'M' is for Microsoft and Monopoly; 'S' is for Sun and Sue
Aziz Poonawalla says the unspeakable (writes the unwritable, sorry) about Microsoft, Sun, and free markets. It goes something like this: Sun is using the courts to compete with Microsoft because they've failed in the marketplace. Two commenters raise what might be salient objections. It's all worth reading.
Electrolite: "On a rural road in Kenya, two cars collide by night. Both are driven by American citizens. The driver of one car, a white diplomat, calls the American embassy for help, and is whisked away for medical treatment. The driver of the other, a black teacher, is left to die."
The incident involved a white American whose day job was heading up the regional office of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and a black American whose day job was teaching at the International School of Kenya. The black American taught the son of the USAID head. But at night, after the car wreck, the white USAID employee climbed into an ambulance under his own power, and he and the ambulance drivers left the blacks to their fate.
I imagine that Dirk Dijkerman, the white USAID employee, is not a racist in his thoughts. I am sure he believes in equality. I am sure that he chose to work in Kenya in order to do good. One thing I've learned from following the news in Israel and Palestine is that people who think of themselves as good can display a stunning callousness towards human life.
Listening to the radio I feel so out of place
There's a certain something missing that the treble can't erase
I know you can tell just by looking at my face
A word about my weakness
I'm totally addicted to bass
Whatever it is, Hansen had better be careful. He may find himself murdered by the Israeli army, shot in the back in broad daylight perhaps, like his UN co-worker Iain Hook was in November (more here and here). Hook is one of five UN Relief and Works Agency employees killed by Israel in the past year.
Arafat to Bin Laden: With Friends Like You, Who Needs Enemies?
Our man in the street Roy (who now uses the last name McCoy, but I'm skeptical) reports on Arafat's ringing condemnation of Osama Bin Laden in a recent interview with the UK's Sunday Times.
Arafat doesn't denounce the 9/11 attacks here (he has before), but focuses on OBL's transparent attempts to link his harabah with the Palestinian resistance movement. "I'm telling him directly not to hide behind the Palestinian cause," says Arafat in the interview.
Update 3: Censorship must be in the air. This time it's self-censorship. The English version of Ha'aretz is choosing not to reproduce for foreign readers all of the articles that appear in the Hebrew version. It leaves out embarassing stories like this one about how Israel's government cracks down on Jews who marry a Muslim or try to convert. (via Aron's Israel Peace Weblog, via Alas, a blog -- both recent additions to Unobjectionable Content)
As Brainsluice noted a few weeks ago, it was recently "Buy Nothing Day". This Brainsluice guy decided last year to make it "Buy Everything Day". Why? Because, as he says on his blog, "I like buying stuff. And I like being able to. Long live the art of purchasing!"
I've posted some links to Adbusters (the guys who invented Buy Nothing Day) before, because I appreciate some of their critiques of modern capitalism. But for me Adbusters is more of an advocatus diaboli, (which makes me the Catholic Church, I guess). Capitalism isn't perfect, but it beats socialism and communism hands-down.
"Consumerism" as social critique of a shallow, possession-driven culture might be a fair thing to be concerned about, but I can't get all worked up about Buy Nothing Day. I like buying gifts for people I care about, and I like receiving gifts. The whole idea of exchanging presents seems pretty darned wonderful to me. I actually wonder if the people who come up with ideas like Buy Nothing Day are just lacking in meaningful interpersonal relationships. If I didn't have anyone to buy for, and no one to buy for me, then maybe I'd hate the idea of gift giving too.
I will say up front that I still hold a grudge against Miss E. of Letter from Gotham. And I will say, to her credit, that she has written things that make me admire her, and things that make me want to go back and disagree with my own posts (yes, the anti-war ones).
What Diane does, when she is at her best, is grapple with the strongest arguments of her opponents and criticize the worst elements of her "own" side. When she is at her worst, people like me find themselves with grudges.
But you aren't me, and you can benefit from reading something that, frankly, is better than anything I've had to say recently on the subject of war.
So here it is. It starts on Alas, a Blog, and he's just quoting Where is Raed, and Diane's part doesn't come 'til the end, but that's ok. It is all worth it. Just start where I told you to start. You'll end up with Diane.
Me, I will go on admiring and being infuriated by her.
Weeks have gone by and I haven't mustered the motivation to post about that topic, but I'm happy to say that I've found another reason to direct you all to Roy's fine blog: his post about Winston Churchill, the greatest of the Britons. Here is a taste:
The British people rightly voted Winston Spencer Churchill as the greatest Briton ever. What is perfectly clear is that if it wasn't for Churchill most of Europe would have been occupied by Nazi Germany for some time. Britain would have remained free. The old fallacy frequently spouted by some ignorant Yanks is that they saved our asses. Not true.
Evolution is a natural process, in language as in biology. Meanings change over time, until "boy band" can refer to a group of over-21 males who don't play musical instruments, and the prefix "pop," once short for "popular," can come to mean "the absence of" ... as in pop culture.
"When the hell are bloggers gonna get tired of discussing themselves? Oh wait, I know... NEVER. If you ask me, the blogosphere is nothing but a vaunted cesspool of unpublishable tripe written on the company dime, and I hope you all die." - Max
U.S. and Israeli officials tell Time that Israeli special forces have been operating inside Iraq's western desert on reconnaissance and training missions, surveying 30,000 sq. mi. for places where Iraq might have hidden the missiles and launchers it kept after the Gulf War. "You sniff around in the western desert," says a U.S. official, "and try to get an idea about those hardened concrete bunkers that Saddam has created to put his Scuds in." In the past few years, members of an Israeli special-forces unit called Shaldag, Hebrew for "Kingfisher," have taken part in the Scud hunt.... Sources say that should a war start, Israel will ask the U.S. to allow it to contribute a few three-man teams to the search for missiles.
First Turkey and now Israel admit that small units of their armed forces have crossed the Iraqi border and continue to operate there -- all of this occurring with the approval of the United States, whose own special forces are also on the ground in Iraq. Yet the President repeatedly tells his own people and the world that he hopes to avoid war.
American citizens might be forgiven for wondering what kind of suckers their government takes them for.
The aggressive movement of Israeli, Turkish, and American special forces into Iraq is another sign that the U.S. and its allies are not seriously engaged in any kind of peace process. In fact, what is going on is pre-war -- not an adjective, a noun.
Pre-war is what negotiation and diplomacy really mean in our modern newspeak. Pre-war is a constant vigilance against peace. It is the Tonkin Gulf and the USS Maine and, when even these kinds of charades are no longer necessary, it is a first-strikeforeign policy.
War is the health of the state, and for warriors, peacetime is only a hiatus, the pause that makes the notes meaningful.
In Iraq, pre-war is the order of the day. "Whatever timetable the U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraqi disarmament may imply, and whatever Saddam may or may not do to cough up his weapons of mass destruction," the Time article begins, "people in the know are behaving as if a war to unseat the regime in Baghdad has already begun."
An article in The Independent called Focus: The Secret War (via Ethel the Blog) reads like a companion piece to the report in Time. "US special forces are reported to be on the ground in western and northern Iraq," it reveals. "In many ways, the war on Iraq has already begun."
Our pre-war in Iraq is actually quite old, having started almost the moment that the hot conflict ended. This pre-war is no-fly zones, and not simply no-fly zones but their expansion into an (even more) aggressive bombing campaign. According to the same Time article:
Already, U.S. and British warplanes have moved to a more aggressive posture while enforcing Iraq's no-fly zones, the northern and southern regions from which Iraqi planes are banned. In the past, when Iraqi forces fired on allied planes, the reply came in attacks on guns and missile batteries. That has changed. Now the allied planes are attacking command-and-control centers, communications nodes and the fiber-optic network that links Iraq's air-defense system. "We're responding differently," says a Pentagon official, "hitting multiple targets when we're fired upon—and they're tending to be more important targets."
The Independent article suggests that air attacks increased when peace appeared more likely: "Since Iraq accepted the UN resolution on 14 November, US and British planes have gone into action on 10 days out of 11."
Pre-war is provocative. That's the point.
Saddam is being squeezed. "I see it as poking," says a State Department official. "Let's poke this pressure point and see what happens; let's see what reaction we get."
State Department policy as described by this unnamed official is a recipe for diplomatic failure that cannot but lead to conflict. As an unknown witsaid in August, it is
[the] geopolitical equivalent of teasing a dog with a stick - actually it's been the equivalent of teasing a dog with a stick while saying, "I'm going to kill you soon."
Which is to say, the State Department isn't stupid, it's dishonest. Our current policy works better as escalation than as negotiation, and policy-makers are quite aware of this. But they don't present it to the public that way.
We are not trying to come to terms with Iraq. And although such a stance may be appropriate and even moral on its own, when sold to the people as an attempt to avoid war it becomes dishonest and immoral.
Pre-war dwells in the language of last resorts and diplomatic solutions while bombs drop and soldiers quietly move into advanced positions behind enemy lines.
Soon the floodlights will go on and the show will begin, but ladies and gentlemen, lets not forget all the hard work that went on behind the scenes to make this all possible.