these means from a diplomatic tactics perspective, but I think Kim Jong Il deserves some credit on this one.

Pakistani council aproves rape to avenge honour. "A village council in Pakistan permitted a landlord to rape the sister and sister-in-law of a man he accused of an illicit relationship with his daughter, police said Thursday. (...) The council members, all of them landlords themselves, ruled that Ghaffar, who uses only one name, could avenge his honour by having sex with the farmer's daughter, who is 16, and daughter-in-law, who is 22." (BBC version here). "An estimated 80 percent of women prisoners in Pakistan are in jail because they failed to prove rape charges".
This is totally disgusting. Is my blog becoming depressing lately, or is it just the state of the world?

Welcome on board TypePad Spain!

Boing Boing
Do IT workers dream of electric sheep? This hilarious site compiles the nightmares and dreams of coders.
One of the scariest nightmares I've had in the past decade or so was about me being stuck in a Nethack dungeon. Everything was green on black (I'd been playing on a Facit VT100-clone) and in 7-bit ASCII. I distinctly remember being chased by a lower-case x, scared out of my wits and at the same time feeling ashamed of being such a wimp that a mere grid bug was a threat.
I have a lot of weird dreams. Sometimes I'm a contract that's being negotiated. Sometimes, I see everything in gritty black and white.

lynndie

The Daily Telegraph
Good ol' girl who enjoyed cruelty

By SHARON CHURCHER in Fort Ashby

May 7, 2004

POINTING crudely at the genitals of a naked, hooded Iraqi, the petite brunette with a cigarette hanging from her lips epitomised America's shame over revelations US soldiers routinely tortured inmates at Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad.

Lynndie England, 21, a rail worker's daughter, comes from a trailer park in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, which locals proudly call "a backwoods world".

She faces a court martial, but at home she is toasted as a hero.

At the dingy Corner Club Saloon they think she has done nothing wrong.

"A lot of people here think they ought to just blow up the whole of Iraq," Colleen Kesner said.

"To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way girls like Lynndie are raised.

"Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you're hunting something. Over there, they're hunting Iraqis."

via boing boing

Canadian Broadcast Corporation
Convoy of Death

There’s only one war on our television screens now – that other war, the one from just a year ago, has been forgotten – but not by everyone. In Afghanistan, filmmaker Jamie Doran has uncovered evidence of a massacre: Taliban prisoners of war suffocated in containers, shot in the desert under the watch of American troops.

After screening the videotape last fall, the European Parliament called for an investigation. The United Nations has authorized an official investigation into the film’s allegations, but only if the security of its members can be guaranteed. And security is hard to find in northern Afghanistan. Since this documentary was filmed, eyewitnesses have been tortured. Others have disappeared or been killed.

52MB QuickTime Movie

via insert-coin and boing boing

The New York Times has an article about how evil IRC is.

New York Times
Still, I.R.C. perhaps most closely resembles the cantina scene in "Star Wars'': a louche hangout of digital smugglers, pirates, curiosity seekers and the people who love them (or hunt them). There seem to be I.R.C. channels dedicated to every sexual fetish, and I.R.C. users speculate that terrorists also use the networks to communicate in relative obscurity.
Dvorak's ragging on chat and IM too.

Give me a break. Are people running out of new technologies to bash?

via Ross Mayfield

UPDATE: Dan Gillmor chimes in and points out that maybe they're going to try to regulate IRC. Boy that would suck and not work.

UPDATE 2: Suw writes a letter to the editor.

The Register
FCC chairman hails VoIP
Michael Powell
If you're a big incumbent and you've sort of enjoyed a competitive advantage . . . you, in my opinion, ought to be terrified.

[...]

I think it's going to be the very, very best and biggest breakthrough in our ambitions and dreams about competition ever.

via Kevin Werbach

Exactly.

Reuters
Oxygen Media Inc. CEO and founder Geraldine Laybourne criticized the FCC's enforcement effort during the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.'s (NCTA) annual trade show.

"I don't think we should use the word indecency; we should call it what it is: censorship," Laybourne said Tuesday during one of the show's panel discussions.

Laybourne's comments came after a Q&A session with FCC chairman Michael Powell and NCTA chief Robert Sachs.

"I don't agree with that," Powell told reporters after his dialogue. "For 70 years, the country has had limits on broadcast television. To me censorship is prior restraint, and I don't think anybody has been involved in that limitation on content."

via Jeff Jarvis

Umm... I don't think so.

I guess 1 out of 2 isn't bad.

Will porn save 3G? Vodaphone seems to think so.

International Herald Tribune - Pornographers to ring up more profit

Antoin doesn't think so. I agree with his analysis.

U.S. Army report on Iraqi prisoner abuse

Complete text of Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba

[...]

6. (S) I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:

a. (S) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet;

b. (S) Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;

c. (S) Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing;

d. (S) Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;

e. (S) Forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear;

f. (S) Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped;

g. (S) Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;

h. (S) Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;

i. (S) Writing “I am a Rapest” (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;

j. (S) Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture;

k. (S) A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;

l. (S) Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;

m. (S) Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.

[...]

8. (U) In addition, several detainees also described the following acts of abuse, which under the circumstances, I find credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses (ANNEX 26):

a. (U) Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees;

b. (U) Threatening detainees with a charged 9mm pistol;

c. (U) Pouring cold water on naked detainees;

d. (U) Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair;

e. (U) Threatening male detainees with rape;

f. (U) Allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell;

g. (U) Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.

h. (U) Using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.

via Cryptome

And on a related note...

David Weinberger
Aw, shoot, now torture may not be worth the paperwork
...the new head of the prison, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller... said that some interrogation techniques, such as sleep deprivation or stressful positions, will require a commander's approval.
Excuse me, but we are ok with torturing prisoners so long as it doesn't leave any marks?

The winners of the Prix Ars Electronica have been announced.

I was on the Digital Communities jury this year for Ars Electronica. Thanks to the two jury pre-selection and final jury process, we were able to spend a lot of time on the 60 or so entries that were selected from hundreds of submissions by the first jury. We had an awesome jury. The final jury was me, Andreas Hirsch, Shanthi Kalathil (co-author of Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule), Jane Metcalfe (co-founder of Wired), Dorothy Okello (Coordinator of the Women of Uganda Network), Howard Rheingold (the Smart Mobs guy ;-) ) and Oliviero Toscani (The guy who made the controversial Benetton ads). We gave our two Golden Nica cash prizes to Wikipedia and The World Starts With Me. I'm sure everyone knows Wikipedia. The World Starts With Me is a project from Uganda.

"The World Starts With Me" is a sex education and AIDS prevention project that simultaneously gives young Ugandans the opportunity to acquire Internet and computer skills. The program is aimed at school children and young adults. To reach this target group, 52 "Telecenters" (facilities equipped with IT infrastructure including PCs with Internet access) have been set up throughout Uganda. The program focuses particularly on 12- to 19-year-olds, with the objective of improving their understanding of sexuality. The website features a very attractive, inviting design and takes a playful approach to mediating complicated content, which is presented in a way that enables young people to recognize situations confronting them personally in their everyday lives. This program is very popular in Uganda and is being used in many schools and institutions.
Now if only "The World Starts With Me" would make a wiki page...

Creative Commons won the Net Vision Golden Nica. Yay! (I wasn't involved in that jury and this was a pleasant surprise.)

We gave our four Awards of Distinction (also cash prizes) to:
Dol2Day, Krebskompass, Open-Clothes and smart X tension.

Our honorary mentions were:

John Perry Barlow
"Kicking butt is mandatory. Taking names is optional."

So runs the headline on a current U.S. Navy recruiting ad. This may sum up current U.S. military philosophy pretty neatly, whatever the branch of service. No one from the Pentagon knows, or seems particularly interested in finding out, how many civilians we have killed in Iraq so far. I would guess it exceeds many times over the number who died here on September 11. One of the liabilities of conducting a military operation that is so heavily based on "death from above" is that, even with our surgical new targeting abilities, we are dangerously abstracted from the consequences below.

Barlow rants about the situation in Iraq.

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics

THE NOBLE CAUSE

Technonerds go to movies strictly for entertainment, and of course, the most entertaining part comes after the movie when they can dissect, criticize, and argue the merits of every detail. However, when supposedly serious scenes totally disregard the laws of physics in blatantly obvious ways it's enough to make us retch. The motion picture industry has failed to police itself against the evils of bad physics. This page is provided as a public service in hopes of improving this deplorable matter. The minds of our children and their ability to master vectors are (shudder) at stake.

I love physicists.

via AKMA

A War for Us, Fought by Them
by William Broyles Jr.
New York Times, 05/04/2004

If children of the political elite were fighting in Iraq, a resolution to the current military imbroglio would soon be found. The author, a Vietnam War veteran, proposes reinstating the draft to ensure the US military gets the support it needs and to relieve pressures on an over-extended volunteer force. Most importantly, he argues, a draft would also prove the ultimate test of Americans' support for the war in Iraq.

William Broyles Jr., the founding editor of Texas Monthly, wrote the screenplay for "Cast Away."

New York Times
A War for Us, Fought by Them

The problem is, I don't see the images of or read about any of the young men and women who, as Dick Cheney and I did, have "other priorities." There are no immediate family members of any of the prime civilian planners of this war serving in it — beginning with President Bush and extending deep into the Defense Department. Only one of the 535 members of Congress, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, has a child in the war — and only half a dozen others have sons and daughters in the military.

[...]

This is less a matter of politics than privilege. The Democratic elites have not responded more nobly than have the Republican; it's just that the Democrats' hypocrisy is less acute. Our president's own family illustrates the loss of the sense of responsibility that once went with privilege. In three generations the Bushes have gone from war hero in World War II, to war evader in Vietnam, to none of the extended family showing up in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I remember when I was living in the US with a Green Card (permanent residence card) and I had to sign up for the draft in high school. I thought it was strange that I couldn't vote, drink or buy a gun, but I could be sent to fight a war for the US. It definitely did make me think a lot about war. I think that reinstating the draft in the US is an interesting idea.

Opinion Source is an interesting site run by some of my friends that summarizes op-eds and editorials from around the world. I need to tell them they need better permalinks.

Salvador Dalí
Ideas are made to be copied. I have enough ideas to sell them on. I prefer that they are stolen so that i don't have to actually use them myself.
I wish Dalí has said, "works" or "art" instead of "ideas", but this still rocks.

via danah

My, "traditionally, the (content) industry has been wrong about how consumers use these devices" comment at Milia seems to have become a popular quote in the media and has made it all the way to Al Jazeera. ;-)

via thewirelessweblog

dogcartoon

Emily @ Smart Mobs
Dog Blog

Red Ferret's dog blog. (Thanks Anil). Peter Steiner's original "dog on the Internet" cartoon can be viewed in the Cartoonbank of the New Yorker.

My puppies are more into moblogging, and of course Bo and Pookie have recently joined Dogster.

The Mirror ran a story about British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners with photos. There is a lot of question about the legitimacy of the photos. The BBC has a organized list of the claims against their authenticity and the rebuttals.

BBC News
What the papers say

The Express says soldiers who originally tried to sell the story of mistreatment were told it would be "worth a fortune if there were corroborating pictures and weeks later they produced them".

This sort of commercial and unethical behavior by the media is really disgusting. I guess The Mirror is still standing by their claims, but it seems like they are in a pretty weak position now.


Thanks to everyone on IRC for chasing this one down.

UPDATE:

Dan Gillmor
Fake Photos Editor Bounced

  • BBC: Editor sacked over 'hoax' photos. Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has been sacked after the newspaper conceded photos of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi were fake.
  • Appropriately.

    nokia7600
    I bought a new Nokia 7600 when I was in Helsinki. When I landed in Tokyo, my Docomo phone was not working. (I think I missed a bill payment.) But my Nokia 7600 roamed on the J-Phone WCDMA network without a hitch.

    Probably only people who have travelled to Japan from GSM countries will understand how cool it is to be able to use your GSM SIM card in a phone in Japan where we don't have a GSM network.

    More about the phone on my stuff blog.

    In case anyone missed this, there is a detailed article on the torture at Abu Ghraib in The New Yorker. Unlike the sniper rumor, this one is pretty much documented fact. I realize that this is obviously not standard behavior, but it is not a single wacko, but a group of soldiers. It's really quite appalling. How can something like this happen? What is the mood like among American soldiers in Iraq? Is there a general hatred or is it really isolated behavior? I can't imagine an occupying force being very successful without some basic respect for the local citizens.

    I remember hearing that the occupying forces in post-war Japan were selected from soldiers who had not served in combat against the Japanese. Most of the stories you hear about the soldiers occupying Japan are good stories. I suppose it's easier to be nice when there is no resistance, but still... (My sister has a nice post about the story of our family's first interaction with the US occupation of Japan.)

    I also heard from a Spanish friend of mine that there is very little if no hatred towards Muslims after the 3/11 attack in Madrid. People realize that it is a splinter group and are not blaming the Muslims.

    I don't want to over-generalize, but trying to link Al Qaeda to Iraq and the increased racism directed at Muslims in the US really highlights the lack of racial sympathy or understanding on the US's part. I think the US really needs to figure out how to deal with this racial intolerance and ignorance if it's going to try do any kind of nation building.

    Before someone else says it, I think racism in Japan is also very bad, but we're not toppling regimes and trying to rebuild them. I wouldn't trust Japan with that either.

    An interesting article in The Guardian about what we should do in Iraq. She argues that the UN should not support the US in Iraq and should join the mutiny against the US and force the US out of Iraq.

    Naomi Klein, Saturday May 1, 2004, The Guardian
    Mutiny is the only way out of Iraq's inferno

    The UN betrayed Iraq by becoming the political arm of US occupation. Now it must redeem itself

    Can we please stop calling it a quagmire? The United States isn't mired in a bog in Iraq, or a marsh; it is free-falling off a cliff. The only question now is: who will follow the Bush clan off this precipice, and who will refuse to jump?

    More and more are, thankfully, choosing the second option. The last month of US aggression in Iraq has inspired what can only be described as a mutiny: waves of soldiers, workers and politicians under the command of the US occupation authority suddenly refusing to follow orders and abandoning their posts. First Spain announced that it would withdraw its troops, then Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Kazakhstan. South Korean and Bulgarian troops were pulled back to their bases, while New Zealand is withdrawing its engineers. El Salvador, Norway, the Netherlands and Thailand will likely be next.

    [...]

    There is a way that the UN can redeem itself in Iraq: it could choose to join the mutiny, further isolating the United States. This would help to force Washington to hand over real power - ultimately to Iraqis, but first to a multilateral coalition that did not participate in the invasion and occupation and would have the credibility to oversee direct elections. This could work, but only through a process that fiercely protects Iraq's sovereignty.

    via Martin Varsavsky

    Loic Le Meur at the World Economic Forum
    Loic's rant at the European WEF meeting.
    With his French accent, Loic criticizes France and is our designated agitator at the Warsaw meeting. Wish I had been there to heckle him. ;-)

    Interesting talk. Loic's soliciting comments on his blog.

    MATTHEWS: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you about the war in Iraq and the boldest question I could put to you here in the Pentagon. Did you ever advise the president to go to war?
    [...]
    RUMSFELD: You ought to get a life. You could do something besides read those books.

    MATTHEWS: This is my life. Let me ask you about something a little more...

    RUMSFELD: Let me answer your question.

    MATTHEWS: Did you advise the president to go to war?

    RUMSFELD: Yes. He did not ask me, is the question. And to my knowledge, there are a number of people he did not ask.

    Woodward said he found that the administration quietly shifted money around to pay for early preparations for war in Iraq, without the approval of Congress. He said those preparations included building landing strips and addressing other military needs in Kuwait.

    The money, about $700 million, was taken in July 2002 from a budget item that had been approved for the war in Afghanistan, Woodward wrote.

    "Some people are going to look at that document called the Constitution, which says that no money will be drawn from the Treasury unless appropriated by Congress," Woodward says in his CBS interview.

    Does this mean that the President didn't consult the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense or Congress on the decision to go to war?

    It appears he did consult God.

    I'm in Europe so I have no idea how much coverage this is getting in the US, but isn't this an important issue?

    I just got Amaretto, Python for the Nokia series 60. I've got it running on my Nokia 6600. I'm so excited. Not I have to figure out what to write.

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