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Saturday, March 29, 2003

REMEMBER YORKTOWN. Today at TAP Online, Georgetown professor Pierre Taminiaux looks back at a time when the French-American alliance was...
[via TAPPED]

Can we win the hearts and Minds?

I have just skimmed though Milton Viorst's Book "In the Shadow of the Prophet - The Struggle for the Soul of Islam". My questions about whether we can ever win the hearts and minds of the Arabs have deepened and I also question whether democracy can be inserted into a culture that has experienced the history and culture of Iraq.

MV's basic view is that Islam defaults to orthodoxy which in modern times has become Fundamentalist. It is not survivable for a Muslim leader to espouse a secular state. So, Muslim states are locked in a stasis. Orthodoxy precludes innovation. It precludes Representative government. The result:

  • Income in the Arab world has fallen more than 20% since 1980

  • GDP has increased at around 1% annually since 1980 while population has increased from 165 million to 245 million. In oil states, there has been a cushion but in the rest a fall in living standards.

  • There are 5 million arabs in France many of whom are young male and unemployed - that is 10% of the French population. That would be the equivalent of 20 million in the US and 3 million in Canada - now maybe we can sense why France is nervous about a conflict that could become religious.

The way out, if there is one, can only be found inside the Arab world. As assassination is the fate of reformers, I can't see how this can occur. So the Arab world most of whom are male and young and angry have no choice but to vent their anger at us..

My second point is about our hopes for democracy. Surely Iraq, like Ukraine, is like a battered family with a long habit of abuse. Abusers come from the ranks of the abused. There is no trust in this type of society. Putnam has shown how this affects economics and society in his work on Italy. In the South, Mafia land, the culture is top down patriarchal and the economy is stagnant. In the North where there are many horizontal links and high trust, the economy booms.

Sicily looks like a dream world compared to what the Iraqis have  been through for hundreds of years. Remember before Saddam there were the Hashemites supported by the British and before that hundreds of years of Turkish rule. Like Ukraine there is not even the myth of freedom to recall. If we are honest we can admit that there is no chance of having a Democratic state - it is not culturally possible until there have been generations of no abuse.

My main point -  Let's drop the illusions  The war in Iraq may be only a campaign in a long and deadly struggle between Islam and the secular world. Currently there is no possibility of reconciliation. We are in reality locked in a lifetime of increasing conflict. Let's take off the blinkers and see our situation for what it is. I have no idea what to do but is not the first step of finding a solution to find out what is relay going on?


What Ever Happened to Separation of Powers ?

Congress comes after a federal judge [National Law Journal]

A chilling tale of what happens when the political legislative branch attempts to undermine the independence of the judiciary.  Naturally, this type of oversight is only reserved for a judge seen as "too light" on drug offenders, as compared to those who are too hard on plaintiffs or too kind to law enforcement.  Maybe this proves that Congress should require a CCE (Continuing Citizen Education)  course on the Constitution at least once a year.  Heck, we could all benefit from that course, couldn't we?!

STRATEGYPAGE has a daily roundup on the war. Here's a bit from today's, which is worth reading in its entirety for the kind of perspective that the TV coverage lacks:

The pundits are already making comparisons to Vietnam, but there are some important differences. The main one being that Saddam's government is a brutal dictatorship that is unpopular with most of the population and that there are no nearby nations providing support for Saddam's followers. Even the Iraqi government admits that it is cut off and not able to hold out for a long time. Saddam's major weapon is media manipulation and turning himself into a heroic Arab folk hero, bravely fighting off the evil Western crusaders. The reality is different, but that doesn't mean you can't reinvent yourself via the media. Madonna has done it several times. . . .

After one week of operations, U.S. forces have suffered 22 killed in combat, six dead in accidents (including two killed by a soldier attacking other soldiers in Kuwait). Seven troops are prisoners and 17 are missing. By historical standards, these are record lows in casualties for troops actively campaigning against an armed enemy.

Read the whole thing.

returning to whuffie: blogshares Blogshares represents a sort of objective, "any attention is good attention" form of reputation economics. It values blogs based on the worth and quantity of inbound and outbound links. Because Unbillable Hours is somewhat sparing with its links, and is linked to by only a few bloggers, its overall market value is low ($446.

Another RSS Round-up.

  • RSS Feed Jackpot - The FeedRoom
    "I was checking out a link that someone sent me earlier, and stumbled upon this jackpot of RSS feeds. Insane! They've even got one set up for Robert Blake, for chrissake. I'm telling ya - if you don't have a RSS file, I ain't likely to return to your site. M'kay?" [C:PIRILLO.EXE]
  • Last week, Morbus Iff announced that SourceForge is providing RSS feeds for their projects, so you can easily keep track of news for and changes to any of their software projects (such as Mailman!).
  • Old Data Update Tool Gains New Converts
    "One researcher has written an RSS application that sends out server status updates. That could allow an information systems department to keep users updated when there are server problems, so that people aren't constantly calling up to report network problems.

    'RSS is proving to be a nice, robust and easily used tool for moving data...not just news headlines, but everything--from orders and inventory to whether or not the servers are up,' said Ben Hammersley, a journalist who has written a soon-to-be-published book on RSS. 'Thanks to the tools the RSS development community has made these past few years, it has a great future in the enterprise.' " []
[The Shifted Librarian]

And Now, the Good News...

And Now, the Good News. The administration should have prepared the country better for the cost of war, but at least this war will be won, and won decisively. By Maichael O'hanlon. [New York Times: Opinion]

Iowa Town May Make Lying A Crime The people of this town in Iowa have far too much time on their hands. Maybe they could volunteer some...


Again, I could not be more starved for constant John Robb updates.

Here are the major arguments for the war.  Let's see how they hold up:

  • Weapons of mass destruction.  Saddam currently possesses chemical and biological munitions.  He may someday possess nukes.  He has the motivation to attack the US with these weapons through terrorist surrogates in the future.

  • Liberation.  Saddam and his Baath party have cruelly suppressed the Iraqi people.  We are doing them a favor by changing the regime. 

My analysis:

Weapons of mass destruction.  Saddam is likely to have chemical and biological weapons, however, these weapons don't represent any meaningful threat to the US.  The only weapon that could result in a catastrophic impact on the US is a nuke.  He doesn't own one yet.  Containment and destabilization of Iraq could prevent the development of a nuke.

Liberation.  A war for liberation requires that we arm, train, and support freedom fighters in Iraq.  We haven't even tried to do that.  We didn't even start serious talks with the Iraqi National Congress until last week.  The Kurds have languished in silent obscurity until recently.  The propoganda we sent into Iraq doesn't (as far as I have seen) incite people to revolt.  Clearly, the US military didn't want to deal with armed freedom fighters in the post Saddam military protectorate.  We didn't want their participation.  Our inaction means that a popular revolt won't happen.  It can't happen.  This portion of the US strategy is clearly schizophrenic.  We want popular support, but we don't really want it because it can get out of hand.  

Just a quick reminder on my thinking before we launched the war and my prewar analysis on how it was going to turn out.

Here is the question everyone should be asking themselves.  For this is the nut of why we entered this war.

Which path reduces the chances of a terrorist exploding a nuke in NYC over the next 10 years :  

a) a withdrawal from Iraq, or

b) a bloody Pyrrhic victory?

Steven Levy on warblogging and big media Steven Levy takes on blogs, war, and conventional media in Newsweek today. (Minor point, but let's ditch the Newsweek-style spelling "webloger." Y'know: logger ... weblogger. Hullo? Excerpt: Perhaps it was inevitable that this war would become the breakthrough for blogs....

Hate Them Now Alternative weekly The New York Press playa-hates on two of the Big Apple's top rhyme-slingers.

Is The Era Of The Airline (As We Know It) Over? Plastic::Work::Travel: "What will the airline industry will look like in 5-10 years? How about just next year?"

War headline moment of zen Spotted on Fark:
Syria sets up Iraq the bomb. Rumsfeld: 'All Syria are belong to US.'


The student mind: "five grams is not that much, dude."

Belgium Legalizes Pot Smoking Belgium is legalizing pot smoking. The country's politicians voted to allow adults to possess up to five grams of marijuana...

Successful law grad defends affirmative action - Sat Mar 29, 02:25 pm GMT
Media coverage upsets veterans - Sat Mar 29, 11:02 am GMT
Media 100 Q1 2003 Earnings Release - Sat Mar 29, 11:02 am GMT

Friday, March 28, 2003

The Cardigans: Long Gone Before Daylight From the first time I heard it, I hated "Lovefool." I counted it one of those unbearably catchy tunes that tends to get stuck in your brain for ages of unrelenting torture...

Middle Eastern Islamic leaders push followers to engage in holy war - Sat Mar 29, 01:08 am GMT
Sorry about the late updating of the page, today. Blogger is overwhelmed, I guess, by my choices of articles.

Isn't this John Robb stuff a brilliant read?

It's clear that the recent decision by Rumsfeld to send up to 130,000 more troops to Iraq (not in the war plan) indicates that we don't have enough troops in theater to accomplish the mission (as advocated by this weblog).  It's also clear that we need at least the 4th Mech in place around Baghdad before we launch our strike on the Republican Guard.  Why?  We need to be able to destroy all six divisions in place (located at all points of the compass at 20-60 mi from Baghdad) simultaneously.  We can't allow them to retreat into Baghdad due to a limited air-heavy effort on a couple of the flanks.  We need to attack on all of the flanks.  The Republican Guard must remain in the killing field or surrender due to an armored over-run.


One chink in the US strategy for the war (not a fatal chink, but one that will grow to become fatal over time if not addressed), is the lack of an infrastructure for deBaathification of Iraq.  This is very much like the deNazification efforts of the Allies in Germany after WW2.  It is also very useful as a way to eliminate insurgents.  DeBaathification is much more similar to a police or intelligence problem than a military problem.  It is also very much an information problem, which incidentially plays into our technological strengths.

Our problem is that we didn't put the infrastructure or capabilities for this effort into place before the war.  Only in the last week have we been working with external Iraqi leadership on a reconstruction plan for Iraq.  Regardless, this infrastructure will need to be built.  It will require police experts, intelligence experts, Iraqi transitional government representatives, special operations operatives, trained Iraqi operatives, and boatloads of information technology.  Here is what we should be doing:

  1. Immediately begin to build a database for each city or town in Iraq on the names, address, current location, and armament of external Baath party operatives (Fedayeen), Iraqi military, local Baath party operatives, and local Baath party loyalists.  The organization infrastructure for each location needs to be mapped.  This information is gleaned from talking to the local population that has exited the city (just like the thousands of people that left Nasiriyah yesterday only to be searched and turned back by the Marines).  This effort should be tied to humanitarian support efforts.  This information will be actionable and allow US forces to guage the threat in each town and more accurately direct counter-insurgency ops.  It will also be useful for police action within pacified areas.

  2. Map the connections between these local operations. Supply and transportation routes as well as command and control infrastructure.  This information will allow the military to interdict routes that connect local organizations.

  3. Map the connections in the entire country.  Increase the amount of information available on each Baath party operative and loyalist to include past official positions, unofficial positions, connections to the regime, past actions (many of which may be actionable by the legal system), current stance, and their appropriateness for inclusion in the transitional government. 

This seems like a lot to do, however, this situation will never be stabilized until it is.

Hawk thrown to the wolves Whoa! Breaking news: Richard Perle, head of board that advises U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, resigns....

"Tonight is ze big day" The horrid little French-Canadian diva twig has dug in for three years in Las Vegas: Celine Dion took the stage...

Vishwa Hindu Parishad And The Temple Of Doom Plastic::Politics::History: The Ayodhya site in India was the flashpoint of riots that killed thousands a decade ago. Now, it's heating up again.

Commie kitsch posters Gallery of Socialist Realist posters from Cuba, China and the Soviet Union. Link Discuss (Thanks, George!)

US walks out as Iraq concludes UN Security Council debate US ambassador John Negroponte walked out of the UN Security Council Thursday as his Iraqi counterpart blasted the United States in a spontaneous and impassioned speech at the end of Thursday's UN Security Council open meeting on Iraq. Watch recorded video of the speech - and Negroponte's exit - from the UN.

Legality of Patriot Act Questioned We don't know how we missed this article detailing criticism of the the Patriot Act, especially since we're quoted in...

Co(n)vert Operations

Something is topsy-turvy when Reuters can report that "The U.S. military has adopted an open stance towards blogging, and to soldiers' access to electronic communications in general," and Kevin Sites and Joshua Kucera are taking hiatuses (?hiati?). Advantage: military. More discussion and links from JD Lasica (who passes along word of CNN's preference for a "more structured" approach), Dan Gillmor (who observes today that "The future of news is becoming more and more obvious during this war," and wonders "how well we in the business of news will respond") and Jeff Jarvis ("CNN proves it is out-of-date").

State Supreme Court hears case of indecent exposure at Gonzaga - Fri Mar 28, 03:32 pm GMT
CEO Bush No Longer Delegates Message - Fri Mar 28, 05:29 am GMT
Gateway ads urge 'Rip, Burn, Respect' - Fri Mar 28, 03:25 pm GMT
Powell wants June vote on media ownership - Fri Mar 28, 03:39 pm GMT
IRAQ WAR Unveiling of MidEast "roadmap" to await end of Iraq war - Israel - Fri Mar 28, 01:06 pm GMT

Thursday, March 27, 2003


The New Yorker.  A lesson of humility.  An excellent article.  Dwight Eisenhower said:

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends.

Conceivably a commander may have been professionally superior. He may have given everything of his heart and mind to meet the spiritual and physical needs of his comrades. He may have written a chapter that will glow forever in the pages of military history. Still, even such a man?if he existed?would sadly face the fact that his honors cannot hide in his memories the crosses marking the resting places of the dead. They cannot soothe the anguish of the widow or the orphan whose husband or father will not return.

The only attitude in which a commander may with satisfaction receive the tributes of his friends is in the humble acknowledgment that no matter how unworthy he may be, his position is the symbol of great human forces that have labored arduously and successfully for a righteous cause.

Bush should remember that this is concept he had once espoused.  The preening and strutting Bush exiting a helicopter and saluting a Marine is a sight to behold.  Another telling blow:

Our most wrenching diplomatic trials lately have been with the French, and yet President Bush has not spoken to President Chirac in the past six weeks.

What the US media won't show us From The Memory Hole: This Is Gulf War 2. What the US media won't show us: Unforgiving images of civilians, POWs, and soldiers on both sides. Warning, disturbing and graphic -- but realistic -- images. If I were director of...

French wine or American whine? This morning, a brief commentary on the Geneva Conventions. To the Bush administration -- members of which apparently would not...


Nature/Nurture Debate is always of interest....

'Gender-Bender' Brains Plastic::SciTech::Queer: Gays and lesbians do, in fact, have 'gender-bending' traits that appear to be 'hard-wired' into the brain before birth.

To whom it concerns To: Beth Davis, Vice-President and General Manager, Y98 Smokey Rivers, Director of Programming Dear Ms. Davis, Mr. Rivers: I have enjoyed your radio station, and the mix of music you play for some time now. It is with a great deal of regret that I must tell you I can no longer listen to your station, not while your station is demonstrating such a strong political bias as regards the current war in Iraq. Tonight when I listened to your station, I was increasingly unhappy to hear quotes from the President's pro-war speeches in between the songs, as well as exhortations to attend a pro-war rally. This not to mention so much emphasis on what I can only refer to as 'patriotism at all costs'. I have to wonder, and already know the answer, do you give as much air time to those who speak out in dissent against this war? I love this country, and I care very much for the service people who are in harms way. They are one of the reasons I am so against this war -- a belief that our service people have been put in harms way for reasons having little to do...

Law school briefs Speaking at Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law on March 24, CUA professor Michael Noone argued that "just war" doctrine is improperly understood by most of those citing it as a moral guide to the current conflict in Iraq.

New York smoking ban signed into law - Thu Mar 27, 01:35 pm GMT
International lawyers court injustice - Thu Mar 27, 02:17 pm GMT
Unembedded Journalist's Report Provokes Military Ire - Thu Mar 27, 12:43 pm GMT
Inside Base Camp Discusses Revenge in the Middle East - Thu Mar 27, 04:19 am GMT

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Subtle Touch I finished W.G. Sebald's book Austerliz this weekend, having read it slowly over the last month. There is something about Sebald's writing that forces me to stop, and consider, carefully, what he writes on each page. The writing isn't complex; quite the opposite -- it's beautifully, wonderfully clear. But it is rich, and subtle; conjuring images meant to be examined carefully as one examines each turn of a kaleidoscope. This isn't a book review as I have no interest in 'reviewing it'. I'll just share a tiny bit of it. But I always found what Alphonso told us about the life and death of moths especially memorable, and of all creatures I feel the greatest awe of them. In the warmer months of the year one or other of these nocturnal insects quite often strays indoors from the small garden behind my house. When I get up early in the morning, I find them clinging to the wall, motionless. I believe, said Austerlitz, they know they have lost their way, since if you do not put them out again carefully they will stay where they are, never moving, until the last breath is out of their bodies, and indeed they...

Radiohead solicits ultra-short digital films from fans Radiohead (the most righteous band in the universe, and if you do not agree, you can just STFU) is asking fans around the world for short films and ultra-short digital animation clips. The project is presumably in support of their forthcoming album "Hail to the Thief," due out June 9 on Parlophone records. For their last release, "Amnesiac," the band developed a similar collection of very short online videos called "blips" with by UK-based interactive firm Shynola, artist Stanley Donwood, and video director Chris Bran.
We've got a plan. We need your help. We're looking for moving pictures. Can you make moving pictures? Time is short. This is what you have to do.

1. Take one of the live MP3's of a Radiohead track.
2. Make some moving pictures to it (can be anything: live action, animation, graphics etc).
3. Make it at least 10 seconds and at most a song's length (although we prefer shorter).
OR... Have you already made a short film that would benefit from an airing?

Send your work to Radiohead at: The Picture Gallery, w.a.s.te, PO box 322, Oxford, UK by Monday 8th May 2003. Formats Required: For short films / whole songs : VHS (PAL) (You will be contacted if we require higher quality masters) For shorter animations, graphics: Quicktime (720 x 576 pixels) CODEC: Motion JPEG B (High Quality). Please enclose with it your name and e-mail address/telephone number.

Link, Discuss

NYT op/ed on Clearchannel, the Dixie Chicks, and US media monopoly In the NYT today:
By and large, recent pro-war rallies haven't drawn nearly as many people as antiwar rallies, but they have certainly been vehement. One of the most striking took place after Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, criticized President Bush: a crowd gathered in Louisiana to watch a 33,000-pound tractor smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CD's, tapes and other paraphernalia. To those familiar with 20th-century European history it seemed eerily reminiscent of. . . . But as Sinclair Lewis said, it can't happen here. Who has been organizing those pro-war rallies? The answer, it turns out, is that they are being promoted by key players in the radio industry ¿ with close links to the Bush administration.

The CD-smashing rally was organized by KRMD, part of Cumulus Media, a radio chain that has banned the Dixie Chicks from its playlists. Most of the pro-war demonstrations around the country have, however, been organized by stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, a behemoth based in San Antonio that controls more than 1,200 stations and increasingly dominates the airwaves.

Link to NYT item, Discuss

Bush Nominates New Drug Czar With all the war news this week, and the Texecutions last week, we overlooked this article appearing in the March...

Is bombing Iraqi TV legal? The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalist organization, issued a press release Wednesday condemning a US airstrike against Iraqi TV late Tuesday (ET), several days after it broadcast video footage of US POWs: Under international law television and radio stations may be targeted if they are being used for military purposes.

Slick Blawg Headline Aggregator

Nice: Daily Rotation's customizable Quick Loading Headlines From Legal News And Information Sites (a pithy idea in need of a pithier title?"Please Don't Squeeze The Blawgs?"). A great many blawgs already, and you can submit your own.

[Update]: Ah, I get it. They're Daily Rotation, and this is the Daily Whirl. Pith reigns.


I'd love to see how they could even dream of implementing this...

Supreme Court Considers Ban On Homosexual Sex - Wed Mar 26, 04:05 pm GMT

Bush Administration Using War to Justify Its Tax Cut - Wed Mar 26, 06:29 am GMT
Media and the military: strange embed-fellows - Wed Mar 26, 04:15 pm GMT
Blair and Bush to Meet on War, Europe and Mideast - Wed Mar 26, 12:23 am GMT
The Mideast: A Century of Conflict - Wed Mar 26, 12:45 am GMT

As in, "first you START the war."

President Discusses Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East - Wed Mar 26, 01:22 am GMT

Microsoft appoints CEO for Europe, Middle East, Africa - Wed Mar 26, 04:08 pm GMT

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Warblogging There are a myriad of crime-related political and injustice issues related to the War in Iraq. We feel we would...

Supreme Court clarifies death-row appeal rules - Tue Mar 25, 08:53 pm GMT
Bush, Putin Chide Each Other - Tue Mar 25, 05:08 pm GMT
Blair to press Bush on Middle East - Tue Mar 25, 04:26 pm GMT
CNN: 'The Old Fart Network'? Jeff Jarvis agrees with my two postings that CNN is shooting itself in the foot by pulling the plug on Kevin Sites' weblog. Jeff writes in part: I have no idea what CNN's problem is. I can imagine a few...

High-Level Defection? Has Ashcroft gone over to the French?

To Show The Dead Or Not +#8212; A Media Question Plastic::Media::War: Should the media show the Iraqi tapes of dead American soldiers?

Depression On The Horizon? Credit Card Debt To Blame? Plastic::Etcetera::Money: "An interview with Michael O'Higgins, a top investment manager predicts a depression a la 1929"

Ashcroft's Expanded Spying Power In the wake of the Supreme Court refusal to examine the FISA Review Court's approval of expanded spy powers for Ashcroft, the American Civil Liberties Union is calling upon Congress and the Courts to provide greater oversight.

Former Army General Sentenced in War Crimes - Tue Mar 25, 12:57 pm GMT
Man sentenced for fund transfer to Iraq - Tue Mar 25, 01:06 pm GMT
Bush Puts $74.7B Price Tag on Iraq War - Tue Mar 25, 10:26 am GMT
BBC reporter is taken to a Baghdad hospital to see injured Iraqis - Tue Mar 25, 11:51 am GMT
Senate debates media laws - Tue Mar 25, 01:48 pm GMT

Monday, March 24, 2003

Al-jazeera's english language website launches Arabic-language media network Al Jazeera now offers an english version of web content here. Seems to be under construction right now, as I blog. Tip: for partial and clumsy automated translation of the content on the arabic-language version of their web content (which may contain different content than the English site), go to via the Tarjim english/arabic translation tool.
The site, which has promised to offer a different perspective to Western readers, stuck to its word. Its graphic photos of dead American soldiers and pointed headlines ("Coalition of the willing has become a joke") will provide plenty of fodder for critics of the Middle Eastern news organization.
Link to Wall Street Journal story, Discuss (Thanks, Numair)

Ashcroft Wins Appeal on Expanded Spying Powers The U.S. Supreme Court has handed Ashcroft another victory. The Court refused to allow the ACLU, National Association of Criminal...

Law school briefs Emory University School of Law Monday announced the launch of a new website on Islam and human rights.... The AALS may move its 2004 Annual Meeting out of Atlanta if the ongoing contoversy over use of the Confederate battle emblem in the Georgia state flag isn't resolved.

Saddam's Son Uday Accused of Murder As Iraq's top Olympic official, Uday Hussein is accused of the torture and murder of athletes who fail to win....

U.S. Questions Iraqi Generals on Weapons - Mon Mar 24, 04:21 pm GMT
Lees hits out at media law debate rush - Mon Mar 24, 09:38 pm GMT
Dennis Ross: The Mideast Challenge - Mon Mar 24, 07:15 am GMT
Michael Moore mp3 Following up on Eric's post below, there is now an mp3 of Moore's speech available on my site, The Rattler....

News Agencies Can Legally Fib Plastic::Media::TV:News: We lie, you decide.

Michael Moore at the Academy Awards Update: Here is the text of Michael Moore's acceptance speech: Michael Moore: Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn...

WP's Howard Kurtz on warblogs, suspension Howard Kurtz explores how technology has changed war journalism (and the suspension of in today's Washington Post.
For all the saturation coverage of the invasion of Iraq, this has become the first true Internet war, with journalists, analysts, soldiers, a British lawmaker, an Iraqi exile and a Baghdad resident using the medium's lightning speed to cut through the fog of war. The result is idiosyncratic, passionate and often profane, with the sort of intimacy and attitude that are all but impossible in newspapers and on television. Many of these so-called Weblogs eliminate the middleman -- the news outlets whose reach was once needed for a broad audience -- and allow participants to have their say, typos and all, without being run through the media's Cuisinart.

"The most interesting thing about the blog coverage is how far ahead it is of the mainstream media," says University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, whose site has seen a surge in traffic as the Iraq crisis has heated up, doubling to 200,000 hits a day. "The first-hand stuff is great. It's unfiltered and unspun. That doesn't mean it's unbiased. But people feel like they know where the bias is coming from. You don't have to spend a lot of time trying to find a hidden agenda."

Link to WP story, Discuss

Army isn't linking grenade attack to soldier's Muslim religion - Mon Mar 24, 06:54 am GMT
Reba Engler Daner, lawyer, UM contributor - Mon Mar 24, 12:29 pm GMT
U.S. Troops Look for Chemical Weapons - Mon Mar 24, 10:18 am GMT
Peace activist comments on media coverage of the war - Mon Mar 24, 11:54 am GMT
Conflict constantly tests media boundaries - Mon Mar 24, 01:51 pm GMT
Hanscom AFB's Desert Hawk aloft over Middle East - Mon Mar 24, 01:28 pm GMT

Sunday, March 23, 2003

U.S. Soldiers Captured in Iraq Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has acknowledged American soldiers are missing in Iraq. The Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera aired footage from Iraqi...

Media as a weapon - Sun Mar 23, 06:48 pm GMT
Russia reporter falls victim of US air raid on Basra - Sun Mar 23, 04:44 pm GMT
NBC, ABC Pull Reporters From Baghdad - Sun Mar 23, 05:41 pm GMT
More on the muzzling of a blogger at CNN Mitch and Dan R. weigh in on CNN's decision to pull the plug on the independent weblog from Iraq by one of its employees, Kevin Sites. Writes Mitch in Old media minds, new media disruption: I keep seeing the worst...

City of Caliphs and Flying Carpets Neil Gaiman's "Ramadan" conjures a dream of Araby upon a bombstruck Baghdad.

5-Day Forecast: Partly Cloudy, Fog Of War Plastic::Politics::War: The Weekend War Update

A theologian on gods in gaming Check out this fascinating exchange between Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Ludicorp, a gaming company developing a massively multiplayer game called Game Neverending, and AKMA, a theologian blogger. Stewart's designing the religious pantheon in GNE and wanted AKMA's advice:
Interactions with the divine should have just enough predictability to make them worth bothering with, but absolutely no more (I except simple devices, such as T'aach boosting your karma for eating a mint). The vital element that this contingency serves is making it not worth players' while to try to *work* the game by (as it were) coercing divinities. I'll repeat later on: deities should be only slightly predictable enough for players to observe that they do indeed matter. In fact, it would make a worthwhile argument *within* the game, whether one need adhere to any divinity or not. If you could attain that degree of subtlety, you'd have won outright.

Regarding game play, I ought to be able to interact productively with my patron's enemy-spirit, even if just to placate her or him. Think of classical divinities; they're less mechanistic (by far) than our imaginations would tend to make them. It makes perfect sense for an adherent of T'aach to make a propitiatory sacrifice to Thbwappo, the Source of Halitosis even though the two of them are mortally opposed to one another, and T'aach should be nettled by this only if the adherent in question is a keystone figure. People don't matter that much to divinities.

Link Discuss

Autonomous, probablistic solutions to complex problems that aren't human-readable Nice piece in the Technology Review on Ant Colony Optimization. This stuff is totally engrossing to me, realy great Rudy Rucker terrritory. Autonomous, probablistic solutions to complex problems that aren't human-readable -- god-dimmy, that's one funky future.
The researchers found that what works for ants and bacteria also works for autonomous pieces of computer code. "The idea is inspired by chemotactic models of tracking trail formation widely found in insects, bacteria, [and] slime molds," said Frank Schweitzer, an associate professor at Humboldt University and a research associate at the Fraunhofer Institute for Autonomous Intelligence Systems in Germany.

The work could eventually be used for self-assembling circuits, groups of coordinated robots and adaptive cancer treatments, according to Schweitzer.

Insect, bacteria and slime mold communities coordinate growth processes based on interactions among chemical trails left behind by individuals. The researchers set up a similar network using a computer simulation of electronic agents moving randomly across a grid containing unconnected network nodes.

Rather than determine the structure of a network in a top-down approach of hierarchical planning, agents found nodes and created connections in a bottom-up process of self-organization.

When an agent happened on a node, it began to produce one of two simulated chemical trails at a rate that decreased in time. The strength of the chemical trail also faded as time went by. The key to the self-assembling network is that the agents are drawn to the chemical trails laid down by other agents.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Zed!)

Kuwait grenade attack - combat stress misconduct Numerous press reports Sunday describe a grenade attack at a US military camp in Kuwait which killed one US soldier and wounded 13 others. This attack appears to fall under the category of "combat misconduct stress behaviors" described in a US Army Field Manual which also considers their legal repercussions: Misconduct stress behaviors are most likely to occur in units with poor morale or in units where problems exist.

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Government Censored News Are we the only ones uncomfortable by the Pentagon's "embedding" of reporters to cover the war? It's censorship. Yes, we...

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