Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

August 2002 Archives

Sighted on WERBLOG

BlogStreet is a database of blogs that lets you enter the URL for a blog and it finds other blogs in your "neighborhood". Cool idea, but not completely sure how useful it is. Or maybe it's just useful if your blog is famous and highly linked to and maybe I just don't understand the algorithm. When I entered my blog, mostly I just got a list of blogs that I link to on my top page. It ranked my blog 6479 out of 10259 blogs, which is probably not bad for a 2 month old blog, but not really stellar. More than half the blogs around are more famous than mine. ;-p Interestingly, it ranked the web archives of David Farber's list also as 6479. How can we both be 6479? Since I just started blogging and David Farber's list is much more interesting, linked and older, it would seem strange that we are ranked the same. Justin was ranked 828, which seems pretty good. Anyway, worth a look.

From BlogStreet web page
What is Blog Neighbourhood Analysis?
Given a blog URL, the neighbourhood analyser gives the related blogs based on its blogroll, using what we have called the Commoner method: take the most common blogs from all the friends blogrolls and give out a most common list of blogs, in addition to myblog friends, as related. That is if a blog appears among the highest number of times in all friendblog's blogrolls then it is treated as related.

I still don't understand what Blog Neighbourhood Analysis is... Do you? I THINK I just figured it out...

Finally finished reading this book. Mimi recommended it to me when I was trying to write my paper for Ars Electronica. Now I can't remember the context of her recommendation. Anyway...

A dense book, but a great book.

It approaches the process of the progress of science and the development of "facts" from the human and social perspective. Latour starts out the book by chronicling the discovery of DNA and the development of the Eclipse MV/8000 computer. He shows how "facts" are black boxes that become fact through a process of competition that involves building networks of references until people start to refer to your theory as a fact and use it to build their facts. In fact, black boxes can be re-opened, but it becomes increasing difficult and costly to do this. I felt this very much when working at ECD. We worked in the area of disordered materials. Most devices are/were made of solid state crystalline materials. It is very difficult to get people think about devices in other ways. In this way, ECD discovered huge bodies of amazing materials with amazing properties, but convincing the world of the reality of this alternative universe took decades and the resistance was phenomenal. (It took Stan Ovshinsky, an amazing leader with the combination of a scientific mind and the will of a political activist to convince the world.)

Latour writes about how many scientists believe that "Nature" can tell us if the facts are true. He explores laboratories and their methods and shows us that "Nature" doesn't really "tell us" anything. Nature proves something only after something becomes a fact. Laboratories are design to prove or support facts and the design of the experiment and the interpretation of the data are ambiguous and always disputable. It costs a great deal of money to open a "black box" and to create a laboratory to create or debunk scientific facts. The more "scientific" one gets, the more ambiguous the facts become and the higher the costs become. Because of the time and the costs involved, this questioning of fact and creation of fact becomes an enterprise that require a great deal of funding and thus a great deal of political and non-scientific activity.

He makes an interesting point about scientific papers which I will quote :

There is something still worse, however, than being either criticized or dismantled by careless readers: it is being ignored. Since the status of a claim depends on later users' insertions, what if there are no later users whatsoever? This is the point that people who never come close to the fabrication of science have the greatest difficulty in grasping. They imagine that all scientific articles are equal and arrayed in lines like soldiers, to be carefully inspected one by one. However, most papers are never read at all. No matter what a paper did to the former literature, if no one else does anything with it, then it is as if it never existed at all. You may have written a paper that settles a fierce controversy once and for all, but if readers ignore it, it cannot be turned into a fact; it simply cannot.

You may protest against this injustice; you may treasure the certitude of being right in your inner heart; but it will never go further than your inner heart; you will never go further in certitude without the help of others. Fact construction is so much a collective process that an isolated person builds only dreams, claims and feelings, not facts. As we will see later in Chapter 3, one of the main problems to solve is to interest someone enough to read at all; compared to this problem, that of being believed is, so to speak, a minor task.

So! This ties into our discussion of blogs. (I get to talk about blogs again.) Remember that article by the Brazilian who was abused by INS in LAX? It was posted/blogged on the Net and David Farber wrote about it on his mailing list. Someone wrote that they had a brother that was in the same Rotary Club as the victim. Then, Brock Meeks called INS and confirmed the incident. This "theory" quickly became fact or very close to fact. People prodded and probed many of the weaknesses in the original article and conducted experiments. But... I think one of the most important things was that the current global political climate made the original claim very relevant. People read it and blogged it. Now we know for a "fact" that INS has cells in LAX that they throw people into for not having the right "papers."

Omi-san, a friend who left NTT recently is working on a database for academic papers. I am going to see her again soon to show her blogs and how blogs can create automatic links such as the trackback feature that Movable Type has. I think that blogs will have a huge impact on journalism and news, but after reading Science in Action, I realize that blogs or something similar to blogs could have a HUGE impact on Science. Science is obviously more rigid and structured, but the ability to link quickly and amass support for your claim or idea should be great. The blog architecture is probably much more suitable for many types of exchange than the current model of professional journals.


Yet another breakfast about how to save Japan... This one is co-sponsored by The National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) and the Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai). The title of this project is called "The Action Plan for Reviving the Japanese Economy." The chair is Kanemaru-san, the CEO of Future System Consulting.

This is the second breakfast. I presented my standard presentation at the last breakfast talking about the lack of a functioning market/risk-return model.

Oe-san of Plantec is presenting today. He is talking about liquid space and communities. He is also talking about how speed is power... I wonder where he is going with this...

Now he's talking about music and raves in Israel...

This final point is to shift the "solid Japan" to a "liquid Japan"...

I just pointed out the risk of fluctuation amplification that comes risk speed and the necessity of diversity to dampen this and the fact that at some point speed is out of control and does not lead to straight forward "power" for the state.

Oe-san is talking about bottom up control rather than top-down control...

Jinno-sensei, Professor of Economics from Tokyo University agrees with me I think and is talking about getting "sea sick" from the speed and "slow down and calm down" for the economy...

Now we're talking about information and journalism and I got a chance to talk about blogs... I told everyone I was blogging them right now. ;-) (shocked faces)

We are now all agreeing that we have to destroy/purge a lot of the older structures, but now Inukai-san is asking, HOW do we destroy old structures...

SatireWire has closed down! Oh no! It was one of my favorite sites.

In memory of SatireWire, which will stay online as an archive, here are a few of my favorites:

In Grand Scheme of Things, Your Hard Work, Diligence, Found to Mean Squat

London, England ( - In an unprecedented study, British and American researchers have concluded that despite what you've been told at work, you really don't make a difference, and are not remotely integral to your company's success.

"In our research, we found that you've been encouraged to believe that your hard work and contributions are substantial, and that you are a significant member of the team. But what we discovered is that in your particular case, there's no way," said Neil Romsby of the London School of Economics.

Major Corporations Turning into 'Swat Shops'

NEW YORK, N.Y. ( - Frustrated by a tight labor market that has forced them to make unprecedented concessions to employees, several dozen American companies have instituted "employee-slapping" policies, allowing managers to slap workers pretty much whenever they damn well please.

Widely hailed by supervisors as a great equalizer, the random slapping of employees has, not surprisingly, come under fire from many lower-level workers. But even some senior-level managers have voiced complaints.

"I, for one, don't like it a bit," said Marcia Pepperstein, vice president of sales at Motorola. "I'm a vice president, and I get slapped. I think there should be a ceiling somewhere, just below me, so that I don't get slapped, but I still get to slap. That, to me, would be an acceptable system."

bp2020_thumb.jpgFrom 4:30pm at Hotel Okura was the press conference for the "Blueprint for Japan 2020" initiated by the World Economic Forum. The agenda fits well with what I am trying to do in "activating" the young leaders in Japan, but on the other hand, it sounds like a lot of work. I'm hoping that it will overlap with what we are doing at Keizaidoyukai. Klaus Schwab is good at getting press so maybe this initiative will provide some exposure of the core issues as well as get some support from outside of Japan to force change in Japan.

Following are some quotes from the press release.

World Economic Forum

"29 August 2002, Tokyo, Japan - The World Economic Forum announces today the launch of its Blueprint for Japan 2020 project created by Professor Klaus Schwab, President of the World Economic Forum, within the framwork of the Young Asian Leaders Initiative. The objectives of the project are to identify and strategize on how Japan should approach its ten most significant challenges in building a revitalized Japan by 2020."

"The Young Japanese Leaders who are launching the Blueprint for Japan 2020 include: Business leaders: Joichi Ito, President, Neoteny; Oki Matsumoto, President, Monex; Hiroshi Mikitani, President, Rakuten. Politicians: Keiichiro Asao, Democratic Party; Motohisa Furukawa, Democratic Party; Yoshimasa Hayashi, LDP; Taro Kono, LDP; and Yasuhisa Shiozaki, LDP. Academics: Motoshige Ito, University of Tokyo; and Jiro Tamura, Keio University."

"The Blueprint for Japan 2020 will be presented to the 1,000 corporate members of the World Economic Forum at its Annual Meeting 2003 in Davos where young leaders will take into consideration comments from the international political and business communities and further develop the Blueprint."

I am on the inquiry committee working on rewriting the basic consumer protection law. We are discussing enforcement. I mentioned the FTC action against MS Passport. We talked about how something like the FTC is essential in Japan. Currently the privacy bill being contemplated doesn't link with the consumer protection law and there is no body that can attack a problem like the MS Passport issue from the fair trade, consumer protection and privacy aspects as the FTC did in the US. I have 45 minutes left until the end of the meeting so if anyone has anything that I should mention here, please comment on my blog.

I'm practicing blogging during government committees. One problem... my wireless access card interferes with the microphone in a big way. Pretty embarassing... when I tried to talked, I emitted a BIG howl.

Last week my uncle Hiro visited from Iwate to let me know that he was turning 70 and that I should start preparing to take over the family business. The family business is not really a business, but a family foundation that runs schools. The main school is currently a school for nurses.

When my parents divorced in the early 80's, I decided to change my name from my father's name "Izu" to my mother's family name, "Ito" because there was no one else to take over the family lineage in my generation on my mother's side of the family. The family has been in our house in Iwate for 800 years and 17 generations or so. I heard once that we can trace our family for about 27 generations. Our family was originally military strategists. My great grandfather was a geography teacher to the Emperor and after that our family has been focused primarily on education. When my grandfather was off to war, my great grandmother started one of the first high schools for girls in Iwate. My grandfather invested our family fortune in war bonds. My grandfather died before the end of the war and we were nearly bankrupt after the war. Our home was used as the HQ for the US occupation forces in the region. Much of our land was taken away and our family took what assets we had and poured them into building a foundation now called The Foundation for Global Education and Communication. We build a nurse school, a day care center and an English school. The government put a very formal looking sign in front of our house declaring the house "The former residence of the Ito family." I have to remember to tell them that we still live there...

My mother passed away and before my eldest uncle passed away, he declared that I was to take over the family lineage after my other uncle ran the family and passed it on to me. Running the family includes funding the foundation (very difficult when you don't have much money), taking care of the grave (17 generations. When I stare at the names etched in the gravestone, I realize I am merely a blip in the history of our family.) and taking care of the family home.

I'm not really ready to do this and this visit from my uncle was a sudden and frightening realization of my future fate...

PS The facts about the history are gleaned from memories of discussions with my grandmother and mother about our family. Therefore, I worry a bit about the accuracy. My uncle has hired a reporter to interview our great aunt who apparently knows more about our family than anyone else to try to get some of the facts cleared up...

Had dinner with Dan Gillmor. He was in town for a few days to visit with Noriko-san. We had dinner at Kanayuni. We talked a lot about blogs and the future of the audience. I've been looking for a word for what Dan is called the "former audience." I told him that that sounds like "The artist formerly called Prince" and didn't really sound very good. I wish someone would come up with a word for it. The idea, for those of you who haven't been keeping up with our dialog is that the audience and the players are connecting directly and disintermediating the journalists. The audience and personal publishing is making the audience the media... etc.

I introduced Dan to Nishimura-san, the guy who runs 2ch. He should be meeting with him this morning. That may turn into an interesting story. As blogs explode in the US, 2ch, the anonymous discussion site booms in Japan. I wonder if this is random or reflects a basic difference in Japanese and US culture. It is kind of cliche, but blogs are maybe better for opinionated people who want to become famous. ;-p

After Koyasan, we went to Kyoto. The evening we arrived, we had a great kaiseki dinner at Sakamoto, one on our favorite kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto. It is in the Gion district and is on the river with a great view during the cherry blossom season. After dinner, we went to Minoya, a tea house. I wrote about tea houses in 1994. Ichisuzu, whose photo appears in my entry from 1994 joined us. The picture to the right is a picture of Mizuka and Ichisuzu. Ichisuzu told us that Mamehide who I also met in 1994 left Kyoto to go to school to learn to be a painting restoration professional and that she was moving to Italy soon. She is the talk of the town.

Here are some pictures from Minoya.

Kaoru Yoshimura who runs the tea house is an old family friend. About 24 years ago my mother taught English at Minoya to the geisha and the maiko. Mrs. Fukui, the wife of my father's teacher, Professor Kenichi Fukui who would later win a Nobel Prize for his orbital frontier theory in chemistry introduced my mother to Minoya. Kaoru, who was the daughter of the okasan of the tea house, watched my mother teach. She was 17 or so at the time. When my parents took us the the US, Kaoru wrote my mother every day asking to join us in the US. My mother talked to Kaoru's mother and convinced her to let Kaoru come to the US and help take care of the kids. I was 3 at the time. She was my babysitter. After several months and 20kgs of weight gain, Kaoru returned to Kyoto. Her mother passed away and she now runs Minoya. I visit Minoya several times a year to catch up with everyone in Gion and visit temples, drink sake under the cherry blossoms and to go to the special events where the geisha and maiko perform.

I used wait until the guests left the tea house and sleep on the floor of the tea house. Now I stay at a wonderful inn called Iyuki. Iyuki is at the top of the hill over Maruyama Park and has one of the best views of cherry blossoms during the season.

Here are some pictures of Iyuki.

The next morning, Mizuka and I went to visit Mrs. Fukui. Mrs. Fukui was a very good friend of my mother. Dr. Fukui was my father's teacher and a great mentor of mine. Even when I was a small child, Dr. Fukui would spend hours talking to me about science. He was a very pure scientist who thought very little about his personal gain. He was so "neutral" that the Emperor often consulted with him on issues such as the notion of moving the location of the capitol. Dr. Fukui was the typical abscent minded professor and it was Mrs. Fukui's full time job to take care of him. Once, when he was going to Stockholm to give a speech at an anniversary meeting of the Nobel Prize, he forgot his Japanese Imperial Award medal. I was enlisted to take it to Stockholm and pin it on Dr. Fukui. After Dr. Fukui passed away, Mrs. Fukui suddenly had a lot more time to think, but less information from the outside. I have made it a point to drop in and see her when I can to talk to her about everything I am thinking about. With more time, she has reflected on many of the things that Dr. Fukui thought about. She has much more experience in education and religion than Dr. Fukui did and she has begun to develop many notions which I believe are essential for changing Japan. It was great talking to her after Koyasan. I talked to her about religion, the National ID and my unhappiness with the current government. She echoed our concerns and also told us she was very worried with the youth of Japan. She thought Mizuka and I were radical but that Japan needed a bit of radicalism to force change.

I just got back from Koyasan. It was an amazing experience.

The day we arrived the head monk gave us a speech about the mandalas in the Kongobuji temple of Koyasan. There was a very impressive ceremony and dancing by women from the temple at the end. We all sat around inside the main temple room and listened. (I snuck around a bit and took pictures.) A magazine, AERA, is doing a story about me and the cameraman was also snooping around taking pictures of me taking pictures of stuff.

Koyasan only has temples and no hotels, but many of the temples are a lot like nice Japanese ryokan. The one we stayed at was beautiful.

The next morning, there was a panel lead by Nakazawa-san, a famous expert on religion, Miyazaki-san, a monk from Koyasan and Pema Gyalpo Gyari, the liaison for the Dali Lama and a Tibetan. Here are some notes from the panel. It is all a bunch of significant trivia. I wonder if I should call it signifia... It's probably not a good idea for me to try to come up with words in the middle of the night... anyway.

Buddha was the son of a destroyed state so like the Jews and the Christians, he taught not to worship idols and things since that's a good way to get caught in a hostile state.

When the Taliban bombed the statues in Afghanistan, many Japanese monks were indifferent, saying only, "well it doesn't really matter if we have statues."

Miyazaki-san went as far as to say, blowing up the big Buddha in Nara may be a good thing for Buddhism in Japan.

The mandala is also just a representation of the impression of where Buddha meditated. It is a tool for meditation and NOT something to worship. Therefore, like idols, it doesn't really matter if we have them or not. What is important is knowing one's self.

The Tibetans teach from the Book of the Dead about life. Death is one of the most important things to teach. Japanese Buddhist universities do not teach enough about death. Monks are live half way between the world of the dead and the world of the living and that should be their primary job.

Japanese temples were all originally set up to keep graves and the most important task of a monk is to help the living pass to the world of the dead.

Koyasan which is basically graves, trees and a training ground for the soul is being considered for a position as a world treasure. The monk thought it would be bad. Koyasan really don’t have anything and the attention would probably be detrimental. The main asset physically is the graves of most of the emperors and famous people, letting everyone know that EVERYONE dies.

Koyasan was originally a Shinto shrine that was ovetaken by Buddhists. This is a little known/publicized fact. On the other hand, without the entry of Buddhism, Shinto would probably not have taken the more organized form it has taken today.

They talked about the fact that Hirofumi Ito studied religion of the West and decided that one God and a unified religion were necessary for a strong nation. He split Shinto and Buddhism and made the Emperor the God of the Shinto religion, even until the then the Emperor was a great believer of Buddhism and most of them were buried at Koyasan. Then, Japan lost the war, the Emperor lost his power and Japan became atheist.

Another point was that the world "religion" was imported during the Meiji Restoration and is a new word in Japan. Japan referred to the Way of Buddha or the Way of Shinto and believed in things, but organized religion was not defined until Japan started to copy the west.

Another interested point was that Japan was the only country where Buddhists had graves. The monk said that he thought it was to keep the dead people from coming back. The more important the person, the bigger the grave. ;-) Pema said that he thought Japanese funerals where everyone talked about the person while the monk was trying to send them on their way was rude since it probably made it difficult to go to the other side.

One other interesting piece of information was that Tibetan Buddhists don’t kill mosquitos. They blow them off their bodies. Also, Pema told us that he was less concerned at eating whale than small fish since each life is precious and one life to feed many is better than many lives to feed one...

Pictures from Koyasan.

Engin01, the cultural non-profit that I helped start is having an offsite meeting at one of the most famous temples in Japan, Koyasan. There are no hotels to stay in, just temples. I will be staying in a temple with Mizuka, Yanai-san of Pia and his wife Makiko-san. I will be bringing my camera and computer, so I may be able to bring my blog with me, but if I am out of touch for a few days, sorry! I'll upload stuff when I get back.

A pretty funny article in Satirewire. What is particularly amusing is that I sometimes think this. I know it is best practice to encrypt everything. (Otherwise it is obvious that encrypted messages are important.) But I've been having problems with PGP on my PC and sometimes I spend a great deal of effort to decrypt a message that just turns out to be some silly email that didn't NEED to be encrypted. ;-)

Of course, this is exactly the wrong position to take. We really should encrypt everything. This is not meant as a message for people to stop sending me stuff in encrypted form. It is just very funny because I often FEEL the same way.

Surprisingly, computer security experts agree. "I get this all the time: 'Should I encrypt? I don't want anyone to steal my identity,'" said LockUpOnline President Bing D'aahl. "The textbook answer has been 'Yes,' but now we are advising people to first ask themselves, 'Do I have an identity that anyone would really want to steal?'"

If you answer truthfully, D'aahl said, chances are you'll forego the digital ID and save everyone a lot of trouble.

"Remember, the Internet wasn't built just for you," Haxor added.








This morning was nice an cool after a rainy night. Mizuka and I went to get the morning paper and there was this homeless guy rustling around at the entrance to our home. It appeared like he was changing or something so we decided not to bother him and let him get dressed or whatever in peace. After quite awhile of what sounded like complete overhaul of his wearable computing gear, we heard him leave. When we got to the entrance where the paper is, we noticed a big mess. I wonder if the mess he left (some old rice, cat food and wrappers) was just laziness, a political statement of some sort, something he thought was funny, a work of art, a gift for us, or none of the above. In any event, we found it very annoying. I guess if he thought it was a gift, it would be kind of like what the Americans do to some countries. ;-p Anyway, the next time he comes back, maybe we should engage in some foreign policy and tell him that we in fact don't need any food, but that we are happy with him using our territory to organize his next movement as long as he leaves nothing behind.

Japan has a process where they make boards and inquiry panels to discuss important issues with experts and the public. These inquiry panels are defined by law and are supposed to be an important part of the law making process, but in fact they are often used to diffuse public pressure and just act like they care. I am often asked to join such panels and I find I learn a lot about what is going on and can usually influence the direction ever so slightly. I usually feel this is better than not doing anything, but I am often citied as having been co-opted. In the past, the issues haven't been so important or public so it hasn't really mattered. This time it does.

A month or so ago, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications which is in charge of the National ID that I have been protesting approached me and asked me if I could organize a panel to review the privacy issues around the National ID. I consulted with our protest movement we decided that if the results were made public and we could fund some privacy research, this was probably a good thing. We are now in the process of organizing a global survey of privacy technology, privacy commissioners and other things that would be useful in considering how to set up the Japanese government privacy policy. We hope to create a recommendation about what Japan should do in creating new system as well as what we can do to minimize privacy invasiveness in the current system. So far so good.

Now I have been contacted again, but this time the request is to be on the board of the National ID committee and be in charge of privacy! Apparently this is a request from the minister. (Very interesting since I practically called him a liar on a live national news program where we debated against each other and I think he called me something that sounded a lot like "stupid." Anyway...) It is probably a move to try to co-opt me. I replied saying that I have no intention of stopping my anti-National ID activity or becoming "quiet." I said I would consider taking the post if I was allowed to be completely open and public about what we discussed in the meetings and if I were allowed to continue to protest the National ID. I think that if I were to take such a post, it would negatively impact the movement. Having said that, as we all know from Karl Auerbach's ability to really be a pain in the ass to ICANN as a board member, I think co-opting doesn't work when one is able to be public with one's comments. So I'm thinking about this. If they come back and tell me that I have to stop protesting or I have to keep the meeting discussions confidential, I will obviously say, "No." On the other hand, if I am able to blog everything that is going on inside, I wonder if they will be able to co-opt me. Anyway, this may end up being quite an interesting test for this medium and my blog...

On the other hand, (since I know my investors, board members and employees are now reading my blog...) I probably don't have to time to do the job properly considering the fact that I have a REAL JOB and this whole thing was supposed to be just a hobby... hmm.... And if I focus my REAL JOB too much on my hobby, it compromises my independence... hmm... All this is SO difficult.

This is EXACTLY the point I'm trying to make. Kenji Eno, my Japanese guest blogger and successful game creator wanted to become a musician, but became a game creator instead because there was more freedom in the game industry at the time. People who used to spend their money on CD's moved to spending money on the i-mode data packet bills. Creators and consumers / participants can switch formats. If the music industry continues to suck as a platform, I'm sure people will be happy to move on for awhile until it basically collapses. Music will never go away, but music can be encapsulated in games, karaoke, ring tones, live performances and many other things that are our of reach of the stupid record companies. Record companies are like pharaohs and their pyramids. You can't have slaves anymore on the Net so stop trying to build and protect pyramids!

Hit Charade
The music industry's self-inflicted wounds.
By Mark Jenkins
Posted Tuesday, August 20, 2002, at 8:19 AM PT

2001 may not be the year the music died, but the pop biz did develop a nagging headache, and it's not going away. The recorded-music industry's first slump in more than two decades continues this year; the number of discs sold is slipping and so is the appeal of last year's stars. Britney Spears' latest album has moved 4 million copies - a big number, but less than half what its predecessor did.

Hit Charade - The music industry's self-inflicted wounds. By Mark Jenkins

I just got a call from a Kyodo News reporter asking for a comment about the Ministry of Finance (MOF) leaking (accidentally?) financial metrics on their web page before the official annoucement date. They are apparently going to make some announcement about their mistake and he wanted a quote from me to run in the story. I can't seem to find anything on the web about this. Does anyone know anything? (I thought it was the FSA, but it was the MOF)

Anyway, the comment I made was that comparing Nippon Ham vs. Worldcom the CFO of Worldcom is taken away in handcuffs and in Japan apologies and some shifting around (although I would agree Worldcom is probably worse than Nippon Ham.) is all that happens at Nippon Ham. When US agencies leak information risking national security, it is treason. In Japan, it is just a breach of a confidentiality agreement and the guy might lose his job. When Yamaichi went bust, the CEO cried and the Ministry of Finance which really guided Yamaichi down their path to death, shook their finger at them instead of taking responsibility. My feeling is that accountability in Japan is weak and that the government's use of IT just increases the damage they can cause. Although The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications is creating the National ID, the risk is to be taken at the local government level. I will be interested to see who takes the blame for this FSA botch up. It probably won't have a huge impact on the economy, but releasing numbers before the official announcement date could impact the market.

Since I've started bashing the National ID publicly, every time there is a government screwup in IT, the reporters call me for comments. That's how I find out about the incidents early. Now that I have a blog, I can scoop them. ;-)

This is scary in many ways. On the one hand, the Chinese are trying to "cleanse Yahoo". On the other hand, the RIAA is trying to cleanse the US of Chinese copyright pirates. The RIAA is attacking the Internet backbone. Andy Oram and I talked before about the idea that the Internet may break up into a bunch of networks, each with different rules and much less end-to-end connectivity. It feels like it is starting to happen.

Maybe the great push for connectivity is going change to the great push for division. I guess alternative networks may emerge in the way that alternet emerged to carry the Usenet "alt." traffic, but I suppose this is much harder to do in a transnational context. I have a feeling that the Net may turn into a bunch of separate networks. On the other hand, most of the traffic in China is local within each province, I heard, so maybe it doesn't matter to most people. This push for dividing the Internet may be one of the main hurdles for our push for personal publishing, like blogs who don't have the political power to push through transborder doors when the filters come crashing down. Maybe only Time-Warner will be able to "get into" China in the future... And even then, they get banned every once in awhile.

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 19, 2002
Recording Industry Attacks Internet to Stop Chinese Pirates
Lawsuit Would Extend Great Internet Firewall of China to US

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

New York, NY - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) asked a court Friday to order four Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who maintain the Internet "backbone" to prevent access to a Chinese website that provides unauthorized copies of copyrighted music.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) opposes the RIAA action because it seeks to establish a precedent that anyone alleging piracy could shut down access to parts of the Internet, resulting in inappropriate shutdowns, undue administrative burden for ISPs, and imperiling the basic principle of unfettered exchange of information on the Internet. "This latest lawsuit, along with the recently proposed Berman bill, demonstrates that the major record labels have declared war on the infrastructure of the Internet in their campaign to stop the digital music revolution," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The Business Software Alliance and software industries, who have for years battled overseas pirates, have never resorted to lawsuits against Internet backbone providers that is both pointless and dangerous to innocent bystanders."

"We shouldn't be copying the Great Firewall of China here in the United States," noted von Lohmann. "Offering U.S. consumers a compelling, fairly-priced alternative to the black market will stop illicit traffic to Chinese websites far more effectively than dragging ISPs into 'whack-a-mole' Internet blocking efforts."

EFF expresses its concern that attempts to shut down parts of the Internet will spread to "proxy services," like, which are crucial to privacy and free expression online.

EFF Media Release: Recording Industry Attacks Internet to Stop Chinese Pirates

A great positive article by Dan Gillmor in his column in the Mercury News. Says some good things. Although I quoted Jun saying this just yesterday, it is 30% easier to sound smart being negative. I think it is significant to try to point out some of the good things going on.

I've been thinking and talking a lot about how consumers are waking up from their semi-conscious state where communication was through buying, voting and rioting to a state where customers could think, act and discuss. Here is a quote from Dan's article that makes this point.

CUSTOMERS AWAKEN: Everyday people are starting to realize that they are not just ``consumers'' but customers -- that is, they are becoming serious participants in the marketplace of goods and services. This is a crucial distinction.

A consumer's role is limited to ordering what's on the menu and paying for it. A customer wonders what's not on the menu, asks for something he or she actually wants and then negotiates the terms.

This awakening takes many forms, but a common one is the customer's empowerment. Technology is the catalyst.

Prospective customers ignore press releases and product pitches. Instead, they are heading to Web sites where they can research the reality and see what current customers have to say.

Journalism organizations watch, mostly dumbfounded, as weblogs and other multidirectional media bring new voices to the conversation. They offer new choices to what I call the ``former audience,'' the people who are now becoming part of the journalism process itself -- to the ultimate benefit of everyone.

Mercury News | 08/18/2002 | Dan Gillmor: Behind economy's dark clouds, here are some silver linings

As I struggle to get gnupg working on my XP box, this is great news! Thanks for pointing this out Sen.

The Register - PGP is back!
By Andrew Orlowski in London
Posted: 19/08/2002 at 13:20 GMT

Phil Zimmermann's PGP is back in the hands of an independent company, after Network Associates agreed to sell the technology it mothballed back in March to a start-up specially created to market PGP.

Jon Callas, the former PGP chief scientist, becomes the CTO of the new company, PGP Corporation. Will Price, former Director of Engineering at NAI, becomes VP of engineering.

I just got the beta of opencola. (Thanks Howard!) On the surface, it looks like a bookmarking, meta-searching relevance tracking front end. Very useful just for meta-searching various search engines and news sources and filing your information. You have various folders for different topics and you mark the relevance of various documents and you can continue to search for more stuff similar to what you like. The cool thing is that you can add peers that can look at your public folders and share recommendations with. It is similar to a company we invested in that unfortunately didn't end up making it past "beta" called FatBubble... Howard talks about opencola in Smartmobs. I think it was started by Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing. Anyway, so far it looks great. The only problem is I have no PEERS! If someone else can download the beta and post their id here as a comment or email me their id we can be peers. (I do have the choice of rating the relevance of peers. ;-0 ) Anyway, definitely worth a look.

Welcome To Opencola

I had dinner tonight with Barak, Michiel (who started today as an intern from Hitotsubashi Biz School) and 4 students from Stanford's ATI program. Michiel said that he thought that I was unfocused. (I've been called this before. Jun called me "scatterbrained" when asked about me after he first met me.) Michiel said he felt my blog was too unfocused. I guess that's true, but I thought it was a feature, not a problem. Michiel admitted that he was often negative. (Jun said the other day that he thought people sounded 30% smarter when they were negative.) Anyway, I had been actually been worried about this in my blog, but I didn't admit it to Michiel. So, I wonder. Do people care what I care about or is focus and order more important than my random thoughts. I guess it depends. (Doesn't everything.) At the Fortune brainstorm meeting former congressman Jack Kemp said, "People don't care how much you know until they know that you care." So I guess I wonder whether people are reading primarily for 1) entertainment, 2) because they care about what I think, 3) they are looking for information... Again, I'm sure it's a combination. Maybe I should do a cluster analysis on my readers. Maybe I shouldn't care. As 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web says, (I found this site on Blogdex.) "write for yourself; you are, in the end, your most important reader." So there you go. I'm justified.

So I've been blogging for 54 days now and I'm definitely addicted. I know I've said this before, but it is DEFINITELY different than just having a web page. As Frank warned me, all day long I think about things to blog. Everything I read on the web is potential blog material and I find I am reading much more and chasing all kinds of ideas a lot further than I used to. Also, since I have a Japanese section, I find I have started to try to read Japanese much more. (Even though I still suck.) I write almost every day. Web surfing has taken on a whole new meaning. I have had 4,652 distinct hosts visit the site since I started. Since many people are behind firewalls that appear as single hosts, the number of people who have visited is probably higher. I check my access log and look at the referral list and graphs of the requests to see what events trigger what sort of accesses and see who is sending my how many people. I find myself spamming my friends, messing around with google and doing all sorts of things to try to increase the traffic to the site. (This obsession with traffic may be a subconscious yearning from helping run Infoseek Japan for so long and always trying to catch up. We are in 3rd place after Yahoo and MSN now... But at least we have outlasted the parent. Anyway...) It is kind of like sitting in front of my computer with a bunch of my friends looking over my shoulder. At the same time, I surf around and read other people's blogs looking over their shoulders.

I talked to Dan Gillmor yesterday on the phone and he said that the audience is now the media. (Or something like that. Correct me if I'm wrong Dan.) I think the Smartmobs stuff that Howard talks about is about a similar phenomenon.

So I'm supposed to be a professional IT investor. I'm also supposed to be spending my time thinking about my work, not farting around on the Net just for fun. Yossi Vardi said that instant messaging was an addictive drug and he (one of the founders of ICQ) was a drug dealer. So where is the money? Is there any money to be made in blogging? There are blogging tools like Movable Type, Radio Userland and Blogger. There are ASP's for bloggers, there is Blogdex a blog crawler/index... but are any of these things really going to make money?

The last few years of the Internet bubble were riddled with people trying to make money on stuff that should have been someone's hobby. Maybe the core of blogging is this way. Maybe I should be thinking about what social changes blogging causes and what new businesses this enables or makes obsolete?

Maybe I should be thinking about what happens when we integrate P2P, voice, video, IM, home servers and cell phones?

Maybe I shouldn't be thinking too much and should keep blogging until it "comes to me." ;-)

Anyway... Just a thought... I'm late for a meeting... gotta run!

Japan's suicide rate tops 30,000 / yr. Over 3X the 10,000 or so automobile related deaths. Most of the suicides are men in the 50's and 60's and often due to job related and financial stress. So, while many Silicon Valley ventures were built buy people who had lost their jobs in the defense industry. Japanese tend to commit suicide instead. Japan's suicide rate is among the top 10 in the world. It is said that Japanese mental health medicine is 30 years behind the US (Although Kurokawa-sensei is trying to do something about that.) So it makes sense that cleaning up after a suicide is as common as cleaning up after a traffic accident and people are being billed the costs. The original article below is from 1998, but suicides have increased since then, making it more relevant.

Waiwai is the Mainichi Daily News summary of articles from Japanese Weeklies. This one is from Shukan Hoseki (10/1/98) a bit old. Relevant sections quoted below. See original article for full text.

Paying for suicide costs more than the ultimate price
By Ryann Connell
Staff Writer
August 17, 2002

"Trains don't usually stop too long after a suicide, there's rarely much damage to carriages and we rarely have to send anyone off to catch trains on different lines. In that regard, train suicides probably don't cost too much," says an employee of a commuter line. "But to make sure we can cover the costs incurred when a suicide leads to a derailment, we have to ask the bereaved families of suicide victims to compensate us. The costs are usually in the range of 100 million yen, but I've heard of a case where a family was billed 140 million yen after someone killed themselves by jumping in front of a train."

"As soon as the news hits that someone's committed suicide in one of our apartments, rents have to drop by about half or we can't get anyone else to live there," laments a Tokyo real estate agent. "In one case a few years ago, an agent sued the father of a man who slaughtered his girlfriend then killed himself in one of the agent's apartments. The agent won the case and the father ended up having to fork out a few million yen."

"We can get a room back into shape in a couple of days (after a suicide), at a cost of only a few million yen in even the worst cases," says a hotel employee. "We don't usually charge renovation costs, but if the suicide is of a famous person and the hotel's reputation is damaged, the hotel'll sue the bereaved family for whatever they're worth."

MDN: WaiWai

found on Slashdot
An article in Popular Science about what a national ID would look like and contain. On the issue of social security numbers on ID card, they mention that even though social security numbers on ID cards have been rejected by the federal government, "it's a good guess the Department of Homeland Security would manage it".

On smart card technology, they say:

For example, an ER doctor could view medical information and enter data about treatment (if the card's data storage device is read-write capable), but could not see security-related data (such as a traveler's flight history, or a non-citizen's visa status) that an airport or INS official might require. But how secure are smart cards? Detailed instructional hacking sites can be found on the Web, many focusing on European cards. And the more data on a card, the more valuable the card becomes to an identity thief.
Yup. This is definitely a risk. I wonder how many terrorists would actually use un-forged ID cards when traveling?
Popular Science | Your ID Please, Citizen

found on POLITECH. My comments in italics

NASA plans to read terrorist's minds at airports
By Frank J. Murray

Airport security screeners may soon try to read the minds of travelers to identify terrorists.

Officials of the National Aeronautics and space Administration have told Northwest Airlines security specialists that the agency is developing brain-monitoring devices in cooperation with a commercial firm, which it did not identify.

Space technology would be adapted to receive and analyze brain-wave and heartbeat patterns, then feed that data into computerized programs "to detect passengers who potentially might pose a threat," according to briefing documents obtained by The Washington Times.

Now this is scary... oops. That thought would probably set off a alarm... Aren't these polygraph sort of technologies notoriously inaccurate? Linked with all of the horrible things we are hearing about treatment in airports and the new database of fingerprints and photos they are making, are we going to end up with a database and a jail full of all of the people who would be nervous about having their brains scanned?

NASA wants to use "noninvasive neuro-electric sensors," (Sounds like an oxymoron.) imbedded in gates, to collect tiny electric signals that all brains and hearts transmit. Computers would apply statistical algorithms to correlate physiologic patterns with computerized data on travel routines, criminal background and credit information from "hundreds to thousands of data sources," NASA documents say.

The notion has raised privacy concerns. (duh...) Mihir Kshirsagar of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says such technology would only add to airport-security chaos. "A lot of people's fear of flying would send those meters off the chart. Are they going to pull all those people aside?"

NASA plans to read terrorist's minds at airports -- The Washington Times

mp-fro1-w240.jpgKenji Eno ( Justin wrote about him ) is guest blogging on my Japanese blog.

translated by me from Kenji Eno's entry

In 1987 JALECO (which PCCW Japan reverse merged into) made a game called "Moero!! Pro Baseball" for the Nintendo Famicon. It was an amazing game. At the time, Namco had a very popular game called Famista which sold very well. Morero!! Pro Baseball tried to make a very realistic game to compete against the very popular, but rather game-like Famista. The graphics were the only part that was realistic. You could bunt home runs, the strike zone was a complete mess... It was a horrible game. There was something twistedly special about the game that you really couldn't experience anywhere else. One could only love how bad it was. So I don't know if this guy is one of these types of fans, but this guy collects these 15 year old game cartridges of this game. There are many maniacs in the game community, many people buy 10 of their favorite games. That pales in comparison to this guy. So now you have to see his web site. "The agony!!MoePro Getters"

A Satirewire article for some comic relief...

U.S. Also Needs Invasion, Demolition, Military Housing Permits
Washington, D.C. (

Already frustrated by seemingly endless delays, U.S. officials today conceded a confusing knot of new Iraqi regulations that require "non-resident aggressors" to obtain hundreds of federal and provincial pre-invasion permits and licenses will further postpone any attack on Saddam Hussein.

"I keep saying we haven't set a date for an attack on Iraq, and now I think you can all see why," complained U.S. President George W. Bush, who was busily typing up an "Intent to Overthrow" notice that must be published in an Iraqi newspaper of record for two weeks.

"I'm starting to think all the hassle is just not worth it," added U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has been shuttling back and forth between Washington and the Iraqi consulate in Paris trying to get the appropriate paperwork. "They say we have to get temporary military lodging permits, heavy equipment usage permits. We even have to submit an environmental impact study before we can destroy any buildings."

First spotted on David Farber's IP List

So it sounds like the 300 students who receive this grant have to take the MS C# class which replaces the C++ course. Pretty sleazy...

There is a student site about this. Following is a quote from CNET and a link to the CNET article.

Microsoft's grant has strings attached?

By Margaret Kane
Staff Writer, CNET
August 16, 2002, 9:59 AM PT

update A collegiate grant from Microsoft has created an uproar after one of the recipients agreed to require a class in a Microsoft programming language as part of the deal.
Microsoft's grant has strings attached? - Tech News -

So, does anybody still wonder why I'm protesting our National ID in Japan? It makes it SO much easier to collect random data from things like stolen PC's and aggregate them into a database if every record has a conveniently simple 11 digit ID number tagged onto it...

Thanks for this link Sen!

Audit Shows More PCs At the IRS Are Missing
By Albert B. Crenshaw, Washington Post Aug 16 2002 6:40AM

The Internal Revenue Service has lost to thieves or has misplaced another batch of computers, adding to the thousands already missing from that and other government agencies.

In the latest case, there are fears that some of the missing machines might carry private taxpayer information and Social Security numbers.

An audit released yesterday by the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that the IRS cannot account for an unknown number of the 6,600 laptop and desktop computers it lends to volunteers who assist low-income, disabled and senior citizen taxpayers in preparing their returns.

Earlier audits found that the Customs Service couldn't account for about 2,000 computers and the Justice Department for about 400. Earlier this summer, the inspector general reported that about 2,300 computers were unaccounted for in other areas of the IRS.
SecurityFocus HOME News: Audit Shows More PCs At the IRS Are Missing

It appears that the war on Iraq has already begun. According to the Israeli web site called DEBKAfile who claim, "We Start Where The Media Stop," the war has been slowly onfolding "salami style" in small slices. Where is the Western press coverage of this? I remember that warnings of terrorists attacks on US targets were rumored to have been written about in Israeli press before 9/11. Maybe I should start reading the Israeli underground press more for my military news! Attached is a quote from their web site.
Thanks for this link MG.

First US Military Steps

1. Tuesday August 6, at 0800 hours Middle East time, US and British air bombers went into action and destroyed the Iraqi air command and control center at al-Nukhaib in the desert between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The center contained advanced fiber optic networks recently installed by Chinese companies. DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources say the raid made military history. For the first time, the US air force used new precision-guided bombs capable of locating and destroying fiber optic systems. The existence of such weaponry was hitherto unknown.

Following the destruction of the facility, about 260 miles (415 kilometers), southwest of Baghdad, waves of US warplanes swept in from the Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia and from US aircraft carriers in the Gulf and flew over the Iraqi capital.

The Iraqi air force and anti-aircraft system held their fire on orders from above. This deep air penetration told the Americans that the early warning radar system protecting Baghdad and its environs from intrusion by enemy aircraft and missiles was inactive.

2. Two days later, on Wednesday night, August 8, Turkey executed its first major military assault inside Iraq. DEBKAfile's military sources learn from Turkish and Kurdish informants that helicopters under US, British and Turkish warplane escort flew Turkish commandos to an operation for seizing the critical Bamerni airport in northern Iraq. This airport, just outside the Kurdish region, lies 50 miles north of the big Iraqi oil cities of the north, Kirkuk and Mosul. With the Turkish commandos was a group of US special forces officers and men. Bamerni airport was captured after a brief battle in which a unit of Iraqi armored defenders was destroyed, opening the airport for giant American and Turkish transports to deliver engineering units, heavy machinery and electronic support equipment, which were put to work at once on enlarging the field and widening its landing strips.

The American unit, reinforced, went on to capture two small Iraqi military airfields nearby.
DEBKAfile, Political Analysis, Espionage, Terrorism Security

I just got the following email from Louis:

This report may be true, but DEBKA is a _notoriously_ unreliable source, equivalent basically to a fantasy news source (like fantasy baseball). You should know.


So, now I don't know whether to believe this, but I'm going to keep digging for more coverage.

First spotted on Slashdot.

I once made a comment at a conference in Hong Kong that more than half of the Internet would soon be Chinese and that China may end up running Internet protocols before long. Everyone liked that comment (in China) and it ended up in the paper. ;-P

In protesting the Japanese government's security weaknesses, we often talk about the issue of the government's love of Microsoft products. We often talked about China's push into open source and Linux.

I think that from a security perspective and a "leap frog the West" perspective, making open source a national initiative in China makes obvious sense.

LinuxWorld Expo: Chinese government raises Linux sail
By Matt Berger
August 13, 2002 10:56 am PT

SAN FRANCISCO -- A government-sponsored software development group in China unveiled a version of the Linux operating system it has developed that it said will eventually replace Windows and Unix on all of its government PCs and servers.
Infoworld Article - LinuxWorld Expo: Chinese government raises Linux sail

Read and Release at just sent me email about this site. This is very cool. It is a book club with 60,000 readers and 30,000 books. The idea is that when you finish reading a book, you tag it and leave it on a street corner, coffee shop or what ever and post it on the site and the next person can find it and read it. When you find books and read them, you add journal entries which become part of a huge database of over 10,000 reviews and recommendations. Sounds pretty cool to me. I'm going to sign up today. This reminds me a bit of, the gps scavenger hunt site...

From the Cato Daily Dispatch
August 14, 2002

The American Bar Association voted yesterday to oppose the Bush administration's secret detention of foreign nationals after the Sept. 11 attacks, urging that their names be disclosed and they be given immediate access to lawyers and family members, Reuters reported.

The nation's largest lawyers group joined civil libertarians and others who have criticized the government's policy of secret and prolonged detentions.

In "Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Protecting Our Liberties While Fighting Terrorism," ( ) Timothy Lynch, associate director of Cato's Center for Constitutional Studies, argues that government officials have typically responded to terrorist attacks by enacting "antiterrorism" legislation designed to assuage public fears by making "the dubious claim that they can prevent terrorism by curtailing the privacy and civil liberties of the people."

David Kirkpatrick wrote some notes about a session that I participated in at the Fortune Brainstorm conference. I have interspersed my comments in italics.

A Glimpse Inside Brainstorm
Which is more important: democracy or human rights? At a recent FORTUNE conference, international panelists debate.
By David Kirkpatrick

The talk at FORTUNE's recent Brainstorm 2002 event got pretty darn interesting, as businesspeople mixed it up with experts and thinkers from other domains. In one part of the Brainstorm program, each FORTUNE editor or writer moderated an hour-long session of 8-10 randomly assigned participants, with no set topic.

I scribbled down the following dialogue during mine, which included Glover Ferguson, chief scientist of Accenture; Joichi Ito, CEO of Japanese Internet company Neoteny; Fred Krupp, Executive Director of Environmental Defense; Jim Moore, Senior Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society; Xiao Qiang, Executive Director of Human Rights in China; Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch; Dave Roux, managing director of investment group Silver Lake Partners; and Fred Thompson, who manages Korn/Ferry's searches for top technology executives. The concentration of NGOs, human rights professionals, and men was coincidental. Much of the day had touched on issues of democracy, so that's where our conversation got started.

Ito: When we talk about democracy, I want to know the definition. Japan is not a democracy. If it were it would have become a communist state. Is there hypocrisy when the U.S. talks about democracy?
I was referring to the fact that after World War II, the US Occupation chose to back the old guard bureaucrats and gangsters to fend off Russian support for the Japanese left wing. The left wing sentiment was quite strong at the time and without this action, it is possible Japan would have swung quite far to the left. The US wanted a controllable non-communist state and this could not have happened if left to populist democracy.

[Ferguson mentions that Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's longtime leader, sometimes downplayed the importance of democracy.] Qiang: Why do people take him seriously? He just ran a city. Singaporeans who disagreed could always leave. In China they can't. Roth: The U.S. has been somewhat hypocritical. Democracy is a flexible term which can be used with more or less cynicism. Roux: Is democracy the bigger issue vs. climate change, economic development, poverty, etc.? Moore: Human rights? Roux: Not in my top ten. Roth: It's hard to address yours without it. But economic determinism has been refuted in China-there's been great evolution in personal freedoms but none in political freedoms. Development alone does not lead to human rights. Qiang: Look at the consumerism and materialism in China. It's devastating. Environmentally China is heading to disaster, and the political system has a lot to do with it. Moore: You need educated people concerned with long-term thinking. Ito: A lot of Americans are fooling themselves. There's a big difference between how they feel about the rights of citizens and those of non-citizens. What if all the countries of the world really participated in an intelligent dialogue and spoke up? Would that be considered good for the U.S? Roux: The U.S. has the opportunity to take the advantages it has in various dimensions and engage in horse trading--for instance, the way it helped get China into the WTO. Roth: The irony of this administration's position is that it rejects so many international treaties. In doing so they give up that advantage. It's shortsighted because the treaty rules are going ahead anyway. Krupp: Some talk of a new Marshall Plan to aid development, but what might be a realistic way to transfer wealth from rich to poor countries would be, for instance, to pay India to modify its power plants to be less polluting. [Some discussion ensues about the role of the Internet in economic development and companies like DevelopmentSpace, which enables a direct online connection between donors and philanthropic recipients in developing countries.] Krupp: The Internet is a tool that can allow us to do something like what Save The Children does, but in a very scaled-up way. It can tie into peoples' desire to have personal impact. Roth: The challenge for NGOs is not only to show that there is suffering out there, but also to show that you can do something about it. People are moved when they see suffering. You don't need to steer it back to self-interest. But if it doesn't directly relate back to U.S. concerns, CNN won't cover it. Ferguson: There's a long-term problem with the way humans are wired. We are wired to smash in the face of the bear at the door. Ito: [Making point that long-term action is not impossible.] Tokyo Station was built in 1914 to be used for 100 years, and it can still easily add new lines for new bullet trains. Moore: We have big problems that require macro approaches over a long time. Qiang: How do you show people that by doing something more long-term they're really making a difference? Ito: No one trusts the U.S. No one trusts the IMF. I'm not sure what the context was for this comment. I think the issue of trust, trustworthiness and knowing whether you are trusted is a big issue... It is not true that "no one" trust the US and IMF. Of course some people do. ;-) Moore: You could see the beginnings of a move toward global governance in some of the Internet domain-name management efforts. Thompson: The vast majority of people in the world are compassionate, and they care, but there's no means to bring that together. Ito: Global dialogue is a key. duh... People ended by praising Brainstorm as a method of moving in the right direction. Pierre Omidyar of eBay joined our table after his own broke up. We all talked about various ways of continuing the dialogue; Brainstorm's momentum was building. Fast Forward will return to talking about technology and its discontents in future installments. But I don't see Brainstorm as something separate. If we're going to understand the true importance of technology we have to see it in the context of what's happening in the world. That's the relationship between Brainstorm and Fast Forward, the two FORTUNE sub-brands I'm working so hard to develop.

Sounds like the beginning of the end. I definitely will begin to limit my travel to the US. I don't want my fingerprints in some database, I don't want to end up in some INS prison and I can't imagine how this racial profiling can get by all of those human rights advocates in the US. This is really incredible...

Mon Aug 12, 9:46 PM ET
By CHRISTOPHER NEWTON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has chosen Sept. 11 as the starting date for a new program that will require tens of thousands of foreign visitors to be fingerprinted and photographed at the border, U.S. officials announced.

The security program, developed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, will begin at several unnamed ports of entry and will mostly affect those from Muslim and Middle Eastern countries.
After a 20-day testing period, all remaining ports of entry will implement the new system on Oct. 1, 2002, officials announced Monday.

AP - Justice Department to begin fingerprinting some foreign visitors on Sept. 11


I got my national ID in the mail today. Setagaya-ku used an outside agency and we got ours later than other wards. Now I have to figure out what to do. I personally think that asking to change the number or sending it back sends a political message, and maybe I should do that, but for real change I have to push and lobby closer to where the decision are being made. Maybe I'll try to meet with the mayor of our ward and explain to him why I am unhappy.

I wonder how open people will be about telling people their ID #'s. Unlike social security numbers in the US, the national ID hasn't proliferated widely so people are still feeling pretty secretive about their numbers. I think that suddenly receiving it in the mail has been a shock for many people as well. I wonder if it would be cool to start calling people by their ID #'s. Proably not. I wonder if that's illegal...

Meanwhile, the Kanagawa Prefectural Government warned Tuesday that people should be wary of a mysterious caller who tries to get private information by pretending to be an official in charge the national resident registry network.
Mainichi Interactive - Top News Thanks to gt for pointing this one out.

Dan Gillmor blogs about the twisted logic and language that the entertainment industry is using to tilt the copyright debate in their favor. Dan Gillmor is a San Jose Mercury journalists and one of the first professional journalists with a blog. (Also, he'll be in Tokyo later this month...)

If you can set the rules, you can win the contest. That's the major reason the entertainment cartel is winning the debate over copyright in the Digital Age.

Average people are not part of the conversation, not in any way that matters. To the cartel and its chattel in the halls of political power, we are nothing but ``consumers'' -- our sole function is to eat what the movie, music and publishing industries put in front of us, and then send money.

It's long past time for the rest of us to challenge the cartel's assumptions, actions and overall clout. Over the next few weeks and months I'll offer some suggestions.

The first thing we can do is stop letting the entertainment companies set the terms of the discussion. They torture language and logic. Let's restore some balance.

Mercury News | 08/11/2002 | Dan Gillmor: We must engage in copyright debate

First spotted on David Farber's IP List

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has a vulerability in it's implementation of SSL. It allows anyone with a valid CA-signed certificate to generate a fake certificate for any domain. This is because MS IE does not check the "Basic Constraints" which should tell whether a CA has authority to verify another domain.

This is a significant vulnerability which would allow a "man-in-the-middle" attack without any dialog boxes. This means that someone could think they are accessing their bank or online shop securely and directly, but in fact be accessing through a hostile site. The hostile site could watch the transaction or modify the transaction without the user knowing it.

Aparently MS is downplaying it. The link below is a detailed report of the bug on BugTraq.

SecurityFocus HOME Mailing List: BugTraq - Internet Explorer SSL Vulnerability 08/05/02

I know blogging about blogs is getting a bit old, but Frank Boosman sent me a this piece by Ray Ozzie on blogs which I find quite good. It is short and interesting, focusing on the architecture of blogs vs. old fashioned database oriented conferencing systems and groupware.
Architecture Matters: The Rebirth of Public Discussion

Another article about the war on copyright offenders in the US. Found on David Farber's IP list. It really does show how much money really matters I guess.

The question for me is, where will all of the artists go. Will young people continue to want to become motion picture directors or musicians when it becomes more and more obvious that it is a very regulated business controlled by lawyers, the FBI and politicians? Their recent actions show that they are not protecting "artists" but the ability for large corporations to "monetize" artists.

Is the finally a chance for the rest of the world to leap frog the US while they are bogged down in a chaotic mess of copyright garbage? Will the US use it's global influence to prevent the rest of the world from creating an alternative universe of more advanced copyright thinking?

Hollywood's Private War For Social Control
Richard Forno
10 August 2002
Article #2002-10
(c) 2002 Richard Forno. Permission granted to reproduce/republish in entirety with appropriate credit.
Reader Feedback

A July 25 letter sent to Attorney General  John Ashcroft by 19 American legislators asked him to devote more Justice Department resources in the fight against peer-to-peer networks and users swapping digital media without permission.

Forget the fact that the FBI is neck-deep in an internal crisis of confidence and competence, having a hard time recruiting and keeping qualified agents, and shifting from a diverse federal law enforcement entity to one in-line with the emerging threats to American society from terrorism.

No, it seems that one of the highest priorities for the Justice Department - behind that simple task of securing America's Homeland - should be copyright least in the eyes of the Recording Industry Association of America.  Of course, this is made all the easier when "peer-to-peer" - a valuable technological architecture - is interpreted and subsequently marketed by the RIAA as synonymous with "pirating" and evil economic - potentially terrorist - activities against the $40 billion entertainment industry. And, of course, Congress, mental wizards they are, will believe whatever they're asked to believe, provided the campaign contributions are the right type and amount.

We have the "War on Drugs" and the "War on AIDS" and the "War on Terror" -- does this mean we'll see the "War on File Sharing" as the next great American undertaking with the same effect as these other "Wars" over the years?

When news of this bipartisan letter broke on Friday, RIAA CEO Hilary Rosen, was, as always, quick to praise its contents, saying that mass copying off the Internet is illegal and deserves to be a high priority for the Department of Justice.  One wonders if she wears special shoes to be able to jump so quickly to applaud anything that might in some - any - way lead to profit assurance for her constituent record companies.

It was only last month that Rosen was quick to applaud the controversial P2P-hack bill introduced by one of their owned Congressman, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA).  Among other things, the proposed bill (Register article here) would create loopholes for cyber-criminals to potentially escape from and also turn any authorized copyright holder into a potentially legal hacker. While Rosen was more than happy to quickly jump in and praise the proposal, Berman's bill was so controversial that even Rosen's evil counterpart, Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association, took pause when the bill was introduced, noting that there are aspects of the bill we believe need changing as it moves through the legislative process   -- implying that the powers proposed in the Berman Bill - legalizing electronic attacks and providing attacker immunity for liability in copyright enforcement activities -- were intended to be only for the large entertainment empires, not for any copyright holder no matter how small.

Both the RIAA and MPAA act like drug addicts.....desperately begging and trying to get something - anything - to help their body's craving for their addictive substances, but it's the RIAA that takes first prize in the desperate-moves category.  Declining sales of albums - and their profits - have been equated to Napster, peer-to-peer file sharing, Webcasting, MP3 file formats, and the fact all PCs now come with a CD burner as standard issue.....anything but the fact that studios have produced less and less quality music that folks want to buy, or that studios are more than happy to negotiate ludicrous contracts with artists that only deliver mediocre album sales (*cough* Mariah Carey) or one-hit wonders. They've happily saturated the pop market with teen bands that look, dance, and sound so alike it's impossible to tell them apart. They also forget that CD prices have gone up steadily over the past decade - and that when the economy takes a downturn, paying $20 for a song or two is not worth it to most people. Further, their efforts so far in providing music over the Internet - to 'compensate' for the loss of Napster - makes current Afghanistan politics look like a utopian form of government.

Granted, organized piracy (as opposed to individual copying and/or sharing) has caused Hollywood some economic damage, but I don't see Hilary, Jack, Lars, or studio executives standing on lines outside soup kitchens. And the fact that someone copies or uses a CD under federal fair-use laws doesn't present a significant economic impact to the entertainment industry, either. If anything, casual and legal sharing of music helps broaden an artist's publicity and generate "buzz" -  much how Microsoft software became so dominant in the marketplace -- not through quality, but because everyone was using it and it became the de facto standard, such that it is.

Rosen says that piracy "ultimately hurts consumers by undermining the creators' incentive to bring new works to the market.   In her eyes - and in the eyes of her purchased lawmakers - the only 'creators' that should be allowed to easily bring new works to market are those under contract to RIAA's member companies. To RIAA, you're either part of their cartel or you don't matter.

Thus, we see proposals like Berman's bill, and the RIAA suggesting that all blank compact disks (and possibly hard drives) be taxed to compensate for piracy losses, even if such media are used for the backup of software and user data, not entertainment content. Most sinister is the recent proposal by Senator Fritz "Hollywood" Hollings that would mandate copyright enforcement 'features' be part of any device that can store electronic data, from computers and DVD players to microwaves, garage door openers, and rectal thermometers. The Hollings proposal would essentially force the interests of the $40 billion entertainment industry on the $500 billion-plus technology and hardware industries in a variety of industrial sectors. Talk about the mouse trying to own the elephant herd.

As users and customers (note I did not say "consumers" - "customers" implies a mutually-beneficial two-way relationship), we have every right to bemoan the obvious profiteering actions of these entertainment cartels to squeeze every last dime from our wallets. Sure, we will pay for quality music that's affordable, but we want a happy medium where we have the flexibility to use the entertainment content legally purchased and/or obtained in a manner consistent with the law and our expectations. Yet the entertainment cartels are only too happy to lobby for laws and technological controls that presume every customer a potential criminal until it can be proven with certainty.  That's to be expected from Industrial Age business leaders - known otherwise as "The Greed Generation."

However, that's not the problem with the whole copyright enforcement debate. Sure, profits are involved, but there's much more at-stake than what's being discussed in Congress or the online communities.

Freedom of choice in how one is able to bring his content to market means a greater chance of it reaching an audience. Up until Napster, the entertainment industry alone decided what artist gets supported, promoted, and published, and in what quantities. The Information Age threatens to reverse this centralized control mechanism and profit stream, enabling anyone to publish and promote their content around the world, cutting the middleman - RIAA and major studios - out of the financial equation and management process. Nobody in an established role likes to lose control, be voted out of office, or see their authority and influence erode....yet this is exactly what the Information Age is doing to the centralized entertainment industry. This helps explain some of the goofy proposals mentioned earlier -- like a Vegas gambler, the RIAA (and MPAA by extension) is hedging its bets, trying to not only maintain control of the content and media industry, but if it can't, get as much as it can through other methods, laws, and charges.

If you control the means to disseminate content, you can subsequently control the public. If you can't afford - or are not willing - to play by the 'established' means of control, you are typically left to fend for yourself in local venues and audiences.

Thanks to the Information Age, this is not the case anymore. This harsh reality terrifies the entertainment industry that will stop at nothing - no matter how ill-conceived - to keep its reign despite a failing business model and changing economic and customer environment. The copyright debate isn't only about profit, it's also about who controls information, and ultimately, people and society.

Further Reading:

Book: Digital Copyright: Protecting Intellectual Property on the Internet (Jessica Litman)

Copyright, Security, and the Hollywood Hacking Bill


Bill Thompson on why Europe has to take back the web from US hegemony. A bit emotional but very interesting position. Something I feel some empathy for.

From The Register
First sighted on David Farber's List

Damn the Constitution: Europe must take back the Web
By Bill Thompson
Posted: 09/08/2002 at 14:01 GMT

Guest Opinion I've had enough of US hegemony. It's time for change -and a closed European network.

Today's Internet is a poor respecter of national boundaries, as many repressive governments have found to their cost. Unfortunately this freedom has been so extensively abused by the United States and its politicians, lawyers and programmers that it has become a serious threat to the continued survival of the network as a global communications medium. If the price of being online is to swallow US values, then many may think twice about using the Net at all, and if the only game online follows US rules, then many may decide not to play.

We have already seen US law, in the form of Digital Millennium Copyright Act, used to persuade hosts in other countries to pull material or limit its availability. US-promoted 'anti-censor' software is routinely provided to enable citizens of other countries to break local laws; and US companies like Yahoo! disregard the judgements of foreign courts at will.

Congressman Howard Berman's ridiculous proposal to give copyright holders immunity from prosecution if they hack into P2P networks is the latest attempt by the US Congress to pass laws that will directly affect every Internet user, because no US court would allow prosecution of a company in another jurisdiction when immunity is granted by US law.

Unless we can take back the Net from the libertarians, constitutional lawyers and rapacious corporations currently recreating the worst excesses of US political and commercial culture online, we will end up with an Internet which serves the imperial ambitions of only one country instead of the legitimate aspirations of the whole world.

While this would greatly please the US, it would not be in the interests of the majority of Internet users, who want a network that allows them to express their own values, respects their own laws and supports their own cultures and interests.

US domination has been going on for so long that many see it as either inevitable or desirable. 'They may have their problems but at least they believe in democracy, free speech and the market economy', the argument goes. Yet today's United States is a country which respects freedom so much that if I, a European citizen, set foot there I can be interned without any notice or due process, tried by a military tribunal and executed in secret.

It has a government which respects free speech yet tries to persuade postal workers to spy on people as they delivered their mail. Its Chief Executive illegally sold shares when in possession of privileged information about an impending price crash. ICANN, the body it established to manage DNS, had to be ordered by a court to let one of its own directors examine the company accounts for fear he may discover something untoward. And elected representatives -like the aforementioned Howard Berman -are paid vast amounts by firms lobbying for laws which serve their corporate interests.

These are clearly not the people who should be setting the rules for the Net's evolution. Unfortunately today's Internet, with its permissive architecture and lack of effective boundaries or user authentication, makes it almost impossible to resist this technological imperialism.

Full Text Here

I just received mail from an old friend who has become active on the issue of North Korean refugees and I have attached the email from him. I think the Japanese have a much higher level of sensitivity with regards to North Korea since they have influenced the extreme left wing in Japan and have harbored terrorists who have highjacked Japanese planes, etc. Having said that, Japan has basically a no-immigration policy and therefore have not accepted refugees from anywhere as far as I know.

I don't think going around labeling countries as "evil" is really very smart, but addressing the North Korea issue is definitely something that should be high priority. I don't think Koreas really like or respect Japan very much and with Koizumi paying homage to war criminals, I think it will be difficult for us to get much clout on this issue. I think China and South Korea really have to work this out, but I'm definitely not on expert. In October, I will be in Beijing for the 30th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic contacts with Japan and will be in Kuala Lumpur at the WEF meeting where the Asia young leaders will be talking about Asian issues. I will try to raise the issue at both conferences and report back if I can find out anything or make any progress on this issue.

Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 10:50:01 -0800
Subject: IMPORTANT NK refugee issue..


If you have some time to read a bit about an important issue and maybe lend a hand, please take a look at a (still just a list of links) web page which I'm starting to build at about the terrible situation of the people of North Korea's human rights.. their insane government, and the plight of the thousands of terrified and starving people who are trying to defect to other countries via China (really, the only way out of the country..) China, in want of a better thing to do, is repatriating all of them which they can catch, to North Korea.. (Not all of them are summarily executed any more, just some.. but it is still very very scary what happens to them upon return.)

So, my request to you is that you please read some of the stories of the refugees to see what they are running from. read about the situation in China and the current political situation.. And then what you do is up to you..

Here is the URL of one escapee's story that is particularly chilling.. this is the one that shocked me into attempting in my little way to help..

(No, I am not affiliated with any of these groups that are actively helping them, Christians, or whatever..etc..) I just read the stories and then I had to do something..

So why am I writing YOU? Because you are a human being who can see what is happening and care, and because you are smart and influential..

(I hope you don't feel I am spamming you.. If so, I apologize profusely.)

Important*** If some of the other countries in the area (like Japan) ***would be willing to set up refugee camps*** where some of these fleeing people could stay *in safety*, it would be a VERY good thing.

South Korea (or perhaps the US---working on that..) are the obvious ultimate destinations.. but South Korea has been at times strangely indifferent to the refugees from the North.. (they have been supporting the status quo in fear that NK would suddenly implode.. which would be expensive for them, they feel.. yes, it would be, but it is also necessary..)

Plus, it would be a way for Japan to build goodwill in an area where they could really benefit from it. I know that they have (in the past) given NK lots of food.. but the reality is that the NK government siphons off the food and precious little of it reaches the people it is meant to reach.. (Giving food aid is good, but monitoring it's distribution should be a *required* precondition of this aid.)

North Korea's people are now the 11th in the world.. (in malnutrition status..) In other words, they are starving to death.. No other countries on Earth with 99% literacy are anywhere near them...

Anyway, I know you are busy.. but this issue is really important.. Perhaps you could say a word to anyone you know who is influential enough to have some input into the government's decision-making process..

Nobody should have to live through the hell these people are going through.. It is a humanitarian nightmare comparable to the worst aspects of Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Pol Pot's Cambodia and Mao's China.


Thanks in advance..



A web page about guys who build Tesla Coils.

Spotted on Slashdot

John Williams Tesla Page

TCS: Tech - Tipping Their Hand

Tipping Their Hand
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds

For years now, I've been saying that the record industry's long-term legislative strategy had less to do with preventing copying than with sewing up the market to ensure that Big Entertainment companies won't have to worry about competition from independent artists. It looks like I've just been proven right.

The proof comes in the form of a bill sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) that would make it a crime to fool "digital rights management" systems, even if doing so were for a legal purpose. Here's how the bill would work:

Biden's new bill would make it a federal felony to try and trick certain types of devices into playing your music or running your computer program. Breaking this law--even if it's to share music by your own garage band--could land you in prison for up to five years. And that's not counting the civil penalties of up to $25,000 per offense. "Say I've got an MP3 collection and I buy a new nifty player from Microsoft that only plays watermarked content, and I forge the watermark to allow my legal MP3 collection to play," says Jessica Litman, who teaches intellectual property law at Wayne State University. "
What they're trying to do is to create a system that's not so much proof against copying - a mostly impossible task anyway - as a system that's very unfriendly to content that comes from anyone other than Big Media suppliers. It's not about copying. It's about competition. - The Age

spotted on boing boing

American movie, recording and software executives could be prohibited from entering Australia or extradited to face criminal charges if a copyright protection bill before the US Congress passes into law.

Californian Democrat congressman Howard Berman has proposed legislation to deal with the rising tide of copyrighted works illicitly traded over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks such as KaZaA.

Berman's bill immunises copyright holders from civil litigation or criminal prosecution if they invade US PCs connected to the international P2P networks to take down their own copyrighted materials.

But the global nature of P2P networks ensnares file sharers outside the US, with the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for copyright holders to pursue pirates in Australia.

Under section 9a of the Victorian Summary Offences Act (1966), "a person must not gain access to, or enter, a computer system or part of a computer system without lawful authority to do so". The penalty if convicted is up to six months' jail.

Computer, Internet and intellectual property lawyer Steve White says the Berman bill is "stupid and counterproductive", and he believes it will lead to an online arms race as PC owners and the networks seek to thwart the efforts of copyright holders.

Atrocities in american airports, a London Daily Alert

A Brazilian man wrote about an incident where he was extremely abused by INS in LA. It has gotten a lot of airplay on the Net so you may have seen it, but in case you haven't, here it is.

Brock Meeks confirms with the INS that the incident actually occured although the details are unclear.

Brock Meeks is a respected journalist and a google on Ricardo Abude will give you some references. He is aparently a real person.

If this story is true, it's very scary. I recently met someone from Israel who was strip searched coming into the US and in transit althought there was no apparent reason other than the fact that she was from Israel. She wasn't bitter about it though. I think with the increased security, the risk of the "police" becoming un-naturally brutal is a great risk and something we should all keep an eye on. I remember feeling very unfairly treated when I lived in Michigan when "Japan Bashing" was "in" by a variety of official personnel and those memories still haunt me.

Atrocities in American Airports

By Ricardo Abude

If you, or someone from your family, have any plan to visit the US in a near future, I strongly suggest you to continue reading this text, where I describe the experiences I had in LA International Airport, late Feb 24, 2002.

My name is Ricardo Abude E. Da Silva, I'm an Electronic Engineer graduated in 1982 and today am managing our family's businesses in the farming sector. My email is

Throughout my 42 years of age I've travelled several times to the US, both on business and tourism. Late Feb 23 I embarked in Rio heading to LA, in possession of my third Visa to the US, issued in November 1999, and valid until November 2009.

I was aware of the increased airport security for US trips, due to Sep 11 attacks, and in Rio International Airport one can already notice the routine change, but I could have never imagined what would happen next.

From now on I describe, step by step, the horrendous and unimaginable nightmare that I went through :

Saturday Feb 23 21:50 hrs I depart from Rio with Varig flight RG 8836, going to LA.

Sunday Feb 24 07:00 hrs I arrive in LA and proceed towards passport control. The officer looks at my Passport for about five minutes, and asks me to proceed towards an INS office known as Secondary One. It is the first time something like that happens to me, but I imagine I危 going to be interviewed for additional information concerning my stay. Extra safety measures.... I thought.

Sunday Feb 24 07:30 hrs A Second officer asks me to collect all my luggage and accompany him inside Secondary One. ...the interview is going to be in there... I thought again. All of a sudden, I am brutally pushed inside a 2x2 yd cell, all my luggage, money, documents and personnal belongings are confiscated, and they take away my belt and shoe strings.

As I protest against the unexpected treatment, the two officers respond with loud screams and threats of beating me and keeping me confined. I am violently pushed against the wall, they frisk me from head to toe, and all my personnal belongings are searched.

Again I'm pushed against the wall, my picture is taken, I'm fingerprinted and am finally thrown into a filthy, stinky, unventilated hall, already crowded with people. I notice, by their looks, that they've gone through the same ritual, and even though I am still stunned by the long flight, the jet lag, and mainly by the violent, outraging disrespect of civil and human rights, I face the crude fact of life ...there's no such thing as interviews. I'm a prisoner.

Sunday Feb 24 09:00 hrs - The scene resembles a Greek tragedy, a 4x4 yd room, filthy chairs, a stinking black carpet, no ventilation, huge 50 TV turned on all the time volume blasting. Tired, hungry people, sick people, people throwing up....worried about a friend, who was waiting for me outside the airport I ask for a phone call.

- Shut up! No phone calls. - They answered.

Sunday Feb 24 10:00 hrs - Arrested, hungry, thirsty, no communication, and without the slightest ideia of what was going to happen next, I noticed the continuos flow of tourists coming to our cell and I face the degrading scandal the very same treatment is given to women, teenagers, children even elderly people - a truly barbarian act!

Revolted, I witness two INS officers disputing the priviledge of frisking the prettiest ladies, without any concern of hiding their sickening lust from their respective fathers, husbands or brothers, doing their commentaries, invitations, and obscene declarations right on their faces.

- I've just frisked a disgusting it's my turn to frisk this Italian fox! - stated an Officer to his coleague, refering to the wife of an Italian tourist. The blunt disrespect made my stomach churn in revolt....

Kicking, pushing, screaming, threathening, heavily armed bullies displayed their brutallity, prejudice, and arrogance upon the constant flow of tourists coming into our cell, getting more and more crowded by the minute, holding an unbearable stench....

Sunday Feb 24 14:00 hrs - After seven hours of ordeal, I'm finally taken to an almost surrealistic interview with Officer Sanchez, and Officer Lee, both subordinate to Officer Green, from INS. He explains to me that since all my papers and my Visa were in perfect order, he would kindly give me two options:

- The first was to sign a document in which I requested the withdrawal of my Visa, returning to Brazil in the first available flight.

- If I refused to sign the hoax I'd be arrested for an undetermined period and he'd start a compulsory deportation process, sending me back to my Country thus.

A important detail on the deal - while I refused to sign the document I'd not receive any food, or water. What would you choose? Oh well, me too.

Sunday Feb 24 16:00 hrs - I am taken, with another five prisoners, to a different cell. We are all handcuffed, and escorted by armed officers, we are made to stroll through the airport lounge. The terrified tourists make way, frightened by the grotesc scene. They take us all to a Van, parked outside the terminal, and transfer us to the other cell. The humiliation is suffocating ....

- Sunday Feb 24 17:00 hrs - Apparently, they have forgotten to make me sign a few forms at the Secondary One, so I'm taken again for a couple of strolls ( going there and coming back ) in the Airport Lounge. Those strolls remember? With cuffs and escorts?

Sunday Feb 24 18:00 hrs - Due to my unceasing protests, they finally allow me to make a phone call. I contact a Lawyer in LA, in the hope he'd get me out of that hell, but the information I get from him is even more surprising, and disheartening:

- Ricardo, the INS grounds at the Airport are not legally considered American soil, so I cannot invoke any civil right to take you out of there.... he tells me. How about that ???

In other words: I realize I'm in a no-man's land, a lawless place, arrested by arbitrary Nazis in the guise of INS Officers, that, due to this legal technicality, have the power to do whatever they please with you - and what is worse - with your family. I start to dream of the moment of catching a plane back home to Brazil.....however, before that, I'd still go through the worst night of my life.....

Night of Sunday to Monday Feb 25 I start to dread the moment in which tiredness is going to win the battle and make me lie down on those filthy chairs. It寄 very cold, but even so, the prospect of using the slimy blankets is not at all attractive.

Five officers are in the night shift, and feeling bored, they pass time kicking disgusting Chinese's , cursing stupid niggers, threatening filthy latinos. Our uneducated officers are unable to articulate three consecutive words without using the F.. word, and we spend the night immersed in this sea of racial prejudice, brutallity, violence, arrogance and cowardice.

A curious note: our cell had two immense posters hanging on the walls. Look at that - one was a huge map of Brazil, and the other was a picture of Ouro Preto - a historical city in Central Brazil. Both seemed to convey a silent, but eloquent invitation .....

Monday Feb 25 13:00 hrs - After the worse 30 hours of my life, two armed officers escort me to my plane ( Varig flight RG 8837 ) and deliver my passport to the stewardess. They set guard by the plane door until take off. Just a last minute humiliation I guess....

Tuesday Feb 26 07:30 hrs - I arrive tired, but immensely happy in Cumbica International Airport, in SP. I call my girlfriend Sarah in Belo Horizonte. After her recovery from the initial shock and the necessary explanations I invite her to celebrate our unexpected meeting with a trip - to Ouro Preto - of course!

I relate this unfortunate episode hoping to bring these facts to light, to a wider number of people. Maybe those who, like me, were planning an innocent trip to this country might think twice before permitting their wifes, parents and children to be subjected to this infamous tribe of uncivilized barbarians.

Daily, in every American Airport, hundreds of people from the four corners of the world are falling into the claws of these arrogant, racist, brutes, barbarian Nazis, and I think every single citizen of the globe shall contribute in whichever way they can to end this grotesc stain from the face of the free world.

The terrorists put down WTC's twin towers, but they will achieve a far greater victory if they succeed in bending down the spirit, the values and ideals that guided America since it's very birth as an independent Nation.

Having visited the US so many times, and knowing with reasonable depth the history of this Country, I must say that the attitudes and methods of the INS Officers do not reflect the way of being and thinking of the majority of the American People, and surely do not reflect the values and ideals I referred to above.

However, the overwhelming majority of the thousands of tourists that are going daily through this sad experience in American Airports do not have this perspective, and they are going back to their countries carrying in their hearts the seeds of hatred, violence and intolerance that end up germinating in tragedies such as Sep 11.

To Mr G. Bush one suggestion: in the attempt to erradicate the World of terrorism and it's Evil Axis, start at home - in the American Immigration and Naturalization Service - INS.

A very important note: this narrative would not be complete without doing justice to Victor - one of the INS officers. He came into our cell Monday morning. Right when I lay my eyes on him I noticed a different glow, quickly explained by his attitudes: he'd take care of one of us, feed and give water to another, he was always ready to help, at least send a smile, say a friendly word....

He moved like a star, shedding light into the darkness. I had the priviledge to talk with him for a few minutes, when I had the chance to convey my admiration, respect and gratitude for what he was doing for all those people, brutally subjected to such a painful experience.

Son of Mexican Immigrants, educated in India, and possessing a spirituality impossible to hide behind such shinning eyes, this man, who represents so well the best of the East and the West told me simply .. Ricardo, I don't do much, all I can do is try to transmit to these people a little compassion, a little love....

May God always guard you and bless you Victor, as you guard and bless so many.... A last suggestion to the US President consider promoting Victor to the post of Foreign Relations Minister, what he deserves more than anyone. I'm certain that, in a very short time, he'd reverse the already beaten up image of the US with the rest of the world.

His attitude reflect perfectly the spirit and the values that have created America, and proves that one cannot possilbly combat terrorism by becoming himself a terrorist one should employ that ancient technique - turning the other cheek.

Finally, I want to say that I have already done the following :

1. Filed a formal complain at the American Embassy in Brasilia.

2. Filed a formal complain at the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry

3. Send a copy of this text in Portuguese and in English to the Internet, newspapers, magazines, websites, and Human Rights International Institutions.

I hereby authorize any individual or corporation to divulge or reproduce this text partially or in its entirety, making it a public domain, as I believe this case is.

May God bless us all.
Ricardo Abude E. da Silva

Lies and Secrets

Japan's national ID network has gone live already

by Gohsuke Takama
Tokyo, Jul 31, 2002

It's Up and Running Already

Rhetorics and politics are good friends. Almost everyone in Japan including politician has been believing that Japan's national ID network system, the Basic Residents Registers Network, would go live on Aug 5 of this year. Opponents of national ID have been thinking there is some chance to stop launching. But the truth is that it is already live since more than a week ago, technically. And it has gone without privacy protection laws which left behind in Japan's diet for more discussions after summer.

A news appeared on Jul 19 said that the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications would start testing of the network from Jul 22, using actual Basic Resident Registry's record update data including newly issued Resident Number. It also noted that transfer of the Resident Registry data from local government owned computers to the National server and the Prefectural servers would be completed by Jul 20.

This clearly means that all the residents in Japan already numbered and huge databases that holding whole Japan's 125 million residents' data are already up and running. If so, what the difference between before and after Aug 5? A: Deleting the data of moving out people from the record. That's all. And that sounds more likely just a little change in Local Government staff's operation procedure at the request counter than launch of nation wide computer networks.

Now this is the beginning of activation for Japan's national ID systems that apply for Japanese and naturalized foreigners: 11 digit number national ID, networked resident record system based on the ID numbers, and national ID card that based on contactless radio transaction smartcard, with 32 bit CPU and co-processor supposed to handle crypto and digital signature, which will be issued from 2003.

This status makes computer security specialists worried. If organized crimes or foreign spy agents get access to one of these, that could be a disaster. Clear and present danger is here now. World class crackers might be difficult to ignore temptations to try their penetration skills on this network because it is built on Windows NT/2000 servers and possibly MS SQL too. You got the idea?

Databases and National ID Networks

Japan has nearly 3300 local governments, i.e. cities, towns and villages. Until a few month ago their residents' records were all separated. But now the Basic Residents Registers Network connected them all.

But this network has strange design structure. Data of residents' records at cities, towns and villages in a prefecture are copied to the Prefectural server. Then data of whole Japan's 125 million residents' records are copied to the National server. So the records of Japan's every resident - name, birth date, address, gender and ID number - are sitting in these servers.

Also there is another strange structure. the National server which is locating at Local Authorities Systems DEvelop Center, LASDEC for short, has an additional offers residents' data for the administrative bodies of central government. A funny thing is that the data once transferred to administrative bodies would not be covered by Basic Residents Registry Law which regulates the residents registry.

Japan's Privacy Bills

Japan would be having two privacy laws, the Personal Data Protection Law and the Law Concerning Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs. However, both are still in discussions and far from passing the diet, because the diet ended on Jul 31, even with 40 days extension to normal schedule.

Many pointed out both bills have problems. For the Personal Data Protection bill, which originally designed as EU/OECD style protection of personal information bill, but it had too many modifications. And all the news media are now opposing to this bill especially on strong consent requirement with data subjects and punitive provisions. If a news media discovers some wrong doing in a big corp boss, how could they get consent with him?

More problematic is another. The bill for Law Concerning Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs. This bill is supposed to be for protection of personal information collected and held by government administrative organs. However, many words set in the bill already crippling the law itself. The bill does not have clear set of rules on "collection limitation" of personal information. It also permits the government to use anyone's personal information if needed and "Change of Use Purpose" without notifying to data subject person. Plus, no penalty for government stuff upon duty violations. If this bill was passed, the government can use anyone's personal information for almost in any way, any purpose, legally.

Missing Information and Secrecy Lovers

What do Japanese people have in mind about this national ID network? That is another side of the problems. A poll done by Kyodo Communications on June 30 brought up that 83.2% of Japanese did not know about this Basic Residents Registers Network and they would be given numbers. Is this a result of secrecy or just a lack of PR?

Since that time, news media started having more reporting. On Jul 22, Asahi Newspaper did another poll and the result was drastically different. 59% answered they heard the name of Basic Residents Registers Network, 86% showed concern on privacy information leaks, and 76% answered that they prefer to postpone the launch of the network.

Opposition started from local government side too. 7000 population rural town Yamatsuri-cho disconnected to the network on the day of testing started. There are more than 60 cities and towns, including 3 million population Yokohama-city, manifesting or concerning disconnecting until privacy laws set.

The allies of four minority parties brought a bill to the diet that repeal the Basic Residents Registers Network. (Japan has seven political parties.) But it dead in a water without even a discussion. A group of politicians in leading conservative majority the Liberal Democratic Party tried to make up another bill that postpone the launch. But it also dead even before proposed on the last day of the diet by time constraint and their slow action. And on Jul 31, the Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is still saying the launch date is Aug 5 and go ahead.

Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications

Prime Minister's office


Social Network Diagram for ITO JOICHI
Found this strange site that has extracted data from conference attendances and created graphical maps of social network. Pretty scary. I attended an Open Source Solutions conference organized by Robert Steele, a former CIA expert on Open Source Intelligence. There were a bunch of CIA and KGB folks at the conference. Anyway, the list of attendants of this conference among other lists seem to have made it into this database...

From David Farber's IP Mailing List

From: Lauren Weinstein
Date: Tue, 06 Aug 2002 12:46:38
To: David Farber
Subject: Freedom Ad from the Ad Council


A marvelous video spot is starting to appear, sponsored by the Ad Council. It's worth watching for.

It begins with a teenager who approaches the help counter at a library. He tells the librarian that he can't find the books he has on a list, which he hands her. She looks them up in the computer, and replies, "These books are no longer available... may I have your name, please?" When the kid walks away from the counter without giving his name, he's approached by two men in suits (one of whom takes his arm) appearing from behind some shelves, who "just have a couple of questions" for him. Meanwhile, the librarian is watching with a look of sadness and concern.

A tagline appears: "What if America wasn't America?
Freedom. Appreciate it. Cherish it. Protect it."

Definitely one of the most chilling (and unfortunately appropriate) ads I've ever seen.

Lauren Weinstein
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility -
Co-Founder, Fact Squad -
Co-Founder, URIICA - Union for Representative International Internet Cooperation and Analysis -
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum -
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

Bruce Sterling Viridian Note 00325: Open Source Speech

This is very funny and insightful. Thanks Howard for pointing this out.

Key concepts: O'Reilly Open Source convention, computation, free software, Linux, spam, viruses, means of software production, social organization, Disney, Microsoft, Richard Stallman, Lawrence Lessig, information economics

Attention Conservation Notice: Over 5,400 words of diffuse Papal-Imperial ranting to a restive audience of Linux freaks.

"A Contrarian View of Open Source"

San Diego July 26, 2002

Thanks for showing up to see the obligatory novelist at this gig.

It's very touching of you to take the trouble to watch me get some emotional issues off my chest.

You know, I don't write code. I don't think I'm ever going to write any code. It just amazes me how often people who know absolutely nothing about code want to tell software people their business. "Why don't they just," that's the standard phraseology. "Why don't they just" code-up something-or-other. Whenever I hear that, frankly, I just want to slap the living shit out of those people.

That's like people whose fingers are covered with diamonds complaining about the easy lives of diamond miners.

joipamph.jpg speak.jpg gaitomedia.jpg

Today I will be on the news at 5:30pm on TBS and 10:30pm (thanks Sakiyama-san) on Fuji TV protesting the National ID. From 1pm to 3pm today, Yoshiko Sakurai, her team and I held a rally passing out pamphlets and giving speeches in the middle of the busy shopping district of Ginza. The media was around in force today, but it is really too little too late. We've been doing this since September of last year and the day before it goes live, the media is finally focused. We will continue our struggle, but it will be harder now that the law is officially running. At least now almost everyone I meet says that they have been protesting this all along instead of threatening me that I will lose everything if I continue...

I have been interviewed several times by TV. It seems that the media is focused very much on the security of Jyukinet. I believe, that although this is very important, the bigger risk is the use of the 11 digit number in databases in the bureaucracy and the effect that this will have on the ease in which lists can be created, cross references and leaked.

The media is also discussing quite a bit, the storage on the IC card. This is practically irrelevant. What is relevant is the IC card being using to link real world transactions to databases.

The other big risk is that 11 digit number can be written down, read and distributed easily. Why didn't they use digital signatures or some sort of hash function that is not human readable?

Everyone wants me to talk about the security of the Jyukinet, and the cut the sections where I talk about the nature of identity and the concept of privacy underpinning democracy. Oh well.

With respect to the security of the network, it is important to note that the Somusho is saying that it is safe because they have firewalls and leased lines, but anyone who knows anything about computer networks know that this is not true. No network is safe. Having said that, I think it is important to focus, not on the technical issues such as firewall security, but on the fact that the safest network is a small network with the least number of users and terminals.

SatireWire | Passed Over, Syria, China, Libya Form Axis of Just As Evil
January 2002

Beijing ( — Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil," Libya, China, and Syria today announced they had formed the "Axis of Just as Evil," which they said would be way eviler than that stupid Iran-Iraq-North Korea axis President Bush warned of his State of the Union address.

Axis of Evil members, however, immediately dismissed the new axis as having, for starters, a really dumb name. "Right. They are Just as Evil... in their dreams!" declared North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. "Everybody knows we're the best evils... best at being evil... we're the best."
From January. Was funnier when I first read it, but still funny and still sort of relevant. I promise this is my last Satirewire archive I'll post. Just been doing too much heavy reading and needed to refresh with something funny. And for people new to Satirewire, this should still be new.
For full story click on Satirewire link above.

March 2002

Jerusalem ( Update — Jews, whose troubled, 10,000-year term as God's "chosen people" finally expired last night, woke up this morning to find that they had once again been hand-picked by the Almighty. Synagogues across the globe declared a day of mourning.
Due to the absence of voluntary candidates, God's Law stipulated that the Almighty had to choose a people at random to serve out the next 10-millenia term. Elias Contreau, director of the International Interfaith Working Group, said he wasn't surprised it came to a blind drawing.

"According to the Bible, God promised to bless Abraham and those who came after him," said Contreau. "Who knows, maybe that sounded good at the time, or maybe 'blessed' meant something different back then, like 'Short periods of prosperity interrupted by insufferable friggin' chaos.' Whatever, I think it's safe to say that people didn't know what they were agreeing to."

Now they do, Contreau added, which he said explains why so many religions had lately been exalting God's existence, but downplaying their own.
In Jerusalem, Jewish leaders said they will propose an amendment to God's Law prohibiting a people from having to serve more than two consecutive terms. "Hopefully, G-d will hear our prayer," said Meyerson. "No, wait, that's what got us into this."

Americans, meanwhile, expressed outrage at the decision, saying they had assumed they were God's chosen people. However, explained Archbishop Carey, "It only seems that way because so many people don't like you."

This is from March, but I just found it...
For full story click on Satirewire link above.

I was was scheduled to participate on the last panel discussion at a e-government conference held by the Nikkei today. I was supposed to go straight from the airport after returning from Aspen. There were terrible thunderstorms in Tokyo and the traffic was terrible. It was obvious I would not make it in time. Luckily Ushii was on the scene and the moderator, Sekigushi-san had a computer connected to the Internet on stage. I was able to email them my comments which they put up on the big projector. As usual, I was protesting the national ID and preaching privacy.

Anyway, sorry Sekiguchi-san for not making it! Ushii sent me to photo to the right from his computer on the scene. I felt like I was "virtually" there. Thanks to my Crusoe empowered Sony Vaio and my NTT Docomo Foma 64k card, I was able to keep in touch with the moderator, Sekiguchi-san and Ushii through the session...

So it 4:40am in Aspen and I'm going through cards and notes from the conference. Overall, it was one of the best conferences I've attended. I think they invited a little over 100 people. All of the people were very high quality and the format of the sessions were great, although the scheduling was a bit out of control. On the other hand, I guess that can be expected to a certain extent considering the egos of the people who were speaking. ;-) I had 2 false starts for my blurb and when I was suddenly told to present, I was still a bit groggy from having just woken up. I didn't feel I was at my best which was a bit of a bummer, but I guess we should all be able to speak on short notice.

I think the number of people is important for conferences. With 100+ people, it is likely you will get to meet almost everyone you want to meet. One of the problems with the World Economic Forum is that with over 2000 people, it takes quite a bit of effort to get around to everyone you want to see and the mood is less cozy.

I doubt Fortune Magazine would consider me a publication, but I'm assuming that they will want to keep most of the content for their October and November issues so look forward to seeing some cool things in Fortune about the conference. I'll try to blog the articles and add my perspectives then.

Personally, my understanding and sense of closeness to the conflict in the Middle East, the HIV problem, ecology and poverty were dramatically increased. (More things to think about! Oh no!)

It was also amazing to meet all of the Silicon Valley VC gurus, human rights leaders, government leaders and CEO's all in one place. It was great seeing the Minister of Women's Issues of Afghanistan getting support from the philanthopists who were in attendance.

Anyway, I hope they do it again and invite me again. It was a blast.

Now I have to pack and get ready for my loooong flight back.

antimosquitoes1.jpg - PC-powered mozzie-buster gets upgrade - July 31, 2002

BANGKOK, Thailand -- A Thai computer programmer behind a wildly popular anti-mosquito software package has upgraded his program to also repel cockroaches and rats, the English language Nation newspaper reports.

Interesting. I guess this could be true and Thailand would be a reasonable place to have developed it. Let me know if anyone tries and finds that it works!

Download page for Anti Mosquitoes All OS Collection

Thanks Sen for pointing this one out!


Shimon Peres says...

First, he told us that he had just received a call from the Prime Minister and that another bomb had gone off in a University...

"I have no hatred in my heart for the Palistinians."

He thinks that maybe the Palestinians may be able to build the first real Arab democracy since they are building from scratch and have watched other Arab nations and their problems.

"We are just two tragedies meeting in the same place. I hope that this doesn't turn into a third tragedy."

"I believe that the greatest liberation in the 20th century was the liberation of women."

"Since we can't build a world government, let's build a world NGO. Have the companies come together and pay insurance. Have a board of directors with members such as Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela. Totally based on volunteering. No one forcing. This may be able to handle the problems that globalization is creating."

"Television made dictatorship impossible, but it made democracy intolerable."

"What can you learn from History? Very little... History was written with red ink, wth bloodshed. We should educate our children how to imagine, not how to remember."

Some students and a Rabbi were discussing how you can tell when night is over and day has come. One student said that when you can tell the difference between a lamb and a goat, day has come. Another student said that when you can tell the difference between a fig tree and and an olive tree, the day has started. The Rabbi says, when you see and white man or a black man and you call him your brother, the day has come. When you see a rich man or a poor man and you call him your brother, the day has come.

I don't know the publishing rules for this conference. I looked through all of the materials and there was no comment about usage of what we learn. They never mentioned it at during any of the sessions either so I am assuming it is OK. If someone thinks this is inappropriate, please email me. I think his comments were great and can't see how it could damage anyone...

I first started to work with China when we invested in a company that was trying to get a wireless permit in China and I had the opportunity to meet many Chinese officials. Some told me that they thought I made a mistake spending time in the US for the last 18 years and that I should focus on China which will obviously have more influence over Japan than the US. On the other hand, it's not too late.

So, this is a result of many long discussions with Leonard Liu...

First of all, Taiwan will become part of China eventually and we should look at how Taiwan Inc. operates. They bootstrap. They first make displays for calculators, then they made calculators, then PC's and now Quanta makes more laptops (designs them too) than any other company in the world. DVD's because of the popularity of DVD's caused by the lack of copyright regulation in China are mostly produced in China. DVD's are one of the most profitable components of the living room appliance suite. Japan is working hard on high end things like video cameras and might end up in a similar situation to the Americans who invented the TV, but didn't benefit from the business. China will probably make most of the DVD's and TV's and make all of the money.

The risk here for Japan is that Japan is 5 years behind the US and have not been able to take the "shallowing" strategy that US companies such as Compaq and Dell have been able to take. This strategy is to shallow the products and not give up market share. They now outsource almost everything to Taiwan. Japn is going down the deadly path that IBM and GM went down. Japan is trying to go high end. You can't buy a Japan PC under $1200.

On the other hand, Japan is losing competitiveness in manufacturing. Taiwan has 12 inch wafer fabs, Japan doesn't. So Japanese cell phones have cool applications, but deep down inside, they are not that smart and may not be able to compete long term with phones designed by Taiwanese with access to the most advanced semiconductors.

It is obvious that China will learn the Taiwan Inc. business model and will start from the bottom and bootstrap up and take over much of manufacturing from Japan. Japan needs to assume that they will lose manufacturing to China and focus on services, IT and bio, all sectors where we currently suck.

We need to purge the system of banking and government relationships that are causing Japan to be focused on the sector at extreme risk from the Chinese.

So my Brainscan (the 3 minute blurb that we give in front of everyone) was something like the following:

I'm the only Japanese at this conference of over 100 people. I guess it is an acknowledgement to the 2nd largest economy but a sign that everyone is saying, "call us when you figure it out." I'm on the China panel today so maybe that means that everyone thinks Japan is soon going to be part of China. Anyway...

The Japanese economic problem is based on the dysfunctional market and the lack of a working democracy. At this conference everyone has been blaming the US for stuff so I'll do that too. The US left the gangsters and the bureaucrats in power to fend of communism. If Japan had been allowed to become a democracy, we may have become a communist nation so maybe that made sense. Anyway, we need help transforming our Japan into a true democracy.

The Internet is an incredible tool and an incredible risk.

The printing press created public opinion that forces politicians and corporations to be accountable. Blogs, personal publishing, instant messaging and other Internet tools could transform the public into a much more active force.

On the other hand, privacy technology is essential to protect the right of people to transact, communicate and not be profiled. Privacy underpins democracy. Without privacy, there is no public debate, there is no dissent, there are no revolutions. Privacy is about data structures and architectures which are extremely political. The US will work to protect the privacy of its own citizens, but they are not incentivized to protect the privacy of citizens of other nations. All nations must focus on and cause privacy to be protected since privacy will not be driven by purely market forces at this stage and once privacy is lost, it is impossible to un-do disclosure of your personal information.

Monthly Archives