Saturday, March 29, 2003

Foreign Policy, Free Speech

"We must face the fact," President John F. Kennedy once said, "that the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient -- that we are only 6% of the world's population -- that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94% of mankind--that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity -- and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem."

Good Foreign Policy a Casualty of War:Today, it is we Americans who live in infamy. By Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

Go read the whole thing. I'll wait. Then reflect on the fact that John Quincy Adams warned us (er, U.S.) not to be assholes, in 1821. That's plenty of time to figure out what the words meant, y'know.

Schlesinger revists the theme of "full and searching discussion" as a necessity prior to going to war, in What Ever Happened to Protest?, pointing out, among other things, that Americans have "rarely refrained from criticism and dissent when the country was heading toward war."

This one shouldn't be any different. The Bush Doctrine, as Schlesinger refers to it, of anticipatory self-defense (comparing it to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, and I believe, quite rightly so) was lambasted in 1848 by no other than Abraham Lincoln, then discussing the Mexican War as a representative of the state of Illinois.

"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion... and you allow him to make war at pleasure...[The Founding Fathers]...resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us."

From the birth of this nation, the Bush Doctrine has been considered one incredibly bad idea.

But it's so darn attractive,...if you're sure you're in the right, that is. But you can't be, can you? Not really. Life is never that black and white.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Anything But Plastic

Plastic shopping bags and the environment

"Plastic shopping bags have a surprisingly significant environmental impact for something so seemingly innocuous."

Darn straight. Plastic shopping bags are so prevalent in my area, unless you're shopping a health-food store. I can't recall the last time I was asked "paper or plastic". That's a lot of bags, every day, steadfastly not decomposing for 20+ years.

It's not so hard to minimize your use, just invest in 3 or 4 woven or cloth bags and bring them to the store with you. Sure you have to remember, but you already remembered the shopping list, didn't you? Why not this, too?

First Stop, Iraq

How did the U.S. end up taking on Saddam? The inside story of how Iraq jumped to the top of Bush's agenda -- and why the outcome there may foreshadow a different world order.

This is a terribly interesting article, I'm not done yet.

Courtesy of Wil, who's not a weenie.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Bush, Blair

Differences Remain in Allies' Relationship

"today's joint press conference by President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Camp David also revealed some subtle but important differences between the two allies on the war in Iraq and its aftermath."

I heard it on NPR this morning, and noted several of these same distinctions.
Rare Blood Disease Actually Cancer

Rare Blood Disease Shown To Be A Form Of Treatable Cancer; Genetic Mechanism Of Disease Is Discovered

"In the process of figuring out why an anti-cancer drug is effective in treating patients with a rare blood disorder known as hypereosinophilic syndrome, or HES, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have shown that the condition may in fact be a form of cancer."

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Aboriginal Weather Prediction

Experts look to Australia's Aborigines for weather help

Heretical Ideas, for the link
Bush order covers Internet Secrets

Actually, this caught my eye because of the 'defense against transnational terrorism' clause.

Bush order covers Internet secrets
By Declan McCullagh

March 26, 2003, 12:11 PM PT

President George W. Bush has signed an executive order that explicitly gives the government the power to classify information about critical infrastructures such as the Internet.
Bush late Tuesday changed the definition of what the government may classify as confidential, secret and top-secret to include details about "infrastructures" and weapons of mass destruction. The new executive order also makes clear that information related to "defense against transnational terrorism" is classifiable. more >>

linked from Politech:
POLITECH evening reception in New York City at 7 pm, April 1, 2003 at CFP:
POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
Declan McCullagh's photographs are at
Like Politech? Make a donation here:

Things to Read

French airline steward detained for nine months in US

Hundreds Of Arabs Still Detained

"We have absolutely no idea how many they have behind bars and neither does anybody else because the government simply will not tell us"

The American Muslim Association of North America

Detained, by Michael Welch, reviewed by Elaine Cassel, who recommends

"Detained" should be read by anyone interested in learning about the origins of the evolving "us versus them" posture that stigmatizes, criminalizes, and incarcerates immigrants in the name of "freedom" and "national security." The way this country treats its vulnerable residents should be of concern to all Americans who profess to value human rights. But, as the draft of Patriot II suggests, the treatment of immigrants may foreshadow the treatment of citizens in the years to come.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Yeah, Peace and Stability, Uh-Huh

Arab League lines up behind Iraq

Arab countries have condemned the "aggression" against Iraq and called for the immediate withdrawal of US and British forces from the country.

Yep. Saw that coming, didn't we? Prescience. What a pain in the ass.
Web Site Credibility

How Do People Evaluate a Web Site's Credibility?

In a nutshell,

1. Design
2. Information structure

And, interestingly, once a design passes a certain threshold, that's only when other elements such as information structure (navigation, organization) come under scrutiny.

Very interesting. No matter how well organized it is, if it doesn't look good, they're not going to stick around. But, also, don't spend weeks trying to get that last 10% of coolness in the design.