I Have a Dream… Set

I Have a Dream… Set My Pixels Free!

Significant progress being made on the site redesign. It is now becoming actively painful for me to look at the current site, given how lousy it looks, and how nice the new version is turning out.

Patience, friends! Soon your eyeballs shall no longer be assaulted with this miserable excuse for a design!

Cool! John over at Right

Cool! John over at Right Wing News has a roundup of the “10 Best ‘Unknown’ Political Bloggers“.

I know a few folks on the list (and agree they’re good ‘uns); others are new to me. Go check ’em out for yourself.

And note: John indicates he’s using the Ecosystem list to identify bloggers not getting enough attention — which as I’ve noted, is exactly one purpose I hoped folks would use it for.

Above and beyond the narcististic self-referential enjoyment quotient of it, of course.

Kofi still doesn’t get it:”Reacting

Kofi still doesn’t get it:

“Reacting to a speech today by United States President George Bush, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the US leader’s reaffirmation that the outcome of the Middle East peace process should be the establishment of a viable and credible State of Palestine – based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 – and security for Israel.”

Actually, I suspect Kofi got it just fine; he’s a bright guy. But I don’t think he quite knows how to deal with the “it” of an American administration that refuses to play by the usual Middle East Rules: i.e., treating murderers like negotiating partners.

At the risk of stepping

At the risk of stepping on Charles‘ (extremely competent) toes, I draw your attention to MEMRI’s translation of the Palestinian “open letter” regarding attacks on civlians within Israel.

This feels slightly like old news this week, but I recommend it nonetheless, as MEMRI provides some additional detail and background on the two versions of the communique that were issued — and the reasons for changes that appeared in the second version. According to MEMRI, the second version of the letter was published on June 21st, it included a new statement at the end:

“Needless to say, all the signatories to this communiqu

If you are looking for

If you are looking for a downright amusing attempt to spin Bush’s speech yesterday into a positive endorsement of Palestinian policy, check out NPR’s RealAudio interview yesterday with Palestinian representative Hassan Abdel Rahman, in which even mild-mannered Robert Siegel appears to be struggling to contain the urge to giggle as Rahman whirls round and round and round.

Mr. Rahman clearly had his reality-distortion generator cranking at full blast when he listened to Bush’s speech; individual quotes don’t do him justice, so go listen to the whole thing…

(whoops, there’s one of those nasty links again…)

All you radio scanner freaks

All you radio scanner freaks out there: beware! Your kind ain’t welcome in the Queen’s Kingdom.

BBC news reports:

The safety of the Royal Family and top politicians is at risk because classified security details are being published on the internet, it has been revealed.

Radio scanning enthusiast Paul Wey is intercepting Special Branch and other communications and publishing their details on internet news groups, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has learned.

Apparently, Wey has a scanner and has found some of the interesting frequencies used by police and emergency services in Britain, and is publishing information on them on the Internet.

The gov’ment doesn’t take to kindly to this:

An intelligence source said Mr Wey was a “menace”, whose actions could help terrorists commit atrocities and may have already been used to counter police operations.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said the government must consider banning radio scanners, which are currently illegal to use but not to own…

The intelligence source said Mr Wey and his website were “a severe danger to the public and to national security”. ..The source called for the site to be closed down, as well as for scanners to be made illegal. She said: “They can only be used for illegal activity. It’s similar to saying to somebody: ‘It’s OK to have a gun, as long as you don’t put bullets in it’.”

Hmmmm.

Point The First: Ms Unnamed Intelligence Source may want to rethink her classification of dangers to public and national security. I would submit to her that the danger to public and national security is that the Special Branch is using open frequencies to transmit sensitive information. Mr. Wey makes this point himself: “Mr Wey suggested that his activities could prompt the authorities to take better care of security – for instance by ensuring that Special Branch’s radio equipment was updated as it should be.” Well, uh, yeah.

Point The Second: Scanners can only be used for illegal activity, you say? Well, tell that to the good folks over at Pinecam.com, and the many citizens of Colorado who are reading Pinecam’s summaries of emergency service scanner transmissions to stay informed of the Hayman Fire’s progress, and now, are even listening into those same scanner transmissions via a dedicated RealAudio stream.

You may conclude that Pinecam’s zeal to inform the Colorado public is — well, overzealous — but I don’t think anyone for a second would accuse them of any nefarious intent.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a link to Mr. Wey’s site on the BBC site, don’t bother — it’s not there. Apparently he’s got some deep-linking policy that prohibits anyone linking to his site without prior written permission…no, wait, I’m confusing him with someone else

Since I’m already clearly making

Since I’m already clearly making trouble today (what with calling for an American Empire and all) I might as well keep it up. I’m sure this one has been suggested before elsewhere, but how about this for a solution to the “Palestine” question:

Israel formally and unilaterally returns the West Bank and Gaza to Egypt and Jordan, and declares that those Arab states have 30 days to shut down terrorism in the territories. After that time, any acts of terrorism launched from the former territories will be considered acts of war by the respective nation now holding them, to which Israel (and hey, let’s go all the way, and the United States) will respond to with the full force of arms.

Palestinian statehood would then become a purely internal Arab matter; if the Egyptians and Jordanians are comfortable with that risk, then by all means, they should set up Mr. Arafat with his own little state.

But with this plan, they bear the full price should the risk prove unjustified…

A new American Confederacy

A new American Confederacy

Jackson Diehl points out the (obvious) contradictions in the Bush policy of condemning corrupt, dictatorial Arab regimes when they happen to be run by Yassir Arafat, but looking the other way when they are run by our “allies” in today’s WaPo:

So why not press political reform not just on the homeland of Hamas and Islamic Jihad but on those of al Qaeda — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen? Because policymakers have concluded that it’s not a good idea to be so aggressive. They say the consensus is that liberal reform is a security interest of the United States and that the status quo of supporting Arab autocrats in exchange for oil and security cooperation is no longer workable. But the prevailing view is that it would be counterproductive to move too fast, that policy has to be aimed at achieving gradual change over years or even decades…

Why shouldn’t Arab states be pressed to commit themselves formally to guaranteeing basic political and religious rights and to the creation of an international mechanism, such as the former Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to hold them accountable?”

Why indeed.

There was an argument to be made, years back, that in a coldly realpolitik sense, that leaving corrupt tyrants in place in the Middle East was the correct policy for at least the United States’ short-term interests. They kept the oil flowing, and didn’t pose any threat to us, so why in the world would we risk all that just to guarantee some Arabs a decent life?

The argument was never a very good one, but now, it’s a completely stupid one. “Asymmetric warfare” imposes a new reality on the planetary political landscape: and that is that if there is even a single country of modest means anywhere that harbors and supports lunatic murderers like al Qaeda, then those murders will continue to be able to inflict massive damage — to lives, to property, to economies — worldwide.

We all know this, deep down and instinctively. But it has not filtered through everyone’s rational minds yet to allow the realization that this creates a tremendously different world than the one that we previously lived in. Because it is now in the United States’ direct, selfish interest, to ensure that every single nation on this planet provides a stable, democratic government to its people where freedom is respected, and the rule of law enforced. This used to be the stuff of idealists : now, it is the bread-and-butter of hard-nosed cynics and pragmatists.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any nation willing to step up to the plate to address this problem, and start toppling these regimes. For most, “national sovereignty” — as if that concept has any honor or dignity without the sovereignty of the people living under a nation’s rule — remains a holy concept that must not be violated, regardless of the barbarism a particular “sovereign” chooses to inflict upon their society.

And so, as has often been the case in the past century, it’s left to the United States. We will accomplish this task, or it will not be done — with dire consequences for the world, I fear.

Let’s not mince words: we are talking about using all means necessary — support for dissident groups, sponsoring coups, assassinations, and flat-out military invasions — to establish what could be called a new American Empire across a swath of twenty or thirty countries. Trust me, if you weren’t thrilled about American Imperialism during the Cold War, you are going to absolutely hate this.

But Empire is not really the correct word to use here, although it will be used by those who oppose this effort. The appropriate word is “Confederacy”.

Yes, some interesting resonances with American history there, but nonetheless, the term fits. Dictionary definition (from Encarta ) : “an alliance of people, states, or parties for some common purpose, or the people, states, or parties in an alliance.”

This is what we need. An alliance of states that recognize the threat that faces us — such as our ally Britain — and of those states which have been ‘flipped’ from threats to allies — such as Afghanistan. We can turn enemies into allies, given time — we proved that at the close of World War II, and we must brush the dust off those skills for this conflict.

I’ve said it before in this space: there is much work to do. President Bush has taken the right first steps with his concept of an “Axis of Evil” and the idea that you are “with us or against us”. But he needs to put action behind the words, and bring these ideas together to form a coherent policy with the express goal of ending the regimes of all those who would support the murder of innocents, and oppose the rights of all human beings, across the globe.

You can focus on the selfish benefits to the United States in living in a world where these threats are ended, or if you prefer, you can focus on the morality of bringing democracy and freedom to people who have neither. Either view is fine, for the days when realpolitik was in conflict with the goals of human rights are over.

They are now one in the same.

Another week, another run of

Another week, another run of the ole Ecosystem.

Revised data is up; no major changes to the process this week. Just added a few new blogs on request.

Yes, I’m still trying to automate it; yes, it still takes too damned long, and yes, there’s still some bugs in there (although for the record, with the exception of last Saturday’s screwup, I have yet to see anyone present actual data to prove a bug…. yes, that is a challenge ! )

Anyway, enjoy, don’t take it all too seriously (defined as all values of seriously where seriously > 0 ) and take care…

-NZB

Update: I just uploaded the raw .csv data file of links extracted (unfiltered, so it includes links from blogs-to-themselves as well as links from blogs-to-URLs-not-on-the-list-of-blogs, both of which get filtered out); the link is here. Please please please do not click on that unless you are seriously attempting to debug; it is 600K even zipped and my bandwidth is running low. Thanks!

Wanted: A Few Good FontsOK,

Wanted: A Few Good Fonts

OK, I’m surprised that I haven’t been able to find this information yet myself, so I’ll put out a call for help.

I’m looking for information regarding which fonts are available on which browsers and platforms. In my dream, I’d like to see a table that lists Times Roman, and then tells me which of the major platforms/browsers have that font. And so on, for every other font in existence (or at least the biggies).

This is, of course, related to the redesign. I hate boring fonts — but I hate unreadable sites even more, so I’m trying to do the best job I can coming up with a slick layout & snappy fonts, but I don’t want it to just look snappy to me and look like crap to everyone else…

Anyway, so far I’ve struck out in finding much info beyond the basics that Arial and Verdana are good. Anybody with a link or two, send ’em my way, please.

al Qaeda gophers tape,

al Qaeda gophers tape, declares support for Bush

Yet another al Qaeda spokesminion popped up out of his gopher hole today just long enough to praise Allah & pass an audiotape.

I skimmed the CNN report briefly… al Qaeda organization in tact… blah blah… bin Laden alive… blah blah blah… more attacks coming… blah blah blah. All of it Allah willing, of course.

But the last bit really caught my eye, where the spokescreature referred to the controversy around how much Bush knew pre-September 11:

“…it is a cover for the attack of the Democratic Party on the Republican Party after the America president announced that he knew about the September 11 attacks and big economic problems that the American government is suffering from.”

Is this fellow just being incoherent, or did he just declare that he’s on Bush’s side in the who-knew-what-when argument?

Damn, now if Bush can just get Andrea Yates and Charles Manson to endorse him, he’ll have the coveted psycho-murders trifecta. 2004 will be a lock.

Maybe Daschle needs to offer to build bin Laden a new cave or something; he’s falling way behind here…

Everybody’s favorite ex-D.C.-bureaucrat-turned-Ivory-Tower-academic delivers a

Everybody’s favorite ex-D.C.-bureaucrat-turned-Ivory-Tower-academic delivers a thorough thwacking to The Nation‘s William Greider, who seems to have come to the interesting (though sadly not unique) conclusion that what’s bad for America must be good for the world.

Greider:

The scandals of Enron et al., unfortunately, must compete with another story–the war on terrorism–that’s more exciting, and threatening, than dirty bookkeeping or the looted billions. The two crises are intertwined in perverse ways. The smug triumphalism of Bush’s unilateralist war policy could be abruptly deflated by economic events–which probably would be a good thing for world affairs, since Washington couldn’t run roughshod over others…

DeLong:

I don’t know which is stranger: the anticipatory schadenfreude at the fantasy of U.S. unemployment climbing toward 15 percent, or the strange and ill-thought-out chain of logic by which a decline in the value of the dollar is supposed to produce a domestic depression and a shift in U.S. foreign policy…This guy was, twenty years ago, one of our best and most incisive reporters. Now his chains of logic snap at the first touch, and his overriding hope appears to be that the flaws in the American economy manifest themselves by throwing a lot of people out of work, so that “the fashionable boastfulness about America… [will] implode…”

Advantage: DeLong !

And here’s a link to the Nation story, since as much as we love Prof D, he still hasn’t quite got the hang of the ole’ link-to-the-story-you’re-spanking thing…

Update: Prof. Delong responds to my gentle chiding: “Hey! I didn’t realize until I read your weblog that the _Nation_ piece was online. You see, I read it in what is called ‘paper’–I realize you may be unfamiliar with the concept. Every week or so, this 48 page flimsy flexible thing arrives at my doorstep… kinda like a regular email but kinda not. Anyway, thanks. I’ve added the link on my website.”

Bizarre. Next he’ll be raving about how he chissels his grocery list into granite tablets…

I think yesterday was the

I think yesterday was the first full day since I started blogging with no posting whatsoever.

Sorry folks. Expect light blogging this weekend as well, because a) nobody seems to visit on the weekends b) I have family in town and c) I’m focusing energies on the site redesign for our upcoming relaunch.

I’ll probably drop a few tidbits here and there that catch my eye, but no Deep Thought, I would expect. You’ll all have to go figure out your own moral systems for a few days…

-NZB

From CNN.com :FBI: Terrorists may

From CNN.com :

FBI: Terrorists may try to arrive by sea

The FBI has received reports that al Qaeda terrorists may be making their way toward Southern California aboard a merchant ship, but has no evidence to back up those reports, the bureau said Wednesday.

The reports indicate that as many as 40 al Qaeda members may have boarded a merchant vessel in the past month and were headed for the United States, FBI spokesman Matthew McLaughlin said. The bureau has placed a “very high priority” on determining their accuracy, he said.

He stressed that the FBI has not gathered any evidence thus far to support the claims and said no terror alert has been issued.

McLaughlin declined to provide details of the reports, but said Catalina Island — about 23 miles off the California coast near Los Angeles — was mentioned as a possible destination.

I find this more than a little personally relevant, given that I can see Catalina out my window.

SoCal warbloggers, unite! I say we meet ’em on the beaches and bore them to death with our overblown rhetoric… (invite Kaus too; get him to bring one of his welfare reform pieces and that’ll really do them in…)

PS – On a more serious note, I can’t think of a more bizarre spot for al Qaeda to pick to deliver 40 (presumably Middle Eastern) men and expect them to go unnoticed. Catalina is a tiny place, with just a few (one?) towns that are entirely tourist traps and tons of really really expensive homes. And the only way between it and the mainland are regular ferries. (Picture forty men of Middle Eastern appearance buying tickets for the ferry from Catlina when nobody at the dock remembers seeing them come to Catlina). If these guys had a boat of their own, I suppose they could sail from Catalina to LA, but then what’s the point of stopping in Catalina in the first place?

I’ve seen a few links

I’ve seen a few links to my post below regarding my loss of faith in the Palestinian culture which say something like “N.Z. Bear has given up on a Palestinian state.”

To be crystal clear: I’ve given up on a Palestinian state for now.

When the Palestinians rebuild their culture to value life over death, then I’ll be there with open arms to welcome them into the club of civilized peoples — and support their aspirations for a state.

But at the moment, I’m not holding my breath for that to happen anytime soon.

Okay, the poll on whether

Okay, the poll on whether the Hall of Link Sluttage should be renamed has been up for a while, and it’s getting, well, old. And besides, I have a new poll question I want to put up. So down it comes!

But first, to recap the results:

The Question: Should the Hall of Link Sluttage Be Renamed?

The responses:

5.0 % – Yes, because it’s offensive
19.0 % – Yes, because it’s just not that funny
25.6 % – No, it’s amusing. Don’t change it.
50.4 % – No, it’s not amusing, but don’t change it just to annoy the PC crowd.

One can draw many conclusions from these fascinating pieces o’ data:

1) TTLB readers are a perverse lot, given that more than half indicate that despite finding the HoLS to be a chuckle-free zone, they want me to keep it that way just to annoy other people. That’s just not very nice.

2) The vast majority of folks don’t think the name is amusing; 74.4 % .

3) Only a meager 5% of TTLB readers are easily offended. I’d like to say this comes as a shock, but…

Anyway, I never claimed this was a democracy, so I haven’t yet decided what to do with the silly thing. You’ll just have to wait for the site redesign.

But on to bigger and better things. Speaking of the site redesign:

I’m considering investing some effort in figuring out this RSS thing, which I know next to zip about. Some kind of dark magic whereby folks can subscribe to the site, from what I understand. So anyway, the new poll question is meant to gauge interest in such a feature, and not incidentally, also give me a vague idea of how many folks are checking in on TTLB regularly.

So go vote already !