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In the interest of war
Topic: War on Terrorism 5:12 pm EDT, Jul 25, 2004

You may not be interested in war,
but war is interested in you.

-- Trotsky

Mastering the Art of the Swipe
Topic: Technology 9:59 am EDT, Jul 25, 2004

Like the heads in a VCR, the ones in card readers can wear out. After all, they are reading cards at an extraordinary rate. The busiest turnstile in the subway system, turnstile No. 10 in the middle array by the escalators in the main entrance to the subway below Grand Central Terminal, reads a whopping 236,000 cards a month.

I thought that was a neat factoid. I can imagine New Yorkers saying to themselves, "I know that turnstile!"

The article is rich in trivia about heavy-duty magnetic card readers and the millions of people who (ab)use them.

Mastering the Art of the Swipe

Saddam's people are winning the war -- Scott Ritter
Topic: International Relations 9:36 am EDT, Jul 25, 2004

The battle for Iraq's sovereign future is a battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. As things stand, it appears that victory will go to the side most in tune with the reality of the Iraqi society of today: the leaders of the anti-US resistance.

The most visible symbol of Saddam's decision to embrace Islam was his order to add the words "God Is Great" to the Iraqi flag.

There is no elegant solution to our Iraqi debacle. It is no longer a question of winning but rather of mitigating defeat.

Saddam's people are winning the war -- Scott Ritter

'My Beef With Big Media' by Ted Turner
Topic: Media 6:50 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

Today, the only way for media companies to survive is to own everything up and down the media chain -- from broadcast and cable networks to the sitcoms, movies, and news broadcasts you see on those stations; to the production studios that make them; to the cable, satellite, and broadcast systems that bring the programs to your television set; to the Web sites you visit to read about those programs; to the way you log on to the Internet to view those pages. Big media today wants to own the faucet, pipeline, water, and the reservoir.

The rain clouds come next.

'My Beef With Big Media' by Ted Turner

Honorable Commission, Toothless Report
Topic: War on Terrorism 4:19 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

So what now? News coverage of the commission's recommendations has focused on the organizational improvements.

There are other changes that would help more.

First, we need not only a more powerful person at the top of the intelligence community, but also more capable people throughout the agencies.

Second, the analysts need real independence.

Even more important than any bureaucratic suggestions is the report's cogent discussion of who the enemy is and what strategies we need in the fight.

Unanimity has its value, but so do debate and dissent in a democracy facing a crisis.

Richard Clarke offers his commentary on the 9/11 report.

Honorable Commission, Toothless Report

Return of the 'Chicken Hawks'
Topic: Politics and Law 4:02 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

The general trump-it-all insult that the antiwar crowd aims at the pro-war crowd these days is a neat little portmanteau term that manages to impute, at once, cowardice, ignorance, selfishness, bloodlust (as long as the blood spills from others' veins) and hypocrisy: "chicken hawk."

"Chicken hawk" is interesting as an insult because it is such a pure example of reactionary thinking or, rather, the substitution of reaction for thinking. It is the sort of thing you say when you need to stop the argument in its tracks because you simply can't bear to address its realities.

Return of the 'Chicken Hawks'

I'm More of an Idea Hawk
Topic: Humor 3:36 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

Ratbert, a cheerful talking rat who has been hired as an intern at Dilbert's company, pipes up at a meeting:

"Let's form multidisciplinary task forces to reengineer our core processes until we're a world-class organization!"

"Sounds good," replies the boss, "Go do it."

At which point, Ratbert slips away with, "I'm more of an idea rat."

After an extensive search, I've found no prior use of this term, so I offer the following definition:

idea hawk, noun. 1. one who uses powerful ideas, and advocates their application, in the way that a 'traditional' hawk applies the conventional instruments of military power.

I invite any pointers to previous citations of the term.

I'm More of an Idea Hawk

World-Wide Media eXchange
Topic: Technology 3:08 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

What can you do with a gazillion photos on a single database indexed by their location?

World-Wide Media eXchange

Lost in Space
Topic: Health and Wellness 2:45 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

I strongly recommend the practice of getting lost in the wilderness.

Lost in Space

Get Your Hawk On
Topic: War on Terrorism 2:32 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

The appropriate response to the Sept. 11 commission's report is to be found in its statement that "countering terrorism" is "the top national security priority of the United States." This means that the challenge cannot be handled by continuing to bury it in either the usual bureaucracies and boondoggles, or in new ones.

Fighting terrorism and ameliorating its sources must be the main business of our country, as if we are fighting a world war or the cold war, although we will need new rules and techniques.

This should take precedence over our other national cares. If it doesn't, the terrorists will become stronger, and our other cares will pale by comparison. It really is a battle for civilization.

In another letter, an NYT reader shares my complaint with the commission's selective recall of history:

The 9/11 report does not go far enough back in time to tell the whole story.

The seeds of 9/11 were sown in the Reagan years when that administration trained and financed terrorist movements like the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against nationalist governments the administration identified as Soviet proxies.

Where are the historical, connect-the-dots details of these so-called "proxy" wars?

Get Your Hawk On

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