Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

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WSJ (subscription): Vivendi to Begin Releasing Music CDs Equipped With Antipiracy Technology.

"The spokesman also declined to explain what technology would be used, but said it `will not impede the consumer experience.'"

> If I can't copy it, it certainly will impede my experience. I've been slowly working on ripping all my CD's to mp3's, and setting up playlists using iTunes as I go. I'm planning to move everything to a 60 Gbyte external Firewire hard drive in my den, where my wife's iBook can be connected to our stereo and act as a digital jukebox. And I'll be able to copy my playlists to portable MP3 players so that I can take my music with me. (My car stereo needs an AV jack, though.)

> I won't be buying any cd's that I can't rip into mp3's.


Slate: Bin Laden's Trap: How To Lure the Americans In.

"... what we know so far suggests that Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaida, messianic as they be, are not wayward fanatics interested in acts of random terror but ambitious strategists with a carefully orchestrated plan that has to date been horrifyingly well-executed."

Houston Chronicle: 'I'm totally innocent'. Cleared in terrorism probe, doctor in San Antonio pleads for privacy.

"`What happened on Sept. 11 has nothing to do with any religion, and it has nothing to do with Islam. The teaching of Islam is certainly against violence and killing innocent people,' Al-Hazmi said, noting that the terrorism victims included 1,000 fellow Muslims."


Jill Matrix:

"I finally saw the video for `Start the Commotion.' Oddly, the Mitsubishi ad is far superior."


Too much politics lately. Here's some science --

Science News: When Branes Collide. Stringing together a new theory for the origin of the universe.

"According to [string theory], electrons, quarks, and all the other elementary particles in the universe behave as point particles when observed at a distance, but each is actually composed of tiny loops or strings of energy. The different vibrations of a string, like the different notes that can be plucked on a violin, correspond to different particles."

Nature: Brimstone pickled Permian.

"Two hundred and fifty million years ago, life on Earth nearly ceased. A giant meteorite, six times larger than the one that did away with the dinosaurs almost two hundred million years later, may have caused the massive extinction at the end of the Permian period, researchers now suggest."

Scientific American: New fossils settle one heated debate over whale origins, but fan the flames of another.

Scientific American: High-Heeled Shoes Injure Nearly All Womens' Feet.

"... the survey reveals that most women -- nearly 60 percent -- wear uncomfortable shoes for at least one hour every day."


Wall Street Journal (subscription): 'Crusade' Reference Reinforces Fears War on Terrorism Is Against Muslims.

"What galls many in the Islamic world is what they perceive -- rightly or wrongly -- as the hypocrisy of American foreign policy that preaches democracy and human rights, while seeming to undermine those values in Muslim countries. In addition to the Palestinians' problems with Israel, resentment runs high toward the U.S. and its colonial forbears in Europe for maintaining authoritarian political systems across the Mideast that have resisted all efforts at liberalization."

> I was surprised that yesterday the Wall Street Journal fronted this introspective analysis piece in the current environment of patriotism and saber rattling.

> At the same time that we're engaged in "bringing to justice" (killing) terrorists around the globe, I hope we put at least as much effort into fixing our sometimes hypocritical foreign policy toward third world nations.

> I am in favor of doing both, and I don't think my position is inconsistent. In fact, I think it will be counter-productive and futile if we attempt only the first objective and neglect the second.


Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Baghdad accuses Kuwait of "stealing" Iraqi oil from border fields.

"Kuwait's alleged stealing of Iraqi oil was one of the reasons cited by Iraq for invading Kuwait in August 1990."


Geography lesson --

Slate: Who's Who in the Terror War.


Before I "get back to normal," I feel like I should point to a couple of articles in Slate.

At the top of this article, Anne Applebaum provides an excellent warning as to the nature of war in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Slate: Meet Our New Best Friends: The Afghans.

"Our response to last week's attacks must not begin and end with the destruction of Osama Bin Laden's camps, if we can even find them. This is also an ideological and cultural war, one which may take years, if not generations, to win."

> This is what I meant on 9.12 when I said we shouldn't withdraw too quickly. Or at least it's what I think now. More than victory, we need a Marshall Plan for the Middle East.

> The resolution of the Iraq war was, in many ways, the worst possible outcome. Before the war, the general population was somewhat moderate and certainly ambivalent about their own government. Our treatment of Iraq over the ten years since the end of the war has hardened the hatred of its general population toward the US.

Slate: What Does Osama Bin Laden Want? Nothing we have.

> I inferred this in my post on last Thursday: I believe the main goal of Bin Laden's terrorist activities for the past five years has been to draw us into sending troops to Afghanistan.

> And I don't think we really have a choice. We're going to have to play his game.

> Of course, at this point, the urge for vengeance is so high that everyone, myself included, wants to see our troops march in there and kick ass. But we need to exercise caution for two reasons:

    > Afghanistan is a death-trap. That's why the Bin Laden wants us there.

    > As a follow-up to the coming war, we need to give the entire Middle Eastern world a reason not to hate us.

> Victory with grace.


Monday evening I received email from a high school friend I hadn't heard from in at least fifteen years. By the time I replied to his letter, a lot had changed.

Tomorrow I'll be back to business as usual, but I want to end this week by mentioning that my mother's brother, a WWII vet, died one week ago and was buried on Wednesday. It seems kind of unfair to have something like this overshadow your funeral.


This afternoon, on my drive home from San Antonio, about 2/3rds of the cars on the road had their headlights on in the bright sunlight. It made I-10 look like a funeral procession.

I turned mine on too.



Osama bin Laden and his troops are feeling rather smug right now, because they are finally going to get exactly what they want -- a war with the US in the hills of Afghanistan.

They've been planning this war for years. Do they think it is going to be just like fighting the Soviets in the 80s? What do they have waiting for us?


O.K., here's my say.

The terrorists that carried out this attack were suicidal murderers. In this way, they were eerily similar to the teenagers that shot their classmates in Colorado a few years ago.

The terrorists that planned and enabled this attack ... well, I don't think anyone has any doubt that we -- through the US military -- will kill them. (That's not warmongering, it's just a statement of fact.)

Unfortunately, more American military personal will probably die.

Also, there will probably be collateral loss of life among foreign civilians. That's unfortunate.

Our enemies are not Muslims or Arabs ... and certainly not Arab-Americans or American Muslims.

As with all people, most Muslims and most Arabs are not psychopathic murderers.

HOWEVER, societal attitudes in many Middle East countries are enabling and encouraging suicidal murderers. And governments that tolerate terrorist organizations have to bear responsibility for the acts that those groups perpetuate.

I don't think we should take any of our options off the table yet -- including the options of military invasion and occupation.

I don't know whether the US response will reach the level of occupation. But if our actions do have to come to that, let's remember that our objective would have to be to normalize a society that's gone awry.

The US has done exactly that before. Twice. But it required major sacrifice and commitment and many years to complete the job. If this comes to occupation, the US will need to resist the temptation to withdraw too quickly after the immediate threat is disabled.

On the other hand --

Slate: The Problem With Retaliation.

"If Bin Laden is indeed behind this, then he should be either killed or put on trial.... The number of people in the world who are in a position to fill Bin Laden's shoes is small, and I doubt that any of them welcomes death."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: For American Muslims, a familiar disquiet.

"I suspect after the rubble is cleared from my hometown, there will be more than a few janazas (funerals) held in New York."

[via Scripting News]

Drank more last night/this morning than in years. I ended the night in the company of a group of Russian programmers. We talked about our children.


Patti Ann McEwin: "eeeek!".


CNN: Legal 'high' leaves some users low.

"Anecdotal accounts of use of the herb, called Salvia divinorum, describe hallucinogenic trips that make the user feel like an inanimate object or worse." ...

"`I don't know anyone who has ever taken it and said, "Gee, that was fun,"' said Dr. Ethan Russo, a Missoula, Montana, clinical neurologist and expert on psychotropic herbs."

[Link via Jill Matrix]


Patti Ann McEwin: Net Working.

"The PTA, the school, family members with small children and friends who have `real' jobs seem to equate working at home with 100% availability for whatever it is they want me to do."


My two-year-old had a rough night last night; he was diagnosed with pneumonia today. He seems to be doing all right now, but he'll probably have trouble sleeping again tonight.


Kenneth turned two on Friday; we had a small party for him Saturday morning. Just the four of us.

Over the last few months Christopher, Cindy and I have all had our birthdays, and Kenneth has been toted along while Christopher attended about 112 parties for other five-year-olds. So Kenneth understood everything perfectly -- it was finally *his* turn. He was very excited.

Walter Kessinger

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