Posts from December 14, 2004

Laser test

Laser test

: Britain is having second thoughts about the laser eye surgery that is all the rage here, now ordering a study of its safety. I’d decided not to have it because I didn’t want the risk and didn’t know what the long-term impact really is. Besides, I look smarter in glasses, don’t I?

The sun sets

The sun sets

: Britain or downgrades European consulates so it can open new outposts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. It’s a new world.

LA Times’ exorcised

LA Times’ exorcised

: The Guardian covers the mysterious disappearance of the mysterious LA Times insider blog.

What else should be Googled?

What else should be Googled?

: Following Google’s wonderful announcement that it is scanning and making available to us all searchable text from thousands of books at top libraries, I wonder what else you think should be available? I’ll start the list:

: Transcripts and scripts of TV shows, movies, and radio shows — both news and entertainment.

: Periodical archives (at least in an Amazon model, which could drive sales).

: TV listings. OK, that sounds silly, but it is a chronicle of the culture.

What else?

: Just yesterday, as I walked by the New York Public Library, I saw school busses passing and the thought occurred that someday (soon), that building could be seen as either a museum or a public wi-fi hotspot instead of as a storage bin. And a few hours later, Google announced its library project.

On the road again

On the road again

: Traveling to Washington today to meet with my CIA handlers. Blogging light until after I come out from under the sodium pentathol.

Actually, I’m headed down to join the advisory board of the J-Lab’s new project to give seed funding to hyperlocal citizens’ media.

You can build freedom: Give!

You can build freedom: Give!

: The Spirit of America blogger challenge comes to an end at midnight on the 15th. So please, please give here.

Listen, my friends, I’m really rotten at fund-raising (and sales) so you have to make up for my lack of salesmanship. But I know there are hundreds — thousands — of you who also believe in the cause of free speech and democracy and who also got some goosebumps when the Iraqi bloggers started telling their stories online. The world needs more of them.

You can help. You can support the Spirit of America Arabic-language blogging tool, which was announced this weekend. You can bring free speech to people in the Middle East who have not had it.

How powerful is that?

Besides, it’s end-of-year deducation time. It’s the holidays: Give it as a gift.

Give, give, give. Please.

Secretary of Inconsistency

Secretary of Inconsistency

: National Nanny Michael Powell says he doesn’t want the FCC to fine stations for airing the F word on Saving Private Ryan. This from the head of the very same FCC that only a few months ago ruled:

We conclude, therefore, that NBC and other licensees that broadcast Bono

Juan Cole is pond scum

Juan Cole is pond scum

: Prof. Juan Cole libels my freedom-loving friends from Iraq.

The man is pond scum. I know no other way to say it. This guy Cole (supported by your tax dollars in Michigan) decides that if he disagrees with someone, he should imply that that someone must be backed by the CIA or other nefarious forces. Prof. Cole is too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the liberal irony in that; back in the day, when people disagreed with those on his side of the political spectrum, people on the other side implied that they must be backed by the Soviet Union, by Commies. It’s an old trick, Prof. I’m ashamed of you for using it.

Ever since America engaged in Iraq, Cole has spent every day on his blog doing nothing but collecting bad news — never good news. And people looking for bad news — chicken liberals — celebrate him for that. I’m a liberal but I don’t celebrate Cole. I haven’t bothered reading him for months, because he never had anything new to say.

But I had to read him today as he libeled my friends Omar and Mohammed from IraqTheModel. Cole says, quoting another blog:

The MR posting brings up questions about the Iraqi brothers who run the IraqTheModel site. It points out that the views of the brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US, even though opinion polling shows that their views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. It notes that their choice of internet service provider, in Abilene, Texas, is rather suspicious, and wonders whether they are getting some extra support from certain quarters.

Look at the domain for the brothers’ site: iraqthemodel.blogspot.com. That’s Blogspot, owned by Google, you fool. Yes, Google, a well-known front for the capitalist conspircy that is America.

I celebrate the brothers’ opinions, too — because I am an American and because I believe in the cause of freedom and because I support the efforts of people to live in democracy and because I have met them and admire their courage and not because I am “right-leaning” (hell, I appeared on Air America this morning, Prof.).

Cole continues his spiteful idiocy:

Contrast all this to the young woman computer systems analyst in Baghdad, Riverbend, who is in her views closer to the Iraqi opinion polls, especially with regard to Sunni Arabs, but who is not being feted in Washington, DC.

OK, Juan, then let’s see you invite her to Michigan. Fete her… if you can find her. She doesn’t have the guts to identify herself. And he continues:

The phenomenon of blog trolling, and frankly of blog agents provocateurs secretly working for a particular group or goal and deliberately attempting to spread disinformation, is likely to grow in importance. It is a technique made for the well-funded Neoconservatives, for instance, and I have my suspicions about one or two sites out there already.

And what is your proof, Cole? You are downright libeling these people. What is your case? What is your proof? What is your accusation? Out with it!

I know exactly how these men started blogging. I answered an email from their close friend Zeyad and sent him to Blogspot — that notorious CIA front — and he got his good friend and fellow dental student, Omar, to get blogging with the rest of his family and they got other people blogging. And thanks to them all, we have more perspectives and information from Iraq, we have the antidote to your hate and pessimism and conspiracy theories and crap, Cole. But you continue:

So far, if you look at the top hundred sites at technorati.com with regard to incoming links, what is striking is how above-board they are.

Well thanks, Cole. I’m one of them.

Is the collective wisdom of the blogging world such as to reduce the dangers here? Is the blogging world actually less open to manipulation than corporate media? Stay tuned.

Make up your mind, Cole: Who’s the enemy? Free-thinking Iraqi bloggers? Or the CIA? Or Blogger? Or liberal media? Or free-thinking Iraqi bloggers who happen to disagree with you? Or everyone?

The twit to whom Cole links — I won’t dignify his paranoid crap with a link — goes on about how the brothers have been interviewed only by right-wing media like The Wall Street Journal. Just one problem with that, fool: They went onto NPR (liberal) radio on Brian Lehrer’s WNYC show — and held their own. And they met with Howard Kurtz of the notoriously liberal Washington Post and they went to Harvard and met with lotsa notorious liberals there and were scheduled to meet with the notoriously liberal LA Times.

: But I don’t need to defend these fine men. Their own brother Ali does a very good job of telling Cole and his confederates to go F themselves today.

There were many comments on the blogosphere about this trip, most were applauding and few harshly criticizing and I know that each one has his motivation. In Iraq now there are those who are with the change and those who are against it. Each camp claims to be the majority, but even the polls that many people rely on say that the majority of Iraqis want the elections….

So, back to topic, while the majority of Iraq is facing the little minority’s hatred and terrorism on a daily basis and which is reflected in Iraqi blogs by pro and anti-American Iraqi blogs respectively, it was natural (but sad) for some powers inside each one of the two major political societies in America while they are divided as they have never been before, to adopt the perspective of one of the two and try to use their writings as propaganda tools in their struggle for power inside America. I keep telling myself that if we are ever going to lose this struggle for democracy in Iraq it would be the result of partisan conflicts either in Iraq or America.

However, if this means that we are definitely hired by such power on the right then it should mean that anti-American Iraqi bloggers would be very likely hired by some powers on the left. Can anyone agree on this?! I simply refuse both silly assumptions….

Anyway, if you look at the Iraqi blogs you’ll find the majority supporting the new Iraq even if complaining about the difficult situation now and then. Only 4 or so are purely anti-American, anti-democracy although they don’t admit the later, and such statistics can’t be just a coincidence. You can see a detailed list that contains most if not all Iraqi blogs on Iraqi Blog Count and you can do the math if you have the time and judge by yourself….

I’ve exposed you once Dr. Cole and so I did to you precious Riverbend, but I, and my brothers have great expectations for our country and we spend most of our time trying to make them come true….

: UPDATE: Commenter db adds, quite helpfully, this explanation of the redirected “iraqthemodel.com” domain:

That second, alias domain was registered as a favor to brothers Mohammed, Omar, and Ali by Jeff Reed, who runs a Texas hosting company called CIATech Solutions. The letters “CIA” were cause for suspicion to Joseph of Martini Republic, the author of the post from which Prof Cole spins his insinuations. All this and more is explained in two notes from Jeff Reed that were posted in the comments to the original Martini Republic post at http://martinirepublic.com/item/979 . It turns out the “CIA” in this case stands for Complex Internet Applications.

The irony is that the domain of Riverbend (riverbendblog.com) — the bitterly anti-American blog by a 20-something Iraqi woman and the blog hailed by Prof Cole as more aligned with prevailing public opinion in Iraq — was also registered by CIATech.

Juan Cole could have saved himself this bit of baseless paranoia with a simple Whois lookup, and by reading the comments at Martini Republic.

Such is Prof. Cole’s intellectual rigor. Remember that as you read his exercises in extreme schadenfreude.