Posts from September 9, 2004

Election terrorism

Election terrorism

: Well, the terrorists disrupted an election, but it wasn’t ours (so far, God forbid); it was Australia’s:

THE scourge of international terrorism has dramatically infiltrated the federal election, with Mark Latham last night announcing plans to suspend Labor’s campaign and John Howard diverting to Canberra today in the wake of the Jakarta bombing.

The Opposition Leader, who was in far north Queensland to announce an environmental inititiative, spoke with the Prime Minister yesterday, and both agreed to proceed with Sunday’s nationally televised debate in Sydney.

But Labor will cancel all campaign advertising and delay any further election policy announcements as the political leaders grapple with the shocking events in Indonesia.

A clearly shaken Mr Latham refused to answer questions as to whether the bombing was designed to influence the Australian election.

Oink

Oink

: The mudslinging continues and bloggers are complicit in the crime.

I was thinking of calling them Manchurian bloggers, for it seems as if some of them (pick your side) are hyp-no-tized to attack on command. In some cases, it’s quite out of character. They just can’t help themselves. They keep attacking. See mud. Must sling.

But that doesn’t quite capture it. It doesn’t grab the glee they have at hurling the dirt.

It’s all crap and they all know it but they’re talking crap rather than jobs or health care or Iraq or terrorism or education or anything that really matters. They’re adding nothing but nothing to the campaign.

The’re wallowing in mud.

They’re the political piggies.

Yeah, that’s it: Piggie, piggie, piggie. I’ll speak their language. That’s what I’ll call them now, the mud wallowers, the mud slingers, the dirty ones. Oink away, piggies. I don’t care.

Neither does Tony Pierce.

raymi has returned because there is a God and He loves us. i keep telling you this. none of you listen. but it’s cool. it’s cool.

speaking of which, jeff jarvis wants us to lay off the hate and the evil and the mudslinging when blogging about this presidential election.

at first i was all, “come on hippie, isnt half the fun of a blog to have not only the ability to sling a little mud, but then sling a little more?”

but, as usual, i was wrong.

half the fun of blogging is getting nice emails from hot chicks who want to get naked with you. the other half is getting a chance to practice writing three times a day in front of hundreds of people.

there actually is no room for mudslinging in a proper blog that aspires to be taken seriously. a gentleman should leave that for the discussion boards.

blogs should be setting the standard. we should be setting the tone that tv and newspapers and magazines once had. and even if we shouldnt be, we could be, so therfore we should be.

To which Ken Layne retorts:

Tony Pierce says we should follow Jeff Jarvis’ advice and quit the mudslinging.

I say Nuts to That. Why should anyone quit now, right when it’s getting good? Who walks out of a prize fight right when the bloodied halfwit underdog jumps up and knocks the other dude across the ring? Besides, you and I have as much chance of stopping such a fight as some spectator in the nose-bleed seats. Close your eyes, run for the bathroom, do whatever you must do for yourself, but that fight will continue until somebody is Knocked Out & carried away on a stretcher.

But here’s my favorite call for mud disarmament — step back from the pigsty, piggies! — from Rex Hammock. What he says:

But I want to be on record as agreeing with Jeff Jarvis that at some point, this whole gotcha campaigning crap has got to stop. I know the history of American presidential politics is filled with mud-slinging and rumor-milling that makes the Kerry-Bush accusation-duel look like a kindegarten squabble. But still, enough already.

Who cares who served in Vietnam…or avoided it? Didn’t the election of President Dole, the WWII hero, over Bill Clinton, the draft dodger, settle that as an issue? And frankly, if Kitty Kelly’s book claims that back in the 1980s, George W. Bush performed abortions at Camp David while dancing naked on a table, drunk and on cocaine, it won’t influence my vote. And frankly, if some veteran steps forward tomorrow proving John Kerry cut himself shaving and tried to leverage that into a Congressional Medal of Honor because he thought it would help him get a date with Jane Fonda and would look good on his campaign resume, it won’t influence my vote. Hell, you could tell me that John Kerry and George Bush were once secretly married to each other in a private Skull & Crossbones ceremony at Yale, and I would be too desensitized by this campaign to give a rip.

Is anyone actually going to vote this November based on something that happened during the Vietnam war or based on decades-old DUIs or anything other than the economy or the threat of terrorism or a personal conviction related to a specific public policy isisue? No one.

Bottom line: George W. Bush has served as president for the past four years. We’ve all had a front row seat to how he’ll likely serve if he’s re-elected to the office. Vote against him or for him based on what you, yourself, have observed and based on your personal convictions. Or vote for or against John Kerry based on your perception of his service in the Senate and on what you think of him today or if you are convinced that he’ll be a better president. Or vote for someone else if you think neither of them is fit for the office.

All that other crap is noise.

Amen, blogging brother.

Flash traffic

Flash traffic

: Having spent five hours yesterday needlessly stuck in traffic after a little rain in New Jersey, I have two things to say (besides the fact that New Jersey’s infrastructure is about as good as Baghdad’s these days):

1. Shadow Traffic and Metro Traffic suck. They are worse than worthless. I’m backed up for 20 miles for hours on a major Interstate and they don’t know about it or if they do, they’re not telling. I might as well listen to a psychic to find the traffic. This Shadow doesn’t know.

2. We need to start the citizens’ traffic service, the flash traffic service: Smart Traffic. Hundreds, then thousands of people all knew more about the traffic on my route yesterday; they were close enough to shout at, yet we had no way to share what we knew.

I actually tried to convince folks in this traffic business years ago to use technology and drivers to solve all this. But they’re either too dumb or too scared of being replaced and I’ve seen no movement in this direction. So let’s invent it around them.

The goal is simple: Other drivers ahead of me on my route know what the traffic is like. I want that information. In return, I’ll share what I know with the drivers behind me.

This is the ultimate gift economy: information for information.

How to accomplish this? There are degrees of sophistication that can ramp up as technology does. At a simple level:

: Let’s say that I give my standard route to a web site.

: From my car, I call into a number; the system recognizes my number and thus my route. (And if I use a different route, I can tell it what highway I’m on.)

: It quizzes me about each part of the route and I reply: Fast, slow, flooding, accident, avoid — simple keywords that can be recognized and passed on by the system.

: It then tells me what it knows about the next leg of my journey with a rating of the quality of the information (how many calls, how recent).

I gave information, I got information.

Ramp it up with technology and let the system pass on what cells I’m passing from and to so it knows me and my phone and where we are and also how fast we’re traveling and it analyzes that.

Ramp it up again and put a GPS transponder in my car with data that feeds into a dynamic traffic data base, which in turn can feed data back down to my little device in my car.

Ramp it up more sell me a display device tied to GPS in my car that warns me before I get to a slow spot.

The key to all this is that it learns the lesson of citizens’ media: namely, how much more efficient and effective it is to have countless citizens reporting for you than a few dolts in helicopters who are over the wrong highways or a few state bureacrats who are too slow to report what’s really happening.

This can be simple. It can be technology dependent. I really don’t care. I just want it! I wasted five hours of my life yesterday for no good reason.

It can be supported with subscriber fees (but the more you use the service and the more information you feed in, the better discount you get) and/or advertising (don’t pay and you suffer through a commercial before you get your report).

And so now I want to see Shadow and Metro replaced (and with it go the revenue that comes from this bogus content given to radio stations that don’t always air the traffic at the same time, just to trick us). I want to join a network of fellow commuters reporting for each other.

This is citizens’ media that is truly useful. Forget politics. Give me citizens’ traffic!

: And we also need to invent the portable SUV potty.

: James Joyner in the comments suggests a traffic blog with audio posts. Yes, in fact, what I need is an I-78 in New Jersey with audio posts and audio output: a community answering machine that actually gives me answers.

Words wanted

Words wanted

: The amazing Micah Sifry passes on this notice with a request to post it in the town square:

Writers Wanted

Personal Democracy Forum, a new online resource focusing on the intersection of technology and politics, is seeking contributors for its website, blog and newsletter. We’re looking for seasoned journalists versed, ideally, in both the political and technology industries who are interested in covering a wide range of subjects, including: how the Internet is moving votes, money and perceptions; the digital political industry; tools and techniques of clued-in campaigns; and emergent technology-enabled democracy. Political or business journalism background a plus but not required. We’re looking for 800- to 1500-word features as well as shorter blog entries on ongoing beats. Will pay competitive freelance rates. Send resume, clips, blog info, etc to Micah L. Sifry at micah@personaldemocracy.com.

A living memorial

A living memorial

: Families and survivors of 9/11 have started a Living Memorial online [via Steve Rubel]. Here was my not-dissimilar proposal for a World Trade Center memorial that used video to continue to tell the stories of the innocents lost that day.

More repression of free speech

More repression of free speech

: Hoder sends the bad news that three young journalists in Iran have been arrested for helping reformist web sites. Remember more than a year ago that a blogger was arrested for what he blogged.

Who can stop Islamic terrorism

Who can stop Islamic terrorism

: We can’t stop Islamic terrorism. But Muslims can. Oh, we can fight them and hunt them down and wipe them out wherever we find them — we have absolutely no choice. But to truly stop them before they start, Muslims of influence and Muslims as a people must rise up and tell these slime to stop.

I don’t have much hope of that happening.

But occasionally, we see a glimmer of civility and hope. Tragically, it occurs only after the Islamic terrorists have mined new depths of hell.

Now, after the murder of children in Russia, the Muslim press is at last — at long damned last — expressing the revulsion any civilized soul should. A few days ago, I found some outrage here. And today the Times finds “self-criticism” from the Muslim press. Andrew Sullivan finds a longer version of the money quote in that story at Memri:

Obviously not all Muslims are terrorists but, regrettably, the majority of the terrorists in the world are Muslims. The kidnappers of the students in Ossetia are Muslims. The kidnappers and killers of the Nepalese workers and cooks are also Muslims. Those who rape and murder in Darfour are Muslims, and their victims are Muslims as well. Those who blew up the residential complexes in Riyadh and Al-Khobar are Muslims. Those who kidnapped the two French journalists are Muslims. The two [women] who blew up the two planes [over Russia] a week ago are Muslims. Bin Laden is a Muslim and Al-Houthi [the head of a terrorist group in Yemen] is a Muslim. The majority of those who carried out suicide operations against buses, schools, houses, and buildings around the world in the last ten years are also Muslims.

What a terrible record. Does this not say something about us, about our society and our culture? …

Islam has suffered an injustice at the hands of the new Muslims… We will only be able to clear our reputation once we have admitted the clear and shameful fact that most of the terrorist acts in the world today are carried out by Muslims. We have to realize that we cannot correct the condition of our youth who carry out these disgraceful operations until we have treated the minds of our sheikhs who have turned themselves into pulpit revolutionaries who send the children of others to fight while they send their own children to European schools.

- Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, former editor of the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

This is even better. Iraqi columnist Aziz Al-Hajj wrote:

The Islamic-Arab terrorism has turned into the greatest danger in the world, and threatens civilization, security, and life everywhere. It is today the symbol of evil, religious fanaticism, and moral degradation, and it is the essence of political crime in today’s world

Heeeeeere’s George!

Heeeeeere’s George!

: Jim Wolcott says Dick Cheney reminds him of Ed McMahon: the broken-down sidekick.