Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

November 5, 2003 - Wednesday

The following is from Information Clearing House today.

"Note: Unconfirmed Report"
Can any of our Scottish readers verify the following report:

Since Saturday, people in the Highlands of Scotland have been witnessing large movements of US warplanes overhead. Experienced observers say the large numbers are reminiscent of those that preceded the bombing of Iraq in 1998 and military strikes against Libya in the 1980's, as well as the first Gulf War.

It is thought that the planes have flown on a route over the North Pole to bases in Europe and the Mediterranean. The size and scale of the movement suggests that the US may be preparing to strike against a country in the Middle East in the next week to ten days. I have been getting a lot of email referring to this report. If you have information in relation to the above, please email me at"

Has anyone seen this or know of any other information about this? Is the US about to attack someone else?

Via Markoff


Well, after George W. threw out the rulebook to attack Iraq, many of us thought it was just a matter of time until he settled the "Scottish Problem".

I just talked to my Highlander kin (an aunt and uncle who live here
). They report no increase in the usual air force activity (which there's lots of). The thing is, that's a really heavily used part of NATO airspace (lots of USAF and RAF training, airbases etc) that it would need a serious increase in activity before anybody would notice it. And so far they haven't. But maybe things are busy elsewhere- the Highlands is a big place.

Just seen in TV: US is bombing Tikrit.

It took three days (November 5 through November 8) for U.S. airplanes to fly from Scotland to Tikrit? I guess they didn't use the great circle route.

Another Japanese Rocket Crash in Sweden? This is the kind of thing that makes me hate blogs: this silly rumor will be on the web until kingdom come, multiplying out in thousands of spurious trackbacks.

Precia: Now, I don't think they are related. The US bombing on Tikrit was done by F16, as CNN has reported.

John: Yes, there is a risk that some memes don't die in the blogosphere, even when they are in

The US is also reportedly planning a big troop rotation soon.

This is something to remember though, when they start bombing Syria.... then you can say "I told you so".

Damn! You caught us!

Doesn't matter, though: by the time anyone recognizes it, Paris will be ours!

First plan: baths and Ban Roll-On for everybody.

John. I think that vetting rumors on blogs is an interesting thing. Most rumors turn out to be false. In the case of the Swedish incident, it was published in an actual Swedish publication and the blog post occured after the Swedish publication and before other publications. As the truth came out, links to the articles were posted in the comments as well. I don't see trackbacks on that comment spreading a false meme either.

I think this post was written with a healthy sense of skepticism. I hadn't seen this rumor anywhere else and was soliciting any information that could debunk, shed light on or coroberate this information.

I don't see blogs adding to confusion and false rumors, I think that blogs contribute to finding new things as well as debunking wrong thing. The biggest difference is that once something is in print, it just sits there. On blogs, you can update and comment.

As a US citizen and avid follow of our political and military situation, I can assure you we're not attacking anyone else....we simply don't have the troops to do so (or the political support). We're out of people. Who knows what the alleged planes are doing though...could be anything.

"The biggest difference is that once something is in print, it just sits there. On blogs, you can update and comment."

The way I see it is that once something's in print, it wraps fish the next day, and goes in the landfill the day after that. Once it's on the net it pollutes my Google searches next year and next decade. We can only pray for server crashes and hard-disk meltdowns.

In the case of false rumors, rather than "update and comment," why not just delete them? The only reason to keep them up is the ego that everything written in a blog is on the level of the contents of the library at Alexandria. The height of this is the practice of preserving edits with strike-through type for the "historical record"--something you mercifully gave up doing a few months ago.

Charlie: Before the baths and Ban Roll-on in Paris, we need to do air-drops of pooper scoopers.

John, I believe in leaving stuff on my blog for accountability reasons, not for ego reasons. I'm often wrong. I the comments section people argue with me and that dialog helps develop the discussion. A blog is a transcript of a conversation. If a politician were able to delete everything they ever said that was wrong, would that be right? If I deleted and edited every post where I was ever wrong, would this be ethical? I don't think so.

I haven't stopped the practice of strike-through and edit. I just haven't done it recently. I think that if someone made a comment which required me to edit the original post in a way that put all of the comments out of context (for instance, if we argued about it first) I would probably use strike-through.

I don't think my blog is the library of Alexandria, but if nothing else, it is my diary. Why should I erase from my memory, every discussion where I ended up being wrong?

As for polluted Google results... If you think they're polluted, complain to Google, not me. I'm not posting content on Google, I'm posting stuff on my computer.

warplanes != bombers

They could be carrying supplies or personnel.

It's a lot quicker than taking a boat.

I know you are probably just courious, but why would you want to bring attention to U.S. plans to attack? I know it seems minor, but even this can help the enemies of the U.S.
Loose lips sink ships.

They've been sent by Steve Jobs to strike the Scottish Advertising Standards authority - see As The Apple Turns

(link won't be valid for long, but can't link the the permanent version yet due to AtAT's wierd permalink system)

Joi, last Saturday I emailed your post to our top British blogger (in England). He's just emailed me this reply:

Increased solar activity means it is unsafe for aircraft with electronic guidance to fly over polar regions, so they're flying a more southerly route. Hence increased activity over Scotland. Do not be alarmed.

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