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Contradictions · Back when I was an ac­tu­al Marx­ist, we used to talk about the “Contradictions of Capitalism”. It’s ac­tu­al­ly a handy phrase (al­lit­er­a­tive too!) and re­cent­ly I feel like the In­ter­net is try­ing to stuff those con­tra­dic­tions down my throat ...
 
Shooter as Tabula Rasa · Last night I ac­ci­den­tal­ly came face to face with Twit­ter hor­ror, a very pale re­flec­tion of larg­er real-life hor­ror, but still jar­ring. What hap­pened was, some­one shot up a Québec Ci­ty mosque. For a few hours no­body knew who’d done the shoot­ing, and that ab­sence of iden­ti­ty be­came a blank can­vas which the Net’s trolls paint­ed with their shit-colored dream­s ...
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The Women’s March · Just like ev­ery­one else I have a the­o­ry about What It Mean­s, but I al­so have a sto­ry and a cool pic­ture to il­lus­trate ...
[3 comments]  
Fall Dark · Most years I hate this sea­son; less light ev­ery day, and with ev­ery gust a whirl of sum­mer leaves torn from win­ter branch­es. Maybe I dis­like the res­o­nance with my life’s own grey­beard sea­son. Maybe it’s the trio of huge Pa­cif­ic storms we’re deal­ing with. Let’s be hon­est: Most­ly, it’s shit­ty US pol­i­tic­s. Some of the col­ors are beau­ti­ful though ...
[3 comments]  
Corporate Pride · There’s this nice video mes­sage in the el­e­va­tors at work, about the Pride Pa­rade. And it’s mak­ing me un­easy ...
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New British Isles · Fol­low­ing on the Bri­tish EU ref­er­en­dum, some po­lit­i­cal re-alignment of the Bri­tish Isles feels in­evitable. I pro­pose a re-organization in­to three states: Ire­land, Bri­tain, and Dál Ri­a­ta (or per­haps Dal­ri­ada) which com­pris­es what we now call Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land. Here’s a map ...
[7 comments]  
On the Left · I have a prob­lem late­ly: When I look in the mir­ror, I see a left-wing ex­trem­ist. I’m un­easy about my strength­en­ing be­lief that Free En­ter­prise is gonna ru­in ev­ery­thing good un­less we take a knife to its tes­ti­cles first ...
[25 comments]  
Game of Homes · What hap­pened was, I got on an air­plane, un­ex­pect­ed­ly fin­ished my book, and dis­cov­ered there wasn’t much else down­load­ed on that de­vice. So I start­ed re-reading what was there, name­ly Game of Thrones. It’s hard to stop do­ing that once you start, and what’s worse, I can’t help think­ing about Van­cou­ver Real Es­tate ...
[7 comments]  
Bad Tory Craziness · We’re hav­ing an elec­tion, one that’s more en­ter­tain­ing than usu­al, and while our pol­i­tics in Cana­da are in gen­er­al a lit­tle san­er than our south­ern neighbors’ (and our elec­tions mer­ci­ful­ly short­er), we shouldn’t get too smug; here’s the ev­i­dence ...
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Sitting down with Trudeau on C-51 · A cou­ple of months ago, ten peo­ple spent an hour sit­ting down with Justin Trudeau, Lib­er­al Par­ty lead­er and po­ten­tial­ly Canada’s next Prime Min­is­ter, to talk about Bill C-51, anti-terrorist leg­is­la­tion from our Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­men­t. I was one of those peo­ple, and per­haps read­ers might be in­ter­est­ed in hear­ing about it ...
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From the Hill · Joseph Heath ar­gued in 2001’s The Ef­fi­cient So­ci­ety that Cana­di­an so­ci­ety is about as op­ti­mal as it get­s. This idea is not com­plete­ly crazy, even when one loathes the gang cur­rent­ly in charge. This week I made a rare vis­it to Ot­tawa, took pic­tures, and thought about Canadian-ness ...
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The Only Sane Transit Vote · Van­cou­ver is hav­ing a Trans­porta­tion & Tran­sit Ref­er­en­dum this spring: Yes or No on a 0.5% lo­cal sales-tax hike to pay for tran­sit in­fras­truc­ture, most­ly public-transit train lines. The on­ly sane vote is Yes; here’s why ...
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Text Editors for Freedom · The press cov­er­age says Court Orders IRS to Re­lease Computer-Readable Char­i­ty Tax Forms. There’s this guy Carl Mala­mud who runs Re­source.org, which is in the busi­ness of mak­ing pub­lic le­gal ma­te­ri­als ac­tu­al­ly pub­lic. “What,” you ex­claim, “Public le­gal fil­ings aren’t al­ready public?!” Nope, not un­less cit­i­zens can get full-text ver­sions for free. This is the sto­ry of how I helped Carl (in a small way) to stick a small wedge in­to a wall of re­al­ly stupid public-sector re­sis­tance to open­ness ...
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Vancouver Election · It hap­pens Satur­day, Novem­ber 15th, 2014. Here’s how I’m vot­ing ...
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Women Speaking · I just fin­ished read­ing Un­speak­able Things: Sex, Lies and Revo­lu­tion by Lau­rie Pen­ny. And while it makes me ner­vous as hell to write about gen­der is­sues, si­lence seems less ac­cept­able ev­ery day ...
[7 comments]  
Pervasive Monitoring Is an Attack · That’s the ti­tle of RFC 7258, al­so known as BCP 188 (where BCP stands for “Best Cur­rent Practice”); it rep­re­sents In­ter­net Engi­neer­ing Task Force con­sen­sus on the fact that many pow­er­ful well-funded en­ti­ties feel it is ap­pro­pri­ate to mon­i­tor people’s use of the Net, with­out telling those peo­ple. The con­sen­sus is: This mon­i­tor­ing is an at­tack and de­sign­ers of In­ter­net pro­to­cols must work to mit­i­gate it ...
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On Piketty on Capital · Thomas Piketty’s Cap­i­tal in the Twenty-First Cen­tu­ry may well be the most im­por­tant eco­nomics book pub­lished this cen­tu­ry; or maybe just the most im­por­tant book. Its phys­i­cal ver­sion is sold out. I just fin­ished it, and while it’s been re­viewed to death (by Nobel-Prize win­ner­s, for­sooth), I haven’t heard any Net-head or software-geek voic­es. And there are an­gles there our tribe should pay at­ten­tion to ...
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Winterlong Tab Sweep · Real­ly long, I mean. But the or­ga­ni­za­tion is be­yond crit­i­cism be­cause there isn’t any ...
 
Surveillance and the Media · As I write this I’m an­gry at the CBC, Canada’s na­tion­al broad­cast­er, for their shod­dy, shal­low cov­er­age of re­for­m­gov­ern­mentsurveil­lance.­com (let’s say “RGS” for short­). But the trap they fell in­to is prob­a­bly at­trac­tive to many fla­vors of me­di­a ...
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IETF 88 · I at­tend­ed to pitch in on JSON and OAuth work, and be­cause it was here in Van­cou­ver. But this meet­ing was re­al­ly about de­fend­ing the In­ter­net from those at­tack­ing it. Which is worth everyone’s at­ten­tion and de­serves more ex­pla­na­tion than I’ve seen in the main­stream me­di­a ...
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Tab Sweep: Hallowe’en · Well in­to Q3 and au­tum­n, and my SAD is al­ready stir­ring in the back cor­ner of my brain. But any sea­son is Har­vest sea­son on the We­b ...
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Why the Obamacare Website Sucks · Not a great launch. Won­der how many peo­ple with se­ri­ous Web street cred are sur­prised? I’ll tell you: ze­ro. But it’s amaz­ing how many po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors are sud­den­ly over­flow­ing with site-building chop­s ...
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Spies, Hypocrites, and Fools · There are an­gry voic­es sound­ing in Europe over the NSA’s large-scale in­dis­crim­i­nate information-gathering there. It’s per­fect­ly pos­si­ble to be sus­pi­cious and cyn­i­cal about the US spook­s, a fan of Ed Snow­den, and still think those voic­es are those of ei­ther Euro-hypocrites or Euro-fools ...
[16 comments]  
Texas Politics · If you weren’t watch­ing the livestream (cour­tesy of The Texas Tri­bune) you missed an as­tound­ing piece of dra­ma. I on­ly caught the last 90 min­utes, but wow ...
[6 comments]  
Springtime Tab Sweep — The World · The on­ly uni­fy­ing theme is that they’ve been build­ing up in the brows­er for month­s, and are gen­er­al­ly con­sis­tent with my world­view ...
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What Conservatives are For · I’m no right-winger but I’ve long felt that a healthy so­ci­ety needs sane pro­gres­sives and sane con­ser­va­tives, and that many of America’s dif­fi­cul­ties are re­lat­ed to an ab­sence of the lat­ter. So here’s a pro­posed Sane-conservative man­i­festo, writ­ten from out­side ...
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Explaining the Election · A pret­ty well full and com­plete ex­pla­na­tion of the US elec­tion re­sults may be found in The Right Repub­li­can, pub­lished in The Economist at the end of 2011 ...
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Dear America · Con­grats on hav­ing got­ten through an­oth­er overly-long elec­tion. Notes from a spec­ta­tor look­ing south from north of 49° ...
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Checking out Intrade · I kept hear­ing about how this or that po­lit­i­cal cam­paign or eco­nom­ic sce­nario was “trending on In­trade”, so I thought I’d check it out. Then, of course, I had to make some bet­s. It’s fun! But not a good way to make mon­ey I think ...
[4 comments]  
More On That Pipeline · I’ve writ­ten be­fore about the BC pipeline con­tro­ver­sy. Like many Cana­di­an­s, I’m un­con­vinced that it makes sense to bet heav­i­ly on filthy carbon-laden bi­tu­men, un­con­vinced that we should rip the hell out of North­ern Alberta’s peo­ple and land­scape to ex­tract it, un­con­vinced that we should ship it out of the coun­try so we can buy the re­fined prod­uct back, un­con­vinced that we should pipe it through our wilder­ness to the sea, and re­al­ly un­con­vinced that it makes sense to run 250 su­per­tankers a year in­to the nar­row stormy fjords of north­ern BC ...
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Selling Canadians Short · [If you don’t care about Cana­di­an pol­i­tic­s, you can stop read­ing now.] Re­cent­ly I ran across A bud­get, a lead­er­ship race — and a na­tion split up the mid­dle, by An­drew Coyne, a ti­tan of the Cana­di­an con­ser­va­tive com­men­tari­at. It made me so mad that I want­ed to emit a loud pee­vish whine in this space, but I de­cid­ed to wait till I’d cooled down. But un­for­tu­nate­ly I haven’t. Mr Coyne’s the­sis is that the res­i­dents of the energy-producing re­gions of Cana­da are cor­rupt fool­s. For­tu­nate­ly his ar­gu­ment is pitiably weak ...
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Tab Sweep — The World · Wel­l, the old brows­er tab count is up well past thir­ty, and that makes it aw­ful­ly slow to restart even if it’s Chrome. So, let’s see if I can trans­plant some of these tabs in­to your browser ...
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No Iran War Please · Back in 2002, this crazy idea of re­spond­ing to 9/11 by at­tack­ing Iraq first start­ed be­ing float­ed. And now we’re get­ting stronger and stronger whiffs of Dorky Mid­dle East War, the Se­quel: Iran. Can the sen­si­ble peo­ple of the world please stand up and say ”Please, let’s not do that“ ...
[17 comments]  
Chinese Workers’ Problems · This New York Times sto­ry, telling ug­ly sto­ries of hu­man suf­fer­ing at Chi­nese out­sourcer­s, isn’t about Ap­ple. It’s pure pol­i­tics and eco­nomic­s ...
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Oily Politics · The pol­i­tics start with whether you say “tar sands” or “oil sands”. What­ev­er you want to call them, they’re up in North­ern Al­ber­ta. Ob­servers of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics will have no­ticed the Key­stone XL pro­jec­t, which would take the sands’ crude oil south to Tex­as. North­ern Gate­way, the Cana­di­an ver­sion, would car­ry crude west to Kiti­mat on the Pa­cif­ic coast for ex­port to Asi­a; it’s in the news be­cause the pub­lic hear­ings start next week, with thou­sands queued up to of­fer opin­ion­s. I’m gen­er­al­ly con­tra, and in­creas­ing­ly op­ti­mistic ...
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Occupying Wall Street · Like many peo­ple around the world, I’ve found the nascent Oc­cu­py Wall Street (OWS) ac­tion attention-grabbing and thought-provoking. The link in the pre­vi­ous sen­tence is to their own site run out of that park in low­er Man­hat­tan ...
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Good News-Biz News · Peo­ple still read news, but the howls of pain from the busi­ness grow al­ways loud­er; the news about the news is all lay­offs and pay­wall­s. I’d like to of­fer a cheery counter-example ...
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Public Isn’t Private · After the hock­ey was over, we had a hideous ri­ot in Van­cou­ver. The on­ly se­ri­ous in­jury, thank­ful­ly, was some­one who fell off an el­e­vat­ed high­way. You can’t be­gin to imag­ine how hurt and an­gry with the ri­ot­ers the peo­ple of this town are. There’s an in­ter­est­ing sort of Facebook-vigilante jus­tice go­ing on ...
[2 comments]  
No Peace Soon · In the Mid­dle East, I mean. As of May 2011, the decades-old main­stream vi­sion of how peace might play out is stone cold dead. The sta­tus quo is al­so ap­par­ent­ly the fu­ture ...
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Election Wow · We just had a sur­pris­ing elec­tion; I pre­viewed it on April 10, and am slight­ly smug over hav­ing pret­ty well called the out­come on April 25th ...
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100mm of the Day: Election! · The new lens may have “MACRO” in its name but it’s good fun out on the street too. Oh, and we’re hav­ing an elec­tion! So let’s wrap some Cana­di­an pol­i­tics around the pic­ture ...
[5 comments]  
Political Instability · My own, I mean. I sort of thought I’d set­tled in­to a mid-life Canadian-mainstream po­lit­i­cal rut, but events have been bat­ter­ing me side­ways ...
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Tab Sweep — The World · Here­with notes pro­voked by cer­tain long-lived brows­er tabs not pri­mar­i­ly fo­cused on tech­nol­o­gy or the Net. Con­sid­er­ably ran­dom ...
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Smart Talk · I did some un­avoid­able driving-around to­day and tuned in, as I do from time to time, the sports sta­tion, which was dis­cussing the evening-to-be’s hock­ey game. Be­cause while I am not what any­one would call a re­al fan, I am an ad­mir­er of se­ri­ous, re­spect­ful, grown-up dis­course ...
[5 comments]  
Nazis in a Teapot · Last Thurs­day evening Michael Garten­berg, who’s a smart an­a­lyst, and blog­ger, tweet­ed that he’d searched for “Jewish” in An­droid Mar­ket and came up with some Nazi trash. Sure enough, he was right. The mo­ron who was sell­ing a “Hitler theme” and oth­er re­lat­ed junk had used “jewish” and “jews” as key­word­s. Mind you, this crap was like five screens down, you re­al­ly had to be work­ing to see it ...
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Had It With Harper · In Cana­da we’re about to en­ter our fifth year of Con­ser­va­tive (AKA “Tory”) mi­nor­i­ty gov­ern­ment un­der Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harp­er. They’ve been unin­spir­ing and not ter­ri­bly lik­able, but rea­son­ably com­pe­ten­t; enough to stay out of re­al trou­ble with the vot­er­s. I’m no To­ry but I’ve most­ly been “well, whatever”. No longer; it’s time to bounce these bo­zos and see if we can do bet­ter ...
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Vision Hackers · It wor­ries me that, as a res­i­dent of Van­cou­ver off-and-on since 1983, I am en­gaged so much on the In­ter­net and so lit­tle in my home-town. My lo­cal out­ings have been lim­it­ed to mu­sic, children’s sport­s, and din­ing out with friend­s. I’m at­tempt­ing to be­come more lo­cal and have thus re­cent­ly be­come a mem­ber of two or­ga­ni­za­tion­s: the Van­cou­ver Hack Space (Mot­to: Down with Be­ta­max! <snicker>) and Vi­sion Van­cou­ver. They aren’t like each oth­er at al­l ...
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Disinvesting In the USA · Tues­day on Twit­ter I said “Moved the % of US eq­ui­ties in my long-term port­fo­lio down from mod­er­ate to ba­si­cal­ly zero.” I got a lot of ques­tions so here’s more ...
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Copyright in Canada · This is my sub­mis­sion to Canada’s pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on copy­right pol­i­cy ...
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Taking Care of Alison · The US is con­sumed with dis­cus­sion of health-care al­ter­na­tives, and in US pol­i­tics it seems to be OK to know­ing­ly tell bald-face lies, and in US me­dia it seems not OK to call a lie by its true name. Here’s a small bit of first-hand re­portage about the work­ing of an­oth­er ap­proach to health-care ...
[31 comments]  
Tab Sweep — The World · In the cur­rent Twit­ter era, link-blogging has be­come some­thing of a lost art. But damn do I ev­er have a lot of tabs open, dat­ing back month­s. This first in­stal­ment most­ly full of anger and neg­a­tiv­i­ty, sor­ry ’bout that. But we’ll start out with a beau­ti­ful must-read on hu­man ge­net­ic­s ...
[6 comments]  
“Hello World” for Open Data · Re­cent­ly, Vancouver’s Ci­ty Coun­cil passed an “Open Data, Open Source” mo­tion. I was too busy at the time to pay much at­ten­tion, which I’ve re­gret­ted. Now I’ve start­ed pok­ing around a bit, and turned up an in­ter­est­ing per­son and an out­stand­ing ex­am­ple ...
[4 comments]  
Voting Green · We’re hav­ing a provin­cial elec­tion and electoral-reform ref­er­en­dum, both this Tues­day May 12. I’ll be vot­ing for the Green Par­ty, and for sin­gle trans­fer­able vote ...
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Carl for Printer · Check out Yes We Scan!, where my name ap­pears among those sup­port­ing a bid by Carl Mala­mud to drag the Unit­ed States Govern­ment Print­ing Of­fice in­to the cur­rent mil­len­ni­um. Carl is an hon­est and brainy guy whom I’ve known for a while, and the list of things he wants to do looks aw­ful­ly smart to me. Ob­vi­ous­ly I’m not speak­ing for my em­ploy­er and al­so I’m not even an Amer­i­can. So in this con­text I’m a self-appointed rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Internet-using cit­i­zens of the world, who want the gov­ern­ments we pay for to make san­er use of the Net, and would be hap­py for the Unit­ed States to pro­vide us all with a good ex­am­ple.
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$1,000,000,000 Theatre · While, like many, I’m am­biva­lent about the Olympic­s, I lean to the pos­i­tive side, and was mod­er­ate­ly hap­py when Van­cou­ver scored the 2010 Win­ter Games. Since then, the in­fras­truc­ture prepa­ra­tions have ripped the shit out of our city, the fi­nan­cial ar­range­ments have gone side­ways, and I failed to get any of the tick­ets I signed up for ...
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Inauguration · I’m not an Amer­i­can but I’ve cer­tain­ly en­joyed the po­lit­i­cal the­atre this last cou­ple of years. Yes­ter­day morn­ing I was walk­ing through a ho­tel lob­by in San Jose at 9AM (noon in Wash­ing­ton) and there on the big TV in the restau­rant was the in­au­gu­ra­tion. The lob­by had emp­tied as the staff crowd­ed in to watch. Then ev­ery­one joined in a big round of ap­plause. I was touched, but it was com­pli­cat­ed ...
[7 comments]  
Anger Management · If you’re in­ter­est­ed in the on­go­ing fi­nan­cial calami­ty, or maybe even if you’re not, and whether or not you think you un­der­stand what hap­pened, I high­ly rec­om­mend that you set aside a few min­utes to read Michael Lewis’ re­mark­able The End. I find my­self, off and on, suf­fer­ing from un­man­age­ably se­vere anger at the fi­nan­cial pro­fes­sion­als who paid them­selves mil­lions for driv­ing the econ­o­my in­to a brick wall at high speed, then walk­ing away while we pick up the pieces. Read­ing The End didn’t help. So what are we go­ing to do? ...
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Dear America · I must open with heart­felt thanks to all of you for the pas­sion and dra­ma and rhetoric and per­son­al­i­ty you’ve of­fered each oth­er and the world, in the political-theatre con­tex­t, for the last cou­ple of years. Un­less the tools of Statis­tics have sud­den­ly be­come emp­ty shell­s, Mr. Oba­ma will be your forty-fourth Pres­i­den­t; I’ve said my piece on why this is prob­a­bly a good thing. Here’s some more ...
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Vote Matt in New West · This is not of the re­motest in­ter­est to any­one who doesn’t live in New West­min­ster, a small city near Van­cou­ver that doesn’t think of it­self as a sub­ur­b ...
 
Voting · Yes, last week we had a Cana­di­an elec­tion. Not much changed, so it wasn’t a very sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. For the first time, I’m warm­ing up to the no­tion of tin­ker­ing with our vot­ing sys­tem ...
[22 comments]  
I’m Voting Green · Canada’s 40th Gen­er­al Elec­tion is to­mor­row. I’ll be vot­ing Green; here’s why ...
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Next POTUS · The num­ber­s, con­sid­ered care­ful­ly, make an Oba­ma win look like a safer and safer bet. Here­with a Cana­di­an spectator’s opin­ions as to why this is and why it’s a good thing ...
[10 comments]  
Rules · Busi­ness fail­ure is much in the news. I have per­son­al ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing on a few oc­ca­sions been in the man­age­ment of a hard-pressed com­pa­ny that need­ed mon­ey to stay afloat. I learned the Gold­en Rule: He Who Has The Gold Makes the Rules. I’ve al­so been there ad­vis­ing peo­ple try­ing to de­ploy mon­ey to save a trou­bled busi­ness. I learned some­thing else: mak­ing good rules is hard.
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No Secret Software! · For my mon­ey, Chris­tine Peter­son of­fered the most im­por­tant mes­sage I heard at OSCON. Way back when, she in­vent­ed the term “Open Source” and, if we get be­hind it, which we should, the No Se­cret Soft­ware! ral­ly­ing cry could be as big or big­ger ...
[11 comments]  
Untouchable Evil · In the news, the rulers of North Korea (watch out for ma­jor famines), Myan­mar, and Zim­bab­we wreak vi­o­lence and star­va­tion up­on their peo­ples and prof­it there­by. In a bet­ter world, we’d find a way to talk it over, put to­geth­er an ex­pe­di­tionary force, march in, top­ple them, ex­e­cute the most de­serv­ing, and give those peo­ples an­oth­er chance. Thanks to Repub­li­can crony­is­m, cor­rup­tion, and stu­pid­i­ty, that sort of be­nign in­ter­ven­tion is now off the table, maybe for an­oth­er gen­er­a­tion. Thanks, Dubya. [Dear read­er­s: want to see Tim get thor­ough­ly roast­ed? Read the com­ments. -Ed.]
[19 comments]  
Gaza Truce · No, there isn’t one as I write this. But with­in the last few week­s, Ha­mas of­fered a ten-year truce cov­er­ing the whole re­gion and (sep­a­rate­ly it seem­s) a six-month truce cov­er­ing just Gaza. The next sto­ry af­ter that’s head­line is “Girl killed in fresh Gaza clashes”, sigh. Seems to me it might be worth a try.
[Up­date: I got a cou­ple of hor­rid racist com­ments, which I re­spond­ed to, but then lost some­how. I’ll have to get in and clean up the com­ment sta­tus by hand; sor­ry.]
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Tibet and Twitter · On the plane home from San Fran­cis­co, I was sit­ting among a bunch of Ti­betans who’d been down from Van­cou­ver for the big protests around the Olympic Torch re­lay. I was hon­oured to be with them. The day be­fore, I’d been fol­low­ing the ac­tion most­ly on Twit­ter: check out @teamti­bet, where they were help­ing or­ga­nize the protest­s. Twit­ter, it’s an activist’s dream. But I couldn’t find on­line video or pho­tos of Ma­jo­ra Carter car­ry­ing the torch and the Ti­betan flag. Oh, and Chi­na, here’s a re­al­i­ty we honkies in­ter­nal­ized way back when: Im­pe­ri­al­is­m, it can do won­ders for your com­mer­cial po­si­tion and in dis­tract­ing the cit­i­zens from the regime’s do­mes­tic fail­ings. But on the oth­er hand, the bad PR is just nev­er gonna go away. So, you want the up­side, you just got­ta suck it up and deal with the im­age dam­age. Public whin­ing ill-suits a wannabe im­pe­ri­al pow­er.
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Hey, Kosovo! · In prin­ci­ple, when a sub­stan­tial group of peo­ple want to have their own coun­try, try­ing to stop them is ex­pen­sive, blood­y, and fu­tile. So, good on ya, Koso­vo. Hm­m, the gov­ern­ment seems to be on­line at ks-gov.net, which sug­gests they’d like to have .ks for their top-level-domain. It’s avail­able.
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Tab Sweep — World · Wel­come to the 2008 dispatches-from-the-front flow ...
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Missing in Shanghai · Wikipedia. BBC News. YouTube. Every­one on word­press.­com and on blogspot.­com. Plus, all feeds host­ed at FeedBurn­er (and that’s a lot of feed­s, in­clud­ing some pret­ty big-name blog­ger­s). Mind you, all this changes, some­times from week to week, they tell me. Stil­l, you have to feel sor­ry for Chi­nese knowl­edge work­er­s, fight­ing with one hand tied be­hind their back.
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Tab Sweep — The World · You know, each and ev­ery one of these is worth a carefully-considered lit­tle es­say; but I just don’t have the cy­cles, and pub­lish­ing them is bet­ter than not ...
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Stopping Terror · To­day, the an­niver­sary of 9/11 (here’s my 9/14/2001 take), the me­dia and the Net are full of look-backs, ap­pro­pri­ate­ly. I’d like to in­vest a mo­ment in think­ing about the bad guys and how we’re do­ing at pre­vent­ing a re-run ...
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Great Wall Protest · It was Cana­di­an­s, two of them from Van­cou­ver, who went and hoist­ed the “Free Tibet” poster on the Great Wal­l. What’s the point of hav­ing young peo­ple in the world if they don’t pull off looney stunts like this? I’m so proud of ’em. Here’s the CBC sto­ry, the Flickr pho­tos, and first-person cov­er­age in Bei­jing Wide Open by Lhadon Tethong.
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Verschärfte Vernehmung · Godwin’s Law, you say? I don’t think so. An­drew Sul­li­van points out pri­or use of the term “Enhanced Interrogation”, pro­mot­ed not on­ly by the malev­o­lent thick­heads of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion but by most of the Repub­li­can can­di­dates for Pres­i­den­t; pri­or use, that is, by the Gestapo. Mean­while Dick Cheney ar­gues that the Gene­va Con­ven­tion and the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion are tools for ter­ror­ist­s. Has the Amer­i­can right wing com­plete­ly lost its mind? I even had to un­sub­scribe from In­stapun­dit; I thought I ought to keep in touch with one ar­tic­u­late camera-loving righty, but there was one too many waves of nau­sea pro­voked by his “Al-Qaeda tor­tures much worse than we do and the Main­stream Me­dia ig­nores it” whin­ing. I had come to think, in mid-life, that while I will nev­er re­al­ly be con­ser­va­tive, there are smart hon­or­able peo­ple on that side who have good points to make. That may be true out­side the Unit­ed States, but in the Amer­i­can con­tex­t, near as I can tel­l, at the mo­ment “conservative” means “pro-torture” which means “scum” ...
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On the Hill · To­day I had a bunch of meet­ings in Wash­ing­ton, DC, on­ly one of which I can talk about. The sun was up and the trees a ri­ot of blos­som­s, and it was pleas­ant to walk around, which is what you most­ly do there when you’re on gov­ern­ment busi­ness. We got to meet briefly with Con­gress­wom­an Zoe Lof­gren, and was I ev­er im­pressed. I sup­pose, giv­en that her dis­trict in­cludes San Jose, it’s not sur­pris­ing that she’d be pret­ty tech-savvy, but even so. She’s gen­er­al­ly on board with the no­tion that Open Stan­dards float all boat­s, and she’s in­volved in a bunch of the hot is­sues where these ap­ply: in par­tic­u­lar, with vot­ing law (think: Diebold) and the Li­brary of Con­gress. A very Net-friendly politi­cian ...
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Stéphane Dion · So the Lib­er­als picked the pencil-neck geek with the bad hair, and his ac­cep­tance speech wasn’t very good TV. Stil­l, he’s kind of ap­peal­ing, he’s re­al smart, and he knows how the sys­tem work­s. That cyn­i­cal old lizard Chrétien gave a darn good speech, I thought. Harper, Dion, Lay­ton, Du­ceppe; there are lots of coun­tries whose cit­i­zens are look­ing at worse choic­es.
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Liberal Oratory · In Canada, we have three sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal par­ties. The right-wing Con­ser­va­tives (Tories) oc­ca­sion­al­ly get to form the gov­ern­ment (like now, for in­stance). The cen­trist Lib­er­als are some­times called “the nat­u­ral gov­ern­ing party” and have def­i­nite­ly spent more years in of­fice; at the mo­ment they’re in op­po­si­tion af­ter get­ting a well-deserved spank­ing from the vot­ers over a nasty lit­tle cor­rup­tion scan­dal. Then there’s social-democratic NDP. The Lib­er­als are cur­rent­ly hav­ing a con­ven­tion to pick their next lead­er, quite pos­si­bly our next Prime Min­is­ter. Tonight we had the big speech­es from all eight (!) can­di­dates and the first bal­lot. Prob­a­bly of in­ter­est on­ly to Canadian-politics fan­s ...
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On Attacking Iran · There’s a term in Po­lit­i­cal Science that I’m look­ing for (and if the LazyWeb speaks up, I’ll re-write this to ac­com­mo­date it). It’s the tech­nique of grad­u­al­ly shift­ing the cen­ter of a de­bate, first by in­tro­duc­ing no­tions pre­vi­ous­ly un­think­able at the edge, then grad­u­al­ly mov­ing them to­wards plau­si­bil­i­ty. It seems to be hap­pen­ing right now, with the ob­jec­tive of drag­ging ag­gres­sive war against Iran to stage cen­ter. Just this last week­end, the LA Times ran an opin­ion piece with the admirably-straightforward ti­tle Bomb Iran, and Ha’aretz was right be­hind them in line with Bush: I would un­der­stand if Is­rael chose to at­tack Iran. There’s even a sched­ule: In re­cent talks with their Is­raeli coun­ter­part­s, French gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials es­ti­mat­ed that Iran would reach the “point of no return” in its nu­cle­ar pro­gram by spring 2007, in ap­prox­i­mate­ly five month­s. I am no lover of the cor­rupt the­o­fas­cist op­pres­sors in Tehran; and I sus­pect that near­ly ev­ery­one agrees that we lose ev­ery time nu­cle­ar weapons cross an­oth­er bor­der. But stil­l, are we so blind to his­to­ry that any­body be­lieves that such an at­tempt will suc­ceed; or, whether suc­ceed­ing or fail­ing, im­prove the sit­u­a­tion? [Up­date: The term I was look­ing for was Over­ton Win­dow; check the com­ments for a point­er to Mark Pil­grim us­ing it. Thanks LazyWe­b!]
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Erroneous Ministerial One · Here­with my oc­ca­sion­al romp through the built-up brows­er tab­s. Item (se­ri­ous): In The ‘Next’ Ja­va, Joe Gre­go­rio says some Real­ly Smart Things about lan­guages in gen­er­al and Ja­va in ar­tic­u­lar. Item (se­ri­ous): At Busi­ness Week, Stephen Baker’s Writ­ing for an au­di­ence of one says some­thing gen­uine­ly new (hard, these days) about blog­ging. Item (in­ter­est­ing): My new Sam­sung is a pret­ty cool phone, but there are a few ir­ri­tants. It turns out that some­one called RedIpS has fixed them. I just bought a flash­ing ca­ble on EBay; I won­der if I’m go­ing to be break­ing any laws? Item (not se­ri­ous): SOA Facts. Item (puz­zling): Some guy named Tim Bray seems to be in trou­ble in Chi­na; this ar­ti­cle pro­vid­ed the ti­tle above. I hope Mr. Bray gets out OK.
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War Pigs · Item: Ehud Olmert says “The claim that we lost is un­found­ed. Half of Le­banon is de­stroyed; is that a loss?”
Item: Charles Krautham­mer calls for war with Iran: “The de­ci­sion is no more than a year away.”
Item: Ge­orge W. Bush asks “What does that mean, ‘outrages up­on hu­man dignity’?”

 
Five Years Later · So sad, so sad. Here’s a sto­ry of an little-known 9/11 hero that I hadn’t heard be­fore. I gath­er that our side has done a pret­ty good job of get­ting the guys who or­ga­nized it and break­ing up their or­ga­ni­za­tion, but you know, try­ing to fight a guer­ril­la move­ment by killing them one at a time has nev­er worked for any­one in any his­to­ry books I’ve read. Bruce Sch­neier says what a lot of smart peo­ple are say­ing, that yes, this re­al­ly is a polic­ing prob­lem. It’s just everyone’s bad luck that the bad guys did the bad things at a time when the U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tained what seems to have been an un­usu­al­ly high pro­por­tion of feck­less ideologically-blinded not-too-bright hack­s. Look­ing back in time, there are some things that make you shake your head and think “That’s just com­plete­ly crazy!” His­to­ry is full of them, from Athens at­tack­ing Syra­cuse a cou­ple of mil­len­nia back to Hitler at­tack­ing Rus­sia with­in the mem­o­ry of liv­ing peo­ple. It’s be­gin­ning to look like re­tain­ing Rumsfeld’s ser­vices will be seen as the twenty-first cen­tu­ry equiv­a­len­t.
 
Terror, Air Travel, Schneier · The world prob­a­bly doesn’t need too many more blogs say­ing “What He Said”, but, well... What Bruce Sch­neier said.
 
Hao Wu and Graham McMynn · Gra­ham McMynn is a teenag­er who was kid­napped in Van­cou­ver on April 4th and freed, in a large, noisy, and news­wor­thy po­lice op­er­a­tion, on April 12th. Hao Wu is a Chi­nese film-maker and blog­ger who was kid­napped in Bei­jing on Fe­bru­ary 22nd in a smal­l, qui­et po­lice op­er­a­tion not in­tend­ed to be news­wor­thy, and who has not been freed. Read about it here, here, and here. Mak­ing noise about it might in­flu­ence the gov­ern­ment of Chi­na to mod­er­ate its ac­tions against Mr. Wu, and can’t do any har­m. Mr. McMynn’s kid­nap­pers were a gag­gle of small-time hood­lum­s, one of whom was out on bail while await­ing tri­al for an­oth­er kid­nap­ping (!). Mr. Wu’s were po­lice. In a civ­i­lized coun­try, the func­tion of the po­lice force is to de­ter such peo­ple and ar­rest them. A na­tion where they are the same peo­ple? No­body could call it “civilized”. [Up­date, months lat­er: Hao Wu is free.]
 
The Toronto Bombers · This sto­ry has Cana­di­ans shak­ing their head­s. It turns out that it was a sting, the po­lice sup­plied the 3 tons of am­mo­ni­um ni­trate that you could use to make a McVeigh-style bom­b, on­ly big­ger. The Toron­to Star has a sto­ry (it’ll prob­a­bly van­ish be­hind the pay­wal­l) that in­tro­duces each of the peo­ple charged. They turn out to be most­ly sub­ur­ban, most­ly Cana­di­an; two of them are ac­tu­al­ly in jail af­ter plead­ing guilty last Oc­to­ber to sneak­ing a cou­ple of guns across the bor­der. For a mo­ment I won­dered if the cops were go­ing over­board, en­cour­ag­ing a bunch of wannabe-jihadi wanker­s; but then I re­al­ized that these are de­mo­graph­i­cal­ly an aw­ful lot like the bunch that blew up the Lon­don Un­der­ground; so it’s prob­a­bly an ex­am­ple of good polic­ing. Even if we man­age to stop the bleed­ing in the Mid­dle East, some eth­nic group some­where in the world is al­ways go­ing to be op­pressed and get­ting beat up; let’s hope the fu­ture bombers liv­ing among us are as clue­less as this bunch.
 
Seventeen Years Later · June 4th is the an­niver­sary of the Tianan­men Square mas­sacre. Go search YouTube for Tien­an­men, lots of good stuff in­clud­ing sev­er­al ver­sions of the fa­mous guy-and-the-tank footage. The best book I’ve ev­er read about the spring of 1989 in Chi­na is Jan Wong’s Red Chi­na Blues. It still seems to me that China’s cur­rent po­lit­i­cal struc­ture is flim­sy, tee­ter­ing, and ready to im­plode.
 
Bad Canadian DNS Theatre · If you val­ue your free­dom of speech, and you’re in Canada, don’t use “cadns.ca” as a reg­is­trar. It turns out that some­one set up a site sat­i­riz­ing pa­thet­ic, doomed, Lib­er­al lead­er­ship can­di­date Joe “Drug Money” Volpe, at YouthForVolpe.­ca, and one of Volpe’s goons ar­ranged for cadns.­ca to pull the do­main name. The site’s been mir­rored here, but you have to fol­low Cana­di­an pol­i­tics to know why it’s fun­ny.
 
A Good Anger · I was driv­ing the kid to work this morn­ing, mut­ter­ing the usu­al im­pre­ca­tions as I switched from one rock-music sta­tion to the next look­ing for ac­tu­al mu­sic in­stead of yap­ping morning-show mo­ron­s, and Yow! Here was a howl­ing gui­tar and a keen­ing voice singing about the stink­ing war and vow­ing to nev­er kill again and the false faces on TV and that was just per­fec­t, if ra­dio doesn’t have a place for anger-with-a-backbeat well it’s not worth lis­ten­ing to. And you can lis­ten to Neil Young’s Liv­ing With War to­day for free (although it seems like the serv­er is kind of dog­ging it).
 
Hypocrisy · Maybe in an ide­al world We’d All Just Get Along and there wouldn’t be at­tack blog­ger­s, but that’s not where we live, and if we have to have at­tack blog­gers I think we should have good ones. My fave is Bill­mon, and he’s just fired off one of the best take-downs ev­er.
 
The Smoking Gun · I al­ready griped about we Western­ers be­ing short-changed on high-def hock­ey, but Metroblog­ging Van­cou­ver found the ev­i­dence. Here’s the CBC Hock­ey Night in Cana­da sched­ule, and sure enough, there are ex­act­ly ze­ro Van­cou­ver games in high-def, while many US cities get cov­er­age, in­clud­ing bloody Tam­pa Bay twice. Face­tious­ness aside, this is im­par­don­able ar­ro­gance. (Oh, and by the way, that Metroblog­ging piece has some interestingly-doomful things to say about the fu­ture of the movie the­atre.)
 
Political Wisdom · Like I’ve said be­fore, I was in fa­vor of tak­ing down Sad­dam. But the crum­bling tow­er of stink­ing lies used to sell the war, then the nau­se­at­ing in­com­pe­tent bru­tal­i­ty with which it’s been pur­sued, have pushed the cost/ben­e­fit equa­tion way neg­a­tive. To­day, on one of the TV shows, US Rep. John Murtha said: “The on­ly so­lu­tion to this is to re­de­ploy. Let me tell you, the on­ly peo­ple who want us in Iraq is Iran and al-Qaeda. I’ve talked to a top-level com­man­der the oth­er day, it was about two weeks ago, and he said Chi­na wants us there al­so. Why? Be­cause we’re de­plet­ing our re­sources, our troop re­sources and our fis­cal resources.” Sounds con­vinc­ing to me.
 
Emersonapalooza · Oh my good­ness gra­cious. We had an elec­tion here in Cana­da last mon­th, and the Con­ser­va­tives (“Tories” for short) threw out the Lib­er­als, to the gen­er­al sat­is­fac­tion of an ir­ri­tat­ed pop­u­lace, but failed to get a ma­jor­i­ty in Par­lia­men­t, to the gen­er­al sat­is­fac­tion of a cau­tious pop­u­lace. My own rid­ing, Van­cou­ver Kingsway, had been held by Lib­er­al David Emer­son, a sea­soned pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor ex­ec­u­tive who’d been parachut­ed in but won it fair and square, and has al­ways been in the cab­i­net; he held the seat for the Lib­er­als last mon­th. This morn­ing, we awoke to the news that he’d “crossed the floor”, joined the Tories, and been re­ward­ed with a se­nior Cabi­net post. This change sub­tly shifts the com­bi­na­torics of pow­er in par­lia­ment and will be very use­ful to the gov­ern­men­t. The coun­try in gen­er­al and my neigh­bor­hood in par­tic­u­lar is pret­ty flab­ber­gast­ed. I got my jol­lies when I picked up my morn­ing cof­fee and some TV news crew was wait­ing out­side ask­ing passers-by what they thought. I splut­tered, tele­geni­cal­ly I hope, if they run it and any­one sees it, let me know. Cana­di­ans in search of some po­lit­i­cal snick­ers and a his­toric but im­per­illed doc­u­ment can read on for more ...
 
Western Alienation · [Canadians-only post; oth­ers can move right along.] So, now that we have a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment and a Prime Min­is­ter from Al­ber­ta, we can do away with this crap where the Toronto-Montréal hock­ey game is in high-def but the Edmonton-Vancouver game is in POFT (plain old fuzzy TV), right?
 
Election Day · I vot­ed ear­ly this morn­ing; we’ve been liv­ing in this neigh­bor­hood long enough that I rec­og­nized some peo­ple over at the pol­l, hung out and chat­ted for a bit. It felt good. I think that what’s hap­pen­ing to­day here in Cana­da high­lights the sin­gle es­sen­tial thing about democ­ra­cy; I wrote about this al­most three years ago, but it’s worth say­ing again: I don’t par­tic­u­lar­ly trust “the people” to pick the right poli­cies or even to pick the right lead­er­s. I do, how­ev­er trust them to de­tect the con­di­tion that the gov­ern­ment has been bad and needs to be turfed. Which we, to­day, are ap­par­ent­ly the pro­cess of do­ing. Frankly, I think it would be OK to pick the next gov­ern­ment by ran­dom se­lec­tion, and we prob­a­bly wouldn’t do that much worse than the cur­rent elec­toral crap-shoot. The im­por­tant thing—the on­ly thing that re­al­ly mat­ters—is that we re­tain the right to throw ’em out in a peace­ful and or­der­ly fash­ion, at our sole dis­cre­tion and for any rea­son. There are a lot of peo­ple in the world with­out that right. It’s the one that all the oth­ers flow from.
 
Canada’s Election · Our pol­i­tics haven’t his­tor­i­cal­ly been fa­mous for grip­ping dra­ma; af­ter al­l, the na­tion­al mot­to is “Peace, Order, and good Government”. But the cur­rent edi­tion is get­ting re­al­ly in­ter­est­ing. I’m nei­ther ter­ri­bly en­thu­si­as­tic nor dis­il­lu­sioned about our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, a typ­i­cal first-past-the-post Par­lia­men­tary elect­ed dic­ta­tor­ship. One thing, though, is ab­so­lute­ly won­der­ful: our elec­tions are over in a few week­s. The cur­rent edi­tion, with the Christ­mas break in the mid­dle, is un­usu­al­ly long. I had to feel sor­ry for the politi­cos out cam­paign­ing in De­cem­ber; not on­ly is the weath­er bru­tal, but in most of the coun­try, most of the vot­ers were busy get­ting ready for Christ­mas and thus to­tal­ly not pay­ing at­ten­tion. If you want to fol­low, I find that journoblog­ger An­drew Coyne pro­vides a good vantage-point on the cam­paign. What’s hap­pen­ing is that the Lib­er­al­s, of­ten re­gard­ed as the Nat­u­ral Govern­ing Par­ty, have fall­en be­hind in the poll­s. The Con­ser­va­tives (“Tories”) have done poor­ly in re­cent elec­tions be­cause the Lib­er­als suc­cess­ful­ly paint­ed them in scary GOP-clone colours, cre­at­ing fear that they’d pri­va­tize health­care, ban abor­tion, op­press gays, end gun con­trol, get us in­to Repub­li­can wars, and shut down im­mi­gra­tion. They were helped by the fact that the Tories had a few out­spo­ken di­nosaurs who ap­par­ent­ly want­ed to do pre­cise­ly those things. This time, there are two big dif­fer­ences. First, most of the coun­try is re­al­ly, re­al­ly ir­ri­tat­ed at the Lib­er­als for their long-time cul­ture of in­sid­er pa­tron­age and for re­cent­ly hav­ing been caught en­gag­ing in overt bribery and kick­back­s. In fac­t, if they hadn’t been do­ing a rea­son­ably com­pe­tent job of run­ning the coun­try, they’d be on their way to the po­lit­i­cal grave­yard. Se­cond, the Tories have their right-wing cra­zies firm­ly un­der con­trol and are sound­ing level-headed, sen­si­ble, and un-radical. It looks like the vot­ers may well give ’em a chance. Mind you, there are still 16 days of cam­paign­ing and a lot can change.
 
Hockey and America · I man­aged to catch a few of the games in the just-completed World Ju­nior Hock­ey Cham­pi­onship. If I’d been more or­ga­nized I might have been able to go to some of them since they were right here in town, but hock­ey turns out to be ex­cel­lent HDTV fare and it was ter­rif­ic en­ter­tain­men­t. While we won the fi­nal 5-0, that wasn’t fair to the Rus­sian­s, who were a strong, fast, skilled team; they had at least as much tal­ent as the Cana­di­an­s. I think they were out-coached; plus our goalie Justin Pogge, whom nobody’d ev­er heard of be­fore, went in­to brick-wall mode in the first third or so of the game, against a mere hu­man there would have been two or three or more Rus­sian goal­s. Any­how, once you got past Cana­da and Rus­si­a, the oth­er re­al­ly good team in the tour­na­ment was the USA. And here’s what’s weird and dis­turbing: the mostly-Canadian au­di­ences were ac­tive­ly cheer­ing for any­one play­ing against the US, and oc­ca­sion­al­ly boo­ing the Amer­i­can­s. Grant­ed, economically-literate Cana­di­ans are mad at the US for egre­gious NAFTA abuse, and we’re ter­ri­fied of the con­se­quences of our neighbor’s lu­natic fis­cal and trade deficit­s. And of course, from the mushy Cana­di­an cul­tur­al cen­tre, Dubya and the neotheo­cons seem like be­ings from an alien plan­et. While, like most Cana­di­an­s, I dis­ap­prove of many ac­tions of the cur­rent US ad­min­is­tra­tion, like most Cana­di­ans I al­so like most Amer­i­can­s. And it’s just mo­ron­ic to take out po­lit­i­cal gripes on a bunch of ea­ger, ded­i­cat­ed, young ath­letes. But hav­ing said that, if there were any doubt that the USA has a ma­jor public-relations prob­lem, boo­ing hock­ey fans a half-hour over the bor­der should dis­pel it.
 
Spooks, Redux · Four days ago, I wrote What the Spooks Know, hy­poth­e­siz­ing that the NSA has been lis­ten­ing to more or less ev­ery­thing and then do­ing da­ta min­ing. Two follow-ups are in or­der. First, I was right. That is, if the New York Times is to be trust­ed. On the oth­er hand, in my piece I re­port­ed about the stu­dent who got vis­it­ed by the Feds for hav­ing tak­en the Lit­tle Red Book out of the li­brary. That re­port­ing re­lied on pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ists (al­beit some­what less au­gust than the Times), and it it was 100% bo­gus. So, first: yes, they are watch­ing you. Se­cond: don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing you read, here or in the press.
 
What the Spooks Know · There’s this wire­tap­ping scan­dal swirling around Wash­ing­ton; the pol­i­tics of it are easy to un­der­stand, but it’s got some in­ter­est­ing tech­nol­o­gy di­men­sion­s. Here­with a look from the prospec­tive of a search-technology pro­fes­sion­al who’s got a de­cent layperson’s un­der­stand­ing of in­tel­li­gence ca­pa­bil­i­ties ...
 
Ils sont fous ces Français! · Trans­lat­ing from Goscin­ny/Uder­zo to Hunter S. Thomp­son: there’s bad crazi­ness go­ing on over in France. Ap­par­ent­ly, there’s a move afoot to ban Free Soft­ware, and I can on­ly think “Never as­cribe to mal­ice that which can be ex­plained by incompetence”. Mal­ice or in­com­pe­tence aside, in the un­like­ly event that this sil­ly thing pass­es, it could hard­ly be en­forced with­out build­ing a cyber-police-state of an ef­fi­cien­cy and com­pre­hen­sive­ness be­yond the wildest dreams of the Bei­jing regime. If any of my read­ers are French cit­i­zen­s, you might want to call your lo­cal politician’s of­fice or write a let­ter to your lo­cal ed­i­tor or what­ev­er. Here’s some more from Hen­ry Sto­ry, with French-language links. [Up­date: Gilles Gravier writes: “It’s not all free soft­ware that they are try­ing to ban... Just soft­ware that en­ables dis­tri­bu­tion of copy­right­ed ma­te­ri­al which is not equiped with means of trac­ing who shares what with whom... Ob­vi­ous­ly, open-source soft­ware makes it easy to re­move such trac­ing mean­s, so is a no-no for SACEM (who are des­per­ate­ly try­ing to keep alive an old mod­el for mak­ing mon­ey over artists in­stead of try­ing to turn to the fu­ture and find new adapt­ed ways).” And now I see that he’s writ­ten more on the sub­ject.]
 
Liberals Fall · As I (very safe­ly) pre­dict­ed a cou­ple of weeks ago, the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment fell to­day and we’re look­ing at a Jan­uary elec­tion. You have to feel sor­ry for the can­di­dates who, most places in the coun­try, will be slog­ging through the snow and sub-zero tem­per­a­tures; but not that sor­ry, it’s long past time we had this lit­tle cathar­sis. As I was scan­ning the cov­er­age to­day I ran across the blog of Monte Sol­berg, an Al­ber­ta To­ry of whom I’d nev­er heard, but who gives the po­lit­i­cal nar­ra­tive in an un­forced, flow­ing, insider’s voice; he’s a nat­u­ral. I was a lit­tle in­trigued that it’s not ob­vi­ous at all from his web-site which par­ty he rep­re­sents. On the oth­er hand, it’s tough to see a guy this un­af­fect­ed and nat­u­ral be­ing re­al com­fy as­so­ci­at­ing with a plas­tic on-message droid like Stephen Harper.
 
The Saga Continues · The Mas­sachusetts Of­fice XML File For­mats saga, that is. The lat­est news is that the Mi­crosoft an­nounce­ments last week are play­ing well in Bos­ton. Com­mon­wealth sec­re­tary Thomas Tri­mar­co stat­ed “we are op­ti­mistic that Of­fice Open XML will meet our new standards”, and I’m op­ti­mistic too. Ob­vi­ous­ly the key word is “will”, since we haven’t seen what’s get­ting sub­mit­ted to ECMA and nobody’s seen what will come out of ECMA. Our own chief stan­dards geek Carl Cargill wrote Mr. Tri­mar­co a let­ter, which you can read over at Piper Cole’s we­blog.
 
War Marketing · To­day Mr. Bush has ex­co­ri­at­ed his op­po­nents for claim­ing that he lied them in­to war. The Pres­i­dent said: “Some Democrats and anti-war crit­ics are now claim­ing we ma­nip­u­lat­ed the in­tel­li­gence and mis­led the Amer­i­can peo­ple about why we went to war.” Well I’m nei­ther a Demo­crat nor re­al­ly anti-war, but yep, that’s the claim. (By the way, he’s be­ing fact-checked.) That claim is pret­ty con­vinc­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly to any­one who’s ac­tu­al­ly read the 521-page Se­nate Re­port on In­tel­li­gence Fail­ures (high­lights here), or the Down­ing Street Me­mo. If you want a more schol­ar­ly ver­sion of Mr. Bush’s com­plain­t, check out Nor­man Pod­horetz in Com­men­tary; he is con­vinc­ing­ly de­mol­ished by Kevin Drum. Why am I so up­set about this? Be­cause I thought that tak­ing out Sad­dam was a moral ac­t, some­thing worth do­ing for its own sake, a chance to prove that Arabs don’t have to live in dic­ta­tor­ships where there are tor­tur­ers in the jail­s, that Western Civ­i­liza­tion is ca­pa­ble of moral ac­tion. In­stead, the war was sold based on con­ven­tion­al mar­ket­ing wis­dom: pick a cou­ple of sim­ple mes­sages and stay on them. I was watch­ing TV and read­ing the pa­per­s, and all the war mar­keters were say­ing, over and over, was “He’ll have nukes soon!” and “He’s Osama’s buddy!” Both false; and there are still tor­tur­ers in the jail­s. I’m suf­fi­cient­ly ir­ri­tat­ed that I don’t mind say­ing “I told you so”, which I did in Fe­bru­ary and March of 2003. Fe­h. I hate lies.
 
Vancouver Politics — Good · We’re hav­ing an elec­tion here in Van­cou­ver on Nov. 19th. We have four par­ties in con­tention: the NPA, gen­er­al­ly re­gard­ed as rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of the West-siders who live in big hous­es, and sym­pa­thet­ic to the provin­cial gov­ern­ment as long as it’s right-wing, which it cur­rent­ly is. Then there’s COPE, usu­al­ly seen as a bunch of old-fashioned Lefties, the Greens, and a new thingie called Vi­sion Van­cou­ver. There are two can­di­dates for may­or, the NPA’s Sam Sul­li­van and Jim Green from Vi­sion. What hap­pened was, we had a pret­ty good may­or called Lar­ry Camp­bel­l, who ran on the COPE tick­et but was nev­er very com­fy with its left­ward fringes. He re­tired and COPE split, spin­ning off Vi­sion; and Jim Green, who was kind of Larry’s side­kick, is run­ning on that tick­et. It’s un­clear whether Vi­sion is any­thing more than a one-time plat­form for Green; but COPE and Vi­sion and the Greens are co-operating, some­what. This is kind of a cheery elec­tion; both Sul­li­van and Green look like pret­ty plau­si­ble can­di­dates for may­or, and they’re be­ing rea­son­ably civ­i­lized about it; their at­tacks on each oth­er seem pret­ty well fact-based. I think we’ll do OK, who­ev­er win­s.
 
Canadian Politics — OK · Wel­l, fi­nal­ly. As I wrote back in May, we’ve had a high­ly un­sta­ble po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion for the best part of a year, with the gov­ern­ing mi­nor­i­ty Lib­er­als emit­ting a strong aro­ma of en­trenched cor­rup­tion, but the op­po­si­tion not (quite) sum­mon­ing the will to take ’em down. Wel­l, now all three op­po­si­tion par­ties have said that they won’t sup­port the Lib­er­als any more; while they’re squab­bling mess­i­ly, chances are we’re go­ing to have an elec­tion in Jan­uary. The NDP, who were sup­port­ing the gov­ern­ment in or­der to win social-democratic leg­isla­tive points, now say they aren’t hap­py with the Liberals’ health-care of­fer­s, but I sus­pect that they’ve de­cid­ed that the gen­er­al pub­lic is so mad at the the Lib­er­als that the costs of be­ing in bed with them out­weigh any pol­i­cy ben­e­fit­s. It should be an in­ter­est­ing elec­tion. On one hand, the Lib­er­als were caught red-handed steal­ing mil­lion­s. But on the oth­er, they’ve ac­tu­al­ly been pret­ty com­pe­ten­t; un­em­ploy­ment and the na­tion­al debt are down, we’re not bogged down in any over­seas wars; peo­ple feel pret­ty pos­i­tive about our in­volve­ment in the Balka­ns and Afghanistan. Me, I think we have to dump the Lib­er­als if on­ly to pre­serve our self-respect, but I can’t imag­ine we’ll get a very long-lasting re­sult. That’s OK, elec­tions are cheap and bear­able, com­pared to the al­ter­na­tive.
 
US Politics — Creepy · I see that in our south­ern neigh­bor, the Pres­i­dent has promised to ve­to anti-torture leg­is­la­tion and the Vice-President is try­ing to get the CIA ex­empt­ed from it. I hate jump­ing to con­clu­sion­s, and I’m wor­ried; I read a lot of news, and it makes me won­der whether the fac­tion cur­rent­ly gov­ern­ing Amer­i­ca is heav­i­ly pop­u­lat­ed with greedy vi­cious ly­ing thiev­ing sanc­ti­mo­nious un­der­hand­ed heart­less ve­nial creep­s. That is what the ev­i­dence sug­gest­s. But like I said, you wouldn’t want to jump to con­clu­sion­s.
 
Mukhtaran Mai · In Pak­istan, al­leged­ly an al­ly of the West, Ms Mai was sen­tenced to gang rape to pun­ish her broth­er. She sur­vived, fought back, won in court, raised mon­ey, start­ed school­s. If the word “hero” has any mean­ing, she is one. The Asian-American Net­work Against Abuse of Women in­vit­ed her to lec­ture in the U.S.A. So the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment re­voked her right to leave the coun­try, put her un­der house ar­rest, and cut off her phone; mean­while, its courts are let­ting the rapists out of jail. The New York Times re­port­ed on the week­end that she was un­der ar­rest, but the BBC now says she’s free. This would be a good time to drop a line to your Con­gressper­son or Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment or lo­cal Em­bassy of Pak­istan. What­ev­er you think of Gen. Mushar­raf, he re­al­ly can’t do with­out Western sup­port. So we may not be able to save the world, but maybe we can save one brave wom­an. [Up­date: I wrote this last June; but some­times there’s good news.]
 
Massachusetts and ODF · Here is the state­ment that Sun filed for today’s Mas­sachusetts State Se­nate hear­ing on the is­sues around OpenDoc­u­ment and state’s new En­ter­prise Tech­ni­cal Ref­er­ence Model ...
 
Vince Ready · [This piece is about a nasty teachers’ strike here in BC, and prob­a­bly on­ly of lo­cal in­ter­est.] So if Vince can pro­nounce the bar­gain­ing pro­cess dead and cook up a pro­pos­al that looks like it’s go­ing to end the fight, and do it in like 24 hours, why the ^#!%$ didn’t they hire him six months ago!? To Vince: Bill ’em for $100K for the day. To the gov­ern­men­t: Pay the bil­l. To the BCTF: In­sist on cov­er­ing half of it (Oh, and for gosh sakes climb down, you’re win­ning; stall on ac­cept­ing the deal and your pub­lic sup­port will be in sin­gle dig­its in fif­teen min­utes). [Up­date: The teach­ers are are go­ing back, thank good­ness. Yes, there’s a re­al chance the Camp­bell gov­ern­ment will try to welsh on the class-size part of the deal, they ap­par­ent­ly think that starv­ing the public-education sys­tem of mon­ey is good gov­er­nance; then again, they won the last elec­tion. But, hav­ing fold­ed their tent and gone back to work, the teach­ers are go­ing to be in a strong po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion next time push comes to shove.]
 
Guns, Not Butter · Just now, my news ag­gre­ga­tor had these two MSNBC sto­ries next to each oth­er. Item: “The Se­nate vot­ed for the sec­ond time this month against pro­vid­ing more mon­ey to help low-income fam­i­lies heat their homes.” Item: “Congress on Thurs­day passed a bill pro­tect­ing the firearms in­dus­try from mas­sive law­suits brought by crime vic­tim­s, and Pres­i­dent Bush was ex­pect­ed to sign it in­to law.” Glad to see they’ve got their pri­or­i­ties straight.
 
Hunger Barrier Weakened? · If this BBC news re­port is true, and not just po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing, it could be huge, huge, news. A cou­ple of years ago I wrote: “The world’s rich­est coun­tries are de­lib­er­ate­ly, and as a mat­ter of pol­i­cy, pro­mot­ing pover­ty and star­va­tion in the world’s poor­est countries.” That’s still true, but if the US and EU are will­ing to slash the sub­si­dies, the world could stum­ble in­to a win-win-win sce­nar­i­o.
 
Lower than Vole Scrota · ESR has cracked up. It’s kind of sad, Eric Ray­mond was one of my ma­jor in­flu­ences with his es­says on the cul­ture and eco­nomics of Open Source. I didn’t al­ways agree, but they were closely-argued and made you re­al­ly think hard. Now he stands on his blog plat­form and ar­gues that we’re in dan­ger of sur­ren­der­ing to Al-Qaeda be­cause of... wait for it... after-effects of the work done by Depart­ment V of the KGB, es­pe­cial­ly be­tween 1930 and 1950. There are con­so­la­tion­s; his re­ful­gent nut­ti­ness brings out the best in some com­menter­s, for ex­am­ple a bril­liant micro-essay by “Adrian”, from whence this fragment’s ti­tle.
 
No Religious Courts · On­tar­i­o, the province in the mid­dle of Cana­da that’s the biggest and rich­est, was com­ing un­der pres­sure from Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty ac­tivists to al­low “voluntary” use of re­li­gious tri­bunals in civ­il family-law cas­es. There are a cou­ple of ob­vi­ous prob­lems with this. First, some as­pects of Mus­lim re­li­gious law are pro­found­ly in­com­pat­i­ble with mod­ern Cana­di­an val­ues, which tend to re­gard wom­en as per­sons more or less equiv­a­len­t, legal­ly, to per­sons who are not wom­en. Another prob­lem is that the Mus­lim world does not ex­act­ly have con­sen­sus on ex­act­ly what Sharia law says, let alone what it mean­s. On the oth­er side, there were two ar­gu­ments, one bad and one plau­si­ble. The bad ar­gu­ment was that the choice of re­li­gious courts was “voluntary”. I put the word in quotes for a rea­son; to an op­pressed wom­en in the grips of a semi-closed im­mi­grant cul­ture, the right to opt out of Sharia would be the­o­ret­i­cal at best. The sec­ond ar­gu­ment is that it turns out that On­tario ap­par­ent­ly al­ready al­lowed Jews and Catholics to opt for re­li­gious tri­bunal­s, and giv­en that, it’s re­al­ly tough to say “no” to the Mus­lim­s. In a re­fresh­ing out­burst of san­i­ty and fair­ness, the On­tario gov­ern­ment sim­ply banned all re­li­gious tri­bunals. I can’t imag­ine any­thing more sen­si­ble; if liv­ing in a civ­i­lized so­ci­ety means any­thing, sure­ly it means one rule­book for ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of which God they be­lieve in. Un­sur­pris­ing­ly, at least some of the Jews and Catholics are ir­ri­tat­ed. They get no sym­pa­thy from me, and good on the McGuin­ty gov­ern­men­t. [Up­date: in­formed follow-up from Rob.]
 
Inequality and Risk · That’s the ti­tle of a re­cent piece by Paul Gra­ham, who’s of­ten pointed-to here and who I think is one of our great­est liv­ing es­say­ist­s, and since ongoing’s full name is on­go­ing frag­ment­ed es­say, that’s a strong claim. Inequal­i­ty and Risk, and this is a com­pli­men­t, is deeply wrong, but made me stop think­ing about all the oth­er things I was think­ing for quite some time about be­cause I had to think about it. Here­with re­marks on Inequal­i­ty and Public Pol­i­cy; but first, go read Paul’s es­say ...
 
The Middle East for Geeks · There aren’t that many peo­ple who know what what the Bourne Shell is, care about Mid­dle Eastern pol­i­tic­s, and have a sense of hu­mor. But if you’re one of them, don’t miss this ver­sion of The War on Ter­ror.
 
Une espionne de la CIA? · Good heav­en­s, for peo­ple who en­joy po­lit­i­cal the­atre, this Amer­i­can Rove/Plame thing looks like it’ll be a long-running standing-room-only smash hit. The bat­tle lines couldn’t be stark­er; con­sid­er The Big Lie About Va­lerie Plame vs. Karl Rove, Whistle­blow­er. If what you want is amus­ing polemic­s, the right-wingers seem to be gen­er­al­ly ly­ing pret­ty low, so you have to look left, where in­deed a few of the live­li­er colum­nists have their teeth sunk glee­ful­ly deep in­to Ad­min­is­tra­tion flesh. For ex­am­ple, drop by Bill­mon and sa­vor the fla­vor. Believe it or not, I do have an orig­i­nal an­gle; a week back, when the sto­ry first broke, Libération ran a sto­ry en­ti­tled Karl Rove: Le con­seiller de Bush est-il l’homme qui a révélé l’identité d’une es­pi­onne de la CIA? and I just want­ed to say how much I love that word es­pi­onne, there’s noth­ing in English that feels re­mote­ly the same.
 
London Bombs · This morn­ing I read on CNN that “Authorities across the Unit­ed States worked to in­crease se­cu­ri­ty on sub­ways, train­s, and oth­er po­ten­tial targets...”. That’s re­al­ly, re­al­ly stupid. If some­one wants to kill you so bad­ly that he doesn’t mind dy­ing in the pro­cess, chances are he’s prob­a­bly go­ing to get you, and a few more cops on the sub­way aren’t go­ing to help. As for Lon­don, well we’re all Lon­don­ers to­day; but in the big pic­ture Lon­don­ers have proven, plen­ty of times, that you can’t push them around this way. So this was not just sick, twist­ed and evil, but al­so fu­tile. That’s three Western cap­i­tals in four years, yeah they’ll prob­a­bly come back and do it again, and “tightened security” is just treat­ing the symp­tom­s. What’s the al­ter­na­tive? This may sound nut­s, but do­ing our best to just ig­nore them would be good. They’re not gonna cause any pol­i­cy changes this way, but at least they get to con­trol what’s on CNN & the BBC for a while; maybe if they couldn’t even do that, the strap-on bomb would be less at­trac­tive. My oth­er rad­i­cal suggestion—which some will de­nounce as treason—is to work hard­er at fig­ur­ing out the “Why?” of it. I’m not say­ing that there’s any po­lit­i­cal grievance to which at­tack­ing New York, Madrid or Lon­don is a rea­son­able re­spon­se. But when some­thing is driv­ing enough peo­ple in­to in­sane be­lief sys­tems that we see reg­u­lar ex­plo­sions in our cities, it would be smart to care—a lot—what that some­thing is. Be­cause, on the ev­i­dence, I don’t think the lead­ers of the Western world have a clue. [Up­date: This one got lots of link­age, but un­til to­day the on­ly di­rect feed­back was from Sa­van­na Slave of “Porn Pic a Day dot Com” (no kid­ding), who said “We un­der­stand ’em just fine”, and from Chris­taan Brig­gs, who quot­ed at length from Osama. I don’t think I’ll link to ei­ther, but you can find them if you wan­t. On the oth­er hand, Britt Blaser wrote a big es­say, which I high­ly rec­om­mend.]
 
Live 8: Real News · I went straight from Ja­va One to a mini-vacation, thus most­ly miss­ing the Live 8 noise. But it’s not too late to get your name or your face on the list, and—more important—send a per­son­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion (I’d sug­gest FAX or voice­mail) to your own Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment or Deputy or Con­gressper­son, say­ing you’re a vot­er and you think they should pass the word along to take the Live 8 mes­sage se­ri­ous­ly. I’ll do that, and for those who won­der why the Live 8’ers are moan­ing about trade pol­i­cy, here’s why. And on that sub­jec­t, there’s good news: Ap­par­ent­ly, Pres­i­dent Bush said this morn­ing that he’d drop the id­i­ot­ic US agribiz sub­si­dies if the Euro­peans would drop their even-more-idiotic ones. Good on ya, W, and to my Amer­i­can read­er­s: right now would be a good time let your lo­cal politi­cian know you ap­prove.
 
Microsoft and China · Boy, is the bl­o­go­sphere ev­er a buzzin’ over MSN Spaces’ pol­i­cy of not al­low­ing your­self to la­bel your­self with in­con­ve­nient words like “Freedom” or “Democracy”. Although I pro­found­ly dis­agree with Scoble on this one, you got­ta re­spect him for stick­ing his head out of the trench un­der heavy fire (here and here). Look, there’s noth­ing in the ba­sic work­ings of the free mar­ket, nor in U.S. leg­is­la­tion, that says MSN can’t be Beijing’s bitch to buy some blog­ger­s. But re­mem­ber, it is a free mar­ket, on this side of the Paci­fic. So first, I sus­pect there’s a lot of people—the kind of cre­ative, independent-minded peo­ple that Mi­crosoft needs—who’d gen­er­al­ly rather not work at a com­pa­ny that does that. And sec­ond, there are a lot of oth­er peo­ple who’d pre­fer to avoid buy­ing prod­ucts from one. [Up­date: I’m get­ting push­back be­cause it’s been claimed that Sun sells some of the gear in the Great Fire­wal­l. If true (and it’s be­liev­able), that’s sad. It feels quite dif­fer­ent to me from pro-actively sup­press­ing the use of the words “Freedom” and “Democracy”; but make your own judg­men­t. Any­how, read the dis­claimer at your right; it’s me, not Sun, that’s talk­ing.]
 
Amnesty and the Sweeps · Every time there’s a TV Sweeps Week, when the Neilsen-rating re­sults come out there’s a loser, and the los­er al­ways grum­bles about how the method­ol­o­gy is bust­ed and they’re re­al­ly not do­ing that bad. Sim­i­lar­ly, when­ev­er Amnesty In­ter­na­tion­al points the fin­ger at some gov­ern­men­t, that gov­ern­ment makes like a los­ing TV net­work and whines that the pro­cess is bro­ken. Re­cent­ly, Amnesty had some pret­ty harsh things to say about the col­lat­er­al human-rights dam­age from the US “War on Terror”. Dick Cheney snarled pre­dictably and the right-wing bl­o­go­sphere is push­ing back might­i­ly: “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL seems to have flushed its credibility...” and there are pages of out­rage based, not on the sub­stance of what Amnesty said, but on their temer­i­ty in com­par­ing Git­mo to a gu­lag; thus, thou­sands of words ex­plain­ing that the gu­lags were much, much worse; in­deed they were and that was dopey of Amnesty. But it’s just so to­tal­ly like how Cen­tral Amer­i­can dic­ta­tors used to say “But the Com­mu­nists are worse” and Com­mu­nist gov­ern­ments used to say “But the Apartheid racists are worse” and Apartheid racists used to say “But the black-ruled dic­ta­tor­ships are worse.” I’m not an Amer­i­can, so this is just a hint from a friend­ly neigh­bor: be­ing bet­ter than the gu­lags isn’t good enough. When your Neilsen rat­ings are bad, you need to run bet­ter shows, and when Amnesty gets on your case, you need to stop bru­tal­iz­ing peo­ple.
 
Party Party · Bri­tish Columbia is hav­ing an elec­tion Tues­day the 17th. I won’t be there be­cause I’m tak­ing a plane out at 7AM, so on the week­end I took the kid off to the ad­vance pol­l. I thought I’d turn it in­to a civics lesson, but a par­lia­men­tary elec­tion turns out to have too many lev­els to ex­plain eas­i­ly. He got the idea about pick­ing a name and mark­ing an “X” be­side it, though. In BC there are two par­ties that mat­ter, the Lib­er­als (their web­site is wonky in Sa­far­i, bah) and the NDP. In Amer­i­can terms, the Lib­er­als are ap­prox­i­mate­ly mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans and the NDP ap­prox­i­mate­ly lib­er­al Democrat­s. The last NDP gov­ern­ment was in­cred­i­bly bad and the vot­ers got so ir­ri­tat­ed they elect­ed a leg­is­la­ture with the Lib­er­als hold­ing 77 of 79 seat­s. The NDP has got­ten rid of most of the clue­less schemers from last time around and while they aren’t ex­pect­ed to win, we should have a better-balanced leg­is­la­ture af­ter the elec­tion. Al­so the Green Par­ty is look­ing strong and may elect a few mem­bers this time, which I think would be healthy. In our rid­ing, the Lib­er­als are run­ning a bor­ing mar­ket­ing ex­ec while the NDP has a boy­ish en­trepreneur (cre­ator of Hap­py Plan­et juices. Along with these two, the Green­s, and an in­de­pen­den­t, we had can­di­dates from the Work Less Par­ty (Work­ers of the World - RELAX!) and the Sex Par­ty. Seems like these last two should con­tem­plate a merg­er.
 
Happy Commie Day · It’s May Day, and I see that some still car­ry on the old tra­di­tion­s. One of the skin­ny tat­tooed baris­tas where I get my morn­ing lat­te some­times wears this funky T-shirt with the ham­mer and sick­le lo­go; I doubt it’s ev­er crossed his mind that it might mean some­thing, but to me it does ...
 
Democratic Reform BC · My friend and for­mer col­league Matt Laird, who, as a part-time ISP, hosts on­go­ing, is a can­di­date for the Demo­crat­ic Re­form par­ty in the provin­cial elec­tion we’ve got un­der way right now. They’re cur­rent­ly mad be­cause their lead­er isn’t be­ing in­vit­ed to the TV de­bates, and their gripe sounds rea­son­able to me. In this elec­tion, I haven’t yet tak­en the time to fig­ure out who I like, but I’ve turned in­to one of those aw­ful single-issue vot­ers be­cause I’ve got a kid in el­e­men­tary school, and the lev­el of un­der­fund­ing is shock­ing, scan­dalous; un­ac­cept­able in as pros­per­ous a so­ci­ety as we have here. It looks like be­ing a re­al horse-race in my neigh­bor­hood too, so this should be fun.
 
Scoble Is Right · On the sub­ject of Microsoft’s waf­fling and bob­bing and weav­ing around the Washington-State an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion or­di­nance, Scoble is demon­strat­ing a re­mark­able com­bi­na­tion of good sense and courage. The apolo­gias from Ballmer and Gun­do­tra are pro­found­ly un­con­vinc­ing. As re­gards Ballmer’s po­si­tion, Mi­crosoft didn’t have any obli­ga­tion to get be­hind this bil­l. But in 2005, with the the U.S. slip­ping in­to a cul­ture war, drop­ping sup­port is a pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal state­ment that, on the face of it, aligns Mi­crosoft with the forces of ig­no­rance and big­otry; not just a values-free re­jig­ger­ing of the leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties. And Gun­do­tra lost me at his sec­ond para­graph, which seems to sug­gest we should wor­ry about hurt­ing bigots’ feel­ings. Scoble is do­ing the right thing here and he de­serves everyone’s sup­port and he has mine. He’s al­so do­ing Mi­crosoft a huge fa­vor by tak­ing this stand; I won­der if they’re smart enough to re­al­ize it? There’s oth­er good com­men­tary from Adam Barr, Gary Cor­nell, and Cyrus Na­jmaba­di.
 
Tet · Hey, you can call me a pedant and a pinko, and while I know that few to­day re­al­ly care much about what hap­pened in Viet­nam in 1968, I am con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly un­able to let huge fat stink­ing his­tor­i­cal lies in ma­jor pub­li­ca­tions go un­ad­dressed. In Ge­orge Will’s Wash­ing­ton Post col­umn this Sun­day, he says “When, af­ter the mis­re­port­ed Tet of­fen­sive of 1968 (a U.S. mil­i­tary vic­to­ry de­scribed as a crush­ing de­feat), Cronkite de­clared Viet­nam a ‘stalemate’...” I’m sor­ry, I was at one time a keen stu­dent of the his­to­ry of Viet­nam go­ing back cen­turies and up through the fall of Saigon, and Ge­orge Will is full of it. In 1968, at a time when the Amer­i­cans and South Viet­namese were busy as­sur­ing ev­ery­body that ev­ery­thing was just fine, the oth­er side sud­den­ly and with­out warn­ing launched syn­chro­nized up­ris­ings and at­tacks across the coun­try in­clud­ing right in Saigon. Yes, the Amer­i­cans won that bat­tle, quick­ly and de­ci­sive­ly; but the of­fen­sive made it clear that they’d been ly­ing about the re­al state of af­fairs. I was watch­ing those TV broad­casts my­self, and they made clear it clear that the Amer­i­cans were win­ning the skir­mish­es, but they al­so ex­posed the vis­cer­al hor­ror of both troops and civil­ians that the en­e­my they thought they were beat­ing could in­fil­trate at will and at­tack any time. It was at that pre­cise point that a lot of smart peo­ple de­cid­ed, and some of the me­dia start­ed ac­cu­rate­ly re­port­ing, that the U.S. wasn’t win­ning.
 
Rob on Family Reunification · That would be my broth­er Robert Bray, who re­cent­ly tes­ti­fied be­fore a stand­ing com­mit­tee of the Cana­di­an House of Com­mon­s. Cana­da has a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem, which means that when one par­ty gets a ma­jor­i­ty they’re more or less an elect­ed dic­ta­tor­ship; but at the mo­ment we have a mi­nor­i­ty gov­ern­men­t, so Par­lia­ment in gen­er­al and its com­mit­tees in par­tic­u­lar have con­sid­er­able po­lit­i­cal oom­ph. Im­mi­gra­tion is a hot is­sue across the rich world, and the is­sue of fam­i­ly re­uni­fi­ca­tion is a hot zone with­in the hot zone. If you care even slight­ly about these things, I think you’ll find Rob’s re­marks worth the in­vest­ment of a lit­tle time ...
 
R.I.P. · What Bill­mon said.
 
Billmon · This is the pseudonym of the au­thor of Whiskey Bar, which would be just an­oth­er pro­gres­sive po­lit­i­cal blog if it weren’t so very well-written. Bill­mon burned out part­way through last fall’s elec­tion and signed of­f. Then, in Jan­uary, he was back (pro­voked by a news sto­ry that made my blood run cold, too) but his posts con­sist­ed en­tire­ly of carefully-attributed quo­ta­tions from con­tem­po­rary and his­tor­i­cal pub­lic fig­ures, plus ma­li­cious­ly and amus­ing­ly doc­tored pho­tograph­s. If you are a be­liev­er in the in­tegri­ty or in­tel­li­gence of the cur­rent U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion you will prob­a­bly find them ir­ri­tat­ing, but may nonethe­less ad­mit that they are well-done. To­day, for the first time in month­s, he gave us a few para­graphs in his own voice, which I think well-worth a vis­it.
 
Free Lebanon! · I lived in Le­banon for eleven years, be­fore the civ­il war broke out, and I’m pro­found­ly hap­py to see the Le­banese stand­ing up to face down the goons from the hered­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship next door ...
 
Inauguration Day · On this oc­ca­sion, I’d like to wish our Amer­i­can neigh­bours the best of luck over the next four years; and I think you’re go­ing to need it. I was one of the tiny per­cent­age of non-Americans who thought in­vad­ing Iraq might be sane, but then I thought then and I think now that it’s not OK to start a war based on on a bunch of bald-faced lies and yes, they knew they were ly­ing. Now, ev­ery­one knows the WMDs were nev­er there (check out the des­per­ate snivel­ing from the pro-administration cam­p). I, like I sus­pect a large ma­jor­i­ty of the civ­i­lized world, re­al­ly hope that the Iraquis man­age against the odds to pull off a de­cent elec­tion and end up with some sort of a de­cent so­ci­ety, and that the US kids sweat­ing it out and dy­ing in the desert man­age to make it home alive. What­ev­er you think about that, a ma­jor­i­ty of Amer­i­cans dis­agreed with my opin­ion that if the US were a busi­ness, it was time to fire the boss. So, to­day, tens of mil­lions get poured in­to the in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­monies. Mean­while, baf­fling­ly, it seems like they’re do­ing it again and once again, it seems to be work­ing. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
 
Missile Defense Is A Cult · Up here in Cana­da we’re com­ing un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure from Pres­i­dent Bush to sign up for the U.S. Mis­sile De­fense pro­gram, we’ve got all this ter­ri­to­ry up North where they’d like to sit­u­ate the launch­er­s. Rather than just say­ing “Get lost!”, our Mr. Martin is (wise­ly I think) play­ing it cool and fuzzi­fy­ing. It’s good not to ir­ri­tate the U.S. when you don’t have to, but there’s ab­so­lute­ly no need for Cana­da to as­sist the dwin­dling but in­flu­en­tial band of cultists who be­lieve that Mis­sile De­fense is any­thing but a defense-contractor boon­dog­gle. It was bo­gus back when Rea­gan launched it and it’s still bo­gus. But don’t take my word for it, check out what the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Physics has to say. Mind you, it’s less dan­ger­ous now than it was in Reagan’s day, when there was a nonze­ro prob­a­bil­i­ty that “Star Wars” might have pro­voked some para­noid Rus­sians who were suf­fi­cient­ly stupid to be­lieve that it might work to launch a first strike while they still had a chance. (Lau­ren has told me of how she, like ev­ery oth­er un­der­fund­ed Physics Ph.D. in the Eight­ies, no­ticed how dress­ing re­search up as missile-defense-related was a good way to tap in­to the gush­ing SDI mon­ey pipeline). Now, it’s just an ex­treme­ly prof­itable waste of mon­ey. We all know that re­li­gious cults are dis­tin­guished by be­liev­ing in things that are ob­vi­ous­ly not true, usu­al­ly com­bined with sub­stan­tial cash flows in the di­rec­tion of those run­ning the cult. Mis­sile de­fense is an ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple.
 
Jara Indictment · The BBC has the news from Chile that one Col. Mario Man­riquez has been in­dict­ed in the 1973 ex­e­cu­tion of singer Vic­tor Jara. For those with­out the his­to­ry at their fin­ger­tip­s, in 1970 the Chileans elect­ed a so­cial­ist as pres­i­den­t, in the face of con­cert­ed Amer­i­can op­po­si­tion. The U.S. spent mil­lion­s, first to try to de­feat Al­lende at the poll­s, then to fund a gang of mil­i­tary mur­der­ers who staged a bloody coup on Septem­ber 11th 1973, in the pro­cess of ce­ment­ing which they killed a num­ber of Chilean cit­i­zens just slight­ly high­er than the to­tal Septem­ber 11, 2001 body coun­t. The mil­i­tary, al­leged­ly at Manriquez’ or­der­s, broke Jara’s hands to stop him play­ing, then killed him. But you see, Jara was a Com­mu­nist, which in the Seven­ties meant some­one that it was O.K. for U.S.-backed dic­ta­tors to kil­l. Since there aren’t any Com­mu­nists now, we use the word “militant” for the same pur­pose. You don’t have to have been an ad­mir­er of Jara’s mu­sic or Allende’s pres­i­den­tial record to still be an­gry, thir­ty years lat­er. Nixon is al­ready burn­ing in hel­l, for Chile if noth­ing else, and while there are seats re­served there for Pinochet and Kissinger, it’s nice to hear that there’s a chance for some jus­tice this side of the grave.
 
Politocolinguistic Militancy · Scan­ning the BBC news be­fore break­fast, I read that U.S.-Pakistan re­la­tions are im­prov­ing, and that this “coincided with an army of­fen­sive against sus­pect­ed mil­i­tants that of­fi­cials say has left 17 dead.” I am doubly-irritated; first, at the cur­rent us­age of the word “militant” (chiefly by the gov­ern­ments of the U.S. and its al­lies) mean­ing “someone whom it’s OK to kill” (or in this case, whom it’s OK to kill on sus­pi­cion). A mil­i­tant is some­one who is tak­ing up arms in sup­port of a cause: his­tor­i­cal ex­am­ples would in­clude Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton, Charles de Gaulle, and Simón Bolívar. Mil­i­tants, his­tor­i­cal­ly speak­ing, are some­times con­sid­ered ad­mirable peo­ple; par­tic­u­lar­ly when up in arms against cor­rup­t, op­pres­sive, mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship­s. Like, for ex­am­ple, the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan. Which isn’t to say that ev­ery­one fight­ing against Gen­er­al Mushar­raf is a fine per­son. But when the Amer­i­cans or Is­raelis or Saud­is or who­ev­er equate “militant” with “license to kill”, that’s of­fen­sive on a bunch of lev­el­s. And as for be­ing on good terms with the cur­rent Pak­istani regime... Amer­i­ca has his­tor­i­cal­ly got very poor re­sults from prop­ping up enemy-of-our-enemies dic­ta­tors, but keeps try­ing. Fol­low the link and look at the pic­ture, which kind of says it al­l, for me.
 
New North America · There were these fun­ny post-election maps go­ing around the Net (see here and here), which got me think­ing about re­design­ing the lay­out of our con­ti­nen­t, which is cur­rent­ly pret­ty sub-optimal. So, in­stead of sleep­ing, I did ...
 
On Not Understanding · Last night, by a mar­gin of three to two, the vot­ers of Ohio amend­ed their con­sti­tu­tion to in­clude this: “Only a union be­tween one man and one wom­an may be a mar­riage valid in or rec­og­nized by this state and its po­lit­i­cal sub­di­vi­sion­s. This state and its po­lit­i­cal sub­di­vi­sions shall not cre­ate or rec­og­nize a le­gal sta­tus for re­la­tion­ships of un­mar­ried in­di­vid­u­als that in­tends to ap­prox­i­mate the de­sign, qual­i­ties, sig­nif­i­cance or ef­fect of marriage.” Ten oth­er states passed sim­i­lar mea­sures. In par­al­lel, a high pro­por­tion of exit-polled vot­ers said that their de­ci­sions were made on the ba­sis of “moral values” rather than on eco­nom­ic or foreign-policy is­sues. On this, and the elec­tion as a whole, I cheer­ful­ly ad­mit that I Just Don’t Get It. But then, the Unit­ed States doesn’t need me to un­der­stand it, and still less does it need—nor ap­par­ent­ly want—the world’s ap­proval of its ac­tions or, uh, “moral values”. It would be good if Amer­i­ca and the world weren’t so bad­ly out of tune, but that’s how it is, and nei­ther has much lever­age on the oth­er. But I’m op­ti­mistic that we’ll get along bet­ter, down the road.
 
Political Snicker · Was chat­ting with a col­league and I re­marked “Dow-Jones turned south when the Kerry-looking-good exit-poll leak went around the Net.” He re­spond­ed “Pity so many people’s pen­sions are linked to the suc­cess of evil-doers.”
 
That American Election · As a suck­er for un­script­ed dra­ma, I watched all the de­bates and most­ly en­joyed them, though not as much as in years when one of the can­di­dates has had a re­al way with words (Clin­ton, Rea­gan). Stil­l, watch­ing two guys put it on the line in front of a pan­el of six­ty mil­lion judges is more in­tense than just about any­thing else on TV. The me­dia ought to be hang­ing its head in shame; the ques­tions from the cit­i­zens at the town-hall meet­ing were im­mense­ly bet­ter than the ones the pros of­fered. Espe­cial­ly that CBS id­iot; how can you have a de­bate on do­mes­tic is­sues with­out go­ing in­to en­er­gy or the en­vi­ron­men­t? I was go­ing to avoid opin­ions about the elec­tion, but I’ve been in­flu­enced by heart­felt words from Rus­sell Beat­tie and Wil­liam Gib­son. So in the un­like­ly event that you care what a Cana­di­an com­put­er pro­gram­mer thinks about the big show, read on ...
 
War Marketing · I just lis­tened to the U.S. Pres­i­den­tial foreign-policy de­bate and had a rev­e­la­tion. The Pres­i­dent re­peat­ed over and over—it was ob­vi­ous­ly his #1 talk­ing point—that you have to be con­sis­tent in what you say and not change po­si­tion­s. I re­al­ized that I’ve heard this nar­ra­tive be­fore, and it was from se­nior, well-regarded mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tives, em­pha­siz­ing how you have to pick a short sim­ple mes­sage and stay on that mes­sage and nev­er wa­ver. It hadn’t dawned on me that this con­ven­tion­al mar­ket­ing wis­dom for prod­uct launch­es and brand po­si­tion­ing would ap­ply to for­eign pol­i­cy in wartime. The anal­o­gy is not ob­vi­ous­ly crazy. On the oth­er hand, I be­lieve that the con­ven­tion­al wis­dom about mar­ket­ing is, well, wrong.
 
Helping Them Lie · Google is get­ting some well-deserved flak for emas­cu­lat­ing the Chi­nese ver­sion of Google News by sup­press­ing head­lines that point at things the gov­ern­ment of Chi­na doesn’t want its cit­i­zens to read. I didn’t think it worth rant­ing about, but this pa­thet­ic apolo­gia on the Google blog adds in­sult to in­jury. Let’s be clear here: the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is try­ing to cre­ate the im­pres­sion that it’s nor­mal and ac­cept­able for a large, well-educated, economically-growing mod­ern na­tion to have an au­thor­i­tar­i­an one-party sys­tem of gov­ern­men­t. They’re not sub­tle, they sim­ply for­bid news that con­tra­dicts their de­sired im­pres­sion. By sup­press­ing the head­lines that point at for­bid­den ma­te­ri­al, Google is ac­tive­ly aid­ing and abet­ting the Chi­nese government’s mar­ket­ing pro­gram. And please, please, can we lose the nau­se­at­ing twad­dle about how it’s OK to sup­press the truth be­cause it’s “less than two per­cent of Chi­nese news sources”? What do you bloody well ex­pect when the gov­ern­ment of Chi­na is ac­tive­ly en­gaged in sup­press­ing such news? The rea­son why that num­ber is low is be­cause too many oth­er peo­ple are do­ing what Google is. Some­one at Google may re­al­ly be­lieve the plat­i­tudes in that blog en­try, but in ef­fect the com­pa­ny is en­gaged in kiss­ing the wrong kinds of as­s­es. This is not good. [Up­date: Some­one named Di­di­er is flam­ing me for hypocrisy be­cause he claims Sun sells com­put­ers that are part of the prob­lem. Nor­mal­ly not worth high­light­ing, mais en français... tor­dan­t! (On n’a pas un mot pour “marketing”? Hm­m­m)]
 
Mario and Arnold · On the road in Bos­ton, watch­ing the Canada/US game on one TV and the RNC on the oth­er; they’re both pret­ty good en­ter­tain­men­t, al­though the RNC didn’t quite man­age to top the ven­er­a­ble Mario Lemieux wad­ing in­to an as­tound­ed US play­er fists-first, I bet Mario was just as sur­prised when he re­al­ized what he’d done. But that speech by Arnold, that was some­thing, I was to­tal­ly im­pressed with the rhythm and the flow and the com­plete com­mand of the stage... hold on a sec­ond. He’s say­ing that the Demo­crat­ic con­ven­tion should have been called True Lies af­ter one of his movies. He’s cit­ing Nixon (“I am not a crook”) as a ma­jor in­flu­ence. He’s say­ing that peo­ple who dis­agree with his eco­nom­ic the­o­ries are “girlie men”. This is vac­u­ous slop. Hmm­ph, this calls for, via Dave Sifry’s spot, a tour through Technorati’s politi­cobl­o­go­sphere, look­ing for adult re­ac­tion­s. Feel­ing bet­ter... yow! A mouse just ran across the ho­tel-room floor. Boston’s an old town.
 
Dubya Photo Funnies · What hap­pened was, Lau­ren was away dur­ing the Demo­crat­ic Con­ven­tion, and as a pol­i­tics junkie, I want­ed to watch some of it, so the kid (just turned five) end­ed up watch­ing a cou­ple of the big speech­es with me. (All on we­b­cast, our TV is a movie box, doesn’t get any chan­nel­s). He’s full of ques­tions so I tried to ex­plain, and as a re­sult the can­di­date is the on­ly pub­lic fig­ure in the world whose face he knows, when we’re some­where that there’s a TV show­ing news he’s apt to pipe up “There’s John Kerry.” This is a lit­tle em­bar­rass­ing, es­pe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing he’s a Cana­di­an. This morn­ing I was read­ing news and made some re­mark about Ge­orge Bush and he asked “who’s he?” so I tried to ex­plain the big pic­ture around the elec­tion and I went look­ing for some Dubya pix to show him. So I went to the bio page at the of­fi­cial Bush re-election site, and clicked on “View Ge­orge W. Bush Pho­to Gallery”... bust­ed link, a peek in­side the source re­veals href="\News\PhotoAlbum.aspx"... if I were mean-spirited I’d sug­gest that some­thing about ei­ther be­ing Repub­li­can or us­ing Win­dows makes you stupid, but se­ri­ous­ly, have to won­der about an or­ga­ni­za­tion that claims it can run Amer­i­ca not be­ing clue­ful enough to use a link-checker. Back to our sto­ry... I went to Google and looked for pic­tures of Ge­orge Bush. This turns out to be a bad idea; the top-ranked pic­tures are by and large, shall we say, not Republican-friendly. Want­ed poster­s, deranged-monster morphs, things that have just got­ta be Pho­toShopped. “Why are you laugh­ing, Daddy?” said the kid, and I couldn’t re­al­ly ex­plain. (PS: Lots of nice pic­tures of Ge­orge over at the White House site if you want ’em).
 
Square Hair · Some­how I had the idea that there was a cer­tain air of be­ing hip and with-it about this whole blog­ging thang. But look at the of­fi­cial Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion des­ig­nates: you can get a good gig and still be a hon­key suit with Fifties hair. Who knew? (Ac­tu­al­ly, scroll down a bit, they have some re­al peo­ple too.)
 
Electoral Vote Syndication · Over the week­end, and in be­tween events at the IETF, I got in­to a di­a­logue with “the Votemaster,” who runs the Elec­toral Vote Pre­dic­tor 2004. I find the Pre­dic­tor un­equaled as a dai­ly read-out on the state of the Bush-Kerry con­test. I sug­gest­ed by email that the page could use a feed, and he wrote back “Say what?” and I ex­plained and he hacked and de­bugged, and now, here it is. He says it’s a be­ta, but it works fine in all the read­ers I try and al­so val­i­dates, so what’s not to like?
 
Georgic · You may have heard the term “Philippic,” which means a fiery speech full of in­vec­tive and warn­ing. The word comes from a se­ries of pub­lic ad­dress­es by De­mos­thenes, the clas­si­cal Greek or­a­tor, who is said to have over­came the speech im­ped­i­ment that he was born with by prac­tic­ing his art at the sea­side with stones in his mouth. The speech­es were about the evil of and the dan­ger from King Philip of Mace­don, fa­ther of Alexan­der, who, ex­act­ly as De­mos­thenes pre­dict­ed, even­tu­al­ly did crush the in­de­pen­dent life of the Greek city-states. Wel­l, Ron Rea­gan, son of the late Pres­i­dent and stem-cell re­search ac­tivist, has de­cid­ed to take on Demosthenes’ role. You may, in re­cent times, have heard many bad things said about the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Ge­orge W. Bush. Rea­gan, writ­ing in Esquire mag­a­zine, says them all in one place in a con­cen­trat­ed out­burst of rhetor­i­cal flame. I think one could be a Bush par­ti­san and still ad­mire Reagan’s ex­tend­ed, fo­cused fury. This piece is valu­able, even con­sid­ered on­ly as a time-saver; if you read it, you can pret­ty well skip over all the oth­er anti-Bush rhetoric that’s apt to oc­cu­py the air­waves this year, be­cause it’s all neat­ly pack­aged up here in one place. [Up­date: John Cowan, ap­prox­i­mate­ly the world’s most lit­er­ate per­son, writes to tell me that “Georgic” al­ready means po­ems of the clas­sic pe­ri­od deal­ing with Agri­cul­ture, no­tably those of Vir­gil. Too bad, I’m not chang­ing the ti­tle.]
 
Poetry, Go, Kerry · I love live sports (which is to say, rit­u­al­ized con­flic­t) and I love lan­guage, so how could I not love the po­lit­i­cal are­na? Here­with some notes pro­voked by the just-ended and much-blogged Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Con­ven­tion ...
 
Political Publishing · The news­me­dia are stiff with won­der­ment at this new blog­ging thang, per­son­i­fied by a few dozen of the pesky varmints re­al­ly be­ing there (what a con­cep­t) at the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Con­ven­tion. Tech­no­rati (dis­clo­sure: I’m on the Ad­vi­so­ry Board) is try­ing to do the big­ger pic­ture, and ev­ery time I go to that page it’s in­ter­est­ing; al­so Br’er Dave Sifry is go­ing to be CNN’s Am­bas­sador from Bl­o­gis­tan. We could do way worse. The meta-story is more in­ter­est­ing than the sto­ry, al­most by def­i­ni­tion; the Demo­crat­ic par­ty wants to have an ex­tend­ed tightly-controlled five-day in­fomer­cial; the last thing they want is ac­tu­al news. The news me­dia will play along to some ex­tent but al­so be fu­ri­ous­ly look­ing for some re­al sur­prise or con­flict or sub­terfuge in the spir­it of if-it-bleeds-it-leads. Two ob­vi­ous ways the Bl­o­gis­ta­nis could make a dif­fer­ence would be by un­cov­er­ing (un­ex­pect­ed­ly) re­al news, or by find­ing some way to make this large­ly for­mal and content-free event a lit­tle more hu­man, a lit­tle more mean­ing­ful, a lit­tle fun­nier. Best of luck, boys and girl­s. (PS: While on the sub­ject of the po­lit­i­cal pro­cess and the Web as a medi­um, the Elec­toral Vote Pre­dic­tor strikes me as el­e­gan­t, seam­less, and new.)
 
Malice and Incompetence · Nev­er as­cribe to the for­mer, the say­ing goes, that which can be ex­plained by the lat­ter. Wel­l, I stayed up most of last night read­ing all 521 pages of the US Se­nate Re­port on the U.S. In­tel­li­gence Community’s Pre­war In­tel­li­gence Assess­ments on Iraq, and there is plen­ty of mal­ice and in­com­pe­tence to go around. I didn’t mean to read it al­l, but it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing doc­u­men­t, with fla­vors rang­ing from Solzhen­it­syn to Catch-22, and I’ve en­joyed brows­ing around the news sto­ries to­day that say what it said (for ex­am­ple, here Josh Mar­shall skew­ers a Wash­ing­ton Post re­porter who wrote with­out read­ing). I’d rec­om­mend that any­one who cares about war, peace, and truth take a look at it first-hand; here­with a few notes on what I found, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of things that don’t seem to have been cov­ered that much else­where; some as­ton­ish­ing and some fun­ny ...
 
Google Censorship, Ouch · From Perrspec­tives, a fair­ly or­di­nary U.S. left-liberal po­lit­i­cal site (but with an above-average sense of hu­mor), a shock­ing sto­ry of be­ing cut off by Google AdWords for “language that ad­vo­cates against an in­di­vid­u­al, group, or organization.” Earth to Google: that coun­try you’re based in is go­ing through a war and an elec­tion! A sub­stan­tial part of the pop­u­la­tion is (quite prop­er­ly) ad­vo­cat­ing like crazy against one po­lit­i­cal fac­tion or an­oth­er as a re­sult of one or the oth­er. The Perrspec­tives folks point out that the pol­i­cy, on top of be­ing, uh, wrong, is al­so bro­ken, in fact lots of peo­ple are us­ing Google AdWords for po­lit­i­cal rhetoric and polemic; the ap­pear­ance is ei­ther of po­lit­i­cal bias or of in­com­pe­tence. I’m not sure whether I’m say­ing Don’t be evil or Don’t be stupid but whichev­er, please don’t.
 
Canadian Election · We’re hav­ing an elec­tion up here in Cana­da right now. K5 has a de­cent write-up; here­with some more, try­ing to give a fla­vor for the thing ...
 
Liam’s Married! · I’ve known Li­am for years, he was an XML ex­pert back be­fore it was called XML, he’s al­so a hip­pie and a cal­lig­ra­pher and a stan­dards war­rior and a Gnome geek and a full-text-search hack­er, has been known not on­ly to give speech­es at ma­jor con­fer­ences in bare feet but use a cus­tom email head­er X-feet: bare;. Def­i­nite­ly my kind of guy. I dis­cov­ered re­cent­ly (in a mail­ing list post­ing) that he’s not on­ly gay but has a hus­band (he’s Cana­di­an too). Which is way cool, they shoul­da told us and we woul­da sent flow­er­s. They tell me that in a near­by coun­try the Head of State is try­ing to Amend the Con­sti­tu­tion to pre­vent this kind of thing hap­pen­ing. Can’t be true, that would just be re­al­ly stupid, they on­ly do that kind of thing in theo­crat­ic feu­dal monar­chies, not in Canada’s nice civ­i­lized neigh­bors. Right?
 
NH Debate: The Northern View · Since we don’t get net­work TV, the Pow­erBook was propped up on the din­ner ta­ble play­ing the nice steady ro­bust we­b­vide­ofeed from New Hampshire’s WMUR; here­with some notes on the evening and the elec­tion. Up here in Canada, Amer­i­can pol­i­tics are a spec­ta­tor sport; nev­er as good as a re­al­ly great World Series but bet­ter than most Su­per Bowl­s. This time around the Demo­crat­ic race has out­stand­ing en­ter­tain­ment val­ue; we don’t know yet about the Novem­ber even­t, but some­times the di­vi­sion­al play­offs are more fun than the fi­nal any­how ...
 
Democracy · I was read­ing Joi Ito's es­say on the sub­ject of Democ­ra­cy, which (over­sim­pli­fy­ing, in­evitably) ar­gues that we need the world to be more demo­crat­ic, and that the In­ter­net (in par­tic­u­lar through the emer­gent blog ecosys­tem) pro­vides a higher-quality ve­hi­cle for dis­cus­sion and ed­u­ca­tion. I kind of be­lieve the sec­ond half of the ar­gu­men­t ...
 
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