Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Hall of Mirrors

With the Eason Jordan case, the MSM find themselves in the quaint position of reporting on the consequences of a major story which--oops!-- they never reported in the first place. Exactly as in the case of the Soviet propaganda newspaper Pravda, their readers and viewers are prevented from seeing the truth of what's really going on directly; they are required instead to read between the lines in the hope of discerning reality. If they're lucky, they will. The MSM are presenting smoke and mirrors and calling it reality.

Unfortunately for them, the rise of the internet has allowed ordinary people not inducted into the journalistic priesthood to have a voice. Suddenly the MSM is like a junior-high teacher caught out in a bald-faced lie about sex while all the kids in the back of the room snigger and whisper the facts amongst themselves. The MSM still has power and authority, but their ability to impose a faux narrative just because they say so has been forever lost.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

There is More

Here's another interesting bit on the HP fiasco, apparently the inside view.

It seems that capitalism certainly has the potential for going seriously awry in some of these short-term scenarios. It's too early to tell how it will do in the long run.
Good News

Carly Fiorina's mission to eviscerate one of the world's truly great technology companies while building her own private air force has ended. Hewlett-Packard employees are reported to be dancing in the aisles. The stock has gone up $7b on the announcement. That ought to tell you something.

Here's one former employees take (many more can be found on the cited link).
I worked at HP in the 80s, still hold stock in the company, and I have been horrified for years at the degradation of HP from a great place to work (and a profitable, socially responsible company) into a soulless, internally repressive corporate tyranny. Bill and Dave would be speechless with rage were they still with us.

Ms. Fiorina has presided over such low points as dumping a profitable calculator division (without even spinning it off or doing an EBO!), and a recent corporate general meeting where the proxy-voting process was blatantly abused and manipulated to ensure the board got their way regardless of what the stockholders wanted.

To say nothing of the shenanigans with trying to suppress aftermarket inkjet cartridge suppliers/refillers. Hewlett and Packard would never have condoned such slimy means of boosting profits; they preferred to make money by adding value, and believed in interoperability and good corporate citizenship (a quaint concept, I know, but I'm an old fart...)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Wardie In Deeper DooDoo

It would appear that Professor Ward Churchill, with his masters degree from Sangaman State, is guilty not only of falsifying his own background, but of plain old academic fraud. It's crunch time. We'll now find out whether CU possesses any integrity whatsoever.
A Thought for Freedom

Many people were shocked at the turnout for the Iraqi elections. Having convinced themselves and all their friends that the whole thing was a sham, that "it was all about oil", etc. etc., the sight of millions of Iraqis coming out bravely to vote was too much. There is a distinction to be made between propaganda and reality; though propaganda is useful it behooves one to keep track of where it ends and reality begins. Or else.

The skeptics should have heeded this quotation from Paul Johnson:
Throughout history, the attachment of even the humblest people to their freedom, above all their freedom to earn their livings how and where they please, has come as an unpleasant shock to condescending ideologues. We need not suppose that the exercise of freedom is bought at the expense of any deserving class or interest - only of those with the itch to tyrannize.

1977 - from Enemies of Society

Monday, February 07, 2005

PCLinuxOS

I tried this last week. It's suddenly my very favorite LiveCD for Linux. Awesome.
Economy for the New Age

The human mind--and most basic human habits--have been formed by the processes of thousands of years of evolution. During 95% of that time we were hunter-gatherers living from meal to meal. Statistically, even magnificent predators like the Siberian Tiger only manage a kill in 1 in 7 tries. We are geared right in our genes toward scarcity and surviving scarcity. We have an inherent urge to gorge when food is available because our genes are telling us it might not be available next time, and that's one reason so many of us are getting fat.

The scarcity economy applies to all sorts of things besides food. There aren't as many houses as people might like, there aren't as many cars, and so forth. Nearly any physical good fits the scarcity model.

The virtual world doesn't fit the model. There seems to be a virtually limitless amount of computational power, bandwidth, and memory so that virtual worlds can be built without limit. And there is a so-called networking effect, so that other people's usage of a certain good--say, the AIM Instant Messager--increases, rather than decreases the value I derive from this product.

In the Twentieth Century it was discovered that very small things such as electrons do not behave like anything comparable in ordinary human experience. They aren't particles and they aren't waves--they're something our genes have not prepared us for in the least. Similarly, we seem to be entering a new realm in the virtual world for which we have nothing in our gut-level feeling to prepare us. The old laws, based on a scarcity economy, no longer seem to be appropriate. The Economist describes this in more detail. Undoubtedly it will take a long time for our thinking to adjust.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Easongate

The head honcho of CNN went to a hoity-toity meeting of the world's top-drawer (and I mean really top-drawer) ├╝ber-people at Davos, Switzerland (yes, the same place where Khatami received a huge ovation a year or so ago and where Clinton played to the peanut gallery after leaving the White House--you're getting the picture I'm sure) and informed them that he personally knows of 12 journalists who were "targetted" by the American military. Serious and inflammatory charges. The Arab members of his audience were quite happy to hear this, or so we are told. There is supposed to be a videotape of the speech which will verify all this but it hasn't been released yet. The story is being carefully followed on this new blog, but not of course anywhere in the MSM.

It turns out that Eason has a history of this sort of accusation, although he has shifted around a bit on who should take the blame. A few years ago it was the Israelis who were targetting the innocent journalists slandering them in Palestine. No proof that time either. Much information about Mr. Eason can be found here. The man has a perpetual list right there in his pocket, you just don't get to see it.

This is the man, allow me to remind you, who admitted after the downfall of Saddam Hussein that CNN had cut corners in its coverage of Iraq in order to ensure continued access. Tit for tat between a huge prestigious American network and a brutal murderous dictator. But I'm sure the two men could share a fine taste in Cuban cigars.

I wrote to CNN to complain about Eason's behavior. I pointed out that if he has proof he needs to make it public and if he doesn't he needs to shut his trap, because this is real, his words have consequences, and American soldiers are going to die as a consequence of his actions.

I got this reply from CNN:
Eason was attempting to speak out on an issue that is important to news organizations all over the world. Unfortunately, he was not clear enough in explaining his assertion. He was responding to an assertion that all 63 journalists killed in Iraq were "collateral damage." While the majority of the 63 journalists killed in Iraq have been killed by insurgents, the Pentagon has acknowledged that the U.S. military on occasion has killed people who turned out to be journalists. Mr. Jordan emphatically does not believe that the U.S. Military intended to kill journalists and believes these accidents to be cases of "mistaken identity."
This is my reply to CNN:
Your response is disingenuous at best. Mr. Eason used the word "targetted". Are we playing little-kid games now and we can make words be whatever we want them to be? Or are we going to be adults? Because "targetted" in common English parlance, means "aimed at deliberately", which is exactly what Mr. Eason was intending to convey and exactly what his audience was thrilled to hear. Now, you know that, I know that, and all the fanatical Arabs listening to Mr. Eason know that. I repeat, Mr. Eason will have blood on his hands for this action. Shame on CNN for this. Does he have a secret list of 12 in his pocket? Has CNN no decency? Had Mr. Eason the merest vestige of honor, he would resign immediately.
And I'm confident we'll be getting full, honest disclosure from CNN right after CBS fesses up about Dan and the forged memos.






Capitalist Overlords of the New Age

Get this. There are virtual reality games being played over the Internet. There are thousands of people worldwide who go to these virtual worlds and play games and, how to say it, live their lives in these places (MMORPGs is the technical term). They accumulate points for various activities. The points can be traded and sold. The points are so valuable to other players that they are now being sold out here in the real world on Ebay. Recently a "virtual island" owned by one of these players in one of these virtual worlds sold for $30,000. That's US cash, on the barrelhead, 600 US Grants.

This has attracted attention. Commercial attention. So now companies have sprung up to exploit this new opportunity. They hire underpaid employees in third-world sweatshops to play the games, win the prizes, and then the prizes are sold back on Ebay in the real world. Ka-ching! Dickens must be rolling in his grave.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Geek Out!

You haven't truly geeked out until you've treated yourself to the sound of your cpu running through your speakers.
Vietnam, Infinite Redux

The following posting by John Moore on Roger Simon's blog was so good I thought it worth preserving.
This is a bit tangential, but the Viet Cong didn't succeed. In fact, after the three offensives of 1968, they were wiped out. Furthermore, they were never an internal revolutionary movement, but rather a fifth column put in place by the North Vietnamese in the '50s. They were encouraged to marry into Southern families to link into the indigenous people. Most importantly, the only enemy in Vietnam that the US faced was the North Vietnamese, either actual NVA units, or VC who were totally controlled by and supplied by the North. Note that the war was won by a foreign power (the North Vietnamese) in a massive combined arms invasion that had more tanks than George Patton ever commanded. This only happened because the backer of the South, us, reneged on our obligations as a result of a loss of will.

The Vietnamese were ready to sue for peace after the Tet '68 fiasco, until they realized that the press and opportunistic activists and politicians treated it like a defeat for the US, when in fact it was a catastrophic defeat for the VC (destroying 50% of their total force, and showing that the people of the South were unwilling to rise up in "liberated" areas and joine the VC in the fight).

See here for a history of that war.

Contrast that with Iran. They don't have a safe haven like the Vietnamese Communists did. We would have to provide that (or Iraq or Afghanistan), and also weapons. The VC/NVA was a huge operation, and took many years to get the VC ready for battle (about 5 years). In five years if not stopped, Iran will be a nuclear power with ICBM's. In fact, in a lot less than five years.