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{Tuesday, December 31, 2002}

'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.

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The prodigal returns
Leonard of Unruled has been back for a while now, and I knew it. I was just keeping Unruled to myself (there aren't enough anarcho-capitalists to go around, you know). But, it's time to share.

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The Daily Dose: "Powers of Ten: See the universe from outside our galaxy all the way down to a single proton in a leaf on a tree in Florida."

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Music: "Touratina" is two hours of classic Arabic folk music (the music begins about one minute and a half into the stream, after an Arabic announcer introduces it).

"FMAC 2" is a mysterious title, but zoom to 7 minutes and 43 seconds into the stream and you'll get two minutes of instrumental and then a woman's lonely voice. She's singing "Don't leave me."

"Sabah Fakri," gives you strings, drums, and the traditional sounds of Arab music. There are no significant vocals until two minutes and forty seconds in.

Those and more are brought to you by Radio Casablanca.

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Skin deep
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.

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{Monday, December 30, 2002}

Your wish is our command
Dear Gawker Editorial Board:

You ask, we deliver. Merry Christmas.

Of course, there's a back. And, because you've been good.

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{Saturday, December 28, 2002}

Song of the day: "Addicted to bass," by Puretone

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

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Did you the UN authorize the code red No-Fly Zones?
"You're goddamned right they didn't," says Slate, just over a month after Objectionable Content pointed it out.

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{Friday, December 27, 2002}

The Most Moral Army in the World: Part Four Thousand Two Hundred and Twelve
More than a fifth of Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank are malnourished. Why? According to the head of the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, Peter Hansen, "They are suffering for purely man-made reasons. No drought has hit Gaza and the West Bank, no crops have failed and the shops are often full of food."

Hmm. What is it he's getting at?

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.

In unrelated news, the Israeli Defense Force has eliminated the terrorist threat posed by a UN food warehouse. In "a routine operation," the army bombed the UN building in Gaza, destroying dangerous materials like flour, cooking oil, and rice -- enough to have kept 38,000 people fed for a month.

(Last link via, yet again, the excellent cursor.org, which would be a sight better with permalinks, hint hint)

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The Most Moral Army in the World: Part Four Thousand Two Hundred and Eleven
Israeli border police operating in the West Bank city of Hebron are forcing Palestinians they detain to choose whether to have a nose, an arm, or a leg broken in a sort of "lottery." (via cursor.org)

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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.

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It's about time
Al Jazeera is coming to the US, in English.

Update: Another article with a good deal of background on al Jazeera reveals this little tidbit in paragraph 14: Qatar, the country where Al Jazeera is based, was offered $5 billion from another Gulf state to shut the station down (via cursor.org). If this isn't a sign that al Jazeera is doing something right, I don't know what is.

And instead of supporting the freest media in the Middle East, the US wants to stifle it .... Let freedom ring.

Update 2: In other free press news, Israeli censors ban a film about the IDF destruction of Jenin.

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)

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{Wednesday, December 25, 2002}

Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.
- Bart Simpson

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Song of the day: "White Christmas," sung by Bing Crosby.

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On Earth Peace

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.


"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest,
And on eath peace,
good will toward men!"

[Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 10-11, 13-14]

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{Monday, December 23, 2002}

Attention is the greatest form of generosity.
- Simone Weil

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White Christmas
They say we will have snow here in the Northeast this Christmas.

This one is from the archives, just about a year ago.





[ The Funny Pages ]

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Song of the day: "Rudie Can't Fail," by The Clash.
Rest In Peace, Joe Strummer.

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{Thursday, December 05, 2002}

I'm on vacation in warmer climes. Back in just under a week two weeks. Until then, may I direct you to the Unobjectionable Content above?

Song of the day: "Ramblin' Man," by The Allman Brothers Band.

I'm on my way to New Orleans this mornin'
Leavin' out of Nashville, Tennessee

They're always havin' a good time down in the bayou, Lord
And them delta women think the world of me.

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{Wednesday, December 04, 2002}

Ass or Elbow?
Do you know your ass from your elbow? Find out with this quiz.

This imitation Reenhead post brought to you by Mr. Cieciel, and people who spell ass differently.

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{Tuesday, December 03, 2002}

One Year Ago Today in the Objectionable Content Archives


  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.


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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.

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The Greatest Briton
man in the street is an interesting new blog out of the UK that I've been meaning to tell you about for some time, due to his coverage of Israel and Palestine.

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.
Roy has a way with words. The rest is a solid defense of that last bold claim.

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{Monday, December 02, 2002}


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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.

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"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

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In a startling report called Inside the Secret Campaign to Topple Saddam, Time Magazine reveals that Israeli special forces have been actively operating within Iraq for years.
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-strike foreign 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 wit said 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.

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{Sunday, December 01, 2002}

From the 'Beyond Parody' files
Steven Den Beste, on the Rittenhouse Review:
"Initial examination of RR's site instantly conveys an unmistakable pomposity..."

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Songs of the eight days: "The Chanukah Song," (lyrics) and "The New Chanukah Song," (lyrics) both by Adam Sandler

So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your marijuan-ikah,
If you really, really wanna-kah,
Have a happy, happy, happy, happy Chanukah!


So read your Hooked on Phonickah
Get drunk in Tijuanikah
If you really, really wannakah
Have a happy, happy, happy, happy
Happy Chanukah!

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