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August 31, 2006

If Godwin’s Law had teeth

Peter W. Galbraith has an excellent column in the Boston Globe today explaining the deep irony of Donald Rumsfeld’s attempt to associate those opposing his Iraq war with those who appeased Hitler.

Ronald Reagan sent Rumsfeld to meet with Saddam Hussein in during the war Iraq started with Iran:

… the Reagan administration was afraid Iraq might actually lose. Reagan chose Rumsfeld as his emissary to Hussein, whom he visited in December 1983 and March 1984. Inconveniently, Iraq had begun to use chemical weapons against Iran in November 1983, the first sustained use of poison gas since a 1925 treaty banning that.

Rumsfeld never mentioned this blatant violation of international law to Hussein, instead focusing on shared hostility toward Iran and an oil pipeline through Jordan.

[after the war]…President George H.W. Bush’s administration actually doubled US financial credits for Iraq. A week before Hussein invaded Kuwait, the administration vociferously opposed legislation that would have conditioned US assistance to Iraq on a commitment not to use chemical weapons and to stop the genocide against the Kurds. At the time, Dick Cheney, now vice president, was secretary of defense and a statutory member of the National Security Council that reviewed Iraq policy. By all accounts, he supported the administration’s appeasement policy.

In 2003, Cheney, Powell, and Rumsfeld all cited Hussein’s use of chemical weapons 15 years before as a rationale for war. But at the time Hussein was actually doing the gassing — including of his own people — they considered his use of chemical weapons a second-tier issue.

Galbraith, by the way, interviewed survivors of Iraq’s slaughter of Kurds in 1988, gathering evidence to support Claiborne Pell’s bill that would have ended US financial support for Iraq. The leader of the Reagan administration’s opposition? Colin Powell.

Rumsfeld has looked Hussein in the eye when our government was supporting him. Rumsfeld calling other appeasers is yet more evidence that the flaws we see in others are the flaws we see in ourselves.


And I don’t want to let the appeaser charge stick in any way. I was not against the Iraq war because I wanted to appease terrorists. I want to fight terrorists. I just oddly insist that we fight them where they are and not where they aren’t.

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August 30, 2006

Gov. Warner in Second Life

Mark Warner, an unannounced candidate for the presidency, is going to be interviewed in Second Life on Thursday at 3:30pm (eastern time, I think).

I wonder what his avatar will look like… [Tags: ]

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Bookmooch

John Buckman of Magnatune has started a new service called Bookmooch. You list books you’re willing to give away. If someone wants it, you send it (at your expense) and get a credit which you can then use to mooch a book from someone else. The service is free.

Sounds pretty cool, even if it does encourage the “soft piracy” of giving books away without further compensating the author :)

[For the sarcasm-impaired: The smiley face is there to indicate that I don't really consider it piracy. I'm going to be sad — and angry — when DRM leaves it up to the publisher to decide how you dispose of content you've bought and now are done with.] [Tags: ]

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Culver City offers “free” wifi with just one price: Your First Amendment rights

John Mitchell has an excellent explanation of Culver City’s announced terms for offering free wifi access to “the Internet.” It’s free, but they get to decide which sites you can go to. Further, by pressing the “yes” button, you explicitly agree to waive your First Amendment rights.

From a legal standpoint, it is the same as if the Culver City public library were offering you free access to newspapers, but was first clipping out the articles it didn’t like and making you agree not to sue for censorship if you wanted to read what was left.

President Bush was perspicacious when during the 2006 debates he referred to “the internets.”. [Tags: ]

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Another personal library manager

Gurulib.com is a free service that lets you build a list of the items in your personal library by scanning in the barcodes of your books, CDs, etc. You can review them, sort them, and track who’s borrowed them. You can also ask Gurulib to inform you when a book has dropped to a price you want to pay. It uses genres rather than tags; tags would be a nice addition.

LibraryThing.com, which is free for the first 200 books, seems to be more advanced in its features and has a bigger community using it. It doesn’t let you scan in barcodes, but it’s quite slick in its ability to find the title you meant to type. Liz Lawley’s PULP is an enterprise server that lets you do the scanning thing: point your camera phone at a barcode and the item gets added to your library. Liz has some big plans for future PULP developments. (I went to her excellent session at Foo Camp.) There are others. This genre of service is getting popular.

GuruLib has a demo library you can play with. [Tags: ]

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August 29, 2006

The Feng Shui of Crowds

Andy Carvin is asking people to help him decide how to lay out his and Susanne’s new apartment by downloading a copy of the apartment plan and uploading an edited version of it.

All I know is that he ought to hang Bradsucks’ guitar — decorated via a similar process — in a prominent place [Tags: ]

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How I’m spending the rest of my summer vacation

My most excellent editor, Robin Dennis, has sent me a marked up version of the first draft of my book. It must weigh the weight of the paper plus two boxes of pencils.

She likes it and we’re both happy, but I expect to be blogging a little more lightly over the next few weeks as I write the next draft of Everything is Miscellaneous: The Final Draft. [Tags: ]

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The dirtiest spot in your house

What’s the one spot people with infectious diseases go to several times a day, spreading their germs carefully over a shared surface?

It’s your family bottle of hand sanitizer. It’s got to have the house’s richest concentration of germs.

Of course, as my children point out, the sanitizing gel kills the germs that you’ve picked up from the bottle. So long as you don’t miss a spot on your hands. And so long as the stuff actually works.

They ought to make the hand sanitizer bottle out of hand sanitizer. Another million dollar idea I give to you for nothing!

(Yeah, we could each get our own bottle, but, frankly, a little bacterial risk is a good thing.) [Tags: ]

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August 28, 2006

The dysfunctional attention economy

Jeneane is banging on the rebirth of interest attention:

…anyone concerned with what you’re paying attention to is out to make money off of you. Trying to paint attention monitoring or tracking or trust or what have you as anything other than that is dishonest. You and I are not that important. No one, I mean no one, besides a suspicious mate cares what you pay attention to online unless they’re looking to divorce some bread from your wallet.

Well, or just checking to see whether you need to be shipped off to Guantanamo.

I like what Jeneane says. When your model of consciousness (note: not the brain) divorces attention from the ways we care, you get marketing campaigns that focus on the lizard portion of our brains. Rather than tricking us into liking their products, the campaigns try to trick us into thinking we’re interested in something, anything. It’s annoying and it’s demeaning.

Marketers are the last people we should trust with our attention. [Tags: ]

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StopBadWare lists AOL 9.0

StopBadWare.org, an organization sponsored in part by the Berkman Center, has put AOL 9.0 onto its list of malefactors because

it installs additional software without telling the user, it forces the user to take certain actions, it adds various components to Internet Explorer and the taskbar without disclosure, it may automatically update without the user’s consent, and it fails to uninstall completely.

That’s a big, gutsy step. But don’t those same criteria mean that Windows XP should be on the list? [Tags: ]

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