Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

November 2004 Archives

As some may have noticed, Boris and Ado (he doesn't have a very good sense of humor, but he tries) are fiddling with including my the recent songs I've played on my sidebar taken from my profile. I've turned scrobbling on so that it picks up the songs I'm playing now. When I'm scrobbling, I realize that I skip stupid songs so they don't end up in my profile. Now I have to take a shower. I'm going to leave iTunes on in shuffle mode. I sure hope it doesn't play anything too stupid or embarrassing while I'm away.

Just finished my RSS feed and didn't find anything I felt I needed to comment on so I'll give you my two favorite links from today.

From the mistress of the cute/cool thing, Andrea Harner, comes

Warren Ellis over at die puny humans informs us that:

Warren Ellis
It's a glum day for optimists. After 24 years of community service, the Quakertown Optimists Club is calling it quits. They're holding their last meeting on Thursday, citing declining interest.

"I feel sad," club president Bernard Kensky said.

"Four or five people would come to meetings and only two or three people would help out with the activities. I don't know why people stopped getting involved."

I just arrived in Cape Town. I've had some tea and dinner and many of the waiters were humming tunes when they did stuff. Even the person who was putting candles on the tables was humming a tune. So far, people seem... happy. I wonder if it's the weather. The weather is BEAUTIFUL. Or maybe it's the contrast to Paris, where the weather was terrible and considering how wonderful the city was, generally speaking, people seemed a bit unhappy...

Please please stop setting up scripts that bounce virus and spam email back to the sender. You're doubling the spam. Usually the sender or the "from:" is forged. My mailbox is getting filed with people bouncing email back to me that did not originate from me. (I DO check the IP addresses in the headers to makes sure.) What triggered this message was from an ignorant ass who bounced a message to me saying:

Your mail was rejected

You are crimer

Checking the header showed that it came from an IP address of a network I've never been on.

So please. Stop it.

Pascale Weeks joined us for dinner last night. She has a French language blog called "C'est moi qui l'ai fait !". She blogs about her cooking with wonderful pictures, recipes and a very down-to-earth style. It's great seeing people like Pascale who are extremely passionate about blogging who also possess the ability to create a lot of great original content. I only wish someone would translate her blog to English... or maybe I should just learn French.

One thing for sure though... if you like talking about food, clearly you must learn French. The food was amazing and the discussions about food were very enlightening... even if dinner DID take over four hours last night. ;-)

Photo by Paul Saffo
via Dvorak
Photo sent in by the ever-travelling Paul Saffo with this note: “I encountered these machines on a recent trip, and couldn’t help but note that their message says it all. And no, it is not retouched or photoshopped.”

I’m thinking of the Tom Hanks movie, Terminal, where Hanks is told the country is “closed.”

I watched The Terminal on the flight to Paris because I knew it was about Merhan Karimi Nasseri stuck in Charles de Gaulle Airport. I didn't realize that the movie was set in the US and the story totally "rebuilt". I enjoyed the movie, but it was definitely Hollywoodified and wasn't based on the Merhan Karimi Nasseri story, but rather just inspired by it.

Nice on-the-ground reporting from a blog from Ukraine - The ukraine_revolution blog.

via Loic

A few of us had dinner with Mike Tommasi from Slow Food France. Slow Food (as opposed to fast food) is a semi-political movement originating in a protest against the entry of McDonald's into Italy and formally becoming an organization in Paris. They focus on a variety of gastronomy issues. They care about the impact of industrialization of food on farmers, diversity, cataloging endangered food, teaching children about food, finding produce that can be brought back or preserved and help create new markets and for slow food. They have successfully found a variety of slow foods including cheeses and meats and have brought them back and created markets for them in sympathetic restaurants. They have a magazine, a Slow Food Guide for Italy (Good slow food restaurants for under 30 Euros), and conferences where they invite farmers from around the world to share ideas. They are not against science, but are against science used to destroy food culture. They now have 80,000 members in 100 countries with offices in Switzerland, Germany, the US, France and Italy. Although it was originally founded by people from the Italian Left wing, it is recently more politically neutral. Being a movement originating in Italy, founded in France with an English name makes it unique as well. Their web site has a lot of interesting stuff on it.

We were sitting in a cafe in Paris today having a meeting. The service was somewhat rude and as we sat around, a waiter came and said he wanted us to either agree to stay for lunch or leave to make room for people coming to have lunch. (Even though there were a lot of extra tables) My friend mumbled something and shrugged. The waiter walked away. He explained that when you go to the post office in Paris and you're really in a hurry, but the postal worker really doesn't feel like worrying about your problems, they shrug and sort of ignore you. He said he perfected this body language and it seems to have the effect of making people give up on you. It seemed to have worked, although I doubt I could do it...

Sifry says: New Technorati This favelet for IE, Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, etc.

Put Technorati in your browser and get a cosmos wherever you are.

Great Animal Story...

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) - A pod of dolphins circled protectively round a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark, media reported on Tuesday.

Lifesavers Rob Howes, his 15-year-old daughter Niccy, Karina Cooper and Helen Slade were swimming 300 feet off Ocean Beach near Whangarei on New Zealand's North Island when the dolphins herded them -- apparently to protect them from a shark.

I love stories like this. The contrast between stories like this and all of the stories of humans hurting humans amazing.

via die puny humans

If you're cooking Turkey today. Please make sure you read my post from 2002 on cooking Turkey.

I'll be in Paris, but Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans!

Flash/AfterEffects/Video Design Person Wanted

Submitted by Glenn Otis Brown on 2004-11-24 07:21 PM.

We'd like to produce a short, new animated/motion graphics film, and we need a great designer and/or animator to help us do so on a fairly tight deadline. You should know how to animate in Flash or After Effects (or both) and have experience with any necessary drawing tools, like Adobe Illustrator. You should have the confidence and skill to help us produce a film of at least the caliber of our previous pieces. No need to be a writer (we'll collaborate on the script) or an audio engineer (though if you are one or know one, that's great). Location in the Bay Area and enthusiasm for the work of Creative Commons are big bonuses. Send an email ASAP to if you are interested. Please include (1) a CV, (2) a list of the animated or graphic design pieces you've done, (3) a link to any such pieces that are now online, and (4) all your contact information. Thanks!

If you can help or know someone who can, please pass this info on. Thanks.

I'm off to Paris today for some meetings, to Cape Town for the ICANN meeting, SF for some meetings then Boston for the Votes, Bits and Bytes meeting at Harvard Law School. As usual, my schedule is on my wiki. Also, my apologies to the environment...

PS My trip to SF is VERY short trip. I'll be back for a more leisurely visit in January and will hook up with everyone then.

In Airport 'Pat-Downs' and Fear of Retaliation, Dan Gillmor links to a New York Times story about U.S. airport screening and women who are humiliated but afraid to retaliate. This is how profiling and lists will begin to inhibit our actions and free speech. What's your national ID # again?

Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) just won a case against the karaoke bars and is now going after clubs.
CHANGING ITS TUNE: It's closing time

"I thought it was a new kind of fraud," said Naoki Kasugai, who runs Daytrip, a nightclub that offers live music in Nagoya. He received a letter from JASRAC in summer 2003 along with an invoice for a monthly charge of 28,350 yen in copyright fees, covering the entire time his bar has been open since 1997. It totaled a whopping 2.32 million yen.

Kasugai was shocked and puzzled. He had never heard from JASRAC before. He figured someone was trying to con him.

But after receiving a second invoice from JASRAC, he called to find out what was going on.

A JASRAC official came by in person to explain: "The bands you hire have likely played covers of songs by other composers. We want you to pay the copyright fees on those songs."

"How many cover songs does this account for?" asked Kasugai.

"We don't know how many copyrighted songs were played here," the official replied. "So we are not charging for each of them. Instead, we are charging on a monthly basis."


But JASRAC is ready to rock and roll, even resorting to court battles.

"Lawsuits in themselves are an effective way to spread our message," a JASRAC official says.

Lawsuits as a communication form seems like a common practice in this industry these days...

I'm sorry I'm a bit late in picking this up, but blogger and journalist Kevin Sites is all over the news for the video he took of a US Marine shooting what appeared to be an unarmed prisoner in Falluja. There is a post on his blog that you must read about his position and the circumstances around his taking and releasing the video. There is article on the front page of today's IHT about this as well, but I can't seem to find it online.

via Xeni @ Boing Boing

I just watched this the video that Jon Husband points to in comments on this blog of David Weinberger at the Library of Congress.

For an interesting take on this subject, involving a sizeable audience of (I'm assuming) senior librarian types at the USA Library of Congress, watch David Weinberger trace knowledge from Plato and Aristotle through Descartes to the clash between official objectivity and personal subjectivity, moving deftly to the power and believability of human voice on ... of all things ... blogs (especially those with comments capability, which I think must be well in the majority ;-)
More formats on David's blog. Classic Weinberger. Excellent stuff. Even the bonus seeing Derrick de Kerkhove make the introduction. ;-)

I don't know if this already old news but have you ever called echo123 on Skype? (It's on their support page.) It's a test account that talks to you and plays back a message you record. The woman on the Echo Test Service has a cool Estonian accent. So for all of you lonely Estonian guys out there... I THINK her name is Heidi, but I'm checking now.

UPDATE: Her name is Kerli.

Funny anti-blog anti-Wikipedia article by a librarian Greg Hill who manages to mangle the spelling of Dan Gillmor and Dave Barry's name while trying to argue that "librarians abhor using reference sources that don't have established credibility editorial rigor..." ;-)

I don't usually like to link to stupid articles, but this one's too ironic to just ignore.

via Dan Gillmor

Dan Gillmor
UPDATE: Trudy Schuett posted an extraordinary exchange of e-mails with the Alaska librarian, who has the nerve to say he knows of "no typos or mis-statements in that column, unless they are those of the sources I cite, and every point in my column stemmed from multiple sources. As a rule, there's not enough space in a 700-word column to list multiple sources, but I can readily produce them."

No, he can't. He can't possibly produce a citation that explains misspelling my name and Dave Barry's. He might alibi getting the name of my book wrong, because he quotes an early working title that I used in blog postings here. But even there, a tiny amount of due diligence would have produced the correct title.

I worship librarians as a rule, but I'm going to make an exception in this case.

Truely unbelievable.

There is an interesting discussion going on on MetaFilter about a very graphic video of what appears to be French soldiers shooting at civilians in Cote d'Ivoire. The discussion starts with understandable outrage, but some people begin to question the authenticity of the video and question whether it might be propaganda from the Gbagbo government. There is more and more political video on the Internet and it clearly is more emotional than text. Well respected groups such as Witness have been using video to expose human rights issues for awhile now. It will be interesting to see if/when/how not so respectable groups begin using video on the Internet for political issues or to spin the truth.

I can't conclude either way about exactly what is going on after watching this video. (Warning 100MB and very graphic.)

via Ethan

UPDATE: tao posts a link to an interview of French military on Swiss TV in Real Video format. Can someone who speaks French tell us what they are saying?

Cory blogs from the WIPO meeting about position papers from IP Justice, EFF, and the Union for the Public Domain being repeatedly stolen and thrown in the trash. Someone is obviously upset about their position on the Broadcast Treaty. Cory quotes Gandhi, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Good luck Cory!

Mike Masnick @ The Feature
Can DoCoMo Say No To Microsoft?

NTT DoCoMo made a splash by announcing a new common platform for its 3G FOMA offering that only works on Symbian and Linux phones. The lack of Microsoft isn't just a timing issue -- DoCoMo purposely shunned the software giant. Will they be able to keep it up?

It really is hard to say no to Microsoft. Most people will say you're being arrogant, stupid or insane. Many of my friends think that Microsoft will eventually take over mobile devices too, but it's nice to see that DoCoMo can afford to say "no"... for now.

Ariel has started a service called Mailinfo. It looks pretty interesting. It's a plugin for Outlook that lets you see when people have read email that you've sent. Too bad it doesn't work on OSX yet. With all of the spam filters and "gee I wonder if he read my email..." stuff going on, this might be a good tool to unbreak email. Ariel! Hurry up and write a plugin for Mac users. ;-)

Found on Craigslist by Kelly Sue -- "Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight - m4m":

I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.

via die puny humans

Boris blogs about his first Sony Walkman.

I remember my first Walkman. It was the Sony TPS-L2 (thanks to the Vintage Walkman Museum). I was in 9th grade. I remember my favorite song was "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen. I was living in Tokyo and just started going to discos and nightclubs. I had just moved to Tokyo. The Walkman was part of the "coming of age", becoming independent, asking a girl out for the first time and becoming Japanese part of my life.

I remember the feeling of having music thundering in my head as I walked to school. It made me feel all subversive inside. I also remember the little orange button that turned on a microphone so you could hear what people were saying. These days, we just pull off our headphones. Now with my in-ear earphones, I wish my iPod has a button to turn on a microphone so I don't have to extract the earphones just to listen to someone trying to say something to me.

The Walkman also represented a period in gadget history where companies like Sony could create cool new gadgets based on some great idea by the founder. It seems like Apple is the only company that can really pull that off these days and even then, it's really a redesign of a good idea, not a brand new idea. I miss the feeling that I had when I got my first Walkman.

I think this "meme" started with Nika

I remember someone posting a graphic of how an idea spreads across blogs. the image had a "gray area" of instant messenger and email that couldn't be tracked as easily. I've asked a few people who remember seeing the post, but now no one can find it. Does anyone remember it and have the URL? It's amazing that we remember it, but can't find it or remember who posted it...

UPDATE: Found! Thanks tarek! Amazing. That was less than one hour after I posted this question. I had been googling for it for a day or so.
Croatian diplomat fired over blog comments

17/11/2004 by John Tilak

The Croatian government has recalled an official from its Washington embassy after he apparently wrote on his blog that the diplomatic meetings were boring and that there was no difference between President Bush and the Democratic candidate John Kerry, according to a report from Reuters.

Third secretary at the Croatian embassy in Washington DC, Vibor Kalogjera, 25, had been narrating his experiences under the pseudonym "Vibbi".

He is said to have violated state laws on foreign affairs and civil servants.

I guess this makes sense. It's interesting to think about the line between private and public comments. I'm sure he wouldn't have been recalled for sharing these thoughts in private or with his friends. Of course posting stuff on the Internet is not "sharing in private" but if only a few people are reading it, it is effectively somewhat private. On the other hand, if you get reported in Reuters, your private conversation quickly becomes public... collapsing your context. Maybe he should have had a password protected blog.

via Francesco


via Imajes

UPDATE: If the link above is down, try this one. Thanks Alison.

die puny humans
More members of Russia's armed services committed...

More members of Russia's armed services committed suicide or died in accidents than in the line of duty this year..

In October, Human Rights Watch published a detailed study of what it called "horrific violence" against new conscripts in the Russian army.

The international organisation highlighted a ritual of organised bullying known as "dedovshchina", which allegedly involves senior soldiers being able to treat juniors as little more than slaves.

The report claimed hundreds of soldiers were killed or committed suicide as a result. Tens of thousands ran away, while thousands more were left physically and or mentally scarred...

I just had dinner with a friend who served in the Russian army awhile ago. He said that at the time, they started recruiting from prisons so "prison rules" were common. Basically, new recruits had to listen to the old-timers or they got the shit beat out of them. People regularly were killed or died and accidents were unreported. When he had first been recruited, a somewhat senior recruit got upset and and threw a bayonet at him which pierced his leg. He was patched up, but the assailant was not reprimanded nor was he taken to a hospital. (He showed me his scar.) On another occasion, a young recruit was told to remove a rope between two armored vehicles. The vehicle being towed popped the clutch and crushed the head of the young recruit. There was a funeral, but no formal investigation or report. His theory was that suicides and deaths have been common in the Russian army forever and recent transparency is just beginning to reveal the extent of the abuse.

The ICANN Staff and President and CEO have recently made a strategic plan available. It's quite complete and probably interesting for anyone interested in ICANN. It's a 70+ page PDF. Any comments or opinions about it would be greatly appreciated.

I had the opportunity of sitting with Ismail Serageldin, the director of the Library of Alexandria at a session at the STS Forum. He told me a story about a fellow educator and librarian who was dismayed that students were only citing things that they could find on the Internet and were no longer using physical libraries. Ismail said that he disagreed. He told me that he felt that students using the Internet were correct and that it was the libraries that needed to make more material available online. I totally agree. (He also said he was a fan of Wikipedia.) So it's good news that:

Matt Haughey @ CC Blog
30 Million newspapers to be put online

Great news for the public domain: The National Endowment for the Arts and the Library of Congress are putting 30 million newspaper pages online, dating from 1836 to 1922.

It'll take until 2006 to complete the project but the Library of Congress has put up a sample from The Stars and Stripes, an armed forces paper, posting every issue from 1918-1919.

Today I was on a panel at a JETRO conference with Hong Liang Lu. He has some amazing numbers about telephones China. Chinese are buying 90M new mobile phones a year. (Compared to 80M total mobile phones in Japan.) Japanese are about to make pre-paid mobile phone illegal because they are being used in crime. 80% of Chinese cell phones are pre-paid because of collection issues. PHS (Personal Handy Phone) which was developed in Japan (and I thought was a dead standard) is heavily deployed in China with 70M subscribers vs. only 5M subscribers in Japan. Minutes are as cheap as 1 cent per minute in China. China has 300M land-line phones and 300M mobile phones now.

I knew telecom was going crazy in China, and many of you may know these numbers, but they are stunning none the less.

Sorry about the light blogging. I was participating in an interesting conference in Kyoto called Science and Technology in Society with a very interesting international mix of scientists, politicians and business people. There were lots of really interesting presentations from some really smart people. I'll try to post more later, but here are some notes from a lunch speech by Sherwood F. Rowland, Donald Bren Research Professor of Chemistry and Earth Systems, University of California at Irvine and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (1995).

The population of the world is about 6B now and it is expected that it will stabilize at around 9B in the middle of the century. We've grown from 3B to 6B in the last half century so we've done this before. We output about 6B tons of carbon dioxide. That's an average of 1 ton per person. In the US the average is about 5 tons per person and in India and Nigeria it's about 0.2 tons per person. If you added the US and population to India's population, it would be about 1.4 tons, or approximately the rate at which Albania creates carbon dioxide. 85% of our energy comes from fossil fuels, coal, gas and oil which create carbon dioxide. These are green house gasses. In 1800 there was about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide and 800 parts per billion of methane in the air. Today we are at about 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide and 1750 parts per billion of methane.

A calculation of the natural greenhouse effect of the earth is 32 degrees centigrade. The enhanced greenhouse effect puts us at more like 33 to 37 degrees centigrade. The average temperature of the earth has increased 6/10th of a degree in the last century. The warmest days since we have begun recording temperatures about 150 years ago have all been since 1990. In order to stabilize the increase in carbon dioxide (at a much higher level than it is now), we would need to cut back 60% of our output. Conservation can help, but it is unlikely that conservation itself can take us to a sustainable situation. Alternative carbon free energy sources like solar, nuclear, and wind must be explored, but we must understand that we are in a situation that requires immediate action.

I was scribbling notes during lunch and I may have mangled some of this. Please let me know if I've misquoted something and I'll fix it.

One important "take-away" from this meeting was that global warming and the risk did not seem like some sort of disputed theory as some politicians seem to lead us to believe. All of the scientists involved in energy and ecology that I heard speaking seemed to believe that our earth was immediately at risk and that we had to act now. The combination of the increase in population and our addiction to energy would not allow us to stabilize at any sustainable equilibrium without drastic changes in the way we make and use energy.

IM is sweeping the world but it's a whole new vocabulary. Feeling old and out of touch? Try the AOLer Translator.

via Sean

Rebecca suggests starting the Blogger Corps.

Rebecca MacKinnon
Bloger Corps?

... For early blog-adopters, blogging was an end in itself. For the activist community, blogging has to be an effective means to a concrete end.

In the final wrap-up session of Bloggercon III, I suggested that socially conscious members of the blogging community (of all political persuasions) might want to organize a "Blogger Corps." Through it, bloggers could donate their time to help poorly funded activists or non-profit groups to figure out what blogging tools are right for them, set up blogs, and develop effective blogging strategies.

Count me in Rebecca. I've been doing my own share of Johnny Appleseed evangelism, but I think a more organized approach where we can share information and coordinate activities would be great. I think we should start a wiki page. ;-)

One thing that Yossi, our tour guide in Jerusalem, showed us that was interesting was all of the Jewish graves at the foot of Mount Olive. According to the Jewish scripture, the Messiah was to come to earth and those in the graves at the foot of the mountain would be the first to come back to life. The legend says that they would then go to the Temple of the Rock to be the first to pray there. The problem is, the front gate of the Temple of the Rock has been sealed and along the wall facing the Jewish graves is a whole section of Muslim graves. According to legend, the Sons of David can not enter these graves and would not be able to go directly to the Temple to pray. I'm sorry if I'm mangled the story or names, but this is what I understood from the explanation.

I can see how the Muslims might want to make it difficult for the first reborn Jewish to reach their Temple, but isn't intentionally putting Muslim graves in the way a sort of recognition that the Jewish Messiah is real? It seemed a bit contradictory to me.

Does anyone know anything else about this legend and this topography? It's quite interesting how the various religions in Jerusalem seemed to acknowledge each other's legends and prophets, but just believe their own more strongly... or maybe I'm missing something completely. If someone could shed some light, I would greatly appreciate it.

Blogging from the bullet train on my way to Kyoto to chair a panel at the STS Forum. I usually don't moderate or chair panels so this will be an interesting experience for me. I guess the key will be to shut up and listen.

I still haven't shaken this bronchitis, but I think I should be better by the time I'm up. I did see a doctor and got some proper medication. I asked my doctor again whether I was contagious. He said, "not that contagious, but it depends on the person." Not very reassuring. So if you're feeling weak, don't shake my hand. ;-)

Ejovi was prevented from giving his talk by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Ejovi did the security audit on the local government system connected to the Japanese National ID system (Jyukinet) for the prefecture of Nagano. I audited his audit and wrote an opinion for Governor of Nagano last December. It does suck that they blocked is talk, which I think would have been fair and balanced as Ejovi says. However, I can easily imagine the government taking a hard stance on this considering all of the trouble they are having controlling the spin. Anyway, welcome to my world Ejovi. Ejovi, if you really want to give this talk, I think you need to do it with some political backup like Nagano or another local government.

Donna Wentworth @ EFF Deep Links
Govt. Responds; Indymedia Seizure Order May Have Come from Italy

The US government has responded (PDF) to EFF's motion to unseal the mysterious government order that resulted in the seizure of two servers hosting more than 20 Independent Media Center (IMC) websites. The reply, which argues that the order should remain secret, contains details that suggest that the order may have originated in Italy.

In the reply, the government contends that the seizure order should be kept sealed because (1) EFF and our Indymedia clients lack standing to contest the seizure, (2) the request for confidentiality came from an unnamed foreign government pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), trumping the Bill of Rights, and (3) disclosure would imperil "an ongoing criminal terrorism investigation."

EFF strongly disagrees.

So do I. Read the entire EFF post for lots of good details. I have been fighting against MLAT and other transborder law enforcement treaties for years arguing that cases just like this would occur. Most of the arrangements seem to assume that all law enforcement can be trusted and call for special powers to combat cybercrime because it is particularly multinational. These special powers often trump local laws, including in the case above, the Bill of Rights. I can imagine a future where agencies "share" databases of citizen activities and use these databases to create profiles for immigration border protection purposes. That's one of the reasons why I am so against the National ID in Japan. There are people who believe the government should have more central databases of consumer transactions for things like tracking down tax fraud. The risk to the people is that a centralized database would be a very obvious target for foreign agencies. The point is the government can't "share" what it doesn't have.

Mark Frauenfelder @ Boing Boing
Story on Cobb County Creationism Case

Gary Peare sez: "I have a modest proposal regarding the following story:"

A federal trial began today in Atlanta over evolution disclaimers in Cobb County schools. A group of parents backed by the ACLU argue that the disclaimers in science biology textbooks are a government endorsement of religion.
"The county put stickers with the following text into the books:"
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.
"So here's my proposal. Let's allow the religious right to paste their stickers in all the biology texts they want so long as they affix the following text to each and every one of their Bibles:"

"This book contains material on Judeo-Christian theology. Judeo-Christian theology offers insight into the origin and meaning of life and is the basis for several of the world's great religions. But it does not encompass the full range of religious beliefs held sacred by members of our diverse American society. Moreover, this material is based on ancient texts, and significant errors may have been introduced through subsequent translations and omissions. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."


It has always puzzled me that educated people can actually not believe in evolution. What percentage of the US does not believe in evolution? Are the belief in evolution and faith in God mutually exclusive?

It's been a great experience meeting all of the vibrant people of Tel Aviv and visiting the holy city of Jerusalem. Special thanks to Yossi Vardi for his incredible hospitality. It looks like I must have caught some some sort of throat infection on the plane when I was weakened by the influenza shot. Since I have no fever or flu-like symptoms, my doctor doesn't think it's too bad or contagious, but I have a nasty cough. I wish I wasn't sick or I would be on the beach right now. I am not looking forward to the long flight back. Coughing Asians aren't usually very welcome on planes, although it's better than during the height of the SARS fright. I'm going to keep my cough syrup close.

Anyway, see you later Israel and thanks for all the falafel!

I was just on a panel with Yossi Vardi, the founding investor in ICQ.

Yossi Vardi
There are three big brands that we have created which are well known enough to have approximately 20 million or so links on Google. They are The Bible, Jesus Christ and ICQ. The first one took 3500 years, the second one 2000 years and ICQ only 8 years as of next week. As you can see, they all spread virally.

Thanks to Yossi Vardi, we got one of the best tour guides around, Yossi Kalmanovich. I joined Lance Johnson who flew in that morning. Yossi is a professional tour guide and you could tell. His explanations were very thorough and balanced considering he was a very passionate and proud Jewish man. We first went to the roof of the University where we could see all of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Then we went to Mount Olive where he pointed out the primary places and described the Muslim, Jewish and Christian stories. There were a variety of towers by different Christians who believed that the ascension of Christ happened in different places. The rock where Abraham took Isaac is also the place where Mohammed ascends and a stones throw away from where some Christians believe Jesus was crucified. After the bird's eye view of all of the huge variety of churches and mosques including the Mormon University and the Russian Orthodox Church, we went down inside the old part of Jerusalem. We wandered through the bazaars. People were not eating because of Ramadan, but the bazaar was bustling with activity as people stocked up on food for after Ramadan. There was a Muslim quarter, Greek Orthodox quarter, a Armenian Orthodox quarter, a variety of Orthodox Jewish... A huge variety of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish sects were represented and it was an almost unbelievable display of highly religious people mingling and sharing their holy places in what appeared to be a friendly and mutually respectful way. We visited a Church built on where some people believe Christ was crucified. There was supposed to have been an earthquake and a crack in the rock when he was crucified. The church shows a rock which had been cracked. I had never heard this before, but at the bottom of the crack, there is a rock that some believe is the skull of Adam and that Adam and Eve were also buried here. Another thing that I heard that I had not heard before was that the reason the year starts January 1 and not on the birthday of Jesus, December 25 was because Jewish boys are only officially considered alive after they are circumcised 8 days after birth. It was quite an overload of information and Yossi's ability to describe all of the various versions of each of the stories of the major religious and the intertwined nature of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian stories gave me a new appreciation for the extreme similarity and yet the ultimately unreconcilable difference between the three major monotheistic religions.

Yossi also explained the history of the various rulers of Jerusalem and what they built and tore down and why. You can see the difference in the layers of stones of temples that had been built upon temples. The graves of the Jewish waiting for the Messiah as well as the Muslim graves along the front of entrance of the main Temple area almost look like strategic military positions waiting for the return of their respective prophets. So much history and importance compressed into one small place. I'm sure it's not puzzling to people of these faiths, but to someone like me, I kept asking myself... why here?

We also visited the WWII museum, the Western Wall (the holiest place for Jewish), and got to see the West Bank wall, which looked as ominous as I had imagined. It wasn't a continuous wall, but for people who had to now travel over 10 kilometers to go around it, it certainly must feel like quite an obstruction.

I noticed that the "liberal" (I don't know if that is the correct term) people here are banning products made in the West Bank and Gaza to protest the Israeli settlements there.

I am going to Jerusalem this morning. As someone who is mostly non-religious and Shinto if anything, the notion of so many religions can sharing the same holy place is very difficult for me to understand. Hopefully, I will understand it better after visiting.

I made it to my hotel in Tel Aviv. It was more hassle than I've ever had before, but people were polite and it was bearable. The women at immigration gave me a short glare, but she didn't stamp my passport when I asked her not to. It was a bit hard describing what I was doing in Tel Aviv since she didn't know what Internet or venture capital was. (or at least in English.) The most unbearable part is that the hotel said they had high speed Internet on the web site, but for some reason they don't have it now. Maybe they're out of modems or something. So I'm stuck with crappy, expensive GPRS. At least GPRS works though.

merkinofbaphomet posts on AnandTech that he just noticed that no abuse images show up on Google Images when you search for Abu Ghraib. The same search on Alta Vista produces a bunch of images.

I DO know that Google Images doesn't refresh their image database that frequently. Is it just that the images haven't made it into the database yet? Does anyone have more info on this? Can someone from Google shed some light?

via metafilter

David Weinberger expresses his grief with some images. ;-)

John Perry Barlow has the best liberal post-election post I've read so far...

Hoder, the Iranian blogger is getting death threats.

Editor: Myself
Now they've moved to BlogSpot and have made another blog with the same name with a more precise content to backup their claims. They now have picked particular posts from my Persian blog, in which they think I've insulted the God, and other sacred concepts of Islam and therefore, quoting from a Quranic verse, I deserve to be killed.
I will be meeting Hoder for the first time at the upcoming Berkman Center's "Internet & Society 2004: Votes, Bits & Bytes" on December 10. This will be Hoder's first trip to the US. I hope it turns out to be enjoyable for him and doesn't cause him problems at home. I always have to remind myself that for some people, things we take for granted like "free speech" are life threatening activities in some countries.

I'm at the airport now and I'm on my way to Israel. I have a 14 hour flight to Paris, a 5 hour layover and then another 4 hours plus flight to Tel Aviv. Long flight.

The influenza vaccination I took is making me feel sick I think. It feels like I have half a dozen mini-flus at the same time. Symptoms of a bunch of different flus but mini versions. Blah.

Since I have five hours in Charles de Gaulle Airport, maybe I should look for Merhan Karimi Nasseri, the Iranian refugee who has been living in the airport since 1988. I wonder if he'll let me moblog him. Or even... a podcast interview. I suppose my "boy am I sick of airports" line won't really fly with him.

Anyway, if anyone is in Charles de Gaulle between 4:35 AM and 10:30AM on Nov 7, let me know.

Technorati site redesign and features launched.

New keyword search - faster and better results. Please give it a spin and give us feedback. See Dave's blog for more info.

Image via email, not sure of origin
The image above shows all of the major Japanese TV networks broadcasting live coverage of the recent earthquake in Niigata prefecture. The square in the middle shows TV Tokyo broadcasting something about crab rice bowls. Oops.

Yesterday I got an influenza vaccination. I'm not sure what I expected but surprise surprise. I woke up this morning feeling like I had a mild flu. As a result I've slept all day. More than have slept all year probably. Which sort of sucks because I'm about to leave for Tel Aviv on the longest flight I'm going to take this year. (sigh)

Speaking of vaccinations, does anyone know if I need any special health preparations to go to South Africa?

Kyodo News
Ex-lawmaker Suzuki jailed for 2 years, fined Y11 mil

Friday, November 5, 2004 at 10:41 JST
TOKYO — The Tokyo District Court on Friday sentenced former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Muneo Suzuki to two years in prison and fined him 11 million yen for taking bribes, not reporting political donations, and perjury.

Suzuki, 56, had pleaded not guilty to all the charges in the trial that began in November 2002. Suzuki was a member of the House of Representatives belonging to the LDP but left the governing party in March 2002 before his arrest in June that year.

We might not have a general election in Japan for up to another three years or so, but at least we're throwing some of the rotten ones in jail. One of the big challenges for the general elections in Japan will be whether we can get election reform back on track. Other than the fact that the ruling party has been in power almost non-stop for 50 years, we have some serious problems with our election system. The Prime Minister is not directly elected. This is similar to the UK where your parliamentarians select the Prime Minister, but in Japan, they don't have to tell you who they would vote for. The Prime Minister is chosen by the elders of the ruling party behind closed doors. There was a movement to reform this, but because of Prime Minister Koizumi's enormous popularity when he was selected, the people THOUGHT they had voted him in. Not true. The elders had just decided to select him to appease the people and possibly derail this election reform.

Another huge problem in Japan is the disparity of voting weights. They are very old and some rural areas have 5 times the voting power of people living in Tokyo. The Supreme Court of Japan has come close to calling this unconstitutional (because it is) and have asked the Diet to reallocate "or else"... but there is never "or else"... This supports the pork barrel politics of rural politicians subsidizing public works and skimming, which Suzuki was famous for.

The problem with Japan is that our democracy and our election process is so broken, it's not just a matter of getting people to vote and it's not even a matter of choosing the better of two evils. The ruling party wins and they choose the Prime Minister. You don't have much of a choice and without a massive, almost revolutionary uprising, reform is probably not possible. (sigh)

On the bright side, the prefectural Governors are elected more or less directly and are often very representative of the people. We should dissolve the central government and split Japan up into at least three nation-states. IMHO.

I really don't believe in IQ quizzes and I know this is really mean, but it's just too interesting/funny not to blog. IQ vs. Votes. Read and click the links in the text for more interesting comparisons.

via Jason

UPDATE: This is not true. Here is the story debunking it. Thanks Richard.
OK, this is so going to blow up...

Go to CNN to find this page:

once there, you'll find a page like the one below. Snapshot archived for posterity after CNN wises up.

Snapshot Cnn1-1

now right-click, control-click or whatever on the Bush/Laura image. Select "Open Image" or the equivalent. And observe the image name.

Yes, this is not a fake. As of right now, November 3rd, 2004, 21:23 PST this is the frontpage. My world just got a little brighter. Pizza, Canadian beer, and watching "Strange Brew" contribute, too.

The name of the image file is asshole.jpg. Nice catch Jonas.

UPDATE Sean blogs that The Register ripped off the article without giving credit to Jonas. Schmucks.

UPDATE2 Now WorldNetDaily is writing as if they found it.

UPDATE3 has also just ripped off the images without attribution.

UPDATE4 Jonas had an attribution-ShareAlike license on his blog...

I just got a $78.81 tax refund from the US Government in the mail today. What timing. Ha. I think I'll donate this to the EFF.

Harper's Magazine
Electing to Leave A reader’s guide to expatriating on November 3

So the wrong candidate has won, and you want to leave the country. Let us consider your options.


Saw this in a few placing including metafilter

Killer CC App: The Publisher, beta version

Leveraging the Internet Archive's generous offer to host Creative Commons licensed (audio and video) files for free, we recently completed the 0.96 beta version of The Publisher, a desktop, drag-and-drop application that licenses audio and video files, and sends them to the Internet Archive for free hosting.

When you're done uploading, the application gives you a URL where others can download the file. It also is able to tag MP3 files with Creative Commons metadata and publish verification metadata to the Web. A HUGE congratulations to Nathan Yergler, who's done an amazing job with this. Also, a great thanks to Jon Aizen and the folk at the Internet Archive. You can download the Publisher from here -- give it a test run and let us know what you think.

Also note that aside from being downloadable from Internet Archive, these tagged MP3s can flow on to P2P networks, and be identified as Creative Commons licensed (see our Lookup app we recently also updated to 0.96). Morpheus is currently the only file sharing application to identify Creative Commons licensed files.

I'm definitely going to start using this. Amazing. Thanks again everyone!

Firefox extension for editing Wikipedia

I got to see an early preview of a useful new Wikipedia tool today since I volunteered to proofread the interface. Bananeweizen has created a Firefox extension to help with editing Wikipedia...

Yay! I just tested it on Firefox 1.0 on OS X and it works fine. Now my browser of choice works with my reference of choice.

People should start investing money in independent record labels who have bands that sing about "sticking it to the man". The only upside I see is that people get quite creative when they are oppressed. I predict a rise in counter-culture.

As Larry says, "It's over. Let it go." Jon is saying, "Don't complain - organize!" Although the previous post about the wacky voting system is interesting, it's unlikely that any sort of recount or technicality will change the fact that today, the people of the United States of America have voted for George Bush. It was close, but the Americans have chosen Bush. It's a sad day, but in a democracy, you get the politicians you deserve/vote for. This was their chance to change their leader and they have failed. For awhile, many of us thought that they had been conned into voting for Bush - that they didn't know he wanted to be a War President. Many people didn't equate the US policies with the people of America. We thought they had made a mistake. Now US policies = US Citizens. You Americans have my sympathies, but it's still your fault.

Thomas Crampton (International Herald Tribune)
Not a simple election, global vote monitors say

The global implications of the U.S. election are undeniable, but international monitors at a polling station in southern Florida said Tuesday that voting procedures being used in the extremely close contest fell short in many ways of the best global practices.

The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system.
"To be honest, monitoring elections in Serbia a few months ago was much simpler," said Konrad Olszewski, an election observer stationed in Miami by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.


"The United States has long been a model for the world," said Richard Williams, a poll watcher officially designated by the Democratic party. "If we allow international observers, we will continue to have a leading role."

Not everyone agrees. Jeff Miller, a Republican congressman from Florida, considers the monitors an insult and has publicly urged them to leave. "Get on the next plane out of the United States to go monitor an election somewhere else, like Afghanistan," he said.

I think the past two paragraphs sum up the Democrat and Republican outlook on transparency, foreign policy and this election quite well. Sigh.

Jay Rosen
The Coming Apart of An Ordered World: Bloggers Notebook, Election Eve

"About the performance of journalists in 2004 it will be asked, post-election: How good a job did the press do? But Big Journalism was in a different situation in politics and the world during this campaign. The post-mortems should be about that. Also: will the press even have this job in 08?"

Lifeblog 1.5 has just been announced and it will support blogging directly to TypePad from Nokia phones with Lifeblog. Yay! Good work gang.

via Christian Lindholm

I can't vote in the US election, but I can at least say I oppose Bush on my blog. Technorati is now counting votes on blogs using Vote Links.

Rebecca MacKinnon, the former Tokyo bureau chief of CNN writes about why CNN is broken. She writes that although there is pressure from the administration to spin stories, most of it comes down to pure commercial interests. It also reminds me that "freedom of the press" in the US constitution was referring to people like Thomas Paine, not mega-corporations like CNN/Time Warner.

Rebecca MacKinnon
Priorities of American Global TV:
Humanity, National Interest, or Commercial Profit?

...When Richard Parsons, the CEO of CNN's parent company Time Warner visited Tokyo in the fall of 2003, he held a Q&A session with a group of Time Warner's Tokyo-based managers whose work ranges from movies, to music sales, to online services, and also to news. I asked him whether he viewed Time Warner's news properties - such as CNN and TIME magazine - to have a special social responsibility for educating the public about current events, or whether CNN was just another commodity like any other product or service sold by Time Warner. He replied that he does not view CNN any differently from any other company owned by Time Warner.


When I started working for CNN in 1992, things were different. Those were what longtime CNN employees now refer to as the "old days" when the network was run directly by Ted Turner, before the 1996 merger of Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner. "When CNN reported to me, if we needed more money for Kosovo or Baghdad, we'd find it," Ted Turner wrote in the July/August 2004 issue of Washington Monthly. "If we had to bust the budget, we busted the budget. We put journalism first, and that's how we built CNN into something the world wanted to watch." He blames the current situation on the concentration of news media in the hands of a small number of mega-corporations, and blames U.S. government regulators for allowing this to happen. "The loss of independent operators hurts both the media business and its citizen-customers," he argues. "When the ownership of these firms passes to people under pressure to show quick financial results in order to justify the purchase, the corporate emphasis instantly shifts from taking risks to taking profits. When that happens, quality suffers, localism suffers, and democracy itself suffers."

We now have evidence that certainly looks like altering a computerized voting system during a real election, and it happened just six weeks ago.

MONDAY Nov 1 2004: New information indicates that hackers may be targeting the central computers counting our votes tomorrow. All county elections officials who use modems to transfer votes from polling places to the central vote-counting server should disconnect the modems now.

There is no down side to removing the modems. Simply drive the vote cartridges from each polling place in to the central vote-counting location by car, instead of transmitting by modem. “Turning off” the modems may not be sufficient. Disconnect the central vote counting server from all modems, INCLUDING PHONE LINES, not just Internet.

In a very large county, this will add at most one hour to the vote-counting time, while offering significant protection from outside intrusion.

It appears that such an attack may already have taken place, in a primary election 6 weeks ago in King County, Washington -- a large jurisdiction with over one million registered voters. Documents, including internal audit logs for the central vote-counting computer, along with modem “trouble slips” consistent with hacker activity, show that the system may have been hacked on Sept. 14, 2004. Three hours is now missing from the vote-counting computer's "audit log," an automatically generated record, similar to the black box in an airplane, which registers certain kinds of events.

I wonder who would launch such an attack and what the motivation would be? Would it be, "because I can" sort of hacking or someone hired or with more purpose. In any event, this is clearly a risk. Take a look at the other stuff going on on the Black Box Voting site. I think it's quite important.

via David Weinberger

The movie that I'm helping on, "Negotiator - Mashita Masayoshi" is going to start shooting next week. I need to find more stickers that I can use for the laptop computers of the villain and the cyber-crime team. They need to be cool stickers and the rights have to be cleared. If you have any stickers that you have made or are with some group that would be interested in having stickers on a laptop in a Japanese movie, please email me the artwork or send me the actual stickers. Please also tell me what it represents and the story behind it if there is one. The director will make the final decision on whether to use the sticker based on the meaning, story behind the sticker and how cool it looks.

My address is:
Neoteny Co., Ltd., Plaza Mikado 3F, 2-14-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 Japan

or jito (at)

There is now a web site for the movie, but there is still not much there.

Why are they going to run WMD drills on election day? Some strong allegations on the Citizens for Legitimate Government page with links to a variety of sources.

You're actually just a ball in a pachinko game in the grand scheme of things. Friendster Pachinko.

Via Xeni and Waxy

I am still getting bombarded from IP address which is My most recent outage was a a more "formal" attack, but my the cause of my first outage on bloghosts was caused by these requests from It's basically a request for my index.xml about 15 times a minute. Not really hardcore and we are now filtering the requests, but still annoying. It might be a hoard of news readers, but the requests keep coming even after we've banned them and redirected the requests back to Plasmaxx. Anyone know who Plasmaxx Research is? There is no contact info on their page or in the whois. I suppose that if it is indeed an attack, the perpetrator is not actually from Plasmaxx Research. Anyway, if anyone knows anyone from Plasmaxx research, can you tell them to please stop bombarding me.

More info on Adriaan's blog.

I'm going to Israel this month and South Africa next month. I've heard from a few people that both Israeli stamps and South African stamps in your passport make it very difficult when traveling to Arab countries. Does anyone know if this is true? Is there any way to ask them NOT to stamp your passport? Is THAT a cause for being hassled?

Salon reports that a NASA photo analyst believes Bush wore a device during the debate.

via Lessig

Apologies to anyone who tried to access this blog in the last 24 hours. It looks like it was another malicious attack. I don't know if someone is after me in particular, or if I've randomly stumbled across two denial-of-service attacks in one week. But why would anyone want to take out MY blog? Oh, maybe I'm affecting the elections in the US... not.

Striking a Lessig.

The source...

via Xeni @ Boing Boing

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