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Permanent link to archive for Sunday, September 23, 2001. Sunday, September 23, 2001

I had a phone talk with Dan Gillmor today. He's going to be at our session at Seybold on Wednesday. He told me about Larry Ellison's offer to provide ID cards to people in the US. Dan thought it was a horrible idea. When I read about it later, I didn't think it was horrible, given the times, but I also didn't think it would help much. But here's an important switch. In the past I didn't like that the leaders of the tech industry, people like Ellison and Microsoft's Bill Gates, treated our peaceful artform as a battleground for war. But now that's not such a problem. In fact, we should encourage their creativity. What could the US do to screw with our enemies. Ellison and Gates might really be able to help. So the answer to Larry -- try again -- keep on thinking of ways to make our country safer and stronger, and it's OK to have fun doing it.  

Patrick at Zill: "If we wiped out bin Laden's top 12 lieutenants we would make it tough on their DNS system to keep up. Remember, in a good terrorist organization very few of the people involved know the full scope of the operation." 

A personal note. Talking on the phone yesterday with UserLand's COO, John Robb, an ex Air Force pilot, I remarked that we have a Wartime COO. When we first started working together I was kind of horrified to see how calmly he talks about killing bad guys. "What did I get into?" I wondered (to myself) then. Yesterday I told him about this, I must have had some kind of premonition that we'd need to be able to calmly talk about warfare. He's certainly influenced my thinking, in a good way. Thanks John! 

Stratfor says that the US is preparing to attack Iraq, not Afghanistan, and I think that's obvious. Make a list of mistakes that US has to undo. One of them was leaving Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq after the Gulf War. It would not surprise me if we dropped the first nukes since WWII on Iraq this week. I wonder why they're not evacuating Baghdad right now. The purpose of such an attack would be two-fold. One, the linear one, it will immediately get rid of one of the sources of world terrorism, the easiest and least defended such target. Second, the curve ball, it will send a message to our so-called allies that the "with us or against us" position has teeth. 

Mick Hume: "I am opposed to the war planned by President George Bush with the support of Prime Minister Tony Blair. The problem is that I find many of the arguments offered against America as incoherent as Bush’s war talk." 

Another angle. On the ScriptingNewsWorldTradeCenter mail list, Christoph Pingel quotes an article about global terrorism and Uncle Osama: "It's a loose network of individuals with the same ideology and the same thirst for blood. If he were taken out, the rest of the network would be in place. It's not clear that you'd dispose of the problem." 

That's daunting for sure, but a similar statement could be made about their enemy. "If you knock down one of their skyscrapers and attack the Pentagon, the rest of the network is still in place. It's not clear that you'd dispose of the problem." And of course we're both a loose network of individuals and a powerful army with nukes, and biological and chemical weapons, and we've got a pretty solid idealogy. BTW, we also know how to use the Internet, in fact, we invented it. 

I guess my bitch with Europe comes down to this. Much of what you say about us is that we're stupid and decadent. One otherwise intelligent British person dismissed something I said by saying I was watching too much TV. Heh. You watch too much American TV. Hop on a plane and come to Seybold next week and participate. We're all scared shitless. But we'll do what we have to do to stay alive and free. I'm glad we won't go down without a fight. I'm not scared to hear what you have to say. I just wonder when you're going to finish, and decide that you want to stay alive and free too. Then something interesting will happen between our two continents. 

JD Lasica: What to tell children about terrorism and war

Reuters: "The United States has warned its allies of a possible second round of attacks by the end of this week following the deadly strikes on New York and Washington, Jiji news agency quoted Japanese government sources as saying." 

Pew Research: "Fully nine-in-ten Americans are getting their news about the terrorism attacks from television. As in recent years, more people are turning to cable TV news outlets (45%) than network news (30%) or local TV (17%). Radio, newspapers and the Internet all lag well behind television as a source of news on the crisis." 

Thad McIlroy: "But after I'd watched the crashing planes and crashing towers 101 times, there came a point where I found myself asking (a la Peggy Lee) 'Is that all there is?'" 

NY Times: "For many Iranians, America is a country full of the scantily-clad, available women of Baywatch and MTV. First-time visitors to the United States are often shocked by the more spiritual and socially conservative side of America. 'What surprised me the most when I came to the United States was how many churches there were,' said Mohammad Atrianfar, the head of Teheran's town councils and editor of the daily newspaper Hamshahri. 'I certainly didn't know how religious Americans are.'" 

Now, from a US citizen who is fully commited to victory, to my government, now is not a good time to be trading off freedom in favor of corporate profits. It wasn't a fair deal before, now it's absolutely bizarre. I'm sure the proponents of this bill, some of the largest media companies, can find things to do that will better protect shareholder value now that realities have shifted. (For example, show the rest of the world what the US is really like.) To the government, save freedom-hits for things that matter to the nation's security. This bill is a completely misplaced priority. 

Dan Gillmor: Safety in spreading out

Something netizens can do to undermine terrorism. Create a list of places informants can go on the Web to send anonymous emails to the FBI. Circulate their locations widely. 

Another thing we can do is build better communication systems, with replicated data. We've become pretty lazy on the Internet -- letting other people store our archives for us. This is a defense issue now. Decentralization is something we must become more conscious of.  

Here's another thing we can do. Stop all discussions about evolution of SOAP now. To the BigCo's consider backing off SOAP altogether and use XML-RPC to build distributed systems. I watch the hair-splitting arguments that are still going on with increasing impatience, and wonder if these people have a clue what's going on around us and what a strategic advantage the free world has when we build powerful flows of information. Perhaps the egos of the BigCo's can take a backseat now. These technologies are essential to building effective distributed systems.  

THINK!I'm glad I started this thread. Another takeaway. If it wasn't clear before, it should be clear now how indefensible Microsoft's architecture for Passport is. One bomb in a building in Redmond would probably knock out the network they're planning. Could we have the resources of the most powerful software company in the world applied to making the world safer and stronger instead of more vulnerable? And instead of executing three-year plans, think about what you can do for the USA, today. 

GlobalSecurity.Org: Afghanistan Military Guide

This site also includes satellite imagery of terrorist camps. 

Some good PR for the Taliban. Now to balance that, consider that until Vietnam, the US had never lost a war. We learned from that one. No more wars without the support of the people and clearly defined goals. I'd like to see the British press run some stories about what a terrific fighting machine the US is when we're provoked. 

Christoph Pingel: "Thinking people all over the world are forced into a moral dilemma: 'Either you are for us, or you are for the terrorists.'" 

NY Times: "For the past few years, the government has interpreted the existing pen register and trap and trace laws, which were designed with telephones in mind, to allow them to swiftly garner certain information from ISP's about a suspect's e-mails -- for example, the to/from header information." 

Adam Curry: "I added a blogrolling list to my homepage template today. Seems that's the blogging way. To automate some of the positions I'm writing a macro for my Manila server that will place the BlogRolling links in priority order based on number of referers from each site." 

I love it when two famous bloggers get together. Nice. 

And it makes me proud when one of our friends gets his college diploma. Wes says "At UT you're not just a number, you're a really big number." 

I've started a new mail page with comments from Europe and the US, heavy-duty and light-weight.  

One thing's for sure, in the war between freedom and fear, our side is going to have better t-shirts


Last update: Sunday, September 23, 2001 at 10:16 PM Eastern.

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