Posts from March 14, 2004

The real human rights violation is terrorism

The real human rights violation is terrorism
: Let’s get this straight once and for all: The worst human rights violation of all is terrorism.

All the yammering about how terrorism leads to new security laws and that is a human rights violation misses the horribly obvious: Killing innocent people in their offices or commuter trains or buses or restaurants — what could be more of a “human rights violation”?

Monday’s Guardian says:

Ironically, the annual human rights debate opens at the United Nations in New York today, a six-week session designed to place a spotlight on violations of political and social rights around the world. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have rightly warned of the dangers of even liberal democracies, using the new series of terrorist atrocities, to justify abuses of criminal and civil justice systems. This is self-defeating and only helps the terrorist organisations to achieve their goals.

What’s so damned ironic about that? It would be ironic if the U.N. conference to end terrorism started today, right after another terrorist attack they did not one damned thing to prevent.

Self-defeating? It would be quite literally self-defeating not to do everything you can to prevent terrorism.

Priorities, people: We’re at war. Allowing the bad guys to kill your own citizens is the clearest definition possible of losing.

: The Guardian is just filled with head-scratching goodies today. It also says with surprise that Labour is losing votes in the British Muslim community because of the war in Iraq. Wow, now that’s news.

No blog, no conference

No blog, no conference
: New rule of life: If you don’t allow blogging, I won’t attend your conference. For that matter, if you don’t have wi-fi, I won’t go. SXSW relented but they should be ashamed of themselves that they thought they could forbid picture-taking and blogging and electricity, ferchrissakes. Frigging greek control freaks. If I’d arrived there after spending thousands, I’d have had a complete psycho fit. And ask anyone who has seen one, it’s entertaining but not pretty.

Terrorism at the polls

Terrorism at the polls
: More’s the pity that terrorism had an impact on the election in Spain:

Spain’s ruling conservatives were defeated on Sunday in general elections, as a heavy turnout of voters punished the government in the highly emotional aftermath of the Madrid train bombings in which 200 people were killed.

Interior Minister Angel Acebes said the opposition Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) had obtained 43.01 percent of the vote and won 164 seats in the 350-member Chamber of Deputies.

The ruling conservative Popular Party (PP), which was predicted to prevail a week ago, won only 148 seats, with 37.47 percent of the vote….

Acebes said more than 77 percent of the electorate turned out to vote, a high response reflecting the emotions caused by the deadly train massacre….

The PP of outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar apparently took a pasting because of its support for the United States in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Only a week ago, four public opinion polls predicted the Popular Party would win with a reduced majority.

But the bombings and a claim attributed to Al-Qaeda that they were revenge for Spain’s support of American policy in Iraq touched off a wave of anger against the government.

I’m certainly not well-versed on Spanish politics but I wonder whether the ruling Conservatives’ insistence on blaming ETA even in the face of evidence pointing to Islamofascists also contributed to their defeat. In any case, it’s a damned shame that terrorists can have an impact on the election and can help bring in the side they apparently wanted.

Let’s just hope that anger in Spain will focus on the real target: Not the U.S., not the Conservative administration that joined with the U.S. in Iraq, but, of course, the evil bastards who murdered 200 innocents.

: UPDATE: Now is the time to say it again: The terrorists have won if….

The terrorists have won if they changed the course of a democracy… and made a nation lose its resolve to defeat terrorism. The terrorists have won if that happens.

It didn’t happen here. It won’t happen in Spain.

Terrorism will not prevail.

What RSS needs to do for the business of blogs

What RSS needs to do for the business of blogs

: RSS needs to do some important things to serve the business of blogs.

As I noted yesterday, my RSS file now gets more traffic than my HTML blog page. But, of course, that doesn’t mean it gets more readers, since RSS aggregators check for updates frequently. I’d be eager to hear from RSS experts (which I’m certainly not!) on whether it can be made to do these things:

1. RSS feeds need to include a counting gif (visible or invisible) that can be tallied by stats programs when the feed is actually displayed (and, it’s assumed, read). If it’s not a counting gif but is something newer, cool. But it needs to be counted when displayed.

2. RSS readers/aggregators/web services need to display that gif (that is, display HTML) so it can be counted. (If RSS readers cannot or do not display HTML and thus cannot display the counting gif, then they should report themselves as nonHTML.)

3. Stats programs (including SiteMeter) need to be able to tally those RSS counting gifs.

4. If ads are served in RSS, then they will need to carry their own counting gifs so advertisers can verify their ads were displayed (an absolute minimum for serving ads in feeds). As noted here, advertisers demand flight audits.

5. Can RSS aggregators and associated clients support cookies? That will be important to count unique audience (and to target and personalize content and advertising).

Without all this, anyone who’s trying to make money via web content will be disinclined to put up content on RSS or to put up complete content (they’ll put up just heads to drive links back to HTML pages, but that’s a pain for everyone).

I said at RSS Winterfest that I am looking at rearchitecting all the content on my day-job sites as feeds (read: RSS); I think it’s the way to go. But RSS needs to be enabled for traffic and audience stats and auditing.

I now leave this to better minds than mine…

Populism

Populism
: Heath Row posts some of Craig’s List’s Craig Newmark’s remarks at SXSW on my favorite topic: populism:

Ask for feedback. Read all feedback and summarize. Do something in response. Repeat. That’s our fundamental pattern. I report to customer service. It’s the job of customer service to tell the tech guys what features people need and how to create new tools so customer service can operate better. Customer service is something that I’ve obsessed about.

Craig’s List is an exercise in the mundane, in the everyday stuff. It’s a community where people can get the word out when it comes to real-world stuff, give each other a break, and make their voice heard to be included in the Internet. In ’99 when we had the dotcom frenzy, people lost sight of the fact that what you need to do is help people out with the essentials….

What have we seen over the years? People are increasingly media savvy. People can tell when someone is not speaking for real. People can tell when someone’s speaking with a corporate voice vs. a human voice. You go to a Web site, there’s a lot of happy, smiling people who are ecstatic you’re visiting their site, and you’re fairly disgusted with it. There are a lot of alternatives on the Web.

We’re making things change as individuals. There’s new forms of journalism going on. There’s social network software. …

Quantum physics is fun, but the only way we can change the world is by doing the mundane stuff everyday. And then doing it again. The everyday stuff we do is what really matters in the world. We need to develop a culture of trust and earn it again every day….

What have I learned about customer service? Customers are generally great at helping each other out. The first line workers know how to do things right, but it’s not a hot area. They need management support. Even disgruntled customers will help you out. And you need to engage with customers, not provide some sort of “black hole.”

You can actually trust people to do the right thing. If you do, they will. The number of people we have screwing around are a tiny minority….

Let the people help and manage the people and it works. It’s called democracy. It’s called the marketplace. It works if you let it.

Defence

Defence
: Josh Marshall advises:

The Kerry campaign went up with an ad today in response to the president’s new round of negative ads. The Kerry one took aim at the president’s claims about the economy.

But Kerry really needs to hit back on defense too. Now.

Yes, I want to see defense and homeland security as issues in this campaign.

But when I go to Kerry’s site, and look at the box on the upper-right of the page, listing big issues — Economy & Jobs, Education, Health Care… — defense isn’t even listed.

Homeland Security is listed but going there gives you ideas about expanding Americorps and its role in Homeland Security but nothing about defense.

In other words, there’s nothing about going to get the bad guys where they fester.

If I click through under foreign policy, I finally find a speech with this:

At the core of this conflict is a fundamental struggle of ideas. Of democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views.

The War on Terror is not a clash of civilizations. It is a clash of civilization against chaos; of the best hopes of humanity against dogmatic fears of progress and the future.

That’s the ticket.

But I want to hear the guy say he will not rest until he gets the bad guys. I want to hear the guy say he will spare nothing to defend us. As Marshall says, I want to see him talk defense. Now.

But the talk is spare and hidden.

Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds went looking for a statement from Kerry on the horror in Madrid. He finally found it. But this, too, was hidden.

Kerry is still acting as if he’s up against Howard Dean, scared of his own military shadow.

He’s up against George Bush and he better come out tough on terrorism — he’d better talk and act as if we are at war, because we are — and he better be loud and clear on it. Now.

: UPDATE: Matt Stoller says it’s time to turn this into a liberal war.

: Mathew Gross sums up concurring comment — it’s a damned bandwagon! — from Atrios and Kos.

Seeing the world through doom-colored glasses

Seeing the world through doom-colored glasses
: The Washington Post acts as if New York is collapsing into ruin before our very eyes and, thus, as if it’s an act of hypocrisy or failure for Bush to come here for the convention.

“New York,” a recent newspaper article proclaims, “it’s HOT.”

Except that a closer look at this largest of U.S. cities reveals much that’s not so hot. New York’s unemployment rate jumped in January from 8.0 to 8.4 percent, the worst performance among the nation’s top 20 cities. It has lost 230,000 jobs in the past three years. Demand for emergency food has risen 46 percent over the past three years, and 900,000 New Yorkers receive food stamps. Inflation, foreclosures, evictions and personal bankruptcies are rising sharply. Fifty percent of the city’s black males no longer are employed.

President Bush will journey here this August for the Republican convention, and he is expected to celebrate the revival of the nation’s financial capital since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But at this point, that recovery is characterized more by its weakness — and by the stark disparities between rich and poor.

How’s Boston doing? And D.C.? No more poverty there? Losta jobs? No racial/cultural divides?

: And while we’re exuding civic pride, some damned Texan at SXSW insults Newark.