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Since 1:30am, September 16, 2001

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{Thursday, February 27, 2003}

Orange Alert

In their subfreezing cold cabin, the children lie in their bunks...

Lisa: I feel like I'm gonna die, Bart.
Bart: We're all gonna die, Lis.
Lisa: No, Bart, I meant soon.
Bart: So did I.

[ Kamp Krusty | The Simpsons, Season 4 ]

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Oranges and lemons say the bells of St. Clement's
The U.S.A. Patriot Act, rushed into law six weeks after 9/11, has given government agencies wide latitude to invoke the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and get around judicial restraints on search, seizure and surveillance of American citizens. FISA, originally intended to hunt international spies, permits the authorities to wiretap virtually at will and break into people's homes to plant bugs or copy documents. Last year, surveillance requests by the federal government under FISA outnumbered for the first time in U.S. history all of those under domestic law.

New legislative proposals by the Justice Department now seek to take the Patriot Act's antiterror powers several steps further, including the right to strip terror suspects of their U.S. citizenship. Under the new bill -- titled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 -- the government would not be required to disclose the identity of anyone detained in connection with a terror investigation, and the names of those arrested, be they Americans or foreign nationals, would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a rights group in Washington, which has obtained a draft of the bill. An American citizen suspected of being part of a terrorist conspiracy could be held by investigators without anyone being notified. He could simply disappear.

[ Fortress America | The New York Times Magazine ] (via War Blogging)

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{Sunday, February 23, 2003}

How do we justify this?
Jim Henley has been writing about the "War of Kurdish Suppression" for some time, coining the meme to refer to a possible future conflict between the United States and the Kurdish people.

In Jim's view, and mine, it is possible that after Hussein is toppled the US will find itself having to deny the Kurds their desires for self-determination in their own state. Neither Turkey nor Iran want to see an independent Kurdistan, and the US has already made commitments to maintain the integrity of Iraq as a single entity. Ultimately, doing so could well mean violent conflict between the new US-backed Iraqi government and the Kurds whom we once said we would liberate.

Hawks like Jer Olson countered, reasonably, that the Kurds might achieve a semi-independent Federation within a newly democratic Iraq, and that while this would be less than their greatest desires, it would be far better than living under the boot of Hussein.

Which scenario is more likely, the Federation or the War of Kurdish Suppression? I had been hoping for the former while betting on the latter.

Unfortunately, Jim Henley reports that the War of Kurdish Suppression may have already begun (slightly different version mirrored at Stand Down).

The United States has been letting Turkish jets fly into the "no-fly zones" (you know, the ones set up to protect the Kurds) and bomb Kurdish villages. According to articles that Jim Henley found, this has been going on at least since August of 2000, when a Turkish airstrike killed 38 Kurdish civilians.

Sadly, the closing words of Jim's post seem accurate: "war in the name of the Kurds, but not for the sake of the Kurds."

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America is Anti-American?
Pandagon made this priceless post a few days ago, reproduced here in its entirety:

America refuses more aid to Turkey to secure bases in the event of an Iraqi attack.

Does this make America akin to the Soviets during the Cold War? Does this make America objectively pro-Saddam? Does this send the idiot-driven into a frothing patriotic fervor that America will not do what is needed to make America and the world safe from America's enemies?

Does America hate America?

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Smart Mobs
The NY Times takes a look at how technology has improved the effectiveness of protest movements:

[T]he Internet has become more than a mere organizing tool; it has changed protests in a more fundamental way, by allowing mobilization to emerge from free-wheeling amorphous groups, rather than top-down hierarchical ones.

In the 60's, the anti-Vietnam War movement grew gradually. "It took four and a half years to multiply the size of the Vietnam protests twentyfold," said Todd Gitlin, a sociology professor at Columbia University....

The first nationwide antiwar march in 1965 attracted about 25,000 people. By 1969, the protests had grown to half a million. But increasing the numbers required weeks and months of planning, using snail mail, phone calls and fliers.

"This time the same thing has happened in six months," Mr. Gitlin said. Even though momentum behind the demonstrations didn't grow until a month ago, after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation to the United Nations, more than 800,000 people turned out in 150 rallies in the United States last weekend, from 100 in Davenport, Iowa, to an estimated 350,000 in New York City. In Europe, more than 1.5 million protested.

[ How the Protesters Mobilized | The New York Times ]

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Nuclear Anarchy
Speaking of anarchists, Leonard of Unruled has been on a roll lately. This post on nuclear proliferation is just one gem among many.

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Placing your bets
[T]he Defense Department is into online betting. Hoping to find out whether markets predict wars better than intelligence analysts, it just gave $1 million to a firm co-founded by John Ledyard, a Caltech economics professor, to establish an online futures market on political events in the Middle East. The market should be operating by fall.


"Betting odds on elections generally prove more accurate than polls," notes Forrest Nelson, a University of Iowa economist and futures exchange pioneer. Erik Gartzke, a Columbia University professor, says such markets are "very good at aggregating information."

[ Place Your Bets -- On War | Fortune ]

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There are anarchists and then there are anarchists
After a hiatus of about three months, Jak of Jak's View from Vancouver is back to blogging again. He's started with an interesting exploration of his political philosophy, in pursuit of some self-understanding:
First and foremost, I am an anarchist and the real question is, why?
Jak's answer to his own question gets at politically fundamental ideas:
Of primary importance is my belief that everyone -- everyone -- has the right to be themselves and that sanctions (rules, laws, guidelines, "punishment", etc) are only appropriate when one person is clearly harming another. That makes me an anti-statist.
It struck me how many anarcho-capitalists would agree with Jak's opening. The "individualist anarchism" that appeals to Jak takes care to distinguish itself from communism and socialism, and in doing so sounds a lot like the market anarchism that appeals to me:
The Individualist anarchists argue that the means of production (bar land) are the product of individual labour and so they accept that people should be able to sell the means of production they use, if they so desire.


[T]he Individualist anarchist argues that social ownership places the individual's freedom in danger as any form of communism subjects the individual to society or the commune. They fear that as well as dictating individual morality, socialisation would effectively eliminate workers' control as "society" would tell workers what to produce and take the product of their labour. In effect, they argue that communism (or social ownership in general) would be similar to capitalism, with the exploitation and authority of the boss replaced with that of "society." (The Anarchist FAQ)
All but the last sentence of that excerpt could describe the market anarchist position. But as that last sentence suggests, individualist anarchists are against capitalism. As Jak and the individualist anarchists see things (still quoting from The Anarchist FAQ):
Capitalism is not, in fact, a truly free market. Rather, by means of the state, capitalists have placed fetters on the market to create and protect their economic and social power (market discipline for the working class, state aid for the ruling class in other words). These state created monopolies (of money, land, tariffs and patents) and state enforcement of capitalist property rights are the source of economic inequality and exploitation. With the abolition of government, real free competition would result and ensure the end of capitalism and capitalist exploitation ...
Once again we are in territory where most anarcho-capitalists would be very comfortable. The distinction between true free markets and statist mixed economies is well understood by anarcho-capitalists and libertarians, and both groups decry corporate welfare along with other forms of state intervention in civil society.

However, signs of differences have cropped up. What libertarians and anarcho-capitalists oppose is unequal enforcement of property rights by the state, while the anti-capitalist individualist anarchists oppose property altogether:
[Individualist anarchists] reject capitalist property rights and instead favour an "occupancy and use" system. If the means of production, say land, is not in use, it reverts back to common ownership and is available to others for use. They think this system, called mutualism, will result in workers control of production and the end of capitalist exploitation and usury ...
This idea is fundamentally different from anything in the anarcho-capitalist arena. Eventually, these two philosophies with such an apparently common foundation end up diverging widely.

Because of their agreement on so many first principles, the divide between anti-capitalist anarchists and the anarcho-capitalists is an interesting one. Luckily for Jak and for people like me, both groups seem to be aware of the others' ideas, and to have devoted some effort to addressing their arguments.

A separate part of the Individualist Anarchist FAQ, called Why are anarchists against private property? explains the anti-capitalist position and gets at the heart of the disagreement between people like Jak and people like myself. The FAQ contains a section called Is "anarcho"-capitalism a type of anarchism?. This is a detailed compendium of questions and answers that tackle the ideas of capitalist anarchy head on (one section challenges David Friedman's example of medieval Iceland as an anarcho-capitalist society). There is also an Appendix that was written in response to an anarcho-capitalist FAQ.

What is quite wonderful is the degree to which both sides have taken notice of each other. Both FAQs refer to each other and appear to have been updated in response to critiques (the capitalist FAQ is on version 5.2 and the anti-capitalist FAQ is on version 8.7). David Friedman even wrote a brief response to the anti-capitalist FAQ's critique of his Iceland scholarship.

Anyone interested in further reading will find plenty to mull over at the sites of the two FAQs. That's where I'm going to start.

The anti-capitalist Anarchist FAQ

The capitalist Anarchist FAQ

As for Jak and I, well, our views can't be all that different. His latest post calls for Voluntary Taxes Only.

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{Tuesday, February 18, 2003}

Dave Barry has a blog
What are you waiting for?

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lily and emily


having awoken with an overwhelming desire to do something productive, I look outside and I see snow. lots of snow. on second thought, I could just go back to sleep and not get out of bed until spring. I like the second one better.
-lily b-d. time of detonation: 11:08 AM.


happy anti-war protest day! after standing in sub-zero weather for several hours, I began to question the legitimacy of any protest during which one does not completely lose feeling in one's extremities. vermonters are hardcore about their peace, man. frostbite for justice! yeah!
my pain was alleviated somewhat by the $20 I made selling buttons. capitalism beats mittens any day.
-emily. time of detonation: 7:57 PM.

[ The wonderful emily and lily's sorryfortheinconvenience.com ]

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{Monday, February 17, 2003}

I am usually late
'Eid Mubarak Adnan, Salam, Zack, Aziz, and to all of your families and loved ones.

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CNN edits Blix transcript
Take Back the Media had the following scoop on Friday: parts of Hans Blix's presentation to the UN that described Iraqi cooperation with inspectors were edited out of a CNN transcript of the report.

Kuro5hin picked up the story on Sunday and offered a concise summary:
On Friday the 14th of February CNN.com presented a "transcript" of Hans Blix's presentation to the U.N. Security Council concerning the progress of weapons inspections in Iraq. Comparison with other transcripts, notably that presented by the BBC, reveals that a substantial section of the presentation was omitted in the CNN version. The missing text includes descriptions of important instances of Iraqi government cooperation and presents a relatively favourable picture of inspectors' access to scientists.

The excised text consists of 878 words, but they are words that matter (more from kuro5hin).
CNN was careful not to call its edited version a "full" transript, but they also failed to mention that hundreds of words had been ommited. It's possible that the ommissions were a mistake, but the fact that much of the missing material reflected favorably on Iraq and the inspections process is troubling.

CNN later added the missing text to their version of the transcript without making any mention of the change, but caches at Take Back the Media and ext|circ (where there is a follow-up on the story) preserve the original, edited transcript.

Take Back the Media suggests that you let CNN know what you think.

[ This post mirrored at Stand Down. ]

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Why I'm blogging again

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How to meet women in Southern California
Google has been profitable since the first quarter of 2001. Why did we make becoming profitable such a priority? It's good that we did, because we might well be gone if we hadn't. The real reason is that we became profitable in the first quarter of 2001 because Sergey Brin made it a priority. You see, Sergey would try to go out on dates. He would call up women. And to impress them he would say, 'I'm the president of a money-losing dot-com.' But in Palo Alto in 2000, a huge number of people were presidents of money-losing dot-coms. And so they would not call him back. And he thought, 'If only I were president of a money-making dot-com, things would be very different...

[ Google and Larry Page ] (via Rough Days for a Gentil Knight via Ars Technica)

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A communique from Mr. X
My favorite anti-war response to the questions of the pro-war side in the Cross-Blog Iraq Debate is from Mr. X of The Taxpayers' Bridge. He starts, as always, with proper terminology:
1. If you were an agent of the US taxpayers, what would your coercion tactics be toward the Iraqi agents and the Iraqi taxpayers over the next year?

None. I would simply avoid the coercive Iraqi agents.

What advantages and disadvantages do you see in your proposed coercive policies versus the current coercive policies of the current US agents?

Question has become moot since I would have no coercive policies.
Mr. X's responses to all five questions are worth reading.

Though, for the question about the Kurds (#3), I would have challenged the premise that the no-fly zones are protecting them. They aren't, and didn't when the Kurds rebelled in 1995 and were brutally put down by Hussein. Deterrence is what is protecting the Kurds now, not no-fly zones.

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You don't post enough, Jim
not everything i start writing for the blog makes it here, for a number of reasons. sometimes i lose interest in what i'm typing long before i finish. sometimes i get interrupted half way through a post and i'm unable to recapture the flow when i eventually return. and sometimes i write a complete entry and just before posting i decide that what i've typed bores even me, and since it's generally about me, i take that as a very bad sign.

Other Jim, of girlrepair, explains it all. The link is actually to a post of Jim's where he shares some of his abandoned posts, like person zero theory and the purple girl.

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{Sunday, February 16, 2003}

Blog Party
I said I was going to write more about it, but so much time has passed now that I just don't feel like it anymore (sorry). I would like to see everyone again though. I hear the 25th annual bash is in a few months time...

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Google buys Blogger!
In other things-that-should-always-have-been-together news, Darth Vader and James Brown will now appear in every sketch that Saturday Night Live ever does (via NZ Bear).

Update: Boing Boing mentions an interesting take on the purchase, by Matt Webb of the thoughtful blog, Interconnected:
[Google has] one-to-one connections. Links. Now they've realised - like Ted Nelson - that the fundamental unit of the web isn't the link, but the trail. And the only place that's online is... weblogs.
Matt says that Google and Pyra are building the MEMEX. What's the MEMEX? Diveintomark has the answer. It's a term coined by Vannevar Bush:
... Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, "memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

... Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.

... There [will be] a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world’s record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected.
Both Diveintomark and Interconnected are great blogs and worth browsing.

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Ken Goldstein has compiled a list of great dates in the history of love and romance. March 15, 1973 caught my eye:
March 5, 1973: New York Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich report to spring training and announce that they have swapped families — wives, children, and even dogs.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "What the hell?"

But it's true.

I looked it up on Google. It's even #6 on ESPN's "Shocking Moments in Baseball History:"
6. Mike Kekich, Fritz Peterson swap lives
The big story of spring training, 1973, was that Yankee pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson, who had been teammates and friends since 1969, had gone the free-swinging '60s sexual revolution one better -- they had not only swapped wives, they had, as Kekich said, swapped lives.

It began in 1972, when the couples, on a double-date, joked about wife-swapping. A while later the joke became reality, as Marilyn Peterson and Susan Kekich sometimes switched beds. Finally, during the offseason, Mike moved in with Marilyn, and Fritz moved in with Susan. They had swapped it all -- wives, houses, cars and kids. "We didn't do anything sneaky or lecherous," explained Susan. "There isn't anything smutty about this."

[Here comes the kicker]

Before long, Mike and Marilyn split, but Susan and Fritz got married in 1974.

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{Sunday, February 09, 2003}

Song of the day: "Going to California," by Led Zeppelin.

Someone told me there's a girl out there
With love in her eyes and flowers in her hair

I'm travelling again. Posts should return sometime after Valentine's Day, unless I get lucky.

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Blog Party
I promise to write more on it later. I had fun.

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U.S. to Betray Kurds (Again)
Or, as the New York Times puts it: U.S. in Talks on Allowing Turkey to Occupy a Kurdish Area in Iraq.

How do the agents of the Kurdish taxpayers feel about such a deal?
The senior official with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said the Kurds were eagerly anticipating the arrival of American soldiers, but not that of the Turks.

"We regard America as liberators," the official said. "And our neighbors as looters."
The Kurds have had long enough experience with their neighbors the Turks to know what to expect from that corner.

One fervently hopes that Kurdish opinions of America won't have reason to change once they get to know us better.

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{Tuesday, February 04, 2003}

Cross-blog Iraq Debate
NZ Bear, a blogger in favor of war against Iraq, is proposing an on-line debate between hawks and doves.

Says the Bear in an earlier musing:
Any community of like-minded folks can become an echo-chamber, and that's a danger which our part of the weblog world (call it the "anti-idiotarian side"; the "warbloggers", whatever) certainly faces. One risk of this trap is that we fail to listen to arguments from outside the tribe that disagree with our generally held views. But another danger is that we fail to reach out beyond our traditional borders to audiences that don't already agree with us.
A formal debate between pro- and anti-warriors could be a useful way to force both sides to put their best arguments forward. If done well, it might encourage a questioning of premises; it could even further understanding between reasonable people on opposite sides of a contentious issue (or, it could just be an opportunity to reveal our dark side a la Iron Blogging).

NZ Bear's suggestions on how to go about the debate are here and his call for questions is here. He's co-ordinating the pro-war side. Dr. Slack, a participant on Stand Down, is leading the charge for the doves.

Choose your side and click away.

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Homer: (praying for Good Guys Award) Please let me win this Lord... (then turning a gimlet eye to the sky and raising his fist) ... cause if you don't....

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[ taken from here ]

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{Monday, February 03, 2003}

Song of the day: "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty

Driving home at midnight, my car following the curves of the hill (up!) like it is a stairway. A white moon shining. I'm going there. And the world is slipping away behind me -- falling, gone. This is the in-between time, the secret that you always forget.

For a whole chorus I find it again.

I wanna glide down over Mulholland
I wanna write her name in the sky
Gonna free fall out into nothin'
Gonna leave this world for a while

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

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{Saturday, February 01, 2003}

Gather the stars

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"Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible."
- Eric Hoffer

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