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There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.

Costly Troop Deficit in Iraq
Topic: Military Technology 9:08 am EST, Nov 22, 2004

Shifting more of the Pentagon's well-padded budget into manpower has few supporters in a Defense Department transfixed with faddish theories of quick war-fighting, outsourced peacekeeping and minimal ground forces. Iraqi civilians without jobs and clean water and American soldiers without relief and a clear strategy for winning the peace have been paying the price for those seductive theories long enough.

"It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog."

How "transfixed" is that?

Costly Troop Deficit in Iraq

A Victory, But Little Is Gained
Topic: War on Terrorism 8:56 am EST, Nov 22, 2004

History suggests that our best chance for "success" in Iraq depends on redefining what we would consider a victory.

As T. E. Lawrence famously described it, fighting rebels is "like eating soup with a knife."

The Soviet Union killed more than a million people in Afghanistan, but never broke the will of the insurgents.

"It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog."

A Victory, But Little Is Gained

The Under-Funded Global Fund to fight AIDS
Topic: Society 8:40 am EST, Nov 22, 2004

The secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, had said in early 2002, when he announced the formation of the fund, that he hoped it would increase global financing for AIDS to as much as $10 billion a year.

The reality has been a far more modest average of about $1 billion annually at the fund.

That is far below the $20 billion or more a year that it is estimated the world will soon need to combat AIDS.

The Under-Funded Global Fund to fight AIDS

Rehab Justice
Topic: Society 8:37 am EST, Nov 22, 2004

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Web site (as of Sept. 4, 2004), the total federal inmate population is 180,318.

About 54 percent of that population are drug felons.

The total cost for each prisoner was $61 per day; for the entire population, almost $11 million a day or $4 billion a year.

It is predicted that by 2010 there will be more than 216,000 individuals serving time in federal prisons.

Thirty years ago, the prison population was less than 200,000. But mandatory sentencing policies for drug offenses have driven the prison population across the nation to a staggering 1.4 million.

Among the 10 states that have experienced the most prison growth, there are more than a dozen counties where at least one in five "residents" is an inmate.

Rehab Justice

Desperate Housewives on Monday Night Football
Topic: TV 12:03 am EST, Nov 22, 2004

Edie (aka Nicolette Sheridan) drops her towel to keep Terrell Owens in the locker room.

Gary Schneeberger of Focus on the Family says he was "encouraged" by her "sexed-up opening."

Uh huh. No kidding? At least he's honest.

(Or was it the complaints that got him excited? Is there a difference?)

Desperate Housewives on Monday Night Football

'Values' Voters Still Like Their Television Sin
Topic: TV 11:57 pm EST, Nov 21, 2004

If it is true that the public's electoral choices are a cry for more morally driven programming, the network executives ask, why are so many people, even in the markets surrounding the Bush bastions Atlanta and Salt Lake City, watching a sex-drenched television drama?

In the greater Atlanta market, reaching more than two million households, "Desperate Housewives" is the top-rated show. Nearly 58 percent of the voters in those counties voted for President Bush.

The password is ... "Vicarious."

Gary Schneeberger of Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical Protestant group, said that "History has shown that even people who could be described as Values Voters Are Prone To Sinful Behavior and watching representations of sinful behavior. Is it shocking that people would be enticed by it? It's not shocking, but it is tragic."

If you recall, that is precisely the logic I laid out a week ago, in response to Frank Rich's column in the Sunday NYT.

Mr. Schneeberger said he was encouraged by the criticism heaped on ABC last week for using a sexed-up opening for its "Monday Night Football" coverage.



Nicolette Sheridan's WMDs are real, baby, and they're spectacular. (Or something.)

'Values' Voters Still Like Their Television Sin

EA: The Human Story
Topic: Games 7:49 pm EST, Nov 21, 2004

My significant other works for Electronic Arts, and I'm what you might call a disgruntled spouse.

Our adventures with Electronic Arts began less than a year ago. I remember that they asked him in one of the interviews: "how do you feel about working long hours?" When asked for specifics about what "working long hours" meant, the interviewers coughed and glossed on to the next question.

Now we know why.

EA: The Human Story

Gallery of Computation | generative artifacts
Topic: Arts 8:02 pm EST, Nov 20, 2004

I write computer programs to create graphic images.

With an algorithmic goal in mind, I manipulate the work by finely crafting the semantics of each program. Specific results are pursued, although occasionally surprising discoveries are made.

I believe all code is dead unless executing within the computer. For this reason I distribute the source code of my programs in modifiable form to encourage life and spread love. Opening one's code is a beneficial practice that both helps the community and grows the strength of the programmer.

Gallery of Computation | generative artifacts

Out of the Ordinary: Finding Hidden Threats by Analyzing Unusual Behavior
Topic: Technology 1:15 am EST, Nov 20, 2004

This monograph presents a unique approach to "connecting the dots" in intelligence -- selecting and assembling disparate pieces of information to produce a general understanding of a threat.

This should be of interest to anyone who needs to monitor large and disparate data streams looking for uncertain and unclear indicators that, taken together, represent potential risks.

Out of the Ordinary: Finding Hidden Threats by Analyzing Unusual Behavior

Shirky: Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software
Topic: Technology 12:55 am EST, Nov 19, 2004

Individual users take on roles that only make sense in groups: leader, follower, peacemaker, process nazi, and so on. There are also behaviors that can only occur in groups, from consensus building to social climbing.

Actually, I've found that process nazis and social climbers can be surprisingly vigorous in these pursuits, regardless of the presence or absence of a group.

Of course, when it comes to mailing list software, a few clever, well-placed lines of code can be made to work miracles. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of face-to-face meetings.

If only we had a Real World equivalent of Perl.

Shirky: Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software

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