December 31, 2004
December 30, 2004
Jim McMurry writes:
Can you do me a favor and link/blog about www.b19s.org?
This is a site that Jonas Luster, Wil Wheaton, Xeni and I are starting to get together resources to help people (Drs, Security, Demolition experts, etc) to fly over and help out in Asia.
The resources can range from straight donations of dollars, to donation of frequent flier miles to help people fly over.
We are also looking for people who have specific skills (Dr, Security, etc) who would be interested in going over to assist.
United Planet is doing a similar ad hoc deal, possibly through Medicins Sans
Culottes Moral Clarity Frontieres.
Update: He doesn’t need much help from me–he got himself a link on FARK. MUCH better promotion…
NBC’s reporting explosives found on a city bus at Norfolk Naval Base, my old stomping grounds. NFI (no further information).
Update: Sounds like a bomb threat, nothing more.
Two Hampton Roads Transit buses were stopped on Hampton Boulevard near the naval station after a bomb threat was phoned in this morning, officials said. Police have erected barricades on Hampton at Greenbrier Avenue blocking traffic to the base.
As I say to the guys at the gate: Boring is good.
Not much today. Laptop meltdown. Please hit a random link on the right there–I’ll be going dark soon for a while, and you might want to get used to it…
December 29, 2004
December 28, 2004
Per Jeff Jarvis, these bloggers are being tortured. They are being forced to make false admissions and confessions.
Mr Hanif Mazruee, Ghoreishi
Ms Fereshte Ghaazi, Naderpoor
Ms Mahboobeh Mollagholi
Per Natan Sharansky, these Iranian dissidents also need our support:
Please pass these names around. Let these people know they are supported out here in the free world. Let their oppressors know their time is coming, and coming sooner than they realize.
As Roger Simon puts it:
I was fairly involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties, went down South on all the Freedom Ride stuff. (Yeah, I’m that old.) As I recall that took a long time, but it was worth it. Give the Iranians a shot too. They’re worth it. Remember John Donne… No Man is an Island… I know it’s optimistic, but think about it. Or as they say in zen–you don’t get there by trying, but you can’t get there if you don’t try.
I used to be weeks or months ahead of trends. Now the best I can do is type fast and publish slightly ahead of the herd. Amazing how fast ideas propogate.
In this case, it’s more likely coincidence–but well worth heeding. In this post I said
Iâ€™ve finished Natan Sharanskyâ€™s The Case For Democracy. Sharansky concludes with a list of dissidents in the â€œfear societiesâ€ who need the free worldâ€™s support. Egyptian bloggers? Thinking and speaking freely? Is that not what a free man does?
How do we support him if or when he gets in trouble with the fear society in which he lives?
Well, Jeff Jarvis (via Insta) has a test case.
Iranian blogger Parthisan left a comment below urging us to read his translation of a post by Mohammed Ali Abtahi, the former VP of Iran — renowned for blogging himself — reporting on the imprisonment and torture of bloggers in Iran. It is his report on a committee meeting with imprisoned bloggers, called for by the president of Iran.
Parthisan’s translation describes torture of Iranian bloggers.
My comment on Jarvis’ site:
Chap here. I am ready to act where I can but need a direction. I would love some information on who, what, where. If you can’t lead due to whatever, there are others out here who can.
If you’re someone reading these comments after the Instalanche, let’s act.
Natan Sharansky is right on this–the dissidents need to be recognized and publicly supported out here in the free society. Due to moral equivalence, groups that might help like Amnesty may well fail us–you see some of that lack of moral clarity in the comments previous. It’s not just in Iran that dissidents get captured and tortured and show trialled, but perhaps there is public pressure available to cause internal change.
Yeah, I’m getting monomaniacal on Sharansky. So sue me.
I saw this on Drudge earlier this morning, and it had the intended effect–made me right annoyed.
But U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland suggested that the United States and other Western nations were being “stingy” with relief funds, saying there would be more available if taxes were raised.
“There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy,” he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe “believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It’s not true. They want to give more.”
Upon reflection, there is something to learn here.
- This official is being very tone deaf, and does not realize that the effect he wants is exactly opposite what he’s going to get.
- The usual aid organizations forget that there is a larger fraction of aid available from our country that doesn’t come from the government. This may well mean that the private aid will be more efficient and more effective, too, by the way.
- The statement that “they want to give more” shows something important: Egeland doesn’t seem to even acknowledge that there exists the possibility that people, as intelligent human beings in a free society, can (within the limits of the rule of law) do what they damn well please. This statement of Egeland’s implies that only governmental aid is the only possible way of aid. This is clearly a fallacy and will lead to organizational failure.
- The sheer (insert everything you’ve heard a UN functionary say about the US here: arrogance, hubris, et cetera; this is the textbook definition) of this guy is what happens in a bureaucracy without accountability. If this guy could somehow, possibly, be inconvenienced or fired for angering the populace of the guys who pay the most of his paycheck, then this guy would perhaps find a better and more diplomatic way of getting the job he wants done. This is one reason why the UN fails, in miniature.
- It is worth noting that the bureaucrat feels free to discuss American internal policy and fiscal decisions in a manner that suggests that we should actually care what he thinks. This is transnational thinking in the context of a community of nations, and another reason why the UN fails, in miniature.
Mark Bowden has an article in the Atlantic that is his usual feat of weaving first-person narratives–getting the story behind the Iran takeover of the American Embassy.
But here’s the part that I’m interested in, an editorial by him:
News Judgment and Jihad
Terrorists depend on the cooperation of the media. It’s time to stop providing it
by Mark Bowden
As I write this, three more Western workers have been kidnapped and beheaded by insurgents in Iraq. The pattern is by now sadly familiar. Foreigners are taken hostage. Videotapes are released of the captives kneeling before their masked, armed captors, and demands are made. As the deadline approaches, new videotapes are released of the captives pleading with their governments, often tearfully, to meet the kidnappers’ demands. Then comes video of the grisly beheadings.
The first time this happened, it was horrifying and startling. Now it has become horrifying and predictable. Yet many of America’s newspapers and TV networks continue to treat these criminal atrocities as the most important news of the day.
This is definitely a teaser that got my attention. Since the untimely death of Michael Kelly I’ve lost much of my interest in the Atlantic, but these flashes of brilliance still pop up…
The Media War Against Iraq
We all know how millions of Iraqis feel towards the mouth of horror Al Jazeera channel. Iraq’s popular satellite channel Al Fayhaa talks continuously about the war that the Arab media (i.e Al Jazeera) is waging against the new Iraq.
It seems that this war is also being waged by huge media outlets such as the Associated Press. AP has a lot of questions to answer regarding how one of its photojournalists stood in front of 30 armed insurgents and shot a sequence of photos showing the day light execution of 2 Iraqis who belong to another group of Iraq’s heroes: election workers. How can a photographer, given the fact that anyone can get kidnapped in Iraq, stand in the middle of the street and shots a picture after another. Was he/she invisible?
In addition, AP has a lot of questions to answer regarding how it received a tape showing the execution of an Italian hostage and why it gave it to Al Jazeera and not to the Iraqi government or the Italian embassy. OK, we know Al Jazeera wants Iraq to sink deeper into the mud created by Baathist/Salafist/Wahabi terrorists and this is why the Qatar financed channel acts as a terror mouthpiece. Why would AP act in the same dirty way?
I think a couple of folks were kind enough to accept the concept of “this is an information war”. This guy does.
I’ve finished Natan Sharansky’s The Case For Democracy. Sharansky concludes with a list of dissidents in the “fear societies” who need the free world’s support. Egyptian bloggers? Thinking and speaking freely? Is that not what a free man does?
How do we support him if or when he gets in trouble with the fear society in which he lives?
An amazing story of a loving family at the Banty Rooster (broken permalink). This wounded sargeant has the attitude and the support to succeed in such a hard time.
What the heck happened to Allah?
The Left Reverend Dr. Campbell has prodded me into action. Some links to offer relief:
- Scott Ott of Scrappleface has links to evangelical relief agencies.
- Many links to news and relief agency help here, from a situational blog set up by local bloggers–what a great idea. Insane amount of links.
- Via TAGS, a Foreign Service account of a tsunami.
- Alan E. Brain itemizes what he’s doing at work to help, amidst egregious rants from people whose worldview is too tainted to see.
Now I feel vindicated for all the Sunday morning polka music, on the AM radio tuned to the Ukranian station, that I inflicted on my poor wife all those years ago.
The Ukranians did it, without firing a shot. Amazing.
For some reason I still feel like dyeing my hair orange…
December 27, 2004
A buncha Newfoundlanders seem to be a bit riled, and it’s an interesting riled. Kate at Roadkill Diaries quotes a politician:
A recent proverb states that “eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.” Unfortunately, in Canada, since 1945, it is the weasels who are the most successful in getting into power and are there now. The PM and his colleagues weasel to the discredit of the reputation of Canada — equivocating, quibbling, defaulting on and getting out of obligations.”
The issue, as I understand it (help me out Candepundit!), is that Paul Martin went to go have a “friendly” visit to see Khadafi, and the Newfoundland leaders are so mad they took the Maple Leaf flags off the buildings! N.B.: This ain’t Quebec we’re talking about, either.
A Newfoundlander named CPT Craig (former aviator) is one angry man about the flap.
Wouldn’t that be a hoot, a coup in Canada? Imagine this Globe and Mail headline. â€The Salvation Army seizes power and federal forces are holed up in the Diefenbunker and suing for peace.â€ What a pathetic and global embarrassment. Know what? Newfoundland could declare independence and Ottawa couldn’t do a damn thing about it. All federal facilities could be taken over in a matter of hours and then what would Ottawa do? Call the UN for help?
He’s got more ranting about it here.
December 26, 2004
The Prelinger Archives are storing an interesting television program for news junkies. The satellite channel Link TV, a sort of World Press Review television station, has a daily show called Mosaic that is a translated compilation of Middle East television news reports. LinkTV even has a list of the stations that uses words like “state controlled” and “terrorist”, so the channel isn’t completely whitewashing the news sources. (The station’s political bent is I think leftish; they broadcast Democracy Now! and had a couple of particular quotes.) The 24 December show had some interesting views on the same event from completely different angles, making it useful to see some of the biases.
One thing in common–I used to watch IRIN TV, and the women newscasters were completely covered. Nowadays in most countries I saw they seem to have decided that seriously hot looking newsreaders are a good thing. (Okay, Al Manar (Hamas TV) still has the “woman disguised as a bolt of cloth” thing going, but what do you expect from a terrorist TV network?)
Anyway. Prelinger has them archived here and apparently you can do some kind of cool RSS trick to it. One of these days I should mess with that syndication stuff.
Update: The “contribute” page has a Bill Moyers “Take America Back”(?) DVD and a Dave Matthews CD. Yeah, I think I called the politics right.
December 25, 2004
December 24, 2004
he’s leaving his day job. Velvet divorce, looks like.
Sounds like a rough choice. You know, Mahan got a crappy command and the cold shoulder from the Naval establishment until the world went “Sea Power” crazy. On the other hand, you work for someone, you do what that someone wants, and if it’s not the decision you want, there are two choices…
I woke up this morning realizing I don’t have a job anymore, I’m not exactly rolling in cash (understatement), I’ve got four kids and two car payments and a good-size mortgage, and it’s Christmas Eve, which now means I get to watch everybody open presents tonight and tomorrow morning wondering how I’m going to pay for it all (okay, an overstatement there).
Never profits to be a prophet in your own country, prof. You’ll do fine. I’m looking at the same kind of thing a few years down the pike without a best selling book and TV- and magazine-level attention. It may look tough now, but I’m sure things will fall into place.
But it sucks to deal with it over Christmas, that’s for sure.
Chicago Boyz’ Michael Hiteshew has a link to C-SPAN’s webcast of the infamous Professor Tom Barnett Brief, and his initial reactions. (I wasn’t sure it would be streamed so I recorded it just in case.)
I like that what Barnett put out helps frame thinking about the future. I’m not quite in alignment with some of his biases, but the conclusions can be useful and powerful as a model.
My $.02 from the brief:
- Prof. Barnett would be well served by having someone present a version of The Brief in a form like James Burke’s Connections series on PBS: words and graphics synced up in a format designed for television. This brief is great–but when you’re not in the room, you don’t get the full effect. A different voice might help dissociate the author from the ideas, for those who dislike the Gaffney “this is how it is!” style of discussion. It wouldn’t take too much in the way of production to do it–yeesh, I could even do something crude but effective with the equipment I have on hand and a week or so–but that would be worthwhile.
- Barnett seems to have moved more towards his own biases in the two years since I last saw the brief. This may be problematic, especially if he gets captured by the adulation.
- There seems to be a hole somewhere in the analysis. I think it’s in analyzing the nonlinear effects of idealism or faith. It’s harder to predict the future effect of Reagan’s “evil empire” attitude, but I’m not sure a correct prediction in 1970 could have been made without taking that cultural idealism (which Reagan led, but was widespread) into account. “Global Trends 2015” never mentioned anything like that or the rise of Wahabiism or the way Chinese communism changes; demographics and resource shifts don’t describe the whole picture. Yeah, it’s harder to analyze as a futurist–but without taking human belief trends into account you miss some important greater trends.